Rules for playing an Illusionist in my games…

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Treebore
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Rules for playing an Illusionist in my games…

Post by Treebore »

1. You must have personally seen whatever you create an Illusion of.
2. The creature you create can never operate at a higher HD than your level. So this will govern attack modifiers, save modifiers, etc… and any creature will only have the SAME Primes your Illusionist does.
3. You can only have monsters you create illusions of use only the powers you have personally seen them use.
4. Whatever creature you create an Illusion of can only exhibit behaviors you have personally witnessed them exhibit. Specifically, if you want to have a bear ferociously attack something, you have to have been within 30 feet of a bear’s ferocious attack at some point prior to creating the Illusion. If you want to create an Illusionary Red Dragon, and have it breathe fire, you must have directly witnessed a Red Dragon breathing fire.
5. If you wish to create Illusions of things you have never personally witnessed, you may do so, but your targets will automatically get a save at +4 to recognize it as an illusion due to inherent imperfections I, the CK, will assume you have with such Illusions.
6. If you use Illusions to mimic spells such as Fireballs and Lightning Bolts, you can only do so after personally being hit by such. Otherwise, the targets will automatically get a save at +4 versus an Illusion, then, only if they fail, will it be treated as a real Fireball, but your damage will automatically be halved.
7. Real life experiences are very important to Illusionists, so they will keep very detailed journals of what they see and experience, in order to create realistic Illusions. If you obtain such journals from other Illusionists, this will cut the save modifier to +2, but targets will still get an automatic save to disbelieve. You, in turn, will carry lots of such journals with you, as well as blank journals to fill with your future experiences, plus lots of ink and writing implements. The importance of these journals to you is on par with your spell books.
8. When an Illusion is used to mimic the spell of a Magic User, the Illusionist spell used must always be of equal level or higher than the Magic User spell being copied.


Any other suggestions? Lessons learned?
Since its 20,000 I suggest "Captain Nemo" as his title. Beyond the obvious connection, he is one who sails on his own terms and ignores those he doesn't agree with...confident in his journey and goals.
Sounds obvious to me! -Gm Michael

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Arduin
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Re: Rules for playing an Illusionist in my games…

Post by Arduin »

these are basically the rules I've had in place since ~'80. Although I keep them uncodified so as to be flexible.

Except for #7. Keeping a journal became a drag. And, reading about something means that the illusionists will be scouring libraries and such looking for detailed accounts of monsters.
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Re: Rules for playing an Illusionist in my games…

Post by Lurker »

To play the devil's advocate ....

I'd argue that to get whole +4 then the target also needs to have first hand experience of the monster/illusion .

In your example of a furious attacking bear, yes someone that has seen a bear attack someone may notice something is a bit off and have a chance to save. However, a city slicker that has only heard stories about bears would be scared by an illusionary 'bear' charging them that was just a bit off and not know that it wasn't quite right.

Same thing for a fire breathing red dragon ...
Arduin wrote:
..
Except for #7. Keeping a journal became a drag. And, reading about something means that the illusionists will be scouring libraries and such looking for detailed accounts of monsters.
I don't see a problem with that. Heck, I'd encourage it ...
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Re: Rules for playing an Illusionist in my games…

Post by Go0gleplex »

We used to keep a log of all the critters, traps, spells, and such encountered while playing back in the late 80's and early 90's so we could tell what the characters had seen and not seen whether an illusionist or not.

The only real difference with your rules Tree is that we let the illusionist create a red dragon if they'd seen a red dragon. However it was only as powerful as the illusionist in terms of "damage" etc., if that makes sense. Hard to remember specifics back that long ago. :lol:
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Re: Rules for playing an Illusionist in my games…

Post by Treebore »

Go0gleplex wrote:We used to keep a log of all the critters, traps, spells, and such encountered while playing back in the late 80's and early 90's so we could tell what the characters had seen and not seen whether an illusionist or not.

The only real difference with your rules Tree is that we let the illusionist create a red dragon if they'd seen a red dragon. However it was only as powerful as the illusionist in terms of "damage" etc., if that makes sense. Hard to remember specifics back that long ago. :lol:
Well, the illusionist can only make creatures as "powerful" as their own level, so a 7th level Ill. isn't going to be creating an Ancient Red Dragon any time soon, if ever. At 7th level they can only create a young/baby dragon of 7 HD.

As for the journal, only the imaginary journal is detailed, the Illusionist players journal reads more like:

Fought:
a female human Wizard, they cast Web (0), Fireball (X, which I barely lived through) and Magic Missile (0).
Saw a Green Dragon of good size fly overhead.


So they and I will know they can create an Illusion of a human woman casting those spells, or mimic those spells themselves, and the spells with a zero next to them are spells they haven't been directly affected by, and they know what a Green Dragon looks like from a distance, so the automatic extra save and other modifiers in the case of the Green Dragon will apply.
Since its 20,000 I suggest "Captain Nemo" as his title. Beyond the obvious connection, he is one who sails on his own terms and ignores those he doesn't agree with...confident in his journey and goals.
Sounds obvious to me! -Gm Michael

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Re: Rules for playing an Illusionist in my games…

Post by Go0gleplex »

1st ed and 2nd ed were never specific on that though. It was if the illusionist could imagine it and the victims had encountered such before then they could make whatever. Power limits were completely artificial at the time and up to the DM. That may have changed with later editions, but I never really bothered following such. The thing with how we ran things is if the Ill was making a red dragon, it would be similar to a red dragon the party members had seen before. It simply didn't do the full blown holocaust of damage when attacking, not that anyone was told that. They just figured that they got lucky avoiding the worst of it.

Whatever though...it is all season to taste in the end anyhow. *chuckles*
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Re: Rules for playing an Illusionist in my games…

Post by Treebore »

They never really got better on explaining Illusions. I do like what the Trolls say about them in the CKG, and I think they even changed what they say in the new PHB. Still don't give concrete guidelines like what is here.
Since its 20,000 I suggest "Captain Nemo" as his title. Beyond the obvious connection, he is one who sails on his own terms and ignores those he doesn't agree with...confident in his journey and goals.
Sounds obvious to me! -Gm Michael

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Re: Rules for playing an Illusionist in my games…

Post by Aramis »

The general rule I try to encourage with illusionist adjudication is: no matter how clever the PC's illusion, the result can never exceed the power of a spell-level equivalent wizard spell. Wizard spells are the ne plus ultra of magic. Thus, the descriptions may make it seem like a minor image could simulate something from higher up the wizard spell list but, alas, it cannot.

This is, of course, merely a "house" rule of thumb

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Re: Rules for playing an Illusionist in my games…

Post by Treebore »

Aramis wrote:The general rule I try to encourage with illusionist adjudication is: no matter how clever the PC's illusion, the result can never exceed the power of a spell-level equivalent wizard spell. Wizard spells are the ne plus ultra of magic. Thus, the descriptions may make it seem like a minor image could simulate something from higher up the wizard spell list but, alas, it cannot.

This is, of course, merely a "house" rule of thumb
How is number 8?
Since its 20,000 I suggest "Captain Nemo" as his title. Beyond the obvious connection, he is one who sails on his own terms and ignores those he doesn't agree with...confident in his journey and goals.
Sounds obvious to me! -Gm Michael

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Re: Rules for playing an Illusionist in my games…

Post by koralas »

Treebore wrote:1. You must have personally seen whatever you create an Illusion of.
3. You can only have monsters you create illusions of use only the powers you have personally seen them use.
4. Whatever creature you create an Illusion of can only exhibit behaviors you have personally witnessed them exhibit. Specifically, if you want to have a bear ferociously attack something, you have to have been within 30 feet of a bear’s ferocious attack at some point prior to creating the Illusion. If you want to create an Illusionary Red Dragon, and have it breathe fire, you must have directly witnessed a Red Dragon breathing fire.
I will only comment briefly on these and recommend that you remove them since you override them in point 5. Having been a proponent of the Illusionist all the way back through AD&D, I always went with, if you haven't personally seen it, you will have flaws in the illusion, granting a save in many cases, or a bonus to saves in others. For example, as Lurker mentions, are any of the targets familiar with the object of the illusion? If so, and based on the familiarity, a bonus small or large. If none of the targets are familiar with the illusion, just how outlandish is the illusion? Also, what other sources are available to help the illusionist craft the image/sound/effect being created? This you mention in step 7 so I wont go into that at this stage. If crafting the illusion of a bear, and you have never seen a bear, but you know what they generally look like, so sure, go ahead. Perhaps the gate of the creature is off, that may trigger a save, or maybe the eyes are off, triggering a save, and so on.

There is an easy way to simulate this lack of direct knowledge with the SIEGE Engine, simply have the Illusionist make an Int test, with the CL set by the CK based on the creature being created. For example, perhaps the Ill has never seen a wolf, but she has seen plenty of dogs, and heard descriptions of wolves. That might set the CL to 1, a Worg might be CL2, and a Winter Wolf perhaps CL 3. And while the Ill may never have seen a bear, but has heard many tales, or seen drawings of one, the CL might be set to the HD of the creature, so a Black Bear may be CL3, while a Cave Bear would be CL8. And perhaps you use the difference as an adjustment to the save of the target, if it is positive. Thus if you have an Ill level 2 with a 15 Int, and a CL of 8, that means you need to roll a 17 or higher to succeed. If the roll was a 10 +2 (level) +1 (Int) for a result of 13, the target gets a +4 on their save. Note that the Ill must have some knowledge of a creature/object/effect to attempt to create it, perhaps someone described one, perhaps a painting of one was seen, maybe it was read about, or quite possibly, even seen in another casters illusion. What I am getting at here is you need something to work from at the very least. None of us has ever seen a dragon, but we could all draw (if we have the skill) a dragon that someone would recognize as being such...
Treebore wrote:2. The creature you create can never operate at a higher HD than your level. So this will govern attack modifiers, save modifiers, etc… and any creature will only have the SAME Primes your Illusionist does.
I like the first portion of this to a degree. Capping the HD is fine, but at the level of the Ill is a bit to restrictive, since most creatures that are observed and would be useful to create, will have more HD than the Ill has levels. For example, a Wolf is 2HD, a Bear is 3HD, these are rather simple creatures that would not be available to a starting Illusionist for some time. And consider a dragon, it's HD will vastly outstrip the Ill, making an encounter with one useless for many more levels. For example only 29 of 69 possible creatures of Tier I as detailed in the CKG have 1HD. That means, the fledgling Ill will be unable to create an illusion of a 2/3 of the creatures encountered. Some of those also have 3 or more HD, thus further hampering the Ill.

If using this, I would provide a bonus to the save if going higher than level+3 in terms of HD, and for each multiple of 3 grant a +1 to the save. For example, a 1st level Ill casting an illusion of an Ogre (4HD) would not allow a save bonus, but if trying to create the illusion of an Ogre Mage (5HD), the target would get +1 to it's save. A Water Naga (7HD) would be at +1, while a Spirit Naga (9HD) or Criosphinx (10HD)would be at +2.
Treebore wrote:5. If you wish to create Illusions of things you have never personally witnessed, you may do so, but your targets will automatically get a save at +4 to recognize it as an illusion due to inherent imperfections I, the CK, will assume you have with such Illusions.
See my notes above, a flat bonus, IMO is not appropriate, since if the target has no knowledge of the creature or effect, then they have no basis to pick it apart. Now that is not to say that the illusion is a good one and may not trigger some sort of bonus for being so poor. Perhaps the Bear is not actually touching the ground, or it's claws are only 1/2" long...
Treebore wrote:6. If you use Illusions to mimic spells such as Fireballs and Lightning Bolts, you can only do so after personally being hit by such. Otherwise, the targets will automatically get a save at +4 versus an Illusion, then, only if they fail, will it be treated as a real Fireball, but your damage will automatically be halved.
Why must you have been a target of a spell, but not of the bear's attack so you know what it feels like? I'd fall back to observation on this... still though I would cap the damage based on the Ill level, so if he casts an illusory Fireball, but is only 2nd level, it can only do 2d6 damage. Save negates all damage. Knowledge such as character level is meta-game type information, one that is irrelevant to the target.
Treebore wrote:7. Real life experiences are very important to Illusionists, so they will keep very detailed journals of what they see and experience, in order to create realistic Illusions. If you obtain such journals from other Illusionists, this will cut the save modifier to +2, but targets will still get an automatic save to disbelieve. You, in turn, will carry lots of such journals with you, as well as blank journals to fill with your future experiences, plus lots of ink and writing implements. The importance of these journals to you is on par with your spell books.
I like this a lot, and getting the description journal of another Ill could reduce the penalties I mention above by or perhaps cut them in half, always rounding up.
Treebore wrote:8. When an Illusion is used to mimic the spell of a Magic User, the Illusionist spell used must always be of equal level or higher than the Magic User spell being copied.
This one I really do not like at all. Cap damage or effect, perhaps something different from what I mention above, the Ill casts but the effective level is lower, maybe -2 levels, 1/2 the level, always considering a minimum of level 1. So a 7th level Ill casting FB is either effectively casting it at 5th level, or 4th level of effect. Perhaps you subtract the MU Spell level from the Ill level, always to a minimum of 1, so a 3rd level Ill, casting FB would be 0, but at a minimum of 1, so only 1d6. Trying to cast an Incendiary Cloud, the 3rd level Ill would be 3-8=-5, but we still only allow minimum of 1st level, so the cloud is there, deals 4d6 damage, but only lasts 1 round. And if you also want to cap the damage potential by level, it would only do 3d6 damage. Still a successful save is not against the MU spell, but the illusion, so a successful save results in no damage.

Alternatively, or in addition to, allow the save against the spell to be adjusted by the difference in the maximum spell level the Ill can cast, and the spell being mimicked, thus a 3rd level Ill can cast 2nd level spells, Incendiary Cloud is an 8th level spell, so the save is at +6.

Additional considerations for non-instantaneous effect spells, allow bonuses to saves based on missing components of the Ill spell being cast. Thus Silent Image only creates visual components, so allow a +1 for each component missing, cumulative, so if the illusion only needs sight, no bonus. If needing sight and sound, it results in a +1, if sight, sound, and Smell, this is +1+2=+3, if sight, sound, smell and tactile (listed as thermal on Major Image, I think this is an error and should be tactile), the bonus is +1+2+3=+6. Thus until you can cast 3rd level spells and use Major Image, there will usually be at least a +1 to your roll. If one target succeeds, and another fails, let the one that passed alert the others, if they had not yet tried to disbelieve the illusion, let them try it now. In either case, provide a bonus to their die roll as you deem appropriate, I would hesitate on going any higher than +5 though.

One final note - What I find interesting, is that Minor and Major Image both allow a save only if the target tries to disbelieve, where Silent Image has no such provision and just allows an Int save. This helps to keep this 1st level spell more in check.

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Re: Rules for playing an Illusionist in my games…

Post by Arduin »

Treebore wrote: but your targets will automatically get a save at +4 to recognize it as an illusion
In C&C there is no advantage to recognizing (or knowing) that a spell is an illusion spell. One must still make a straight save without bonus. see pg. 72 of the PHB for more...
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Re: Rules for playing an Illusionist in my games…

Post by Treebore »

Arduin wrote:
Treebore wrote: but your targets will automatically get a save at +4 to recognize it as an illusion
In C&C there is no advantage to recognizing (or knowing) that a spell is an illusion spell. One must still make a straight save without bonus. see pg. 72 of the PHB for more...
I know, I make house rules because I don't agree with what is written in the book plus that house rule only applies to Illusions they make of things they have never seen. For things they have seen/experienced, the normal rules apply when not directly countered by my house rules.

I've played and DM/CKed Illusionist for nearly 3 decades. I've run a LOT of games for a LOT of people over the years, so I've seen, and tried, every "trick" attempted to make Illusionists overly powerful, so these rules are aimed at still allowing them the incredible versatility they have with Illusions (imagination is largely the limit), but keeping them from being more powerful than the other spell casters in terms of mechanical effectiveness. Are my rules perfect? No, but they are a heck of a lot more effective than what is written in the rule books.
Since its 20,000 I suggest "Captain Nemo" as his title. Beyond the obvious connection, he is one who sails on his own terms and ignores those he doesn't agree with...confident in his journey and goals.
Sounds obvious to me! -Gm Michael

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Re: Rules for playing an Illusionist in my games…

Post by Captain_K »

Here are some simple options:
1) No illusionist PCs
2A) Illusionist PC spells are all as fixed as Mage spells, yes more spells must be written. (No other class gets to make up damage as they go). Variable aspects fine, but affects and impacts need to be hard coded.
2B) Illusionists are just mages with a special spell list; PC and CK make spell book and any 'new" or "variable" spell together (see 2A).
3) Variable Illusionist affects do d6 damage per SEIGE point of save failure vs INT in addition to dX/lvl associated with the spell being mimicked, second saves allowed if mirrored spell has them.
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Re: Rules for playing an Illusionist in my games…

Post by Aramis »

Treebore wrote:
Aramis wrote:The general rule I try to encourage with illusionist adjudication is: no matter how clever the PC's illusion, the result can never exceed the power of a spell-level equivalent wizard spell. Wizard spells are the ne plus ultra of magic. Thus, the descriptions may make it seem like a minor image could simulate something from higher up the wizard spell list but, alas, it cannot.

This is, of course, merely a "house" rule of thumb
How is number 8?
It's fine, but I mean something more general. Often, what the illusionist comes up with will not have an exact wizard spell analogue, but its effect will be far greater than an equivalent wizard spell. In these cases, where the DM is grappling with no spell description to clarify the effect of this "made up" spell, he should just keep in mind that whatever the effect, it can't exceed a fireball for a 3rd level spell, an acid arrow or web for a 2nd level spell, and so on. We use wizard spells as the upper barrier because they are widely recognized as the most powerful spells/level

Keep in mind also that illusionist spells have 2 important benefits over the spells of other classes. 1) They are infinitely variable. So that one spell in the illusionists' mind is potentially a web, and an acid arrow, and a spiritual weapon, and an entangle etc. Like Schroedinger's cat, it is everything in potentia, until the illusionist pulls it out of the box

2) Most illusionist spells call for a disbelieve check which is an intelligence check rather than, say, dexterity. This converts many "wizard" type effects from Prime saves for most monsters to non Prime. A massive change.

There are downsides with the illusionist spells too of course. They do not work on certain opponents, their lack of certain sensory outputs may give a bonus on the save etc. But with these two benefits included, you really want to make sure that, additionally, illusionist spells do not match or exceed their wizard spell level equivalents

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Re: Rules for playing an Illusionist in my games…

Post by Captain_K »

Aramis, Well put. Fighting with PC Illusionists casting a second lvl spell and saying "flame strike" is the pits.

Since no one has really seen a red dragon breath fire, Jackson and his team make pretty good illusionists ;} But I like the idea of "its all possible" but as you leave into others senses left off or exceeding your "level" your illusions weaken as a great approach. I would apply the weakening to both the INT belief AND the possible damage done.

EX. 3rd lvl Illusionist creates a ghost to attack a 3rd lvl Evil Cleric and his three skeleton minions. None have seen a ghost personally, but professionally both classes have studied them (the illusionist thinks a ghost is a great thing to create an Illusion of so he has spent years studying every story and even spoken with good clerics who have battled them for every detail AND he has once practiced his illusion of a ghost for a cleric to get it right). Ghost is 10d8 monster, causes fear with voice and life force loss (aging) with touch. The Illusionist is pretty good with it and the Cleric knows about it.. should be an even match.. so lets work together to work through this example with numbers, here is my take, please provide your own.

Minor image is sound and motion, but no smell or temperature (just noticed an error on page 83 of PH where short descriptions says smell, but the long description specifically says no smell). The ghost has little affect on the world in terms of foot prints, affected by blows, has no temperature nor does it have a smell. Since the illusion is not evil or aligned, I would be willing to grant a +1 to the Cleric for "supernatural evil feeling" that just isn't there. The 10 dice monster is 7 dice/levels above the Illusionist, so -7?? Seems harsh, but lets go with it for now. So the Cleric knows he has little chance to control the thing and wonders how powerful a mage or cleric he's against that can control a ghost (assumes the Cleric sees the spell being cast). He's offered his INT save to see if he believes the Illusion and does so as a non-prime -3 vs +3 for common levels, but also at +8. Let's say he fails... So he attempts to Rebuke and fails (no matter what he rolls). Now there is a Ghost attacking him... it wails (Illusionist's attack), the Cleric easily saves vs Fear (WIS, prime with +8)... the Cleric knows neither his mundane weapons nor the skeletons can harm the ghost so he casts spiritual weapon which should be able to harm the ghost.. attacks and appears to do no damage passes right through... did he miss? Just too little damage to phase it? (The illusionist is unaware of magic needed or the magic in the spiritual weapon (he's INT, not WIS). The Illusionist goes in for the touch attack with the ghost... The touch attack is at 3rd lvl "monster", ignores armor, and scores a hit with a high roll. The Evil Human Cleric fears for his youth... since the hit lands 10-40 years of aging... OK, here I would rule the illusion cannot deliver on the aging and in the next round allow a second INT save to the Cleric now at an additional +2 for a total of +10 to see the ghost illusion for what it is... since it is not behaving or doing what a Ghost should do...
Aside: The skeletons would ignore this ghost illusion just like a real ghost, if asked if they could see it they would say, "see what?" since they are immune to illusions they cannot even see them?? I would assume they can see real ghosts can they see illusions but just ignore them?
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Re: Rules for playing an Illusionist in my games…

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Treebore wrote:
Arduin wrote:
Treebore wrote: but your targets will automatically get a save at +4 to recognize it as an illusion
In C&C there is no advantage to recognizing (or knowing) that a spell is an illusion spell. One must still make a straight save without bonus. see pg. 72 of the PHB for more...
I know, I make house rules because I don't agree with what is written in the book plus that house rule only applies to Illusions they make of things they have never seen.
Then, that's a horse of a different color. :)
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Re: Rules for playing an Illusionist in my games…

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Arduin wrote:In C&C there is no advantage to recognizing (or knowing) that a spell is an illusion spell. One must still make a straight save without bonus. see pg. 72 of the PHB for more...
Which printing of the PHB are you culling this from? Page 72 of 4th printing is "C" spells. Also, what Section, Heading, and any possible Sub-Heading are you looking at?

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Re: Rules for playing an Illusionist in my games…

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koralas wrote:
Arduin wrote:In C&C there is no advantage to recognizing (or knowing) that a spell is an illusion spell. One must still make a straight save without bonus. see pg. 72 of the PHB for more...
Which printing of the PHB are you culling this from? Page 72 of 4th printing is "C" spells. Also, what Section, Heading, and any possible Sub-Heading are you looking at?
The latest printing. (you are 2 printings behind the times ;) ) 2nd paragraph on the page.
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Re: Rules for playing an Illusionist in my games…

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Arduin wrote:
koralas wrote:
Arduin wrote:In C&C there is no advantage to recognizing (or knowing) that a spell is an illusion spell. One must still make a straight save without bonus. see pg. 72 of the PHB for more...
Which printing of the PHB are you culling this from? Page 72 of 4th printing is "C" spells. Also, what Section, Heading, and any possible Sub-Heading are you looking at?
The latest printing. (you are 2 printings behind the times ;) ) 2nd paragraph on the page.
Thanks, I don't have the PDF's of the latest printing, and not at home where my hard copy of it is. I'll check it back when I get home.

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Re: Rules for playing an Illusionist in my games…

Post by serleran »

My rules --

1) the more verisimilitude, the more likely your effect will work... sort of like Mage: The Ascension.
2) don't whine when you forget not all illusions cover all senses

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Re: Rules for playing an Illusionist in my games…

Post by Arduin »

serleran wrote:My rules --
2) don't whine when you forget not all illusions cover all senses
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Re: Rules for playing an Illusionist in my games…

Post by Dracyian »

Arduin wrote:
serleran wrote:My rules --
2) don't whine when you forget not all illusions cover all senses
FTW
This by far

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