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My players went up against a homebrew creature I made, it was a fallen angel that could cast Mirror Image. Our paladin had the idea to use his Divine Sense ability to be able to tell which Image was the real one.

Before we settled how it would go about, we went into an argument that since the Mirror Image is in the same space, Divine Sense (and his Action) is wasted as the location would be the same. He countered that knowing the location of an enemy he could already see, he could point towards the real one.

I wanted to reward his clever use of the feature so I ruled that he would have to keep using his Action to use Divine Sense so that his allies could attack with impunity.

Did I call it right by Rules-as-Written?

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I applaud your thought to reward the clever use of the feature. Rules are good to know, not always to follow. – Mooing Duck Feb 4 at 21:48
The decision was made, in part, because he kept pointing and circling his arms on the table during the whole battle. – daze413 Feb 5 at 0:33
up vote 19 down vote accepted

Did you call it right? Sure! It's your job to bend the rules or those you don't agree with to make it fun and enjoyable and reward clever tactics.

Did you do precisely what the written rules dictate? No. Here is why:

Divine Sense

Until the end of your next turn, you know the location of any.....not behind total cover. You know the type of being who's presence you sense, but not it's identity.

'Location' or: A creatures 'Space' PHB pg. 191

A creature's space is the area in feet that it effectively controls in combat, not an expression of it's physical dimensions. A typical creature is not 5ft wide, but controls a space that wide.

Mirror Image

Three Illusory duplicates appear in your space. The duplicates move with you and mimic your actions, shifting positions so it's impossible to track which image is real... A creature is unaffected if it can't see, if it relies on.... blindsight or if it can perceive illusions as false, as with truesight.

Now that I've cut these down to the parts we should be paying attention to, we are left with the following conclusion with no real argument to the contrary:

A humanoid celestial angel is perhaps 2 foot across in width, but it controls a space of about 5 feet. That's it's personal space, it's combat space. A humanoid is not 5ft wide folks. This is it's location. That particular 5ft space within it's control.

Mirror Image places 3 illusory images of that same celestial in that same space. The same location. They move with the celestial, nearly imposing themselves with the celestial as to make themselves seem like an after image. Think of this as someone moving their hand in front of a high speed lens and leaving behind an after image of their hand that follows split seconds behind their real hand. A mirror image as the namesake of the spell suggests, making it impossible to track which image is real. What the spell is saying it DOESN'T do is create 3 copies of the celestial that all stand around/beside/next to said celestial like "Hi, how are you doing, which one of us do you want to hit?"

Divine Sense allows the Paladin to open up his senses and divine the location, the effective space, of a celestial that is not behind total cover. They know for all intents and purposes that there is a Celestial in that effective space, that location, but they can't identify the celestial specifically. Just that it exists.

Let's put this into the setting. There is a Celestial that seems to be moving so fast that there are 3 other images of itself that mimic it's every move and action. I can't tell which one is the right one because they are so close together in it's space, it's location. The Paladin uses Divine Sense. "Yep, there's definitely a Celestial right there, but because the mirror images are mimicking it's every move so closely together in it's space (it's 5ft location), I can't really help pinpoint which one is real. Swing and hope you hit something!"

Lesson: Divine Sense is helpful for finding invisible creatures of the effected creature type, or figuring out if there is one in disguise parading around in some other form. Something that counters magic, such as Dispel Magic, is better for something like Mirror Image, as are AoE attacks.

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Divine sense says:

As an action, you can open your awareness to detect such forces. Until the end of your next turn, you know the location of any celestial, fiend, or undead within 60 feet of you that is not behind total cover.

And Mirror Image says:

Three illusory duplicates of yourself appear in your space. Until the spell ends, the duplicates move with you and mimic your actions, shifting position so it’s impossible to track which image is real.

So Divine Sense allows you to say "It's in this space here"; which is sort of useless if you can see it but pretty good if you can't because maybe it's invisible or hiding etc.

However, the mirror images are also in the same location and "it’s impossible to track which image is real".

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The description of mirror image specifies that:

A creature is unaffected by this spell if it can’t see, if it relies on senses other than sight, such as blindsight, or if it can perceive illusions as false, as with truesight.

I would say that this also holds for divine sense. Furthermore, the goal of divine sense is to allow a paladin to detect (hidden) evil forces.

No (To allowing the allies to attack 'with impunity')

I don't think I would rule that the allies of the paladin to also know the location of the real target. The paladin would have to communicate this to the allies, which is almost impossible to do when the images are constantly shifting.

If you would want to have the paladin assist his allies, you could give the target disadvantage when rolling for whether or not a duplicate is hit.

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As an aside, divine sense does not actually allow the paladin to detect hidden evil forces. If a target is behind total cover, divine sense does not work. It does, however, allow the paladin to spot disguised demons and celestials and so on. – Greenstone Walker Feb 4 at 22:26
@GreenstoneWalker, yeah, strangely enough, if they are invisible, we can detect said bad folks. Invisibility is also an illusion, similar to the Mirror Image illusion spell... – Alexis Wilke Feb 4 at 23:01


Divine Sense would counter Mirror Image for the paladin only. He can't even pass on the information to others as he would have to rely on sight to pass the information on. As far as the paladin is concerned, he could pinpoint it with "It's the one that sounds like chalk on a blackboard." or "It's the one that smells of a summer night after a brief rain shower."

Also, as it only lasts a turn, and requires an action to use, this would only leave the paladin's bonus action and reaction and his next turn to take advantage of the knowledge.

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