Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Mentalist (Dreamscarred Press)

While this might not come as a shock to some people, I honestly believe that the Mentalist is by far the best and most flexible controller made for 4e - Mike Mearls (or however wrote it), eat your heart out, because the Mentalist eclipses the Psion by far.

Then again all this might have something to do with me being the author. So take the above as a highly subjective opinion ;)

I set out to create a flexible controller that actually controlled. When I started writing the Mentalist, only the wizard was out and I was very far from happy with the wizard as a controller. Sure, he had some awesome dailies, but often it felt as if many of the spells would have been better off doing no or less damage, all while inflicting harsher or more conditions to the target(s).

That was the goal. A more controllery controller. I think that both sub-builds of the Mentalist (Empath and Kinecist) fit that description, although the Empath is (IMO) quite a bit more controllery than the kinecist. Speaking of the builds: With different class features and a clearly defined "red line" through all the powers, you will hopefully experience two builds that feel very differently.

Anyway, I am starting to ramble. I just wanted to invite anyone with questions of feedback or flames to post as an answer to this article. And I am not kidding. If you have bought the Mentalist and hate it, stop by and flame away ;)

Buy this PDF now (RPGnow)


  1. Well, I've looked it over and liked it, but I have to say that I still like the Explorer better. :) I guess we have something in common then; after all, I wrote the Explorer, it would be odd if I didn't like it.

    By the way, thanks for all you do with this blog. I really enjoy your reviews (even if your pic is a bit explicit).

    Good work on the Mentalist. I'm a bit tentative about the near-unlimited amount of times a PC could potentially augment his or her At-Wills, but the rest is pretty awesome.

    So, I've looked over your class, when are you going to give the Explorer a read? I'd love to hear your take on it.

    Thanks again!


  2. a few questions; do all mentalists get both the telekinesis and telepathy powers?

    The implication that I seem to be getting is that you get one based on your build. Thing is, builds aren't hard-coded into the rules - you don't need to choose one.

    If a mentalist only gets one or the other, then in place of the Telekinesis and Telepathy class features there should be something to the effect of "Mentalist Talent: Choose either telekinesis or telepathy. You get that power as an at-will power."

    Similarly, what about force of will and forceful blast/lingering fire - the way they're all listed there, with no indication to "choose empath or kineticist. If you're an empath you get X. If you're a kineticist, you get Y."

    Finally, are all of the feats in the back of the book, aside from the multiclass feat, phrenic feats? None have [Phrenic] after the name, hence why I ask.

    The powers, though, look solid.

  3. I'm hesitant in buying 3PP classes because they sometimes/often step on the toes of WotC's classes. For example the numerous monks. I don't need that many monks. One is more than enough and for better or worse, my players are inclined to want the WotC version.

    Many of the classes are horribly broken as well (at least according to many of your reviews. Although I haven't been steered wrong yet).

    I'm also not a fan of the phrenic power source. From my understanding its simply psionics given a new name to get around licensing issues.

    But its a fairly simple affair to retype phrenic as psionic.

    As for the class itself. The fluff for the creation of mentalists is certainly unique and empath is surprisingly unique from the theoretical empath leader class from WotC. But this build does stomp all over the Telepathic Build for Psions.

    Telepathy is simply a better version of Send Thoughts and makes the racial ability of Kalashtar less useful. You've even got augmentable powers.

    Having said all that, most of the powers from the preview are certainly unique from the current build of Psion. The only ones that impinge on each other are:
    * Disjoint Brain = Ravening Thought
    * Shield the Psyche and Shield the Body = Intellectual Fortress

    So I'm not convinced this class is unique enough to have in my game. But what I've seen so far is enough to make sure I keep an open mind. Once PHB3 comes out I'll have a closer look and decide then :)

    Congratulations on getting a job and the work regardless.

  4. Thanks for reading it Jared, I am glad you liked it.

    To be frank with you, I am intrigued by the explorer, but so far I have been dodging it due to the price. I simply find $13 way too much for a single class in PDF format. I must admit that I am also leery of products where I can't read the preview.


  5. I see. Well, if you get around to it at some point, I'll be waiting to see what you think.

    I believe you'll be pleasantly surprised about the amount of content I've stuffed into 60 pages. It still blows my mind how much stuff I wrote! :)

    Thanks again for the blog!

  6. @Siberys

    I think you need to see the builds of the mentalist more as the pacts of the warlock - which tie your choice of direction with certain class powers.

    I am sorry that it apparently is unclear to you which build gets what powers. It was pointed out to me during the previews, and thus was added sentences like "You gain the Telepathy and the Force of Will class feature." in the Empath paragraph and "You gain the Telekinesis and either the Forceful Blast or the Lingering Fire class features." under the Kinecist paragraph. Moreso the description of each of those powers states which of the two types of Mentalist gets it. I am not quite sure what is unclear about it, but I am more than open to suggestions if it still doesn't make sense after reading this.

    Regarding the feats, they are indeed all phrenic feats. I have no idea why the [Phrenic] part was removed. It was there when I wrote it. Maybe it was a slip in editing/layout, or maybe I had a brainfart and asked for it to be removed and then forgot about it. Either way, it should be there.

    Thanks for taking the time to give some feedback.

  7. @John

    I agree with a lot of your points. I do not either like classes that look too much like WotC's classes. When I started the Mentalist, it was initially because I love psionics and because I figured there would be others who would like to see a psionic controller before the summer of 2010 at the earliest. It was supposed to be out around the end of May, and at that point, there had been no announcement about the PHB3 classes nor about the DDI get-access-to-the-psion-almost-a-whole-year-before-the-book-will-be-release-deal. When it was done, I had already written the Mentalist and it was being edited.

    I guess I could have rewritten it completely, but I must admit that I really like the class, and think it is solid and different enough from the official psion to spark interest amongst the psionic and phrenic lovers out there.


  8. It's not so much that it's unclear; just that it doesn't follow the setup of official classes. There is nothing in official classes that is determined by build; builds are just suggestions. (Reference Avenger - each of the builds corresponds to a Censure, but choosing the censure is separate from choosing a build)

    If I'd written that, it'd have been more like the following;

    Class Features: Focus Surges, Meditate, Mentalist Talent, Psi Focus

    Menatalist Talent: All mentalists extoll the idiom "mind over matter", but different mentalists do it in different ways. Some control thoughts, while others control the inanimate. Choose Empath or Kineticist. You gain One at-will power and one encounter power based on your choice.

    At-Will: Telepathy. You can silently communicate with others.
    Encounter: Force of will. You can impose your desires on other's minds.

    At-Will: Telekinesis. You can move objects with the strength of your mind alone.
    Encounter: Your choice of forceful blast or lingering fire. With forceful blast, you batter your opponents with pure mental energy. With lingering fire, you agitate the air until it catches flame.

    In fact, that's going to my house rules. Whatever the case, it's understandable as-is, but it's oddly formatted and anybody just skimming through it (as I first did) might be rather confused, unless they'd carefully read the builds.

    This is really just formatting, though. Elsewise, good job! I've not yet created a class precisely because of how much work it is...

  9. When it was done, I had already written the Mentalist and it was being edited.

    I completely understand everything you said and certainly don't think you should have edited the whole thing just because WotC released a similar product. I was merely explaining where I was coming from and why even though its a good class, I might not end up getting it.

    My lack of purchase shouldn't be taken as me thinking its inferior to WotC's version. It's only because I don't see enough difference in order to justify essentially buying the same class twice (although we'll just wait and see how much change there is :)).

    Unfortunately there's no perfect way to avoid this sort of situation, its simply the nature of the beast.

    As for the "confusion" (which as Siberys said isn't confusion so much as following a non-standard format), building off what Syberis has said I'd lay it out in the following manner:

    Class Features: Focus Surges, Meditate, Mentalist Talent, Psi Focus

    Menatalist Talent: All mentalists extoll the idiom "mind over matter", but different mentalists do it in different ways. Some control thoughts, while others control the inanimate. Choose Empath or Kineticist. You gain One at-will power and one encounter power based on your choice.

    You gain the telepathy and force of will powers.

    You gain the telekinesis and either forceful blast or lingering fire.

    You can keep all of the flavour of the builds you've currently got. Simply outlining the above in this manner conforms to the standard most people are accustomed to.

    For example in Barbarians all Rageblood Barbarian builds are expected to take Rageblood Vigor as their Feral Might Class feature. For Mentalists, all Empath builds would be expected to take the Empath Mentalist Talent class feature.

    It simply states outright what is assumed. Its not 100% necessary, but there's also very little reason in changing how its laid out from WotC's current method. In changing the layout arbitrarily many players will look at the difference as deliberate and meaningful and attempt to work out what it means.

  10. Hey Chris,

    I know you had some gripes with the price of the Explorer, so I wanted to let you know that Alluria is having a 50% off sale for our products, including the Explorer. That puts it at $6 right now, which is a screamin' deal.

    I hope I don't sound like a crummy commercial. You had just sounded dismayed at the price, and I thought you might like to look at it now that the price has dropped.

    Have a good one!
    Jared Glenn