Telepathy is the capacity for two living creatures to communicate with one another solely via mental or spiritual connection to one another. It is conceptually related to the nature of the soul and the Astral Plane. Telepathy in this instance is distinct from biological communication methods, such as bioelectric field interactions or non-verbal body languages. It is very difficult to completely stop psychic activity. Defenses against psychic intrusion are typically deterring or delaying tactics. Telepathy is distinct from telekinesis (moving objects) and psionics (channeling energies).
OOC: The use of telepathy between characters often skirts the issues of consent in our game. Psychic players must ask the other players for permission to pick up surface thoughts, dig through memories, or override the actions of other characters. Power-posing another character can be very problematic. The corollary to this is the 'no-sale' response where players refuse to give consent in situations where the psychic could reasonably act. This is its own form of power-posing because it negates the powers of the psychic. Few characters have access to the tools, training, or technique to intentionally deter a powerful psychic. Consent in telepathy is governed in ways identical to all the rules in News Consent and are not in any way considered different from physical powers in application.
The lowest-level telepaths are empaths. They can read (or sometimes impart) emotional sensations in those around them. It takes little effort to pick up stray emotions or strong surface thoughts. This is a 'passive' role for the telepath.
Disciplined telepaths can exchange thoughts, ideas, even images or sensory data with their subjects. Some can project their awareness into the Astral Plane. Telepaths can manipulate the senses of their subjects to hide things or to create hallucinations only the subject can perceive. It is possible to read or suppress memories, or implant compulsions and change behavior patterns. The more complicated the task, the more focus, time, and effort is necessary. Compulsions violating core ethics or causing self-harm are the most difficult of tasks. The most powerful of psychics can even take over an entire body and mind, 'puppeting' the subject.
The drug Gambutrol is an expensive but relatively common prescription that obfuscates brainwaves to make telepathic intrusion more difficult. It is commonly prescribed to world leaders and wealthy elites. Alpha-wave inhibitors and detection units are used by the military, government, and those wealthy enough to afford them.
Risk of Injury
Intrusive actions trigger instinctive resistance from the subject. After even a simple intrusion, the subject may suffer depressive or aggressive fits, headaches, and feelings of emotional disquiet. Basic telepathic self-defense teaches people how to identify these particular symptoms and to isolate the source from influencing their decisions.
Simple manipulations, 'Jedi Mind Tricks' that simulate external stimuli, require little effort to effect. Deeper dives into memory or deeply-rooted compulsions require building a strong mental bond between subject and psychic, and leaves the psychic vulnerable to psychic injury or retaliation. Particularly difficult dives or Astral projection can require that the psychic goes into a meditative trance deep enough to resemble a coma.
Mental discipline and willpower are important traits for controlling these contests. Particularly toxic or mentally unwell subjects can cause significant harm to a psychic unprepared to experience their mindscape. If the subject is badly injured or traumatized, any linked psychic may experience that trauma as if it were happening to them. Many psychics have become psychotic or even died due to being too closely entangled with someone when that person is badly injured or killed. Sociopaths and psychopaths make particularly dangerous telepaths because they are not as vulnerable to empathic response, and some develop advanced techniques for filtering and blocking out potentially harmful mental feedback.
Long-term exposure to repeated psychic commands can cause psychosis and even brain damage. Control of a person's mind-- "puppeteering"-- requires immense discipline and tremendous amounts of psionic energy. Non-psychics can and will instinctively resist against this intrusion, particularly if they are compelled to do something against their core morality or self-preservation. If the puppeting goes on long enough the trauma to the brain can cause a stroke or send the puppet into a fit of insane violence.
Without consent, crossing the 'bridge' can require the use of force. The objective is to gain access to the core of the target's mind. These are among the most aggressive of intrusions, even if no harm is meant, and requires an extremely skilled telepath using just enough pressure to crack the subject's walls without causing a psychotic fit. Many people visualize their mental defenses with creative interpretation of metaphor, such as castles and walls and mental armies. The mortal capability of using metaphor makes them more resistant to blunt force intrusions. Clever psychics prefer to undermine these constructs by working within the context of the metaphor, creating elaborate games of one-upmanship looking for weaknesses or vulnerabilities.
Creatures of magic present unique challenges to a psychic. Mortal mental constructs rely hugely on the imagination and willpower of the individual. This can vary widely and be influenced by many factors, which are often hard to quantify. Immortals, typically lacking what could be considered a soul, have vastly more rigid thought processes but make up for it with an absolute certitude of 'self' that is extremely difficult to undermine or assail creatively with metaphor. Their defenses are without easily exploitable flaws and their coherence of intent makes their counterattacks brutal despite a lack of creativity or imagination. Still, they are nothing if not predictable; their methods rarely show surprises or originality.
Accessing the core mental construct is often a task of sheer willpower, experience in psychic combat, and tremendous psionic force. To subvert the will of a Godling, a Fae, or even an Angel is no small task. These are creatures of magic, held together by an ideologuical purpose. To undo that purpose can lead to undoing the force that keeps all that magical power contained-- with potentially catastrophic consequences.