Introduction

The Psychic, introduced originally in PF1’s Occult Adventures and brought into PF2 in Dark Archive, is an Occult spellcaster that plays a bit like the Sorcerer. The Psychic’s spellcasting emphasizes spell slots less than most full spellcasters, instead relying more heavily on spending Focus Points to “Amp” cantrips for additional effects.

Players eyeing the Psychic need to learn to manage their resource very carefully. With a reduced pool of spell slots and heavy reliable on Focus Points you need to stretch those resources as much as possible. Unleash Psyche gives you the ability to very briefly empower yourself, but you need to accomplish a lot in the 2-round duration or you’ll find yourself Stupefied, which gives you a failure chance to cast spells. You need to juggle all of these concerns to be effective, but if you can manage it all, the Psychic has a lot to offer.

In a party, the Psychic can fill several roles depending on your build. They’re not quite as versatile as the Bard or the Sorcerer due to their smaller pool of spellcasting, but they can still accomplish quite a bit. The Psychic can make a good Blaster, Striker, and Support. An Intelligence-based Psychic can make a good Scholar, while a Charisma-based Psychic can make a good Face.

Be sure to see our Psychic Conscious Minds Breakdown and out Psychic Subconscious Minds Breakdown.

Table of Contents

Disclaimer

RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks.

  • Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
  • Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
  • Green: Good options. Useful often.
  • Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.

Psychic Class Features

Key Ability: Intelligence or Charisma. Which you use it determined by your choife of Subconscious Mind.

Hit Points: 6+ hit points is tiny. Stay in the back with your nonexistent armor and hope that your party’s Defender can keep you safe. Proficiencies: The only thing that you’re remarkably good at is spellcasting.
  • Perception: Among the worst Perception progressions in the game.
  • Saving Throws: The worst Fortitude save progression in the game, terrible Reflex saves, and good Will saves but little need for Wisdom. Your defenses are weak.
  • Skills: 4+Int, which is the standard.
  • Attacks: Only simple weapons and your proficiency is horrid. Don’t use weapons.
  • Defenses: No armor and your proficiency in Unarmored Defense never goes past Expert. Taking feats to get armor proficiency is a good idea.
  • Spellcasting DC: Standard progression for a full caster, matching other classes like the Sorcerer and the Wizard.

Psychic Spellcasting: Psychics get just two spells per spell level below 10th, giving them one fewer than most full spellcasters and half of what the Sorcerer gets. That’s a considerable loss of versatility, so you really need to be able to rely on your cantrips and amps.

Hit Points: 6+ hit points is tiny. Stay in the back with your nonexistent armor and hope that your party’s Defender can keep you safe. Proficiencies: The only thing that you’re remarkably good at is spellcasting.
  • Perception: Among the worst Perception progressions in the game.
  • Saving Throws: The worst Fortitude save progression in the game, terrible Reflex saves, and good Will saves but little need for Wisdom. Your defenses are weak.
  • Skills: 4+Int, which is the standard.
  • Attacks: Only simple weapons and your proficiency is horrid. Don’t use weapons.
  • Defenses: No armor and your proficiency in Unarmored Defense nevers goes past Expert. Taking feats to get armor proficiency is a good idea.
  • Spellcasting DC: Standard progression for a full caster, matching other classes like the Sorcerer and the Wizard.

Psychic Spellcasting: Psychics get just two spells per spell level below 10th, giving them one fewer than most full spellcasters and half of what the Sorcerer gets. That’s a considerable loss of versatility, so you really need to be able to rely on your cantrips and amps.

  • Heightened Spells: Heightening spells is an important mechanic in Pathfinder 2e. Many spells scale them. Since Psychics use a Spell Repertoire, you need to learn spells at multiple levels to highten them in most cases, though Signature Spells are an exception.
  • Cantrips: Fantastic every time, on any character, in any amount. Psychics learn 6 cantrips at level 1 and never get more, but you can replace them by retraining or when you gain a level so you’re not locked into whatever you pick at first level (with the exception of the three granted by your Conscious Mind).

Psi Cantrips and Amps: Focus Points are crucial for the Psychic. Cantrips are much larger part of your tactics than for similar full casters, and Focus Points fuel the Amps that make your cantrips more powerful. You get 2 Focus Points and can Refocus to get back both of them. For other classes the ability to recover more than 1 Focus Point requires a class feat that you can’t get until you’re past level 10. You don’t get to Refocus both points if you use your points for something outside of the class, so be cautious if you’re eyeballing archetypes.

Unleash Psyche: You can only activate this on turn 2 of combat, and it only lasts for two turns before it becomes a problem for you. Being Stupefied in any amount means that you have a failure chance on your spells, which is bad. If you activate this, it’s time to get deadly serious about your next two turns. The simple benefit here is the damage boost. 2 damage per spell level is nice, especially if you can apply it to multiple targets. The final benefit enables Psyche actions, of which you’ll have at least one from your Subconscious Mind. These will consume actions for often minor benefits, so be very thoughtful about how you’ll get to spend the two turns after your activate Unleash Pyche.

Subconscious Mind: See our Subconscious Minds Breakdown.

Conscious Mind: See our Conscious Minds Breakdown.

Clarity of Focus: A third Focus Point, but since you can’t Refocus to get all three you’ll likely only be able to use three Focus Points in the same encounter once per day.

Psychic Ability Scores

Intelligence-Based

Intelligence-based Psychics have similar ability needs to the Wizard and the Witch. Max Intelligence, then support your defenses.

Str: Dump. Dex: AC and Reflex saves. Con: Hit points and Fortitude saves. Int: Spells and skills. Wis: Perception and Will saves. Cha: Dump.

Charisma-Based

Charisma-based Psychics have similar ability needs to the Bard and the Sorcerer. Max Charisma, then support your defenses. Consider a bit of Intelligence for additional skills.

Str: Dump. Dex: AC and Reflex saves. Con: Hit points and Fortitude saves. Int: A bit to support skills is helpful. Wis: Perception and Will saves. Cha: Spells and Face skills.

Psychic Ancestries

The Psychic needs a boost to their Key Ability Score and to ability scores which support your defenses. Additional spellcasting is always great, especially if you go for a Subconscious Mind which makes Charisma your Key Ability Score.

Additional hit points are nice, but may not feel impactful beyond very low levels. Avoid anything involving weapons, but things like extra skills, familiars, etc. can be helpful.

CatfolkAPG: Good ability boots for a Charisma-based Psychic, but beyond the Cat’s Luck feat tree there are few interesting options.

DwarfCRB: With a Charisma flaw, you likely need to go for an Intelligence-based subconscious mind. The Dwarf’s durability is excellent, but none of their Ancestry Feats complement the Psychic’s capabilities.

ElfCRB: Good for Intelligence-based Psychics. The Otherworldly Magic feat chan can get you some extra spellcasting, but beyond the feats that grant innate spellcasting there aren’t many other obviously good options. Elven Longevity can help get you extra skills, which is helpful in a small party. If you’re considering a Charisma-based Elf Psychic, go for Gnome instead.

GnomeCRB: Good for Charisma-based Psychics. The First World Magic feat chain and the Fey-Touched Gnome Heritage can get you some extra spellcasting. Animal Accomplice can get you a familiar, which is nice since the Psychic doesn’t have feats for that. If you’re considering an Intelligence-based Gnome Psychic, go for Elf instead.

GoblinCRB: Good increases for a Charisma-base Psychic. Burn It! will get a lot of use from Oscillating Wave, though not quite as much as it would for a more traditional caster like a wizard. Goblin Song is a good way to debuff enemies before hitting them with a save-or-suck spell, and Skitter can get you out of melee without cutting into your turn.

HalflingCRB: Good boosts/flaws for any Psychic, but the only appealing feat options are the Halfling Luck tree.

HumanCRB: Works for any variety of psychic. If you take the Gathered Lore Subconscious Mind, consider the Cooperative Nature feat chain to maximize the effectiveness of Recall Teachings. Also strongly consider the Adapted Cantrip feat to get a better attack cantrip like Electric Jolt if your Conscious Mind’s cantrip options aren’t great offensively.

KoboldAPG: Perfect ability boosts, and at high levels the Dracomancer feat chain offers more innate spellcasting than almost any Ancestry can match, making them a great candidate for Ancestral Mind starting at around level 9. Until then, staples like Kobolds’ Breath and Scamper work very well.

OrcAPG: Orcs are all about martial melee combat, so few of the Orc’s options offer anything useful or the Psychic.

RatfolkAPG: Good ability boosts for an Intelligence-based Psychic, but no appealing feats except Rat Familiar. The Elf and the Gnome are strictly better.

TenguAPG: Not a ton of great options, but you can cobble together a working build from the Skyborn Tengu Heritage and a handful of Ancestry Feats like Squawk and Soaring Flight.

Psychic Backgrounds

If you’re having trouble deciding, here are some suggestions:

  • Charlatan (Charisma-based)
  • Detective (Intelligence-based)
  • Emmissary
  • Fortune-Teller
  • Scholar (Intelligence-based)

Psychic Skills and Skill Feats

You get Skill Increases at 3rd and 5th level to raise skills to Expert, increases at 7th, 9th, 11th, and 13th level to raise skills to Master, and increases at 15th, 17th, and 19th level to raise skills to Legendary. That means that you can maximize at most three skills, and the rest of your skills might not advance beyond Trained.

You get Skill Feats at even-numbered levels, giving you a total of 10 Skill Feats (and maybe another from your Background) by 20th level. Generally, you want to invest these feats in the same skills which you are choosing to maximize, though in some cases you may want to grab feats from skills which don’t require that you be more than Trained.

Your skill options depend heavily on your Key Ability Score. Charisma-based psychics will do well with Face skills (Deception, Intimidation, etc.)

  • Acrobatics (Dex): Surprisingly important because it’s used for maneuvering while flying.
    • Cat Fall: Being knocked prone while flying is an easy way to counter flying creatures, and enemies can do it just as easily to you as you can do it to them. Cat Fall will reduce the effective distance you’ve fallen, allowing you to take less damage from a fall. However, the effects of Cat Fall scale based on your Proficiency level, so it may not be worth the skill feat unless you plan to increase your proficiency in Acrobatics.
  • Arcana (Int): An essential knowledge skill if you’re Intelligence-based. Likely helpful if you’re Charisma-based, too.
  • Athletics (Str): Strength is your dump stat.
  • Crafting (Int): If you’re Intelligence-based, this is a good option to support your party.
  • Deception (Cha): An important Face skill if you’re Charisma-based.
  • Diplomacy (Cha): The king of Face skills. Crucial if you’re Charisma-based.
  • Intimidation (Cha): Demoralize before you hit an enemy with an ability. Excellent for Charisma-based psychics, but still good in general.
  • Lore (Int): Too numerous and too vaguely-defined.
  • Medicine (Wis): You’re no more well-suited to Medicine than anyone else.
  • Nature (Wis): A helpful knowledge skill, and it will still be useful even if you dumped Intelligence.
  • Occultism (Int): You get it Trained for free, and it’s required for a few Psychic Class Feats.
    • Bizarre Magic: Most enemies won’t be able to identify your magic, and the few that can will rarely care.
  • Performance (Cha): There is no way for the Psychic to make use of this short of things like the Goblin Song feat.
  • Religion (Wis): A helpful knowledge skill, and it will still be useful even if you dumped Intelligence.
  • Society (Int): A helpful knoweldge skill if you’re Intelligence-based.
  • Stealth (Dex): Never a bad choice, but don’t expect to be good at it.
  • Survival (Wis): Too situational.
  • Thievery (Dex): Solve these problems with magic, or leave it to someone who focuses on Dexterity.

General Skill Feats

Much like your skills, your skill feat options depend heavily on your Key Ability Score.

  • Recognize Spell: Helpful if you have the skills to back it up, but you won’t be as capable with knowledge skills as a wizard, so this won’t be as reliable.
    • Quick Recognition: Using a Free Action means that you can identify spells multiple time between turns, which is crucial against multiple enemy spellcasters or if you need your Reaction for something else.

Psychic Feats

Class Feats

1st Level

  • Ancestral MindDA: A great way to expand your spellcasting options. If you just want a single cantrip, the Human Ancestry Feat Adapted Cantrip will suffice, but if you’re going to get more spellcasting from your Ancestry (kobolds can get a lot), this can be very good. Unfortunately, you won’t get much beyond cantrips for a while, so you may not want to take this at low levels.
  • Counter ThoughtDA: Too situational, especially at low levels when you have so few spell slots. It’s great that you can use a spell slot of any level, but spells with the Mental trait are rare in most games.
  • Mental BufferDA: Mental damage is rare.
  • Psychic RapportDA: Not especially useful, but you could use the bonus for quick things like Demoralize.

2nd Level

  • Cantrip ExpansionDA: More cantrips are always great.
  • Mental BalmDA: Technically only situationally useful, and it only works with psi cantrips targeting yourself and your allies, so if you’re built exclusively for offence it won’t do any good for you. But emotion effects like thos which cause fear are fairly common.
  • Psi BurstDA: This is better than most attack cantrips.
  • Warp SpaceDA: Only situationally useful and almost never worth a Focus Point.

4th Level

  • Astral TetherDA: I don’t think there are any spells that qualify for this.
  • Homing BeaconDA: This is intended to help you counter invisible creatures, but if you’re attacking invisibile creatures with a Psi Cantrip you’re probably making a poor choice, and there are too few AOE Psi Cantrips to make this broadly appealing.
  • Psi StrikesDA: Don’t. You should not be using a weapon. This might be appealing for characters taking the Psychic multiclass archetype, but without Unleash Psyche its usefulness is extremely limited and the damage doesn’t scale.
  • Thoughtform SummoningDA: Because of the level at which spells summon creatures, the damage resistance will be minor. But mental and force damage are rare, so it is still a clear improvement.
  • Violent UnleashDA: You’re effectively casting a 1-Action spell a turn early. The damage is fine and the AOE is good, but it doesn’t exclude your allies and the range is short, so this is dangerous to use.

6th Level

  • Intertial BarrierDA: A decent defensive buff to throw on your party’s Defender, but the duration is short so you want to save it for when they’re about to take a bunch of hits.
  • Parallel BreakthroughDA: Excellent if your Conscious Mind has poor cantrips. Check our Conscious Minds Breakdown and look for well-rated cantrips.
  • Sixth SenseDA: Only situationally useful. More commonly useful in games with lots of haunts and other stuff from Dark Archive.
  • Steady SpellcastingDA: Too situational. Too unreliable.
  • Strain MindDA: Powerful but very risky. If you can end an encounter quickly, and quickly gets some healing, this may be worth the cost. Otherwise, it’s likely too risky.

8th Level

  • Brain DrainDA: A great debuff for enemy spellcasters. Being Stupefied imposes a failure chance to cast spells. You also gain a Focus Point, which is nice, but the debuff is arguably more important.
  • Dark Persona’s PresenceDA: Great offensively, but complicated. Your allies aren’t excluded, so if they’re resistant or immune to fear this is safer to use, so it’s more useful. Making your allies Frightened will offset the offensive benefits of making your enemies Frightened. Read the room, know your party, and be thoughtful about when to use this. You don’t want this in every encounter.
  • Mental StaticDA: Too situational for such a small amount of damage.
  • Remove presenceDA: If you’re okay with spending the rest of an encounter buffing your allies, this can be a good defense. However, it only affects on target.
  • ThoughtsenseDA: A passable way to locate invisible and hidden creatures, but by this level you should have magic to handle invisible creatures.
  • Whispering StepsDA: Only situationally useful. Your best bet is to force it to Step into or out of melee with an ally.

10th Level

  • Dream GuiseDA: You Stride, then can give your ally a free Step, and that movement is likely the most impactful part of this feature. Enemies will rarely know your party enough to care if they’re targeting you or one of your allies. You might be able to merge appearances with a heavily-armored ally to deter attacks, but those attacks are going to go somewhere anyway.
  • Emotional SurgeDA: Outside of combat, this effectively means a permanent +2 to all skills. In combat, it’s a great choice right before casting an attack spell.
  • Impose OrderDA: Not worth an action. By this level, most of your damage-dealing effects will roll several dice at this level, so your dice will naturally form a bell curve and will fall closer to average as you add more dice.
  • Scour the LibraryDA: A minor but consistent improvement to Recall Knowledge.
  • Signature Spell ExpansionDA: A good improvement to your spellcasting capabilities, but with only 2 spell slots per level you don’t need this as much as other full casters.

12th Level

  • Foreseen FailureDA: I want this on every spellcaster. This is great insurance for your most powerful spells.
  • No!!!DA: Only situationally useful, and you want to avoid triggering this as much as possible.
  • Psi CatastropheDA: Excellent damage in a good AOE, but it doesn’t exclude allies so you need to be very careful about positioning. Striding into position then using this on the second turn of Unleash Psyche is a good way to apply this at minimal cost, and since that’s typically turn 3 of combat you have time to plan positioning and you can hopefully finish off one or more enemies with this before your become Stupefied.

14th Level

  • Conscious Spell SpecializationDA: A lot of extra spellcasting. Psychics only get two spells per spell level by default, so 50% for half of the spell level range is a big improvement.
  • Deep RootsDA: There are enough applicable spells that this can be very useful, but for some reason this doesn’t rely on PF2’s extensive tagging system so it’s not perfectly clear which spells work with this. The effect also isn’t optional, so spells like Charm which you might use to resolve situations peacefully now deal damage whether you want them to or not. I think this is a good, exciting feat, but it needs some errata.
  • Shatter SpaceDA: You can put this on enemies, allies, or yourself, so it’s easy to position this to not harm your allies. The damage is good in a good AOE.

16th Level

  • Constant LevitationDA: Free, permanent flight. You still need to follow all the rules for flying (spend one Action each turn or you’ll fall), but you don’t need to Sustain the Spell so you’re free to land for a few turns before taking to the air again.
  • Target of Psychic IreDA: Excellent in encounters with large single foes. Get this in place at the beginning of the encounter and the damage will add up quickly. The damage won’t be boosted by Unleash Psyche, so don’t wait for the damage boost.
  • Wandering ThoughtsDA: No more worry about grapples or being stuck in melee. You can use this with cantrips, too, so even outside of combat you can use this as inexpensive teleportation to get past obstacles.

18th Level

  • All in Your HeadDA: Will is your best save, so this is a great improvement to your defenses.
  • Cranial DetonationDA: A massive amount of potential extra damage. Don’t use this in crowded areas with innocent bystanders or you might accidentally depopulate a city.
  • Deepest WellspringDA: Amps are one of the Pyschic’s coolest tricks, so having all three of your Focus Points available in every encounter is a significant buff.

20th Level

  • Become ThoughtDA: The most unique of the Psychic’s 20th-level feats, but also the least impactful. It’s a very cool concept, but you’re not built to be up front tanking in melee, so the physical damage resistance isn’t especially impactful. The resurrection mechanic is relaly unique, but, again, not especially impactful.
  • Mind Over MatterDA: 10th-level spells are among the coolest things you can do. Do it twice a day.
  • Twin PsycheDA: Nice, but only useful in combat, and even then this won’t always be impactful.
  • Unlimited PotentialDA: Free spells! This makes basically any challenge outside of combat easy to overcome via magic without cutting into the resources you might need in a fight. This is especially powerful for the Psychic becuase you only get two spell slots of each spell level below 10th. If you have Conscious Spell Specialization, consider retraining it.

General Feats

  • Armor ProficiencyCRB: An easy way to boost your AC and reduce how much Dexterity you need to max our your AC. Stopping at medium armor is a great compromise between cost and benefit.
  • ToughnessCRB: A good expansion to oyur 6+ hit points.

Psychic Weapons

Don’t use weapons. Cast spells.

Psychic Armor

  • Explorer’s ClothingCRB: Literally your only option unless you get proficiency from somewhere.

Archetypes

  • Bard: More Charisma-based Occult spellcasting for Charisma-based Psychics.
  • Champion: One feat gets you proficiency in everything up to heavy armor.
  • Witch: More Intelligence-based Occult spellcasting for Intelligence-based Psychics.