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    Canonfire :: View topic - Illusions
    Canonfire Forum Index -> Greyhawk- AD&D 2nd Edition
    Illusions
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    GreySage

    Joined: Sep 09, 2009
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    Sat Jun 23, 2012 11:19 am  
    Illusions

    OK, I can't hold back any longer...gotta post another rules question! Shocked Could use some perspective, whether you agree (I always appreciate that stance) or not (be gentle):

    Firstly, I hate abjudicating the vast scope and power of Illusions, but I will admit that they are highly effective if used well. They are also the domain of utmost creativity, but, as a DM, can be a royal pain to judge, not only as to what they can do...but also what they cannot do.

    Here's my latest quandary. It pertains to the Area of Effect. Initially I ruled that creatures, characters and the like outside the Area of Effect could perceive (by sight, hearing, etc.) any and all illusions created by the caster; they just wouldn't be harmed or affected by them.

    However recently I have had a different frame of mind. My recent stance and ruling now states that if you are outside the Area of Effect of the illusion, then NONE of your senses would be affected by the spell. Thusly, you see, hear, smell NOTHING even though the characters or creatures within the Area of Effect are obviously affected.

    Example: A wizard casts a Spectral Force upon a host of orcs which find themselves within the Area of Effect as shaped by the caster to encompass them all. The wizard's friends, standing by him, fall outside the Area of Effect. The mage concocts an illusionary Fireball to 'toast' the humanoids. The orcs that believe the fake Fireball jump, roll, and flee as the burning sphere slams into their ranks. They are screaming and writhing in pain; some, 'thinking' they are dead, fall, motionless to the ground (and 'die'). The mage further shapes the illusion so that the 'Fireball' ignites grasses (again, ONLY in the Area of Effect) and smokes billows forth.

    What do the friends of the wizard see? No Fireball, grass burning, or smoke, and ONLY the reactions of the 'believing' orc host.

    Thoughts?

    -Lanthorn
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    Sun Jun 24, 2012 2:21 pm  

    I think the fireball example brings up the critical point - heat. A purely visual illusion could never convey the heat required to convince someone to "death". The illusion must effect the mind rather than the senses. As strictly mental - anyone outside of the area of effect sees nothing. Perhaps it's a hybrid - that everyone can see it, but only those in the area of effect can have their minds effected by the spell.
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    GreySage

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    Sun Jun 24, 2012 4:29 pm  

    Sorry, Lanthorn, but I'm going to have to disagree with you for the most part. I will qualify my answer by saying that it depends a great deal on the description for each particular spell.

    My general ruling would be that the illusion is observable to everyone with senses affected by the illusion in appropriate range. That is, if it is a purely visual illusion, anyone with line-of-sight to the illusion could see it. If it had audio, olfactory, physical, and taste aspects, anyone close enough to experience such senses from the illusion would do so. However, only those within the effective range of the illusion would have any chance to fail to see it for what it really is. That is, anyone outside the area of effect, though able to witness the illusion, would be able to easily tell that it was not real, thus they would be unaffected. Note that even the Invisibility spell is an illusion, but it obviously works on anyone within LOS of the individual rendered invisible even though that individual is the only one within the spell's area of effect.

    If I recall correctly, Phantasmal Killer specifically says that the illusionary monster created by the spell exists only within the mind of the affected individual, therefore the spell description answers this question for us.

    Other spells, however, are more tricky. What about a spell creating in illusionary wall where a real door stands? What is the area of effect? Would anyone outside the spell's area of effect automatically be able to see right through the illusion? That makes the spell rather impotent and worthless for disquising a door. In this case, the area of effect simply describes the maximum area that may be covered by the illusion, but anyone within or without that area of effect still observes the illusion equally and can only penetrate it with an appropriate saving throw or via the use of magic or, perhaps, physical examination. Again, the spell description must necessarily be consulted to determine how someone outside the spell's area of effect will be affected by the illusion. Not all illusions can apply the same rule.

    SirXaris
    GreySage

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    Sun Jun 24, 2012 5:16 pm  

    SirXaris, maybe I should clarify my earlier post. I am mainly speaking of illusionary spells such as the diverse Phantasmal Force variations. In my mind, if you are outside the Area of Effect, then no aspect of the spell will affect you, be it visual, auditory, olfaction, or tactile. It's my understanding that the Area of Effect means just that for those types of illusionary spells (the aforementioned Invisibility spell you mentioned does not have an Area of Effect, as it is centered on the person or creature touched), just as it would any spell effect. A person outside the Area of Effect for, say, a Slow wouldn't register any hindering of his/her reflexes or movement. A person outside the Area of Effect of a Fireball or Cone of Cold likewise is safe, though they would potentially feel and definitely see the spell effect (because it is a real manifestation of energy and not a twisting of the mind's perceptions to believe such). Thusly, I think that the same should apply to those outside the Area of Effect for a Phantasmal Force or its more powerful cousins. If you are outside the AoE, then your mind, and thus your reality, CANNOT be influenced. You are outside the 'reach' of the magic needed to pervert and twist what you see, hear, smell, taste, and touch...

    Make sense?

    -Lanthorn
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    Mon Jun 25, 2012 1:48 am  

    Sir Xaris is correct. Think of illusions as sensory things existing within the confines of their Areas of Effect. Things outside of the Area of Effect see/hear them perfectly well, including the caster's allies. The Areas of Effect listed for illusion spells are all about limiting the scope of the illusions themselves, not about limiting who can experience them ( I don't mean spells like Phantasmal Killer obviously). The Areas of Effect are rather small. That alone limits the power of illusions based on either creature/effect size and what the caster is trying to convince others is happening. The Areas of Effect of those spells are only about the size of what can be created, not about an area that subjects must occupy to then be affected by whatever illusory effect has also been created in that area.

    The only problem I have ever had with illusions is that some players will try to push the boundaries of what is possible with a illusion of a certain power, but (fortunately) that has really only had to do with them not having gamed much using illusions before, and therefore not having much of a baseline as to what illusions can and cannot do at varying power levels.
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    GreySage

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    Mon Jun 25, 2012 8:05 am  

    I guess I stand alone on this one. Sad

    Ceb, I completely understand the interpretation that you are making. Would you then have creatures and characters outside the illusionary AoE see the illusions as a semi-transparent, ghostly image, and thus reveal them as false? Initially, that was what I did before I began to question the AoE concept for the various Phantasmal spells (includes Spectral Force).

    This may be one of those cases where we must simply agree to disagree, though Ceb's logic seems sound on this one, and now I must rethink what I thought I know. I will continue to peruse my books (I just now scanned Complete Wizard's Guide b/c they have a section on illusions) to seek clarity or resolution on this matter.

    I appreciate everyone's input! Thank you again.

    -Lanthorn, Lost and Alone in a Phantasm of his own Making (or is it CEB's) hhhhmmmmm.... Shocked
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    Mon Jun 25, 2012 2:42 pm  

    You're not alone Lanthorn! I too rule that those outside the Area of Effect are not affected by the illusion and thus, experience nothing. However, this is where things start to get tricky and thus why we have DMs. I agree that AoE is "where any effects on targets" would occur. However, there are some illusions as SirXaris mentioned that don't go by the same rule.

    For illusionary walls, say in a dungeon setting (or any building), I don't see there being a need for AoE as generally something is there but not necessarily tangible.

    On a massive battlefield - say like during war with Iuz' armies, I would think it's certainly possible for a massively powerful magic-user to create an illusion experienced by thousands, but for those of more modest power, I just don't see how someone 500 meters away watching a company of orcs being smashed by an illusionary comet would see / hear the comet. They might observe the orcs falling down dead/catatonic/stunned what have you because they're affected though. Then again, this has to do with the power of the caster, the AoE, the actual space, the targets, the bystanders and so on.

    Cebrion makes a good point though that you could still see/hear while not being actually affected and that works well, especially for things like the illusionary wall example. In my opinion, it really depends on many variables so you will have your hands full.
    GreySage

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    Mon Jun 25, 2012 2:53 pm  

    'Tis good not to be the only one... Happy Thanks, Elliva!

    I guess the point that Ceb is making is that the AoE is the defined space in which the illusion is confined but that those outside that space are still subject to 'believing' in the phantasm.

    For instance, if a spell-caster is limited to, say, 300 square feet (10x30 feet, for example), then that magic-user could create an illusion of an elephant, or small cottage, or war party of a dozen orcs. Those outside the AoE would hear and see the illusion, but the elephant and orcs, being "mobile" could not leave that 10x30 area b/c that is the AoE.

    Am I correct on this interpretation, Ceb?

    This means that higher-level casters, I guess, could create truly massive illusions on the scale of a small battlefield, thus concocting illusions of a forest, a mountainside, or even a castle.

    If that is so, I guess I could acquiesce to the others but I still question that sounds, smells, and temperature or pressure changes could exist beyond the AoE, but maybe they can...

    -Lanthorn
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    Mon Jun 25, 2012 10:37 pm  

    Lanthorn wrote:
    I guess the point that Ceb is making is that the AoE is the defined space in which the illusion is confined but that those outside that space are still subject to 'believing' in the phantasm.

    For instance, if a spell-caster is limited to, say, 300 square feet (10x30 feet, for example), then that magic-user could create an illusion of an elephant, or small cottage, or war party of a dozen orcs. Those outside the AoE would hear and see the illusion, but the elephant and orcs, being "mobile" could not leave that 10x30 area b/c that is the AoE.

    Am I correct on this interpretation, Ceb?

    You are dead on target. Read your illusion spells very, very carefully, because the explanations are there. For instance, "This spell creates the illusion of any object, creature, or force, as long as it (the object) 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."
    The illusion is within the area, and everyone can see it (and hear/touch/taste/smell it, depending on the power of the illusion spell), wherever they may be, and all but the senses requiring direct contact can sense the illusion even outside of the AoE. Anyone who enters the AoE may end up interacting directly with whatever the illusion is, whether it be a raging fire, a monster, or just a stone wall blocking the way. The power of the illusion is all about the direct interaction, meaning interacting with the illusion directly (when in the AoE) using the sense (s) that the illusion has the power to fool, and how realistic it can be made to be depending on the level of the spell creating it (and the imagination of the caster). Without this understanding, illusions are not worth much at all.

    People should note that the AoE for illusions does not ramp up very much. Spectral Force, for instance, when cast by an Archmage doesn't even have twice the AoE as the same spell cast by a minimum level caster (5th level). Also note that the more senses the illusion can fool, the higher level the spell, but the AoE's for illusion spells usually get smaller for the spells that are controlled mainly be concentration as the spells go up in level and can affect more senses. The most powerful illusions will be smaller than the weaker ones (but at least they will be of higher quality), meaning the more powerful spells are inherently limited (e.g. higher level Illusionists are inherently limited). Accordingly DMs must be careful not to render Illusionists laughable by gutting their spell effects.

    Illusions have real power, but they are almost completely linked to being believed to begin with. The more clever (and attentive to detail) the player is, the better their Illusionist character will be.

    One more bit. Illusions are effects that fool the senses/mind. Phantasms exist solely within the mind, meaning the senses are not involved in any way. Phantasmal Force, despite its name, is an illusion, not a phantasm.
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    GreySage

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    Tue Jun 26, 2012 5:23 pm  

    Glad I finally got something right for a change. Happy

    OK, another (GASP!) follow-up question:

    How long can a mage maintain control of an existing illusion he/she mentally creating?

    For instance, a mage creates a believable Fireball that toasts an offending band of orcs. Can that same mage use the same spell... let us say it is Spectral Force... to continue the ruse by creating a subsequent blaze of fire created by the supposed Fireball? Could he/she have a second blaze of fire erupt from the sky without recasting Spectral Force? See where I am going with this? I guess there is A LOT of room for latitude on this one. Just interested how far each of you allow your players (and enemies) to go on a single illusion before the 'duration' is out or the spell is spent out and a subsequent one is needed.

    -Lanthorn, Ever Curious
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    Tue Jun 26, 2012 5:54 pm  

    Lanthorn,

    You have to rule based on what the character describing the spell states to you in its' casting. Thus the mage casts spectral force and tells you he wants to create a streaming ball of fire when it hits the ground it leaves smoke and burning grass, I will have it repeat for the duration of the spell. So have the first fireball hit and do as the character described. Next round the smoke and fires have cleared as another fireball hits and repeats the same exact action. Grant additional saves and bonus depending on whether or not other olfactory senses are mimicked by the spell. Visually it still is effective though how does the smoke and fire dissipate so quickly making it less believable each time it is used in the fashion describe above. Does the illusion mimic smell fires and burning grass and flesh smell no less believable. Is there a thermal component no less believable. Hence why something like an illusionary pit trap might be more effective as it is stationary and less likely to cause suspicion as less components are needed to make the illusion believable.

    I'm with Ceb and Sir Xaris on this one as far as the ruling though someone viewing the fireball from further away may believe the fireball they would also no be affected by it because it falls short of their area hence no smoke or fire surrounding them.

    Illusions can be fun but they require much thought. Elaborate and poorly planned illusions will fail often while a well thought out illusion has greater chances of success. With illusions the attention is in the details. So with 1 and 2 E you have more flexibility while in 3 and 3.5 DM should modify DC by how well planned the illusion is.

    I hope this helps.

    Later

    Argon
    GreySage

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    Tue Jun 26, 2012 7:28 pm  

    To support what Argon has said, I would make it even simpler on yourself. Read what the spell description allows a caster to do with a particular illusion, then have the player describe to you exactly what he wants his illusion to depict. Pay attention to your player's description of each of the senses that that particular spell can effect, then decide how believable it turns out to be. That is what you can base the saving throw upon - how well your player described his intentions with the illusion.

    SirXaris
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    Tue Jun 26, 2012 11:26 pm  

    Lanthorn wrote:
    Glad I finally got something right for a change.

    OK, another (GASP!) follow-up question:

    How long can a mage maintain control of an existing illusion he/she mentally creating?

    For instance, a mage creates a believable Fireball that toasts an offending band of orcs. Can that same mage use the same spell... let us say it is Spectral Force... to continue the ruse by creating a subsequent blaze of fire created by the supposed Fireball? Could he/she have a second blaze of fire erupt from the sky without recasting Spectral Force? See where I am going with this?

    Yes, I see where you are going. To create a Fireball effect would require a Spectral Force spell at the minimum just to create all of the sensory effects (sight, sound, smell, thermal). Shadow Magic and better at least partially creates a "real" fire effect from Shadow stuff, but a Spectral Force spell won't, so believable after effects from a Fireball would be needed for a really good illusion to fool targets well. A Fireball isn't just a burst of flame. It leaves scorch marks, embers in the air, little bits of grass or other small things burning, etc., so a good illusion would require more attention to detail for the illusion to remain believable after the initial effect. As Spectral Force has a duration of concentration, plus 3 rounds, the after effects can be made to last as long as the caster is willing to concentrate on them (plus three rounds). Not including those effects to any noticeable degree would likely allow targets a second saving throw to realize that any "damage" is not real at all (if the initial saving throw were failed). A good Illusionist doesn't have a "tell" though. Wink
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    GreySage

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    Wed Jun 27, 2012 1:57 pm  

    Ceb, I guess what I am driving at is just how far the envelope can be pushed using a single illusion.

    For instance, a mage can use Spectral Force to generate a convincing Fireball. The duration, as you note, is concentration +3 rnds thereafter. Thus, I wonder if the mage can continue to maintain concentration after the initial illusionary Fireball to generate further effects, like realistic burning and smoke. Could the wizard continue concentrating on the illusion to generate a second illusionary Fireball? Or perhaps use the smoke and flame generate by the initial fake Fireball to have an effect similar to a Pyrotechnics spell? Or even cause the burning remnants to grow and intensify into, let us say a Wall of Fire?

    Would you make the wizard make an Intelligence roll each round of concentration to see if the subsequent effects are realistic? Or, if using a Fatigue system (as I do with Combat and Tactics), have the mage accrue fatigue points each round of maintaining the illusionary effects?

    Just wondering...thanks to all for your input!

    -Lanthorn
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    Wed Jun 27, 2012 9:00 pm  

    Lanthorn wrote:
    Ceb, I guess what I am driving at is just how far the envelope can be pushed using a single illusion.

    For instance, a mage can use Spectral Force to generate a convincing Fireball. The duration, as you note, is concentration +3 rnds thereafter. Thus, I wonder if the mage can continue to maintain concentration after the initial illusionary Fireball to generate further effects, like realistic burning and smoke. Could the wizard continue concentrating on the illusion to generate a second illusionary Fireball? Or perhaps use the smoke and flame generate by the initial fake Fireball to have an effect similar to a Pyrotechnics spell? Or even cause the burning remnants to grow and intensify into, let us say a Wall of Fire?

    Yes to all of that. Read "Adjudicating Illusions" in Ch. 7 (I think). Spectral Force can be BRUTAL in the right hands; in the right situation. An illusory Fireball that does enough damage to kill requires a System Shock roll. The enemy will fall down "dead" and may even actually die (failed System Shock roll). Or they will fall down dead, twitch a bit, and then come to (successful System Shock roll), screaming as they think they have just been fried, only to find out that they are actually not burned at all. Then they will get up and have a clue about the nature of the magic being used against them (unless they are not so intelligent). I good player can stay very busy with just one Spectra Force spell, using it cast "burning hands" one round, then "lighting bolt" the next, , then "summon monsters", etc. Anything that breaks the Illusionists concentration, such as hacking them with a sword hard enough, ends the spell though. What illusions will usually do is end up distracting the enemy or buy time, and sometimes actually kill enemies, but the latter will be the exception, as an average Constitution score of 10 or 11 has a System Shock value of 70% or 75%, and many enemies will have a Constitution score even higher than 10 or 11. So, it won't be as bad you you might think, and that will become more apparent the more that illusions are used in your combats.

    Few players will key in on ALL of the details needed for a convincing illusion, thus leaving clues that may then be picked up on by intelligent enemies, which allows them a disbelief saving throw. At the beginning of things though, enemies would usually have no reason to suspect that something is an illusion unless it is very poorly thought out/ignored glaring details ( or because it was cast by a gnome, and smart folks know that gnomes can't cast fireballs in 2E). The DM adjudicates how convincing an illusion is by requiring specificity on the part of the player in describing exactly how detailed the effect will be. Don't give them pointers, don't ask them if they are doing this or that, as that is giving them clues/holding their hand, but ask them to tell you what the illusion is doing very specifically. If they do a good job, which is up to the you as the DM, then give the enemy little or no chance of noticing things (which of course depends on the intelligence level of the enemy). If the player is unimaginative, or just plain gets sloppy about the details, then give the enemy a better chance of figuring things out and gaining a saving throw to disbelieve.

    Lanthorn wrote:
    Would you make the wizard make an Intelligence roll each round of concentration to see if the subsequent effects are realistic?

    No, but if conditions change then the player better tell the DM that their illusion is responding to the changes correctly. If the player neglects to mention such a thing on their own (i.e. don't wipe the player's butt for them; they must do it themselves Laughing), then there is a clue for the enemy to perhaps figure out the effect is an illusion (which again depends upon the intelligence level of the enemy, and how badly the illusion doesn't respond to the changed in the situation).

    Lanthorn wrote:
    Or, if using a Fatigue system (as I do with Combat and Tactics), have the mage accrue fatigue points each round of maintaining the illusionary effects?

    Now I gotta look something up. Laughing Answer: No. Casting the spell uses Fatigue, so the strenuous part is already done. Continuing to just stand there and concentrate saps no more Fatigue from the caster.

    Illusionists are not necessarily very powerful, but good Illusionists are often very powerful. There are many equalizers as one levels up though, such as undead being immune to most illusion spells, things with Magic Resistance, etc., and at higher levels you tend to run into more and more of those things. Fortunately Illusionists have access to quasi-real Shadow Magic, Transmutation, and Conjuration magic which have their own very real and offensive effects to bolster their illusory magic, so all is not lost.
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    Last edited by Cebrion on Fri Jul 06, 2012 12:43 am; edited 1 time in total
    GreySage

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    Thu Jul 05, 2012 1:25 pm  

    Ceb, I very much thank you for your in-depth and thoughtful, point by point, analysis.

    It is my understanding, or perhaps my own bias (?), that someone who thinks themselves 'dead' by an illusion will be unconscious...not sure just how long, but I would imagine until someone violently awakens them, casts a spell of healing (or successful Dispel perhaps) to 'snap them out of it', or a certain amount of time passes (rounds, turns, not sure; maybe it depends on the 'amount' of damage they've suffered).

    thank you again for your help, and to all others who posted.

    -Lanthorn
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    Fri Jul 06, 2012 12:53 am  

    If a character is "killed" by an illusion and fails their System Shock roll, they actually are dead.

    If a character is "killed" by an illusion and makes their System Shock roll, they are just unconscious. I would treat this as a deep state of unconsciousness, similar to being under the effects of a sleep spell, in 2E that being:

    "Slapping or wounding awakens affected creatures but normal noise does not. Awakening requires one entire round. Magically sleeping opponents can be attacked with substantial bonuses (see "Modifiers to the Attack Roll" in Chapter 9: Combat)."

    Not quite a catatonic state, but close.
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    Fri Jul 06, 2012 6:32 am  

    I have a Song mage in my campaign, and she is an illusion master. I am always kept on my toes with her. I've come up with a few basic rules.

    KISS: Keep it Simple Stupid. That's the best formula for success. I basically said, the more complex the illusion, the more likely people will spot flaws. They are there, regardless of how good the illusionist is. She would always like to make illusions of a half-dozen elven warriors rushing in and firing bows and such. That's hard to manipulate to maintain convincing. Every move, counter-move, etc has to be followed and dealt with to avoid others noticing. I give extra saves or save bonuses the more complex the illusions are. Now she creates smaller, but much more believable illusions.

    Anyway, here are my two house rules for illusions:

    9. Illusions KISS rule: Keep It Simple Stupid. Don't try super elaborate and complicated things that make my head explode. If you are going to copy some spell effect, I will use the rules of the actual spell copied. If you decide to go BEYOND the rules, say to make the "perfect fireball" then your targets will get a free chance to disbelieve the spell. This will be IN ADDITION to the normal save vs spells. So, if you try to throw an illusionary fireball, then the targets get a save for half-damage. If you want to cast one that has no save, they will instead save to disbelieve, success of which will mean no effect whatsoever and the knowledge that they are dealing with an illusionist. So, better to stick to the laws of magic, unless you want to risk worse failures.

    10. Illusionary creatures: They attack at your combat ability. As long as you concentrate on the illusion, you can keep it fighting; however, if you do anything "beyond the norm" then your targets will get a save to disbelieve.
    GreySage

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    Fri Jul 06, 2012 8:52 am  

    Cebrion, thanks again. I was thinking something along the same lines. Ragnar, agreed on your point about the more complex illusions are more difficult to create and manipulate.

    Ceb, wondering how handle the following: When victims of an illusion 'snap awake' (however long that may be) after 'dying' from an illusionary attack (but successfully roll System Shock), do they immediately realize they've been fooled? Or do they still 'think' they are wounded and stagger around, injured, and must slowly come to the realization over time (perhaps with assistance from others)?

    Thank you all for your posts on this thread. I am sure there will be more queries to come! Cool

    -Lanthorn
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    Fri Jul 06, 2012 6:20 pm  

    Lanthorn wrote:
    Ceb, wondering how handle the following: When victims of an illusion 'snap awake' (however long that may be) after 'dying' from an illusionary attack (but successfully roll System Shock), do they immediately realize they've been fooled? Or do they still 'think' they are wounded and stagger around, injured, and must slowly come to the realization over time (perhaps with assistance from others)?


    I suggest the simple answer to that question is that, if they failed their save to disbelieve, they are affected for as long as the spell lasts (subject to special circumstances as noted previously). If it happens to be a permanent illusion that was the cause of the PC's catatonic state, simply being 'slapped' awake should qualify as a new 'special circumstance'. If such a new save is failed, the PC would still see the damage on his or her body that killed him or her and, perhaps, require another system shock roll to avoid dying from shock again. Success means that the PC simply feints again at the sight of the catastrophic damage to their own body. Sooner or later, the PC will either succeed at disbelieving the illusion or die of a failed system shock roll.

    SirXaris
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    Sat Jul 07, 2012 2:35 am  

    Waking up from "death" caused by an illusion will not necessitate another System Shock roll if no further "killing attack" illusion affects the character. There is no repetitive "freebie" System Shock roll where there is no cause for it, meaning the illusionist must make the effort to hit the character with yet another "killing attack" to cause another System Shock roll. As you state though, waking up from supposed death would allow for a disbelief saving throw, as that is kind of an obvious tell that the effect was an illusion. Laughing
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    Sat Jul 07, 2012 5:34 am  

    I for one do not impose a system shock roll to survive at all. I do agree that it's pretty well-established in various media that dream or illusory death really can kill, but I don't personally think that's really the case so I don't do it. I just let them fall asleep for an indefinite period of time. It lets me just handle it how I wish. When they wake up, if the thieves didn't kill them while out, they don't realize they were dealing with illusions.
    GreySage

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    Sat Jul 07, 2012 8:23 am  

    Cebrion wrote:
    Waking up from "death" caused by an illusion will not necessitate another System Shock roll if no further "killing attack" illusion affects the character. There is no repetitive "freebie" System Shock roll where there is no cause for it, meaning the illusionist must make the effort to hit the character with yet another "killing attack" to cause another System Shock roll. As you state though, waking up from supposed death would allow for a disbelief saving throw, as that is kind of an obvious tell that the effect was an illusion. Laughing


    I understand your point, but will argue against it. In a fantasy world where zombies and other undead are very real and well-known to most adventurers and other magical powers are frequently encountered (like golems, non-dead animations, charms, etc.), any adventurer that died of a failed system shock role, believing they had suffered massive damage from some attack, would have every reason to 'beleive' that they had been re-animated as an undead or some other magical monstrosity upon awakening to such a sight as their own mangled/burned/etc. corpse. Thus, another save for disbelief is required and, if failed, another system shock roll.

    This does assume that the illusion is still in effect. If the illusion's duration had ended, the awakening PC would see him or herself in healthy condition and there would be no need for another save to disbelieve nor a system shock roll.

    SirXaris
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    Sat Jul 07, 2012 5:33 pm  

    With only a few noteable exceptions, I believe most of the illusions we are discussing (such as Spectral Force) have a limited duration based on the concentration of the caster. Surely the effect of the illusion will have long passed by the time the victim awakens (if they are not efficiently dispatched permanently by the wizard or his/her allies in their comatose state)...

    Ceb, is the System Shock roll for 'incidental' death mentioned in the Player's Handbook, under the chapter about abjudicating illusions?

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    Sun Jul 08, 2012 2:07 am  

    IIRC, yes (Ch. 7 I think). An illusory effect that causes death, and which the target believes in, necessitates a System Shock roll to see it character dies. If that roll is failed then the character effectively believes it, resulting in cardiac arrest and death. A character who makes that roll does not die, and effectively can be woken up from the "death" effect, and the effect is literally over at that point. There is no "You are dead over and over and over again; make System Shock rolls until you are dead ." effect going on. To get such a result relies on the illusionist to generate yet another death effect over and over and over. What Sir Xaris suggests pushes lo0wer level illusions farther than they are a intended to go. "I fireballed you dead , so now make disbelief saves, followed by System Shock rolls if you fail, round after round after round until you fail a System Shock roll and die." is not how illusions work. These effects do not work like death from poison and regeneration works. It is totally different. The effect is, "I should be dead, but somehow I am alive. Why is that? Rolls disbelief save immediately to realize that any damage is illusory, and so fully understand the nature of the attack. If still failed, the character simply doesn't understand why they are still alive and is fully susceptible to further illusions, as they have not yet figured out that any further spells will likely be illusions too.

    Illusions can potentially be very powerful, but don't give them power that they do not have either. If you do then you have a game breaker. Illusionists have to make an effort, at least so far as the parts of illusions that not programmed are concerned (which is why programmed illusion is such a high level spell).

    Gotta love adjudicating illusions. Wink
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    Sun Jul 08, 2012 9:11 am  

    Thanks, Ceb, for looking that up and clarifying your points. I agree about the "only rolling once for System Shock." And, YES, ruling illusions has been, and always will be, a royal pain in the sphincter! But I will admit they offer the most flexible spell choices around, granting a multi-faceted purpose in the right...mind...of the wizard.

    I think we had some great discussion on this thread, and appreciate everyone's input. If anyone has something they wish to contribute on this thread, I look forward to reading more.

    thanks, Canonfire! colleagues,

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    Tue Jul 10, 2012 8:05 am  

    Cebrion wrote:
    There is no "You are dead over and over and over again; make System Shock rolls until you are dead ." effect going on. To get such a result relies on the illusionist to generate yet another death effect over and over and over.


    Please let me clarify. As Lanthorn mentioned above, it will generally take a while before the unconscious PC awakens from the illusionary death, so it is most likely that the illusion is long over by that time. However, it is possible that a comrade awakens the PC before the duration of the initial illusion has ended. For example, let's imagine that a wizard casts a combination of low-level spells like Audible Glamour and Silent Image. Together, they create a(n admittedly poor) illusion of a giant lizard that strikes from the brush and ambushes the party's Thief scouting in advance of the party. The wizard causes the illusion to rip a chunck of flesh out of the Thief's side. The Thief character (being only 1st level) fails her save to disbelieve and dies from the damage. The party's fighter makes his save, however, and runs up to slap the Thief awake in the next round. As the rest of the party engages the evil wizard's kobold bodyguards, the wizard maintains the illusion and, as the Thief awakens, she notes the massive damage she has taken and has a reasonable chance of still believing that the illusion and its results are true. Thus, another save to disbelieve is called for and another system shock roll if that save is failed. If the wizard had ended the illusion before the Thief woke up, no further saves would be required as the Thief would awaken to a healed body, likely assuming the Fighter had administered a Healing potion or the party's Cleric had healed her.

    I'm only arguing this scenario in a situation where the initial illusion remains in effect when the victim regains consciousness. A DM would also be perfectly reasonable to allow whatever bonuses to such a second save as s/he felt appropriate to the circumstances.

    Quote:
    The effect is, "I should be dead, but somehow I am alive. Why is that? Rolls disbelief save immediately to realize that any damage is illusory, and so fully understand the nature of the attack. If still failed, the character simply doesn't understand why they are still alive and is fully susceptible to further illusions, as they have not yet figured out that any further spells will likely be illusions too.


    Here, I assume you are refering to the initial save to disbelieve when the illusion is first cast. Otherwise, it sounds like you're agreeing with my rationale for a second save upon regaining consciousness. Shocked

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