Telepathy & Empathy

Throughout the galaxies there are races with varying degrees of one or both telepathic/empathic senses.

In a clearly developed and obvious form, these senses are generally quite uncommon, though it is suspected that most (if not all) creatures do possess them to a very limited degree; this theory is furthered by the variety of species types that show the capability and that it is not unique to sentient beings.

Telepathy is the ability to read the thoughts of others.  The range and how strong (often stated as “loudness”) the thoughts are play an important role in whether or not they can be “read”.  No telepathic race has ever shown any capacity to broadcast their thoughts into the minds of others who were not themselves telepathic, and none are able to tap into the minds of others to gain insight into memories and other information not actively being processed by the conscious mind.  The phenomenon is fairly well understood to be a trait of certain nerve receivers which then carry the information to one or more specialised brain lobes which then interpret the information.  These sensory nerves are sensitive to the detectable emanations of certain parts of the cerebral cortex (or its various analogues across the diversity of species).

A common myth about telepathy beyond the ability to place thoughts or to mind-probe is that it means that all thoughts can be understood.  This is quite untrue.  Any conscious reminiscence that occurs can be “seen” in the same way that the person remembering is “seeing” the recollected images.  The language that the person is thinking in is the one “heard” by the telepath.  No special understanding is gained.  Also the more alien the mind the less likely that the telepath will receive anything or that she will be capable of understanding it even if the thoughts are in a comprehended language.

Empathy, on the surface, seems to be a linked trait to telepathy, though they do function on rather different principles on the biological level.  The ability to pick up and interpret emotions is derived from specialised tissues which read a number of things from brain impulses to pheromones and this information is carried to the brain for analysis in a structure that is usually located much closer to the mid or hindbrain than to the cerebrum (again, or analagous structures).

Ability to sense emotional states does not, of course, carry with it any understanding of the causes.  Contrary to popular holo-serial characters’ depictions, for example, one can tell that a person is feeling love, hate, jealousy, etc. but must rely on observation or questions to determine for whom the emotion is felt.  Similarly a telepath cannot interpret emotional states, if the person’s thoughts provide no clues then she is no more able to tell how a person feels than could someone who can hear or see the individual.

Some technologies do exist which are designed around the understanding of telepathic senses, and even some empathic variations of them.  Magvinnians, for example, have designed most of the interactions with their computer systems to work on a computerised version of the their own telepathic senses as well as ways to record and play back thought and emotional patterns in a fashion not at all unlike recording and playback of sound, which allowed them to retain their heavily neural based language in long range communication as well as the development of entire entertainment media such as thought and feeling symphonies.


Magvinnians are yet another of the human races. They, in fact, are virtually indistinguishable from Humans.

They have a similar range of skin, hair, and eye colors, though some of the genes are linked differently leading to green and blue eyes to be slightly more prevalent than in Terrans and several other Humans. They also are allergic to citrus, and it’s a fairly dominant trait – even many quarter Magvenians will become ill from a few slices of the fruit or a few drinks of the juice, for full blooded Magvinnians or those part-Magvenians who receive the allergy in full dose the complications can be as severe as anaphylactic shock or death.

Another notable trait of Magvinnians is their senses. They have seven. The usual sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing, but also they have empathy and telepathy.

Contrary to some popular depictions they cannot probe minds. It’s simply that they can ‘hear’ surface thoughts and sense the emotions of others. This is believed to be the genesis of the indisputable fact that Magvenians are neurologically incapable of comprehending privacy. A full Magvinnian can be taught the idea as an academic concept and observe it through learned behaviour and a certain amount of conscious effort, but she will never actually GET it. It is very rare for part Magvinnians to have the ability to comprehend privacy unless they absolutely do not possess the additional senses, even many who do not possess the senses will have difficulty if they’re fewer than four or five generations removed from the introduction of Magvinnian genetics to their family tree.

The Magvinnian society therefore can be a little odd to many who are not also of an empathic or telepathic race. Their aritecture, for example, has few interior walls or doors, and tends towards very large and expansive windows on exterior ones. Internal divisions are maintained only due to the architect doing something for a bit of style or other artistic reasons or for purely pragmatic reasons, such as bathrooms being divided from the rest of the home and well ventilated for obvious reasons. They also have a long standing tradition of directly democratic rule, though their history is dotted with despots and tyrants as are so many other races.

Their language is nigh impossible for non-Magvinnians to learn. It contains few verbal components, though their vocal range is comparable to other humans. Verbal components are used for emphasis, and to express simple concepts over distances too great or in areas too crowded to do mentally. Their written language is a complex ideographic system that seems to have been carefully constructed to, as much as possible, speak to their telepathic and empathic senses via the eyes.

Technologically they are an interesting bunch as well. They understand their ‘powers’ fully enough to actually have developed computer systems that use their telepathic sense for user interaction and some or even all output. Even recording technology includes the ability to store an imprint of mental and emotional patterns in the same way other races would record light or vocal patterns. Entire symphonies of mental and emotional ‘sound’ can be ‘listened’ to whenever someone wishes and can be, to those for whom the technology is usable, quite profound and beautiful.

Another popular misconception is that they are incapable of lying and do not get fiction. This couldn’t be further from the truth. It is fair to say that a non-telepath or non-empath does find it difficult to have the necessary control to lie convincingly to a Magvinnian it is not impossible, and a Magvinnian has no more trouble lying to another one than any other human would to another human who had to rely on body language and tone of voice to detect the lie. They also have a very deep and avid love of fiction. Magvenians, as a rule, are avid consumers of popular entertainments, but will, depending on the individual (just as with all humans), readily read or watch or listen to anything you care to name. Their own popular entertainments, when translated out of their peculiar language, seem to span the full spectrum of genres, though the past century has seen a trend toward romantic-adventure as the most popular.

There is also a genre that is peculiar to telepaths that seems to centre on situations where the protagonist must overcome specific kinds of complex intellectual puzzles and various internal and psychological obstacles. The discovery of and first non-telepathic study of this genre is often attributed to Professor Uli Karinstar of Ruvellia about seventy-five standard years before the formation of the Galfarran Union. Uli discovered, though, that only one telepathic race had ever devised a vocalised word for it and that was the Jok’iri of the planet Olimar’n, which was a distinctly avian race. Uli is quoted as saying “I’m too damned old to spend nearly a full saen caterwauling like a damned graemir (a Ruvellian spirit of near identical legend to that of the Terran banshee)” and so named the genre faernorid waernir, which for those versed in ancient Astrim (the old tongue of a small island chain in Ruvellia’s southern seas, of which Uli was both a student and where the balance of his family was from for millennia) will know it would be best translated into more modern language as “bloody pain in the ass”, Uli was also noted in academic circles as cantankerous and having a incredibly odd sense of humour.