Pathfinder - Psychic Archetypes Breakdown
Last Updated: May 23, 2017
I will use content from the core rules, but will intentionally omit any content not published on the official Pathfinder SRD due to the unmanageable volume of non-SRD content, and the wildly varying quality of non-SRD content. If you would like me to write handbooks for specific content not published on the official SRD, please email me and I will consider it on a case-by-case basis. I will use the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks. Also note that many colored items are also links to the Paizo SRD.
- Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational.
- Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances
- Green: Good options.
- Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character.
Temporary Note: Pathfinder Unchained and Occult Adventures were both recently added to the SRD. I'm excited to explore them, and I am actively working on adding their contents to my collection of handbooks. I appreciate your patience while I make these changes.
Psychic archetypes swing to the extremes. They're either pointless garbage or a fantastic, character-defining option with great mechanics and cool flavor.
Amnesiac solves the biggest problem with spontaneous casters: lack of adaptability. Granting you the ability to cast anything on your spell list, even with a chance of failure, makes you much more useful. However, the possibility of failing the d100 roll to remember the spell presents a serious risk, so you need to be able to get through most combats without rolling the dice.
Repressed Memories: Flavor only.
Spells: Losing half of your spells known is painful, but thanks to Spell Recollection it only applies to your two highest spell levels, so you're only losing 5 spells known at most. That's still a lot, especially for your best spells, but Spell Recollection could be worth it.
Spell Recollection (Ex): You lose 5 of your known spells at most, but you can "remember" a spell once per hour. You're required to cast the spell immediately after you recall it, which can be problematic, but generally you're trying to recall a spell that you need at that moment.
Replaced Features: spellcasting
Compatible Archetypes: Formless Adept, Mutation Mind, Psychic Duelist
Essentially a psychic discipline that replaces two of your phrenic amplifications, Formless Adept is fantastic. It provides a great mix of utility, defensive, and offensive options, and the Formless Spell mechanic is really fun and flavorful. However, the archetype provides no means to recharge your phrenic pool throughout the day, so you may need to consider Expanded Phrenic Pool.
Phrenic Charisma: This is essentially a psychic discipline with some extras, so this is basically the discipline ability.
Formless Body: Excellent defensive and utility options, and extending the duration from rounds to minutes is a massive improvement.
- Blurred Body (Su): Blur's biggest problem is its short duration. Once you hit level 5, the duration extends to minutes instead of rounds, which makes it much more useful.
- Gaseous Body (Su): Excellent for escape or for infiltration.
- Incorporeal Body (Su): Excellent for escape or for infiltration, and you can pass through walls.
Formless Spell: Blur is a good defensive option, but it's hard to justify spending a standard action on a defensive option when you could instead cast a save-or-suck spell. This allows you to cast a spell and adopt one of your Formless Body forms (like Blurred Body) at the same time. Using this at the start of every fight is an excellent strategy, especially once you hit 5th level and can be blurred for minutes per day instead of rounds. You give up a phrenic amplification for this, but it's well worth the trade.
Bonus Spells: With the exception of the 1st-level spells, almost every spell on this list is fantastic. The fact that you get two is even better. The only real problem is that you can't use them your first turn (unless you quicken a spell) since you need to use Formless Spell first to cast a spell and activate Formless Body (activating it directly is silly).
Psychic Possession (Su): Possession is really powerful, but since this depends on Incorporeal Body it only works for a few rounds per day. You need to activate Formless Body one round, then use another Standard Action (probably in the following round) to possess the creature, then you need to wait yet another round to do anything interesting.
Formless Master (Su): Activating Formless Body as a swift action instead of a standard action doesn't matter much thanks to Formless Spell. The AC bonus is neat, but by this level you have so many magic defenses that it's probably not helpful.
Replaced Features: psychic discipline, discipline powers, 1st-level phrenic amplification, discipline spells, 15th-level phrenic amplification, remade self
Compatible Archetypes: Amnesiac
Mutation Mind attempts to turn the psychic into a melee threat, and doesn't come close to succeeding. If psychics got access to polymorph spells, this would be a great complement to a polymorph build. Unfortunately, they get no such option so even if you invest heavily in complementary options you're still likely to fall behind a single-class Fighter. If you want a similar concept that works, play an Alchemist.
Physical Mutation (Su): This provides an enhancement bonus so it won't stack with your belt. It's also the way you activate your bodily mutations, so they're limited to minutes per day.
Bodily Mutations: The mutations only apply while you're using Physical Mutation, and you select them instead of phrenic amplifications. With few or no amplification options, you'll have trouble finding ways to use your phrenic pool except by feeding points into Physical Mutation to extend its duration.
- Adhesive (Ex): With 1/2 BAB grappling is a terrible idea.
- Bite Attack (Ex): Get claws first, but if you're going for natural attacks you want as many as you can get.
- Bulging Eyes (Ex): Cast Darkvision.
- Claws (Ex): Two chances to apply your Strength bonus.
- Elongated Fingers (Ex): Situational. Only worthwhile if you have a ton of melee touch spells.
- Elongated Legs (Ex): Decent, but easily replace by items or other spells.
- Energy Resistance (Ex): Cast Resist Energy.
- Enlarged Torso (Ex): If you're going to jump into melee, you'll need all the AC you can get.
- Rubbery (Ex): With poor AC and d6 hit dice, DR will go a long way to keep you alive.
- Slimy (Ex): Situational.
Phrenic Empowerment (Su): A small and temporary increase to your Strength is not worth handicapping your Will saves and your spellcasting stat.
Improved Bodily Mutations:
- Aquatic Form (Ex): Very situational.
- Enlarged Body (Ex): This is only good because it increases your size twice.
- Multiple Eyes (Ex): Situational. If you don't already have ranks in Perception, skip this.
- Recuperation (Ex): Fast healing is always great.
- Toppling Fists (Ex): Bull rush is very situational and your BAB is terrible.
- Wings (Ex): Permanent flight with good fly speed and average maneuverability.
Replaced Features: 1st-level phrenic amplification, phrenic amplifications, major amplifications
Compatible Archetypes: Amnesiac, Psychic Duelist
Unless you really like psychic duels, just skip this archetype. In a game where they don't feature prominently, this archetype is absolutely worthless.
Replaced Features: 4th-level discipline spell, 7th-level phrenic amplification, alters phrenic amplifications, telepathic bond, telepathy
Compatible Archetypes: Amnesiac, Mutation Mind