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Unearthed Arcana has taken up the concept of Psionics several times now. At first, with some basic rules for a Mystic class up to level 5 (which I can't seem to find online anymore, they seem to have been removed), then an expansion up to level 10 for that class based on previous feedback, and finally the complete Mystic class.

The second version mentions:

Psionics and magic are two distinct forces. In general, an effect that affects a spell has no effect on a psionic effect. There is one important exception to this rule. A psionic effect that reproduces a spell is treated as magic. [...]

However, the revised, third version states the following:

As a student of psionics, you can master and use psionic talents and disciplines, the rules for which appear at the end of this document. Psionics is a special form of magic use, distinct from spellcasting.

Now, Psionics count as a form of magic, it's just different from Spellcasting - but what is Spellcasting? Is it the class feature of e. g. Wizards or Sorcerers, which means a Warlock's Pact Magic does not fall into this category either? Or is it simply the ability to cast spells, which would include warlocks but (mostly) exclude Mystics?
For the sake of this question, let's assume the latter.

Later on in version 3, the section Combining Psionic Effects states:

Combining Psionic Effects
[...]
Psionics and spells are separate effects, and therefore their benefits and drawbacks overlap. A psionic effect that reproduces a spell is an exception to this rule.

Therefore, the question remains:


Would an Antimagic Field affect someone wielding psionic powers, such as a Mystic?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ PS: I took the liberty of creating the mystic tag, since other classes have their own tag and the Mystic is likely to be added eventually, considering the efforts already put into it. \$\endgroup\$ – PixelMaster Apr 3 '18 at 18:52
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Yes, a mystic's psionics would be suppressed by an antimagic field

Antimagic field says:

Spells and other magical effects, except those created by an artifact or a deity, are suppressed in the sphere and can't protrude into it.

So anything that is a spell or other type of magical effect will be suppressed.

The Sage Advice Compendium provides a handy checklist of questions to ask to determine if something is considered to be magical for the purposes of antimagic field and related effects. One of them says:

  • Does its description say it's magical?

If this answer to this question is yes, then that thing is considered magical and would be affected by the antimagic field.

Psionics is described as being magical

So, looking in version 3 of the Psionics UA we can find passages such as:

Psionics is a special form of magic use, distinct from spellcasting.

and

Psionic talents and disciplines are the heart of a mystic’s craft. They are the mental exercises and psionic formulae used to forge will into tangible, magical effects.

and

Psionic disciplines are magical and function similarly to spells.

Thus, it is pretty clear that the use of psionics is indeed magical and would be affected by an antimagic field.

Note: spells and magic are commonly equated when, in fact, there are many magical abilities and effects that have absolutely nothing to do with spells. So, to be clear, psionic abilities are not spells even though they are magical and even though some of them act a lot like spells. Things like dispel magic, for example, will not work on psionic abilities as a result of this.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Let us continue this discussion in chat. \$\endgroup\$ – SeraphsWrath Apr 4 '18 at 3:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ if you add a paragraph discussing the differences between psionics and spells (mostly just that psionics = magic but psionics ≠ spells), I'll mark you as accepted. \$\endgroup\$ – PixelMaster Apr 4 '18 at 17:15
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RAW and most likely RAI: Yes, Antimagic Field will block Psionics.

This is the case because of the following essential sentence in version 3 of the Mystic. On page 5 it states:

Psionic talents and disciplines are the heart of a mystic’s craft. They are the mental exercises and psionic formulae used to forge will into tangible, magical effects.

Antimagic Field:

[...] Spells and other magical effects, except those created by an artifact or a deity, are suppressed in the sphere and can’t protrude into it. [...]

Therefore, we can conclude that Psionics do not work inside an Antimagic Field.

Please note that this interpretation might not be the RAI!
It being RAI is supported by the fact that they removed the "an effect that affects a spell has no effect on a psionic effect" part.
However, the phrasing is still somewhat ambiguous and feels like the game designers want to count Psionics as magic for all intents and purposes (barring things like Counterspell, because PsionicsSpells) - but they don't want to abandon the history of Psionics as well.

Currently, 5e Psionics aren't spells, but they're not the traditional Psionics, which draw from the Far Realms instead of the weave, either.

Summary: Psionics = magic, but Psionics ≠ spells


Additional notes:

Historically (in the Forgotten Realms), Psionics would not be affected by an antimagic field, because there used to be a distinction between them and weave (↓) users. This is currently not the case anymore.

In the PHB on page 205, a sidebar explains the so-called Weave of Magic, which is a layer of sorts that (mostly) exists in the whole multiverse of the Forgotten Realms. Classic spell-casting classes such as Wizards, Clerics or Warlocks all draw upon this weave when casting spells.

This weave is clearly referenced in the description of Antimagic Field:

A 10-foot-radius invisible sphere of antimagic surrounds you. This area is divorced from the magical energy that suffuses the multiverse.


According to this question and other online sources, psionic users do not draw their powers from the weave, but from themselves and their rare connection to the Far Realms. Therefore, their powers would historically (!) not be affected by effects like an Antimagic Field.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Historically there wasn't a weave unless you played in FR. You could reword that to just say "Practitioners of Magic" or something like that. \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Apr 3 '18 at 19:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ “traditional Psionics, which draw from the Far Realms instead of the weave” Uh, no they don’t. Psionics has always been inner power, power of the self and the mind. 3.5e even had a sidebar about psionics in the Realms that specifies that psionic characters actually produce little mini-weaves of their own, and that’s how psionics work there. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Apr 3 '18 at 21:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ I really hope they change their minds and revert psionics to be distinct from magic, as it has been in all previous editions of D&D and earlier versions of the Mystic class. It just doesn't feel right to me for it to be magic (hmm, have I become more conservative with age?). At least it's UA atm and not official. \$\endgroup\$ – Tenryu Apr 3 '18 at 22:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PixelMaster No, because that isn’t true. I don’t know where that came from but it absolutely is not canon. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Apr 4 '18 at 1:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PixelMaster A bit more digging finds that 4e—hardly a traditional source for any D&D fluff, and I like the system—did have psionics be kind of Far Realms-adjacent. It still wasn’t from the Far Realms. But 4e is (massively) an outlier in pretty much everything for D&D, so it’s not a great source here. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Apr 4 '18 at 1:14
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As far as I know their 'magic' is from mind and originated from the Far Realm, and has nothing to do with the Weave. In fact, that is why even Ao couldn't do much about the Spellplague:

Since the Spellplague was born from the defiling powers from the Far Realm, a plane that existed outside of Realmspace, not even Lord Ao had the power to stop it once it started.

And as far as I can remember, wizards and such utilize the Weave while performing spells, or when they dispel something - Even the anti-magic zone itself is described as a zone which the Weave doesn't exist in... So I doubt it would have any effect on a mystic from a lore perspective, as their powers drive from their minds rather than interacting with the Weave.

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