Every being that has some sort of thought process has a mindscape, though the mindscape of sentient beings are much more intricate. Most people only ever catch glimpses of their mindscape during sleep and in dreams, and they forget most of what they see at those times. The mindscape is a reflection of a person’s personal understanding of reality and the way the world works. Every conviction, memory, goal and nightmare has some sort of reality within each individual’s mindscape.
Mindscapes can be quite beautiful places and oftentimes inexperienced psychics will find themselves distracted by the sights when they are first pulled into one by accident.
For most sentient beings, mindscapes are an instinctual defensive reaction. The average human or other sentient is generally used to brushing up against the worlds of other people, slowly coming to their understanding and including that person within their own world. When some outside soul directly moves into that private world, the mind usually reacts to drive it out. Within the mindscape, physics and thought are entirely mutable, and almost anything can be made into a weapon. If the target feels the attack, they have a moment in which they can respond by drawing the attacker into their mindscape. Doing this deliberately requires training but any mortal has a chance of provoking it by accident. The problem with purely reactive mindscapes is that the defender usually has no idea what happened. An untrained, inexperienced person who has drawn an intruding psychic into a mindscape might lash out with uncontrolled panic, or they might simply abandon the fight. It is an unpredictable situation that most would do well to avoid.
The average mindscape appears as a nigh impregnable fortress. Most people don’t have any born or trained psychic powers and thus only have limited access into and out of their mind. Those with training in various skills will find the walls weaken somewhat as they open their minds up. Sensitives have minds like a major cross-roads city, fortified, yes, but with many gates to watch. Visionaries and the Immortals each have similar but slightly different circumstances that will be described below.
The mindscape is not exactly the mind, but more of a simulation created by the conscious mind to make it easier to manipulate things. And since a mindscape is usually only manifested when the mind or soul is under attack, the usual manifestation is one heavily oriented to defense.
Once an attacker finds themselves inside a mindscape, the relative power of those in the conflict is less of a matter than the flexibility and imagination of the minds involved. The defender always
has the home field advantage. Every facet of the mind, even those that would otherwise be a vulnerability, such as a phobia, becomes a weapon inside the mindscape. This makes it preferable to begin the attack without being detected and sucked in. Also, once inside the mindscape, most people are stuck focused on that, becoming vulnerable and nonresponsive in the physical world. Reading surface thoughts, short term mind-control and sending messages are all possible to do without triggering a mindscape.
Repeated application of low impact telepathic techniques can have deeper results if the psychic has patience. It is possible to alter old memories or plant commands deep in the mind for later activation, but deeper activity requires either a very great deal of patience or else going through the mindscape. It is because of mindscapes that many of those Talents capable of varieties of mind control try to cultivate patience.
Visualization is an important skill in the mindscape fight. The terrain and circumstances are malleable to both sides. Attacks and defenses are not limited to the sort of abilities those in the fight normally use. In fact, only sensitives actually bring their weapons in with them usually. Metabolics and
manipulatives are able to fake it by imagining their normal powers, but in the end it is simply another visualization. Life is at risk within the mindscape. Die there and the psychic will often die in reality. Sometimes the mind is simply broken, leaving a broken shell that is only technically alive. Occasionally, horrid blisters and internal bleeding tear the unfortunate apart. Other times the exact injuries suffered in the mindscape are duplicated on the body. Most rare of all, the soul simply
disconnects from the body causing its immediate failure to continue living.
Most abilities that could result in a mindscape conflict have goals that rely on the target remaining alive, making most mindscape battles a sort of psychic game of chicken. This causes most mindscape battles to result in both psychics breaking off after a brief exchange. The hope is that the attacker
can force the defender to break off first, thus allowing the attacker to do what they wanted to do in the first place. Of course, there are times when the attack’s intention was to kill the target, or worse, in which case the mindscape simply becomes an extension of the physical battlefield.
Some sensitives, usually akira, come upon the idea that they can provoke a mindscape as a way of initiating a private conversation with someone. The assumption is that as long as they don’t go further than the surface of the mindscape then nothing will go wrong and they’ll have their private little conversation room. In practice, they’re not far wrong. If a psychic has an ability that can provoke a mindscape, they can use it like a doorbell and as long as they back off from the effort, nobody will get hurt. This probably goes on countless times all over the world every day with nothing bad happening.
There are, of course, some obvious difficulties, including as the fact that while they’re in the mindscape neither will be aware of what is going on around them. If they had the training to be able to maintain both a mindscape and awareness of the physical world they wouldn’t be doing the equivalent of throwing rocks into a minefield to catch someone’s attention. It is important to remember that mindscapes are a defensive reaction for pretty much everyone except Immortals
and Visionaries. There’s always the chance that the person provoking this mindscape will find themselves under attack before the person they’re trying to talk to knows what’s up.
This is especially dangerous if the would-be contact is in an emotionally vulnerable state. When emotions, especially negative ones, are high, the mindscape is much more likely to be inherently dangerous to everyone involved. Unfortunately, trying to comfort someone in a bad place seems like the perfect time to go to a private room. It’s hard to say how often this seemingly clever trick has scarred people for the rest of their lives or outright killed them.
Mindscapes of the Immortal Races
The mindscapes of the two Immortal Races are rather more welcoming that those of other sentient species. Immortals welcome, actually require, consistent connection with other minds in order to best handle the mass of information that they receive through the Understanding. This means that it
is possible for untrained, untalented person to accidentally wander into an Immortal’s mindscape just by focusing heavily on them. This is not to say that someone glaring at a Goddess or Demoness will suddenly find themselves in a mindscape. If that were true, Gods and Demons would have had an impossible time fitting in.
In order to connect to an Immortal’s mind, the human must be capable of drifting outside of their own. This is something that usually only occurs in sleep or while heavily daydreaming and most people are not usually focused enough to direct their mind to a specific individual when in those conditions. A great deal of the training for a magician is spent learning how to deliberately enter a state of mind that is both loose enough to allow the connection and focused enough to connect
to the desired Immortal’s mind.
Once inside the mindscape there are two immediate differences apparent.
The first is that the owner of the mindscape very rarely appears within it. Most of the time, magicians and accidental visitors will come and go without ever seeing the sentience of the mind they’re wandering about inside. Indeed, there is a fair chance that the Immortal is not even aware that someone is in their head. Immortals have around five hundred thousand other minds at least vaguely touching on their own at any given time and are thus unlikely to notice one other person. The second major difference between a God or Demon mindscape and the mindscape of almost anything else is structure.
The minds of incidental immortals and most mortals usually appear fortified in some form or fashion. The most open mortal soul has a mindscape that resembles a walled city. The least important portions of a person’s mind are represented by the outer portions of the mindscape with deeper levels indicating matters of deeper importance to the individual. At the very deepest levels, in areas impossible to reach without killing the individual, are things that the individual is not even consciously aware of. The instinctual methods of achieving most Talents are included in these deepest levels.
By comparison, an Immortal’s mind is not so obviously laid out. It is an almost eternal set of passages, roads or tunnels depending on the individual in question. It is possible to get anywhere
in the mind at any time, because the psychic flexibility of the God or Demon mind. The result is that an outsider who is unaware of the exact contents of the mindscape they’re within will cause things to manifest almost at random. An idle thought leads to a random collection of concepts each of which will provoke the line of the visitor’s thoughts in another direction.
Simple wandering within the mind of a God or Demon is likely to lead one to the section of the mind where the instructions to replicate the Immortal’s Talents, the objective of spellcraft are kept. This is deliberate, Gods and Demons are aware of how easy it is for someone to get in their head accidentally, and they sponsor a multitude of magicians that are trained to do the same. They’d much rather dangle such toys in front of invaders than have a random visitor stumble into something they consider private. This leading is produced in much the same way that the fortresses in a mortal’s mind are produced: there is a pervasive and unifying thread of thought among the Immortals that mortals connect to their minds in order to use spells. It thus provides a subtle thread of structure
to the otherwise shifting and unpredictable labyrinth.
There is a lot of information floating in and out of the Immortal mindscapes. This information is mostly kept to the background by the efforts of Orochi and Ashvattha, but it can occasionally be seen in the form of either visual static or glowing equations written in alphabets older than humanity. The manifestation that is seen appears to be dependent on the level of knowledge and understanding that the connected person has. Those with more skills in science or math will see the equations while those with less understanding will tend to see static.