“But you're a psychic, can't you just… like… mind blast him or something? You know, Professor X style?”
“Oh please, come on Bob, you've been watching too many sci-fi films. Real psychics aren't anything like that… ”
As far as historians of the subject can tell, psychics have been around for as long as recorded history, often working as shamans, wise men and women, or spiritual advisors.
Superstition around psychic practice over the centuries lead many psychics to conceal their talents and disappear underground. It was only with increasing interest in psychic phenomena in the late 19th century that psychics re-emerged into the popular consciousness again.
Psychics are rare: roughly only one in a thousand people show any psychic ability (although Museford has roughly five times that number of psychics), which may manifest spontaneously at any stage in a person's life. No one has ever discovered any pattern to or explanation for psychic ability, which appears distributed at random, and has stubbornly defied all scientific analysis (to the immense frustration of neuroscientists and psychologists everywhere).
Psychics have the power of projection, the ability to send an avatar of themselves into another willing person's mind. To the psychic, the host’s mind will manifest as a Headspace, a virtual landscape as varied as minds themselves. The avatar can take the form of almost anything, limited only by the psychic's ability, but is hard to change once formed. While in a Headspace psychics can accomplish a range of fantastical feats, including moving around and manipulating their host’s mind, memories and emotions, and interacting with any other psychics projecting into the same host.
Psychic avatars can only enter or willingly leave a Headspace from the Plane of Consciousness. Psychics travelling deeper into the Headspace can still be removed by the host at any time, but must return to the Plane of Consciousness to leave themselves.
While projecting, the bodies of psychics appear as if in a trance or deep sleep, with prolonged amounts of time in Headspace resulting in negative consequences for the body, including muscle atrophy and loss of muscle memory upon returning to Breadspace. Psychics retain a limited awareness of sensations from their physical body while projecting, so they can be shaken awake, provided their avatar is in the Plane of Consciousness and willing to leave. Any harm sustained by a psychic's avatar does not result in physical damage, but may result in damage to their Headspace form and a reduction in their psychic abilities. For more information, see injuries.
Psychics can usually only project to people within a certain distance roughly equivalent to line of sight, unless the host is particularly open to psychics, termed a “Sensitive”. A psychic is unable to project into the mind of another psychic. Non-psychics, who can thus host a psychic avatar, are termed receptives.
A receptive hosting a psychic is always aware that someone is in their Headspace. However, their awareness of what exactly the psychic is doing depends on the psychic's proximity to their Plane of Consciousness: while within the Plane of Consciousness, the receptive can generally sense where the psychic is and what they're doing, but if the psychic goes deeper into the Subconscious Wilds, the receptive becomes only vaguely aware of the psychic's presence.
Despite popular misconceptions, it is usually understood that psychics cannot access unwilling minds, read thoughts without projecting, use mind control, telekinesis, telepathy, ascend and leave their physical body, or most other tropes of fictional psychics. Although some individuals have claimed to access these powers in the past, all such claims have so far proved to be fraudulent.
Some psychics use their abilities to earn a living, such as providing psychic therapy, finding lost memories, or creating custom-made dreams. However, most just hold down regular jobs.
Psychics are not the only things that might be encountered in someone's mind. There appear to be a variety of creatures (their exact nature is debated) that live a purely psychic existence, some able to move from mind to mind, but all unable to manifest in the physical realm.
Psychics can sometimes be recruited to help rid victims of particularly troublesome psychic entities.
Nightmares are creatures of fear. They are drawn from the wildest reaches of the subconscious, and can take the form of whatever the host mind – or a unlucky visiting psychic – is afraid of. They feed on a victim's terror, and are most active during sleep, when they invade the dreams of the victim.
Some are weak and relatively harmless, while others are huge and fearsome abominations, thought to have existed in the darkest reaches of the mind since the dawn of humanity.
Can't get that annoying advertising jingle out of your head? Keep thinking of that meme or movie scene when you should be working? Have a spontaneous and unexplained urge to tap-dance? You might be host to a Mindworm, small, irritating psychic parasites that breed in your memory centres and burrow into your subconscious.
The imagination centres of some people, usually young children, are sufficiently potent to spawn an entire psychic entity – an imaginary friend. These beings are shaped to conform to the person's unconscious desires, so they are usually friendly and helpful. They can navigate the whole of the host’s mind, but usually fade away as their creator matures, and are understood to be incapable of moving to other minds or persisting after their creator dies.
There have, however, been rumours of particularly strong Imaginary Friends jumping to other minds after their original creator dies, or even taking over their host's brain. Some have even theorised that Nightmares originated as Imaginary Friends that were spurned by their creators and seek revenge on humanity…