The Mentalist: A Pulp Hero for Your 5E Game

Hacking the Warlock into a Pulp Action Hero

Recently, I was listening to The Mad Adventurers’ Society: Stories from the Fifth Age, which is a solid podcast about the story aspects of 5th Edition games (as opposed to the gaming aspects), and the hosts were talking about the Warlock class. They agreed that the fluff of the class seemed restrictive, and said that they couldn’t imagine playing it any other way but “person who has sold their soul or sanity for great power.” (I’m paraphrasing, but that was the gist of the conversation.)

Meanwhile, I’ve been thinking about the classes from Paizo’s Occult Adventures, which are based on turn-of-the-century occultism, and play with the idea of “psionics” in interesting ways. I wanted to represent those power sources, and those classes in 5th Edition, , but creating a whole new class is an awful lot of work.

The result of this is The Mentalist, a reskinning of 5th Edition’s Warlock into something like Pathfinder’s Mesmerist. No more dark, tragic, tortured pawn of evil outsiders, this “warlock” is The Shadow, The Spider, Doc Savage, The Phantom. The Mentalist is the hero for all of your pulp action needs. I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of pulp action needs…

In the Mentalist, most of the Warlock features are renamed to fit with the theme, common in pulp adventures, of the hero who expands their mind or hones their body using long-lost traditions. Batman comes out of this tradition, as does Iron Fist. In this way “Invocations” become “Tricks,” “Patron” becomes “Esoteric Study,” and “Pact Magic” becomes “Psychic Magic.” The Mentalist learns spells and uses slots exactly like the Warlock, although some of those spells will be renamed (“hex” to “hypnotic stare” and “eldrich blast” to “ego whip,” for example).

There are a couple of places where I added new material. A new Esoteric Study was needed to replace the Pact of the Chain, which didn’t make sense, and some new tricks were added to replace some that didn’t fit, flavor-wise.

In all the other places, though, the Warlock’s existing abilities fit perfectly with the adventurer trained in hidden arts by a secret society. Maybe it’s the mystical school of Solomanari, where forbidden magic is taught to seekers who are crafty enough to find the entrance. Maybe the knowledge comes from having sought out the seven great masters and combining their individual arts into one form. Maybe it comes from a near-mystical perfection of your own body’s true potential. Wherever the power comes from, the important thing is that it is channeled through the Mentalist’s own mind. Your consciousness has been expanded, and the minds of mortals are your playthings.

The Mentalist

The Shadow by John Cassaday

Mentalist class features

As a mentalist, you gain the following class features.

HIT POINTS
Hit Dice
: 1d8 per mentalist level
Hit Points at 1st Level: 8 + your Constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d8 (or 5) + your Constitution modifier per mentalist level after 1st

PROFICIENCIES
Armor
: Light
Weapons: Daggers, darts, light crossbows, quarterstaffs, saps, slings, and whips.
Tools: Disguise Kit
Saving Throws: Wisdom and Charisma
Skills: Choose two from Arcana, Deception, History, Intimidation, Investigation, Nature, and Religion.

EQUIPMENT
You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:

  • (a) a light crossbow and 20 bolts or (b) 10 darts
  • (a) a disguise kit or (b) an emotional focus
  • (a) a scholar’s pack or (b) a dungeoneer’s pack
  • (a) Leather armor, any mentalist weapon, and two daggers

THE MENTALIST

Level

Proficiency
Bonus

Features

Cantrips Known

Spells
Known

Spell
Slots

Slot
Level

Tricks
Known

1st

+2

Esoteric Study,
Psychic Magic

2

2

1

1st

2nd

+2

Tricks

2

3

2

1st

2

3rd

+2

Esoteric Knowledge

2

4

2

2nd

2

4th

+2

Ability Score
Improvement

3

5

2

2nd

2

5th

+3

3

6

2

3rd

3

6th

+3

Esoteric Study
feature

3

7

2

3rd

3

7th

+3

3

8

2

4th

4

8th

+3

Ability Score
Improvement

3

9

2

4th

4

9th

+4

3

10

2

5th

5

10th

+4

Esoteric Study
feature

4

10

2

5th

5

11th

+4

Mystic Arcanum
(6th level)

4

11

3

5th

5

12th

+4

Ability Score
Improvement

4

11

3

5th

6

13th

+5

Mystic Arcanum
(7th level)

4

12

3

5th

6

14th

+5

Esoteric Study
feature

4

12

3

5th

6

15th

+5

Mystic Arcanum
(8th level)

4

13

3

5th

7

16th

+5

Ability Score
Improvement

4

13

3

5th

7

17th

+6

Mystic Arcanum
(9th level)

4

14

4

5th

7

18th

+6

4

14

4

5th

8

19th

+6

Ability Score
Improvement

4

15

4

5th

8

20th

+6

Psychic Master

4

15

4

5th

8

ESOTERIC STUDY
You have studied the workings of the human mind in a strange place. Perhaps it was a city that only enters the Material Plane every ten years, a valley covered by mists that part for the most worthy soul, or a monastery on the moon full of alien scholars, but wherever you studied, you were trained in the arts of hypnotism and mind control, and are able to subvert others’ wills to your whims, even causing them to believe that they have been physically hurt with the power of your psyche. Your spells and abilities all stem from this esoteric study.

PSYCHIC MAGIC
Your training and experimentation have given you powers, which seem, to outside observers, like spellcasting. There are, however, a number of crucial differences. You cast spells by accessing the powers of your mind and emotions, not by manipulating the fundamental forces of the universe or channeling an outside power. As a result, your spells never have verbal or somatic components. Because of this, your spells are purely mental actions, and can be performed even while you are pinned or paralyzed. Your spells retain any required focus components, however, when a spell calls for an expensive material component, you can instead use any item with significant meaning and a value greater than or equal to the spell’s component cost. If a spell requires an inexpensive material component, you instead use a focus component of significance to you, which is not consumed in the casting of the spell.

Instead of verbal and somatic components, all psychic spells have components related to the caster’s inner being. Instead of verbal components, you must form a mental construct necessary for the spell’s function, such as picturing a wolf in vivid detail—down to the saliva dripping from its jaws—in order to cast change shape to transform into a wolf. Thought components are so mentally demanding that they make interruptions and distractions extremely challenging. In order to cast a spell in stressful circumstances, such as during combat, you must make a Constitution save with a DC of 10 or half number of hit points below your total, whichever is higher. In addition, you must make this check every round that you maintain a Concentration spell in combat. (This is in addition to any Concentration check that you must make after taking damage while concentrating.) You can negate the thought component Constitution save by taking a move action to center yourself before casting a spell and using your bonus action to concentrate on it. When you are concentrating on a spell, you can choose each round whether to use your bonus action or make the save.

Rather than requiring somatic components, your spells require emotion components, which represent a particular emotional state required to cast the spell. You must marshal your desire in order to focus and release the spell’s energy. It is impossible to cast a spell with an emotion component while you are charmed, petrified, frightened, or stunned.

CANTRIPS
You know two cantrips of your choice from the mentalist spell list. You learn additional mentalist cantrips of your choice at higher levels, as shown in the Cantrips Known column of the Mentalist table.

SPELL SLOTS
The Mentalist table shows how many spell slots you have (1 1st-level spell slot at level 1). The table also shows what the level of those slots is; all of your spell slots are the same level. To cast one of your mentalist spells of 1st level or higher, you must expend a spell slot. You regain all expended spell slots when you finish a short or long rest.
For example, when you are 5th level, you have two 3rd-level spell slots. To cast the 1st level spell thunderwave, you must spend one of those slots, and you cast it as a 3rd-level spell.

SPELLS KNOWN OF 1ST LEVEL AND HIGHER
At 1st level, you know two 1st-level spells of your choice from the mentalist spell list.
The Spells Known column of the Mentalist table shows when you learn more mentalist spells of your choice of 1st level and higher. A spell you choose must be of a level no higher than what’s shown in the table’s Slot Level column for your level. When you reach 6th level, for example, you learn a new mentalist spell, which can be 1st, 2nd, or 3rd level.
Additionally, when you gain a level in this class, you can choose one of the mentalist spells you know and replace it with another spell from the mentalist spell list, which also must be of a level for which you have spell slots.

 SPELLCASTING ABILITY
Charisma is your spellcasting ability for your mentalist spells, so you use your Charisma whenever a spell refers to your spellcasting ability. In addition, you use your Charisma modifier when setting the saving throw DC for a mentalist spell you cast and when making an attack roll with one.

Spell save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier

Spell attack modifier = your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier

SPELLCASTING FOCUS
You can use a personal focus as a spellcasting focus for your mentalist spells. This focus item replaces any material components with a negligible cost, and is not consumed in the casting. It must be an item of considerable emotional significance to you, and if it is lost, you lose the ability to case spells with material or focus components until you find it or designate another in a ritual taking 8 hours.

TRICKS
In your study of occult lore, you have learned how to manipulate others’ perceptions of reality.
At 2nd level, you gain two tricks of your choice. Your trick options are detailed at the end of the class description. When you gain certain mentalist levels, you gain additional tricks of your choice, as shown in the Tricks Known column of the Mentalist table.
Additionally, when you gain a level in this class, you can choose one of the tricks you know and replace it with another trick that you could learn at that level.

ESOTERIC KNOWLEDGE
At 3rd level, your exploration of your own psychic potential manifests in one of three ways. You gain one of the following features of your choice:

MIND WEAPON
You can use your action to create a psychic energy weapon in your empty hand. You can choose the form that this melee weapon takes each time you create it. You are proficient with it while you wield it. This weapon counts as magical for the purpose of overcoming resistance and immunity to nonmagical attacks and damage.
The weapon disappears if it is more than 5 feet away from you for 1 minute or more. It also disappears if you use this feature again, if you dismiss the weapon (no action required), or if you die.
You can transform one magic weapon into your chosen weapon by performing a special ritual while you hold the weapon. You perform the ritual over the course of 1 hour, which can be done during a short rest.
You can then dismiss the weapon, shunting it into an extradimensional space, and it appears whenever you summon the weapon thereafter. You can’t affect an artifact or a sentient weapon in this way. The weapon ceases being your chosen weapon if you die, if you perform the 1-hour ritual on a different weapon, or if you use a 1-hour ritual to break your bond to it. The weapon appears at your feet if it is in the extradimensional space when the bond breaks.

BOOK OF SECRETS
When you reach third level, during your first short or long rest, you enter a trance and begin writing in a book of your choosing, which contains secret knowledge acquired in your studies. When you gain this feature, choose three cantrips from any class’ spell list. While the book is on your person, you can cast those cantrips at will. They don’t count against your number of cantrips known. In addition, the book contains one secret of mystical significance, such as the true names of 99 minor demons, one secret plan of the aboleths, or the identity of one of the hidden masters. (Discuss the appropriate secrets with your DM.) Additional secrets may be added as you discover them.
If your Book of Secrets is destroyed, you can perform a 1-hour ritual to enter a trance, allowing you to recreate it from memory. This ceremony can be performed during a short or long rest, and the autowriting required to perform it can only be performed when previous book has been destroyed. When you die, the book is reclaimed by a servant of your esoteric knowledge source, so that it can be passed on or hidden away.
If your Book of Secrets is lost, either through your negligence or your death, you must recover it before you can use its powers, again.

PERFECT BODY 
You have turned your psychic gifts towards perfecting your physical form. You are considered proficient with unarmed strikes, and you can expend a spell slot to cause your unarmed strikes or natural weapon attacks to count as magical for the purpose of overcoming resistance and immunity to nonmagical attacks and damage.

ABILITY SCORE IMPROVEMENT
When you reach 4th level, and again at 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, you can’t increase an ability score above 20 using this feature.

MYSTIC ARCANUM
At 11th level, your studies reveal a magical secret called an arcanum. Choose one 6th-level spell from the mentalist spell list as this arcanum.
You can cast your arcanum spell once without expending a spell slot. You must finish a long rest before you can do so again.
At higher levels, you gain more mentalist spells of your choice that can be cast in this way: one 7th-level spell at 13th level, one 8th-level spell at 15th level, and one 9th-level spell at 17th level. You regain all uses of your Arcanum when you finish a long rest.

PSYCHIC MASTER
At 20th level, you can draw on your inner reserve of psychic power when you meditate to regain expended spell slots. You can spend 1 minute meditating to regain all your expended spell slots from your Psychic Magic feature. Once you regain spell slots with this feature, you must finish a long rest before you can do so again.

ESOTERIC PATHS

The paths walked by the mentalist require perfect focus and dedication. The supernatural beings, mystics, or holy sites where your abilities originate are not easy to locate, or free with their knowledge. They will, inevitably, ask something of you. It may be that your charge is to defend the innocent, demonstrate the superiority of your masters’ teachings, or to be ready to return to the place your power comes from to defend it at some future time. Until that time, they ask little of you, save that you hone your body and mind for the challenges to come.

THE PHANTOM
You were tutored by an ancient practitioner of mystic arts in the weeks and months before their death. When they died, the last of their abilities passed to you, and as you increase in level, you learn to access more of those abilities. The fragile minds of those around you are a playground for your mental might.

EXPANDED SPELL LIST
Your study has opened up an expanded list of spells from which to choose, when you learn a mentalist spell. The following spells are added to the mentalist spell list for you.

PHANTOM EXPANDED SPELLS

Spell Level Spells

1st

faerie fire, sleep

2nd

calm emotions, phantasmal force

3rd

blink, conjure barrage

4th

dominate beast, greater invisibility

5th

dominate person, seeming

MIND TO MIND
Starting at 1st level, your mastery of mortals’ minds allows you to entrance or terrify them with your very presence. As an action, you can cause each creature in a 10-foot cube originating from you to make a Wisdom saving throw against your mentalist spell save DC. The creatures that fail their saving throws are all charmed or frightened by you (your choice) until the end of your next turn.
Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a short or long rest.

DEFENSIVE MIND
Starting at 6th level, you can vanish in a puff of mist in response to harm. When you take damage, you can use your reaction to turn invisible and teleport up to 60 feet to an unoccupied space you can see. You remain invisible until the start of your next turn or until you attack or cast a spell.
Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a short or long rest.

MENTAL BULWARK
Beginning at 10th level, your study of the mind acts as a buffer to your own psychic defenses. You are immune to being charmed, and when another creature attempts to charm you, you can use your reaction to attempt to turn the charm back on that creature. The creature must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw against your mentalist spell save DC or be charmed by you for 1 minute or until the creature takes any damage.

PRISON OF THE MIND
Starting at 14th level, you can plunge a creature into an illusory realm. As an action, choose a creature that you can see within 60 feet of you. It must make a Wisdom saving throw against your mentalist spell save DC. On a failed save, it is charmed or frightened by you (your choice) for 1 minute or until your concentration is broken (as if you are concentrating on a spell). This effect ends early if the creature takes any damage.
Until this illusion ends, the creature thinks it is lost in a misty realm, the appearance of which you choose. The creature can see and hear only itself, you, and the illusion.
You must finish a short or long rest before you can use this feature again.

CAST IN BRONZE
You have perfected your body by perfecting your mind. You may have studied with monks, but while the monks focused on honing their bodies, you turned inward, honing you mind and using it to shape your body. You might feel a kinship (or a sense of competition with) monks, but in the end you believe that their obsession with the physical form limits their potential. As you access more parts of your brain, and use it more efficiently, your control over both your own physical form and the world around you increases.

EXPANDED SPELL LIST
Your study has opened up an expanded list of spells from which to choose, when you learn a mentalist spell. The following spells are added to the mentalist spell list for you.

Spell Level Spells

1st

hunter’s mark, jump

2nd

enhance ability, levitate

3rd

haste, water breathing

4th

freedom of movement, stoneskin

5th

legend lore, telekinesis

BOLSTERED BY VICTORY
Starting at 1st level, when you reduce a hostile creature to 0 hit points, you gain temporary hit points equal to your Charisma modifier + your mentalist level (minimum of 1).

PUSH THROUGH IT
Starting at 6th level, you can call your inner reserves of power to succeed where you might otherwise have failed. When you make an ability check or a saving throw, you can use this feature to add a d10 to your roll. You can do so after seeing the initial roll but before any of the roll’s effects occur.
Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a short or long rest.

PREPARED FOR ANYTHING
Starting at 10th level, you can choose one damage type when you finish a short or long rest. You gain resistance to that damage type until you choose a different one with this feature. Damage from magical weapons or silver weapons ignores this resistance.

PSYCHIC FEEDBACK
Starting at 14th level, after a creature hits you with an attack, you can use this feature to strike back against the attacker with your finely tuned mind. The creature is pulled into your mind for a brief time and subjected to a nightmare landscape, there.
At the end of its next turn, the target returns to the space it previously occupied, or the nearest unoccupied space. It takes 10d10 psychic damage as your mind warps its sense of reality.
Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest. 

THE MYSTIC
Your psychic abilities come from mystic study, whether at the feet of a great master or in a hidden place of power. Although you are no longer there, your connection to the source of your power transcends time and space, and you suspect that you are being groomed for some higher purpose. Perhaps you will be called on to defend The Eternal City from a great threat, if only you can unlock enough of your inner potential, or perhaps you will act as the last line of defense against some threat from beyond this world. Whatever your purpose, only your mystical insights into your own mind, and the minds of those around you, will help you fulfill it.

EXPANDED SPELL LIST
Your mystic training allows you to access an expanded list of spells when you learn a mentalist spell. The following spells are added to the mentalist spell list for you.

Spell Level Spells

1st

dissonant whispers, fog cloud

2nd

detect thoughts, phantasmal force

3rd

clairvoyance, sending

4th

dominate beast, phantasmal killer

5th

dominate person, telekinesis

AWAKENED MIND
Starting at 1st level, your mystical knowledge gives you the ability to touch the minds of other creatures. You can communicate telepathically with any creature you can see within 30 feet of you. You don’t need to share a language with the creature for it to understand your telepathic communications, but the creature must be able to understand at least one language.

ENTROPIC WARD
At 6th level, you learn to magically ward yourself against attack and to turn an enemy’s failed strike into good luck for yourself. When a creature makes an attack roll against you, you can use your reaction to impose disadvantage on that roll. If the attack misses you, your next attack roll against the creature has advantage if you make it before the end of your next turn.
Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a short or long rest.

THOUGHT SHIELD
Starting at 10th level, your thoughts can’t be read by telepathy or other means unless you allow it. You also have resistance to psychic damage, and whenever a creature deals psychic damage to you, that creature takes the same amount of damage that you do.

MENTAL DOMINATION
At 14th level, you hone your mental abilities enough that you gain the ability to overwhelm a victim’s mind your own. You can use your action to touch an incapacitated humanoid. That creature is then charmed by you until a remove curse spell is cast on it, the charmed condition is removed from it, or you use this feature again.
You can communicate telepathically with the charmed creature as long as the two of you are on the same plane of existence.

That’s enough for today. Next time: tricks and spells for the mentalist class!

Advertisements

7 responses to “The Mentalist: A Pulp Hero for Your 5E Game

  1. This great. I have banned the warlock from my game as a character class as I feel they fall into the same category as Necromancers – a DM NPC class as they have to many evil connotations IMO. I will allow this option though. And I think it fits the Iron Gods well.

    Like

    • Awesome! I love the mechanics of the Warlock, but I agree that they’re a little too tied to fluff. No other class is that strongly tied to a specific fluff concept (except for maybe the Green Knight Paladin), and I think it’s weird. One of the places where 5E lacks options, I think, is for pulp adventure, even though the designers borrowed a lot of ideas from Spirit of the Century. A pulp hero class just makes sense.

      Let me know how it goes, if anyone plays one!

      Like

  2. Pingback: Nanite Sorcerer Bloodline for 5th Edition D&D | dungeonhacking

  3. Pingback: Summerlands Recap and New Directions | Dungeon Hacking

  4. Pingback: Iron Gods: Session summaries and some adaptations | Dungeon Hacking

  5. Pingback: The Lion of Olympus and the Lamest Avenger: 5e Builds for Hercules and Dr. Druid! | Dungeon Hacking

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s