I am looking to build a new base class, the Telepath.

I am looking to build a new base class, the Telepath.

I am looking to build a new base class, the Telepath. However, I’d like to get an idea what that conjures in people’s mind when they see the class name. This group seems pretty amazing at sharing ideas and opinions, so I thought it would be a great place to bounce some ideas before Iget into the meat of trying my first class creation.

* What archetype does this bring to mind for you?

* What are the key concepts and abilities you most associate with a Telepath?

Do these ideals change depending on the genre (e.g. Sci-Fi vs. Fantasy)?

Do you see a difference between say a Telepath and a Telekinetic or do you see kinetics as an expansion of telepathy?

Where would Clairvoyance (Sixth Sense, Precognition type abilities), come into play… its own archtype or mixed with Teleapthy?

What sources from literature, film, RPGs do you consider the best representation of how you see telepathic (or other psychic) abilities? (i.e. Favored character representations)


For me, I see ‘Telepathy’ as being as primarily being about the reception and transmission of thoughts, memories and emotions. Powers I associate with a Telepath are: telepathic communication (heard or seen), empathic reading, memory probing, memory alteration, shared senses, mind control and suggestion.

I see a Telekinetic as someone who can control matter such as: speeding and slowing electrons to create heat, cold or static electricity; manipulating gravity fields to make objects (or people) move, etc.

Personally, I’m on the fence about Clairsentient abilities. Clairvoyance and Precognition are interesting concepts but I’m not necessarily sure they can support their own archetype. There is of course the school of thought of the generic ‘Psychic’ who can do it all, but overall I tend to think that muddies the archetype down unless there is a ‘Path’ of progression per say where one Psychic may develop toward one type of power while another follows a different path, but their core abilities are the same. (I.e. I’m not a fan of the SRD Psion that has a bunch of powers that mimic a wizard, nor am I a fan of Psychometabolic (Psy-Warrior) or Psychoportative (Nightcrawler) type abilities for a Telepath archetype.)

I look forward to seeing whatever kinds of responses this may elicit. Oh, and thanks in advance for any responses.

9 thoughts on “I am looking to build a new base class, the Telepath.”

  1. I see telepaths pretty much as you describe them in your first after-the-break paragraph there. The biggest influence on my personal vision of the archetype is Bablyon 5–telepaths can be either great negotiators, by helping to monitor and control subsurface problems before they happen, or they can be absolutely terrifying inquisitors, probing minds for the deepest secrets and using overwhelming, unnatural influence when the situation calls for it.

    So, come to think of it, I see them more or less like a spin on the bard: words have power. Unspoken words, even more so.

    I’m pretty much with you on far sight and future sight. For one thing, they have the potential to break suspense if you don’t handle them properly: if the characters can see what’s coming, or what’s happening a hundred miles away, where’s the mystery? I saw it written somewhere–Darths and Droids, I think, but don’t quote me on that–that communication is a big difference between the modern world and a low-tech world. Making it difficult to transmit and receive information across vast distances goes a long way towards promoting adventures, for a wide variety of reasons, and scrying kind of cuts through that. Either one of these powers can work, if you give the party just enough rope to hang themselves with, but I would personally recommend steering clear and focusing on other things: empathy, thought-probing and so on.

    One thing that I would suggest, though, is psychometry / postcognition. Thoughts and emotions linger, and a telepath can pick up on those remnants. Maybe let the players have a peek into what happened in an area recently, like a variation on Hunt and Track–and if they possess an item of especial personal significance, maybe give them greater insights.

    EDIT: Incidentally, I’m pretty sure there are two versions of the Psion floating around. There’s the one with the wizard-type spell list, and there’s one with a “focus” economy and a a telekinetic blast as a signature move that (I believe) can be upgraded with advances. One of my fellow players is rolling as the latter in an Eberron game; it seems pretty neat, and does have some mind-probing abilities. I wouldn’t classify telepathy as a primary focus, but that might just be a playstyle thing.

  2. Agreed about telekinesis; that’s its own separate deal. That brings to mind the question of what the telepath uses to deal damage–but maybe this class’s combat is more of the takeout-driven-by-fiction variety. Reducing an enemy to a drooling, gibbering wreck doesn’t really seem like a hitpoint thing, but it’s very iconic for a telepath to do.

    But, on the other hand, consider the consequences of getting, ahem, in over their head. What happens when you try to read or control the mind of a dragon, or a demon, or something utterly alien like an ooze? This sounds very much like one of those “that move doesn’t apply, but could you roll Defy Danger for me to avoid horrible psychic backlash?” situations.

  3. Professor X all the way.

    The problem I see with a pure telepath is over/under powering and a very small area in between.

    I’m sure it can be done…It just looks difficult.

  4. Lord Khaalis, it seems to me that the over-powed camp would look like Professor X’s that can walk. Complete mind control, suggestions, reading of the mind, freezing muscles, ultra awareness to big scale events or nearby events. I think of Professor X as a type of superman really. His cryptonite is a wheelchair and a high sense of moral duty. Without these there would be very little that could challenge him.

    On the other side you have the tame Jean Grey. She can look at your thoughts if she concentrates real hard and touches your head, but even then it’s only glimpses. Playing the “Jean Grey” class along side the druid, wizard, or cleric would feel sooooo lame.

    I’d prefer to play a character closer to Prof X. More like a wizard, you know. Very remarkable possibilities, very fragile shell.

    So there you have it. It’s all were you draw the line. Mind control would be the most OP. If you do include a mind control move I would put in stipulations that make sure it cannot be overused. One target at a time, maintain eyesight, can’t do anything physical while controlling, stuff like that.

    Hope that helps.

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