At what point does an illusion become "solid"?


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Another GM and I were having a quick discussion on a BBEG running away and putting up an illusion of a wall behind him. The short version was:
Him: You can always walk through an illusion of a wall, no save required.
Me: No; if you fail your Will save you believe the wall to be solid, and you can't just walk through it. (Yeah, I've been playing a LOOOOOOONG time, and this may be 1st edition creeping in on me.)

I did some delving in the PRD and found:

  • Level 0: Silent Image. Specifically says it creates a visual illusion with no texture, so I'd say it's a pass-through illusion.
  • Level 2: Minor Image. Add sounds. So still pass-through.
  • Level 3: Major Image: Adds sound, smell, and "thermal illusions". It can be "struck by an opponent". Suddenly it's sounding like a tangible object. How can you be hit and "react appropriately" if the sword can't actually hit you?
  • Level 4 doesn't have a corresponding spell.
  • Level 5: Mirage Arcana specifically uses the word "tactile". If I create a Mirage Arcana of a wall, how can it have "tactile" components if you can just walk through it?
  • So my off-the-cuff ruling is that you cannot walk through a Mirage Arcana of a wall, but you can walk through the others. Which makes in-combat illusions even more useless than they were before ("He summoned an xxx? I fly straight through it to prove it's an illusion!"), but I can roll with it.

    I'm interested in just how wrong I am.


    Pathfinder Card Game, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

    Never, that's why it's an Illusion and not, say, Conjuration.

    Silent Image, Minor Image, and Major Image are all Figments. Mirage Arcana is a Glamer. The PRD tells us "Because figments and glamers are unreal, they cannot produce real effects the way that other types of illusions can. Figments and glamers cannot cause damage to objects or creatures, support weight, provide nutrition, or provide protection from the elements. Consequently, these spells are useful for confounding foes, but useless for attacking them directly."

    They work by tricking your sense of sight or touch to make you think that you are actually sensing those things. If you know it is an illusion (you made your save, for example), then those tricks no longer work on you and then, yes, you could just pass through the wall. If the illusion contained a tactile component (e.g. Mirage Arcana), then simply touching the wall would not cause automatic disbelief (the PRD tells us "A character faced with proof that an illusion isn't real needs no saving throw. If any viewer successfully disbelieves an illusion and communicates this fact to others, each such viewer gains a saving throw with a +4 bonus.").

    Swinging a sword at a Major Image wall and it not reacting to that blow (e.g. the sword passes through and the wall doesn't change at all) is proof that the wall isn't real and thus doesn't require a saving throw. I presume that was listed as an example of such a thing in the spell description.


    skizzerz wrote:

    Never, that's why it's an Illusion and not, say, Conjuration.

    Silent Image, Minor Image, and Major Image are all Figments. Mirage Arcana is a Glamer. The PRD tells us "Because figments and glamers are unreal, they cannot produce real effects the way that other types of illusions can. Figments and glamers cannot cause damage to objects or creatures, support weight, provide nutrition, or provide protection from the elements. Consequently, these spells are useful for confounding foes, but useless for attacking them directly."

    They work by tricking your sense of sight or touch to make you think that you are actually sensing those things. If you know it is an illusion (you made your save, for example), then those tricks no longer work on you and then, yes, you could just pass through the wall. If the illusion contained a tactile component (e.g. Mirage Arcana), then simply touching the wall would not cause automatic disbelief (the PRD tells us "A character faced with proof that an illusion isn't real needs no saving throw. If any viewer successfully disbelieves an illusion and communicates this fact to others, each such viewer gains a saving throw with a +4 bonus.").

    Swinging a sword at a Major Image wall and it not reacting to that blow (e.g. the sword passes through and the wall doesn't change at all) is proof that the wall isn't real and thus doesn't require a saving throw. I presume that was listed as an example of such a thing in the spell description.

    Excellent example, but it doesn't work well for players who simply say, "He's an illusionist, so we're just going to automatically disbelieve everything he casts."

    So they make no save, simply declare, "I walk through the wall because my character knows it's an illusion," and POOF! An entire school of magic is rendered fairly pointless.

    I did very much like this discussion of the whole thing, and I tend to agree with RavingDork; if they walk into a Mirage Arcana, then because it has tactile components and is a glamer, they think they ran into it, but they didn't, hence it didn't have to support weight, hence it stays up (unless, of course, they make the save they get automatically for walking into it in the first place).


    skizzerz wrote:
    Swinging a sword at a Major Image wall and it not reacting to that blow (e.g. the sword passes through and the wall doesn't change at all) is proof that the wall isn't real and thus doesn't require a saving throw. I presume that was listed as an example of such a thing in the spell description.

    This was an odd concrete example from the spell description on Major Image:

    PRD wrote:
    The image disappears when struck by an opponent unless you cause the illusion to react appropriately.

    If illusions are intangible, then it is physically impossible for the illusion to "react appropriately" when struck, so the sentence doesn't make sense to me. You know darned well whether or not you struck something. Feeling your sword go, "Whiff!" and pass through a goblin doesn't become more real if the goblin falls in half.


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    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

    Sigh...


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    Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

    This makes me wonder a related question.

    Big Bad runs away, party pursues. Big Bad casts a spell that makes a stone wall suddenly appear in between him and the party, party knows he's an illusionist and decides to run straight through.

    What are the ramifications of running at top speed into a stone wall that you thought was an illusion?


    right. if it has a tactile component, then the subject will react as though they touched something similarly to how you might wake up jerking your head back because you walked into something in a dream. the difference being that the illusion is still there, so for everyone watching, it looks like a real wall that you really just ran into except that you didn't sustain any actual injury even if you think your head hurts.

    though this makes me wonder if you save when you poke it with your sword or when your actually body reaches the wall? the sword going through could have other implications so it wouldn't necessarily lead to automatic disbelief.


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    You clearly never swung a sword at me! Ayup, I've been jacking up my dexterity, even got a head band, just for this sort of thing! So go ahead! Take your best shot! I'll show you how real a wall I totally a...


    Saethori wrote:

    This makes me wonder a related question.

    Big Bad runs away, party pursues. Big Bad casts a spell that makes a stone wall suddenly appear in between him and the party, party knows he's an illusionist and decides to run straight through.

    What are the ramifications of running at top speed into a stone wall that you thought was an illusion?

    According to the majority of posts I've read, absolutely nothing. You pass through, you're fine, you automatically get the save, and the illusion was wasted.

    Combining this with an unlimited supply of Detect Magics is why I don't care for this interpretation. The party knows they're after an illusionist so they hit all the walls with Detect Magic, and when the illusionist flees they can just run through the illusions he puts up to protect himself. He's helpless before their cynicism.

    Kind of kills the whole school of magic to me, which is why I have a personal preference for RavingDork's opinions. Doesn't make me right. Just what I prefer.


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    Pathfinder Card Game, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
    NobodysHome wrote:
    Excellent example, but it doesn't work well for players who simply say, "He's an illusionist, so we're just going to automatically disbelieve everything he casts."

    That's for you as a GM to enforce that their characters don't know all the things the players do. Maybe next time they fly through a wall to "prove" it's an illusion, make it a real wall instead because the caster has the "Conjure Awesome-Looking Wall" spell, they then collide into it and fall and take falling damage. Repeat until they stop doing the things you don't want them to do (or, you know, just talk to them out of game about it and ask them nicely not to do that).

    Major image lets you fabricate sounds as well as the appearance; pick the wall to be of some material that doesn't offer a lot of tactile resistance should one cut through it so the lack of tactile feedback isn't very noticeable, and add an associated sound to make it seem more realistic. The player gets the saving throw to disbelieve due to interacting with the illusion -- if they pass then they notice something is up due to lack of tactile feedback, and if they fail then they don't notice that it behaved "wrongly" (lack of tactile feedback didn't register as a warning flag in their mind).

    I briefly skimmed the linked thread, and if you like the arguments presented there then go with them. I'm just stating what I believe the actual rules on the matter to be, and offering suggestions that fit within that rules framework to allow for illusions to be "mostly but not quite" real.


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    Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
    NobodysHome wrote:
    Saethori wrote:

    This makes me wonder a related question.

    Big Bad runs away, party pursues. Big Bad casts a spell that makes a stone wall suddenly appear in between him and the party, party knows he's an illusionist and decides to run straight through.

    What are the ramifications of running at top speed into a stone wall that you thought was an illusion?

    According to the majority of posts I've read, absolutely nothing. You pass through, you're fine, you automatically get the save, and the illusion was wasted.

    So, the party can run through an actual, physical stone wall, with no harm done, simply by "believing" it to be an illusion?

    That seems somewhat shaky to me. Not only does it mean illusions are useless, but reality is as well, when a party can simply disbelieve a wall lying in between them and their goal.


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    I believe what we have here, is a misunderstanding.


    As a side question: what are the ramifications of characters declaring summoned creatures illusionary and disbelieving them.

    Opps: the illusionist summoned real creatures that time.

    Are the characters flat footed? After all, they won't be dodging creatures they stated they are treating as illusions.

    How much damage do you propose for characters that run into a stone wall believing it to be illusionary? 1d6 for every 10' they intended to move that turn?


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    The shadow line of spells help cover this a bit, but it illusions are better if you get a little more creative with them. Illusory hostages, covers for explosive runes, creatures that are incorporeal (and thus are easy to make react appropriately), decoy MacGuffins, and things that never pretend to be something other than illusions.

    Grand Lodge

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    Saethori wrote:

    This makes me wonder a related question.

    Big Bad runs away, party pursues. Big Bad casts a spell that makes a stone wall suddenly appear in between him and the party, party knows he's an illusionist and decides to run straight through.

    What are the ramifications of running at top speed into a stone wall that you thought was an illusion?

    To avoid confusion, refer to the ramifications of running into a prismatic wall at top speed, those are known, 7 saves :)


    Snowlilly wrote:

    As a side question: what are the ramifications of characters declaring summoned creatures illusionary and disbelieving them.

    Opps: the illusionist summoned real creatures that time.

    Are the characters flat footed? After all, they won't be dodging creatures they stated they are treating as illusions.

    How much damage do you propose for characters that run into a stone wall believing it to be illusionary? 1d6 for every 10' they intended to move that turn?

    As written, there are generally no rules ramifications for trying to treat real things as illusionary beyond the obvious mechanical ones.

    Using your examples, a character moving past a summoned creature would probably provoke an AoO. A character running into a stone wall probably wasted some of their move by acting on incorrect information.

    Its somewhat reasonable to make up some appropriate ramifications on the fly, but its reasonable in the same way its reasonable to ignore real summons in order to deny a rogue flanking. In other words, its a nice idea at face value, but there is a serious risk of running into nasty unintended consequences as well as horrific balance and consistency issues.

    Using your examples, making a character flat footed against a summon doesn't seem too bad (someone else may pull out an example that would prove me wrong, though). However, the 1d6 per 10 feet for walking into a wall is unforgivably terrible. You have made it so that a normal human being who is briskly walking into a wall will probably kill themselves instantly. Running into a wall will usually be far more damaging than a 5 story fall. That's not even getting into equally reasonable ideas which logically fall out of this ruling, like casting invisibility on a door and letting mooks splatter themselves against it, or readying to conjure a wall in the air and letting fast flyers deal lots of d6s to themselves (potentially killing even an ancient red dragon with a slightly above average roll while they are taking the run action). Not to mention that a character who suspects (but isn't absolutely certain) that a wall is illusionary will probably move through it in such a way that they won't be significantly injured, and even 1 point of damage is quite a serious wound for a normal person. Even putting your hands in front of you as you sprint into the wall will let you bring yourself to a stop without much pain (not compared to something like stepping on a caltrop, which deals a measly 1 point of damage).

    In fact, this ruling pretty much exemplifies why a GM should be really leery about making up penalties when they feel bristled by questionable results that fall out of an abstraction. The ruling seems okish for a PC at first glance, but turned against many NPCs its insane. Its totally out of line for anything except a worst case scenario where a PC rams into the wall with total abandon like a charging ram, and the reasoning behind the ruling supports a swath of game breaking tactics better than the actual ruling you are using the reasoning to support (at least a character can momentarily brace themselves somewhat when running through the not-illusionary wall with no significant hinderance; characters slamming into a suddenly conjured or invisible obstacle have no such luck). Most of the problems stem from trying to apply reason to an abstracted situation while making questionable assumptions and not having a firm grip of the qualitative meaning of the numerical abstractions.

    Sovereign Court

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    This sort of thing is why I stopped playing my gnome sorcerer who had almost all illusion spells. Sometimes putting illusionary walls around zombies was awesome and let my group take them down piecemeal (they did get a will save each turn - but at level 3 my DC was 19 for Silent Image), and sometimes GMs would grind their teeth at the very idea and have almost nothing work.

    Expect table variation.


    Snowblind wrote:
    Snowlilly wrote:

    As a side question: what are the ramifications of characters declaring summoned creatures illusionary and disbelieving them.

    Opps: the illusionist summoned real creatures that time.

    Are the characters flat footed? After all, they won't be dodging creatures they stated they are treating as illusions.

    How much damage do you propose for characters that run into a stone wall believing it to be illusionary? 1d6 for every 10' they intended to move that turn?

    As written, there are generally no rules ramifications for trying to treat real things as illusionary beyond the obvious mechanical ones.

    Using your examples, a character moving past a summoned creature would probably provoke an AoO. A character running into a stone wall probably wasted some of their move by acting on incorrect information.

    Its somewhat reasonable to make up some appropriate ramifications on the fly, but its reasonable in the same way its reasonable to ignore real summons in order to deny a rogue flanking. In other words, its a nice idea at face value, but there is a serious risk of running into nasty unintended consequences as well as horrific balance and consistency issues.

    Using your examples, making a character flat footed against a summon doesn't seem too bad (someone else may pull out an example that would prove me wrong, though). However, the 1d6 per 10 feet for walking into a wall is unforgivably terrible. You have made it so that a normal human being who is briskly walking into a wall will probably kill themselves instantly. Running into a wall will usually be far more damaging than a 5 story fall. That's not even getting into equally reasonable ideas which logically fall out of this ruling, like casting invisibility on a door and letting mooks splatter themselves against it, or readying to conjure a wall in the air and letting fast flyers deal lots of d6s to themselves (potentially killing even an ancient red dragon with a slightly above average roll while they...

    I am tossing out discussion ideas. Nothing more at this point.

    What can be done to prevent an entire school of magic from becoming trivialized by players choosing to have their characters simply ignore illusions regardless of saving throw results? Is there, or should there be, a negative ramification for mistaking real objects or opponents for illusions? Can I treat everything as illusionary and still defend against that which is real without penalty?


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    Illusions don't "work". Illusions are the whims of the table. Fireball "works" you know the end effect of the spell, silent image creates an image. Unless you're already discussed this you have no idea what'll happen after you've made an image.

    fortunately we've been giving a bit more about how they work in ultimate intrigue, but still not enough to be confident in having an illusion work.


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    Snowlilly wrote:

    What can be done to prevent an entire school of magic from becoming trivialized by players choosing to have their characters simply ignore illusions regardless of saving throw results? Is there, or should there be, a negative ramification for mistaking real objects or opponents for illusions? Can I treat everything as illusionary and still defend against that which is real without penalty?

    Well for one thing making them actually follow the rules is one thing because just because they know its an illusion doesn't mean RAW that they aren't going to be feeling its effects head on.


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    Snowlilly wrote:
    What can be done to prevent an entire school of magic from becoming trivialized by players choosing to have their characters simply ignore illusions regardless of saving throw results? Is there, or should there be, a negative ramification for mistaking real objects or opponents for illusions? Can I treat everything as illusionary and still defend against that which is real without penalty?

    As far as I'm aware per the rules yes, there's no penalty for thinking everything is an illusion. Your AC isn't lowered against targets you think are fake. At most it might take 5ft of movement to see if the wall is real.


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    This isn't the first call for more clarification on illusions.

    I've done it before myself. I could drudge up those threads if you're interested.

    However, as to the point of do illusions become solid? No, never.

    Tactile means you can feel it, but if the fighter attacks it with his sword the sword goes through because the wall isn't real and swords can't believe illusions in the first place.

    It's very questionable about how illusion spells should work, what happens when someone watches you cast and identifies the spell you cast as an illusion spell? They know you just cast an illusion, do they automatically disbelieve?

    There are a lot of unanswered questions about illusions so there is a huge amount of table variation.

    But I can tell you, illusions are in no way real (unless shadow illusions) and so they shouldn't be able to stop you walking through them.

    Illusions are a very difficult school of magic, and it's probably best to avoid them for the most part unless you can work out with your GM exactly how they're going to run them.


    You're misunderstanding what a glamer is, as is RavingDork in the other thread.

    "A glamer spell changes a subject's sensory qualities, making it look, feel, taste, smell, or sound like something else, or even seem to disappear."

    In this context "subject" refers to the target of the spell, i.e. the person that is invisible, or ,in the case of Mirage Arcana, the area affected, not the person(s) observing the glamer.

    Mirage Arcana can make a rock look, feel, taste, and smell like a bush, but a viewer would be unable to reach inside the "bush" because it's still a rock, there's nowhere to reach into. Conversely, it could make a bush look like a rock, but the "rock" would still yield to force as a bush would.

    Mirage Arcana can make the appearance of structures where there are none, but being illusions the structures would still be wholly immaterial.


    Though with Mirage Arcana you could make something like a tree and hide inside of it. If they didn't see you cast the spell they might not know the tree was an illusion and run by it. The also wouldn't have line of sight to you, which is useful.


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    if you believe an illusion, you act as though it's real. you would not reach into a bush that looks like a rock because your brain is telling you it's a rock, it feels like a rock (if using a spell with a tactile effect), and your brain stops your hand at the surface of the rock unless forced externally.


    Claxon wrote:
    Though with Mirage Arcana you could make something like a tree and hide inside of it. If they didn't see you cast the spell they might not know the tree was an illusion and run by it. The also wouldn't have line of sight to you, which is useful.

    Yeah, but you could also do that with Silent Image. As long as they don't investigate a tree they don't even get a save, but an immaterial tree won't hold up to even casual physical examination (as soon as they touch it they'll realize it has no substance) no matter how high the save.

    But...

    Mirage Arcana cast on a small tent with an arrow slit would look, feel, taste, etc. like a tree, and would have at least some substance. A tent with wooden walls would make a most convincing tree.


    cuatroespada wrote:
    if you believe an illusion, you act as though it's real. you would not reach into a bush that looks like a rock because your brain is telling you it's a rock, it feels like a rock (if using a spell with a tactile effect), and your brain stops your hand at the surface of the rock unless forced externally.

    The problem with that is though, what if you have reasons to question whether it is real?

    So you say "I'm going to try to break this rock with my weapon" to determine if it's real, what happens?

    This is the problem with Illusions, if you interpret them one way they become near worthless and if you interpret it the other way it can become too powerful (not allowed to try to break the rock, thats silly).


    cuatroespada wrote:
    if you believe an illusion, you act as though it's real. you would not reach into a bush that looks like a rock because your brain is telling you it's a rock, it feels like a rock (if using a spell with a tactile effect), and your brain stops your hand at the surface of the rock unless forced externally.

    But if you sit on the rock, you'd be in for a surprise!

    Really though, there's nothing stopping a character from pushing against a real rock (or real wall) so there would be nothing to stop a character from pushing against an illusion.


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    Somebody who only does figments and glamers and becomes known for it is likely to have problems. Somebody who mixes illusions with other spells or with mundane tricks is much more effective. Illusionists need to be crafty to avoid problems. A smart illusionist will make sure that if you treat it as an illusion without disbelieving it, then you have problems as well.

    If I made an illusionary wall, I'd also include something else. I would rule that until you disbelieve the illusion, then you don't get a perception check against the trap. A tripwire that the owner knows about and can jump over. A pit on one side. Grease or Glue Seal. A symbol or glyph. Even having the floor be a step down or a step up can be a problem to people moving fast. A tripwire that releases caltrops to slow the next person to go past.

    What about an illusion covering a half-wall? I'll bet this is a favorite of gnomes. Anybody under 4' can run right through it. Anybody taller than that gets spikes to the face.

    An illusionary wall that leads to a corridor. What they don't realize is that the illusionist immediately turned right through another illusionary wall to avoid the traps and another illusion is running forward.

    An illusionary niche hiding archers. Since they know it's an illusion, they just shoot through it. But it provides total concealment against return fire for everybody who hasn't made the save.

    An illusionary floor. The illusionist knows which parts are real. People need to either follow the illusionist exactly or test the floor. And don't forget that the gnomes will use floors that fall at 80 lbs. or more.

    While illusory attacks don't harm anybody, they do use up defenses that need to be called before the effect is determined. This may be subject to table variation, but there's a strong argument that things like deflect arrows, windy escape etc. might be expended by illusions. You don't interact with it until it hits or you use the power. If it hits, then it's too late for the defense.

    Most of these take some preparation. This makes them more usable by bad guys than PC's. On the other hand, most PC illusionists are always facing new opponents, so people don't know that they are illusionists


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    Claxon wrote:
    cuatroespada wrote:
    if you believe an illusion, you act as though it's real. you would not reach into a bush that looks like a rock because your brain is telling you it's a rock, it feels like a rock (if using a spell with a tactile effect), and your brain stops your hand at the surface of the rock unless forced externally.

    The problem with that is though, what if you have reasons to question whether it is real?

    So you say "I'm going to try to break this rock with my weapon" to determine if it's real, what happens?

    This is the problem with Illusions, if you interpret them one way they become near worthless and if you interpret it the other way it can become too powerful (not allowed to try to break the rock, thats silly).

    if you're not just trying to break the rock as a meta gamey way to get around your failure to notice it's an illusion, and you try to break it with something that isn't your body, that thing goes through the rock. if you try with your body, you get another save and if you fail, you are convinced you can't. at this point i think its arguable whether or not your body goes through the rock or (as i describe below) your brain, still convinced the rock is real, convinces you that you hurt yourself and/or stops your body before going through it.

    Quantum Steve wrote:

    But if you sit on the rock, you'd be in for a surprise!

    Really though, there's nothing stopping a character from pushing against a real rock (or real wall) so there would be nothing to stop a character from pushing against an illusion.

    correct. nothing stops you from pushing against the rock. your brain stops you from pushing through it. you'd be miming but you think it's a real rock.

    alternatively, if you think your body goes through the illusion, that's fine, but it doesn't change that you failed your save and are convinced that didn't happen. onlookers, however, aren't and are free to try and convince you otherwise.


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    My view is

    Quote:
    Me: No; if you fail your Will save you believe the wall to be solid, and you can't just walk through it.

    If your carefully read through the rules on illusion magic you will note several things on how to handle them. The most important to me is that for the vast majority of illusions the properties they create are by default believed by the victims to really/actually exist without a saving throw.

    The targets of illusions almost always have to, in some fashion, interact with the illusion to even try to think it is not real and get a save. Such as by taking actions to try to touch the Silent Image of a wall to see if it is not there.

    In this example you then get a saving throw, because the wall is NOT there, but if you fail you think the wall exists. Your mind has bought the illusion and your actions are now limited. That is the entire point of a save and the illusion school in general and IMO it is good roleplaying and gamesmanship to run with that if you fail your save.

    That is not to say that if another in your party makes their save against that wall and knows it is false they cannot then tell you for a reroll at the listed +4. They certainly can and the rules cover it.

    And should they actually just do the 'impossible' (after making their save) and actually walk back and forth through the wall where you can see it will prove to you that it is not there and break the illusion for you no save, again as listed in the rules.

    IMO the various more powerful illusion spells, since they add more and more options to what they make you perceive, means they have fewer and fewer options or 'triggers' if you will to GET a saving throw based on what your trying to do to interact with that illusion.

    To revisit the first example but with Mirage Arcana: Someone lays down a wall with Mirage Arcana. If you go up and look carefully at that wall it looks like a wall. No save there. If you smell it, it smells like a wall. No save there either. If you punch or touch it, it feel solid or your fist hurts and is an appropriate temperature for a wall where your at. No save there. Hmmm.

    But then an arrow fired by an enemy flies through the wall and into your chest. That can't be. That is impossible. The wall fades from view as you know no real wall could have that happen. You have been give actual proof that the wall is not there.

    Along with the greater range of sensory output that the higher level spells make is the increased potency of the magic as represented by the save DC increase in the higher level spells so that should you find a way to get a save trigger the magic still can fool your mind.

    The real hard part comes in adjudication shadow magics that are 'partially real'. IMO they should be far more difficult to even attempt to disbelieve since they have so many effects going like sight, sound, smell, tactile, actual degrees of solidity, it should be very hard to get a reason to even attempt a save to disbelieve.

    Illusions are rough because they require a lot more RP to adjudicate than almost any other spell. Fireballs are roll saves, take damage. Illusions require actions to be done to even try to roll a save. That is what can make them powerful though as well when properly used.

    Snowlilly wrote:

    As a side question: what are the ramifications of characters declaring summoned creatures illusionary and disbelieving them.

    1) Are the characters flat footed? After all, they won't be dodging creatures they stated they are treating as illusions.

    2) How much damage do you propose for characters that run into a stone wall believing it to be illusionary? 1d6 for every 10' they intended to move that turn?

    If I understand you correctly the players have declared that it is their characters belief that the creatures just summoned are illusionary and as such they will not be defending themselves against them but in fact the creatures are real?

    In that case as a DM I would:

    1) Let the creatures first round of attacks be at flat footed AC minus shield AC as well (shields do not interpose themselves and the declaration was not defending). I would also do that should they be shadow illusions that could do actual damage to any extent for the same declaration. The party has done no actual INTERACTION with the creatures to even attempt disbelief. This is magic affecting their minds. If merely saying 'it does not affect me or I do not believe those are real' was automatically successful then there would be no magic in the game at all.

    Simply saying we do not believe those are real does not make it so and is not a basis of a saving throw, IMO.

    That nature of illusions is that you believe them until YOU do something that can disprove them.

    2) I would make a general rule of thumb that the characters would take 1D6 damage per 10 feet of current movement rate when moving into a wall. For example if a Paladin in full plate (20 movement) tried to do move through an actual stone wall they would take 2D6 damage and obviously stop at the wall.

    If it was a barbarian with a 40 move I would have them take 4D6 damage. Etc. Perhaps have 1/2 the damage be non lethal and half lethal.

    Note I would treat a failed save against an illusionary wall the same but the damage would be non lethal while believed and would simply disappear totally if the character makes a save versus that wall later or witnesses an action that qualifies to automatically disprove the illusion but that would be a home rule.

    BOTH these answers are not a RAW handling or rule since I don't think there is one that specifically covers this. Such is the nature of illusions.

    Perhaps things would be easier with a new 'Illusory Damage' type. Treat it as nonlethal for all actual purposes but the character/their body thinks it is lethal damage until managing to make a save versus the source or being given incontrovertible proof against. Then all the damage from that source vanishes.


    "cuatroespada wrote:

    Quantum Steve wrote:

    But if you sit on the rock, you'd be in for a surprise!

    Really though, there's nothing stopping a character from pushing against a real rock (or real wall) so there would be nothing to stop a character from pushing against an illusion.

    correct. nothing stops you from pushing against the rock. your brain stops you from pushing through it. you'd be miming but you think it's a real rock.

    alternatively, if you think your body goes through the illusion, that's fine, but it doesn't change that you failed your save and are convinced that didn't happen. onlookers, however, aren't and are free to try and convince you otherwise.

    So, you think you're sitting on a rock, when you can plainly see that you are in fact "in" the rock and are suddenly covered in bleeding scratches?

    No. That's not how illusions work. Glamers cannot affect your mind, they can only affect how an object or area is perceived. If an illusory floor is placed overt a pit, you don't somehow think you're still walking merrily when you're actully plummeting hundreds of feet. If an illusory rock is thrown at your head, you don't get a concussion.

    Gilfalas wrote:


    In this example you then get a saving throw, because the wall is NOT there, but if you fail you think the wall exists. Your mind has bought the illusion and your actions are now limited. That is the entire point of a save and the illusion school in general and IMO it is good roleplaying and gamesmanship to run with that if you fail your save.

    Again. No.

    Illusions either create false perceptions (figments) or change the way an object is perceived (glamers). That's it. There's nothing stopping you from giving a real wall a swift kick while checking for loose stones or secret doors and there's nothing stopping you from giving an illusion a swift kick.

    An illusion does not make a character THINK an object is real, it only makes a character SEE the object. Characters are free, as always, to do or think whatever they please.

    Edit:

    Gilfalas wrote:


    To revisit the first example but with Mirage Arcana: Someone lays down a wall with Mirage Arcana. If you go up and look carefully at that wall it looks like a wall. No save there. If you smell it, it smells like a wall. No save there either. If you punch or touch it, it feel solid or your fist hurts and is an appropriate temperature for a wall where your at. No save there. Hmmm.

    Studying the wall, or looking carefully grants a saving throw.

    PRD wrote:
    Saving Throws and Illusions (Disbelief): Creatures encountering an illusion usually do not receive saving throws to recognize it as illusory until they study it carefully or interact with it in some fashion.

    It doesn't matter what illusory qualities the illusion can create (sound, smell, temp) or if the illusion is partially real, interaction always grants a save to disbelieve (provided the illusion can be disbelieved, of course).


    3 people marked this as a favorite.
    Quantum Steve wrote:
    An illusion does not make a character THINK an object is real, it only makes a character SEE the object. Characters are free,...

    So then what is the saving throw line for in the Silent Image spell, for example? Given your treatment of illusions you state that kicking the wall means you automatically know the illusionary wall is false. The SPELL says there is a saving throw when it is interacted with.

    I put forth that kicking the wall means your interacting with it and that if you fail the saving throw your character believes that is an actual wall and should treat it as such. After all the character failed it's save. The spell has affected them.

    Using your example, the vast majority of illusion spells are worse than useless. They waste the actions of those who cast them. I am rather sure that was not the intent of the games creators.

    Quantum Steve wrote:
    It doesn't matter what illusory qualities the illusion can create (sound, smell, temp) or if the illusion is partially real, interaction always grants a save to disbelieve (provided the illusion can be disbelieved, of course).

    So in your view the level or the illusion or the senses it can create is meaningless and more advanced illusions are no more powerful than their lower level counterparts.

    See spell. Do something. Ignore save. Illusion fail.

    Does the character at least have to use an action of some kind to 'interact' with the illusion in your game? Or are illusions pretty much auto fails as soon as they get cast?

    Sovereign Court

    Note: If Quantum Steve is your GM don't bother casting figment/glamour spells.

    Sovereign Court

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    While not technically authoritative in Pathfinder - here is some 3.5 tidbits going in-depth on how illusions work.

    Part 1

    Part 2

    Part 3

    Part 4

    Parts 3 & 4 are the most relevant to the topic at hand.

    my favorite bit (from part 3) wrote:
    Dealing with the Unbelievable: The rules governing illusions assume that the spellcaster is at least trying to create something believable. When an illusion spell allows a saving throw for disbelief and the caster creates something unbelievably weird, it's best to allow an immediate saving throw. You're the best judge of what's unbelievable in your campaign. In a world where dogs breathe fire (hell hounds), immense dragons fly through the air, and wizards can shoot bolts of lightning from their fingertips, what's unbelievable covers a tiny slice indeed.


    Quantum Steve wrote:

    So, you think you're sitting on a rock, when you can plainly see that you are in fact "in" the rock and are suddenly covered in bleeding scratches?

    No. That's not how illusions work. Glamers cannot affect your mind, they can only affect how an object or area is perceived. If an illusory floor is placed overt a pit, you don't somehow think you're still walking merrily when you're actully plummeting hundreds of feet. If an illusory rock is thrown at your head, you don't get a concussion.

    first, no, that's not what i meant. i was only talking about pushing against it. if you drop your weight onto it, you'll fall through it and automatically disbelieve. second, anything that allows a will save affects your mind. that it isn't classified as [mind-affecting] isn't really relevant unless you think your willpower comes from some source that isn't your mind. and per RAW, an illusory rock doesn't hurt you, but if you fail your save you think it was a real rock and your brain is likely convinced it did hurt. human brains are actually capable of this so i'm really not sure why this is difficult.


    Gilfalas wrote:
    Quantum Steve wrote:
    An illusion does not make a character THINK an object is real, it only makes a character SEE the object. Characters are free,...
    So then what is the saving throw line for in the Silent Image spell, for example? Given your treatment of illusions you state that kicking the wall means you automatically know the illusionary wall is false. The SPELL says there is a saving throw when it is interacted with.
    PRD wrote:

    Saving Throws and Illusions (Disbelief): Creatures encountering an illusion usually do not receive saving throws to recognize it as illusory until they study it carefully or interact with it in some fashion.

    A successful saving throw against an illusion reveals it to be false, but a figment or phantasm remains as a translucent outline.

    A failed saving throw means the spell is not revealed to be false, and it does not become a translucent outline. The illusion still looks (and feels, and smells, etc. if applicable) completely real. Otherwise the character is left to do with that what he will.

    If you kick and illusory wall an fail your save you are left with exactly that: a very real looking wall that your foot just passed through as if nothing were there.

    Quantum Steve wrote:
    It doesn't matter what illusory qualities the illusion can create (sound, smell, temp) or if the illusion is partially real, interaction always grants a save to disbelieve (provided the illusion can be disbelieved, of course).
    So in your view the level or the illusion or the senses it can create is meaningless and more advanced illusions are no more powerful than their lower level counterparts.

    Other than the DC, the spell also affects the believablity of the illusion. A Silent Image of a roaring dragon would likely be suspect, and a character might be brave enough to investigate. A Silent Image of a wall on the other hand is probably indistinguishable from an ordinary wall (at a glance, anyway) and most characters wouldn't give it a second (glance, that is).

    A Major Image of a roaring dragon might be believable enough that a character wouldn't risk taking the time to study it further.

    What constitutes "studying" is left to the GM. In his 3.5 Rules of the Game articles (that's four links there), Skip Williams suggests at least a move action to study, still, the rules are silent and it is ultimately up to the GM.

    Gilfalas wrote:


    Using your example, the vast majority of illusion spells are worse than useless. They waste the actions of those who cast them. I am rather sure that was not the intent of the games creators.

    They're far from worthless, they just require some thought. The best illusions are the ones a creature won't question, it blends right in with everything else, no interaction means no save. Illusory creatures can distract characters long enough for an escape or to set up an advantageous position. Higher level illusions can replicate spells like Wall of Fire (It feels plenty hot so most characters won't think of walking through it, and in the middle of a combat actions are at premium so most characters won't bother to study it, so no save). Fog Cloud block sight, and unless the creature is in the cloud, it probably won't get a save. Pretty much every Battlefield Control spell will work like a charm as long as the targets are excluded from the AOE.

    Illusion spells are only limited by the imagination (and the GM).

    What they can't do is make a character think it's trapped in a stone coffin with no save because it looks, sounds, smells, tastes, and feels real.

    Edit: Apparently I was ninja'd like 4 times because my router decided to go in and out and I had to re-type all this, twice.


    cuatroespada wrote:

    anything that allows a will save affects your mind.

    and per RAW, an illusory rock doesn't hurt you, but if you fail your save you think it was a real rock and your brain is likely convinced it did hurt.

    Where are you getting any of this? What RAW are you interpreting, and how are you interpreting it? Could you please cite?


    Quantum Steve wrote:
    What they can't do is make a character think it's trapped in a stone coffin with no save because it looks, sounds, smells, tastes, and feels real.

    I will agree with 'this example' but I am going to guess it is for different reasons than you.

    The one that immediately comes to mind is sound. While that coffin can look, sound, smell, taste, and feel real it cannot change the environment that the illusion is not directly addressing. As such ambient environmental sounds or even the characters own voice should they talk or yell, will not act correctly inside an illusory stone coffin. Sound from outside the box would not be muffled. There would be no sound bouncing back from the stone walls if the character vocalized in any fashion.

    That would to me be grounds for a save if the player was smart enough to ask about those details. The character would be interacting with the illusion and they would get a save. But if they failed that save they would believe the were in a stone coffin and I would require the player to run their character accordingly.

    Otherwise Illusions spells can be automatically beaten by simply hitting them with a stick.

    If a 5th level spell can bring life to the dead it does not seem too much a stretch that a 5th level illusion cannot be beaten by hitting it with a stick.


    Glamers and figments are not mind-affecting. They fool the senses, and only fool the senses. Your mind is not going to stop you. Phantasms are a different story - in those your mind can stop you from moving through.

    On the other hand, if you haven't interacted with it and have no clue it's not real, it's metagaming to test for things. If you know that there's an illusionist, I'd expect this, but I'd expect a lot of actions wasted testing things all over the place.


    Philo Pharynx wrote:
    If you know that there's an illusionist, I'd expect this, but I'd expect a lot of actions wasted testing things all over the place.

    Seriously why should a character ever know they are up against an illsionist? Wouldn't it be possibly the single most important thing an actual illusionist would do is never let anyone know they actually are one?

    I posit any illusionist that lets others know they actually are one deserves to have all their magic ignored.

    And as a related question:

    PFSRD wrote:

    Major Image functions like silent image, except that sound, smell, and thermal illusions are included in the spell effect. While concentrating, you can move the image within the range.

    The image disappears when struck by an opponent unless you cause the illusion to react appropriately.

    What if you make a major image of a wall of fire or a wall of any non solid/super solid substance that would not normally react at all to being stuck by something?


    One reason I like shadow subschool.. it is more defined for the most part, or at least has better guidelines on how solid things are..
    I swear there was some archetype somewhere that made all illusions shadow. which seems useful


    Gilfalas wrote:
    Quantum Steve wrote:
    What they can't do is make a character think it's trapped in a stone coffin with no save because it looks, sounds, smells, tastes, and feels real.

    I will agree with 'this example' but I am going to guess it is for different reasons than you.

    The one that immediately comes to mind is sound. While that coffin can look, sound, smell, taste, and feel real it cannot change the environment that the illusion is not directly addressing. As such ambient environmental sounds or even the characters own voice should they talk or yell, will not act correctly inside an illusory stone coffin. Sound from outside the box would not be muffled. There would be no sound bouncing back from the stone walls if the character vocalized in any fashion.

    That would to me be grounds for a save if the player was smart enough to ask about those details. The character would be interacting with the illusion and they would get a save. But if they failed that save they would believe the were in a stone coffin and I would require the player to run their character accordingly.

    Otherwise Illusions spells can be automatically beaten by simply hitting them with a stick.

    If a 5th level spell can bring life to the dead it does not seem too much a stretch that a 5th level illusion cannot be beaten by hitting it with a stick.

    A Ghost Sound could create a echo, a 5th-level spell cannot?

    What about a stone coffin that plays Bon Jovi at deafening levels? You can't hear anything over that.

    Also, If Mirage Arcana is used to change the appearance of an actual object, a stick wouldn't help, but it would grant a save.


    Gilfalas wrote:


    And as a related question:

    PFSRD wrote:

    Major Image functions like silent image, except that sound, smell, and thermal illusions are included in the spell effect. While concentrating, you can move the image within the range.

    The image disappears when struck by an opponent unless you cause the illusion to react appropriately.

    What if you make a major image of a wall of fire or a wall of any non solid/super solid substance that would not normally react at all to being stuck by something?

    Then the appropriate reaction would be no reaction at all. They'd get a save (and waste an action) for interacting with the wall, but if they failed, they'd still see the wall.


    Quantum Steve wrote:
    cuatroespada wrote:

    anything that allows a will save affects your mind.

    and per RAW, an illusory rock doesn't hurt you, but if you fail your save you think it was a real rock and your brain is likely convinced it did hurt.

    Where are you getting any of this? What RAW are you interpreting, and how are you interpreting it? Could you please cite?

    it's not disingenuous to parse my posts like that at all...

    anyway, your will comes from what part of you then if not your mind? and is the RAW not clear on the illusory rock not hurting you? or are you just not understanding how compound sentences work?

    Sczarni

    When players decide not to roleplay, I make them take a high DC check for losing their save to begin with. Then add the character's wil mod to their roll, to see if the PC decides to check the illusion. Just because the player knows it is fake doesn't mean it translates to the PC. A player may know how to play a wizard and have favorite spells to cast, but a brand new fighter will have no such knowledge (generic example). If they are well aware of their opponent, then let them run through. Just set a pit trap on the far side of the illusion. If someone makes the save, however, that character can show them the wall is fake. It is always a shame when players do not understand what they know and the PC understands are 2 different things.

    Sovereign Court

    Zwordsman wrote:


    I swear there was some archetype somewhere that made all illusions shadow. which seems useful

    You might be thinking of -

    SRD wrote:

    Shadow Gambit

    You can tap into the Plane of Shadow to momentarily lend reality to one of your illusion (figment) spells.

    Prerequisites: Spell Focus (illusion), caster level 5th.

    Benefit: As a standard action, you can draw upon energies from the Plane of Shadow to cause an ongoing figment spell you cast to damage a foe as if the illusion were real. The illusion must be one you retain ongoing control of, such as minor image, and the target must be both visible to you and within or adjacent to the area of your illusion. Using this feat immediately ends the figment’s duration.

    You must either make a melee touch attack or give the target a saving throw (Fortitude or Reflex) to resist the damage (see below). If you choose a melee touch attack, you use your own melee touch attack bonus, and if you miss, the spell deals no damage. If you choose to allow the target a saving throw, a successful save means it takes half damage. The shadowy attack deals 1d6 points of damage per spell level. If the target disbelieves or sees through the illusion, reduce the damage by half.

    The shadowy attack can deal acid, bludgeoning, cold, electricity, fire, piercing, or slashing damage, but the damage must be appropriate to the illusion. For example, an illusory wall that collapses deals bludgeoning damage with a Fortitude save for half, an illusory swordsman strikes with a melee touch attack deals slashing damage, and an illusory wall of fire deals fire damage with a Reflex save for half.

    It's cool, but not really all that powerful. It gets pretty decent if you are a gnome who picks up Effortless Trickery so that you can keep the Image spell up while doing damage with it, though it's still nothing to write home about.


    to be fair, i totally understand your interpretation, but as the ruleset isn't strictly permissive, i think it's wrong to assume that illusions are as easily thwarted as you believe they are. maybe you're right, but i'm not convinced the RAW require that.


    cuatroespada wrote:
    Quantum Steve wrote:
    cuatroespada wrote:

    anything that allows a will save affects your mind.

    and per RAW, an illusory rock doesn't hurt you, but if you fail your save you think it was a real rock and your brain is likely convinced it did hurt.

    Where are you getting any of this? What RAW are you interpreting, and how are you interpreting it? Could you please cite?

    it's not disingenuous to parse my posts like that at all...

    anyway, your will comes from what part of you then if not your mind? and is the RAW not clear on the illusory rock not hurting you? or are you just not understanding how compound sentences work?

    Those were the parts I was requesting citations for, that's all.

    Where do you get, from the RAW, that anything that allows a will save affects your mind, and that if you get hit by an illusory rock and you fail your save you would think it was a real rock and your brain would likely be convinced it did hurt?

    The RAW is not clear to me on that at all. Citations from the RAW would really help, as well as insights as to how you interpreted those citations to arrive at you conclusion.


    crit confirmed wrote:
    When players decide not to roleplay, I make them take a high DC check for losing their save to begin with. Then add the character's wil mod to their roll, to see if the PC decides to check the illusion. Just because the player knows it is fake doesn't mean it translates to the PC. A player may know how to play a wizard and have favorite spells to cast, but a brand new fighter will have no such knowledge (generic example). If they are well aware of their opponent, then let them run through. Just set a pit trap on the far side of the illusion. If someone makes the save, however, that character can show them the wall is fake. It is always a shame when players do not understand what they know and the PC understands are 2 different things.

    I understand where you're coming from, but I've played characters that were obsessed with paranoia over illusions, and would cross the tavern to make sure that barrel over there is real. That's good roleplaying.

    Unless a player has some metagame knowledge that an effect is an illusion (and there's no good reason they should) any suspicions a player has should be reasonable for their character to have.

    I agree that it keeps things interesting to have things players expect to be illusions end up real, and vice-versa, but generally players should be able to have their characters be a careful or reckless as they want.

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