[3.5] "Image" spells and possible effects

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Some questions about "Image" spells, like Major Image and Silent Image.

Example: I am being chased down a 10ft by 10ft dungeon hallway (length is irrelevent) by an elf. He is 50ft behind me when I cast "Silent image" and create the image of a wall just like the dungeon's walls stretching from floor to ceiling, and wall to wall, right behind me.

Can he see me? In other words, does the "Silent Image" spell block line of sight? Does it block light? What if I make a tiny crevice in the wall in a hard-to-see spot, so I can look out. Can I do that?

If he stops chasing me when he is 40ft away from the wall, does he get a saving throw after he stops? 5ft? If he moves back to 100ft away from the wall, then shoots an arrow at it, does he get a saving throw? What if I somehow see him shoot the arrow, but it isn't my turn? Can I make it look like an arrow stuck in the wall, since I'm concentrating on it? Can I make it look like his arrow hit the wall, made a chip, and fell to the floor, even though his arrow actually kept going?

What if he charges through the wall? Does he automatically disbelieve, or just get a saving throw? Since elves can find secret doors "just by walking within 5ft of them" would walking past it give him a saving throw? Would studying the wall from a distance, say 10ft (as if searching for a hidden door)?

What if it's a skeleton ordered to kill me, instead of an elf? Does the skeleton automatically believe the wall is real, and act accordingly? Does the skeleton try to break through it, or go around? Does the skeleton test the wall to see if it's real (this seems like a stretch).



Next example: What about a Major Image of a red dragon? Can I make the dragon breathe illusory (but real-feeling) fire? Does everyone who is hit with it get a saving throw to disbelieve, but then "feel" like they were really burned? If they shoot arrows at it can I make an arrow shaft appear to stick out of it's hide, and blood splash on the ground (and stay there?) Can I make the fire appear to shed light, or set smaller fires (perhaps within the area of the spell?)

And finally, can I make it feel as though it's attacks are real? (I assume that it attacking or being attacked calls for a saving throw? What else does? What if a fighter tried to climb it? Can I make the fighter believe he is actually on top of a dragon?

I really need some help having anything better than the vaguest idea of what an "Image" spell can do.

Help!

Also, thank you very much for your help! 
Interesting questions.

Can he see me? In other words, does the "Silent Image" spell block line of sight? Does it block light? What if I make a tiny crevice in the wall in a hard-to-see spot, so I can look out. Can I do that?

Assuming that the hallway is completely straight, and considering that elves get automatic low-light vision, it might be possible depending on the illumination that the elf saw you cast the spell which may make him or her more suspicious. However, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that this isn't the case. At any rate, assuming you create a convincing looking wall by specifying that it is the same color as the natural walls around you and that it fills the entire hallway with a reasonable thickness, yes it would block your pursuer's line of sight and allow you to hide. However, I doubt you would be able to specify a tiny crevice, and even if you could you would not be able to peek out through it because the duration of silent image is entirely dependent on how long you concentrate on the spell. Your concentration is what keeps the image of the wall in place. If you were casting, say, Persistent Image this would not be a problem.

If he stops chasing me when he is 40ft away from the wall, does he get a saving throw after he stops? 5ft? If he moves back to 100ft away from the wall, then shoots an arrow at it, does he get a saving throw? What if I somehow see him shoot the arrow, but it isn't my turn? Can I make it look like an arrow stuck in the wall, since I'm concentrating on it? Can I make it look like his arrow hit the wall, made a chip, and fell to the floor, even though his arrow actually kept going?

First I would make him roll a spot check to see if he saw you cast the spell, as mentioned previously. If he succeeds, he gets to roll his saving throw for disbelief then and there with a +2 situational bonus for  being extra suspicious. If he fails, he doesn't get to roll his saving throw until he tries to interact with the wall in a way that the wall is inconsistent with a real wall. For example, silent image does not reproduce sounds, smells, textures, or temperatures. So he wouldn't get to roll until he comes into contact with it or tries to fire an arrow through it. If someone sees him fire an arrow at the wall or touch it (determined using a spot check), they get a separate saving throw for disbelief with a -2 or +2 situational bonus depending on what the elf does. If the elf character draws his melee weapon and slowly approaches the wall as if it were an illusion the witness may also be more suspicious. Likewise, if the elf walks away as though nothing is wrong then the witness is likely to be satisfied that a thorough investigation was perormed. All rounds are happening roughly simultaneously so as long as you choose to continue concentrating on the spell during your turn you may change the image somewhat but remember that silent image does not reproduce sound so you would not be able to cause a realistic sound effect when the fake arrow sprouts out of the wall it just "struck." Ditto for any debris that may appear to fall and hit the dungeon floor. If the elf succeeds on a listen check and notices that the sound is inconsistent I would give him another +2 to his saving throw.

What if he charges through the wall? Does he automatically disbelieve, or just get a saving throw? Since elves can find secret doors "just by walking within 5ft of them" would walking past it give him a saving throw? Would studying the wall from a distance, say 10ft (as if searching for a hidden door)?

I wouldn't say he automatically disbelieves, but he would get a substantial bonus to his saving throw (at least +3). Depending on what happened up till now he could already have a +4 bonus from his earlier spot and listen checks (which he was likely to make since elves have extra keen senses). Given that, it is very likely he will make that saving throw when it finally comes up. I also wouldn't consider the space taken up by your illusion as a secret door, so a search check is unlikely to help them. However, if in the act of searching they touch the wall, then yes that would give them an additional saving throw (since the wall does not recreate texture or temperature).

As for the skeleton, if it is the same distance from you as the elf was (50 feet), then you are fine. I tend to give undead automatic lifesense (as discussed in another thread) and adjust the range based on the type of undead, and neither a zombie or skeleton would have lifesense 50ft radius so you're fine. If you don't give them lifesense then the skeleton would have to physically make contact with the "wall" itself in order to get a saving throw, which it will probably lose.

Next example: What about a Major Image of a red dragon? Can I make the dragon breathe illusory (but real-feeling) fire?

Yes.

Does everyone who is hit with it get a saving throw to disbelieve, but then "feel" like they were really burned?

Yes - if they fail their saving throw, they "feel like they were burned" (although I wouldn't make them take actual damage, and so each time they "get burned" but take no damage I might give them a +1 bonus to their next saving throw).

If they shoot arrows at it can I make an arrow shaft appear to stick out of it's hide, and blood splash on the ground (and stay there?) Can I make the fire appear to shed light, or set smaller fires (perhaps within the area of the spell?)

Yes - as long as every illusion you create exists solely within the cubic area allowed by the spell (Major Image gives you the same size area as Silent Image, which is four 10ft cubes + one 10ft cube per caster level). So at CL 6 (the minimum required for a Sorcerer to be able to cast 3rd-level spells like Major Image), you could have as many as one large cubic region made up of ten smaller 10ft cubes or separate them out as necessary to any location within the spell's range.

And finally, can I make it feel as though it's attacks are real? (I assume that it attacking or being attacked calls for a saving throw? What else does? What if a fighter tried to climb it? Can I make the fighter believe he is actually on top of a dragon?

Any interaction with the illusion during a character's turn generally entitles that character to a saving throw. So basically anything except move actions or actions targeting allies (such as buff spells). If you are concentrating on the spell at every opportunity and cause the dragon to react appropriately, the fighter would get a saving throw attempting to climb the dragon but the dragon is trying to shake him off and thus the fighter takes a -2 penalty on his saving throw because the dragon reacted in the expected manner and he is too busy concentrating on the fight to be cautiously examining the dragon's origins.
However, I doubt you would be able to specify a tiny crevice, and even if you could you would not be able to peek out through it because the duration of silent image is entirely dependent on how long you concentrate on the spell. Your concentration is what keeps the image of the wall in place. If you were casting, say, Persistent Image this would not be a problem.



Why would looking through a hole break your concentration?

EDIT: And for that matter, would it even be necessary? Wouldn't you automatically disbelieve your own illusion - allowing you to see through it as if it wasn't there?
Concentrating to maintain a spell is a standard action. I would say that the spot check necessary to peek out through the tiny hole is also a standard action and unless you have some magic effect that lets you perform more than one standard action per turn then you have to pick which one you would like to perform. If you pick the spot check, concentration ceases and the wall disappears. The PHB is kind of vague on what kind of action the spot check would be. To quote page 87:

Every time you have a chance to spot something in a reactive manner (for example, when someone tries to sneak past you while hidden, or you move into a new area), you can make a Spot check without using an action. Trying to spot something you failed to see previously is a move action. To read lips, you must concentrate for a full minute before making a Spot check, and you can’t perform any other action (other than moving at up to halfspeed) during this minute.

I would consider peeking through a small hole frantically looking for your pursuer closer to the difficulty of reading lips making it a standard action as opposed to just glancing over and noticing something you previously didn't, which would be equivalent to a move action.

Although, you're right; I acted in haste and failed to consider that of course he as the spell's caster knows that the wall isn't real., so I suppose it's moot.

Can he see me? In other words, does the "Silent Image" spell block line of sight? Does it block light? What if I make a tiny crevice in the wall in a hard-to-see spot, so I can look out. Can I do that?



He cannot see you. He must disbelieve your illusion before he can see through it (if you disbelieve an illusion it becomes transparent for you and you can see perfectly normal through it, but it still remains as transparent to remind you of what others might see). For him to disbelieve your illusion he must interact with it somehow, either stop for a moment at inspect it (Skip William suggest making such inspection either a move or standard action), run up and touch it, or attack it. If he merely inspect (or attack) it at a distance and he fails his save, the elf thinks that the wall is real, but if he walks up close and touch it he will probably automatically succeed his will save since the illusion is nothing but air and his hand would go straight through it.

If he stops chasing me when he is 40ft away from the wall, does he get a saving throw after he stops? 5ft? If he moves back to 100ft away from the wall, then shoots an arrow at it, does he get a saving throw?



He only gets a saving throw to disbelieve it if he “interact with the illusion”, meaning that he doesn’t automatically get a will save to disbelieve but must “do something”, i.e. touching it, shooting at, or inspect it. So if he shoots at it he surely gets a will save.

What if I somehow see him shoot the arrow, but it isn't my turn? Can I make it look like an arrow stuck in the wall, since I'm concentrating on it? Can I make it look like his arrow hit the wall, made a chip, and fell to the floor, even though his arrow actually kept going?



While you concentrate on the illusion you can make it react to its surroundings, sure. You can make chips falling off the wall but you can however NOT affect the arrow. The arrow will go through your wall but you can make a whole in the wall where it hit so it looked like he shot right through it (not very useful). You could also create an arrow in the wall looking like his own, and make this fall to the ground as it hits the wall, which might fool him to think that this arrow is indeed his own (and hope that he didn’t see his real arrow going through). With figment illusions you can make something appear out of nowhere, but you cannot change what is already there! 

What if he charges through the wall? Does he automatically disbelieve, or just get a saving throw?



Yes he would automatically disbelieve your illusion if he charges through it, but keep in mind (and remind your GM of this aswell) that almost NOBODY would just charge into a wall. As long as the elf haven’t interacted with it, it just looks like a normal wall (or whatever you intend to create).

 What if it's a skeleton ordered to kill me, instead of an elf? Does the skeleton automatically believe the wall is real, and act accordingly? Does the skeleton try to break through it, or go around? Does the skeleton test the wall to see if it's real (this seems like a stretch).



No it does not. It also needs to interact with the wall somehow. What the skeleton does is up to the DM, but I would say that in most cases (if it is mindless) it would spend a move or a standard action to observe this wall that came out of nowhere, which grants it a will save, and if this save fails the skeleton would either try to go around or try breaking the wall down. If it goes for the latter then it will disbelieve your illusion automatically as soon as its hand (or whatever it tries to use in the breaking down) goes through it.

Since elves can find secret doors "just by walking within 5ft of them" would walking past it give him a saving throw? Would studying the wall from a distance, say 10ft (as if searching for a hidden door)?



No he would not. Only by interacting with it (spending some sort of action to inspect it, touch it or attacking it). But do keep in mind if the enemy you are trying to fool is a spellcaster he might know that you are casting Silent image by succeeding his spellcraft check and therefore KNOW for a fact that your wall is an illusion and making it transparent for him immediately after casting.

Next example: What about a Major Image of a red dragon? Can I make the dragon breathe illusory (but real-feeling) fire? Does everyone who is hit with it get a saving throw to disbelieve, but then "feel" like they were really burned?

You can make it breathe fire but everyone hit by the fire would know that it is not real since the illusion can’t harm in any way. They do not feel like they are being burned because the fire does nothing to them.

If they shoot arrows at it can I make an arrow shaft appear to stick out of it's hide, and blood splash on the ground (and stay there?) Can I make the fire appear to shed light, or set smaller fires (perhaps within the area of the spell?)


Yes you can make such shafts and blood appear (as long as your image isn’t bigger than what you are allowed to create with the spell, Silent image cannot extend beyond four 10-ft. cubes + one 10-ft. cube/level for an instance), but just because you create false arrows in its hide doesn’t secure your enemies from seeing their real arrows going through the illusion.

And finally, can I make it feel as though it's attacks are real? (I assume that it attacking or being attacked calls for a saving throw? What else does? What if a fighter tried to climb it? Can I make the fighter believe he is actually on top of a dragon?


As I said earlier the attacks can never feel real because they do not harm the targets AT ALL. And no if the fighter tried to climb the dragon he would first of all succeede his will save to disbelieve it (since his hands goes through it) and even if he still tried he would not be able because it is made out of pure air, and can therefore not support his body.



I hope that my answer helped you. For further information about illusions i recommend reading theese four articles written by Skip William. He describes almost everything you need to know about illusions and adds information not written in the rule books aswell (for an instance that a caster never believes his own illusions). 

www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/rg/200...
www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/rg/200...
www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/rg/200...
www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/rg/200...

Good luck with your illusions!

Next example: What about a Major Image of a red dragon? Can I make the dragon breathe illusory (but real-feeling) fire? Does everyone who is hit with it get a saving throw to disbelieve, but then "feel" like they were really burned?

You can make it breathe fire but everyone hit by the fire would know that it is not real since the illusion can’t harm in any way. They do not feel like they are being burned because the fire does nothing to them.



But "Major Image" says that it can produce thermal effects, which presumably includes searing heat. It doesn't need to make an actual dragon to make you feel scared; why should it need to make actual burns to make you feel burned?




And finally, can I make it feel as though it's attacks are real? (I assume that it attacking or being attacked calls for a saving throw? What else does? What if a fighter tried to climb it? Can I make the fighter believe he is actually on top of a dragon?


As I said earlier the attacks can never feel real because they do not harm the targets AT ALL. And no if the fighter tried to climb the dragon he would first of all succeede his will save to disbelieve it (since his hands goes through it) and even if he still tried he would not be able because it is made out of pure air, and can therefore not support his body.



For a moment, I forgot that Major image doesn't include tactile illusions, and so I was trying to ask about the limits of a "tactile" inclusive illusion.

I understand many of the possible uses of an illusion which includes thermal effects, for example, but my question is ultimately about the limits of such an effect. I can make a fire seem warm, but can I make it seem really hot? Can I make you feel burning heat, as if from a "wall of fire?"

Of course you wouldn't take any damage, but would it hurt anyways, if you failed your save?



I hope that my answer helped you. For further information about illusions i recommend reading theese four articles written by Skip William. He describes almost everything you need to know about illusions and adds information not written in the rule books aswell (for an instance that a caster never believes his own illusions). 

www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/rg/200...
www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/rg/200...
www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/rg/200...
www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/rg/200...

Good luck with your illusions!




Thanks a bunch for your help! I read the guides, and I do find them quite useful. It's nice to actually have someone talk about the effects in detail.

Of course, I still feel that his posts were left a bit vague as to the true extent and limits of a "image" spell, and so I'm still a bit disappointed with WoTC on this; there aught to have been more written about illusion, especially about the limits of higher level effects.
But "Major Image" says that it can produce thermal effects, which presumably includes searing heat. It doesn't need to make an actual dragon to make you feel scared; why should it need to make actual burns to make you feel burned?

For a moment, I forgot that Major image doesn't include tactile illusions, and so I was trying to ask about the limits of a "tactile" inclusive illusion.


I understand many of the possible uses of an illusion which includes thermal effects, for example, but my question is ultimately about the limits of such an effect. I can make a fire seem warm, but can I make it seem really hot? Can I make you feel burning heat, as if from a "wall of fire?"

Of course you wouldn't take any damage, but would it hurt anyways, if you failed your save?

Ultimately it's the DM's decision but I (and my DM) rules no on the "feeling burned", but you are right, the rules don't say anything about this, so none of the rulings are really agienst the rules. Talk with your DM and work out how you think it should work.

Thanks a bunch for your help! I read the guides, and I do find them quite useful. It's nice to actually have someone talk about the effects in detail.


Of course, I still feel that his posts were left a bit vague as to the true extent and limits of a "image" spell, and so I'm still a bit disappointed with WoTC on this; there aught to have been more written about illusion, especially about the limits of higher level effects.


I agree. Skip Williams could have tried to go more in depth with the school, but at least the artciles answers some questions. Illusion is probably the most discussed school, probably because it is (as you have said) only vaguely described in the rules book. Because of this you must rely on alot of "DM rulings", I'm afraid.
Illusion tends to be so vaguely described because it covers such a broad range of possibilities that it's hard to describe in real detail without making a massive spell description.

As for the thermal effects of major image, the thing to keep in mind is that they're really just another aspect of making a believable illusion.  They're no different to the illusionary sights, sounds, or smells created by the spell in that they can't cause real effects, just the illusion of particular sensations.

Even if some illusionary flame feels like it's extremely hot, it can't actually burn you nor can it really even make you feel pain because the major image spell doesn't create illusions of pain.  Distinguishing between a feeling of extreme heat and actual pain is hard for a typical humanoid because they're accustomed to the two feelings being directly linked (unlike a red dragon or fire element, which can experience sensations of extreme heat without feeling pain).  Picking up on that difference, instead of just believing that you're suffering pain because you feel extremely hot, might be one of the ways you'd explain seeing through the illusion.

The kraken stirs. And ten billion sushi dinners cry out for vengeance. - Good Omens

Co-Author of the Dreamfane, Euralden Eye, Gajuisan Crawler, Gruesome Lurker, Fulminating Crab, Ironglass Rose, Sheengrass Swarm, Spryjack, Usunag, and Warp Drifter, and author of the Magmal Horror from Force of Nature.

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Even if some illusionary flame feels like it's extremely hot, it can't actually burn you nor can it really even make you feel pain because the major image spell doesn't create illusions of pain.  Distinguishing between a feeling of extreme heat and actual pain is hard for a typical humanoid because they're accustomed to the two feelings being directly linked (unlike a red dragon or fire element, which can experience sensations of extreme heat without feeling pain).  Picking up on that difference, instead of just believing that you're suffering pain because you feel extremely hot, might be one of the ways you'd explain seeing through the illusion.



Thats why I give a small cumulative saving throw bonus to intelligent creatures experiencing a long term illusory heat effect because they feel like they are being burned but don't take any physical damage and eventually they naturally come to the concluion that it is an illusion.
Illusion tends to be so vaguely described because it covers such a broad range of possibilities that it's hard to describe in real detail without making a massive spell description.

As for the thermal effects of major image, the thing to keep in mind is that they're really just another aspect of making a believable illusion.  They're no different to the illusionary sights, sounds, or smells created by the spell in that they can't cause real effects, just the illusion of particular sensations.

Even if some illusionary flame feels like it's extremely hot, it can't actually burn you nor can it really even make you feel pain because the major image spell doesn't create illusions of pain.  Distinguishing between a feeling of extreme heat and actual pain is hard for a typical humanoid because they're accustomed to the two feelings being directly linked (unlike a red dragon or fire element, which can experience sensations of extreme heat without feeling pain).  Picking up on that difference, instead of just believing that you're suffering pain because you feel extremely hot, might be one of the ways you'd explain seeing through the illusion.



So a Major Image spell could produce the feeling of intense heat, but unaccompanied by pain?

The problem with that is, it seems an aweful lot like an auto-save, since heat that intense should burn you. You don't always notice actual wounds in the heat of action, so it wouldn't be a stretch to assume that a character might be fooled into thinking they were burned when they weren't, if they were actually in some kind of pain. A fighter might not tend to his burns until after the battle, and may instead concern himself with killing the dragon.


But fire that doesn't hurt is quite obviously NOT fire.

So my fake dragon can't convince a party that it's breathing real fire at them, even if they fail the appropriate save? But unless they attack it or something, it could roar and gnash it's teeth and spout searing-hot fire into the air without ever allowing them to disbelieve?

Thats why I give a small cumulative saving throw bonus to intelligent creatures experiencing a long term illusory heat effect because they feel like they are being burned but don't take any physical damage and eventually they naturally come to the concluion that it is an illusion.



I like that idea, actually.


Thank you all very much for posting and helping me sort this out.

I'm still a bit confused, but much more confident of the value of creative illussions, and have selected "Major Image" as one of my frequently prepared spells. It has a nice flavor to it, at the very least.


P.S. Oh! Another question! In your opinion (I assume there are no rules for this) would my really high knowledge (arcana) check result help me make a more convincing dragon-image (and possibly increase the save DC)? In general, can knowledge help with illusions like this?
P.S. Oh! Another question! In your opinion (I assume there are no rules for this) would my really high knowledge (arcana) check result help me make a more convincing dragon-image (and possibly increase the save DC)? In general, can knowledge help with illusions like this?



Nop none what so ever! The details on the illusion is ONLY limited by your imagination and/or the characters experince, meaning that an level 2 wizard in fact could be able to create more realistic silent image (of anything) than an level 20 wizard. It all depends on what your character have experinced and is able to think of.

You could make some sort of house rule, but I really woundn't recommend that.
So a Major Image spell could produce the feeling of intense heat, but unaccompanied by pain?

The problem with that is, it seems an aweful lot like an auto-save, since heat that intense should burn you. You don't always notice actual wounds in the heat of action, so it wouldn't be a stretch to assume that a character might be fooled into thinking they were burned when they weren't, if they were actually in some kind of pain. A fighter might not tend to his burns until after the battle, and may instead concern himself with killing the dragon.


But fire that doesn't hurt is quite obviously NOT fire.

The primary feeling you associate with fire is heat, and there's actually a pretty good chance that you'd think there was pain simply from feeling intense heat (because there's normally a strong association between the two), while if you didn't have any thermal effects, there's no chance of that.  So having a thermal element makes the fire more convincing.

The feeling of heat also makes the fire more believable before you're close enough for it to be burning you.  For example, if the illusionary dragon breathes a wash of flame that narrowly misses you, you'll still feel the sensation of heat.
So my fake dragon can't convince a party that it's breathing real fire at them, even if they fail the appropriate save? But unless they attack it or something, it could roar and gnash it's teeth and spout searing-hot fire into the air without ever allowing them to disbelieve?

There are a lot of ways that thermal effects can contribute to the effectiveness of an illusion, and direct exposure to flame is a bad example since it has those obvious ways like pain and damage to reveal itself.  Having the dragon breathe fire directly on the opponents is almost guaranteed to give the illusion away.

But, yes, having it roar, gnash its teeth, and generally heat up the area might not even allow a save.

The non-visual illusions are kind of tricky to judge with regard to interaction, though, since there isn't much you can do with sound, smell, or temperature except by feeling it.  There's not much potential for interaction if you can't do something that would normally affect the illusion, so the DM is either judging that simply feeling it is interaction, or that there's almost no way to notice.

The kraken stirs. And ten billion sushi dinners cry out for vengeance. - Good Omens

Co-Author of the Dreamfane, Euralden Eye, Gajuisan Crawler, Gruesome Lurker, Fulminating Crab, Ironglass Rose, Sheengrass Swarm, Spryjack, Usunag, and Warp Drifter, and author of the Magmal Horror from Force of Nature.

My most popular campaign item; for all your adventuring convenience.
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So a Major Image spell could produce the feeling of intense heat, but unaccompanied by pain?

The problem with that is, it seems an aweful lot like an auto-save, since heat that intense should burn you. You don't always notice actual wounds in the heat of action, so it wouldn't be a stretch to assume that a character might be fooled into thinking they were burned when they weren't, if they were actually in some kind of pain. A fighter might not tend to his burns until after the battle, and may instead concern himself with killing the dragon.


But fire that doesn't hurt is quite obviously NOT fire.

The primary feeling you associate with fire is heat, and there's actually a pretty good chance that you'd think there was pain simply from feeling intense heat (because there's normally a strong association between the two), while if you didn't have any thermal effects, there's no chance of that.  So having a thermal element makes the fire more convincing.

The feeling of heat also makes the fire more believable before you're close enough for it to be burning you.  For example, if the illusionary dragon breathes a wash of flame that narrowly misses you, you'll still feel the sensation of heat.
So my fake dragon can't convince a party that it's breathing real fire at them, even if they fail the appropriate save? But unless they attack it or something, it could roar and gnash it's teeth and spout searing-hot fire into the air without ever allowing them to disbelieve?

There are a lot of ways that thermal effects can contribute to the effectiveness of an illusion, and direct exposure to flame is a bad example since it has those obvious ways like pain and damage to reveal itself.  Having the dragon breathe fire directly on the opponents is almost guaranteed to give the illusion away.

But, yes, having it roar, gnash its teeth, and generally heat up the area might not even allow a save.

The non-visual illusions are kind of tricky to judge with regard to interaction, though, since there isn't much you can do with sound, smell, or temperature except by feeling it.  There's not much potential for interaction if you can't do something that would normally affect the illusion, so the DM is either judging that simply feeling it is interaction, or that there's almost no way to notice.




Or, it seems, aiming for a middle ground and inadvertently designing a whole homebrew system for dealing with illusions (modifiers for this, penalties for that, no save for this, save for that, etc, all subject to the creativity of the players ideas)... Which actually seems to be the default method...

And the one I'm likely to use, I suppose. 
So a Major Image spell could produce the feeling of intense heat, but unaccompanied by pain?

The problem with that is, it seems an aweful lot like an auto-save, since heat that intense should burn you. You don't always notice actual wounds in the heat of action, so it wouldn't be a stretch to assume that a character might be fooled into thinking they were burned when they weren't, if they were actually in some kind of pain. A fighter might not tend to his burns until after the battle, and may instead concern himself with killing the dragon.



Yeah, it sorta is like an auto save cuz that's a bad use of an illusion.  You want to protect your illusion, not expose it.

But fire that doesn't hurt is quite obviously NOT fire.



Which makes it obvious that using it against people who can die from exposure to fire is a bad idea.

So my fake dragon can't convince a party that it's breathing real fire at them, even if they fail the appropriate save? But unless they attack it or something, it could roar and gnash it's teeth and spout searing-hot fire into the air without ever allowing them to disbelieve?



Oh it can convince them they're gonna eat a full on breath weapon alright ... right up to the point thr fire makes contact with their skin.  Basically, if you wanna do some fire damage to your party choose a spell that does, I dunno, fire damage

But a breath weapon attack that, say, just misses and melts some stone while also raising the nearby temp quite a bit?  Yeah, that'd add to the believablity, IMO.  Not DC or anything like that, mind, but some nice flavah action. 
Resident Prophet of the OTTer.

Section Six Soldier

Front Door of the House of Trolls

[b]If you're terribly afraid of your character dying, it may be best if you roleplayed something other than an adventurer.[/b]

Oh it can convince them they're gonna eat a full on breath weapon alright ... right up to the point thr fire makes contact with their skin.  Basically, if you wanna do some fire damage to your party choose a spell that does, I dunno, fire damage

But a breath weapon attack that, say, just misses and melts some stone while also raising the nearby temp quite a bit?  Yeah, that'd add to the believablity, IMO.  Not DC or anything like that, mind, but some nice flavah action. 


Bingo. The best illusions are never a direct threat to their targets (shadowcraft notwithstanding) - they're things that even a savvy player would identify as 'background'. Try looking at real-world illusionists for tips on this - there's enough that show their work floating around that a bit of Googling can help here. (I prefer the term "illusionist" to the more common "magician" in this regard, although James Randi prefers the term "conjurer", and others (Apollo Robbins, Penn & Teller, etc) will use other terms such as "sleight" frequently as well.)

Alternatively, mix up your illusions with actual punch. That's what prevents an illusionist from becoming nothing more than the special-effects guy. An illusion on its own isn't all that powerful - it's when it's providing cover for something else that it becomes lethal. The stereotypical "false floor over a pit trap" example shows this - without the actual pit trap, it won't be all that useful. (Although, an illusion of a pit trap can be useful in and of itself - assuming that you're using it to cause targets to move somewhere that's actually dangerous!)

Cancer prognosis: I am now cancer-free.

Weekly Optimization Series

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These are NOT all my creations! The lead authors are identified as follows: [TS] Tempest Stormwind, [AR] Andarious Rosethorn, [RT] Radical Taoist, [SN] Sionnis, [DH] DisposableHero_, [SH] Seishi.

[TS] The Pinball Brothers: Large And In Charge (Melee, Lockdown, Charge, Juggling)
[TS] Ashardalon Reborn: I Will Swallow Your Soul (Melee, Fear, Negative Levels, AoE, Theme)
[AR] "A"-Game Paladin: Play That Funky Music, Knight Boy! (Team Support, Melee, Theme, Single-Class)
[RT] Uncanny Trapsmith: Get in, make it look like an accident, get out. (Skillmonkey, Stealth/Scout/Infiltration, Unorthodox Methods, Theme)
[AR] Wizsassin: *Everything* is permitted. (Spellcaster, Support, Sneak Attack, Utility)
[TS] Phantom Rush: General Gish Gouda. (Gish, Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Early-Entry PrC)
[TS] Storm Knight: Another kind of gish. (Melee/"Gish", Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Unorthodox Methods)
[TS] Inevitable Nightmare: The weapon you only have to fire once. (Melee, "Unorthodox" Methods (no charging), Reliability)
[AR] Captain Constitution: The number one threat to America. (Melee, TOUGHTOUGHTOUGH, Defense, Theme)
[AR] Nuker: I casts the spells that makes the peoples fall down! (Spellcaster, damage, blasting, damage)
[TS] Dread Lord of the Dead: Let the Reaping Begin! (NPC-only, Variable (combat/casting/leadership), Iconic Villain, Theme)
[AR] Heavy Crusader: No Rest. No Mercy. No Matter What. (Melee, Damage (No charging), Variable, Theme).
[TS] Gun Fu: It's bullet time (Ranged, THEORETICAL, Twin weapons, Theme)
[RT] Face First: We should talk. (Psionic, social, mind-control, info-management)
[SN] Chaingun Porcupine: Never Enuff Dakka. (Ranged, Skirmishing, Spike Damage, Incarnum)
[RT] Always On Edge: The Mortal Draw deals death. (Melee, Generalist, Dungeoneering, Stunt)
[AR] Feral Druid: Real feral taste. Zero druid calories. (Melee, offense, damage, murder)
[RT] Rusty!: Man's Best Friend (Sentry, Support, Backup, Rearguard)
[RT] The T3 (Tashalatora Triple Threat): My Kung Fu is More Powerful (Hybrid, Flex-Function, Melee, Caster)
[RT] The #1 Snoipah: Boom. 'Eadshot. (Caster, Theme, Spike, Trapscout)
[AR] Dreamblade: Rest in Pieces. (Melee, Damage, Single-Class, Combo/Momentum)
[AR] Evasion Tank: “When fighting angry blind men, is best to stay out of the way.” (Melee, Tank, Unorthodox Methods (attack negation), Theme)
[DH] Psycarnum Warrior: ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA Start (Melee, Tank, Psionics, Incarnum, 1337 h4x)
[AR] Heavy Weapons Elf: WHO TOUCHED MY BOW? (Ranged, Cohort, Damage, Unorthodox Methods (ranged ToB))
[RT] Gnowhere Gnome: A little man who wasn't there (Caster, Stealth, Single-Class, Elusive)
[AR] Uberflank: I got your back. (Melee, support, stunt, teamwork)
[TS] Flip the Bird: Everyday I'm shuffling (Ranged, harrier, unorthodox methods (ranged ToB / off-turn movement), support)
[DH] Eat Sleep Gank: Real Ultimate Power (Stealth, Assassination, Spike, Magic Versatility)
[AR] Slash and Burn: Mind, Body, Blade, Flame / Aspects of a greater whole / which delivers death. (Melee, Theme (flex-style), Damage, Stunt)
[RT] Edge of the Light: Cut, Fade to Black (Melee, Defense/Offense, Momentum, Tactical)
[RT] Quiet Murder: Cut throats, not corners. (Melee, Stealth, Harrier, Tactical)
[TS] Wand Overdrive: Say Hello to my little friends. (Caster, support/artillery/variable, wand specialist)
[RT] God Hand: What did the five fingers say to the face? (Melee/Gish, Unarmed, SAD, Theme)
[AR] Zero Buff Time Gish: Try to keep up! (Gish, Speed, Movement, Opportunity)
[TS] Robo Tackle: I Am Iron Man. (Melee, setting-specific (Eberron), positioning, theme, stunt)

[TS] Holy Fire: Just getting warmed up! (Casting, damage, theme (fire), theme (sacred), blasting)

[TS] Groundhog Mage: ♪Let’s do the time warp again♪ (Casting, stunt, setting-specific (Faerun), spell stamina / versatility, spontaneous wizard)

[RT] Captain Charisma: All she wants to do is dance (Hybrid (melee/support), SAD, Theme (criticals), Theme (flex-style)

[TS] Assassin's Speed: A blade in the crowd (Melee (technical), iaijutsu, SAD, theme (Assassin's Creed), tutorial)

 

Want to see how the entire group rolls?
[All] Party Optimization Showcase: Dead for Nothing
[TS/RT/AR] Optimization Article: The Flash Step
[RT] Optimization Article: Kung Fu Witchcraft

 

Seishi: I think it might be fun to have a one-off [game] tuned fairly, but with the intention of wiping the party. 

DisposableHero_: if [my campaign] has taught me nothing else, it is that with this group, nothing tuned fairly will ever wipe the party

RadicalTaoist: I've been throwing **** at this group that's 5 levels over CRed in DFN, and have yet to wipe the party.

Exactly.  Illusions are a more ... refined sort of murder tool. 
Resident Prophet of the OTTer.

Section Six Soldier

Front Door of the House of Trolls

[b]If you're terribly afraid of your character dying, it may be best if you roleplayed something other than an adventurer.[/b]

Exactly.  Illusions are a more ... refined sort of murder tool. 

A lot of them would be more like accessories to murder.  Or murder-enablers.  Murder supplements, murder enhancement devices, prostheses for when the murder isn't quite up to murdering all by itself.

The kraken stirs. And ten billion sushi dinners cry out for vengeance. - Good Omens

Co-Author of the Dreamfane, Euralden Eye, Gajuisan Crawler, Gruesome Lurker, Fulminating Crab, Ironglass Rose, Sheengrass Swarm, Spryjack, Usunag, and Warp Drifter, and author of the Magmal Horror from Force of Nature.

My most popular campaign item; for all your adventuring convenience.
Zauber's Mutable Rod: This rod has a number of useful functions that make it easier to live in the wilderness. It is made of polished wood, with five studlike buttons on one end. Each button produces a different effect when pressed. Unless otherwise noted, the rod’s functions have no limit on the number of times they can be employed. When button 1 is pressed, one end of the rod produces a small flame, equivalent to a candle. When button 2 is pressed, the rod unfolds into a two-person tent, complete with bedrolls and warm blankets. When button 3 is pressed, the rod becomes a one-handed hammer, suitable for pounding pitons into a wall. When button 4 is pressed, the rod becomes a sturdy iron spade. When button 5 is pressed, the rod becomes a wooden bucket able to hold 2 gallons of liquid. Once per day, it can be commanded to fill with fresh water. If the rod is seriously damaged or broken in any of its alternate forms (button 2, 3, 4, or 5), it reverts to its basic rod form and cannot be activated for 24 hours. Moderate conjuration; CL 9th; Craft Rod, minor creation; Price 375 gp; Weight 2 lb.
A lot of them would be more like accessories to murder.  Or murder-enablers.  Murder supplements, murder enhancement devices, prostheses for when the murder isn't quite up to murdering all by itself.



All quite true - and better put. 
Resident Prophet of the OTTer.

Section Six Soldier

Front Door of the House of Trolls

[b]If you're terribly afraid of your character dying, it may be best if you roleplayed something other than an adventurer.[/b]

Exactly.  Illusions are a more ... refined sort of murder tool. 

A lot of them would be more like accessories to murder.  Or murder-enablers.  Murder supplements, murder enhancement devices, prostheses for when the murder isn't quite up to murdering all by itself.



This had me chuckling.

Murder enhancement devices...

lol
So a Major Image spell could produce the feeling of intense heat, but unaccompanied by pain?

The problem with that is, it seems an aweful lot like an auto-save, since heat that intense should burn you. You don't always notice actual wounds in the heat of action, so it wouldn't be a stretch to assume that a character might be fooled into thinking they were burned when they weren't, if they were actually in some kind of pain. A fighter might not tend to his burns until after the battle, and may instead concern himself with killing the dragon.



Yeah, it sorta is like an auto save cuz that's a bad use of an illusion.  You want to protect your illusion, not expose it.

But fire that doesn't hurt is quite obviously NOT fire.



Which makes it obvious that using it against people who can die from exposure to fire is a bad idea.

So my fake dragon can't convince a party that it's breathing real fire at them, even if they fail the appropriate save? But unless they attack it or something, it could roar and gnash it's teeth and spout searing-hot fire into the air without ever allowing them to disbelieve?



Oh it can convince them they're gonna eat a full on breath weapon alright ... right up to the point thr fire makes contact with their skin.  Basically, if you wanna do some fire damage to your party choose a spell that does, I dunno, fire damage

But a breath weapon attack that, say, just misses and melts some stone while also raising the nearby temp quite a bit?  Yeah, that'd add to the believablity, IMO.  Not DC or anything like that, mind, but some nice flavah action. 





Why would I want to deal them fire damage? What about my post indicated that that's what I want to do?

What I want to know is this: What can't I make them think is happening?

Why?