Psi Warrior Fighters are a martial subclass that delves into psychic and magical powers more than any other Fighter in DnD 5e. They have a strong set of features that complement and expand on what a Fighter can do in very satisfying ways.
This guide will cover Psi Warrior’s features (and rate them on a scale of 1-5), give tips on how to build a Psi Warrior effectively with feats and multiclass options, and provide advice for roleplaying your Psi Warrior character’s backstory and goals.
Psi Warrior Features
Psionic Power – 3rd-level (4/5)
Gain Psionic Energy dice (d6) equal to twice your proficiency bonus, which you regain after a long rest. You can also regain one die as a bonus action once per rest (short or long). The dice increase at levels 5 (d8), 11 (d10), and 17 (d12). You can use these dice for the following abilities:
Protective Field. Reaction to you or ally within 30 feet taking damage, reducing the damage by PE die + Intelligence modifier. Not the best use of your Psionic Energy dice in most instances, as it’s often better to deal more damage to kill things faster as a more efficient route to reduce incoming damage. One caveat: if you can reduce damage to 0 with this ability, then an ally won’t be forced to make a concentration check (according to Jeremy Crawford). In these instances, Protective Field is very much worth using.
Psionic Strike. After hitting a target within 30 feet, deal an additional PE die + Intelligence modifier force damage. This is where most of your PE dice should go, as bonus damage is the best thing you can do from both an offensive and defensive perspective in DnD 5e. Also, this is technically a secondary source of damage separate from the attack roll, which is good and bad. Good because it forces a second concentration check, but bad because the damage isn’t doubled by a critical hit.
Telekinetic Movement. Move a loose object or willing creature (other than yourself) up to 30 feet in any direction, and can move a tiny object to or from your hand. You can’t use this again until you finish a short or long rest, unless you expend a PE die. This can be really good for repositioning allies, grabbing MacGuffins, or getting friends over un-jumpable gaps.
Psionic Power is the bread-and-butter of the Psi Warrior Fighter. You get extra defensive, offensive, and utility benefits all wrapped up in a very strong 3rd-level feature.
Telekinetic Adept – 7th-level (4/5)
Two new ways to use Psionic Energy dice:
Psi-Powered Leap. Use a bonus action to gain flying speed twice your walking speed for the turn. You can’t use this again until you finish a short or long rest, unless you expend a PE die. Awesome for ranged Psi Warriors to get to unreachable places, for melee Psi Warriors to get in range of flying creatures (as long as you can safely return to the ground afterward), and for all characters to get to locations that are otherwise unreachable.
Telekinetic Thrust. When you use Psionic Strike, you can push the target prone or up to 10 feet in any direction horizontally if they fail a Strength save (DC = 8 + proficiency bonus + Intelligence modifier). This makes Psionic Strike much, much better. If you knock the target prone on your first attack, you can follow up with attack advantage on Extra Attack. Not to mention that melee allies also get attack advantage on the prone target until they stand up. The 10-foot push is also super flexible, and pairs great for pushing enemies into hazardous terrain, spell effects from your allies (Spike Growth, Spirit Guardians, Moonbeam, etc.), or just off a cliff.
This is a significant boost to the power level of your Psionic Energy dice and, by this level, you have between 7d8 and 9d8 to use per day, depending on how often you can short rest.
For comparison, a Battle Master has between 5d8 and 15d8 per day, depending on their short rest frequency, so you’re fairly even with them, but less reliant on short resting. Plus, Psi-Powered Leap and Telekinetic movement don’t expend a PE die the first time you use them per short rest.
Guarded Mind – 10th-level (3/5)
Psychic damage isn’t super common in most campaign settings, but damage resistance is always nice, especially if you’re going up against Mind Flayers or spellcasters with psychic spells. More importantly, the charmed and frightened conditions are usually caused by a failed Wisdom saving throw, which Fighters aren’t good at. If you’re going up against a dragon, you’ll be very happy to have Guarded Mind at the ready.
Bulwark of Force – 15th-level (4/5)
Bonus action to give creatures up to your Intelligence modifier within 30 feet (including yourself) the benefit of half cover (+2 AC from ranged attacks) for 1 minute. Usable for free once per long rest, or by expending a Psionic Energy die.
This is a pretty significant defensive buff for you and your party when you’re being pelted with ranged attacks (including spells), seeing as +2 AC will cause those attacks to land 10 percentage points less often.
Telekinetic Master – 18th-level (3/5)
You can cast Telekinesis once per long rest for free, or more times by expending a Psionic Energy die. You can also make a weapon attack as a bonus action while concentrating on the spell.
The Telekinesis spell allows you to move any Huge or smaller creature up to 30 feet in any direction if they fail a Strength check contest against your Intelligence check. The creature is also restrained until the end of your next turn (0 speed, disadvantage on attack rolls and Dexterity saving throws, and attacked with advantage). You can repeat the check contest as an action on later rounds to keep it active on the target.
This is really good for positioning enemies how you prefer and providing both offensive and defensive perks for your party. And the ability to attack while doing so is nice. However, it’s a bummer that you can’t Extra Attack while maintaining this.
You can also move loose objects up to 1,000 pounds up to 30 feet, or with a Strength vs. Intelligence check if the object is worn or carried.
Overall, this is a fun addition to your set of powers, but you’re usually still better off just attacking and using Extra Attack for more damage output, especially if the target has a good Strength modifier.
How to Build a Psi Warrior in 5e
You can build a Psi Warrior in a number of ways — as a tank, a frontline striker, or a ranged attacker. No matter what, you’re one of the few Fighter subclasses who need to put points into Intelligence to be effective (the other being Eldritch Knights). Here’s advice for each of these three build options:
Tank. 15 Str, 8 Dex, 15 Con, 14 Int, 10 Wis, 8 Cha with point buy (before racial bonuses). Take the Dueling or Defense fighting style for +2 damage with one-handed weapons or flat +1 AC. Get the Sentinel feat for more battlefield control, Defensive Duelist for a reaction to boost your AC when attacked (if you’re using a finesse weapon), and/or Shield Master for the ability to shove enemies prone after your first attack as a bonus action.
Frontline striker. 15 Str, 8 Dex, 14 Con, 15 Int, 10 Wis, 8 Cha with point buy. Take the Defense or Great Weapon Fighting fighting style for +1 AC or the ability to reroll 1s or 2s with two-handed weapons (or just get Defense for the flat +1 AC). Get the Great Weapon Master, Polearm Master, and/or Alert feats for more damage and attacks, more opportunity attacks, and/or better initiative rolls.
Ranged attacker. 8 Str, 15 Dex, 14 Con, 15 Int, 10 Wis, 8 Cha with point buy. Take the Archery fighting style for +2 to ranged weapon attack rolls. Get the Sharpshooter and Crossbow Expert feats for heavier-hitting ranged attacks and bonus action attacks with a hand crossbow, as well as ignoring all the negative aspects of using a ranged weapon (disadvantage on long-ranged attacks, disadvantage from a foe being within 5 feet of you, and bonus AC from cover). The only downside of being a ranged Psi Warrior is that you need to stay within 30 feet of your targets to use Psionic Strike and Telekinetic Thrust.
Psi Warrior Feats
There are several great feats for Psi Warriors, and they give you more ways to specialize into your role as a tank, a striker, or a ranged attacker on top of your psionic powers. Here’s a word on each of them:
Telekinetic. +1 Intelligence, invisible mage hand with extended range and no component requirements, and the ability to use a bonus action to shove a creature within 30 feet (Strength save vs. your Int spell save DC). One more way to control the battlefield, help allies escape without taking opportunity attacks (they can willingly fail their save), and solidify your identity as a psionic powerhouse.
Great Weapon Master. +1 bonus action attack after landing a critical hit or killing a creature and the ability to take a -5 penalty to your attack roll for +10 damage if it hits. Absolutely essential if your main goal is to deal as much damage as possible, and you can basically negate the -5 penalty with Telekinetic Thrust (advantage against prone targets).
Polearm Master. +1 d4 bonus action attack after attacking with a polearm, and enemies provoke opportunity attacks when they enter your reach. Great for tanks and strikers alike, and pairs phenomenally well with the Sentinel feat.
Sentinel. Creatures you hit with opportunity attacks have 0 speed for the turn, you ignore the Disengage action, and you can make a reaction attack if a creature within 5 feet of you attacks someone other than you. With Polearm Master, you can freeze enemies who enter your 10-foot reach before they get into melee range to attack you. One of the best tanking feats in the game, hands down.
Shield Master. Bonus action shove after taking the attack action, can add shield AC to Dex saves for effects that target only you, and take 0 damage if you pass a Dex save that normally deals half damage. The shove bonus action is basically a free, unlimited Telekinetic Thrust (although lower range and less distance on the shove), and the defensive perks are okay too. Gives you even more tricks to employ as a sword-and-board Psi Warrior.
Defensive Duelist. Reaction to add your proficiency bonus to your AC for an attack that hits you while you’re wielding a finesse weapon. Basically a limitless (but weaker) version of the Shield spell (one of the most OP spells in 5e), and another way to reduce incoming damage along with Protective Field (although only for yourself, not allies). If you’re a Dex-focused melee Fighter, there’s no better defensive feat for self-preservation.
Crossbow Expert. Ignore the loading quality of crossbows, creatures within 5 feet don’t impose disadvantage on ranged attacks, and bonus action attack with a hand crossbow after attacking with a one-handed weapon (including hand crossbows). Sadly (IMO), this feat makes hand crossbows the premier ranged weapon in DnD 5e, because more attacks is the best way to deal more damage. And, of course, not having to worry about melee enemies being in your face is essential to optimal play on a ranged character. Plus, with Telekinetic Thrust, you can run away without fear of opportunity attacks after landing a hit.
Sharpshooter. Ignore disadvantage on long-ranged ranged attacks and AC bonuses from cover, and can take a -5 penalty to your ranged attack roll for +10 damage if it hits. The ranged version of Great Weapon Master, this is your best way to deal the most possible damage as a ranged weapon-user. Although, you’ll never really be attacking from long range as a Psi Warrior, since Psionic Strike requires you to be within 30 feet of your target to use.
Alert. +5 bonus to initiative, can’t be surprised, and creatures don’t get attack advantage against you for being unseen attackers. Going earlier in combat is great for killing enemies faster, so they can’t deal damage to your party. As the DnD community loves to say, “death is the best debuff.” The other perks are nice, but the +5 initiative is really what we’re here for.
Lucky. Can reroll 3d20 per day, including attack rolls against you. Technically good on any character in DnD 5e, but boring as heck.
Psi Warrior 5e Multiclass Options
It’s somewhat tricky to multiclass out of a Psi Warrior Fighter since many good features (both for the subclass and class) come online at later levels. Not to mention that you need to put points into Intelligence to be effective as a Psi Warrior. That means that Wizards and Artificers are your best bets, with some subclasses standing out as the best options.
Even still, I wouldn’t recommend multiclassing until after 8th level, when you get your third feat and already have Telekinetic Adept, or 11th level, when you get Extra Attack 2x and have Guarded Mind. Here are my picks for the best Psi Warrior multiclass options:
War Wizard. A two-level dip in War Wizard gets you Arcane Deflection, which allows you to add +2 AC against an attack that hits or +4 to a saving throw that you fail — at will! The only stipulation is that you can’t cast spells on your next turn, but who cares? This is a huge boon to your defensive capabilities as a Psi Warrior, especially the bonus to saving throws to cover your poor Wisdom saves.
You also get a +Intelligence bonus to your initiative rolls from Tactical Wit, another 2nd-level War Wizard feature, helping you make up for your poor Dexterity modifier (or making your initiative absolutely godlike if you’re already a Dex-based Fighter using a finesse or ranged weapon).
Going up to level 3 gets you 2nd-level Wizard spells and a total of six spell slots, adding even more utility to a subclass that already thrives in that department. In my opinion, War Wizard is hands down the best multiclass option for Psi Warriors.
Armorer Artificer. Dipping into Artificer gets you thieves’ tools proficiency, infusions to add further versatility to your kit (many of which can be flavored as psi-adjacent powers), and a few 1st-level spells.
Armorer, in particular, lets you use your armor as a spellcasting focus (so no worries about having a free hand to cast spells) and Guardian armor, which causes creatures you hit to have disadvantage on attacks against targets other than you and the ability to use a bonus action to gain temporary hit points equal to your Artificer level (it’s not much, but it’s a fine bonus to start off fights).
Basically, this makes you a slightly more reliable tank and gives you a ton of utility via infusions and spellcasting.
Battle Smith Artificer. Battle Smith gets you the Shield spell (+5 AC for 1 round in reaction to being hit, which can totally be flavored as another psychic power) and a Steel Defender that you can command to attack with your bonus action. Its hit points will be low if your Artificer level is low, but its damage scales with your proficiency bonus and its ability to impose disadvantage on enemy attack rolls as a reaction adds yet another party-wide defensive buff to your kit of options.
Now, if you START the game as a Battle Smith before multiclassing into Psi Warrior, you can also ignore Strength AND Dexterity and be Intelligence SAD (Single Ability Dependent), opening up the door to even more feats. That’s because Battle Smiths use Intelligence for their weapon attack and damage rolls.
Overall, this can be a fun character built with a ton of flexibility, but it also slows down your Fighter level progression. Even if you pick up Fighter first, Battle Smith is still a worthy multiclass option after you hit level 8 or 11 in Fighter.
Psi Warrior Strengths and Weaknesses
Control. Between Telekinetic Thrust and Telekinetic Movement, Psi Warriors are able to control the positions of friends and foes alike more than any other Fighter subclass in DnD 5e. This reaches new heights once they get the Telekinesis spell at 18th level, but even by 7th level, Psi Warriors have a ton of options for controlling the battlefield.
Defense. Protective Field, Guarded Mind, and the very strong 15th-level Bulwark of Force all make Psi Warriors excellent tanks and defender support characters. You can reduce incoming party damage, resist psychic damage, and remove charm/frighten effects on yourself, and reduce the change of ranged attacks hitting your party — all really strong.
Utility. Limited flight and telekinetic movement add a certain degree of extra utility to Psi Warriors on top of their powers of battlefield control.
Reliant on Psionic Energy dice. While Telekinetic Leap, Telekinetic Movement, and Telekinetic Master can all be used once per day without expending a Psionic Energy die, your bread-and-butter features (Protect Field and Psionic Strike) will quickly eat up your PE dice. And once you lose those, you’re basically a regular Fighter with no subclass features at all. This isn’t a huge weakness as long as you’re careful about expending resources, and it helps that you’ll never “waste” a PE die, since Psionic Strike and Protect Field are only used AFTER you hit or react to an ally being hit.
Is Psi Warrior a Good Subclass in 5e?
Yes, Psi Warrior is a strong subclass in 5e. It fulfills a niche of strong battlefield control while still feeling distinct from the Battle Master, which is (IMO) a slightly stronger and more versatile Fighter subclass.
Still, if you’re looking for a psychic-flavored warrior, there’s no better option than a Psi Warrior, and it’s certainly more powerful than many other Fighter subclasses.
Roleplaying a Psi Warrior
According to Tasha’s, Psi Warriors are “awake to psionic powers within,” which are either honed through discipline, learned from a teacher, or a mixture of innate skill and tutelage at an academy. githyanki and high elves are the ones who usually train to become such warriors, but don’t let that stop you from being any race you like.
Using this as a basic framework, I’ve come up with three backstories as to how your Fighter became a Psi Warrior. They’re pretty basic, but I hope these help get the ball rolling on how to roleplay your Psi Warrior character:
A confused soldier. You were a low-level foot soldier in the king’s army, fighting alongside your brother. When one battle went particularly badly for your side, your brother was almost slain — until something happened. You reached out with your mind and caused the blade to stop an inch from your brother’s neck, giving him time to retaliate and saving his life.
Though you were both able to escape the battle with your lives, the commander heard of your strange power, thought it unnatural, and released you from the army. Alone and confused, you tried to recreate that moment of telekinetic power but were unable to. So you set out in search of a teacher — or another fight — to see if it was a fluke or, indeed, a special power within you.
An experiment gone wrong. A poor child, your parents gave you to a high elf wizard to live as a servant — a better life than they could ever offer you. Little did they know that this wizard was set on collecting children to experiment on, trying to bring out psychic powers through extreme conditions.
This was a brutal upbringing, but the wizard did achieve his goal with one child — you — by putting you into life-threatening situations. Though he tried to make you feel special and powerful, you saw him for what he was: an evil man. So you decided to slay him in his sleep and rescue the other children subjected to such brutalities. With some measure of psychic abilities, and decided to set out on your own, to use your powers for good.
A Jedi knight. An academy took you in on your 18th birthday, recognizing your prowess with a blade and a sharp mind to go along with it. It was a prestigious institution, focused on training warriors that could do more than just fight, but control the battlefield with their minds.
You were coming along well in your training, but the school was attacked by a nearby baron’s army, who felt it was training unnatural creatures bent on attacking his lands. Scattered to the winds, you and your fellow students set out in separate directions, eager to complete your training and possibly to seek revenge on the foolish baron who destroyed your home.