The Social Implications of Magic: Mentalist Base Lists

Copyright R. Dan Henry © 2009

Edited by Peter Mork for The Guild Companion

"This spell allows Mentalists to not only walk a mile in another man's shoes, but in his feet."

This is the twentieth in a series of articles consisting of notes on each of the spell lists in the RMSS version of Spell Law. While it occasionally considers various other ideas concerning the spells, the primary focus is on the commercial or societal use of spells in order to see how they might influence the shape of a culture that employs them.

Mind Attack

As the name implies, this list is about attacking and has little use outside of combat. It does offer a mix of lethal and non-lethal attack forms.

Jolts spells are like those on the Mind Destruction (Sorcerer Base) list, except that the Mentalist gets them one level sooner and they go up to Jolts X. Minor Pain and Major Pain also are repeats from the Mind Destruction list, but the Mentalist gets them a little later on his list.

Hesitation is good for defensive use, especially for forestalling hostilities that may be avoided altogether.

Shock spells are basic attack spells that harm and kill.

Paralyze spells are useful for lethal or non-lethal combat or for halting pursuit (on either side). Maybe some bondage fetishists would get a kick out of it.

Mind Shout spells, including Great Shout and Shout True, can affect associates, so they are most useful when the Mentalist is working alone. They are useful to escape a crowd. They could be used to aid in thefts or to create an opening for allies to jump in. Shout True is potentially lethal, so care for one's allies is an even greater concern when using this spell.

Mind Control

The Mentalist's Question is better than the Sorcerer's version (see the Soul Destruction list), because it compels a truthful answer. This spell is useful in any sort of questioning, such as interrogations, examining witnesses, interviews, and many other situations.

Sleep has a range half that of the Spirit Mastery (Closed Essence) Sleep spells, only the first round of sleep is magical, and it only affects a single target. However, for two Power Points, the Mentalist can put someone of any level to sleep. True Sleep offers a useful upgrade, extending natural sleep and providing an RR penalty.

Charm Kind, Confusion, Suggestion, Hold Kind, Master of Kind, True Charm, Hold True, Geas (same as Quest), and True Geas (same as True Quest) are all duplications of spells on the Spirit Mastery (Closed Essence) list, except for some parameter differences that tend to favor Essence.

Calm works like the Calm I spell on the Calm Spirits (Closed Channeling) list.

Fear allows for avoiding confrontations, building one's image ("He stared down Big Eddie! He must be tough!"), and embarrassing a rival.

Emotions is useful for general manipulation, creating distractions, influencing reviews and reports (a restaurant critic placed in a good mood will enjoy a meal more than that same critic placed in a bad mood would), seduction, scams, getting cooperation for various endeavors, or psyching up a boxer or gladiator.

Coma is good for taking captives, especially dangerous targets that will require transportation to distant facilities. It is therefore useful in warfare, espionage, law enforcement, and kidnapping.

Hold Kind True prevents the target from causing or getting into trouble and is therefore useful for handling friendlies who do not know when to stay still and shut up. Anyone rescuing children or idiots in dangerous environments will appreciate this spell.

Mind Break resembles the spell of the same name on the Mind Destruction (Sorcerer Base) list, except that the effect is permanent (until and unless cured). This is useful for deposing monarchs with a regent or dealing with an opponent without killing him (due to oaths, legalities, or other reason to avoid killing).

Mind Control True and Mind Master allow one to use another as a spy, assassin, thief, thug, scapegoat, sex toy, cheap labor, or anything else one can think up. This is ideal for framing one's enemies, while getting your dirty work done by them. Possible applications include making your political rival feel up an underage girl in public, making one of his own employees sabotage a business rival, making a random street kid torch your failing business for the insurance money, turning two criminal organizations on each other, and starting a new religion by taking over a small child and having her spout advanced theological arguments through "divine inspiration." The good distance over which control can be maintained after the spell takes effect means that the caster can have a solid alibi for the time during which his agent commits misdeeds.

Mind Merge

Empathy is useful for personal interactions. The range is quite limiting, so for security use it is of limited value. It can still help to detect possible shoplifters, assassins, and other troublemakers based on nervousness. It is useful in social interactions with individuals or small groups and can be of value when dating or giving counseling. A judge might use this spell to check the sincerity of declared remorse. Others who will find this spell useful are negotiators, diplomats, and interrogators (although the last will be better off using Question in most circumstances).

Read Emotions improves Empathy in effect and in range. This allows it to have political application to judge the reactions of small groups and to take the winning side.

Merge spells serve two functions. The ability to exchange Power Points is of some use: Mentalists can provide or get support for magic use, allowing an individual additional ability in time of need. This might be a member of a conspiracy needing a boost in combat or other extreme effort, or it could be the sending of power to a Lay Healer or Healer in a medical crisis.

The more significant function of Merge spells is communication. Covert mental communication is useful for the conspiratorial types, but also for any teamwork in a competitive environment (legal teams, negotiating teams, a coach sending instructions from the sidelines, tactical squads, etc.) or in a noisy environment (industrial site, burning building, etc.). It could also be used for cheating at cards and other trickery that might be done with covert signals in our world, providing a more effective channel of communication. While Ready Merge True is too high level for routine use, it allows instant communication with unlimited range. This is very useful for a global (or larger) empire or organization. One can communicate with the blind, deaf, and mute. Mind Merging could be a useful tool in psychotherapies.

Mind Merging is probably experienced as more intimate than other forms of communication, which may both limit its use and strengthen relationships. It might be part of a Mentalist's seduction technique or a display of trust among members of a group. It has additional applications such as cheating on tests and allowing coaching in real time, like an invisible teleprompter. ("Notice her new hairstyle, you idiot." "The current budget deficit is one third what it was when you took office.")

Thoughts is highly useful for espionage, be it private or governmental. It is also good for just plain snooping. It can be used to steal ideas or to learn an opponent's next move. The risk of being noticed limits its use somewhat and other Mentalists might frown on indiscriminate use of this spell due to an increased public awareness of mind-snooping magic. Inner Thoughts provides increased intimacy in probing the workings of another mind. It would be useful for advanced academic exams (a step beyond oral exams). One could closely study the strategic thinking of a successful rival in order to emulate that success. It could be used in a legal examination to judge mental competency.

Mind Switch (True) allows the use of another body as a spy or assassin, permits voyeurism and sexual adventurism, and allows one to bypass security keyed to the body of the individual one switches with. Two Mentalists can switch and both be active, allowing a little variety in their sex lives. A more powerful Mentalist can inhabit a less powerful Mentalist's body to make him appear powerful. This spell is another intimacy improver, allowing Mentalists to not only walk a mile in another man's shoes, but in his feet. Switching can allow a more style-conscious individual to improve the dress and grooming of the target in the most direct way. It is good for wacky pranks, such as getting the target an embarrassing tattoo. One can recreate situations from cheesy movies. More practically, it can be used for performing interventions (suicide prevention, crime stopping, or taking the target off a drug until withdrawal passes) or for vote fraud (generally practical only to influence small or tight elections or votes in a legislature, unless there are a lot of Mentalists available).

Mind Scan and Mind Probe are useful in investigations, especially working with crime witnesses. They can be used as a means of checking experience when considering someone for employment, an appointment to a government post, or a position in a competitive school. There are uses in espionage (especially in counterespionage to learn what a captured spy knows), historical research, psychoanalysis, writing biographies, and avoiding paying the consulting fee charged by a sage. When persecuting some group, these spells allow one to learn the associates of a criminal, rebel, heretic, malcontent, or troublemaker. They are also an excellent means of finding embarrassing material to blackmail or expose the target.

Thought Steal can provide security by wiping critical memories from exposed personnel (e.g., spies being sent into enemy territory) and enforcing non-disclosure agreements the hard way. It can uncreate witnesses, allow the forgetting of traumatic memories, remove a heresy or other unwanted idea directly, help cover up the theft of an idea by Thoughts, perform general mental sabotage, or undo finding out about a surprise party or hearing the twist ending to a play one is seeing tomorrow.

Mind Speech

This list provides covert, rapid communication with substantial range. Like any good communications technology this is very useful for maintaining coordination of efforts over large territories, whether by governments or private organizations.

Mentalist Tongue allows confirmation that someone is a Mentalismist.

Prepare Mind spells boost the range of Mind Tongue spells, ensuring that the range of Mind Tongue spells is potentially global.

Mind Tongue spells allow two-way communication between individuals, thus allowing covert messaging for espionage, business, conspiracy, etc. A network of mind-message stations (covering the requirement that one "must know the exact location of the target") could function like a telegraph system, allowing the sending of messages rapidly over great distances.

Focus Mind allows unplanned communications beyond line of sight and extends the utility of Mind Tongue.

(Far) Mind Speech spells send general messages. They are useful for communicating when silenced (gagged, suffering laryngitis, born mute, etc.) or in an environment where noise interferes with speech. They are useful to politicians and pitchmen as an attention-getting gimmick.

The selectiveness of Friend Speech spells make them more useful for issuing tactical orders, coaching competitions, coordinating performances on the fly, or prompting an actor.

Waiting Tongue and Waiting Speech are useful for warnings, alarms, advertising, love notes, reminders, performance tricks, pep talks, announcements, timed alerts, and pranks. They can also be used as a simple (if high level) timer.

Presence

Presence has previously appeared on the Essence's Perceptions (Open Essence) list, but also on the Mind Mastery (Closed Mentalism) list and both Mentalism versions are Power Point free. This version has the best radius and duration of the three versions, scaling with level to allow covering larger areas at higher levels. It also serves as preparation for various spells on this list that analyze detected minds. Presence True is type "Pm" instead of "U", so it is not a passive sensor with the spell influencing the caster; it is actively probing and may be detected. The description of this spell is missing the range at which the detection radius can be centered. It should be great enough to allow this spell to reach beyond the 10'/level radius of basic Presence.

Feel spells, including Long Feel and Mass Feel are useful for census taking or other demographic surveys of race and for judging the experience of individuals, which can be important for target selection, revealing disguises, and job screenings.

Mind Store is required for various other spells to work. It provides a sort of library of known minds, which may be shared via Transfer Mind Store.

Mind Typing (True) detects profession, which is useful for locating certain spell-casting types or doing demographic surveying.

Finding and Detection spells allow tracking Mind Stored individuals. This can be useful in manhunts, recovering kidnapping victims, checking on parolees, and keeping track of children, minions, etc. Surveillance of individuals is assisted by the ability to lose contact and easily pick it up again later. Additional uses include tracking shipments by Finding the ship's captain.

Awareness (True) is largely tactical in application, so it is useful in combat and certain sports and games. It is also useful for coordination of effort, improving improvisational theater, dancing, sex, and one's ability to jump up to offer assistance at an opportune moment.

Sense Control

This list is the genesis of Rolemaster's "mental illusions", later elaborated on in the Mentalism Companion.

Distraction, Numbing, and Blur Vision can be used in combat, to commit sabotage at sporting events, or for general harassment. They are somewhat limited by the need for the caster to maintain concentration. Audio Attack, Fumble, Vision Attack, Nerve Stun, and Sensory Overload have the same utility for combat, sports, and harassment. These spells are useful for training when the master wants the student to learn to fight (or do other work) under difficult conditions. Vision Attack has the side benefit of blinding the target, which is useful for spies or criminals who want to prevent the target from being a witness.

Audio Control, Vision Control, and the various Sense Control spells, including Long Control, are useful for various forms of trickery, improving the experience of food, improving one's appearance in the eyes of a particular target (or self-targeting the spell to get "beer goggles" without the beer), entertainment, working on recreating the past for historical or criminological investigations, communicating covertly (not that a Mentalist really needs another method for that), and providing distractions for picking pockets or disarming dangerous individuals. They can be used in planning to create walkthroughs of a design for a garden, building, stage set, ship, or other construction. An author, artist, or poet might seek to be provided experiences of the subject he is working on. These spells can also provide a reward and punishment system where resources are limited or there are other restrictions on what can be done in reality. For example, a prisoner in a maximum-security facility might be rewarded with a virtual walk in the park, whereas one would not risk allowing the real thing.

(Taunting) Hallucination provides a distraction. It is especially good for keeping someone dangerous busy, buying time to do things like get civilians out of the way before entering combat. These spells can also provide a training exercise for combatants.

Sensory Deprivation can be used to punish convicts (an extreme form of solitary confinement), for psychological studies, or simply as sadistic minimalism.

Private World is a useful death penalty alternative when one either wishes to show mercy or considers the subject too useful to dispose of. It also provides an alternative environment for someone untreatably crippled.