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How do we think Telepathy works?


Starfinder General Discussion

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I asked in part of a rules thread, but this seems as good a place as any:

How does Telepathy work and how do Lashunta and Shirren Societies treat it?

Does it work through walls? To creatures outside line of sight? Can a Lashunta kid yell to his mom in the other room?

Can you broadcast to multiple people?
Can you speak only to a specific person?
Can you speak to a random subset of people (only lefties!)?
What happens if the person you're telepathying at doesn't know any of your languages?
What if you have a language in common, but you "telepathy at them" in a different language?
Can two Shirrens communicate telepathically in front of a third without the third knowing? How rude is this?
Can three Shirren all talk with each other, or do they have separate two-way conversations and have to repeat things?

Combining some of these questions:
Can a Lashunta shout to a building so that *only his sister* can hear (if she's inside, he's not sure,) but his parents can't?
Is there any way for his parents to overhear?
Can this Lashunta shout to "any females" or some other limited group? Or it is either "anyone" or "this specific person"?

How does telepathy work with non-telepaths?
Say I start a telepathic conversation with my 5 crew mates.
Can they all here me at once, or do I need to "transmit" to each one?
Can they hear each other once they're communicating with me, or do I need to repeat things to everyone?
Can they "shout" or "think at me" to start a conversation, or do I need to initiate before they can respond?
Does any of this change if they're on the other side of a wall?
If telepaths and non-telepaths work differently, how do two telepaths with different ranges work?
Can my 180' Lashunta talk to a bunch of 30' Shirren, but them not able to respond to each other?
What about 4 Shirren each 25' apart, all trying to talk to each other? Do they need to do a ton of mental telephone to talk?

Do Lashunta and Shirren work differently? I could imagine that Shirren always "broadcast" to everyone in range, but Lashunta have only 1-1 communications.

What's the etiquette like? Is sound-talking more "formal"?
How rude is it to communicate directly in front of others (as opposed to the "broadcast channel", if there's even a difference)?
Is it considered intrusive, formal, more personal, etc to talk directly instead of "on broadcast" even if there are only two Lashunta present?
etc.

Personally, I think you can't really do "secure" two-way communication: if there's another telepath, they can hear your conversation just like you were talking in fornt of them. There's basically one "channel" for telepathy. If someone thinks at you in a language you don't know, you can "hear" them but not understand them. You can shout to everyone in range (and range isn't limited by doors/LoS) but can't target people, and can't tell if there's someone there unless they respond telepathically.

The interactions with non-telepaths are harder to get a coherent idea for. I *want* to say you can just start a conversation with a single telepath and a bunch of non-telepaths, and still carry on a coherent discussion. But the way that makes the most sense is that they can only talk to/from the telepaths, and a telepathy has to repeat each statement. Which makes it super annoying in groups.

How do you think it works? And do you ever think we'll get enough clarification for most of us to agree it works the same way?


It cannot be known.

The Exchange

Keeping it deliberately vague means the DM can make answers to every one of those questions for their own campaigns.

For example, in my campaign it currently works like conversation between other races.
If a Telepath decides he wants to just tell one person (like whispering) then I am allowing other telepaths near by a chance to hear it with perception checks.

For walls etc, I'm going to make it the same limitations as you'd expect for other creatures shouting. So Walls muffle telepathy. But telepathy can work in a vacuum, whereas sound can't.

I've even developed some simple social norms. If a telepath broadcasts conversation so more than one person hears it, then it's considered socially polite to respond aloud rather than respond via mind link.

I'm basically making it not too complex to prevent weird situations arising.


Well to answer the multiple people part at least, it is said that having a telepathic conversation with multiple people is just as difficult as hold multiple conversations with speech.

Grand Lodge

id allow free clear chat to its range of effect. also since its more of a mind thing if someone wants to shut you out it would be will v will IMO.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Markov Spiked Chain wrote:

I asked in part of a rules thread, but this seems as good a place as any:

How does Telepathy work and how do Lashunta and Shirren Societies treat it?

Until more information becomes available, this is up to your GM.

Markov Spiked Chain wrote:
Does it work through walls? To creatures outside line of sight? Can a Lashunta kid yell to his mom in the other room?

Currently there is no wording requiring line of sight or line of effect, so if they're within range by RAW it should work. GM fiat applies of course.

Markov Spiked Chain wrote:
Can you broadcast to multiple people?

Explicitly, yes.

Rules on Telepathy wrote:
It is possible to address multiple creatures at once telepathically, although maintaining a telepathic conversation with more than one creature at a time is just as difficult as simultaneously speaking and listening to multiple people at the same time.
Markov Spiked Chain wrote:

Can you speak only to a specific person?

Can you speak to a random subset of people (only lefties!)?

The closest thing I can find to this is that Limited Telepathy (the kind generally available to PCs) requires you share a normal language. Fortunately for PCs at least Common will usually suffice.

Markov Spiked Chain wrote:
What happens if the person you're telepathying at doesn't know any of your languages?

Assuming you just have Limited Telepathy, by RAW it just fails. Though if I was GM I would just have your "thoughts" to each other be in relevant languages, so it would be similar to trying to verbally talk to another that does not share a language.

Markov Spiked Chain wrote:
What if you have a language in common, but you "telepathy at them" in a different language?

I don't think you actually "telepathy at them" in any particular language, but more you think in the sum of the languages you know, and then they filter out what they understand, and vice versa.

Markov Spiked Chain wrote:
Can two Shirrens communicate telepathically in front of a third without the third knowing? How rude is this?

I'd imagine so, though like Wrath I would allow a mental Perception check to overhear.

Markov Spiked Chain wrote:
Can three Shirren all talk with each other, or do they have separate two-way conversations and have to repeat things?

As you can explicitly broadcast to multiple people, I can't imagine this would be any different than having a verbal conversation between three people, just less likely to be overheard by non-telepaths.

Markov Spiked Chain wrote:

Combining some of these questions:

Can a Lashunta shout to a building so that *only his sister* can hear (if she's inside, he's not sure,) but his parents can't?

Provided she's in range, should be possible.

Markov Spiked Chain wrote:
Is there any way for his parents to overhear?

RAW no, but again houserules so check with your GM.

Markov Spiked Chain wrote:
Can this Lashunta shout to "any females" or some other limited group? Or it is either "anyone" or "this specific person"?

I believe it's the latter, unless the Lashunta can see everyone to know which creatures to single out.

Markov Spiked Chain wrote:
How does telepathy work with non-telepaths?

1-on-1 same as with Teleptahs, just only you can initiate. For larger groups, see the next segment.

Markov Spiked Chain wrote:

Say I start a telepathic conversation with my 5 crew mates.

Can they all here me at once, or do I need to "transmit" to each one?
Can they hear each other once they're communicating with me, or do I need to repeat things to everyone?

If you mass-broadcast they can all hear you, but to get Crew Mate 1's thoughts to Crew Mate 3 you'll need to repeat it.

Markov Spiked Chain wrote:
Can they "shout" or "think at me" to start a conversation, or do I need to initiate before they can respond?

Unless you're using Detect Thoughts, you'll need to initiate.

Markov Spiked Chain wrote:
Does any of this change if they're on the other side of a wall?

RAW it doesn't, but always check with your GM.

Markov Spiked Chain wrote:

If telepaths and non-telepaths work differently, how do two telepaths with different ranges work?

Can my 180' Lashunta talk to a bunch of 30' Shirren, but them not able to respond to each other?

If everyone's within each other's range then it's as multiple telepaths, but if anyone's range doesn't reach then for that person it's like telepath-to-non-telepath. (A small note though, both Shirren and Lashunta have 30 foot range, though either of these races as a Phrenic Adept will now have 90 foot range)

Markov Spiked Chain wrote:
What about 4 Shirren each 25' apart, all trying to talk to each other? Do they need to do a ton of mental telephone to talk?

Just like if those 4 were communicating verbally.

Markov Spiked Chain wrote:
Do Lashunta and Shirren work differently? I could imagine that Shirren always "broadcast" to everyone in range, but Lashunta have only 1-1 communications.

RAW no difference, though if a GM (or later book) wanted to introduce differences in either flavor or mechanics that's up to them.

Markov Spiked Chain wrote:

What's the etiquette like? Is sound-talking more "formal"?

How rude is it to communicate directly in front of others (as opposed to the "broadcast channel", if there's even a difference)?
Is it considered intrusive, formal, more personal, etc to talk directly instead of "on broadcast" even if there are only two Lashunta present?
etc.

Flavor stuff like that, at least at the moment (future books might go more into the etiquette of telepathic races,) is purely up to the GM.


Shiningami02,
Thanks you thoughts to the questions helped.

In general I prefer descriptive text vs leave it open to the GM or interpretation? Why? To prevent "table debate" (polite term), "table variation" and even GM at the same table issues.
I do understand that there is limited space in a book and the issues this brings.

MDC

Scarab Sages

I think the answer to most of these questions is "it works just like talking, only within thirty feet and it doesn't require air."

As for socially? Under Lashunta it specifically states that Lashunta consider talking (and not telapthy-ing) too much rude.

When you telepathy at a non-telepathic species, you basically 'open up a line of communication' that lets the two of you communicate. Think of non-telepaths as having a phone that can recieve calls but can't dial out.

You can telepathy to specific people, but I think only if you can see them. Unless otherwise explicitly stated, most abilities require line-of-effect. I would assume you can broadcast to all within your area, but those are personal GM house-rulings. Doesn't say one way or another.

I don't know about the overhearing telepathy thing. My instincts say 'no' because detect thoughts is a different power, but again, that's my knee-jerk reaction.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Thanks folks.

I really only expect to play in SFS, which is why I was hoping to build some default consensus. Having table variation over something basic like how we're allowed to talk to each other is annoying. :)

Sounds like the consensus is that broadcasts work, but group conversations with non-telepaths are annoying.

After this, I think the main thing I'm concerned about is whether "private lines" work, and can be detected.


This might be dumb but what is RAW?


Not dumb. It's "Rules As Written". You'll often see it hand-n-hand with RAI, Rules As Intended. Then comes crunch (stats), flavor (descriptions), and much, much more. But those should get you started. Just wait. At some point you'll have an entire discussion using only acronyms!


I kind of hate the philosophy that underlies a lot of the usage of those terms. It seems to be predicated on the idea that, by parsing the exact meaning of the rules, you can coerce the GM into doing what you want him to do for you. It treats the GM as some kind of literal genie who, if you can figure out the proper magic phrase, will be required to grant you wishes for everything your heart desires.

I know that, with an official game venue ( the Society ), you need consistent interpretations. It just seems to attract the kind of players who want to "beat" the GM, generally at the expense of everyones' fun except their own.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The Telepathic Message spell has a DC 25 perception check for people nearby to "overhear." If we think you can telepathy to only specific people without other telepaths noticing, this seems like a good precedent.


Metaphysician wrote:

I kind of hate the philosophy that underlies a lot of the usage of those terms. It seems to be predicated on the idea that, by parsing the exact meaning of the rules, you can coerce the GM into doing what you want him to do for you. It treats the GM as some kind of literal genie who, if you can figure out the proper magic phrase, will be required to grant you wishes for everything your heart desires.

I know that, with an official game venue ( the Society ), you need consistent interpretations. It just seems to attract the kind of players who want to "beat" the GM, generally at the expense of everyones' fun except their own.

Unfortunately I have seen the other happen GM's that make up the rules on the fly (often to incorrect knowledge or assumptions) to take the game in a direction they have planed for.

Again your GM can make a huge difference covering up problem areas in a rule system so to do not see them or bring them blaringly to the front for everyone to see.

By having clear precise rules then it makes it easier for 10 and 12 year old's to have about the same play experience possible as a group of 25 year old's. Again they do not have to follow them but at least they have direction.

MDC


I can kinda see where you might get that interpretation, but that's really not what they're for. A GM is free to do whatever they want with their own game, RAW and RAI are mostly for settings like Society play, or the boards here, where it's for getting a consistent idea of what the base rules are. No one (usually) is trying to "beat" anyone, we just seek better knowledge and understanding of the system as it is at its most basic, which can then in turn lead to better creation of houserules, or homebrew, or third-party products, or snap decisions or any other creation that is affected by those base rules.

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