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Here is the pertinent wording of the Rage feature:

Your rage lasts for 1 minute. It ends early if you are knocked unconscious or if your turn ends and you haven't attacked a hostile creature since your last turn or taken damage since then.

Bobby the Barbarian is enraged. He attacks a nearby goblin at the end of his turn. Unfortunately this goblin turns out to be a silent image created by Presto the Wizard. Assuming Bobby has attacked no other creature nor taken any damage since his last turn, does his rage end?

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RAW, yes.

An illusion is not a creature. The rule is clear that Bobby must attack a hostile creature, or take damage, to maintain his rage.

Spirit of the Rule

If Bobby does not know that what he is attacking is an illusion, and not a hostile creature, then how is that any different, from Bobby's point of view, from actually attacking a hostile creature? If anything, learning that what he just attacked is not what he thought he was attacking ought to increase Bobby's rage. As a DM, I would rule that attacking an illusion that the barbarian believes is a hostile creature is sufficient to maintain the barbarian's rage.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are for suggesting improvements to the answer or asking for clarification, not for extended discussion or disagreement; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jan 6 at 7:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 But, as a DM, one could also rule that seeing their target vanishing leaves the barbarian so puzzled that he/she loses their focus and consequently their rage, so I'm not that sold on your argument about RAI - even though I'd probably do the same: it feels like cheating making a PC losing the rage because of that. \$\endgroup\$ – Rekesoft Jan 7 at 12:33
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Yes

An illusion is not a creature. Bobby has not attacked a creature so her rage ends. The image is also known for what it is because attacking it (hit or miss) counts as “physical interaction ... that reveals it to be an illusion”. This does not make the illusion vanish, just that everyone who saw the interaction “can see through it” - an ambiguous phrase. It could mean literally seeing through it making the image invisible or translucent (more ambiguity) or figuratively seeing through it meaning you know it for what it is.

It would also end if she hacked at a door or table.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are for suggesting improvements to the answer or asking for clarification, not for extended discussion or disagreement; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jan 6 at 7:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ This makes the most sense to me. It also fits my image of a barbarian swiping at the illusion then being dumbstruck the goblin wasn't split in twain. That alone feels like it fits the spirit of the rules. \$\endgroup\$ – Pureferret Jan 7 at 11:25
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You did not specify what kind of attack, and that actually matters a bit in the end.

Let's assume that the Rage ability is referring to the Attack action, which means that a Barbarian may make a melee or ranged attack against a hostile creature in order to sustain Rage. Additionally, attacks are defined very broadly: "If there’s ever any question whether something you’re doing counts as an Attack, the rule is simple: if you’re Making an Attack roll, you’re Making an Attack" A Barbarian who tries to attack an illusion has made an attack, since they made an attack roll.

The only question now is whether or not targeting the illusion counts as targeting a hostile creature. By RAW, a grapple or shove is considered a special melee attack, which means that a Barb can use either to sustain their rage. Additionally, these can only be targeted on creatures, and in fact require a specific Size value to even attempt.

Therefore, if you, as the DM, allow your Barbarian to target an illusion with a grapple or shove, then you have already ruled that it counts as a creature for the purpose of targeting. By RAW, hostile is an attribute of creatures, and is applied for a creature which "opposes the adventurers and their goals but doesn't necessarily attack them on sight." The illusion was placed in passive opposition to the adventurers, so would count as hostile as long as it counts as a creature for the purpose of targeting. There could be another question here about whether or not an unconscious or non-sentient creature can be considered hostile, but whatever. You've already ruled that it's a creature for the purpose of targeting, so the Barbarian's Rage continues.

In almost any other circumstance, you probably haven't pre-ruled any particular way. But just bear in mind that if you allow the illusion to be targeted by any attack, then it's an object, creature, or location. My suggestion is to pick creature, since picking object means that it can be targeted by Shatter, and picking location is the same as saying that a location can occupy a location...

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I generally agree with this answer, but it does tread into a meta territory. A GM might allow the attack roll even though it is not possible, in order to preserve the identity of the illusion from the player, rather than a character. Depending on how you play the game, it can be a necessary subversion of the rules for attacking. \$\endgroup\$ – keithcurtis Jan 9 at 18:40

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