View Full Version : What Are The Parameters of a Figment? [3.X]

2009-02-08, 12:50 PM
Using a figment spell such as major image or programmed image, would I be able to make a creature believe that it was on fire? That one of its arms was decaying? That it was frozen to the ground?

2009-02-08, 01:08 PM

Since it is just images, seeing ones arm on fire would probably freak you out for a second, but you'd quickly realize it wasn't real fire when the temperature doesn't change

And the frozen thing would not work either as the guy could just youknow... move his feet and see that it isn't real

2009-02-08, 01:09 PM
First, the definition of a figment.

Originally Posted by SRD http://www.giantitp.com/forums/images/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/magicOverview/spellDescriptions.htm#figment)
A figment spell creates a false sensation. Those who perceive the figment perceive the same thing, not their own slightly different versions of the figment. (It is not a personalized mental impression.) Figments cannot make something seem to be something else. A figment that includes audible effects cannot duplicate intelligible speech unless the spell description specifically says it can. If intelligible speech is possible, it must be in a language you can speak. If you try to duplicate a language you cannot speak, the image produces gibberish. Likewise, you cannot make a visual copy of something unless you know what it looks like.

Because figments and glamers (see below) are unreal, they cannot produce real effects the way that other types of illusions can. They cannot cause damage to objects or creatures, support weight, provide nutrition, or provide protection from the elements. Consequently, these spells are useful for confounding or delaying foes, but useless for attacking them directly.

As both Major Image and Programmed image only provide for sight, smell, sound, and temperature, I don't think any of those are possible, because the first and second should create pain, and the last should make him feel pressure on his foot when he tries to lift it.

Now, the fire and rotting could be accepted by the target with a bluff check (DMs discretion), but it still wouldn't deal any damage.

2009-02-08, 01:30 PM
Well, it would feel hot, since thermal effects are included. Same for the freezing to the ground.

I'm not looking for damage, merely distraction. For example, thermal, visual and olfactory effects could be applied to make a hand feel inflamed, look swollen or discolored and smell of suppuration. If the victim actually touches it, expecting to feel a jolt of pain, then he might get wise when nothing happens. Similarly, if it seems that his cloak is aflame, thanks to hot, leaping flames and the smell of smoke, then he might be inclined to try to remove said cloak.

Would these be beyond the abilities of a figment, and if so are there any useful combat distractions one might cause with it?

2009-02-08, 01:37 PM
Well since burning would cause pain, and i'm pretty sure pain isn't included in a major image i would say that while you could maybe have him distracted for a round or two he'd almost certainly disbelieve it.

2009-02-08, 01:41 PM
A figment spell creates a false sensation.

This seems to include pain to me.

2009-02-08, 01:44 PM
They get a save only to disbelieve an illusion on interacting with it. If the illusion is on them, they can save. It's best to use them to make things like ogres advancing on them menacingly, since they wouldn't touch the ogres and just run away. Or dragons. Everyone loves dragons. Mind flayers, Gelatinous Oozes, anything you wouldn't touch with the ubiquitous 10-foot pole.

2009-02-08, 02:14 PM
Thing is, I don't understand what restricts a figment from "making something appear to be something else." Isn't that inherently what a figment does?

Look at guards and wards. Its embedded silent image effect can make doors look like sections of the wall. That reads as a glamer effect, but it's produced by a figment.

2009-02-08, 02:26 PM
This seems to include pain to me.

The spells specify exactly four senses, pain was not included.

2009-02-09, 01:25 PM
Wizards website has a very good article about this, actually:


It's so good, in fact, that it exposes several problems with certain spell descriptions as they are written. Take guards and wards for an example. You're absolutely right about its silent image effect being a figment, and by the interpretation given in that article, a figment absolutely cannot be used to make doors look like walls, since a figment cannot make something look like something else; that's what glamers do. A silent image could be used to conceal a hallway at an intersection by erecting figments of walls to make the walls appear continuous across the gap, but it could not disguise a door that was there.

Pursuant to the framework presented in that article, I eventually developed a framework of interpreting the descriptions of illusion spells and striking down the ones that don't make sense. The following is my opinion upon the rules, and is not RAW, but my best guess as to the RAI by the designers:

To break down the illusions by subschool:

Glamers make something look like something else: you receive a save to disbelieve a) when you explicitly examine the glamer or b) when situation would lead you to instinctively re-examine it.

Figments make something unreal out of nothing. You receive a save to disbelieve when you would suspect that the figment isn't real. You receive a large penalty to the save if you assume that the figment is real, e.g. to notice the minor image used to cover the pit in the stone-tiled floor after you have already declared that you are walking over the square. In no situation does a figment ever do anything real.

Patterns are just that: the creation of patterns that themselves have the potential to mesmerize people. All patterns are mind-affecting. I personally think these should be reclassified as a subschool of evocation.

Phantasms make something real in someone's mind. All phantasms are mind-affecting. Those affected receive a will save to disbelieve each time they are being affected.

Shadows are unreal things made partially real by the caster. There are two possible takes on shadows; one is to treat a shadow as a persistent phantasm, and give each affected character a distinct will save to disbelieve. The other is to treat it as a object of craft, and determine the chance of the craft becoming "real" by caster level, and allowing this result to hold for all who are affected by the shadow. In practice I use the latter interpretation just because it's possible to make a persistent or permanent phantasm, without making it into a shadow.

Warning: This framework is inconsistent with the current wording of certain spells, (e.g. invisiblity, guards and wards,) and if you do decide to use this framework, be prepared to rewrite such spells to either be inline with this framework or make explicit the exceptions built into the individual spells.

Examples of this framework being applied:

Suppose you have a naked human illusionist. He can use a glamer to make his skin look stony or scaly, but he can't use a glamer to make himself look like he's wearing clothes or armor. He needs a figment to do that.

Suppose you make a figmented sword. You can't use it to parry anything, nor to cut anything, but you could use it to intimidate someone. They would not receive a will save to disbelieve the figment unless they attempted to parry the figmented sword.

Suppose you phantasmally enchant a real sword. This sword deals extra phantasmal damage on a failed will save. One successful save means that further strikes do not get extra damage: each failed save imposes a cumulative penalty on subsequent saves.

You could also chain a phantasm and a figment to make a purely illusory sword that struck on melee touch and dealt phantasmal damage on a failed will save.

Or you could just craft a shadow sword, in which case you roll a percentage chance of successful shadowcraft based upon caster level, and upon success the sword acts like a real sword, and deals 1d8 damage, etc.