Phil Parker (tigertoy) wrote,
Phil Parker

Telepathic predators

The dragons I wrote about in this post aren't the only race of intelligent, telepathic predators in my fantasy world.  There are also griffons, vampires, and others.  Each race has its own racial character, and individuals are individuals, but they all have one trait in common:  they are not evil creatures by nature.  At least some of them are people you could be happy to know.

So how can a nice person who is sensitive to the emotions of the prey he is tracking and killing handle it?  He can't just shut down his telepathic awareness; it is the edge that makes him a really effective hunter.  And it's very difficult to block impressions as strong as mortal terror and agony.  But it's also hard to develop a keen intellect and sense of ethics in the face of such experiences.  Being too smart and also telepathic isn't too good for a hunter.  This, in fact, is probably why humans' telepathic potential is so deeply buried.  Even on a world where magic is strong (magic isn't the same as telepathy, but it's right next door -- but that's another topic), few humans have telepathic powers.

So how do dragons, griffons, et al., get out of this trap?  Well, as Tanya Huff observed in her story "Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice", it's a short step from reading minds to editing them.  And it turns out that it's fairly easy to shift the perception of pain in the vertebrate mind into pleasure.  The hunters have developed the mental power to make their prey enjoy their last moments.

This path is perilous.  Using mental powers to overcome the will of weaker minded creatures can easily lead to forgetting that those weaker creatures have wills of their own, and the power to induce nearly infinite pleasure is certainly easy to abuse.  In fact, it is the excesses of the ones who have been seduced by the dark side of their power that gives these creatures -- especially vampires -- their bad reputation among humans.  But on the planet my campaign is set on, most of the dragons, griffons, and vampires are ethical.  They only kill at need, and they never use their ability to induce masochism in an unwilling victim they aren't about to kill.

A willing subject?  That's another matter.  And bear in mind, they often have very strong healing magic.  They can be very interesting indeed when you get to know them.
Tags: dnd, philosophy
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