With Dariana taking the spotlight in The Spirit Well, it means there will be a lot of telepathic tricks coming out. She hasn’t really cut loose with her powers, sticking more to mind-reading, astral travel, blocking pain, enhancing her strength, and memory wipes that are usually on herself. Dariana really is a strange telepath in that she is fairly restrained and quick to change her own mind. This is a good block to make sure she isn’t too powerful and reduces the other heroes to spectators. You really do need restraints on mental powers because, similar to magic, it can easily be abused.
Many times, the telepath is hampered by a physical issue like Professor X being in a wheelchair. The idea is that the mind is strong to make up for a weakened body. This includes the physical strain of using the powers, which gives them bad stamina outside of the astral plane. Headaches, nosebleeds, and various other ailments can strike if limits are exceeded. When a telepath has these issues then it makes it very important that they have allies who can defend them at their lowest points.
Dariana is different in that her issues are social in nature. A side-effect of telepathy can be that it’s a power you can’t turn off or requires constant focus to keep in check. One slip and you get the secret thoughts of everyone in the room, which is one of the things that Dariana fears. Not to mention freaking out and turning off someone’s mind during a drunken stupor. Very powerful telepaths are a threat to themselves and those around them, which should be factored in. People can fear them as soon as they are revealed or the telepath can retreat before a decision is even made. It depends on temperament of the individual.
Astral projection is another trick that gets used a lot and can be overpowered. No secret or location is off-limits for these people, but it’s easy to make this incredibly dangerous. A common concept is a tether that connects the mind to the body. This can be sturdy or fragile, but it’s very important. The idea revolves around the idea that the mind can become lost in the ether, which leaves the body in a coma. Due to this threat, an astral voyage needs to be done both carefully and during desperate times. This doesn’t even include the monsters that can be found there, which are always fun to create.
Personally, I find it easier to limit telepaths than casters because there is a less variety in elements and effect. Magic has a lot of uses that can even include variations of mental powers like telepathy. When a character is only able to manipulate thoughts, you need fewer obstacles for them to get through. Dariana won’t counter something that stops her telepathy by hurling a lightning bolt. She has to find ways around it, depend on others, or retreat. As strong as she is, there is a narrow focus to what she can do. Yes, there’s variety in what she can do, but it all stems from telepathy.
How would you write a telepath? Are there any psychics in fiction that you love to read about?