Encyclopaedia Arcana #31: Mind Magic

Mind magic gives dominion over thoughts and memories.  It overlaps with charm magic, but while charm mages focus on feeling and emotion, mind mages specialise in controlling and interpreting conscious mental activity.  Mind mages are quite common and their magic is one of the more well-known and extensively studied of all the magic types.

All in the Mind

Mind spells are enormously varied.  Information-wise, mind magic can be used to read the surface thoughts of a subject, detect sentient creatures at a distance by sensing their consciousness, and even probe someone’s memories.  Other mind mages specialise in enhancement, boosting the cleverness, memory, or thinking speed of a subject.  More advanced spells are designed to enhance a person’s aptitude for a specific subject – in theory it’s possible to boost (for example) a person’s mathematical ability, though it’s always questionable how well it really works in the long term.  Mind magic can even be used for combat, stunning a target by overloading their senses or flooding their minds with pain, or even inflicting fatal injury through strokes or cerebral haemorrhages.

Perhaps the most feared ability of mind mages is their ability not to read minds, but control them.  A mind mage able to overcome the mental defences of a subject can suggest courses of action to them or even dominate them entirely, manipulating them like a puppet.  Some mind mages go one step further and possess another conscious creature, transplanting themselves into the target’s head while their victim watches helplessly.

However, while there have been mind mages who can do all of these things collectively, there’s probably never been a mind mage who can do all of them himself.  Mind is among the most diverse of all the magic types and it’s very common for two mind mages to have little to no overlap in their abilities.  As always, the types of spells a mind mage can use is tied to their personality:  those with a more perceptive bent tend to learn to sense and read thoughts, the more domineering ones focus on controlling them, and the academic types use their abilities for enhancement and cognitive research.

Mind Games

The abilities of mind mages tend to produce an understandable paranoia in those first told about them.  The prospect of someone who can not only read your thoughts but possess you outright is frightening, and many new apprentice fear mind mages as a result.  However, for all its power, mind magic has several limitations.

Firstly, the more strongly a mind mage influences somebody, the easier that influence is to detect.  Like charm magic, mind magic has no visual elements to give away when it’s being used, but unlike charm magic it can be easily picked up by magical senses.  This tends to make the more extreme uses of mind magic (such as domination and reprogramming) a bad idea for any mind mage who cares about being subtle:  such influence is obvious to the most casual scan, even without the major psychological side effects this kind of brutal treatment usually causes.

Secondly, while the more perceptive uses of mind magic are reliable, the suggestive uses aren’t.  Targets can resist mind-influencing magic with mental defence techniques, by getting out of the mind mage’s range, or simply by being strong-willed enough.

Finally, mind magic is generally inferior to other types in direct combat.  Yes, a mind mage can theoretically dominate another person or knock them unconscious, but anyone with quick enough reflexes can probably just shoot them first.  While this is rarely put to the test, it does mean that mind mages have to be much more careful than elementalists do.

Honest Politicians

Mind mages dominate mage politics in general and Light politics in particular.  Their ability to read thoughts gives them an enormous advantage in any social setting, and even without it they tend to have a good enough control over their own emotions that they give very little away that they don’t want to.  The commonly accepted wisdom in magical society is that when it comes to politics no-one can match a mind mage except a charm mage, and as a result other mages often find themselves forced to rely on enchanters and enchantresses as a counterbalance to mind mages even if they don’t particularly trust them either.

In personality mind mages vary widely, but tend to be both social and analytical.  They’re good with other people (at least when they want to be) but have a tendency to view them as tools rather than equals – the abilities of mind mages give an ever-present temptation to manipulate and control those around them rather than dealing with them honestly.  Some resist it, but many don’t, and the ones that don’t have given mind mages in magical society a similar reputation to that of politicians, lawyers, and used car salesmen in the mundane world.

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