Can an Illusionist choose to fail to disbelieve his OWN illusions?


Rules Questions

1 to 50 of 119 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | next > last >>

Basically what the title says, can some caster using illusions purposefully believe they are real? Or to put it another way, can they disbelieve their own disbelief?

For instance, if the caster is up against a creature that has some gaze attack, can he use Shadow Conjuration to throw up a Wall of Stone, disbelieve his disbelief of his own illusion, and avoid the creatures gaze ability this way?

EDIT: edited to just talk about gaze attacks


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I would consider the knowledge that I cast a particular illusion spell to be the necessary "irrefutable proof" that prevents me from even attempting a saving throw.

So, no, you couldn't do that at my table.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Ridiculon wrote:

Basically what the title says, can some caster using illusions purposefully believe they are real? Or to put it another way, can they disbelieve their own disbelief?

For instance, if the caster is up against a creature that has some gaze attack, can he use Shadow Conjuration to throw up a Wall of Stone, disbelieve his disbelief of his own illusion, and avoid the creatures gaze ability this way?

EDIT: edited to just talk about gaze attacks

"A character faced with proof that an illusion isn’t real needs no saving throw."

under the illusion school description.

The Exchange

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I am assuming greater shadow conjuration since i dont know any low lvl wall spwlls off the top of my head. So a 60% chance, isnt to bad. I cannot see bow you could ot disbelieve an illusion you cast.

Shadow: A shadow spell creates something that is partially real from extradimensional energy. Such illusions can have real effects. Damage dealt by a shadow illusion is real.

Shadow Conjuration, Greater

School illusion (shadow); Level sorcerer/wizard 7

DESCRIPTION
This spell functions like shadow conjuration, except that it duplicates any sorcerer or wizard conjuration (summoning) or conjuration (creation) spell of 6th level or lower. The illusory conjurations created deal three-fifths (60%) damage to nonbelievers, and non-damaging effects are 60% likely to work against nonbelievers.


Ridiculon wrote:
Basically what the title says, can some caster using illusions purposefully believe they are real? Or to put it another way, can they disbelieve their own disbelief?

Only if he's insane.

Sane people don't believe in "make-believe". They don't truly believe in the Tooth Fairy or any other obviously made-up stuff. Only insane people believe in things that are not real; that' sort of the clinical definition of insanity.

The definition of illusion includes "made up stuff" that is "not real". The guy who makes it is guaranteed to know that this is made up stuff and not real. He KNOWS it. The only way he could actually believe it's real is if he is clinically insane.

Unless you get him drunk enough; perhaps drunk counts as temporary insanity in this case. Maybe.

Ridiculon wrote:

For instance, if the caster is up against a creature that has some gaze attack, can he use Shadow Conjuration to throw up a Wall of Stone, disbelieve his disbelief of his own illusion, and avoid the creatures gaze ability this way?

EDIT: edited to just talk about gaze attacks

Now that's different.

Shadow Conjurations are partially real. Only figments and phantasms leave "translucent outlines" when you disbelieve them. Ergo, disbelieving a Shadow Conjuration of an Iron Wall means you still see the iron wall but you know it's only partially real. Because you still SEE the wall, it should still provide full cover from that gaze attack - in fact, you won't see that enemy at all.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

ah, good point, i should have chosen an example thats pure illusion.

So the consensus is that (if youre using a spell like silent image of a wall): "No, you cannot disbelieve your own disbelief"

unless you're insane(at DM_Blake's table anyway)


1 person marked this as a favorite.

If someone cast memory lapse or modify memory on you and you forgot you cast the illusion spell, sure. You'd be lacking that irrefutable proof.

Sovereign Court

1 person marked this as a favorite.
DM_Blake wrote:
Sane people don't believe in "make-believe". They don't truly believe in the Tooth Fairy or any other obviously made-up stuff.

The tooth-fairy IS real! She brought me a quarter. *nods convincingly*


1 person marked this as a favorite.
The Archive wrote:
If someone cast memory lapse or modify memory on you and you forgot, sure.

haha, sneaky. I like it

on a related note, what if someone casts sow thought on you with the thought "I think there's a wall there"

since it comes in as a genuine thought in their stream of consciousness (even if it is immediately inundated by all the other thoughts and experiences of the target saying the opposite) would that be enough to give them a will saving throw?

Sovereign Court

1 person marked this as a favorite.
The Archive wrote:
If someone cast memory lapse or modify memory on you and you forgot, sure.

Or - arguably - you might forget where all of the long-term illusions are. Illusory Wall is permanent - and you might not remember where exactly you cast it a year later.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Ridiculon wrote:

So the consensus is that (if youre using a spell like silent image of a wall): "No, you cannot disbelieve your own disbelief"

unless you're insane(at DM_Blake's table anyway)

I don't know if we have enough data points to formulate a consensus yet.

You can say "at DM_Blake's table", and it's true. What I wrote is not a rules citation (well, some part of it actually was) that should be played everywhere or have specific house rules to change it. But while I didn't cite RAW, I did use simple definitions found in the English language.

Now while it's true that tables may not care at all about using simple linguistic definitions, I would hope that it's not very common. If it were, then our rulebooks would be useless. How could we understand what's going on in combat if we don't use simple English definitions of things like sword, damage, turn, attack, etc.? We couldn't.

In other words, every rule we read is interpreted through our language filters. When no rule exists, all we have are the language filters. If we ignore those, then we cannot even understand the framework upon which the rules are written. And if we're not abandoning our linguistic framework, then maybe my impression of illusionist vs. insanity might be applicable to many tables (even if its applicability only goes so far as to motivate the GM to house rule some other interpretation).


1 person marked this as a favorite.

i wasn't trying to call you out or anything, i get its an interpretation. i would probably also rule it that way at my table, I have 2 characters that are clinically insane and it sounds like a fun rp opportunity. I was just trying to separate the general trend from your particular thoughts so that it didn't look like i was saying the whole thread agreed with you.


The effect is real if you believe it's real. So how does that make you insane?

"Needs no saving throw" is not the same as "automatically disbelieves" and I'm not sure why they'd choose the text they did if it wasn't to imply that you could choose for yourself to have a save, which you could then intentionally fail.

The only reason I wouldn't allow it is because it makes some illusion spells too versatile. But I have never seen someone quote rules text that doesn't allow the caster to believe the illusion is real.

And I may even allow it if the character was roleplayed well and the player didn't abuse the privilege.

Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Well, if you automatically disbelieve your own illusions, the reflection clause in Phantasmal Killer is pretty worthless.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

The only way I could see it happening is somehow tricking yourself into believing youd messed up the spell and cast a summoning spell instead of an illusion spell. But id only let that go like, once, since its clever.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

Let me further muddy the proverbial waters by adding an edge case:

Suppose a rogue, with no ranks in Spellcraft but several ranks in Use Magic Device, observes a wizard who used a wand to raise an opaque mist which blocked sight. The rogue takes the wand, and later activates it using Use Magic Device. The rogue has no knowledge and no skill to determine if the wand is really a wand of silent image or minor image, or a wand of some variant of obscuring mist.

Does this rogue seen through the illusion generated by the wand?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

ooooo, *gets popcorn*, what does everyone think?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Baval wrote:
The only way I could see it happening is somehow tricking yourself into believing youd messed up the spell and cast a summoning spell instead of an illusion spell. But id only let that go like, once, since its clever.

Watch out for that.

It's what we rules lawyers (and real lawyers, too) call "precedent". Once you establish precedent, you might be stuck with it forever.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Depends on the table. Some might say the UMD gives you an idea of what the item does in order to use it, others might say its just like pushing a button.

If its the latter, he needs to make the save. If its the former, hed be aware it was some sort of illusion.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
DM_Blake wrote:
Baval wrote:
The only way I could see it happening is somehow tricking yourself into believing youd messed up the spell and cast a summoning spell instead of an illusion spell. But id only let that go like, once, since its clever.

Watch out for that.

It's what we rules lawyers (and real lawyers, too) call "precedent". Once you establish precedent, you might be stuck with it forever.

It doesnt fly at my table. I establish from the begining that if you come up with a clever use of a mechanic that im inclined to disallow, I will allow it one time for dramatic storytelling. Basically, if you impress me with your ingenuity but constantly using it would break the game, it becomes a divine (and unrepeatable) fluke.

Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I will point out that in the OP's example, a Disbelieved Shadow Conjuration wall of stone will still block line of sight. It's a transparent image overlay on a shadowy form. The shadowy form is still real and will block line of sight and effect.

The discussion is only relevant for silent image and the like.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
vorpaljesus wrote:
The effect is real if you believe it's real. So how does that make you insane?

How could you believe it's real when you KNOW it is not real?"

You, the illusionist, are casting your own illusion spell. You know what it is. You know how it works. You know it's not real. YOU KNOW IT. In which case, there is no way you could believe it's not real, unless you're insane.

My mother used to work at the California State Hospital for the insane. Occasionally she took me out there to volunteer (I read to the inmates). I remember meeting a person who thought he was Charles Lindbergh. My mom had to tell me who that was. The guy really believed it and told me about his flight over the Atlantic. He talked about it all the time. I forgot his real name but it was something like Fred Smith, or whatever, but nothing like Charles Lindbergh. This was 6 years after Lindbergh died and the guy was young enough to be Lindbergh's grandson, maybe, but definitely not a man nearly 80.

That guy believed something that wasn't true. He should have KNOWN it was not true because he should have known who we was and that he didn't actually fly the Spirit of St. Louis over the Atlantic Ocean. But he believed it. And he was locked up in an asylum because he was insane.

When you KNOW something but believe something else, contradictory to what you know, then you're insane. If you're not insane, you really cannot just do it - you can't make yourself believe that which you know to be untrue. Impossible for a sane mind.

Of course, none of this has to do with magic or other forms of mind control which might FORCE a sane person to believe something they should not. But that's outside influences, very different from just making a conscious decision to believe it.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Questions like these are the reason I never play an illusionist. Too much room for variation on the DM's part.

I don't think it was defined in 3.5 but did they ever define in Pathfinder what qualifies as "interaction"?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
vorpaljesus wrote:
did they ever define in Pathfinder what qualifies as "interaction"?

Nope, GM's call.

Probably because there are lots of different kinds of illusions that affect any one or more of our 7 senses, sometimes in different ways, so such a comprehensive list of definition would for one, be incomplete and for two, limit the creativity of the players and GM.


DM_Blake wrote:
vorpaljesus wrote:
The effect is real if you believe it's real. So how does that make you insane?

How could you believe it's real when you KNOW it is not real?"

You, the illusionist, are casting your own illusion spell. You know what it is. You know how it works. You know it's not real. YOU KNOW IT. In which case, there is no way you could believe it's not real, unless you're insane.

My mother used to work at the California State Hospital for the insane. Occasionally she took me out there to volunteer (I read to the inmates). I remember meeting a person who thought he was Charles Lindbergh. My mom had to tell me who that was. The guy really believed it and told me about his flight over the Atlantic. He talked about it all the time. I forgot his real name but it was something like Fred Smith, or whatever, but nothing like Charles Lindbergh. This was 6 years after Lindbergh died and the guy was young enough to be Lindbergh's grandson, maybe, but definitely not a man nearly 80.

That guy believed something that wasn't true. He should have KNOWN it was not true because he should have known who we was and that he didn't actually fly the Spirit of St. Louis over the Atlantic Ocean. But he believed it. And he was locked up in an asylum because he was insane.

When you KNOW something but believe something else, contradictory to what you know, then you're insane. If you're not insane, you really cannot just do it - you can't make yourself believe that which you know to be untrue. Impossible for a sane mind.

Of course, none of this has to do with magic or other forms of mind control which might FORCE a sane person to believe something they should not. But that's outside influences, very different from just making a conscious decision to believe it.

Because the spell actually is real (or at least has a tangible/real effect) if you believe it is real. You KNOW it will have the desired effect if you BELIEVE it will have the desired effect. Id say never underestimate the power of the human mind to delude itself, but this isn't even a delusion, it's a matter of course.

In the case of that patient, the analog to a Pathfinder illusion spell would be, the guy believes he is Charles Lindbergh and therefore actually BECOMES Charles Lindbergh. Because magic.


vorpaljesus wrote:
Because the spell actually is real (or at least has a tangible/real effect) if you believe it is real. You KNOW it will have the desired effect if you BELIEVE it will have the desired effect. Id say never underestimate the power of the human mind to delude itself, but this isn't even a delusion, it's a matter of course.

No. For the non-Shadow Magic illusions, only the fact that there is an illusion there is real. That fact being real doesn't make the illusory image or sound real at all, and as the caster of the spell, you are automatically more sure of that fact than anyone else who observes the spell's effect - at least until they successfully disbelieve, at which time they are exactly as sure as you are.

(yes, as a few of us have mentioned, the Shadow Magic wall is at least partially real and therefore might work for the OP's purpose)


1 person marked this as a favorite.
vorpaljesus wrote:
In the case of that patient, the analog to a Pathfinder illusion spell would be, the guy believes he is Charles Lindbergh and therefore actually BECOMES Charles Lindbergh. Because magic.

Nope, that guy was not Lindbergh and did not become him.

I have to say that this is probably the worst misuse of the "because magic" argument I've ever seen. Stuff doesn't work like that, even in Pathfinder rules.

GM: The assassin sneaks in your window and finds you asleep in your bed. Luckily for you, you made an amazing Perception check and woke up just before his Coup de Grace so you lived.
Fighter: I fight the assassin.
GM: You're naked with no weapon because you were just asleep.
Fighter: Nope, I have a sword in my hand and full plate on my body.
GM: No, you don't sleep like that.
Fighter: I didn't say I slept like that, but I have them now.
GM: You were literally asleep without them just a second ago.
Fighter: Yep, but I have them now.
GM: How?
Fighter: I believe that I do so it becomes true.
GM: Uhhhh, I've never heard of such a rule.
Fighter: Because magic.
GM: Come again?
Fighter: It's true because I believe it's true, because magic.
GM: That's ridiculous.
Fighter: No way, not ridiculous at all. If I've learned anything on the Paizo forums it's that "because magic" wins every argument. Ever.
GM: But...
Fighter: I win. Because magic.
GM: Whatever. Roll initiative.
Fighter: Oh, yeah, it's +5 adamantium full plate of Greater Fortification and a +5 Vorpal Assassin-bane greatsword.
GM: Uhhhhh...
Fighter: Because magic.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
vorpaljesus wrote:


Because the spell actually is real (or at least has a tangible/real effect) if you believe it is real. You KNOW it will have the desired effect if you BELIEVE it will have the desired effect. Id say...

except for shadow magic, no. You cant climb illusionary stairs and an illusionary wall will not stop you from passing through. An illusionary dragon cannot eat you. No matter how hard you fail the will save the illusions still cant actually affect you. Theyre effective because the fact that theyre there might cause you to act differently; for example few people try to walk through walls, or you might fall into a pit hidden by an illusionary floor, or run away from an illusionary dragon before it can try and attack you.


DM_Blake wrote:
vorpaljesus wrote:
In the case of that patient, the analog to a Pathfinder illusion spell would be, the guy believes he is Charles Lindbergh and therefore actually BECOMES Charles Lindbergh. Because magic.
Nope, that guy was not Lindbergh and did not become him.

Shadow conjuration does work like that. Except that becoming Charles Lindbergh would be transmutation and/or necromancy and there isn't a shadow variant of either.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Charon's Little Helper wrote:
DM_Blake wrote:
Sane people don't believe in "make-believe". They don't truly believe in the Tooth Fairy or any other obviously made-up stuff.
The tooth-fairy IS real! She brought me a quarter. *nods convincingly*

You have to start by believing in the small lies.


To be clear, i acknowledged that shadow conjuration/evocation are bad examples and we should be talking about pure illusion spells. DM_Blake may be referring to pure illusion spells since hes been in the thread from almost the beginning


I would allow it....if the character had retrograde amnesia and never knew what was going on all the time....

OK I am running there is another guy running, am I chasing him or is he chasing me?

Casts spell.....

A wall where did that come from? Did I do that, or did the other guy?
Is it real or an illusion????

At the start of each round he isn't sure which side he's on...
OK bunch of people fighting? My shirt is the same color as these guys, they must be my friends.....


As a GM I would rule that an illusion spell will always be disbelieved by the caster, unless for some reason they don't know they cast the spell. Which could be caused by various means, but not by the caster choosing to do so.


Imbicatus wrote:
Well, if you automatically disbelieve your own illusions, the reflection clause in Phantasmal Killer is pretty worthless.

The Phantasmal Killer situation only occurs with the aid of a powerful psychic device, a Helm of Telepathy which is manipulating the caster's mind with psychic magic, a very specific exception.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Let's try a new tactic. Let's say someone is a Sorcerer who is of average intelligence and has no ranks in Arcana or Spellcraft. Does he or she know she's casting illusions and people aren't just strong enough to go "No, that won't work on me" from time to time?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Azten wrote:
Let's try a new tactic. Let's say someone is a Sorcerer who is of average intelligence and has no ranks in Arcana or Spellcraft. Does he or she know she's casting illusions and people aren't just strong enough to go "No, that won't work on me" from time to time?

That would be really fun, little timmy the sorc learned all these AMAZING spells from his master, whom he believes to be the most powerful sorcerer on the planet. Only as hes facing down his first troll does he find out that every one of his spectacular spells is an illusion, and thats how timmy lost his legs.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Round 1, Cast false alibi. The trigger being, "whenever I see a shadowy wall appear, the memory of me casting it is replaced with an enemy casting it instead.

Round 2 Create Illusioniary shadow wall.

Survive being turned to stone by medusa.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Ridiculon wrote:
Azten wrote:
Let's try a new tactic. Let's say someone is a Sorcerer who is of average intelligence and has no ranks in Arcana or Spellcraft. Does he or she know she's casting illusions and people aren't just strong enough to go "No, that won't work on me" from time to time?
That would be really fun, little timmy the sorc learned all these AMAZING spells from his master, whom he believes to be the most powerful sorcerer on the planet. Only as hes facing down his first troll does he find out that every one of his spectacular spells is an illusion, and thats how timmy lost his legs.

Except he wouldn't know they're illusions, just that this particular troll was able to ignore his spells somehow. :)


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Well, my illusionist continued to believe the illusion that he was effective, long after that had been proved untenable.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Azten wrote:
Ridiculon wrote:
Azten wrote:
Let's try a new tactic. Let's say someone is a Sorcerer who is of average intelligence and has no ranks in Arcana or Spellcraft. Does he or she know she's casting illusions and people aren't just strong enough to go "No, that won't work on me" from time to time?
That would be really fun, little timmy the sorc learned all these AMAZING spells from his master, whom he believes to be the most powerful sorcerer on the planet. Only as hes facing down his first troll does he find out that every one of his spectacular spells is an illusion, and thats how timmy lost his legs.
Except he wouldn't know they're illusions, just that this particular troll was able to ignore his spells somehow. :)

Oh no! This troll somehow has spell resistance! Run away!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Actually, I think a case could be made for being able to fail your own disbelieve check.

Why?

Because you know that there is an actual, valuable effect that the spell can provide. You know that the effect can be completely real, and the belief that you can benefit from it could arguably be enough to justify a "I expect to get this effect, so thats no different from someone else expecting the wall to be real."


1 person marked this as a favorite.

"I wonder how everyone has spell Reisitance but me...."


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Azten wrote:
"I wonder how everyone has spell Reisitance but me...."

"Goblins, spell resistance. Kobolds, spell resistance. That stray dog that growled at me in the alley, freaking spell resistance. Maybe I chose the wrong career."


1 person marked this as a favorite.

lol, poor timmy


1 person marked this as a favorite.
OldSkoolRPG wrote:
Azten wrote:
"I wonder how everyone has spell Reisitance but me...."
"Goblins, spell resistance. Kobolds, spell resistance. That stray dog that growled at me in the alley, freaking spell resistance. Maybe I chose the wrong career."

Or the wrong GM - I've actually had that happen.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Snowlilly wrote:
OldSkoolRPG wrote:
Azten wrote:
"I wonder how everyone has spell Reisitance but me...."
"Goblins, spell resistance. Kobolds, spell resistance. That stray dog that growled at me in the alley, freaking spell resistance. Maybe I chose the wrong career."
Or the wrong GM - I've actually had that happen.

Timmy's last words were "<sigh> The GM hates me."


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Edymnion wrote:
Actually, I think a case could be made for being able to fail your own disbelieve check.

Let's try it. A thought experiment. We'll stick with something simple.

In real life, I want you to believe that you're Santa Claus. Really, truly, deeply, believe it.

There are tangible benefits:
You only have to work one day each year.
The other 364 days you have an army of elves to do everything for you
You send the boy elves to your toy factory and hang out with thousands of lonely elf chicks all day long
You're magic!
Everybody loves you.

Plenty of benefits.

So go for it. I challenge you to fail your own disbelief check and truly believe that you're Santa Claus.

I know you can't.

I submit that I could (theoretically) hold a gun to your head, take your friends and family and dog hostage, threaten torture, or whatever other means of coercion I can think of, and try to force you to believe, and it still wouldn't work - you might say you do to get me to go away, but you would never believe that you're Santa Claus.

Ever.

And an illusionist would never be able to choose to disbelieve spell effects that he created and knows they are illusions. Ever.

Aside from weird corner cases like using the wand with UMD (the "caster" has no idea that it's an illusion, at least at first) or the insane guy who has been an illusionist all long but doesn't know it and somehow thinks everything else in the world is ridiculously resistant AND he's never interacted with his own illusions (arguably this guy is far enough out of touch with reality that I could make a case that he's delusional). But both of these cases are just trying to get a weird situation where a person creates an illusion without knowing what he's actually doing. For everybody else who knows he's casting illusions, there is no option to believe they are real. Except insanity.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

To add another wrinkle, is it possible to Bluff check yourself? Or do you get like +50 on your sense motive against yourself? Do you have to be a monk who truly "knows themselves" in order to get a sense motive against your own bluff check(again, if its possible to bluff check yourself)?

Sovereign Court

DM_Blake wrote:


In real life, I want you to believe that you're Santa Claus. Really, truly, deeply, believe it.

How did you know!?

If you keep it to yourself, I'll get you a fire-truck!

1 to 50 of 119 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | next > last >>
Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / Rules Questions / Can an Illusionist choose to fail to disbelieve his OWN illusions? All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.