[RPG] The effects of saving throws on mind reading


A number of creatures in D&D systems (specific editions may not be necessary here, but let's use 3/3.5/3.75 for simplicity) have the ability to use spell or spell-like effects such as Detect Thoughts or Read Thoughts. Dopplegangers are a common case that come to mind. It is said that anyone targeted by these spells get a Will Save. The question is, are they aware of needing to make this save, either before or after it happens, and whether they succeed or fail?

It seems unlikely that the target should be aware if they fail – otherwise, it would deny any amount of discreetness that the mind-reader otherwise has. Perhaps, however, that is the case. What if mind-reading is always intrusive-feeling?

Should a target become aware if and only if they succeed the save? Do they then become entirely aware of what they resisted, or only vaguely aware they "something" attempted to manipulate their mind?

Perhaps the target should never be aware, regardless of if they succeed or fail? Perhaps there is no risk to the mind-reader – only setbacks and inconveniences. Dopplegangers read minds so often that it's unlikely they would be willing to risk even a 5% failure rate.

The 3rd Edition SRD seems to not directly tackle this question, and instead leaves it up to interpretation. What are your thoughts?

Best Answer

A failed save means the target has no idea that the effect has taken place. A successful save gives the target an idea that they’ve been targeted by a hostile mental effect, but beyond its hostility and the fact that they resisted it, they gain no more information (i.e. no indication of the source, the direction it came from, the nature of the attack, etc.).

From the Rules Compendium

Saving Throws

Success and Failure

A creature that successfully saves against an effect that has no obvious physical repercussions feels a hostile force or a tingle, but can’t deduce the exact nature of the attack.

Note that this is different from the original rule found on the SRD, which specified that a successful saving throw against hostile effects resulted in the tingle. The Rules Compendium drops that specifier, in favor of assuming that if you’ve saved against it, it was hostile enough to warrant the tingle.

Anyway, outside of any obvious physical repercussions, you get no indication that you have failed a saving throw; the rule above specifies that you are only aware of the attack if you succeed on the saving throw.

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