I was looking for a way to potentially counter a medusa's petrifying gaze when something hit me: Why not cast the 5th level spell Seeming on her face, giving her a blindfold or something so I can no longer see her eyes? This idea opened up a bit of a can of worms, however.

Looking at the description of Seeming, it does not have the familiar stipulations of most illusions, like Major Image or Minor Illusion:

...If a creature discerns the illusion for what it is, the creature can see through the image, and its other sensory qualities become faint to the creature.


The changes wrought by this spell fail to hold up to physical inspection. For example, if you use this spell to add a hat to a creature's outfit, objects pass through the hat, and anyone who touches it would feel nothing or would feel the creature's head and hair. If you use this spell to appear thinner than you are, the hand of someone who reaches out to touch you would bump into you while it was seemingly still in midair.

A creature can use its action to inspect a target and make an Intelligence (Investigation) check against your spell save DC. If it succeeds, it becomes aware that the target is disguised.

Nowhere does it say that the illusions become "faint" for the viewer or that they can see through them - only that they are aware that the target is disguised. Furthermore, Seeming only fails to hold up to "physical inspection", which the description elaborates as touching and feeling. This leads to a few questions:

  1. What does "becoming aware that the target is disguised" entail? I assume the language for Seeming is different than that of most illusion spells for a specific reason and thus, these illusions do not become necessarily faint, RAW.

  2. If I cast Seeming to put a blindfold on the Medusa's eyes and she fails the Charisma Save, am I immune to the Petrifying Gaze effect? Are others immune to the gaze effect if they choose not to make the Intelligence check?

  3. Is the Medusa able to see through the blindfold? What about after succeeding the Intelligence Check to "become aware of disguises"?

If #3 is a no, this becomes a very powerful spell. Par Seeming's description:

This spell allows you to change the appearance of any number of creatures that you can see within range.

Does the poor wording of this spell then become Mass Blind on a Charisma Save?


2 Answers 2


Obscuring, yes. Blinding, unsupported.

By RAW, the obscuring a Medusa's Eyes Functions as Stated.

A strict interpretation of "aware" in the event of someone passing the intelligence check when viewing the illusion supports the use of seeming to block the view of the medusa's eyes. The perceiver is aware that there is an illusion, but that no text in the description indicates effect beyond the awareness. So the illusion obscuring the medusa's eyes is still there, but the someone knows it's an illusion.

Blindness Unsupported by Text.

The spell does not state one way or another that it obscures the senses of the recipient of the disguise. Inferring that it can be used as an actual blindfold is not directly supported by the text.

Spells Do What They Say They Do

The spell description does not state it has the capacity to incur the blinded condition on recipients.

Blindness by Illusion is Paradoxical

As pointed out by guildsbounty, if illusions could blind the recipient, it would make many uses of them blinding.

To add to the 'blindness' bit...if Seeming could blind a character, it would blind everyone it was cast on if you disguised their eyes, because there would be illusory eyeballs covering their natural eyes. Even moreso if you disguised them with a head larger than their natural one.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ That makes sense to me, but the clear implication is then that depending on the illusion cast by Seeming, the level of obscuring can be controlled and thus blinding happens. I.E. "I put an Adamantine Box on the Medusa's Head" versus "I put a transparent veil on her face." \$\endgroup\$
    – Nicbobo
    Oct 10, 2018 at 19:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Nicbobo I think everyone else would see the adamantite box on the medusa's head. The spell does not indicate that the spell has the capability to give a medusa the blinded condition. \$\endgroup\$
    – GcL
    Oct 10, 2018 at 19:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Grosscol Then what does the Medusa see? \$\endgroup\$
    – Nicbobo
    Oct 10, 2018 at 19:31
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch actually, any illusion that altered the appearance of height would be problematic as the eyes would have to stay in the same position or have some other gimick that allowed for vision. \$\endgroup\$
    – GcL
    Oct 10, 2018 at 19:40
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ Seeming specifies that "You can make each creature seem 1 foot shorter or taller." If you made a creature seem 1 foot taller, you would put an illusion of a clavicle at their eye level. If this would blind them, the spell would certainly say so. Thus, I infer that an illusion of solid material does not block the seeming target's vision. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 10, 2018 at 20:45

1. What does "becoming aware that the target is disguised" entail?

Becoming aware that the target disguised is just that. Illusions always fall into the nebulous realm of table to table decisions. At my table, touching someone with Seeming and having an unanticipated interaction (i.e. your hand passes through an illusory hat) serves as a reason to attempt the Intelligence (Investigation) check.

Failing the save means that you're not sure what happened and that your mind tries to explain it away in some manner that makes sense to you (perhaps it's a very flimsy hat and just bent when you touched it). Succeeding, however, means that you recognize that illusory magic is at play and the person you're looking at has used magic to disguise themselves. It doesn't mean you know what they actually look like, but you know something is awry.

2. If I cast Seeming to put a blindfold on the Medusa's eyes and she fails the Charisma Save, am I immune to the Petrifying Gaze effect?

You are! The medusa's Petrifying Gaze states (emphasis mine):

When a creature that can see the medusa's eyes starts its turn within 30 feet of the medusa

The ability does indicate a mechanical means to avert ones eyes to avoid the effect, but it doesn't preclude other ways that characters can avoid the effect. Meeting the criteria of 'can see the medusa's eyes' can be completed utilizing illusions to obfuscate the medusa's eyes, as could putting a Wall of Stone between the two of you so you can only see her feet, or doing the same thing with a strategically placed Darkness spell. You couldn't use something like a Blindness/Deafness spell on the Medusa to avoid the effect because blinding the Medusa doesn't prevent you from seeing her eyes.

The criteria to trigger the effect is specific, so any manner used to prevent that trigger is fine.

3. Is the Medusa able to see through the blindfold?

Yes, because the illusion is intended to serve as a disguise and the spell does not indicate that it would able to block the target's vision. This actually works to your advantage. The Medusa does not need to be able to see her own eyes, just her own reflection to be subjected to her own Petrifying Gaze.

So using Seeming to cover the Medusa's eyes means your party can attack with relative impunity while turning the Medusa's biggest threat into a straight disadvantage for her since any reflection is a serious threat to her.


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