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Telepathy vs Detect Thoughts

2-way communication, yes, but not necessarily unwilling reading of thoughts. I imagine the other creature would have to project their thoughts to you for you to pick them up (though since they're not telepathic, I guess you could argue that doesn't make sense).

I suppose it's up to interpretation by the DM. I'm reminded of the "GET OUT OF MY HEAD" joke so commonly used in relation to telepaths. I guess any self respecting telepath would be able to cast detect thoughts as well, though.

My take on this is;

Telepathy opens a communication link
Detect thoughts allows you "Mind reading" as to their surface thoughts/desires/etc

My take is similar to Tyoka's, but depends on the power level of the telepath... telepathy granted by a high-level spell or possessed by a high-CR creature would be more likely to allow the user to "hear" thoughts that weren't directly sent to them.

I would give higher-power telepathy the ability to act like spoken language, but with thoughts... if someone in your telepathy range thought your name, or something important that you're seeking information on, that thought would be heard, along with the next couple thought words after it... kind of like when you're in a crowd of people conversing, and you suddenly hear someone say your name, and you hear the next couple words after it as well once you're "focused in" on the speaker after the "cue". Could lead to, "Hey, what were you just thinking about me?" moments. :P

The effects of the Telepathy Special Ability are explicitly spelled out. They do not include 'forceful' mind-reading, not even limited to fragmented surface thoughts. They include purposeful voluntary mental communication and nothing more.

Originally Posted by Tyoka View Post
If you have telepathy, do you essentially detect thoughts at will? If someone has a language, you can just listen to their thoughts, right? Or is it more active communication?

I'm thinking of taking telepathy on one of my characters, and I kind of want detect thought as well. But beyond dealing with non-language based characters, I can't see a reason to do so.
I'd say no. Telepathy, as described, pretty much requires you to already know a mind is present. It is direct two-way communication; the telepath opens and closes the channel, the target(s) can use the channel for as long as it's open.

Detect Thoughts, by contrast, is one-way "read only" access. The telepath first becomes aware of minds in range, then with more concentration can "eavesdrop" on what is going on in that mind. I believe that telepaths also able to Detect Thoughts can communicate with any minds they are aware of within range. Kinda jarring for a sneaky thief to suddenly have someone say, "Hi there! You're entirely unwelcome here, but, being the sporting sort, if you leave now I'll pretend you just got a little turned around and are here by mistake."

As far as why you'd want to be a telepath? Non-verbal communication with every intelligent being with a language isn't enough?!

As far as why you'd want to be a telepath? Non-verbal communication with every intelligent being with a language isn't enough?!
The character is based off a succubus, which have telepathy and detect thoughts. =p

Check out MMI, pg. 211. The entry for the pseudodragon indicates it uses its telepathy to "read thoughts". This is not part of the SRD, and as far as I know it has no errata.

I've read the entry a few times now, but I can't seem to find it... where does it say that?

EDIT: Never mind. Yeah, it does say that. Weird.

I'm a little confused as I always understood telepathy as being a "broadcast of thoughts" so to speak. Depending on your limitations (i.e. some telepaths require a common language) you use it to communicate with a target, but that target can only respond telepathically if they also have the ability, or if you had detect thoughts you could read their "response". Otherwise I would assume a response to telepathic communication would be speaking out loud. Of course this is my own interpretation.

In the case of the pseudodragon I have no clue, as the entry does state it "reads thoughts", but it lacks a detect thoughts ability.


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