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This question is about the UA Mystic (v3).

The Bestial Form Immortal Discipline has this possible effect:

Bestial Claws (1-7 psi). You manifest long claws for an instant and make a melee weapon attack against one creature within 5 feet of you. On a hit, this attack deals 1d10 slashing damage per psi point spent."

The vast majority of Mystic effects specify that they take an action, a reaction, a bonus action or a given number of minutes, but this one doesn't specify anything in that regard. Does it mean that "Bestial Claws" doesn't use up an action ?

If so, this would mean that you may take the Attack action, and then do an additional attack with this effect. Furthermore, I didn't see anything that prevents a Mystic from using several effects on the same turn, so would that mean that he can make as many "Bestial Claws" attacks as he wants (provided he has the psi points) in one turn ?

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Since the text uses lower-case attack in the description, maybe it expects you to use it as part of an Attack action or other action which allows an attack (SCAG cantrips, etc.). If this is true, then you would have to use the feature multiple times (each costing psi) if you make multiple attacks with it. This seems more reasonable than allowing it over multiple attacks since the psi cost is meant to correspond closely to the damage output, and multiple attacks would act as a multiplier.

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You make a melee weapon attack, which would fall under the normal rules for doing that. It does not take an action to manifest the claws in and of itself, but the attack with those claws is an action (or part of an action if your normal Attack action can contain multiple attacks).

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This just came up in one of my sessions. So forgive me for dredging up a dead topic on an officially abandoned class. The player insisted, RAW, that there is no action specified, therefore it takes no action. "a melee weapon attack is not an action, it is the result of taking an action, such as the attack action, that grants an attack with an equipped weapon." He then went on to insist that he could burn through his entire daily amount of psi points in a single turn in intervals less than or equal to his psi limit, using this feature to make as many attacks as he pleased, at 1d10 per psi point spent. Now I overruled him as DM, and my interpretation is that this is designed to function similarly to all the other Mystic 1-7 psi abilities that deal damage and is basically a stronger, limited use version the druid cantrip Primal Savagery:

You channel primal magic to cause your teeth or fingernails to sharpen, ready to deliver a corrosive attack. Make a melee spell attack against one creature within 5 feet of you. On a hit, the target takes 1d10 acid damage. After you make the attack, your teeth or fingernails return to normal.

In that case, I think that the action economy of the feature was accidentally omitted and overlooked in proof. Comparing to all other Mystic Discipline abilities that cost 1-7 psi and deal damage to a target, they all require an action. Therefore logically, this ability is simply missing the words "As an Action" at the beginning of its rules text.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi Franklin, welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour to find out how this site works, and visit the help center for more info. Just to let you know, generally the attitude around here is that questions are never too old to answer, so don't worry about "dredging up a dead topic on an officially abandoned class"; there's nothing to forgive. Thanks for your answer! \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Apr 23 at 18:44
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The claw damage is part of a melee attack; it happens "in an instant"

"In an instant" is not as yet a defined mechanic/action economy term. The Action in this case is a melee weapon attack.

This ability appears to be very similar to the Paladin's Divine Smite ability, or the Cleric spell Inflict Wounds. As this is playtest material, work with your DM to choose which it should be treated as. (See Below)

Textual analysis

Let's look at the rules text very closely. How are disciplines presented? On page 9 it says:

Each psionic discipline has several ways you can use it, all contained in its description. The discipline specifies the type of action and number of psi points it requires.

What is the type of action for this use of the Bestial Form discipline?

Bestial Claws (1–7 psi). You manifest long claws for an instant and make a melee weapon attack against one creature within 5 feet of you. On a hit, this attack deals 1d10 slashing damage per psi point spent. (page 11)

The text as written, in terms of the order of instruction presented, makes the claw damage contingent upon a successful melee attack "in an instant." It is not a bonus action; were it a bonus action the text would call that out. Compare to Bestial Transformation:

As a bonus action, you alter your physical form ...(page 11)

Is it more like a spell, or more like a class ability?

That's hard to say since this is play test material. Psi points are a limited resource just as a Paladin's, or a Cleric's, spell slots are.

I see the claws as similar to a Paladin's spell slots used for Divine Smite, due to the order of how the text was written.

Divine Smite
Starting at 2nd level, when you hit a creature with a melee weapon attack, you can expend one spell slot to deal radiant damage to the target, in addition to the weapon’s damage. The extra damage is 2d8 for a 1st-­‐‑level spell slot, plus 1d8 for each spell level

When you hit you burn slots/psi points for damage from the ability.

My reading may be generous.

Another DM might treat it like a spell attack such as Inflict Wounds (Cleric, first level) such that you have to decide to use the spell and take the risk that you might miss, and burn the spell slot(s) (or in this case psi points) as part of the attack. A good reason to rule this way is that the text suggests that you make the decision, you manifest the claws "in an instant," then you attack, and then the damage happens, and psi points expended.

Inflict Wounds
Duration: Instantaneous
Make a melee spell attack against a creature you can reach. On a hit, the target takes 3d10 necrotic damage.
At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, the damage increases by 1d10 for each slot level above 1st. {similar to using higher spell slots}

Both use finite resources to boost damage, but one has a bit more risk of missing out on the bonus damage than the other.

Discuss this with your DM.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Your statement "makes these claws a supplement to a successful melee attack" lacks rigor. If it were meant to be added to a successful attack, it would say "on a hit", not "make a melee weapon attack". The existing text is far more like your Inflict Wounds quote than Divine Smite. The action cost is definitely unspecified, but I think the far more likely answer here is that it's playtest material and the action type is simply missing. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Nov 22 '17 at 13:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @T.J.L. It lacks rigor thanks to being play test material. I offer both points since unclear rules like this in play test are best tested in a variety of ways to see what works best. I have changed the phrasing; it was certainly awkward. I am tempted to send a tweet to Crawford asking "either or" since I can make a case for either. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Nov 22 '17 at 14:07

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