This is part 4 of an ongoing discussion about playing a Pathfinder 2e character as a version of the warlock class. You can read the general ideas in part 1, the first example character in part 2, and the second example character in part 3.
Last in our trio of pseudo-warlocks uses the Psychic class. While it won’t give you an especially close representation of any of the warlock’s Pact Boons, While there’s no exact copy of eldritch blast, Psychics are the superstars of cantrips and adding bonus effects on your spells. This character emulates how a Warlock can use Invocations to shape their build and upgrade certain spells, as well as touching on Tome Warlock’s versatility and supportive spellcasting in a minor way.
Psychic has two main mechanics you need to know in order to use their abilities to the fullest. First, you have Amps. These are kind of like very specific metamagic effects that only work on certain spells, sometimes only changing one specific spell’s effects. A lot of these are simple bonuses like farther ranges, more damage, etc., but some add completely new effects like applying damage resistance or preventing a target from going invisible. Normally, you can Amp a spell by using a Focus Point, or you can take advantage of the second mechanic: Unleashing your Psyche. Picture this as a kind of psychic “rage” state. When you Unleash your Psyche, you gain a number of benefits and penalties, and there are special actions you can perform only while in that state. One major reason to use your Psyche is that your Amps no longer cost Focus Points while Unleashed, greatly increasing your spellcasting potential.
Stats are simple for Psychics, following the tried and true Dex+Con+Wis+main ability for the most part. Keeping your Charisma or Intelligence (depending on your Conscious Mind) maxed out lets you keep your spells as strong as possible. Dex, Con, and Wis are always good to prioritize for AC, HP, Perception, and saves. Str and either Int or Cha – whichever isn’t your spellcasting ability – are to personal preference and desired skills. For this character, keeping Str and Int low is just fine.
Ancestry and general feats are also very open. I chose Gnome as the ancestry because it has a lot of innate spells available to it. Innate spells are based off of Cha and use your highest spell proficiency, so feats like First World Magic and Cautious Curiosity can work great. The Energizing Font feat then lets you refund a Focus Point once per day as a single action, letting you use even more Amps. If you don’t want to use Gnome but still want extra spells, plenty of ancestries have similar feats. Elves specifically have a few and are also a Core ancestry, while Human’s Adapted Cantrip can get you another blasty cantrip for more damage variety (just remember it won’t be Amp-able and would take up one of your cantrips known). Mainstay general feats like Incredible Initiative, Toughness, and Fleet are good to go, but you can take anything and stay just as viable. I like to give characters with lower Intelligence scored – and thus a lower amount of trained skills – the Untrained Improvisation feat to shore up their options.
Speaking of skills, you can again go with whatever you want with a character like this. Obviously being a social character is easy for Charisma casters, or you can choose the various spell tradition skills for a classic mage character. I went with the “thief package” of Deception, Stealth, and Thievery for two main reasons. First, the character has decent stats for those skills and some spells to help, like invisibility or dimension door. Second, the flavor of a psychic trickster with a silver tongue that can read minds, disappear, teleport, or telekinetically swipe things sounds fun. Plus it shows that you can mix-and-match usual party roles a bit; if your party doesn’t have a Rogue or Investigator to be the typical trap-monkey for the group, you can cover that role just fine.
For Conscious and Subconscious Minds, I chose Distant Grasp and Emotional Acceptance. Distant Grasp is the telekinesis-themed Mind, giving a supercharged telekinetic projectile with double range and increased damage when you Amp it. This is the character’s eldritch blast equivalent, dealing the most damage of any cantrip and having the ability to deal any type of physical damage (bludgeoning, slashing, or piercing). Their unique psi cantrip is telekinetic rend which acts kind of like an area version of TK projectile. They can also Shove or Disarm targets with Amped mage hand, which doesn’t deal damage but does have a lot of potential for other uses. The Emotional Acceptance Subconscious Mind not only means you use Charisma for your spells like warlock – something Witch and Magus can’t do – but you also gain the Restore the Mind action, which lets you heal each ally once per encounter for free.
Most class feats either add an effect to Unleashing your Psyche or give you more cantrip / amp options for as much spell customization as possible. Warp Space lets you target things better, Inertial Barrier gives a healthy chunk of damage resistance, and Remove Presence makes you effectively invisible to your target. The big one here is Shatter Space; you turn yourself or a target into a damage-vortex for one turn. Couple this with Wandering Thoughts, telekinetic maneuvers, gravity well, or collective transposition to place yourself or others where you want them on the battlefield and leave hazard areas where you please.
One notable feat is Parallel Breakthrough, which lets you snag a psi cantrip from another Mind. While you could grab produce flame or daze for more damage options, I chose message so the character has a psi cantrip that can safely target allies. This is important if we want to give any beneficial Amps to allies, like granting physical damage resistance with Inertial Barrier.
Unlike Witch and Magus, Psychic cannot just change which spells they have available each day. Also unlike those two, Psychic doesn’t have to decide every slot ahead of time; their spell slots can cast any spell of the correct level. You also get one ‘signature spell’ of each level that you can shift up or down to cast via different slots (denoted on the character sheet with an asterisk*). As always, spells are really up to your preference and campaign, though I do highly recommend two specific spells for signature status. First, magic missile is as reliable as damage can get, and increasing its level can let you pump out truly ridiculous amounts of missiles. Second, dispel magic needs to be a high enough level compared to the thing it’s attempting to dispel or it won’t work; making it a signature spell lets you adjust it to whatever level you need. Summoning spells get an honorable mention here as they also change a lot each level, but the occult tradition doesn’t have a ton of options for summoning, plus it’s not really this character’s focus.
All this adds up to a character with a smattering of abilities for out of combat stuff, lots of battlefield control / maneuverability, and very reliable and sustainable blasting with potentially huge bursts of damage. You want to Unleash your Psyche whenever possible for free Amps, once per round free teleport up to 15 feet, and the ability to spot-heal your allies, all of which really pushes your abilities up to 11.
That’s the end of my little foray into how you can play a warlock-esque character in Pathfinder Second Edition. Hopefully these posts help if you were missing the warlock class or if you were worried about what you could do in the system. In the next couple weeks, I’m going to return to the discussion going on in a previous post about the various class designs and character building.
- Filling in the BlanksI went over a method you can use to “mathematically” categorize a character concept or class. However, the class pyramid isn’t limited to this use. It can be a very versatile tool if you know how to use it.
- Make Love, Not WarlockLast in our trio of pseudo-warlocks uses the Psychic class. While there’s no exact copy of eldritch blast, Psychics are the superstars of cantrips and adding bonus effects on your spells.
- I CAST SWORD!Magus is all about combining spells and martial prowess, perfect for a Blade Warlock. Their signature ability Spellstrike has you attack a foe with a weapon and unleash a spell against them all at once.