One of my players is playing a lashunta envoy with the death-touched theme. As such, they have access to "Detect Thoughts" once per day.

To give a little flavor with their theme, I decided to let them use detect thoughts on only the dead and dying, instead of on anyone alive. In the case of the dead, the thoughts would reflect their last moments, and they have to have died in the past week.

How unbalanced is this? What should I be concerned about? If it matters, we're running the Dead Suns campaign.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I guess the obvious next question is 'what about undead?' \$\endgroup\$ – YogoZuno Oct 29 '19 at 23:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's a really good question. Let's go with detect thoughts does work on them, in this case. The flavor is that their ability to detect thoughts has been locked to the negative energy plane, so I think undead would qualify as being linked to that. \$\endgroup\$ – Ada Oct 29 '19 at 23:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ the negative energy plane is the source of undead, but actually has very little to do with dead beings as such. Also, normally, Undead are immune to mind-affecting effects, which would include Detect Thoughts. \$\endgroup\$ – YogoZuno Oct 30 '19 at 0:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ With such a niche ability it is really going to matter how often you encounter the dead and dying and need to read their thoughts. Once per day is also incredibly restrictive, there is an inherent randomness to someones thoughts. The PCs could feed someone poison then interrogate them only to find they were thinking of their pet cat instead of the location of the treasure. The PCs could find a murder victim and think they can solve the crime quickly only to find they were completely surprised and know nothing. This ability is as strong as the DM wants it to be. \$\endgroup\$ – user-024673 Oct 30 '19 at 0:48

For a utility ability like this, which only works once a day, the effect on balance really depends on how much the player makes use of the ability. Detect Thoughts is only a level 1 spell, takes several rounds to kick up to full effect, and really only gives information about the presence of sentient minds in the area. After 3 full rounds you get a chance to hear surface thoughts. Being able to affect ONLY dead minds would limit the usefulness of the ability overall, but it's already fairly limited, so the overall impact on the character is likely to be minimal.


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