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


Rules Questions

Grand Lodge

Rules for Illusions say that a figment's AC is 10 + size modifier.

The Description for the Major Image spell includes this fun little bit:

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

Oddly, the description for Silent Image includes no such text. Does this mean a Silent Image does not disappear when struck? Strange. What is it about level 1 Silent Images that make them better (in this one respect) than level 3 Major Images?

Does a Major Image disappear when struck because it is so flimsy? If so, it ought to disappear when struck regardless of whether it reacts appropriately. Does it disappear because the opponent is offered proof that the illusion is not real? This would make Major Image a strange exception to the general rules for illusions; if I have proof that an illusion is real, I just auto succeed my save, I don't cause the illusion to disappear.

Also, "causing the illusion to react appropriately" implies that I can manipulate illusions when it is not my turn, otherwise "causing the illusion to react appropriately" seems impossible in almost all cases.

An Orc strikes my illusion of a dog with a sword. Presumably the sword would go straight through the dog, as this is a figment. Already the illusion has not reacted appropriately, since a real dog would come into contact with the sword. Even if I (on my turn) cause my dog to become injured, the illusion will just disappear since it failed to act appropriately the moment it was struck.

In conclusion, 3 questions:

1. Why hasn't Pazio fixed these rules yet? It's been like 50 billion years.

2. Should I take the above text to be a general rule for all illusion spells in the "image" line, or only applying to major image? And if the later how can I possibly make sense of it?

3. Can causing an illusion to "react appropriately" to being struck be an immediate response (as if an immediate action), or do I have to wait till my turn (making it almost always impossible to pull off)?


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Dwimbly wrote:
Why hasn't Pazio fixed these rules yet? It's been like 50 billion years.

This may be a little forward... But... Are you single? ^^

Sovereign Court

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Dwimbly wrote:
3. Can causing an illusion to "react appropriately" to being struck be an immediate response (as if an immediate action), or do I have to wait till my turn (making it almost always impossible to pull off)?

My assumption is that since you have to spend a standard action every round to concentrate on the illusion, that you can control it continuously.

Whether you can react appropriately depends on what people do to your figment.

Since it has no tactile component, you can't give force-feedback to someone assaulting it in melee.

But if someone shoots it with an arrow you can make it yelp and recoil as if hurt, and the archer doesn't automatically know there's trickery going on. (He gets a save for interaction, but not guaranteed success.)

Grand Lodge

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Searching for meaning on the internet, I found this. The first answer suggests that the text is an accidental hold over from earlier editions of the game, and therefore ought to be ignored.


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The evolution of a spell.

The paradox was introduced in Advanced Dungeons and Dragons and was not corrected till 5th edition.

In 1974 it was established that, "the illusion will continue unless touched by some living creature."

Then for 36 years we lived with, "The illusion lasts until struck by an opponent - unless the spell caster causes the illusion to react appropriately."

Finally, in 2014 we came back to where we started with, "Physical interaction with the image reveals it to be an Illusion, because things can pass through it."

Chainmail - 1971:

Phantasmal Forces: The creation of the apparition of a unit or creature for four turns, maxi-duration.

Dungeons and Dragons - 1974:

Phantasmal Forces: The creation of vivid illusions of nearly anything the user envisions (a projected mental image so to speak). As long as the caster concentrates on the spell, the illusion will continue unless touched by some living creature, so there is no limit on duration, per se. Damage caused to viewers of a Phantasmal Force will be real if the illusion is believed to be real. Range: 24".

Advanced Dungeons and Dragons - 1978:

Phantasmal Force: When this spell is cast, the magic-user creates a visual illusion which will affect all believing creatures which view the phantasmal force, even to the extent of suffering damage from phantasmal missiles or from falling into an illusory pit full of sharp spikes. Note that audial illusion is not a component of the spell. The illusion lasts until struck by an opponent - unless the spell caster causes the illusion to react appropriately - or until the magic-user ceases concentration upon the spell (due to desire, moving, or successful attack which causes damage). Creatures which disbelieve the phantasmal force gain a saving throw versus the spell, and if they succeed, they see it for what it is and add +4 to associates’ saving throws if this knowledge can be communicated effectively. Creatures not observing the spell effect are immune until they view it. The spell can create the illusion of any object, or creature, or force, as long as it is within the boundaries of the spell’s area of effect. This area can move within the limits of the range. The material component of the spell is a bit of fleece.

Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd edition - 1989:

Phantasmal Force: This spell creates the illusion of any object, creature, or force, as long as it is within the boundaries of the spell's area of effect. The illusion is visual and affects all believing creatures (undead are immune) that view it. It does not create sound, smell, or temperature. Effects that depend on these senses usually fail. The illusion lasts until struck by an opponent--unless the spellcaster causes the illusion to react appropriately--or until the wizard ceases concentration upon the spell (due to desire, moving, or a successful attack that causes damage). Saving throws for illusions are explained under "Illusions" in Chapter 7: Magic and under "Adjudicating Illusions" at the beginning of Appendix 2. Creatures that disbelieve the illusion see it for what it is and add +4 to associates' saving throws if this knowledge can be communicated effectively. Creatures believing the illusion are subject to its effects (again, as explained in Chapter 7). The illusionary effect can be moved by the caster within the limits of the area of effect. The DM has to rule on the effectiveness of this spell; detailed guidelines are outlined in Chapter 7: Magic and under "Adjudicating Illusions" at the beginning of Appendix 2. The material component of the spell is a bit of fleece.

Dungeons and Dragons 3rd edition - 2000:

Major Image: As silent image except sound, smell, and thermal illusions are included in the spell effect. While concentrating, you can move the image with in the range. The image disappears when struck by an opponent unless you cause the illusion to react appropriately.

Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 edition - 2003:

Major Image: This spell functions like silent image, except that sound, smell, and thermal illusions are included in the spell effect. While concentrating, you can move the image with in the range. The image disappears when struck by an opponent unless you cause the illusion to react appropriately.

Pathfinder - 2008:

Major Image: This spell functions like silent image, except that sound, smell, and thermal illusions are included in the spell effect. While concentrating, you can move the image with in the range. The image disappears when struck by an opponent unless you cause the illusion to react appropriately.

Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition - 2014:

Major Image: You create the image of an object, a creature, or some other visible phenomenon that is no larger than a 20-foot cube. The image appears at a spot that you can see within range and lasts for the Duration. It seems completely real, including sounds, smells, and temperature appropriate to the thing depicted. You can't create sufficient heat or cold to cause damage, a sound loud enough to deal thunder damage or deafen a creature, or a smell that might sicken a creature (like a troglodyte's stench). As long as you are within range of the Illusion, you can use your action to cause the image to move to any other spot within range. As the image changes location, you can alter its appearance so that its movements appear natural for the image. For example, if you create an image of a creature and move it, you can alter the image so that it appears to be walking. Similarly, you can cause the Illusion to make different sounds at different times, even making it carry on a conversation, for example. Physical interaction with the image reveals it to be an Illusion, because things can pass through it. A creature that uses its action to examine the image can determine that it is an Illusion with a successful Intelligence (Investigation) check against your spell save DC. If a creature discerns the Illusion for what it is, the creature can see through the image, and its other sensory qualities become faint to the creature.


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Whoa, Lakeside, you've done a lot of research on this.


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What an answer. :)


Now that I look at it again, the paradox was there from the inception of the game in 1974; because, if you take damage from an illusion, you are most likely touching it.

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