The Art of Illusion

What is Illusion? The definition is broadly defined as “a thing that is or is likely to be wrongly perceived or interpreted by the senses.” A wizard practicing the art of illusion uses the weaknesses of those same senses to fool their targets into doing or believing what the wizard wants them to do or believe.

An illusionist uses light, shadow, and sound to redirect the attention of the target. Our senses tell us that if it looks real, it probably is real. But what does that mean to the target? It means that should a wizard wish to mess with their perceptions that there’s not much they can do about it.

Let’s take a few simple examples.

  • Obi-Wan-Tractor“Misdirection is the only direction you need”: Good old Obi Wan used this in Star Wars Episode IV. Tossing an imaginary rock in a space station worked pretty well to give him the time he needed to disable the tractor beam. Even a low level illusionist can probably use a flash of light, the hint of a shadow, or a sound to redirect a monster in a dungeon long enough to avoid combat.
  • “Two for Flinching”: A more advanced wizard creates an illusion that a cloud of sharp rocks is flying at them. If you were the target, wouldn’t you flinch a little? Would you flinch enough that you would dive for cover, potentially giving the wizard’s friends a nice shot at your unprotected back as you flee? Or would it be enough that you’d blink so the wizard could escape? Either way, I think he’s done his job.
  • “Was that there before?”: A skilled illusionist creates an imaginary tree to block the view of his friends creeping into the orcish camp to free the prisoners. The tree doesn’t attract a second glance because it looks like similar trees in the surrounding area. Good work!
  • “Where did it go?”: A really skilled illusionist will use a well-placed invisibility or illusory cloak over an item so that the guards patrolling the small museum have to open the wards and traps around it to check. While they’re checking, your thief sneaks in, pockets the item, and it truly DOES disappear from the display forever…

None of these examples caused damage in any way, but all were effective in working around particular problems that the wizard/illusionist or his party had at the time.

This is yet another potential class for Mazes & Perils… Illusionist characters would have access to spells like:

  • Optical-Illusion-dougnutDeafen – Like Silence 10′ radius but only affects a single target.
  • Nevish’s Unpleasant Odor – Nothing like an odd smell to clear out a crowded venue.
  • Feign Death – Just like the real thing, but less permanent.
  • Disguise Item – When you are selling a cup from the Royal collection but it’s actually just a piece of carved wood.
  • Phantasmal Force – Reaching out to touch someone remotely just got a bit more entertaining…

There are six levels of spells in this field of wizardry. And Nevish is a figure to explore another day…

What do you think? This is more of a traditional wizard-like class and would translate pretty well to the OSR I think!

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