Detect Thoughts 5e D&D Guide

Your 5e spellcasters have the unique ability to read minds and use their psychic abilities. This is not about launching fireballs at your enemies or summoning them from the depths.

It’s more about getting into the enemy’s head to see what you can do to make them miserable. 

Mind powers can be used to get information, cause psychic damage, or simply make them see things that they don’t know.

The spell ‘Detect Thoughts’ is one of the most interesting spells. It allows you to detect thoughts from the person you cast them on. 

This spell is quite complex, so you may want to ensure that you fully understand it before you begin casting it. 

What are Detect Thoughts?

Here are the stats of Detect Thoughts from the Player’s Handbook. This spell description is quite long, so we will cover it in the article.

  • 2nd Level Divination
  • Casting time: 1 Action
  • Range: Self
  • Components: V S M (A copper part)
  • Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute
  • Classes: Bard, Sorcerer, Wizard

This second-level divination spell has a range of you and only one action to cast. Concentration can make it last up to one minute or ten rounds of combat. 

You can cast it by a bard or sorcerer or wizard. The material is a copper piece.

How do Detect Thoughts work?

Detect Thoughts 5e D&D Guide

You can read the brains of specific creatures like a book and detect their thoughts, just like the name suggests. 

Focus your attention on any creature that you can see within 30 feet of you. The creature must also be able to speak a language and have higher intelligence than 3. 

The spell will end if the creature does not meet these requirements. The creature’s surface thoughts and random thoughts are revealed to you.

You can move your focus to another creature, or you can try to get deeper into the mind of the first creature. To move deeper, the target must make a Wisdom saving throw.

If it fails, you can gain insight into the creature’s reasoning, its emotional state, and any other large information that it has. If the check passes, the spell ends.

The creature also knows that you are asking questions in its mind so it can take an action to check your intelligence. If you succeed, the creature will throw you out of its mind.

Who can cast Detect Thoughts 5e?

The only classes that can cast Detect Thoughts without adding a specific subclass to their DnD character sheets are the Bard 5e, the Sorcerer 5e, and the Wizard 5e.

If a Warlock 5e chooses the Great Old One as their patron, they can learn the spell Detect Thoughts.

The Arcane Trickster Rogue 5e and the Eldritch Knight Fighter 5e can also use the Wizard spell list to learn the spell. But these last two classes can’t learn to read minds until they reach level 8.

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Use Detect Thoughts Inspiring Ways To Use

This spell allows you to see the thoughts of your character topmost. This spell allows you to see the most important thoughts of any character you are working with. The surface thoughts are often very common.

Think about what you think on a daily basis. Think about what you’re going to eat today, where your next trip is, and the emotions that you feel. You will feel the same way with most creatures that you look at.

To get more information, you must defeat the target’s wisdom saving throw. Then you can probe deeper into their reasoning, emotional state, and what they are concerned about.

Interrogation is perhaps the best way to use this spell. Your victim will naturally respond to the questions you ask. You can get more insight into the true thoughts of your victim if you combine the spell and Zone of Truth.

Although you cannot read minds, if you pay attention to their thoughts you might be able to get valuable information from them during interrogation. 

If you detect thoughts on a bandit and ask them where their hideout is, they might not tell you. However, their mind might flash with landmarks or even the front entrance of the hideout.

Although it may not be a map drawn by hand, it is still something. Interrogation with detect magic is like telling someone to stop thinking of a pink elephant. 

Most likely, a pink elephant. Asking harder questions could lead to helpful thoughts that move to the surface. 

Zone Of Truth can be used to ensure that you don’t get lied to during interrogations.

Why can’t Creatures Have Their Thoughts Detected?

These are the rules for creatures that can be affected. They must have intelligence levels of 3 and be able to speak a language. Constructs and the undead are automatically deleted as they can’t speak. 

Animals are also immune from having their thoughts detected. However, they likely don’t have deeper thoughts than survival and food. Animations such as animated armor or animated trees are also immune.

Detect thoughts can be used to get inside the enemy’s head. But most enemies will notice that you are digging deeper into their heads and may order their minions not to allow you in. 

The spell requires concentration on the target so that you can take damage.

Some creatures are intelligent enough to outsmart your mind-reading abilities. Vampire lords demons and fiends as well as some powerful or magically inclined Big Bad Evil Guys/Girls can either overcome detect thoughts or have enough experience with mind control and the mind to keep their thoughts secret. 

They may sing to themselves, repeat mantras, or do other things that make their thoughts impossible to read.

They often have enough intelligence or wisdom to protect their minds against deeper probing. Some may even be able to turn the tables. They might be able to get inside your head and do mindreading or psychic damage.

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Spells like Mind Blank, Modify Memory and Nondetection are also available to the evil guys. 

These spells will only be available to the evilest of foes, and not all lower-level enemies. This will keep Detect Thoughts functional during the campaign.

However, your party shouldn’t be able to detect the thoughts of any other person they see.

Where to get a Copper Piece?

Copper is very common in the Faerun world, with copper pieces being the most popular of all the coins. Copper pieces can be obtained by trading gold pieces or as loot. 

Copper coins are useful for those who don’t own one. They can also be found in blacksmithing shops and mining guilds. If you have one, you’d keep it in your component pouch.

Do not worry about getting a piece of copper. It is common and small so you don’t have to worry about it. Most DMs will let you have one without requiring a complicated reason or going out of their way to obtain it.

The Implications of Detect Thoughts

The biggest problem with detecting thoughts is that your target will know you’re using detecting thoughts on him. 

If you try to use detect thoughts on someone else, it will not work. This is especially true if you’re trying to detect thoughts from a king, or a powerful enemy. They know exactly what you are doing, and can link it all together.

Keep this in mind when you’re trying to determine who to use Detect Thoughts for. It can backfire if you try to get into the mind of someone else. 

While it is possible to detect the thoughts and thoughts of a farmer in order to obtain information, it can be much harder and can result in more severe consequences if the king doesn’t give his permission to view his thoughts.

Detect Thoughts 5e tips

Having unrestricted access to a creature’s thoughts can be useful in many ways. The Player’s Handbook says that Detect Thoughts is a good way to interrogate someone because you can ask questions out loud to get them to think in a certain way. It’s easier to lie with your mouth than with your mind.

In combat, there aren’t as many ways to use Detect Thoughts, but it can still be useful. A quick mind scan could tell you what an enemy plans to do next, giving your group a nice tactical edge.

The core D&D books also say that the spell can be used in a slightly less obvious way. You don’t have to target a specific creature with Detect Thoughts.

Instead, you can use it to find a creature within range that is thinking but that you might not be able to see. Only two feet of rock, two inches of metal, or a thin sheet of lead can keep you from finding a nearby mind.

The downside is that you can only learn so much about your target before they notice you. It’s risky to use this spell on an NPC who doesn’t know you’re in the room, and if you push your luck, it could quickly turn a neutral character hostile. D&D players, be careful when you go deep into your minds.

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Detect Thoughts FAQs

How to Make Detect Thoughts More Fun?

You can focus on one target or move around to scan the surface thoughts of all targets within 30 feet.  However, not all enemies, bad guys, or guards will have the information that the party requires. While some may be thinking about dinner and others about their sweetheart back at home, others might be thinking of the clouds or thinking about dinner.

This is a great way to show your mooks and NPCs that you are not scheming. It can also be a fun way for them to see that they are not all in on the Big Bad Evil Guy and Girl’s plans. They might be happy living a simple lifestyle and enjoying it.

Even if your enemy is knowledgeable, they might think, “Hah! I’m not telling him where the bosses are, because he’d murder me!” This could create a greater challenge for your spellcaster and force them to dig deeper into their enemy’s head.

What are some ways to protect yourself from detecting thoughts?

You don’t need to have a high intelligence level or wisdom modifier. Instead, you can use spells and abilities that will shield your mind from being detected by others. The Ring Of Mind Shielding, which hides your thoughts from anyone who wants to see them, is a wonderful item.

You don’t need to know the answers right away. You might be able to think of other options to answer the question. If you’re under the detect thoughts spell, an enemy might ask you “Where is your home base?”. You might not know the exact address, but you may be able to fool the enemy.

NPCs and PCs can both take intelligence to save their thoughts. If you pass the intelligence test, you may be able to control the direction of your thoughts. This means that you could imagine another location you could use to disguise the true hideout.

What Happens If You Dig Deeper into an Enemy’s Head?

If you want to dig deeper into the enemy’s head, you can see more details about the character that you are looking at. You’ll be able to see what is happening in the enemy’s mind. For example, their boss might do something to them if they speak. You might also be able to see their emotions and understand why they feel that way.

You might be the ability to gain insight into the thinking of NPCs to persuade them to view things your way when it comes to achieving what you want. You won’t have to harm the NPC relationship by trying to detect their thoughts. However, it might help you get some useful information.

A successful deeper probe can help you see the emotional state of your target, which can be a great way to get to know them. It will show you if they are happy, sad, happy, lovestruck, and a million other emotions. This can help you to understand the character.