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Old 06-03-2021, 02:34 AM   #1
johndallman
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Cambridge, UK
Default [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Mind Probe and Mind Reading

Mind Probe [20] is an exotic mental advantage, which allows you to obtain information from someone’s memory, without them being aware of the attempt. It appeared at GURPS 4e, as part of the revision of mind-affecting abilities.

Mind Reading [30] is another exotic mental advantage, which allows you to listen in on others’ surface thoughts, feelings and/or experiences. It also appeared at GURPS 4e, based on the 3e Telerecieve advantage.

These advantages are obviously closely related, and share a set of specific enhancements and limitations. Mind Probe is often used via Mind Reading, and it’s easier to explain them in reverse order.

Mind Reading requires that you either touch or can see your target. Given that, Concentrate for a second and then roll a Quick Contest of your IQ (less range penalties) against the target’s Will. If you win, you can hear their conscious thoughts, at talking speed. If you don’t understand the language they think in, you only get generalities. You can carry on using this ability on a single target as long as you like, but you can only read one mind at a time (unless you take Compartmentalised Mind). If you fail your roll, you can re-try at a cumulative ‑2 per attempt in the last hour, but a critical failure means you can’t try again on that target for a day. There is no specific effect for critical success, but the target thinking about whatever you’re interested in by themselves seems an obvious possibility. Mind Reading can have the Sense-Based limitation: Touch-Based deprives you of range, which may fit some backgrounds, and Hearing- or Scent-Based provides you with excellent lie detection.

Mind Probe requires that you touch your target, or are already using Mind Reading on them, and that you share a language with them. Given those prerequisites, you can roll a Quick Contest of the best of your IQ or Interrogation skill against their Will. If you win, you get the target’s truthful answer to one question. That question has to be answerable in a short sentence, and you get what they believe to be the answer, rather than any kind of absolute truth. “I don’t know” is a valid answer, if true. Like Mind Reading, repeated attempts for the same (or very similar) question are at a cumulative ‑2 per attempt in the last hour, and a critical failure means you can’t try again on that target for a day. You can try as many different questions as you like at no penalty, but each requires a separate Concentrate and Quick Contest.

These advantages share a set of enhancements and limitations, which need to be bought separately for each of them. They also usually need a Power Modifier, and it would be a strange character who had different Power Modifiers for the two. Cybernetic, +50%, allows you to read or probe Digital Minds, at a penalty of the computer’s Complexity; non-sentient computers do not resist. Cybernetic Only, ‑50%, means you can only affect Digital Minds. Racial, ‑20%, limits you to the same, or at least very similar, species, and can be combined with Sense-Based (Touch and/or Smell) to produce species that can communicate thoughts through biochemical signals. Sensory, +20%, lets you receive the target’s full sensorium, and Sensory, ‑20%, limits you to only doing that. Telecommunication, ‑20%, requires that you be in contact with your target via some form of the Telecommunication advantage, and Universal, +50%, lets you understand thoughts without a shared language, even for non-sentient targets, which is competitive with Omnilingual, provided people don’t get upset about you reading their minds.

Powers adds considerable detail, reminding us that these advantages can be seen as effects of truth drugs, which usually add Accessibility (Must hear Subject), ‑20%, and also mean that the subject may know what information you obtained. Telepathy can be far more covert, which is often valuable. It has two enhancements for Mind Probe: Invasive, +75%, lets you “break into” the subject’s mind with the Quick Contest. Once you’re in, you don’t have to make further rolls for questions, just succeed on a roll against IQ, Dreaming if the subject is asleep, Interrogation or Psychology for each piece of information. Memory Bank lets you “download” an image of the subject’s mind, with one quick contest, but this takes an hour. If you can store a number of these images equal to your IQ, this is +100%; if you have unlimited storage, this is +150%. You can roll IQ to examine an image and get information the subject knew when you downloaded the image, or to get enough information about his personality to remove penalties to Acting when impersonating them. Clearly, Memory Bank goes well with Cybernetic. Powers also has Multiple Contacts, +50%, for Mind Reading, which allows you to stay in contact with several minds simultaneously. You can only be reading one at a time, and you roll at ‑1 for each mind you’re already in contact with when you try to contact a new one, but you can switch between minds without rolling.

Psionic Powers makes the rules for improved resistance or immunity on failures and critical failures more systematic, and allows them to be modified. It also offers the Weaponised limitation for turning mental powers into machines with normal, visible attacks. Finally, it builds abilities out of these advantages specifically intended for psionic campaigns.

The Dungeon Fantasy line provides Mind Probe as part of the Bard-Song power, both advantages in its own version of psionics and reading your familiar’s mind. Fantasy points out that Mind Probe lets you search your target’s memory house, if they have one, and Horror has therapeutic applications as well as harmful ones. Monster Hunters has Mind Probe that works on dead people, once and with other limitations, and Powers: Enhanced Senses provides Hypersensory Mind Reading. Quite a few Reign of Steel: Will to Live supervisor robots have Mind Probe (Cybernetic Only) to find out what their underlings have been up to, and Social Engineering: Back to School gives large bonuses to Teaching if you can read your students’ minds. Ultra-Tech has mind probing machines that try to claim they aren’t superscience, but aren’t terribly convincing.

I’ve used these advantages quite a lot as a player, in a psionics campaign set in the 1960s, where I was the only mind-reader, and was kept pretty busy doing that. The other main information-gatherer had Clairsentience, plus a small amount of TK, and we made a good team for an investigative campaign. The Psionic Powers framework worked well for us. I’ve also seen Mind Reading be very useful in the occult WWII game, for moving mental images between different magicians’ minds, and for spotting infiltrators foolish enough to think in German.

How have these advantages played in your games?
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Old 06-03-2021, 05:07 AM   #2
awesomenessofme1
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Mind Probe and Mind Reading

I've been a little unclear on something related to these advantages. Under what circumstances can the person you're mind-reading tell that something is going on? I've looked through it a few times, and I can't tell if there's even any situation in which that happens.
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Old 06-03-2021, 05:19 AM   #3
WingedKagouti
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Mind Probe and Mind Reading

Quote:
Originally Posted by awesomenessofme1 View Post
I've been a little unclear on something related to these advantages. Under what circumstances can the person you're mind-reading tell that something is going on? I've looked through it a few times, and I can't tell if there's even any situation in which that happens.
Without limitations (or opposing Advantages), there is no tell outside the behaviour of the mindreader.
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Old 06-03-2021, 05:54 PM   #4
Plane
 
Join Date: Aug 2018
Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Mind Probe and Mind Reading

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Psionic Powers makes the rules for improved resistance or immunity on failures and critical failures more systematic, and allows them to be modified. It also offers the Weaponised limitation for turning mental powers into machines with normal, visible attacks. Finally, it builds abilities out of these advantages specifically intended for psionic campaigns.
Also as brought up in the mind control thread I think it allows you to detecti f someone is being mind controlled if you pass an IQ check?
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Old 06-03-2021, 09:38 PM   #5
whswhs
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Mind Probe and Mind Reading

A variant I came up with for one of my books was a Sense-Based version, where the sense was Detect Minds. That allows the user to scan an area for minds and then read them, without ever seeing them.
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Old 06-09-2021, 08:04 AM   #6
ericthered
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Mind Probe and Mind Reading

I've used mind reading without mind probe to interrogate simply by using the "don't think about pink elephants" trick. That worked best in the world-hopping context I was playing in, where people might not be expecting to face off against mind readers.



That same game featured invasion of worlds via invading people's minds, and mind-reading was a hugely helpful diagnostic tool there.
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