Illusion "complex images"

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True Neutral
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Illusion "complex images"

Post by True Neutral » Tue Nov 19, 2019 11:38 pm

Does anyone have any ideas what the term "complex images" is supposed to mean in reference to the circle five "Illusion" spell?
Examples given:
1.) A banner can blow in the wind, but will not be removable (or presumably cut or burn-able).
2.) Not Namegivers
3.) Door that won't open or close, but can swing a couple inches. So locked, unpickable, unbreakable door would be okay?

It seems like the idea is that it is the interactions that wouldn't be complex, though the image itself could be. So, what does that leave? Let's remember this is a circle five spell. In comparison for the same cost an Illusionist could take the same Fireball spell an Elementalist has at fifth circle and take out a roomful of people. I would have hoped for an equivalent spell to offer a more elegant solution like a bag of jewels that the roomful of people would fight over.

If you created a jewel, could you hand it to someone, or could they pick it up? Does the illusion only exist in the original 10 yard radius or is that just the largest amount of something you can create? If you created a tree, would someone realize it was an illusion if they tried to climb it and couldn't? If you created a pit, would people think they had fallen into it? If you create a wall of spikes would someone get hurt running into it?

Bonhumm
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Re: Illusion "complex images"

Post by Bonhumm » Wed Nov 20, 2019 4:48 am

The wording here is very important because it says: cannot include Namegivers or other complex images

So, their example of 'namegivers' as a 'complex image' gives us an idea what they mean by 'complex' and my understanding of it would be 'something that requires so much details that even the slightest 'bug' would give it up'.

Thus, I'd say that you could do the illusion of a letter on a table but no (readable) text on it. You could probably create the illusion of a stuffed bear but not a live one.

As for picking up object (like your jewel thing) there is 2 contradictory things in the examples:

1- Cannot pick up the banner that blow in the wind
BUT
2- Can swing (a bit) a door thus, CAN touch the door.

So I'd think we would have to actually use computer graphics as example on what can and cannot be picked:

1- The banner is waving in the wind; the 'wave' effects uses pretty much all the 'rendering power' of the spell, thus it has no power left to move the 'sprite' elsewhere.

2- The door is just pre-rendered as a single, solid 'sprite' and can have therefore enough 'computer power' left to move it.

Thus, your jewel could be moved BUT (as a gm) I would take into account the ambient lightning and if the jewel is faceted (i.e. 'rendering' all the light reflection on the many facets would take 'too much power').

As for your unbreakable, unpickable door; sure. But every action taken against it would be a sensing test. Thus a thief who rolled 25 on his lockpicking attempt and his still unable to open the door would probably realize its an illusion. Same thing on a STR test to break it.

Finally, as for the range of the illusion, I'd say that if someone takes that 'jewel' outside of the range of the spell, it would instantly disappear; something the person MIGHT not notice if he put it in his pocket before getting our of range.

I have to agree with you that, as a 5th circle spell AND a spell that takes 3 threads, it seems a bit underpowered; its only redeemable aspect being duration in minutes.

ChrisDDickey
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Re: Illusion "complex images"

Post by ChrisDDickey » Wed Nov 20, 2019 7:32 pm

I agree that "complex" and "too complex" are very vague terms that have to be left solely go GM interpretation. And some GMs will draw the lines at very different places.

I appreciate Bonhumm's graphical rendering analogy, and that might be part of the limitations upon the spell, but I personally would go more with True Neutral's idea of limiting the interactions it can correctly cope with.
I am going to throw out what the rule book specifically says, and give an interpretation that directly contradicts it, but that I think makes more sense.
Specifically, I would think that maybe the spell-caster, when the spell is being cast, needs to list the (very few) interactions that the spell can cope with, and those are the only things it can react appropriately too. So it is not that a hand-held illusionary banner is "to complex". It is that the spell-caster in the example only imagined a fixed banner that waved in the breeze, and the spell was only cast to interact with the breeze and nothing else. The spell-caster did not bother to "program" it to be waved around by a person. If the spell-caster did specify that the banner was to react to being waved around by a person, he would have to have specified which person the banner was to interact with, and if the person stopped waving it around, the banner would not flutter in the breeze. IE: In my interpretation, it is not (unlike what it says in the book) that you can't have a hand-held illusionary banner. It is that if you do have a hand-held illusionary banner, it can't also flutter in the breeze. It sounds like the watchword here is might be that you need to keep things simple and the spell can only do one thing well.

Note also, that the "too complex" restriction is Namegivers, not Creatures. So namegivers are, by definition, too complex, but not all creatures are. I think that also goes back to complex interactions. You just can't "program" an illusion that can talk or otherwise interact realistically. So I would say that you probably can create a namegiver corpses, or even a sleeping namegiver (who can't be awoken), Just one that can't be interacted with in ways more complex than looting a dead body.

As to the bear, stuffed bear, sure. Sleeping bear also. But I would also probably allow a "roaring bear". ie: "This bear will pace back and forth. Whenever somebody turns that corner it will growl menacingly, then stand up on it's hind legs, face directly down the hallway and roar, then drop down and continue pacing while looking down the hallway". It has a simple, programmed action with exactly one interaction.

What I probably would not allow is "fighting bear": "When attacked, this bear reacts by dodging and roaring. If hit, it bleeds". Too complex. If I did allow "fighting bear" (which I would not), I would not allow him to do any damage.

So for the tree, most people would think of it as an unclimbable tree. They can try to climb it, but they keep failing. Only somebody who makes a 20 on their climbing test (sensing difficulty for a 5th circle spell - and this is assuming the caster did not invest in a "False Sight" roll) would realize the tree is actually illusionary. Note also that it probably would not be obvious that nobody was getting off the ground at all. I think that the illusionary magic would be such that people would think they were climbing for a few seconds, and people would see them climbing. But yes, after a few seconds they would "fall" from the tree and end up on the ground again, but once again, unless their climb check beet the spells sensing difficulty, they would not sense the tree was an illusion.

I think that an illusionary pit is a bit of a difficulty. It's just too hard for the magic to match with reality. I think if you tried it, people would see it and avoid it, but if they tried to climb into it (or "fell into it"), they would just end up thinking they were walking on a glass-like covering over a pit. I just can't really think of anything else that could happen. I can't see that this attempt at the spell would do much good.

Create a jewel: Yes, you could specify the size, weight, color, luminosity, temperature, etc. If you created a baked potato it would in addition have smell and taste. People could hold it, throw it, catch it (so long as they were within 10 yards of where it was created).

If you created illusionary spikes, then yes, I think somebody would take damage if they interacted with them, However, at the GMs option, maybe not. In my opinion, the intended (and maybe usually better) usage of this spell is distraction, harassment, and slowing opponents down. If you create an illusion of spikes, pursuers might slow down to avoid them. Or perhaps look for another route. The goal of the spikes is not to do damage, it is to threaten to do damage.


As to whether it is under-powered for a 5th circle spell.
This spell has great flexibility. It is probably one of the most flexible spells available to any discipline. The 5th circle "Phantom Fireball" does exactly one thing. It makes people think that they are being burned alive. It does that one thing very well, but that is all that it does. If you want to just blast people, use PF.

Illusion is not a blunt object, it is a flexible. It is only effective when used with cleverness. A well placed illusion of a rope or a bridge can cause many people to fall down a cliff. A well placed illusion of a sleeping beast can transform an angry mob into a bunch of people tip-toeing away. The usage of the spell is really only limited by the imagination. It's not meant to do direct damage. It is meant to be a game-changer, making your opponents totally and completely misunderstand the true situation.

Examples: You have just stolen the crown jewels. Use illusion to leave replicas of the crown jewels, so that if anybody check on them for the next Rank minutes, they will seem to be undisturbed. Go to the window you did not enter from and leave an illusionary rope dangling toward the ground. Any guards that try to "follow you down it" will fall. After an alarm has been raised, create an illusion of the crown high up in a tree, a number of guards will might be distracted by having "found" it. When passing by the kennels, create an illusionary "roaring bear". It will not fool the guards, but it will keep the dogs too excited to be useful for Rank Minutes. You get back to the postern gate just it time to recast your illusion of a closed gate, then slip out. This spell has 1001 uses.
Last edited by ChrisDDickey on Sat Nov 23, 2019 9:11 am, edited 2 times in total.

Belenus
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Re: Illusion "complex images"

Post by Belenus » Wed Nov 20, 2019 9:06 pm

Create a bridge and somebody stepping on it falls to death.
Create a wall and hide the complete group behind it for an ambush.
Create false gold to trade with it.
et cetera, et cetera

And just wait for the ability from the compendium where an Illusionist can make his illusions true spells :mrgreen:

ChrisDDickey
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Re: Illusion "complex images"

Post by ChrisDDickey » Sat Nov 23, 2019 10:24 am

I have been thinking a bit more about the topic of whether the Illusion spell can do direct damage, and have decided that the answer is "probably not", or at least not permanent damage. Probably the best it can do is make you think that you have taken direct damage.

The Illusion spell can do indirect damage, which is to say that if it can fool you into falling off a cliff, you take full normal falling damage, but I feel that the purpose of the spell is not to do direct damage.

So the purpose of creating an illusion of a bunch of spikes is not to actually impale anybody, but to force them to stop, be careful, or to choose a different route, because they think there is a risk of being impaled.

But what if somebody does accidentally get impaled upon an illusionary spike? Or an illusionary rock fell on their head? Well, I think it would hurt. A lot. The character would THINK that they had taken damage. They would not want to be impaled a 2nd time. But they probably would not actually have taken any real, permanent damage. So if somebody is in a situation where they could take damage from an Illusion spell, the damage would be damage that could be disbelieved (using the procedure for damage that can be disbelieved), and further the damage would be temporary. The GM would keep track of how much such temporary damage had been assigned, and as soon as the Illusion had ether been sensed or the duration expired, the damage would go away.


Further, some effects just probably could not be adequately conveyed by an Illusion spell. As I wrote in my earlier post, I just don't really see how an illusionary pit would work very well. I also don't see how Illusionary poison would work very well. There are lots of other effects that would be too subtle or otherwise unsuited for the spell.

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Re: Illusion "complex images"

Post by Belenus » Sat Nov 23, 2019 10:54 am

ChrisDDickey wrote:
Sat Nov 23, 2019 10:24 am
and further the damage would be temporary. The GM would keep track of how much such temporary damage had been assigned, and as soon as the Illusion had ether been sensed or the duration expired, the damage would go away.
If you start arguing this way than this would be true for each illusional spell :shock:
In my opinion there is no difference between an illusional rock created with this spell falling down on somebody or for example the Phantom Fireball.
The fireball too won't burn down your skin, but the damage you feel is real. In your example, the "victim" should be able to fully ignore this "mental damage" (even so it is declined as physical damage) the moment he realizes, his skin isn't burned at all.

So yes, a rock falling down on somebody will be able to create real damage and I would look at the traps section to see how much.

Bonhumm
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Re: Illusion "complex images"

Post by Bonhumm » Sat Nov 23, 2019 2:56 pm

I think the in-game rules about illusions already pretty much cover everything about the 'should it do real damage or not'.

The 'figment/illusion' 'flag' in the spell description pretty says whether a spell would do damage or not.

'Disaster' is a figment; so if you set up the spell to make a building appears to be on fire; people WILL freak out and try to fight it BUT if someone was to fall into the flames they would not be damaged nor even, I believe, feel like they are burning.

'Illusion' is not a figment so any perceived damage would be real damage.


As for the 'illusionary damage disappearing later', that's kinda what happens with wounds: any wounds (not damage, 'just' wounds) taken by illusionary magic are gone by the next morning.

I do agree, however, that illusions do not changes the law of physics; just like an illusionary bridge would not support a person trying to use it to cross a canyon and thus create indirect but real falling damage to the person, a person would NOT fall into an illusionary canyon; if he somehow decided to jump into said canyon he would just hit the floor and I would rule that as an automatic successful sensing test.

ChrisDDickey
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Re: Illusion "complex images"

Post by ChrisDDickey » Sun Nov 24, 2019 2:41 am

Belenus wrote:
Sat Nov 23, 2019 10:54 am
ChrisDDickey wrote:
Sat Nov 23, 2019 10:24 am
and further the damage would be temporary.
If you start arguing this way than this would be true for each illusional spell :shock:
In my opinion there is no difference between an illusional rock created with this spell falling down on somebody or for example the Phantom Fireball.

So yes, a rock falling down on somebody will be able to create real damage and I would look at the traps section to see how much.
I understand what you are saying, but, in my opinion, there are a few very important differences between a spell such as Phantom Fireball, that is specifically designed to inflict direct damage, and Illusion, which, in my opinion, is not. The first and biggest differences, is that spells that do direct damage will target a targets Mystic Defense, and will have a Will Effect Test that tells how much damage to assign. Spells such as Illusion and Disaster do not.

It seems to me (and I admit that I am going off book and extrapolating and making stuff up), is that spells that do direct (disbelievable) damage have an extra component to them, such that if the damage is not disbelieved right away, it quickly (effectively immediately - as long as disbelief is not immediately announced) becomes real damage.

It is important to realize that as this damage becomes real and that there are real physical manifestations. The targets skin will turn red and will blister. Eyebrows might turn brittle and fall out, looking as if they had been singed off. Note that clothing, which is mindless, will not suffer any actual damage from the phantom fireball, but the lingering effects of the illusion will make everybody think that it had been singed or burned for a while (certainly until the end of the fight, and maybe much longer). I tend to think about this as the spell working upon the subjects mind and pattern, giving psychosomatic damage and enforcing the spells reality upon the target.


It strikes me as probable that spells (such as illusion) that do not target a creatures Mystic Defense, and that do not have a listed Will Effect damage listed, don't have that spell component that actually does direct damage to the targets pattern, nor inflicts long lasting psychosomatic effects. Especially since the person interacting with the Illusion spell is not actually the Target of the spell, and no targeting of the characters MD was ever done.

So that is why I say that the "Illusion" spell can not do real damage. It does not target a characters MD. It does not have a damaging Will Effect listed. However when I say that it does disbelievable damage that is temporary, I am just making stuff up to paper over a gap. I have no basis in the rules, just making stuff up.

But here is my reasoning.
I just believe that any direct damage given ought to be disbelievable. It seems correct and mandatory. If the target is willing to disbelieve, no damage because it is actually an illusion. My alternate stance would be that it can't do any damage at all. I don't really see any self-consistent way that a spell that does not target a MD can do real damage.

As for the damage being temporary. I am just making stuff up here.
If a person steps on a spike and impales their foot. It ought to hurt. The illusion includes a sense of touch, and being impaled ought to hurt. However if the GM refuses to give an actual number of hit-points of damage, it will raise a big red flag with the players. ("Oh, yes, the spike impales your foot. It hurts a lot, but I can't give you an actual hitpoint number right now." - suspicious) ("The spike impales your foot, you take 8 points of damage, and your foot hurts a lot" - much more normal sounding). Therefor, to keep things sounding like the incident had nothing whatsoever to do with illusions, I recommend just assigning a damage value and moving on, then when the illusion expires or is sensed, giving the HP back to the character. Note that the character never really took the damage. Because the illusion spell, not having the spell component that turns "i hurt" to "i have damage". Damage was just assigned as a marker of just how much it felt like it hurt, because not assigning it would have as much as told the player that he was dealing with an illusion. So yes, totally and completely made up and unsupported in the rules, but now that I have given this particular edge case a lot of thought, it seems like the best was to handle this specific situation.


TLDR: Direct damage spells have a component that turns "target feels pain" into "target is damaged". Illusions that don't have a damaging will effect listed do not.

Bonhumm wrote:
Sat Nov 23, 2019 2:56 pm
As for the 'illusionary damage disappearing later', that's kinda what happens with wounds: any wounds (not damage, 'just' wounds) taken by illusionary magic are gone by the next morning.
Is there a 4th edition reference to Wounds taken from Illusions disappearing the next morning? Now that you mention it, I think I recall seeing that in previous editions, but not 4th.

Bonhumm
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Re: Illusion "complex images"

Post by Bonhumm » Sun Nov 24, 2019 6:06 am

ChrisDDickey wrote:
Sun Nov 24, 2019 2:41 am
Bonhumm wrote:
Sat Nov 23, 2019 2:56 pm
As for the 'illusionary damage disappearing later', that's kinda what happens with wounds: any wounds (not damage, 'just' wounds) taken by illusionary magic are gone by the next morning.
Is there a 4th edition reference to Wounds taken from Illusions disappearing the next morning? Now that you mention it, I think I recall seeing that in previous editions, but not 4th.
You are very right. I'm currently playing two different Earthdawn games, one in 4th Edition and one in... 2nd Edition. Let me tell you that this messes up your mind like crazy.

Slimcreeper
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Re: Illusion "complex images"

Post by Slimcreeper » Sun Nov 24, 2019 9:04 pm

😅 you have my sympathies, bonhumm!

I could see a ruling where the player was required to _act_ as though they had been injured, though no damage is rolled. I know that takes some trust in everyone’s part.

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