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5E Rules of Telepathy & Kalashtars

TheAlkaizer

Game Designer
Hi!

One of my players is interested in playing a Kalashtar which is part of Eberron: Rising from the Last War. I'm entirely fine with it, but she asked some details regarding one of their feature: Mind Link.

The description is explicit concerning certain details, but I'm unsure of the ruling I want to make about it. It doesn't work exacly like the 8th level spell Telepathy, but I read a bit on debates over the spell. However, I'd be interested to see what are your opinions on it.

So, in the Eberron book, Mind Link feature has the following restrictions:
  • You must see the creature.
  • It must be within a certain range.
  • The creature must be able to understand a language.
  • You can give them the ability to answer back, but to do so the creature must be able to see you and be within range.
Fifth edition rules are clear (I think) about the fact that being the target of a spell does not mean you inherently know it. They specifically use Detect Thought as an example.

So here are my uncertainties:
  1. Hearing a voice in their head, obviously the creature knows it's being spoken to. But does it know who is speaking to it? Regarding Telepathy, I've seen plenty of debate on the internet and I kind of agree with the ruling that if they knew your voice or had met you before, they could recognize you. That opens the door to Deception rolls during the telepathic conversation which I like. But I'm curious to see what others think about this.
  2. The spell Telepathy has a verbal component, a somatic component and even uses materials. Do features have such components? Could a Kalashtar speak telepathically to someone within his sight while staying perfectly still?
  3. I'm also curious about the "to any creature you can see". English is not my mother tongue, so things might get lost in translation, but does this imply that you would have to be looking at the creature or that the creature should just be in your general view field? Could a Kalashtar telepathically speak to someone somewhere to his right because that person is somewhere in his peripheral vision?
 

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dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
Hi! Love the Kalashtar so I hope your player has fun with the race!

For reference:
1600225070143.png


1. Hearing a voice in their head, obviously the creature knows it's being spoken to. But does it know who is speaking to it? Regarding Telepathy, I've seen plenty of debate on the internet and I kind of agree with the ruling that if they knew your voice or had met you before, they could recognize you. That opens the door to Deception rolls during the telepathic conversation which I like. But I'm curious to see what others think about this.
I would say "no", the target does not know necessarily who it is hearing in its head. Remember, nothing says the voice you "hear in your head" sounds anything like the voice of someone you've heard before or met. Think about how you sound to yourself when you speak, and then how you sound when you hear a recording of your own voice--it is totally different for most people and the typical response is "Is that what I sound like???

Of course, you can rule you do sound the same, but I see no reason to do that personally. I would rule if someone has spoken to you telepathically before, they might sound the same then since you know what they sound like "in your head."

2. The spell Telepathy has a verbal component, a somatic component and even uses materials. Do features have such components? Could a Kalashtar speak telepathically to someone within his sight while staying perfectly still?
No, you do not need components or any such thing for features like this. If a feature says you can cast a spell then you might need compoenents, but usually such features specify you can cast such spells without the need for components. Most "cast a spell" features would still require verbal and somatic components, but not material.

This feature, however is not "cast a spell" it just gives you a similar ability.

Compare this to the drow feature:
1600225483871.png

Notice here you are actually casting faerie fire so would have to do speak the verbal component.

3. I'm also curious about the "to any creature you can see". English is not my mother tongue, so things might get lost in translation, but does this imply that you would have to be looking at the creature or that the creature should just be in your general view field? Could a Kalashtar telepathically speak to someone somewhere to his right because that person is somewhere in his peripheral vision?
Well, first let me complement you on your English. You write very well. :)

When the phrase "a creature you can see" is used, in game terms it means it must be within your sight. There is no directional "facing" in 5E, your character is not necessarily looking this way or that way. So it means more your general field of view. Yes, if that person was to his right, and he could see him out of the corner of his eye or glance over there, that is all it would take.

As long as the creature is not hidden (invisible, or hiding, etc.) then it should work.

Hope all this helps. That's my take on it anyway. Good luck!
 


TheAlkaizer

Game Designer
Hi! Love the Kalashtar so I hope your player has fun with the race!

For reference:
View attachment 126263


I would say "no", the target does not know necessarily who it is hearing in its head. Remember, nothing says the voice you "hear in your head" sounds anything like the voice of someone you've heard before or met. Think about how you sound to yourself when you speak, and then how you sound when you hear a recording of your own voice--it is totally different for most people and the typical response is "Is that what I sound like???

Of course, you can rule you do sound the same, but I see no reason to do that personally. I would rule if someone has spoken to you telepathically before, they might sound the same then since you know what they sound like "in your head."


No, you do not need components or any such thing for features like this. If a feature says you can cast a spell then you might need compoenents, but usually such features specify you can cast such spells without the need for components. Most "cast a spell" features would still require verbal and somatic components, but not material.

This feature, however is not "cast a spell" it just gives you a similar ability.

Compare this to the drow feature:

Notice here you are actually casting faerie fire so would have to do speak the verbal component.


Well, first let me complement you on your English. You write very well. :)

When the phrase "a creature you can see" is used, in game terms it means it must be within your sight. There is no directional "facing" in 5E, your character is not necessarily looking this way or that way. So it means more your general field of view. Yes, if that person was to his right, and he could see him out of the corner of his eye or glance over there, that is all it would take.

As long as the creature is not hidden (invisible, or hiding, etc.) then it should work.

Hope all this helps. That's my take on it anyway. Good luck!
Thank you for such a fantastic answer! I think I might have defaulted to hearing a voice in your head because of how telepathy is always presented in movies.

This clears most of my questions. But I think I'll come up with some very simple restrictions for the feature to at least give it some form; something like it taking a short moment of concentration to lock on a target and start communicating with it, something like a few seconds of concentration.

Telepathy wouldn't be like a voice, but if you see other person's eyes and notice what is she thinking about.
Interesting take!
 

I would say "no", the target does not know necessarily who it is hearing in its head. Remember, nothing says the voice you "hear in your head" sounds anything like the voice of someone you've heard before or met. Think about how you sound to yourself when you speak, and then how you sound when you hear a recording of your own voice--it is totally different for most people and the typical response is "Is that what I sound like???

Of course, you can rule you do sound the same, but I see no reason to do that personally. I would rule if someone has spoken to you telepathically before, they might sound the same then since you know what they sound like "in your head."
I think you'd probably have the same sort of diction, use of idiom, word-choice, and so on, so they might be able to make the link if they heard you talking long enough, at least to think there was a connection (assuming you were unguarded in how you were speaking).

Would completely concur on ruling that your telepathic voice sounds consistent - i.e. every time telepathy boy contacts you, he has the same sound.
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
You are most welcome. I really hope it helps with the PC. :)

This clears most of my questions. But I think I'll come up with some very simple restrictions for the feature to at least give it some form; something like it taking a short moment of concentration to lock on a target and start communicating with it, something like a few seconds of concentration.
I would recommend establishing communication as a bonus action maybe? That way there is a cost associated with it mechanically and that also represents the flavor of some focus on it, etc.

If you want to restrict it further (don't know if you do or not?) you could also have the target make a saving throw to resist the intrusion into their mind? I don't think most creatures would willingly let a foreign presence into their mind.
 

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