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Monday, March 8, 2021

Re-Vamped Spells: Phantasmal Forces

This is the first in what may become an irregular series on altering spells, possibly for use with the ideas I had about conceptual magic. I want to start with illusions, and in particular Phantasmal Forces.

Phantasmal Forces
Causes insubstantial smoke, mist, light, or shadow to appear as any physical object or being the spellcaster can imagine, for as long as they can see and focus on it. The primary illusion can indirectly harm intelligent beings as long as they believe it, but touching it reveals the trick.

Some thoughts here:

  • Instead of this being a form of mental domination, this spell makes something real appear as something else. Some other class like Mesmerist or Psychic might be able to create illusions purely with their mind.
  • There has to be a target to transform visually, and it should be something that’s indistinct or even amorphous, even chaotic. When that target is somehow eliminated (wind blows away the smoke) or when the magician can no longer see the target, the illusion ends.
  • Magicians can create this target in a couple ways, if they can’t find a viable target that already exists. In particular, they could burn something to create smoke, or use mirrors to direct a beam of light on the floor.
  • There’s a primary illusion (the imaginary brick wall, a unit of illusory archers, an imaginary dragon) and incidental effects (dust and debris falling off the wall when it is hit by a catapult, arrows fired by the archers, flames flickering from the dragon’s nostrils.) The incidental effects can cause damage as long as the victim believes the illusion. Contact with the the primary illusion, however, does no damage, and the victim will feel that it’s not really there.
  • If a player says “I don’t believe this!” or mentions something they notice about the situation that doesn’t make sense, compare their character’s Intelligence or Wisdom to the caster’s. If the player’s score is 2+ points higher, they automatically disbelieve. If it’s equal or within 1 point, roll 5+ on 1d6 to disbelieve.
  • If something unexpected happens that could reveal the illusion, below average intellect spellcasters have to roll 5+ on 1d6 to adjust their illusion’s behavior quick enough to avoid an obvious inconsistency.
  • Incidental effects that cause damage are risky because they may reveal flaws in the illusion. If a victim is hit by an arrow that does damage, and the victim tries to pull out the arrow afterwards, the arrow won’t be there, prompting disbelief. Fire, similarly, won’t burn anything but a living victim with at least animal intelligence, which causes disbelief. It’s better for a spellcaster to create a slinger throwing sling bullets than an archer, since it’s harder to spot flaws in the illusion.
  • Melee attacks on illusory targets automatically reveal the illusion, but ranged attacks don’t. Use the spellcaster’s level as the creature’s hit points, but each successful attack does only 1 point unless the attack is a critical hit, in which case the illusion is revealed.
  • Once one person disbelieves an illusion, they can reveal the illusion to all other observers. However, the caster can still maintain the illusion as a mere image. It will no longer cause damage or conceal anything, but for as long as the underlying target persists, the caster can maintain it. This could be used to entertain people, for example.

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