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Since this video came out (timestamped to the important part), I have been puzzling over any spell I could find to understand what's going on. While I know a DM can invent all they want for NPCs and enemies, I also know that Monty Martin (the DM of that game) finds pleasure in beating his players with enemies that conform to the same parameters that PCs have (thus making a RAW PC as his villain and outplaying the actual PCs). So I am sure that this demonstration of skill from the sallow-eyed man is an actual RAW spell or ability, though I have not been able to find such a trick since that episode first aired.

A short paraphrasing of what happens in the video:

(preface) After failing a riddle, the party was all knocked out and imprisoned. (at timestamp in video) After setting up a plan to escape, they are greeted by their bugbear guards (wearing their gear, which is why they laugh about the helmet), they are introduced to a sallow-eyed man who interrogates the three of them together, using something like Detect Thoughts to read all their minds at once. I wanna know how that could be done RAW

Does anyone know of a way that a character can be granted "mass detect thoughts"?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @recognizer That sounds like it would make a good answer \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jul 8 '20 at 8:44
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The video conforms to a normal detect thoughts

You initially learn the surface thoughts of the creature—what is most on its mind in that moment. As an action, you can either shift your attention to another creature's thoughts or attempt to probe deeper into the same creature's mind. [...] Questions verbally directed at the target creature naturally shape the course of its thoughts, so this spell is particularly effective as part of an interrogation.

Throughout the majority of the interrogation, the caster shaped the party's thoughts by asking questions. At the same time, the caster used his action to shift his attention between the party members, probably lingering on whichever party member was most engaged in the conversation at any given time.

In doing so, the caster learned the surface thoughts relevant to his questions, until the party caught on and filled their surface thoughts with cats and food.

If you probe deeper, the target must make a Wisdom saving throw. If it fails, you gain insight into its reasoning (if any), its emotional state, and something that looms large in its mind (such as something it worries over, loves, or hates). If it succeeds, the spell ends. Either way, the target knows that you are probing into its mind, and unless you shift your attention to another creature's thoughts, the creature can use its action on its turn to make an Intelligence check contested by your Intelligence check; if it succeeds, the spell ends.

At this point, the caster probed deeper into the first party member, who failed his save, learning something that loomed on that party member's mind, and then he shifted his attention to avoid the intelligence contest. The caster successfully repeated all that with the second party member. Finally, he attempted the same with the third party member, but she passed her save so the spell ended and the caster did not learn what loomed on her mind.


In short, the way the caster directed the interrogation, as well as the 3 consecutive wisdom saving throws (rather than 3 simultaneous throws) is consistent with a normal detect thoughts.

If there is anything abnormal, then it is the lack of spell components and the duration in excess of one minute. The duration can be achieved by recasting detect thoughts as many times as necessary, but the lack of components requires a specific feature or trait.

In my opinion, the most likely candidate for that caster is the Mind Mage (GGR, p233), an NPC who is capable of casting detect thoughts trice without any components through its Innate Spellcasting (Psionics) trait.

To achieve the same result with published material available to players, the caster needs the Subtle Spell Metamagic to ignore the vocal and somatic components. The material component is a copper piece, which could have easily been in the caster's hand throughout the entire interrogation.

The only other player option that comes even close is the Githzerai Psionics racial trait which allows the casting of a single detect thoughts with no components. However, this can't explain the excess duration and the appearance of Githzerai does not match that caster's description.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ So Detect Thoughts does not have to be cast every time you want to read someone's mind? How is this different than the Pact of the Old One's Awakened Mind? \$\endgroup\$ – Victor B Jul 8 '20 at 20:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @VictorB they are completely different. Awakened Mind allows you to send telepathic messages to others, for free. Detect thoughts allows you to learn others' thoughts, for a minute at the cost of spellslots. \$\endgroup\$ – Ruse Jul 8 '20 at 21:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for the followup. Would this mean that a PC with the actor feat could use Detect Thoughts to essentially mimicry what each hostage in a group was thinking in their own voices? If so, then on top of the panic you could create, adding one little lie like "Jim is such a perv" after a while could really mess up a group dynamic. \$\endgroup\$ – Victor B Jul 10 '20 at 0:52
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They were probably just switching targets, Detect Thoughts allows you to switch as an action. When you aren't in combat, 6 seconds goes by real quick.

I do this when using telepathic communication such as from the Awakened Mind feature of the Great Old One warlock patron, you can technically only target 1 creature at a time, but that makes for tedious gameplay with a lot of repetition; "Bob said X, do you want to reply? Ok I will tell them Y. Bob, Anna said Y ...".

If so, I would personally make it a little more obvious to allow the PCs to try and exploit it (maybe by communicating with each other when they think they aren't being listened in on).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Is it really that fluid? \$\endgroup\$ – Victor B Jul 8 '20 at 20:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @VictorB If the DM wants it to be, sure. \$\endgroup\$ – user-024673 Jul 13 '20 at 1:47

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