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Mislead

You become invisible at the same time that an illusory double of you appears where you are standing. The double lasts for the duration, but the invisibility ends if you attack or cast a spell.

You can use your action to move your illusory double up to twice your speed and make it gesture, speak, and behave in whatever way you choose.

You can see through its eyes and hear through its ears as if you were located where it is. On each of your turns as a bonus action, you can switch from using its senses to using your own, or back again. While you are using its senses, you are blinded and deafened in regard to your own surroundings.

Is the illusory double tangible? Based on previous answers (this and this), I think not but I am not completely sure.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you define tangible? Do you mean touchable? Targetable by spells? Something else? \$\endgroup\$
    – nwp
    Jul 18, 2017 at 10:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ @nwp If a creature touches the double, what happens? What do they feel, if anything? Can a creature move through the double? \$\endgroup\$
    – Marq
    Jul 18, 2017 at 10:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ related rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/101623 \$\endgroup\$
    – enkryptor
    May 1, 2018 at 13:04

3 Answers 3

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Illusion spells are not tangible in general.

The mislead spell creates an "illusory double," so we can look at the description of the Illusion school of magic for more insight (see Casting a Spell in the SRD, emphasis mine):

Illusion spells deceive the senses or minds of others. They cause people to see things that are not there, to miss things that are there, to hear phantom noises, or to remember things that never happened.

Since the illusion created by mislead is not really there, it has no physical presence. It could not be touched or bumped into, so it is literally not tangible.

Some illusion spells might create illusions that are tangible, but if they do then we would expect them to explicitly state that they are exceptions to their school of magic. Since mislead does not state any exception, we have no reason to think that it is one. In addition, if it was possible to physically interact with the illusory double, we would expect that the designers would call it an object or a creature, but in the absence of either of those words we must simply assume it to be an effect that behaves exactly as described.

(This is under the interpretation of the word "tangible" meaning "material or substantial." That is, tangibility is an inherent property of a thing regardless of who is or is not perceiving it.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Spells do what they say they do: no more, no less The fact that other illusion spells like Major Image say that interacting with the illusion reveals the trick, and this spell doesn't, is actually evidence that Mislead cannot be discerned. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 25, 2021 at 2:31
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There is no reason to believe that it doesn't

"Illusion spells deceive the senses or minds of others." They are not limited to any particular senses unless the spell says they are. This particular spell does not limit the illusion in any way so there is no reason to believe that it cannot be seen, heard, smelled, touched and even tasted if you are so inclined.

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    \$\begingroup\$ A reading like this would allow the double to bump an NPC, but not to pick up a glass from a table. At the GMs discretion the double could pull an object from an out of view location (like a pocket or from under a table), but that new item would also be illusory. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gavin42
    Jul 18, 2017 at 14:18
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Tangible is simply not a common term

In fact, no spells in the PHB say that the spell effects they produce are 'tangible'. Two spells specifically say that their spell effects are intangible: the illusory copy of project image, and the scrying sensor of *clairvoyance 1. Clairvoyance says (emphasis mine):

A creature that can see the sensor (such as a creature benefiting from see invisibility or truesight) sees a luminous, intangible orb about the size of your fist.

While scrying says:

A creature that can see invisible objects sees the sensor as a luminous orb about the size of your fist.

It would be foolish to conclude that the scrying sensor of scrying was tangible simply because its description does not say that it is intangible, when intangible is used in the description of only two spells. We need to look for other terms.

Can things pass through the image?

Some illusion school spells create effects only in the mind of the target, while others create objective external images that can be seen by any observer. For spells of the latter kind, often times these images can be detected as illusions because they "fail to hold up to physical inspection" and "things pass through" them. This is the case with minor illusion, disguise self, silent image, major image, hallucinatory terrain (where 'the tactile characteristics are unchanged'), seeming, programmed illusion, and project image.

For illusion spells that create external images, these images typically appear 'at a spot within range'. Notably, they do not have the restriction of having to appear at an unoccupied spot within range such as spells that summon creatures or sizable solid objects do (including other illusion spells). The clear implication is that illusory images can appear in occupied spaces, and thus can co-occur with solid objects, because they can pass unhindered through the objects and creatures in the spaces of their appearance. See silent image, mirror image (where the space is explicitly occupied by you), Nathair's mischief (where the space explicitly may be occupied by creatures), major image, mislead itself (where the space is explicitly occupied by you), programmed illusion, and project image.

Can you feel it?

Some illusion spells do create images with tactile components, although they are fewer than the ones that expressly do not. We know they can be felt because the spells explicitly say so. These include shadow blade, phantom steed (which must be summoned to an unoccupied space), creation (where the illusion's properties explicitly include its hardness and density), mirage arcane, simulacrum, and illusory dragon (which must be summoned to an unoccupied space). Many, but not all, of these spells reference gathering material from the Shadowfell to justify the ability to create solid illusions2. The three that create creatures rather than objects or terrain (phantom steed, simulacrum, illusory dragon) reference their AC and hp. It is safe to say that if illusions are tangible they should have spell descriptions that indicate them as such.

Evaluating mislead

Mislead does not say whether the illusory double is tangible or not, which tells us nothing. It does say that it can be summoned in an occupied space, which is evidence for it being intangible. It does not reference the double as being able to be felt, or having to draw on the Shadowfell to make it, or having an AC and hp, all evidence for it being intangible. Strangely, for a externally objective intangible image spell, it does not tell us that it can be detected as an illusion by touch. This is so anomalous I have to believe that it was an editorial oversight where the 'fourth paragraph' about detection was simply left out.

We don't have definitive proof that the misleading double is intangible, but the evidence strongly suggests it.


1 The term 'intangibles' is also used in the description of the imprisonment spell, but in a metaphorical sense.

2 Most likely ultimately a callback to first edition lore where illusionists could create quasi-real effects through the specialized process of demi-shadow magic and shadow magic.

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