Our Sorcerer was in a crowd, and cast Detect Thoughts, then targetted a person he could see for a probe.

Detect Thoughts states:

the target knows that you are probing into its mind

I am unclear on if this means the target knows that you are probing its mind, or if it means the target knows its mind is being probed. Since the Sorcerer was basically hidden in a crowd, it's not clear that the target would be able to know precisely which person was detecting its thoughts.

Would a Detect Thoughts probee be able to identify the Detect Thoughts prober when the prober is otherwise indistinguishable from others (as in a crowd)?


2 Answers 2


RAW indicates that yes, the target knows who is casting the spell. Otherwise the reading would be "the target knows its mind is being probed".

Some GMs (myself, for instance) would have the probee make a Perception roll if there was a crowd of potential spell casters, but this is not required by a strict reading. A DM might even give advantage on the check if only one person was obviously a spell caster (adventurers tend to stand out in a crowd of normals) This would be little different from being fired on from a crowd. The person being hit by an arrow has a good idea who shot it. Probably the guy with the bow.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Can they identify the caster if they have never met before? Or do they just get a unique 'hash' for each caster, maybe some kind of image? Like, do they get a compass pointing to the caster? It seems like RAW leaves it very vague. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 8, 2016 at 20:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think anything in the reading indicates that you know the identity of the caster by name, description or other extrasensory impression. Just that you know which of the potential casters is the one. I would imagine that if the caster was hidden, the target wouldn't be able to make an identification. I agree that the wording doesn't give you a lot to go with. In a game, I would rule that if the caster can be identified, he is identified. If he is hidden, I would allow the target a general feeling as to direction and distance. ("Someone behind that curtain just read your mind!") \$\endgroup\$ Jun 8, 2016 at 21:04

The target knows who the caster of Detect Thoughts is.

Based on the spells language (emphasis my own) "The target knows that YOU are probing into its mind." This would indicate that the creature who is being targeted by the Detect Thoughts spell would indeed know who the individual caster of the spell is. That said, the spell's language also indicates that the target learns who the caster is ONLY in the event that the caster is attempting to "probe deeper" into the target's thoughts.


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