He has four aces you should really fold, the message comes in loud and clear from the telepathic rogue, and the bard puts on a nice little show before folding his hand. The paladin probably wouldn’t approve, but hey, he was fine with cheating when the rogue had him duck an ogre’s club last week, so who was he to judge?
Such are the potential shenanigans with the telepathic feat, which makes a high-level wizard or easy to spot scrying stones unnecessary.
The long and short of it is that Telepathic is a good feat for low-level campaigns that stay below level 10 or campaigns where magic items are very rare and hard to acquire. However, beyond this niche application it is an underpowered feat that probably isn’t worth taking for the majority of parties.
While there are situations where telepathy is definitely helpful, this feat isn’t as powerful as it looks at first glance. Let’s look at its niche applications, what it does well, and where this new feat from Tasha’s falls a little short.
Breaking Down the Telepathic Feat
The most important first step in breaking down a feat is to take a look at it’s exact wording. For this one, ignore The Player’s Handbook, because we need to jump into Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything to get the wording on this one.
Directly from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything:
You awaken the ability to mentally connect with others, granting you the following benefits:
- Increase your Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
- You can speak telepathically to any creature you can see within 60 feet of you. Your telepathic utterances are in a language you know, and the creature understands you only if it knows that language. Your communication doesn’t give the creature the ability to respond to you telepathically.
- You can cast the detect thoughts spell, requiring no spell slot or components, and you must finish a long rest before you can cast it this way again. Your spellcasting ability for the spell is the ability increased by this feat. If you have spell slots of 2nd level or higher, you can cast this spell with them.
Let’s break down these benefits more thoroughly!
Benefit #1: Increase your intelligence, wisdom, or charisma score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
I’m generally not big on a stat boost as part of a feat, seeing it more as a way to minimize damage for skipping an ability score boost rather than a major benefit. However, since the rest of the benefits of this feat are solid and this can be any of three casting stats, it’s one of the better versions of this benefit.
Benefit #2: Speak telepathically to any creature you can see within 60 feet of you. Your words must be in a language you know and the creature only understands you if you know the language.
The meat and potatoes of this feat, telepathic speaking is undeniably strong. The major benefit here is that since it isn’t a spell or magic-based (at least mechanically) detect magic or an anti-magic field in theory should have no effect nor be able to detect it. The words needing to be in a language you know can be limiting.
While everyone knows common, this takes away creative solutions like talking to animals or elementals, things some alternatives do allow. There is no guarantee of understanding so that can be an interesting wrinkle.
Still, telepathic speaking among party members is strong but keep in mind this is a 60 foot limit and line of sight so something as small as a crowded bar room could potentially break that link.
Benefit #3: You can cast the detect thoughts spell for free once per long rest.
Getting a free 2nd level spell is generally not something you’d think was “Meh,” but if you read the description of this spell, you’ll see why. That said, it is a good pairing with this feat because otherwise there is no way for the person using telepathy to know if the recipient is getting the message or not, and how he/she/it is reacting to the interaction.
Benefit #4: If you have spell slots of 2nd level of higher you can cast detect thoughts using those spell slots after using your free casting.
Meh because of the spell itself, but the ability to cast the spell you know with additional spell shots is always a positive bonus and something I think should be retro-fitted to many of the original feats involving spells so nice design, and necessary for the feat.
5E Classes That Should Take the Telepathic Feat
There isn’t a class that shouts “telepathic.” From a roleplaying standpoint this can fit in with the idea of hitting another level of enlightenment as a monk or being granted a gift from your god as a cleric or paladin. Bards may enjoy the mischief this can allow, and a group of rogues in the Thieves’ Guild could put this to good use in a crowded room.
But as far as classes that just should always consider it, I feel safe in saying that there are none.
Although what would be interesting to me is how a DM would interpret a Kenku using this feat. Some would argue that a Kenku then able to speak normally albeit telepathically could take some of the flavor out of that very interesting cursed race, I also think there’s a lot of creative potential here.
5th Ed Classes that should always take the Telepathic Feat:
5E Classes That Should Consider Taking the Telepathic Feat
This feat isn’t so much about class, but if there is a party member who is clearly the strategist, or maybe the behind the scenes face, then in a low level campaign this is the one place where this feat could provide an excellent bit of use for communication that potential enemies and opponents are unaware of.
These are classes that in a low to mid level campaign might have room for a feat like telepathic where they can still be effective without needed to max out the stat or take another feat to hit at full force at whatever level the campaign is maxing out at.
None of these are mandatory, per se, but among the classes that might take this very niche feat, ones that can make it work both mechanically and in roleplaying include the artificer, bard, druid, paladin, ranger, rogue, sorcerer, warlock, or wizard.
It’s worth noting that warlock is particularly interesting as there are invocations that can have a similar effect, but it the warlock wants to take different invocations but still wants some degree of telepathy, then this good be a good solution but depending on the warlock build this feat could not make any sense at all.
Otherwise any one of those listed classes could be the one in the party who directs, helps, or communicates important information via the telepathic feat. It is one that, depending heavily on your DM, could be good with a high charisma character or a high perception character, or the rare build that has both of those traits.
5th Ed Classes that should consider taking the Telepathic Feat:
5E Classes That Should NEVER Take the Telepathic Feat
While I love the idea of a barbarian taking the telepathic feat as a troll because someone is going to be on the end of endless rage poured right into their head. Maybe a female barbarian pouring improper curses into the brain of the proper and dainty paladin? Could be funny. But not especially useful.
Clerics have too much to take already. As much as I like the monk thematically…monks are the one class that can be challenging to keep alive in 5E and they really need 3 ability scores in addition to a couple feats, so they don’t have the room to take a toss-away niche feat.
And Fighters can take it, but they tend to be action and charge, which makes them less likely to be in observant situations where the telepathic feat could help out the most.
5th Ed classes that should never take the Telepathic Feat:
Final Feat Grade for 5E Telepathic
Telepathic Feat Grade: D+
Is the 5E Telepathic Feat Worth It?
In most cases, no. For low-level campaigns it can be effective, or for mid-level campaigns it might prove useful, especially in certain styles of campaigns.
There are arguments that this is actually a low C-tier feat, but what drags it down is the sheer number of other options through spells, invocations, magic items, and other class features that can create the same effect or better. If you’re playing a low-level campaign or even mid-level to 8 or so, I might bump the grade up to a C, but I don’t see many situations where this would ever be “needed” per se.
Telepathic Feat FAQ
Can I take the Telepathic feat instead of Rary’s Telepathic Bond or 5E Telepathic Bond?
While it’s understandable that you might want to keep that 5th level Wizard or Sorcerer spell slot open, you’ll find that Rary’s Telepathic Bond is a much better and more in-depth solution than the Telepathic feat. Scrying Stones and the Message spell are some of the many other alternatives and while this feat can be useful, especially in early to mid-levels, it may not be worth it compared to Rary’s Telepathic Bond, Telepathic Bond, or even a combination of other magical messaging options and class features.
When is the telepathic feat the most useful?
The telepathic feat is the most useful at lower levels, and can be most effective when a scout who can perceive everything going on in a room or battlefield can relay important information to those who can’t.
Do you need spellcasting ability to take the telepathic feat?
No. No spellcasting is needed to take the feat although you must have at least level 2 spellcasting in order to cast detect thoughts more than once per long rest.
How useful is the telepathic feat?
In niche situations or niche campaigns, this can be a very useful feat, but there will be large stretches where a party won’t get much mileage from this feat.
Can you respond to the telepathic feat?
No. With this feat you can send a message, or a stream of messages, but you can’t hear any thoughts or responses. It’s worth noting that there’s nothing here that indicates you know whether the bond is made or whether it’s blocked, so this is an interesting detail to pay attention to especially from a DM’s perspective.
Other DnD Articles You Might Enjoy
Proud to embrace the locally created moniker of “Corrupt Overlord” from one of the all time great Lords of Waterdeep runs, Shane is one member of the Assorted Meeples crew and will be hard at work creating awesome content for the website. He is a long-time player of board games, one time semi-professional poker player, and tends to run to the quirky or RPG side of things when it comes to playing video games. He loves tabletop roleplaying systems like Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Werewolf, Fate, and others, and not only has been a player but has run games as DM for years. You can find his other work in publications like Level Skip or Hobby Lark.