Mirror made from illusion


Rules Questions


If this was already brought up and an official decision mad, then I'm sorry. I searched but nothing came up.

So... Illusions (the various image spells) bend light to create images. They're not in your mind. They're out there for all to see. If you create the illusion of a mirror, does it create a reflection like a mirror or do you have to create the image of a reflection in the mirror? I know, different GMs will run it as what makes the most sense to them. I'm wondering if this was actually ruled, officially, at some point. Does magic duplicate physics in this respect by creating a reflection or is it "magical physics" and you have to put the reflection in yourself?


The image shows what you want it to show, not what physics demands of it. So... no, it will not act as a truly reflective surface.

That's my take on it anyway.


I get that, but what if you want it to show a reflective surface?

Sovereign Court

The caster couldn't show anything in the mirror that they couldn't see. This is illusion, not conjuration; you could create an illusory mirror that shows what you tell it to, but not an actual mirror that reflects images unknown.


I'd think you'd have to put in the reflection. The same way you'd have to make an illusion of a falling object actually fall--or you could make it float in defiance of gravity if you wanted.

That said, there's no real difference between "I cast a silent image of a mirror" and "I cast a silent image of a mirror, including the reflection of this room" unless a GM is going to be that kind of persnickity (a kind of "gotcha" thinking I've never found that much fun). To me, a player saying they want to create an image of a mirror means they want it to look like a mirror, which means they want it to reflect the room.

I mean, I don't require that a character say "I'm going to create an image of a hill giant with its shadow in the right place" when they create an image of a hill giant. And there's nothing in the image spell descriptions that says that your character has to be a genius at understanding perspective, reflection, refraction, and shadows in order to create an image--it's just presumed.

Now if you wanted to create a reflection of something damaging (e.g., reflect a gaze attack), that wouldn't fly by me. The illusion is still just an illusion. So the basilisk would see itself and be like "Whoa, I'm all that and a bag of gravel," but it wouldn't turn to stone.


Illeist wrote:
The caster couldn't show anything in the mirror that they couldn't see. This is illusion, not conjuration; you could create an illusory mirror that shows what you tell it to, but not an actual mirror that reflects images unknown.

Good point. You couldn't use it to peer round a corner--the "mirror" would show a reflection of what you presume the hallway to be, but if it changed (like by a creature sneaking down it), the "mirror" wouldn't show you that).


I can understand that. What made me wonder is, I'm playing in a game where my character (a rogue, so no spellcasting) is up in a watch tower in the middle of a bunch of thickets. The lone survivor of a goblin ambush is running away and I was thinking, "If only I could use magic to show everyone where he was going or if only I could keep track of him as he ran out of sight", then I was wondering what spells could be used. I've played illusionists for over 20 years, so my first thought was an illusory mirror floating over the thickets.
I totally get why it SHOULDN'T work. It would make illusionists even more powerful than they are if they could bend light to make a reflection any time they wanted... with the right spells, of course. I can also see why it SHOULD work. As I said, it's not a phantasm. It's making in insubstantial image with light, so a mirror is just another image... an image that reflects more light back at you.
I take it, there's no official ruling on this? I guess, if the situation ever comes up, I'll just have to ask the GM what happens. If I GM a game where it comes up, I'll have a make a call then.


I don't think there needs to be an official ruling. The wording on silent image says: "This spell creates the visual illusion of an object, creature, or force, as visualized by you."

So if you visualize a mirror with the reflection, but have no ability to accurately visualize the area reflected, I don't see why you'd get to show that in the image you create.

EDIT: Also, silent image etc. are figments. And from the rules on figments: "Likewise, you cannot make a visual copy of something unless you know what it looks like (or copy another sense exactly unless you have experienced it)."

If you don't know what the goblin looks like running through the trees, you can't create a reflection to let you see what he looks like running through the trees. The best you could do was create a mirror that showed him running through the trees according to your best guess. But that's not accomplishing your goal.

If you think about it, that limit seems reasonable. Otherwise, you could create a silent image of a window through a door. And since the image is of a window and windows are transparent to light, you could see what was on the other side of the door. The "physics" and "bending light" arguments apply equally to that scenario, but I've never seen anyone suggest you could use illusory figments to see through doors/walls.

Grand Lodge

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If the party wants something that'd allow them to visually track a target, there's nothing like making a touch attack and casting Light on said goblin's trousers. Hard to hide glow pants.


blackaeon wrote:
If the party wants something that'd allow them to visually track a target, there's nothing like making a touch attack and casting Light on said goblin's trousers. Hard to hide glow pants.

BARON: Brave adventurers... thank you for defending my tower. Truly y--

GOBLIN: EEEEEEE!
*pantless goblin runs through the court*
BARON: Wh--?
PCS: There's a perfectly reasonable explanation for that...


There doesn't need to be an official ruling for some people. I'm looking for an official ruling in case it comes up so there's no argument. You're interpretation is it's magic physics and an illusionist can't bend light enough to make a reflective surface. Someone else might have a different take.
"As visualized by you" can mean the mirror itself (that reflects the image) or the mirror AND the reflection because it won't reflect images.

I'm just looking for a ruling that can avoid a potential argument and misunderstanding.


Chuck Mount wrote:

There doesn't need to be an official ruling for some people. I'm looking for an official ruling in case it comes up so there's no argument. You're interpretation is it's magic physics and an illusionist can't bend light enough to make a reflective surface. Someone else might have a different take.

"As visualized by you" can mean the mirror itself (that reflects the image) or the mirror AND the reflection because it won't reflect images.

I'm just looking for a ruling that can avoid a potential argument and misunderstanding.

I would think "you cannot make a visual copy of something unless you know what it looks like" would be unarguable. A "mirror reflecting what is around the corner" is something whose appearance you can't know unless you know what is around the corner. The same way "a hole in the door that I can see through" is an illusion you can state but can't make unless you know what is on the other side of the door. Seems clear enough to me. But then, I'm an optimist.

Also: Where in the rules does it say illusions (figments) are made by bending light? That seems like a flavor interpretation that might cause confusion where the rules are pretty clear what you can't do.


I think you misunderstand what I mean by a reflection. I meant that the illusionist wasn't making the reflection. The illusionist makes the image of a mirror and the "mirror" reflected the image. It doesn't say that illusions bend light. I was making that assumption because people see by light reflecting off of solid objects. An image from an image spell isn't solid, so I am assuming the spell "bends" the light and sends it out as if there were an object there. I'm applying real world physics to a fantasy setting... a big no no. If the light is being "bent" to make a reflective spot in the air, it should reflect a real image back. Not an image being created by the caster. An actual reflection, so the caster wouldn't need to see what's being reflected.
This all hinges on how magic works. Does it try to force real world physics to do a certain thing (bend light to make a real reflection) or is it purely magic that completely ignores physics (the caster fills in what the reflection should be)


Chuck Mount wrote:
This all hinges on how magic works. Does it try to force real world physics to do a certain thing (bend light to make a real reflection) or is it purely magic that completely ignores physics (the caster fills in what the reflection should be)

Ah. I see the confusion. From a strict rules perspective, how "magic works" isn't really delineated. However, what is spelled out is how it mechanically functions. Which in this case prohibits using a figment to create a working mirror.

You can (if you want) work backwards from how magic functions to answer your question above.

A. Illusion magic of the figment type doesn't let you create a working mirror.
B. A working mirror involves bending light to make a real reflection per the laws of physics.

Therefore,

C. Illusion magic of the figment type doesn't make a real reflection per the laws of physics.

And,

D. More generally, illusion magic of the figment type doesn't use the laws of physics to create its effects.

All of that, however, is beyond the scope of the rules. If presented with the question "Can I use silent image to make a physics-compliant reflective surface to show things I cannot see?" the answer according to the Pathfinder rules remains "no."

EDIT:

However, if you did want to physics things up, you could say that the illusionist is causing the air molecules to rise to an excited state and then emit photons in a particular pattern that mimics light reflecting from an actual object. The increase in local energy isn't sufficient to create a noticeable temperature difference, but just enough to cause the photoreceptive molecules in observers' retinae to perceive an apparent object.

Of course, this begs the question of what the physical mechanism for a Will save is that lets some observers notice the illusory nature of the photon emissions... That's usually when as a GM I authoritatively pound my fist on the table and yell SCIENCE! until my players stop disputing...


The idea of the illusion spell is to make whatever is currently in your mind. That is why it call out what you visualize.
As an example if I picture dinosaurs the illusion is dinosaurs. If I picture a mirror that shows dinosaurs that is what I get.

The idea is not if I picture an item that does <insert thing> to create an item that does that thing. That would be what the school of conjuration would be for. Otherwise you could make illusions of battering rams and knock doors down. The ability/inability to reflect images is just as much a physical property as weight would be.

Same idea different way of explaining it:
When you saw that visualize line in that spell description you are seeing it as "I can create whatever I can visualize". That is not how it's meant to be read. It's more like the image is behaving like a movie projector, but the film is in your mind.

The closest thing that might work is the shadow subschool of Illusion.

Quote:
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.

However it only mimics other schools of magic it depends on the person failing the save. Since you cast the spell you already know it's not real, that is why the doesnt have to make the save against his own shadow spells. If you can find a conjuration spell that can create a mirror you can get someone else to cast it and fail the save. However even then it only partially works, so the GM would have to decide how that goes, and by the rules it may not work at all. I didn't take the time to look up any conjuration(creation) spells that create items. I always thing of Fabricate, but that is from the transmutation school of magic, and there is no shadow-based spell that copies that school of magic.

Honestly though illusion is not the school of magic for this. You are going to need GM Fiat for this to work.

PS: When I was referring to reflecting images I was talking about in the sense that mirrors do or that other shiny material might.


In my opinion, the more interesting part about Will Save Disbelief is that figments turn into translucent outlines when you disbelief.
So, whether you believe them or not actually changes what you see.

Otherwise, yeah, a figment is essentially just painting a 3d picture in empty space.

@wraithstrike: Minor/Major Creation, which has a straight up Shadow equivalent in Major Phantom Object.


Rajnish Umbra, Shadow Caller wrote:

In my opinion, the more interesting part about Will Save Disbelief is that figments turn into translucent outlines when you disbelief.

So, whether you believe them or not actually changes what you see.

Figment just create sensations though, and they can not produce real effects. They can't even produce normal speech. At best you get gibberish. Reflecting images like a mirror is definitely a real effect.


Yeah, I edited my post to be slightly more on topic - and I agree with that part. I was referring to quibblemuch's question how Will Save Disbelief would factor into a physical explanation for illusions.
(Also, some figments can produce normal speech, but those are explicit exceptions.)


Rajnish Umbra, Shadow Caller wrote:

In my opinion, the more interesting part about Will Save Disbelief is that figments turn into translucent outlines when you disbelief.

So, whether you believe them or not actually changes what you see.

Otherwise, yeah, a figment is essentially just painting a 3d picture in empty space.

@wraithstrike: Minor/Major Creation, which has a straight up Shadow equivalent in Major Phantom Object.

Nice find. It is a gnome spell so he had to get his GM to be nice enough to let races share their racial spells. The other problem is that casters don't have to save against their own spells, but this spells says "may make a save". I've never seen this language in any other spell so the save could be optional.

Oh well for the sake of fun I would allow this spell to work since its a 5th level spell creating a simple mirror.

As for the actual rules I'm still not sure, but hopefully the GM lets it go.


A lot of this start with the very first concept you stated, assuming that illusions are physical light shows. If they are constructions of light, how do they interact with light? As anyone who has seen a brighter light source aimed at a movie screen knows, light shows are dependent on lighting conditions. At some point in time illusions have to play on the mind, otherwise just turning off the lights would reveal illusions as illusions, they would either emanate their own light to be seen, or not exist without light to see them. There is some evidence for this in spell descriptions, like magic missiles still finding the true target under a mirror image or just closing your eyes stopping the effects of the mirror images for you. But there also has to be some interplay in the mind of the viewer and thus the Will saving throws when interacting with them.

So if one makes a permanent image of a big mirror, does the mirror reflect what is really in its field of view, only what the caster created in the mirror when it was cast, or what the person looking at the mirror expects to see?

I've always favored the concept illusions are more in your head. A person fighting with an illusionary devil who is observed by a creature immune to illusions would be seen swinging at the empty air and dodging and ducking unreal assaults and spells. If the magic was shadow magic, slightly real, the unaffected observer sees the shadowy shapes attacking the poor soul. But others play the observer sees the illusion but knows it is a light show. If that's what you want to go with, as you said in your first post, you can make an argument that all the construction of an illusionary thing functions as a real thing. The dresser drawers with a mirror vanity reflects like a mirror, the drawers open and somehow even hold things in them. For me, the mirror reflects what the observer expects to see, the drawers may appear to hold your items to you, but in actuality they are just being tossed on the ground. Any who interact and makes the save against the illusion no longer see them, they were all in your head, unless they are quasi real - like shadow magic - when you see the reality of what it is, shadowy shapes.

But, there is no RAW on how you want to play illusions, this is GM world building turf.


I'd allow an illusory mirror.

If you weren't allowed to create reflective surfaces, then you couldn't create a truly convincing illusion of a human either, since anyone who knew the trick could look into its eyes; the absence of a realistic reflection would give it away.


Okay. So, the various image spells are probably more like cheap holograms. If you look at them just right, you can tell it's not real and holograms don't reflect images because it's not magic and it's not solid. The low level image spells don't have enough magic in them to impose itself over physics. The shadow spells might, since those are quasi-real. The higher level image spells also might because those start incorporating sound and heat.
Again, we can go back and forth all day on why is should or shouldn't work and what spells do and don't. I was just wondering if there was any actual hard and fast rule about it. I will agree that silent image can't make a functioning mirror. That's probably beyond the capabilities of the weak magic that's used for the spell.


Matthew Downie wrote:

I'd allow an illusory mirror.

If you weren't allowed to create reflective surfaces, then you couldn't create a truly convincing illusion of a human either, since anyone who knew the trick could look into its eyes; the absence of a realistic reflection would give it away.

You can make it glossy and appear reflective, but sure, if they studied the illusion enough, I'd grant them the bonus listed for convincing evidence (+4 iirc) on the save. The point is that the reflection in the eyes wouldn't perfectly match up with the surrounding world, but under normal circumstances, most wouldn't be able to see the difference.

So more accurately, you can make a surface appear to be reflective, but it isn't truly reflective. A mirror, and the eyes of this supposed creature, would only display what the illusionist put in them. Nothing more, nothing less. It's just with a mirror, the lack of it matching the reflection is more noticeable.

A good use of it would be to put up a false wall that looks like the normal hallway and do whatever you want behind this fake screen. But if a dog ran through it, the dog would not suddenly appear on the other side of the wall (unless the illusionist was able to alter the illusion at their whim like some allow).

TL;DR: Illusions mimic real world, but real world can't affect them.


TrinitysEnd wrote:
[...] bonus listed for convincing evidence (+4 iirc) on the save.

The bonus is for someone telling you that it's an illusion (which comes with a retry).

If you have evidence that something is an illusion, the illusion just plain fails.
(The problem is that could constitute evidence in a world with magic.)


I don't think it's game breaking to allow an illusion of a mirror to reflect what an actual mirror would reflect. Magic breaks physics so physics isn't really an argument here...


Chuck Mount wrote:
Again, we can go back and forth all day on why is should or shouldn't work and what spells do and don't. I was just wondering if there was any actual hard and fast rule about it.

If there was a hard and fast rule there would be no need for going back and forth about it working.


Valandil Ancalime wrote:
Chuck Mount wrote:
Again, we can go back and forth all day on why is should or shouldn't work and what spells do and don't. I was just wondering if there was any actual hard and fast rule about it.
If there was a hard and fast rule there would be no need for going back and forth about it working.

100% true.

In addition, Chuck, you can read the rules to see is it likely supposed to work a certain way.

As you can see most of us dont agree that it should work, but some of us might allow it anyway. Sometimes the fun of the game trumps the rules, but if you really want an opinion 100% based on rules then you are more than likely going to get a no.

Your next GM may not know the rules well enough to deny or he might not care. I wouldn't worry so much about trying to convince us because we are not likely going to be your next GM.


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Matthew Downie wrote:
If you weren't allowed to create reflective surfaces, then you couldn't create a truly convincing illusion of a human either, since anyone who knew the trick could look into its eyes; the absence of a realistic reflection would give it away.

Heh. That's not a trick. That's called 'carefully studying the illusion and receiving a will save to disbelieve.'

It's not really any different from realizing it's not blinking right, or its hair doesn't seem to blow the right way when the wind changed.


Rajnish Umbra, Shadow Caller wrote:
TrinitysEnd wrote:
[...] bonus listed for convincing evidence (+4 iirc) on the save.

The bonus is for someone telling you that it's an illusion (which comes with a retry).

If you have evidence that something is an illusion, the illusion just plain fails.
(The problem is that could constitute evidence in a world with magic.)

Fair and valid point! It would be technically without the bonus then (though I as a GM might give them one if they passed a perception to notice it or had plenty of time to study it, as weird eyes can be many things). They'd definitely get a save if they were investigating it that deeply either way.

Either way, my opinion is that the illusion has to be created to reflect what you see. If you can't see it, such as around a corner, wouldn't work. Now, if I remember correctly, a lot of spells allow you to control the appearance of the illusion. If you could see it, I'd totally allow you to make it reflect.

Major Image seems to hint at this by saying "The image disappears when struck by an opponent unless you cause the illusion to react appropriately."


wraithstrike said wrote:
I wouldn't worry so much about trying to convince us because we are not likely going to be your next GM.

I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything. I can see both sides of the argument. I was just wondering if there was any official clarification, which I think I have my answer.

No official ruling, but the general consensus seems to be no, so if the opportunity ever presents itself, I'll just ask and see what the GM says.


Pizza Lord wrote:

That's called 'carefully studying the illusion and receiving a will save to disbelieve.'

It's not really any different from realizing it's not blinking right, or its hair doesn't seem to blow the right way when the wind changed.

If I tried to make a simple illusion of a grey cube, unless I could perfectly mentally anticipate the exact lighting conditions, like someone walking up to it with a flaming torch, it would be incredibly easy to spot that it didn't look real.

So either the illusionist has to be an incredible artistic genius who is able to see things from the same perspective as the person being fooled... or the illusion could just be like a 3D model that responds to light automatically. The latter makes more sense to me.


It's magic, so it probably reacts to light or other similar things like a real object.


In which case, a mirror would work.


True. It could. Apparently, based on the ruling of the GM.

While we're on the subject... sort of... Is there a spell that tricks other senses? Like disguising smell or taste? In 2e, my illusionist made a spell called Freylique's Olfactory Obscurement for disguising smell. We were going up against a dragon that had killed a party member years ago. I don't know if Pathfinder filled that gap or not.


Chuck Mount wrote:

True. It could. Apparently, based on the ruling of the GM.

While we're on the subject... sort of... Is there a spell that tricks other senses? Like disguising smell or taste? In 2e, my illusionist made a spell called Freylique's Olfactory Obscurement for disguising smell. We were going up against a dragon that had killed a party member years ago. I don't know if Pathfinder filled that gap or not.

Are you just trying to create a fake scent in a certain area or change your scent? Also are you looking for a spell that you can put on other party members or just yourself if the spell is supposed to the scent of a creature?

I know there are ways to hide scent, but it depends on exactly what you are trying to do.


Not trying to do anything. Just wondering if Pathfinder has any other types of invisibility (for different senses) or spells to trick the different senses. The one my character researched in 2e was used to hide the scent and could be cast on others.


Chuck Mount wrote:
Not trying to do anything. Just wondering if Pathfinder has any other types of invisibility (for different senses) or spells to trick the different senses. The one my character researched in 2e was used to hide the scent and could be cast on others.

For something like this, check Druid/Ranger. Negate Aroma. Weirdly, not illusion. Transmutation. Probably because illusion would need a save.


There are quite a few spells to trick multiple senses. Major Image: "This spell functions like Silent Image, except that sound, smell, and thermal illusions are included in the spell effect."


Negate Aroma actually takes away the smell, so it wouldn't be illusion. I suppose, wizards could use a Major Image to only change the smell of someone instead of creating a whole illusion with a smell.

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