Alright, I'm playing a sneaky kobold bloodline sorc, he's kinda like the party's rogue. I have Programmed image, and other than some basic stuff, anyone have any cool, clever uses for programmed image? Hit me with your best ideas!
The nice thing about a Programmed Image, is that it can be triggered when you're not around. And what is the one thing you want to seem to be somewhere you are not?
An illusion that makes your character appear to walk from behind a tree, be startled by the "triggerer" and flee back into the shadows is great. You'll have your enemies chasing ghosts all over the place.
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Programmed Image covers visual, auditory, olfactory and thermal elements, including intelligible speech. Tactile sensation is notably absent and the spell differs from most illusions in that it requires neither concentration nor presence and can sit idle for untold ages. At 12th level (when you can cast it) it will cover an area equal to a 20' cube + 12 10' cubes (which need not technically be contiguous by RAW), shaped however you wish, within 880' of your location at the time of the casting. It can be triggered by an event up to 180' further away. Wow, that's a lot of potential. How about these...
Separated from your party?
Upon speaking your name anywhere within earshot of the actual image, your party finds clear indications of your path appearing before them. Perhaps it's a strobing neon line that circumvents the four traps you found, or something more subtle, like the powerful aroma of coffee.
Tower coming under attack while you're away?
Good thing you can set this spell up month's in advance. With clever triggers your home can have any conceivable defense in place, from shifting walls or unexpected guards to an irate mage teleporting in and tossing fireballs.
Coordinating an assault?
Get within 300 yards of the castle gate and set an audible trigger to the sound of your voice saying 'Popcorn' and an image of 30' high glowing neon letters spelling out Attack Now while fanfare plays in the background. Go back home for a nap and get the benefit of the spell without prepping it during the actual assault.
Need to send a secret message?
Dispatch a courier with a humble little flask (well, well within the area of the spell). Upon the flask being filled with Chateau Rothschild '83 (a scent and tactile trigger), your voice relays a message up to 72 seconds long. This is also an amusing way to set up a last will and testament.
Need to make a splash of an entrance?
Many, many spells have smaller areas of effect than this one and the parameters of the spell cover not just the effects of those spells but the necessary gestures and speech to cast them. How much fun would it be to snap your fingers (the trigger) when you enter the court (which you staked out three months ago) and immediately have a wizard appear to teleport in, appear to cast Prismatic Wall and then appear to Polymorph into a Dragon before roasting the tapestries as a warning shot and turning to look at you for instructions?
Need some confusion in a heck of a hurry?
Before striding into the BBEG's sanctum, program an image of choice on the room (remember you can be 300 yards away!). The next time someone says the Overlord's name the room is suddenly filled with ninjas. Assuming that doesn't happen just as you cast the spell, you get the benefit of a blatant distraction without using up your initiative based actions.
Since Programmed Image is permanent until triggered, I like making up a bunch of pebbles with programmed image cast on them and carrying them with me. You can have each one set up with a different trigger word, or have it more specific, like "trigger after I shoot your pebble with a sling."
They make great distractions. Need to get past a couple of guards? Use the distraction pebble, toss it 60 feet to the right of the guards, and then they see a demon rise up out of the ground. Either they go to investigate or they run, and either way you can sneak past. You can also make an illusionary fog cloud or something like that to get some concealment against enemy archers, or an illusionary wall to confuse a pursuer, or whatever. Just get them set up beforehand and then carry them until you need it. Only costs 25 gold each.