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Mutants & Masterminds - 5 Unusual Telepathic power ideas
Telepathy beyond the book
This page is about the Mutants&Masterminds pen and paper roleplaying game, and specifically aims to offer a few creative options for building a character with this game system.
When you browse through the Mutants&Masterminds core rulebook, you will see that when you build a telepathic character (one that focuses on the powers of the mind such as reading minds or controlling them) you have only a few options to choose from. No matter how your character operates (a telepathic device, innate psionic powers or having a horrible tentacle beast from Mars for an ancestor), you quickly fall in the same basic routine of Mind Reading, Remote Sensing and Mental Communication coupled with a few afflictions and perhaps Illusion.
In order to offer a few (hopefully interesting) additional options, consider the following five unusual abilities to spice up your Telepath - whether a hero or a villain:
Effects used: Illusion and Morph
This power is an alternate take on the old Shapeshifter, retooled into a specifically telepathic concept. You use an illusion to cover yourself with the image and scent of the person your impersonating, sounding just like this person. For this you use the Morph effect from the book (which covers all of this), except you add the Illusion descriptor to it.
Then, to thwart those pesky mind readers, you add an illusion which affects only Mental senses (so only psychics can detect it) which is linked to the Morph effect (so that if you activate one, the other does as well). If you have the Illusion power profile book, the Psychic extra will even use the mind reader's own expectations to make your illusions more belieavable! The illusion will project to any mind reader the illusion that your thoughts and memories match with the form you assumed, protecting your real motives.
Psychic Shapeshifter: Morph 3 (Any Humanoid) - Linked to Illusion (Mental Senses), Psychic, Limited to Self
This costs 15 points for the Morph effect, and an additional 1 point per rank in the Illusion effect.
Effects used: Affliction
The greatest threat to a telepath is another telepath; like the proverbial arms race, knowledge your steal from a person's mind can just as easily be stolen from yours in turn. This power is designed to defend against this in a powerful way - and in any game setting it's likely that this power is the stuff of legends, since it's very dangerous and contagious as well.
When a telepath attempts to use Mind Reading on you, this power activates and afflicts the target with mental fatigue, which becomes worse and worse. Repeated attempts to read your mind worsen the affliction, and unless the mind reader manages to resist the power, he or she will eventually fall into a deep, comatose sleep. Worse yet, any telepath attempting to read the mind of of your target becomes afflicted with this power as well, protecting your secrets even as they are hiding in someone else's mind.
This power triggers once per attempt at reading your mind, and while one of your targets suffers from this effect, anyone using Mind Reading on them will also be afflicted with it. This can cause this power to spread out of control rapidly, which is why in many campaigns this power is developed by paranoid telepathic criminal masterminds.
Psychic Poison: Progressive, Contagious Cumulative Reaction Affliction (Triggered by Mind Reading), Resisted and Overcome by Will, Fatigued/Exhausted/Incapacitated
This power costs 7 points per rank to buy.
Effects used: Transform
Normally the Transform effect is reserved for inanimate objects, and the ability to alter or erase a person's memories is handled by the use of an Affliction effect in the game. However, these only last for a short time, and do not represent the fictional ability of telepaths from comics and movies to keep a person's memory clouded or changed for months or even years.
To represent this, the Mindscaping power uses transform to change the (inanimate) memory itself, without changing the person. This is not a quick process and requires a certain amount of training in psychology to accomplish as well as the Mindscaper touching the target. In addition, the Slow flaw is used (as normally applied to the Variable power) to represent the fact that it requires a considerable amount of time (and presumably a target that is restrained or willing).
Since memory doesn't have a "mass" as affected by Transform, we use the rank of the power for the Time Rank worth of time that can be changed per use of the power. This requires the permission of the Game Master, but since this entire power is rather experimental, and has near-permanent consequences, it's best to discuss it thoroughly with your Game Master before including it.
Its duration is Continuous, meaning that it persists for an indefinite amount of time, unless countered by another use of this power (to restore the memories) or an appropriate Nullify effect. A quirk is added to this power that it cannot be used again on a character already affected by it, except to restore the original memories. This is just to make sure that the power doesn't cause problems when used repeatedly (original memories wiped, replaced, wiped again and so on) which will cause frustration among players and the Game Master.
Mindscaping: Transform (Memories or Personalities), Continuous, Resisted by Will, Mass Rank becomes Time Rank, Slow (1 hour per Time Rank affected), Quirk 1 (Targets transformed are immune to further Mindscaping attempts except to restore original memories), Check Required (Expertise: Psychology) DC 14
This power costs 1 point for the first 6 ranks; each rank after that costs an additional point.
Effects used: Affliction, Insubstantial, Concealment
The ultimate showdown between a powerful telepathic overmind and his foe takes place in a downtown setting, and the fight turns against the telepath. The telepath (in this case most likely a villain, considering the use of this power) becomes an intangible mind construct, taking possession of the thoughts of the people in the crowd. Suddenly, the heroes have to deal with an angry mob - and being innocent victims they can't be too careful with them!
This power uses a combination of a wide-area Affliction effect to control the minds of everyone in the area who fails to resist it. In addition, it is linked to Insubstantial and Concealment, reflecting the fact that the telepath now is an intangible and (to mere mortals) invisible existence.
Mental powers can still detect and affect the telepath, and in addition there must be 1 common material that bypasses his Insubstantial state (chosen when this power is bought). It is also centered on the Telepath, so wherever the horde goes, he must be right among them. With the Passive flaw on the Concealment effect, if the telepath performs other actions, there's a risk of the entire power failing, and him becoming tangible and in the middle of an uncontrolled angry mob.
Mass Possession: Burst Area (x2) Affliction, Sustained duration, Resisted by WIll, Limited to the third degree (Controlled), Instant Recovery - Linked to Insubstantial 4 and Concealment 10 (All Senses except Mental Senses, Passive, Resistible by Will)
This power costs 25 points for the Insubstantial and Concealment effects, plus 1 point per rank in the Affliction.
Effects used: Summon, Enhanced Trait
The Summon effect allows you to effectively put another character in play; for a telepath this can be a psychic construct. Usually this appears as some creature of legend or some featureless conceptual being which is shaped from pure thought. But when several psychics work together, this gestalt can actually become an amazingly powerful creature.
While each of the psychics involved has their own version of this power, when it's actually used one must be the real "caster", and the base stats of the creature depend on it. Usually this will be the one with the highest rank in this power, as that determines the Power Level of the being created.
One option used in this power is from Summoning Powers power profile by Green Roning (available from their website), where it is suggested to allow multiple summoners to pool their points in Summoning together. While I think this is a great idea, not everyone has that book or wants to use the rules this way, so I will use a Variable effect instead.
The primary power will be a Summoning, while the alternate effect will be the variable. For information on how to use the Variable effect, see the core rulebook for the system.
Psychic Gestalt: Summon, Heroic
Enhance Psychic Gestalt: Enhanced Trait (Summon), Quirk 1 (Only adds to power points, not to Power Level), Feature: Psychic Link (with the Gestalt's summoner)
The basic Summon power costs 4 points per rank, creating a creature with 15 PP per rank in the power. Its PL is limited to the rank of the Summon power and the campaign's Power Level, whichever is lower.
The Enhanced Summon is equal in cost, but only adds to the power point pool of an existing creature. It has a quirk not to add its rating to the Power Level of the Gestalt creature so that it doesn't break PL limits and the main summoner's power is the one that counts for the creature's potential.
All assistants who boost the Gestalt's power are linked telepathically to the summoner, so that they can coordinate their actions and the gestalt doesn't break free.