The Illusory Dragon spell creates a "tangible" illusion that "occupies its space as if it were a creature". But is it actually a creature for mechanical purposes?

If it is a creature, that opens up a lot of follow-on questions, such as:

  • Can the Illusory Dragon be the target of a spell such as Teleport?
  • Can the wizard use the dragon as a mount?

To clarify: some illusions are clearly a creature. For example, Phantom Steed definitely creates a creature, complete with a stat block. The question is whether Illusory Dragon works this way as well.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think that this is too broad. Each of those is a separate question about how to treat an illusion under each circumstance. Is your question more generally, Is an illusion considered a creature? If that's your core question (and not the subquestions), then each question can be answered separately (and may already be asked here on the Stack.) \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Jun 25, 2018 at 15:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ The Targeting Illusions is more a direct dupe of this question which was then marked as a dupe of the Mirror Image question. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Jun 25, 2018 at 16:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer suggests that there is already a question and answer on your third bullet in re sneak attack; I found nothing on pack tactics. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 25, 2018 at 16:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ To those citing "too broad": are you suggesting that I create three separate questions about this spell? \$\endgroup\$
    – Apocalisp
    Jun 25, 2018 at 16:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Apocalisp Yes, but since two are dependent on answers to this question you would want to say "Given that Illusory Dragon does create a creature, then..." So people don't belabor that point uselessly on said questions. They still will, probably, if that interpretation is at all controversial but at least you'll have tried. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 25, 2018 at 17:36

2 Answers 2


No, the dragon is illusory

Illusory dragon says:

The illusion lasts for the spell’s duration and occupies its space, as if it were a creature.

Right there at the top of the spell it defines what the spell creates: an illusion that acts in one way like a creature (occupying its space). In all other ways, it is an illusion as described in the rest of the spell. It is also described in every other instance in the spell as an "illusion" and nothing else.

When a spell creates a creature, they call it a creature. For example, phantom steed says:

A Large quasi-real horse-like creature appears. [...] The creature uses the statistics for a riding horse, except it has a speed of 100 feet.

Note that it calls it a creature and gives it statistics. Nowhere in illusory dragon does it do either.

So, the dragon is purely an illusion (albeit a more physical than normal one). Thus the answers to your specific questions are:

  1. No, teleport requires creatures or objects as targets. An illusion is neither.
  2. No, a mount must be "a willing creature".
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    \$\begingroup\$ If you don't let your PC target the Dragon then you're immediately telling them it's an illusion. I would argue let them target and have the spell fail. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jason_c_o
    Jun 25, 2018 at 22:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jason_c_o that is generally how failed targeting works. See this Q/A for more \$\endgroup\$
    – Luke
    Jun 26, 2018 at 0:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Luke the linked answer agrees with me. It takes the time to cast but doesn't consume the spell slot. So therefore you still initially target it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jason_c_o
    Jun 26, 2018 at 3:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jason_c_o This answer you are commenting on is saying that the Dragon is an invalid target (as per the question). The linked answer agrees that an invalid target does what you describe. I'm pointing out that your "argument" is not an argument, it's just what is confirmed for an invalid target. \$\endgroup\$
    – Luke
    Jun 26, 2018 at 4:05

Illusory Dragon specifically is not a creature

It's referred to repeatedly as an illusion rather than a creature (XGtE, pgs. 157-158):

By gathering threads of shadow material from the Shadowfell, you create a Huge shadowy dragon in an unoccupied space that you can see within range. The illusion lasts for the spell's duration and occupies its space, as if it were a creature.

When the illusion appears, any of your enemies that it can see must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or become frightened of it for 1 minute. If a frightened creature ends its turn in a location where it doesn't have line of sight of the illusion, it can repeat the saving throw, ending the effect on itself on a success.

As a bonus action on your turn, you can move the illusion up to 60 feet.

Compare this to Phantom Steed, as you mention in your question (PHB, pg. 265):

A Large quasi-real horse-like creature appears. You decide its appearance, but it is equipped with a saddle, bit, and bridle. Any of the equipment created vanishes it is carried more than 10 feet away from the steed.

For the duration, you or a creature you choose can ride the steed. The creature uses the statistics for a riding horse, except it has a speed of 100 feet.

However, the Illusory Dragon can be targetted by attacks, although they automatically miss/always succeeds saving throws and is immune to damage.

The illusion is tangible because of the shadow stuff used to create it, but attacks miss it automatically. it succeeds on all saving throws, and it is immune to all damage and conditions.

For this to make any sense, it must follow that it can be targetted by attacks and spells, even though it isn't a creature.

  • \$\begingroup\$ "For this to make any sense, it must follow that it can be targetted by attacks and spells, even though it isn't a creature." That is generally how failed targeting works. see this Q/A for more. \$\endgroup\$
    – Luke
    Jun 26, 2018 at 4:08

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