Revising the illusionist

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Post by anonymous »

gideon_thorne wrote:
Yes, you can, with the applicable illusion spell.

No, there are lots of effects where an illusion is not applicable. You can create an illusory wall and hope it's believed, so functioning as a real wall, or you can create an illusory monster and enemies may fight it, but you can't create an illusion of movement to duplicate a Fly, Telekinesis or Teleport, you can't use illusion to replicate any divination and get any better result than the same wild guess you'd have made without recourse to spells, you can't create an illusory gap in a wall and expect to really walk through it as though it were a Passwall, etc.

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Post by gideon_thorne »

Tenser's Floating Disk wrote:
No, there are lots of effects where an illusion is not applicable. You can create an illusory wall and hope it's believed, so functioning as a real wall, or you can create an illusory monster and enemies may fight it, but you can't create an illusion of movement to duplicate a Fly, Telekinesis or Teleport, you can't use illusion to replicate any divination and get any better result than the same wild guess you'd have made without recourse to spells, you can't create an illusory gap in a wall and expect to really walk through it as though it were a Passwall, etc.

Actually, various illusion spells are quite capable of creating the seeming of all these effects. If the target believes it, how is it different than if it were real?

Illusions are about the alteration of perceived reality, and all of the above are about perception. Even if a character hasn't actually walked through a space created by a passwall spell, he still believes he has.

If a character believes he is under the effects of a flight spell or telekinetic effect, how would they know any different if they believe the effect is real. Might as well convince a schizophrenic that the people they see, that no one else does, aren't real.

As for divination and the rest, the target, believing its real, will act on the information they receive. No different than the often vague results of a divination spell in the first place.
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Post by Go0gleplex »

The instance of someone believing they have walked through a non-existant doorway...in reality they have stopped at the real wall. In their mind however, they have passed through the doorway into an area that the illusionist also needs to include within the effect of the illusion...or else the beguiled subject of the illusion finds themselves where they were.

Again....to properly run an illusionist with the spells available...you MUST pay attention to EVERY detail to be included in the illusion.

Frankly, the arguements I've seen...the only thing that holds any weight so far is that they do need an expanded spell list. The rest of the complaints simply seem generated from misunderstanding the class...or being lazy and expecting the blast and trash effects of mage spells. My perceptions for what they're worth.
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Post by gideon_thorne »

Go0gleplex wrote:
Frankly, the arguements I've seen...the only thing that holds any weight so far is that they do need an expanded spell list. The rest of the complaints simply seem generated from misunderstanding the class...or being lazy and expecting the blast and trash effects of mage spells. My perceptions for what they're worth.

I'm actually kind of the opposite view on this. I think the essence of the illusionist class could be distilled down into one innate class ability, called Illusion.
How senses are affected, how many, and how long could be just as easily achieved by using various difficulty checks.
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Post by anonymous »

gideon_thorne wrote:
Actually, various illusion spells are quite capable of creating the seeming of all these effects. If the target believes it, how is it different than if it were real?
THERE IS NO TARGET.

You can't seem to understand the point I'm making: an illusionist cannot actually do any of these things. If an illusionist actually does want to know the exact location of Aargh the Assassin to stop him killing the King, it does him no good at all to fool everyone else into thinking he's scrying when he isn't really... if an illusionist wants to escape the deadly pit trap by flying out, it does him no good to make it look as if he's escaped when he hasn't really.

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Post by gideon_thorne »

Tenser's Floating Disk wrote:
gideon_thorne wrote:
THERE IS NO TARGET.

You can't seem to understand the point I'm making: an illusionist cannot actually do any of these things. If an illusionist actually does want to know the exact location of Aargh the Assassin to stop him killing the King, it does him no good at all to fool everyone else into thinking he's scrying when he isn't really... if an illusionist wants to escape the deadly pit trap by flying out, it does him no good to make it look as if he's escaped when he hasn't really.

8th level illusionist spell, Distort Reality, can accomplish everything you previously listed.
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Post by serleran »

And, the cycle repeats...
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Post by gideon_thorne »

serleran wrote:
And, the cycle repeats...

*chuckles* Not really, since the discussion wasn't relevant to level. The comment that precipitated this part of the discussion was 'the illusionist can do anything with the proper illusion spell.' Which is absolutely correct.
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Post by serleran »

Of course X can do Y with the right Z. But, the usual point of conflict is: when does Z become available, how effective is it, and is it fun?

But, I have my own ideas on how to revise this class. When I get the time, I might post them over at the Society forums.
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Post by gideon_thorne »

serleran wrote:
Of course X can do Y with the right Z. But, the usual point of conflict is: when does Z become available, how effective is it, and is it fun?

Well, figuring all that out is part of the challenge one would think?
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Post by serleran »

Challenge does not always equate to fun.

But, I really don't care anymore. Whatever happens to the PHB, I'll just use whatever I feel like using. One cannot make everyone happy, so I see no reason to even try.
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Post by gideon_thorne »

serleran wrote:
Challenge does not always equate to fun. In fact, in many instances it drives people away.

*chuckles* Then there is Gary's oft repeated quote "Perhaps they should go play Candyland with their sister."
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Post by serleran »

So? RPGs are meant to be fun. If you are driving players to not do something because the system seems to not encourage it (or makes something appear "less fun,) then there is a flaw. If C&C is supposed to be open and "play anything and do anything" then there is an inconsistent hypocrisy in the classes -- if there were not, there would be no need to have a "revise this and revise that" because people would look at the available options and think "wow, that does have a lot it can do" and not "well, under the right situations, with a Castle Keeper who interprets things this way, and if I were able to cast 8th level spells... then, yeah." Granted, that's always going to happen, but when it is occurring on a regular basis, the smart thing to do is to look and say "well, maybe there is something lacking..."

But, whatever, that is tangential, and I am bored with the debate to prove the class needs revision -- whether it does or not, at this point, is irrelevant since Steve has said it was going to get it. He wants to know what revisions are suggested, I assume, so why not actually do that?

The illusionist needs a way to impact those which are otherwise immune, such as plants, oozes, most undead, constructs... they are effectively useless against an incredible range of monsters and situations. This is reason #1, to me, that their spell list needs expansion. A very easy way to do this is to simply say an illusionist gains access to the wizard list, but must treat himself as though he were 3-5 levels lower for purposes of spell level acquisition, and as a side-note caveat, limiting it to the Intelligence modifier / level (that is, an illusionist with an 18 Int can have 3 wizard spells / level.) This has the double-whammy of not requiring even more spells to be added -- just a simple sentence in the PHB explaining it -- and also of greatly increasing the potency of the class while keeping them somewhat restricted since they could not get every wizard spell.

Just an idea.
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Post by Go0gleplex »

I think that's why Steve was using Dazzler in allegory to some of the proposed spell list expansions Serl. Spells of concentrated light could wither or burn plants and oozes. Sound can be very effective (our party cleric has been decimating things with Sound Burst)...and should an illusionist get hold of things that do sonic damage, even oozes are going to get jello'd. (pun intended) Stuff of that nature would plug the hole neatly without a lot of secondary fuss IMO.
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Post by gideon_thorne »

serleran wrote:
So? RPGs are meant to be fun. If you are driving players to not do something because the system seems to not encourage it (or makes something appear "less fun,) then there is a flaw.

Thats not a flaw in the game though. Thats a flaw in perception.

If the game is too easy, its not fun. If there is no challenge, its not fun. Where is the challenge in having pat answers and powers for every situation all in one character? Sounds rather boring to me.
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If C&C is supposed to be open and "play anything and do anything" then there is an inconsistent hypocrisy in the classes -- if there were not, there would be no need to have a "revise this and revise that" because people would look at the available options and think "wow, that does have a lot it can do" and not "well, under the right situations, with a Castle Keeper who interprets things this way, and if I were able to cast 8th level spells... then, yeah." Granted, that's always going to happen, but when it is occurring on a regular basis, the smart thing to do is to look and say "well, maybe there is something lacking..."

And if this were to be accomplished, it would take a rule book 10,000 pages long to cover every permutation that everyone can think of. Instead, folks can stop using rules in a book as a straight jacket and change things if they like.

Again, its a perceptual flaw. Not everyone points out the same flaws in the same classes consistently. Its all based on personal perception.
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The illusionist needs a way to impact those which are otherwise immune, such as plants, oozes, most undead, constructs... they are effectively useless against an incredible range of monsters and situations.

Which can be said about a number of classes. The challenge then becomes making do with available resources or rely on the other characters to make up for the lack in a given class.

The illusionist can be just as effective against all those threats as any other class. Plants, oozes, undead are all flammable, and most characters carry a torch. And a construct is going to kick everyone's ass if they aren't quick enough.
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Post by dunbruha »

With all of the disagreement on how illusions work, perhaps an addition to the PHB on how to adjudicate them would be useful. Here is a suggestion. It was inspired by and modified from an earlier post (by Lord Dynel, I think):

-----------------

Handling Illusions

1. Illusions are "real" things. They are magical objects, not conjured images in someone's mind, like psionic attacks are (there are some exceptions, like phantasmal killer - but it specifically says so). Because an illusion can be seen by all onlookers, even by people who the illusionist might not know is watching, it must be an actual thing that can be interacted with. Characters that make the save to disbelieve know that the object is an illusion (it becomes translucent). Even if it is disbelieved by one character, it still exists (for as long as the spell duration lasts) and can be interacted with by other characters.

2. A character may have an automatic chance to disbelieve an illusion, depending on his Intelligence score. A character has an automatic chance to disbelieve (i.e., make an Intelligence save vs. caster level) if his Intelligence score is equal to or higher than 10 + the spell level. This takes an entire round. If the characters are not able to observe the illusion for an entire round, then they do not get an automatic save. For example, an illusionist casts a silent image (1st level spell) of the illusion of a bonfire on top of a trap door. Anyone looking at the bonfire/ trap door (for at least one round) that has an Intelligence score of 11 or better (10 + 1) gets an automatic intelligence save against the illusion.

3. Characters that do not get an automatic chance to try to save (as well as those who failed their automatic save) can attempt to disbelieve only if they interact directly with the illusion, or if they are informed by another character of the existence of the illusion (this results in a +2 to the save). Otherwise, they believe the illusion.

4. Illusions that directly cause damage are harder to cast (i.e., they are easier to disbelieve). For each d6 of damage that the illusion has the potential to cause, +1 is added to the save. For example, an illusionist casts an illusion of a fireball. The illusionist decides that the spell will have the potential to cause 3d6 hit points of damage. Any characters within the illusionary fireball add +3 to their illusion save. If they succeed, then they take no damage. If they fail, then they take 3d6 of hit point damage (and get a chance to make a Dexterity save for half damage). The affected characters will be convinced that they got burned, even if the other characters try to convince them otherwise.

5. The effectiveness of illusions is extremely dependent on player ability. The more detail that the player provides, and the better the description of how the illusion interacts with its surroundings, the more likely that the CK will adjust the CL to make the illusion harder to disbelieve.

-----------------

This, or something like it would provide help for players to run an illusionist character, without trying to spell out (heh!) all possible permutations of illusions.

anonymous

Post by anonymous »

gideon_thorne wrote:
Well, figuring all that out is part of the challenge one would think?

This is nonsense. There is no way of "figuring out" how an illusionist can fly or pass through walls (leaving aside waiting until he's 15th Level ) with the spell list he has.

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Post by Hawkwinter »

It really depends on what the original attempt of the discussion was. The Illusionist class to me from it's original construction was a function of mind-altering magics related to the old Enchantment/Charm school but different in their affects.

An Illusion can no more make you "fly" or "teleport" than an extremely persuasive salesman can sell you a "magic carpet", eventually the Emperor will realize he has no clothes on. A character may be convinced he has walked through a wall, and taken the Sceptre of Kings but in reality it's still on the other side of the wall. No use for lower level casters until Distort Reality comes into play.

However, there are two sides to this discussion.

I don't think an Illusionist SHOULD be able to make people fly, teleport, or pass through walls. That is the realm of the Wizard and should be his focus. In as much as a Ranger can't hurls "Balls of Fire", neither should a different class than Wizard have everything and more of their class. Illusionists are different and as such should be good at different things.

That being said, I do think there are a serious lack of comparable impact spells between the two classes at lower levels. While the Illusionist can make up some of this difference by copying Wizard Effects with their spells, they shouldn't have to in my book...they should as I said before... be different.

In the older versions of this class I have always played them, and molded them in my campaigns as the original "Shadow Casters", channeling most of their magical energy from the Plane of Shadow and manipulating its effects on our plane to their whim. Eventually, through mastery of this ability the effects become more physically tangible as the amount of shadow energy available to the caster grows. Note the original Demi-Shadow monster effects grew in the amount of tangible damage they could perform even after a saving throw.

I think this is where some of the discrepancies could be addressed. Don't try and focus the Illusionist on "Copying" the Wizard at lower levels...allow them some spells that shape their unique ties to their school of magic.

Chromatic Orb was a wonderful unique spell for the Illusionist, and I'd love to see it come back for them.

This school is actually what I use in my own campaign to give the Bard at higher levels ( I actually give them spellcasting) where they manipulate emotions and views of the world through their music/oratory skills.

My two cents...

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Post by Lord Dynel »

dunbruha wrote:
With all of the disagreement on how illusions work, perhaps an addition to the PHB on how to adjudicate them would be useful. Here is a suggestion. It was inspired by and modified from an earlier post (by Lord Dynel, I think):

-----------------

Handling Illusions

1. Illusions are "real" things. They are magical objects, not conjured images in someone's mind, like psionic attacks are (there are some exceptions, like phantasmal killer - but it specifically says so). Because an illusion can be seen by all onlookers, even by people who the illusionist might not know is watching, it must be an actual thing that can be interacted with. Characters that make the save to disbelieve know that the object is an illusion (it becomes translucent). Even if it is disbelieved by one character, it still exists (for as long as the spell duration lasts) and can be interacted with by other characters.

2. A character may have an automatic chance to disbelieve an illusion, depending on his Intelligence score. A character has an automatic chance to disbelieve (i.e., make an Intelligence save vs. caster level) if his Intelligence score is equal to or higher than 10 + the spell level. This takes an entire round. If the characters are not able to observe the illusion for an entire round, then they do not get an automatic save. For example, an illusionist casts a silent image (1st level spell) of the illusion of a bonfire on top of a trap door. Anyone looking at the bonfire/ trap door (for at least one round) that has an Intelligence score of 11 or better (10 + 1) gets an automatic intelligence save against the illusion.

3. Characters that do not get an automatic chance to try to save (as well as those who failed their automatic save) can attempt to disbelieve only if they interact directly with the illusion, or if they are informed by another character of the existence of the illusion (this results in a +2 to the save). Otherwise, they believe the illusion.

4. Illusions that directly cause damage are harder to cast (i.e., they are easier to disbelieve). For each d6 of damage that the illusion has the potential to cause, +1 is added to the save. For example, an illusionist casts an illusion of a fireball. The illusionist decides that the spell will have the potential to cause 3d6 hit points of damage. Any characters within the illusionary fireball add +3 to their illusion save. If they succeed, then they take no damage. If they fail, then they take 3d6 of hit point damage (and get a chance to make a Dexterity save for half damage). The affected characters will be convinced that they got burned, even if the other characters try to convince them otherwise.

5. The effectiveness of illusions is extremely dependent on player ability. The more detail that the player provides, and the better the description of how the illusion interacts with its surroundings, the more likely that the CK will adjust the CL to make the illusion harder to disbelieve.

-----------------

This, or something like it would provide help for players to run an illusionist character, without trying to spell out (heh!) all possible permutations of illusions.

I like these...okay, I'm a little bias, what can I say? I think these are sound. Any opinions fellas?
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Post by gideon_thorne »

Tenser's Floating Disk wrote:
This is nonsense. There is no way of "figuring out" how an illusionist can fly or pass through walls (leaving aside waiting until he's 15th Level ) with the spell list he has.

Well, considering you just contradicted yourself in this very statement, the character can obviously figure out just that.
Sides, with a little flexibility in either the interpretation of the rope trick spell, or the secure shelter spell, one could make a case for using either to get round obstacles. After all, neither spell specifically says you cant move the exit point.

Rpg's, in general, are about challenging the player, not the character, to come up with creative solutions to problems. A distinction, I think, often overlooked.

As for flying... well, either wait till 15th level where the illusionist is going to have a spell that gives him access to spells from all the spell casting lists up to 4th level, which is awesome, or they can try flying earlier, which they will likely succeed at with sufficient running room and a high enough jumping point. Its just landing thats going to be a bitch.
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Post by Nelzie »

Lord Dynel wrote:
I like these...okay, I'm a little bias, what can I say? I think these are sound. Any opinions fellas?

I don't like the bit about the spell remaining in effect against other characters, save the one who made the save. I also have an issue with "Automatic Saves" bit, it severely weakens the capabilities of the class.

Point number 4 has an issue, in that higher level Illusionist Spells can actually create sensations of Touch, Smell, Heat/Cold and similar. Thus, a "Permanent Illusion" spell would actually "create" the fire that burns when used as a Fireball Spell. (I'd say that would be an extremely weak use of that spell though...)
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Post by Go0gleplex »

The illusions remaining in effect against those that haven't saved has been a standard ruling since 1e days. Think of it as the "Matrix effect" for the most current analogy.
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Post by Treebore »

Illusionists are primarily about convincing minds that things are "reality" even when they aren't. Now if you go on the premise that "perception is reality" then you get into where a creative illusionist can really accomplish anything, as long as minds are involved.

So as long as minds are involved, even their own, they can make anything "reality". Whether its a fireball, flying, stepping through walls, etc... because being convinced its real makes it into reality.

Now if you don't want to go with this premise, then your back to being a wizard variant.
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Post by Moorcrys »

gideon_thorne wrote:
Which can be said about a number of classes. The challenge then becomes making do with available resources or rely on the other characters to make up for the lack in a given class.

The illusionist can be just as effective against all those threats as any other class. Plants, oozes, undead are all flammable, and most characters carry a torch. And a construct is going to kick everyone's ass if they aren't quick enough.

Isn't one of the reasons why spells such as Chromatic Orb were created and put into Unearthed Arcana by Gary back in the day? To give illusionists some spell ability against things normally unaffected by illusions? Unfortunately, no spells like that are available to the current C&C illusionist in the PHB, particularly at low level.

If the trolls are going to do a little revising to the class and they want to focus on expanding the illusionist's spell list, why not start with the books the Trolls used to make C&C in the first place? The effects of a spell like Chromatic Orb could give an illusionist a real damage option (albeit a lower powered one compared to wizards) that complements the class thematically.
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Post by gideon_thorne »

Moorcrys wrote:
Isn't one of the reasons why spells such as Chromatic Orb were created and put into Unearthed Arcana by Gary back in the day? To give illusionists some spell ability against things normally unaffected by illusions? Unfortunately, no spells like that are available to the current C&C illusionist in the PHB, particularly at low level.

If the trolls are going to do a little revising to the class and they want to focus on expanding the illusionist's spell list, why not start with the books the Trolls used to make C&C in the first place? The effects of a spell like Chromatic Orb could give an illusionist a real damage option (albeit a lower powered one compared to wizards) that complements the class thematically.

I'll see if I can talk Steve into doing a spell that follows the Shadow Evocation theme. Lesser Shadow Evocation which can mimic certain first level mage spells. Could be a 2nd or 3rd level spell
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Post by anonymous »

Treebore wrote:
Illusionists are primarily about convincing minds that things are "reality" even when they aren't. Now if you go on the premise that "perception is reality" then you get into where a creative illusionist can really accomplish anything, as long as minds are involved.

So as long as minds are involved, even their own, they can make anything "reality". Whether its a fireball, flying, stepping through walls, etc... because being convinced its real makes it into reality.

Now if you don't want to go with this premise, then your back to being a wizard variant.

Why would anyone in their right mind assume that a dumbed-down summarisation of antirealist philosophy is a baseline for the game, with the express purpose of breaking that game?

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Post by anonymous »

gideon_thorne wrote:
Well, considering you just contradicted yourself in this very statement, the character can obviously figure out just that.

No, I didn't.

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Post by Treebore »

Tenser's Floating Disk wrote:
Why would anyone in their right mind assume that a dumbed-down summarisation of antirealist philosophy is a baseline for the game, with the express purpose of breaking that game?

Its always nice to add things to a discussion to prove your right, isn't it?

No one is expressly trying to create an illusionist with the express intention of breaking the game. This premise can be followed up on and developed further with built in limits to control the class to keep it from "breaking the game". It just takes thoughtful development.

Lets use what is probably the most powerful spell in the game for an example. Wish. If you take the "Aladdin Wish" first. In that tale a wish can grant you anything you can imagine, no limits. Since then Dragon magazine articles and rules revisions in the editions of D&D and even C&C have severely limited the power of a Wish.

So similar thoughts of control need to be applied to keeping the Illusionist from becoming god like.

Even though, if you think about it, any 18th level character is god like in comparison to zero or first level NPC/PC.
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Post by gideon_thorne »

Tenser's Floating Disk wrote:
Why would anyone in their right mind assume that a dumbed-down summarisation of antirealist philosophy is a baseline for the game, with the express purpose of breaking that game?

Umm..cause the right side is where creativity lay. The games rules are not static, break it in any fashion you choose. It even states in the PHB that classes are to be given wide interpretation in their abilities.
Quote:
No, I didn't.

When stating a class can't do something, then stating it can at higher level, that is a contradiction.

I stand by my statement that the illusionist can do anything with the classes spell list that anyone can imagine. It might take a few levels to get there, but that does not contradict my statement.
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Post by Hawkwinter »

gideon_thorne wrote:
I'll see if I can talk Steve into doing a spell that follows the Shadow Evocation theme. Lesser Shadow Evocation which can mimic certain first level mage spells. Could be a 2nd or 3rd level spell

See, I like the Shadow Evocation part...the mimic is a bit off center for me. The Illusionist "mimicing" Wizard spells cheapens both classes. If the Illusionist chooses to use their phantasmal spells to mimic wizard spells for effect...say to pass themselves off as a known wizard of the region, or to fool the enemy into using inappropriate abjurations...that's great. However to make their magic simply a "knock-off" of Wizard spells...not good. Chromatic Orb was unique to Illusionists in the old Unearthed Arcana. It's combination of damage and effects that scaled as the Illusionist grew was refreshing and made it the "Magic Missle" of the Illusionist...but it wasn't a lesser version of a wizard spell.

A Chromatic Orb like spell born of Shadow Evocation, a spell like the old demi-shadow monsters to help give the Illusionist a type of conjuration but unaffected by protection spells. These should help balance out areas where the Illusionist may not be as balanced as the Wizard without simply copying the template. Everything else is a matter of imagination...that I agree with.

I typically mimic the Stinking Cloud smell by using Minor Image. Want an acid arrow? Major Image provides a thermal effect that can mimic the burning sensation of the acid. Flying? Well that's where the Shadow forms could asist as well in giving the Illusionist their own modes of transportation.

Pretty cool discussion, I have gotten some great ideas for my campaign as well. Thanks guys.

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