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It's the Psychic player again. She asked me a pretty good question to better roleplay the character. Her character has been able to read people's minds since early adulthood. As soon as she said this, she looked at me, "How would she be able to tell that what she was hearing were thoughts and not schizophrenia?" I just shrugged and said "patterns in behavior" and left it at that. But she got me thinking.

How would someone who can read minds conclude what they were hearing was people's thoughts, as opposed to auditory hallucinations?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by V2Blast, KorvinStarmast, MikeQ, Oblivious Sage, Pyrotechnical Jul 26 '18 at 4:16

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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They hear Joe think "wow I am hungry", then they hear Joe say "Hey when are we going to eat, I am hungry". Telepathy differs from schizophrenia in accuracy. Also while telepathy maybe quite rare in your world it's occurrence rate is non zero, so it is something you would check for before jumping straight to mental illness.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ In addition, even if it was schizophrenia, but the voices happen to tell you what the people around you think with high accuracy (maybe because the character actually is subconsciously really good at reading body language or aura or something), would it matter? I guess the question is less 'Is it a mental illness or not' and more 'Is it useful or not' \$\endgroup\$ – Suthek Jul 26 '18 at 9:48
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You are coming at this from the wrong perspective (warning, frame challenge).

Obviously there are fictional comic book examples of telepathy without craziness (Professor X) and telepathy with craziness (Legion). The player should not be asking you "how", she should be deciding her desired answer and then coming up with a justification for it from her character history.

It's like them asking you "why didn't my character die of influenza when she was 8?" The answer is "you're writing her, you freak!" How does Superman not tissue-paper everyone he sneezes at or shakes hands with? "Super-control blah blah because they don't want him to."

In most modern games it's considered good GMing to turn that question around on the player - "I don't know, why DIDN'T she?" They then create details they are fully invested in.

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Telepathy can be turned off. Even if they aren't going crazy, they could be listening to someone who experiences these things and thinks them (or their responses) very loudly. I don't know of a complication under Mind Reading in further errata like Insubstantial's "Permanent", but in the core it is absent. The only exception I can see, is if someone transmits, like with Communication, but even that says it can willingly be locked out without a roll.

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