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The phantasmal killer spell produces an illusion only the target can see and also applies the frightened condition. But the frightened condition prevents the victim from approaching the source of their fear.

Should I assume then that the phantasmal killer spell creates an illusionary creature on the battlefield that only the victim can see? Or is it like being in a horror movie for the victim, in that they keep seeing glimpses of their fear but never see it outright?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you asking more about whether there is a manifestation or are you asking where the source of the fear actually is? It's seems rather cut and dry as to whether or not there is an illusion as the source, but the spell doesnt indicate where it is \$\endgroup\$ – Premier Bromanov Dec 21 '18 at 20:58
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Yes, there is an illusory creature/object

The spell allows you to:

create an illusory manifestation of its deepest fears, visible only to that creature.

The source of their fear would be the illusion and they would be unable to move closer to it. There are no restrictions given on what form or size the fear takes, but without rules for movement it is implied to be stationary.

The exact nature of the manifestation will vary greatly by the target so it will be at least some level of DM judgement in any case.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I think this begs the question as to where the source actually is. I think you're right, but it does seem to be a missing piece of the puzzle. \$\endgroup\$ – Premier Bromanov Dec 21 '18 at 20:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PremierBromanov Yeah, the way it leaves it open is i guess to leave room for the DM to sort out the specifics according to what the exact fear is. Personally I would probably allow the caster to specify roughly where it should be, behind them or between the caster and target, etc. \$\endgroup\$ – Sir Cinnamon Dec 21 '18 at 21:21

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