V, S, M
, up to 1 minute
For the duration, you can read the thoughts of certain creatures. When you cast the spell and as your action on each turn until the spell ends, you can focus your mind on any one creature that you can see within 30 feet of you. If the creature you choose has an Intelligence of 3 or lower or doesn't speak any language, the creature is unaffected.
You initially learn the surface thoughts of the creature — what is most on its mind in that moment. As an action, you can either shift your attention to another creature's thoughts or attempt to probe deeper into the same creature's mind. If you probe deeper, the target must make a Wisdom saving throw. If it fails, you gain insight into its reasoning (if any), its emotional state, and something that looms large in its mind (such as something it worries over, loves, or hates). If it succeeds, the spell ends. Either way, the target knows that you are probing into its mind, and unless you shift your attention to another creature's thoughts, the creature can use its action on its turn to make an Intelligence check contested by your Intelligence check; if it succeeds, the spell ends.
Questions verbally directed at the target creature naturally shape the course of its thoughts, so this spell is particularly effective as part of an interrogation.
You can also use this spell to detect the presence of thinking creatures you can't see. When you cast the spell or as your action during the duration, you can search for thoughts within 30 feet of you. The spell can penetrate barriers, but 2 feet of rock, 2 inches of any metal other than lead, or a thin sheet of lead blocks you. You can't detect a creature with an Intelligence of 3 or lower or one that doesn't speak any language.
Once you detect the presence of a creature in this way, you can read its thoughts for the rest of the duration as described above, even if you can't see it, but it must still be within range.
a copper piece
Verbal Component (Alternative):
From my mind I do project, to read the thoughts, that I do detect. Classes:
Bard, Sorcerer, Wizard, RogueDomain:
Detection, SocialSource: Player's Handbook [5th Edition] (page 231)
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Below are commonly asked questions about this spell. Some of the information is pulled official D&D sources (such as books and the twitter feeds of D&D officials), but other information is derived from forums and online discussions. As always, it is up to the DM to decide how they wish to spell questions. If you have a FAQ about this spell that you feel other DM's may wish to know, please send us the message!
Does Detect Thoughts have costly material components?
The material component for the spell is "a copper piece", however no monetary value is associated with the component. As stated in the PHB, p. 203...
Casting some spells requires particular objects, specified in parentheses in the component entry. A character can use a component pouch or a spellcasting focus (found in chapter 5) in place of the components specified for a spell. But if a cost is indicated for a component, a character must have that specific component before he or she can cast the spell.
Officially, since no cost is listed, no coin is needed (if a focus or component pouch is used).
Although the writers were almost certainly referring to a common copper coin for their joke ("a penny for your thoughts"), there's no indication this was meant as an actual "cost". The 5e authors consistently use the term "worth" or "value" whenever an actual material component cost is indicated, and they express that cost in gp (I've yet to find one costing less than 5 gp). In addition, not all pieces of copper are copper coins worth 1 cp. But, as always, it is up to the DM to decide the final ruling.
Other Planes and Effects
Below is information about this spell as it relates to other planes and area of effects (i.e. underwater). Some of the information is pulled official D&D sources (such as books and the twitter feeds of D&D officials), but other information is derived from forums and online discussions. As always, it is up to the DM to decide how they wish to handle spell effects.
Underwater - Verbal Component
Official rules have been verified by Jeremy Crawford - "No rule prohibits verbal components from working underwater. Keep in mind that if you're talking, you're not holding your breath." Hence, while submerged underwater and holding its breath, a creature can cast a spell that requires a verbal component. After casting the spell, if the creature can't breathe underwater, it immediately runs out of breath. The creature can survive for a number of rounds equal to its Constitution modifier (minimum of 1 round).