To better explain my question, the process follows as such step by step (assuming the caster is of a level to cast and use all proposed abilities):

  • Spellcaster casts Major Image to create a corpse on the ground.
  • Spellcaster uses Illusory Reality as a bonus action to make corpse real.
  • Spellcaster casts Animate Dead on the corpse.

Now, here’s the proposed question. Illusory Reality only lasts for a minute. Does the creature stay undead or does it become an illusion after one minute is up as I no longer left it as it was?

Please cite sources and keep your answer/interpretation RAW.


1 Answer 1


Don't forget Illusory Reality's limitations

... you can choose one inanimate, nonmagical object that is part of the illusion and make that object real.

Is a corpse an 'inanimate object'? Is it really a corpse if it was never alive in the first place? These are interesting philosophical questions, but as a practical matter, when you Animate Dead something, they all become moot. Casting the spell settles the matter. I mean, it's right there in the name: Animate Dead.

An undead creature is neither an inanimate object, nor "nonmagical." The act of casting Animate Dead causes the object to immediately cease to be a valid target for Illusory Reality. In turn, that means Animate Dead itself no longer has a valid target, meaning it can't work.

In other words, Animate Dead causes itself to fail to activate, which causes it to be a valid action, which causes it to fail to activate. This is exactly the same as the grandfather paradox. Which is just another way of saying "you can't do it".

The object can't deal damage or otherwise directly harm anyone.

The text of the two abilities is in conflict. So which one is more specific?

From one point of view, Illusory Reality is. Animate Dead works on any corpse or pile of bones, but the half-real ones created via the illusion are special. In which case, this restriction trumps Animate Dead, and since a zombie or skeleton can do these things, you can't turn the "corpse" into one. That's all the necromancy can do, it can't create half-skeleton-like things that obey the restriction. This would mean the spell must fail entirely.

From another, Animate Dead is. Illusory Reality's rule about 'no damage' is a general rule, but Animate Dead adds new magic and changes the scenario. Animate Dead would thus overrule this restriction.

However, if the second interpretation is correct, many other sort of weird and silly loopholes are also possible. For example, I could create a burning torch, then use it to set something that IS real on fire (just as long as I don't try to damage someone with it directly). I could create pebbles and then cast Magic Stone on them. Or boulders, and then cast Catapult on them. This would make a mockery of the idea that the objects can't do damage.

The most reasonable interpretation to me is the first one. Illusory Reality trumps Animate Dead, the object isn't real enough to "deal damage or directly harm anyone", and that's essentially a prerequisite for Animate Dead to be able to target it.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ 1st, If you have to Animate it, it had to have been inanimate in the first place. 2nd, exactly. That’s the point, illusory reality is no longer in effect. So is it now an illusion of a zombie that doesn’t deal damage or is it a real zombie that lasts for longer than a minute. You never specified that. 3rd, the corpse you’re making real isn’t doing damage. Once it changes from a corpse it is now no longer under illusory reality which is my conundrum. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 15, 2019 at 8:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ I’m not trying to argue and can definitely understand both points of views, but I feel like you simply weighed both out and then said you feel like one gives way more to you than the other. And your last point means that Counterspell makes no sense, dispel magic, Glyph of Warding, Contingency, etc. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 15, 2019 at 8:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I don't think I like the last part either. I tried to fix it, don't think it worked, I'm just going to take it out. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ton Day
    Commented Jun 15, 2019 at 9:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ My interpretation is attempting to cast Animate Dead on the "corpse" simply does not work. There's no zombie, real or illusory. Yeah, I weighed the options and picked the one that makes the most sense to me overall. The rules can't cover everything, when they're unclear that's kind of what you have to do. Zombie and skeletons are corporeal; they need a body; this requires Illusory Reality; they thus operate under its restrictions. Animate Dead can't create illusions. Anything Animate Dead tries to animate ceases to exist, the magic can't animate anything, the spell fails. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ton Day
    Commented Jun 15, 2019 at 9:17
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I see. Thank you for you input. I do understand your position even if I don’t agree with it. I guess my biggest point of contention is that Illusory Reality is meant to make up something as if it were real. And it’s to be treated as ifit was real. And since a corpse is considered an object and not a creature, I cane to my conclusion in the question above. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 15, 2019 at 10:18

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .