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Mindscapes

Source Occult Adventures pg. 234
Mindscapes are temporary constructs of the mind that come into being on the Astral Plane and fade away again, in much the same way a sleeping person’s imagined landscape forms and dissolves while he is dreaming. The primary difference between a mindscape and a dream is one of intent; a creature often deliberately and precisely constructs a mindscape, while a dreamer typically does not. A mindscape can come into existence as a result of creatures engaging in a psychic duel, as well as through certain spells, magic items, rituals, and other occult phenomena. In theory, a mindscape can take on any form or appearance—and can possess any conceivable trait—in much the same way the various planes do. In practice, mindscapes often either appear mostly normal, or feature only one or two traits that stray from reality, and creatures’ psychic avatars manifesting within the mindscape might not be able to tell they’re no longer in the real world.

Two types of mindscape exist: binary mindscapes and immersive mindscapes. Binary mindscapes occur during psychic duels, when a creature with psychic powers draws another into a mental battle. Only two participants can occupy a binary mindscape. This cerebral combat arena does not totally engulf the participants’ senses; a creature engaged in a psychic duel within a binary mindscape can still perceive the real world, but is largely consumed in her psychic battle. In this case, the mindscape is a powerful image in the mind’s eye, perceived on an abstract level and capable of affecting the subject in the real world, detaching her from events in the real world but leaving her still capable of perceiving them.

Immersive mindscapes are far more tangible and realistic. In an immersive mindscape, a creature’s every sense perceives its imaginary surroundings completely, in effect replacing the body’s actual sensory perceptions.

While a creature’s consciousness is within a mindscape, that creature’s body in the real world can take no actions and loses its Dexterity bonus to AC, but it isn’t considered helpless, as the unconscious parts of the creature’s mind still provide resistance to the creature’s destruction. While in an immersive mindscape, the mind gets no information about what the body sees, hears, smells, or touches. Thus, if the body takes damage from an attack in the real world, the mind remains unaware of it. A binary mindscape, however, allows a creature to monitor its own condition in the real world.

Mental Masks

Creatures drawn into mindscapes don’t have to appear as themselves, and can instead assume alternate forms called mental masks. They can do so only if they know they’re in a mindscape or believe they’re in a dream (the creator of a mindscape almost always does). A mental mask allows a creature to hide its true identity, masking its true features from its enemies. Non-psychic creatures can’t assume a mental mask; they must appear in immersive mindscapes in their true forms.

Binary Mindscapes

Source Occult Adventures pg. 235
A binary mindscape is typically only a minimalist backdrop for a psychic battle—a ghostly image, like a stark memory, lacking detail and verisimilitude. It might manifest as a flat surface surrounded by fog or a featureless plain of grass on a cloudy day. Sometimes, a binary mindscape mimics a real-world locale the creator knows well, but even then, the details at the edges of vision are usually fuzzy and indistinct, and features that invoke lesser senses, such as smell and taste, are lacking. A binary mindscape has no effect on the psychic battle; it’s merely a mental construct used to assist the participants in visualizing their actions.

Immersive Mindscapes

Source Occult Adventures pg. 235
An immersive mindscape is a less common, but far more powerful, variety of mindscape. When created, it seems every bit as palpable and vivid as the real world. A being within an immersive mindscape can see the land, feel the breeze, hear the falling rain, smell the sea, and even experience hunger and thirst. In some cases, creatures within an immersive mindscape don’t even realize that’s where they are. A target that’s fooled into believing such a mindscape is real wastes away in the physical world while living a full life in the mindscape.

An immersive mindscape can be sculpted in much more detail than a binary mindscape, and its traits vary. The creator dictates the traits of an immersive mindscape, and visitors are subject to whatever strictures the host is able to place upon the mindscape. The construction of the mindscape might be carefully designed, or might be a more instinctive expression drawn from the creator’s own desires or intentions (whether conscious or subconscious). Some spells allow the creator to use a target’s memories or desires when creating the mindscape to better fool the target.

Mindscape Traits

Source Occult Adventures pg. 235
Each mindscape has a set of specific traits that dictate its appearance and behavior, just as the planes do. These traits supersede the normal planar traits of the Astral Plane. Often these traits mimic those of the Material Plane, for that is what the beings within a mindscape typically find most familiar and comfortable. A creature’s mental avatar has the same physical characteristics in the mindscape that the creature does in real life (the same AC, hit points, ability scores, and so on). Weapons and armor, even magical ones, function inside the mindscape.

Every mindscape is considered sentient, but instead of changing according to its own will, it responds to the will of those inside it. Typically, the creature that created the mindscape controls its traits. Depending on her level of expertise, the creator can alter one or more of the traits of the mindscape to suit her purposes. The psychic duel rules and some spells allow other creatures to alter mindscapes, but usually only if they’re aware they’re within one.