The Psionic has been a staple of Dungeons & Dragons for generations now, but it wasn’t looking like they were making it to 5E. Of course, that’s until Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything came around and gave us two full psionic subclasses! The Soulknife is the Rogue’s take on psionic power. The Rogue’s mind is bolstered enough to give them a blade that they can manifest at will. This blade is just one aspect of their mental training; they are hardy warriors, with an invulnerable mind and a skilled look at everything in the world. Surely, these disciplined scoundrels are worthy of battlefield play, right? Find out, in our Soulknife 5E guide!
See Our Guide to the New Subclasses in Tasha’s Cauldron
The Sharpest Mind: Soulknife 5E
The Soulknife is a resource-based rogue that basically gets a little better than a rogue on all accounts. This doesn’t make them better than a rogue subclass; just the base rogue gets extra skills, extra damage, more utility, and even some defense, though at the cost of being based on a pool of dice. So, especially early on, this class can become annoyingly low on resources, and then be forced to use basic rogue features.
At level 3, you gain a pool of psionic dice called Psionic Energy. These dice are in a pool equal to double your proficiency bonus (4 at level 3, 6 at level 5, 8 at level 9, 10 at level 13, 12 at level 17). They start as a d6, and increase once at level 5, 11, and 17 (d8, d10, d12). You regain all of your psionic energy after a long rest, and may use a bonus action to regain one die once per any rest (long or short).
Right now, you can spend your Psionic Energy to manifest these two abilities.
Psi-Bolstered Knack. When your nonpsionic training fails you, your psionic power can help: if you fail an ability check using a skill or tool with which you have proficiency, you can roll one Psionic Energy die and add the number rolled to the check, potentially turning failure into success. You expend the die only if the roll succeeds.
Until level 9, you have nothing else to use psionic energy on. Might as well make sure those shady ability check rolls don’t kill you, right? Roll those d6s or d8s as you wish! After level 9, you’ll want to save this ability for just the most important rolls that you missed.
You also have another ability.
Psychic Whispers. As an action, choose one or more creatures you can see, up to a number of creatures equal to your proficiency bonus, and then roll one Psionic Energy die. For a number of hours equal to the number rolled, the chosen creatures can speak telepathically with you, and you can speak telepathically with them. To send or receive a message (no action required), you and the other creature must be within 1 mile of each other.
Not mentioned; they need to have some language known, and the creature can cancel the connection whenever. You don’t need to share a language to understand them. You only expend the Psionic Energy die after you’ve used it already that day.
The free use of psychic whispers is, obviously, fantastic. The early-game ability to get telepathy demolishes language barriers and allows for incredibly sneaky strats between you and most of your party. Do make sure you warn your target first, because they can just cancel it whenever they want. While it could be cool to scare the hell out of a guard with telepathy, they’ll likely cut the connection immediately.
This telepathy does have its downsides; 2 people getting telepathy doesn’t cover your party, rolling a 1 sucks a lot. However, both of these problems are solved by simply getting to a higher level.
Also at level 3, you don’t get away without something that’s aggressive!
Whenever you take the Attack action, you can manifest a psychic blade from your free hand and make the attack with that blade. This magic blade is a simple melee weapon with the finesse and thrown properties. It has a normal range of 60 feet and no long range, and on a hit, it deals psychic damage equal to 1d6 plus the ability modifier you used for the attack roll. The blade vanishes immediately after it hits or misses its target, and it leaves no mark on its target if it deals damage.
Okay, quick pause. As an attack action, being able to deal consistent psychic damage is wonderful. And a d6 with a great range? That’s pretty solid, it’s good damage and has fantastic reach. Treating these weapons as finesse weapons means you get to use your Dexterity modifier instead of strength, if you want.
There’s a pretty unfortunate issue, however; there’s no way to enchant this. Without a kind DM, you will never get a +1. So you’ll feel the pain of a low attack roll, and can’t get access to powerful buffs like Flame Tongue. So eventually, you may need to replace your Psychic Blades with a magic weapon.
Okay, back in;
After you attack with the blade, you can make a melee or ranged weapon attack with a second psychic blade as a bonus action on the same turn, provided your other hand is free to create it. The damage die of this bonus attack is 1d4, instead of 1d6.
Now that’s a good reason to use this over a basic weapon! So, if you make an attack with an unenchantable weapon, you get to swing with your offhand! That means in total, you can deal d6+d4+(double) Dexterity. That… might be worth it, especially early on!
A rogue being able to two-weapon fight is pretty good. That means you get two chances to get your sneak attack, and two chances with great damage even if you’ve already sneak attacked!
Talk with your DM to see if there’s any way you can get an item to give you +1-+3 in some way, like a headband or something. Otherwise, these are still a great weapon, just without some accuracy in the late game.
At level 9, you get some additional ways to expend psychic energy, and a buff to your Blades.
- Homing Strikes. If you make an attack roll with your Psychic Blades and miss the target, you can roll one Psionic Energy die and add the number rolled to the attack roll. If this causes the attack to hit, you expend the Psionic Energy die.
- Psychic Teleportation. As a bonus action, you manifest one of your Psychic Blades, expend one Psionic Energy die and roll it, and throw the blade at an unoccupied space you can see, up to a number of feet away equal to 10 times the number rolled. You then teleport to that space, and the blade vanishes.
These abilities do nothing to stop my argument that Psychic Blades should be allowed to be enchanted. But this certainly helps.
If you’re still using Psychic Blades, this is a fantastic use of Psionic Energy. You “add” a d8-d12 to your attack rolls, and that’s insane! You almost guarantee sneak attack to land. But.. You still have to use an unenchanted weapon to do it. A +3 weapon adds quite a lot to your attack roll, and doesn’t spend a resource. To be fair, at this point, your skills and tool proficiencies might be fine. You might not need to spend psionic energy often, and this ability is a great place to spend dice. Just, try and figure out whether these are better than any magic weapons you have.
Psionic Teleportation is a bonus action teleport. Nothing here says you have to obey the range of your thrown weapon, so you get to throw this to a max of 120 feet. Now… The problem is that you can roll a 1. Then you chuck the dagger right at your feet and teleport there. On average, you’re teleporting about 40-70 feet, which is not bad at all! But variable teleports are always scary, and you expend the psionic energy immediately. If you desperately need to teleport, you have a way to do it without spending spell slots… But yeesh that’s hard to rely on!
At level 13, you gain a defensive ability… Well, kinda.
As an action, you can magically become invisible, along with anything you are wearing or carrying, for 1 hour or until you dismiss this effect (no action required). This invisibility ends early immediately after you deal damage to a creature or you force a creature to make a saving throw.
Once you use this feature, you can’t do so again until you finish a long rest, unless you expend a Psionic Energy die to use this feature again.
You basically get the ability to cast Invisibility, with a duration of an hour, by using a dice (other than the first time). An hour of invisibility is godly for a Rogue, since it can keep you so incredibly safe when you’re scouting. Unfortunately, it has little combat power, as it’s not too hard to get See Invisibility or Truesight by now. At least you can make the first attack!
Not much else to say; you get a longer invisibility. Have a great time scouting and gathering information, but try to avoid those with the ability to see invisible creatures.
Your capstone, at level 17, uses your psychic blades to decimate one’s mind.
When you use your Psychic Blades to deal Sneak Attack damage to a creature, you can force that target to make a Wisdom saving throw (DC equal to 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Dexterity modifier). If the save fails, the target is stunned for 1 minute. The stunned target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.
Once you use this feature, you can’t do so again until you finish a long rest, unless you expend three Psionic Energy dice to use it again.
So, once per day, you can absolutely destroy someone’s mind. Stunned is a pretty devastating condition, almost as good as Paralyzed. Unfortunately you don’t get the free critical hits, but it forces an enemy to completely lose their turn at least once. And your DC is Dexterity-based! That’s really good.
This is pretty expensive if you want to quickly refresh it, but you have 12 dice by now. Spending 1/4th of your dice for a minute of stun is worth your time, if you expect a really problematic enemy in the near future.
Unfortunately, a Wisdom save can be fairly easy to make, if your opponent is a spellcaster. Casters also tend to be the ones you’d want to stun the most. So… yeah. Make sure your target has a bad will save, either by debuffing it or seeing if a cantrip spell is effective. Then, go for the kill with your stun!
Best Races for Soulknife Rogues
Soulknife rogues, strangely enough, require no secondary stat. You just need Dexterity! A ton of races get Dexterity, though, so you’re going to want Constitution if you want to be up close and personal, Wisdom if you’re worried about mental effects, and Charisma if you want to use your Telepathy to talk to people.
These flying decimators have some pretty fantastic utility. +2 Dexterity and +1 Wisdom are great for you. Flight is wonderful, since you have a 60 ft ranged attack that you can toss from the sky. And Aarakocra absolutely have the mental discipline to become psionic! Everything lines up!
There are plenty of elves that can make this slot sensical, and I want to bring up the Sea Elf. These guys from Mordekainnen’s Tome of Foes get everything that make Elves great. Darkvision, free Perception, immunity to sleep magic, the Trance ability, and advantage against Charm. However, Sea Elves have a few advantages. They get +1 Constitution, something few elves can replicate. They also get swim speed, the ability to talk to those with swim speeds, weapon proficiencies, and Aquan. You don’t care too much about most weapon proficiencies, but nets? Nets have light utility outside of just attacking, so you can use it to really mess with the battlefield.
Conclusion – Our Take on the Soulknife Rogue
The Soulknife is wonderful, though I’d recommend saving it for a DM with some willingness to give a new type of magic item. You’re so reliant on Psychic Blades, and having lower accuracy and damage than other rogues does not help the Soulknife much. Still, this is a pretty awesome build, even without magic items, as long as you’re good with resources and knowing DCs. If you want the Soulknife, please check out Tasha’s Cauldron, since there’s so much cool stuff there!
Psi-bolstered knack specifically says that it’s used in a check that you failed which means that you can use it on a successful check, I would interpret that to mean you can absolutely use it after you find out the result of your roll from your dm
Treating all psionic abilities that have the same name as a spell in 5e are treated as a spell with regards to everything goes against all prior psionic guidelines. A Soulknife using teleport is NOT casting a spell. A psychic blade is NOT a weapon. It isn’t physically there. It does psychic damage and disappears. Short of dismemberment it can’t be disarmed. After leaving the hand it’s in, it’s visible but not physical. For some reason 5e doesn’t take into account psionic abilities, yet they made psionic classes. They also completely disregard psionics vs creatures when describing what can or can’t be done against them.
I agree. I appreciate the effort but it is basically just taking existing game mechanics and rebranding them as psionic. Soulknife is a fun subclass to play, at least.