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Kevin’s Spellbook: Major Image

glowing tome

Hello, students of the arcane! 

Today we will look at one of my favorite spells, Major Image. Illusions offer players a powerful way to manipulate the game world. A well-crafted illusion can be the pivotal moment in a game, distracting the villain at just the right time, or convincing a majordomo to allow the party to have an audience with the King.

Life is an Illusion

Major Image is a 3rd level spell that is available to Bards, Sorcerers, Warlocks, and Wizards. It allows the caster to create any “visible phenomenon” no larger than a 20-foot cube. It seems completely real unless interacted with, or if someone passes an Investigation check. It can last for ten minutes with concentration. 

The broadness of illusion spells gives the player a lot of freedom when casting it. They can easily shape the spell to fit the exact need of the circumstance. This also means that examples of its use require a particular scenario to be useful. The spell allows for the player to temporarily manipulate the game world and shape it exactly to their will. 

This is the power of illusions and a reason why I love using them as a player. 

How to Use Major Image Effectively

The broadness of illusions is also their weakness. They require the player to work harder to use the spell to its full effect. The strength of the spell depends not just on the mechanics of the spell, but on how you describe it to your DM. 

Here are some tips that can help you refine your illusions:

  • Pay attention to the environment as it is described. Ask clarifying questions, especially when considering a clutch casting that could make or break the encounter.
  • While creating monsters or bursts of flame can be the flashiest use of the spell, sometimes something as simple as a stone wall can be the most effective use.
  • Illusions are effective disguises for traps. This may be their best application in combat. Use them to set up other players to ambush, or flank and enemy. 
  • Read books for inspiration! When you come across a cool description or image in the book, save it for use in gameplay!

Don’t Ignore Small Illusions

While Major Image offers the ability to make a near-real illusion, don’t discount spells like Minor Illusion and Silent Image. Each of these spells offers powerful ways to manipulate the game world without needing to burn a 3rd level spell slot.

Minor Illusion is one of the most powerful cantrips. While it doesn’t cause damage, it allows you to create a 5-foot cube image or a sound within 30 feet. Because it is a cantrip, you can use it to pull a guard’s attention, or to start an argument between two ogres, or trick somebody into sitting on an illusionary chair as a prank.

Silent Image may lack sound effects, but sometimes all you need is to create a fake door or to disguise a spike pit as a lovely meadow. It also allows you to move it around, so you can create the illusion of marching soldiers in the distance, or even one of yourself running away to distract a mob.

Illusions are as powerful as you make them, but don’t be paralyzed by needing to get the perfect description. Work with your DM to create the effect that you’d like, and together co-create how the story unfolds. 

Next week, we’ll look at Mage Hand. If you’d like to peek into my spellbook, you can check out past entries here:

Shape Water

Heat Metal