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Looking at the RAW for Minor Illusion (PHB, page 260) and other questions, I recognize that Minor Illusion is very limited in its ability to move on its own or change its appearance. However, I'm wondering if the illusory object can be carried or worn as demonstrated in two examples:

  1. I want to convince a visiting noble that I'm the ruler of this small town, so before I meet him in the city center, I cast Minor Illusion to create a crown on my head. Assuming he doesn't investigate (or fails) does it continue to sit naturally upon my head through normal movements?

  2. I've just stolen a historical battleaxe and the guard have been alerted to its absence. Can I choose someone who is rapidly walking away and cast an illusory version of the battleaxe strapped to his back as a diversion? Does this usage work until the illusion is investigated or interacted with (as normal.)

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No

Minor illusion states the following:

Physical interaction with the image reveals it to be an illusion, because things can pass through it.

"Wearing" an object involves extensive physical interaction with the wearer and, as such, would reveal the illusion.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is really why I was wondering, but what are the limits of this? If I cast the illusory crown as sitting upon a real wooden crate and then pick up the crate, what happens? \$\endgroup\$ – retriever123 Feb 21 at 21:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @retriever123 unfortunately, picking up the crate would also count as physical interaction. The crate would move into the illusions space, revealing the illusion. \$\endgroup\$ – Andrendire Feb 21 at 21:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ This brings in some weird RAI vs RAW questions. I believe the RAI is more along the lines of "someone tries to open the door, and their hand just passes through" but something that would remain statically in place (at least in regards to the bearer) like a crown wouldn't necessarily have that problem. Plus, does the illusion break for everyone once one creature attempts to interact with the illusion, or does it only affect creatures that see the interaction fail and see it fail? \$\endgroup\$ – RevenantBacon Feb 21 at 21:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ It doesn't say in the spell that it must be stationary, nor does it specify that it cannot move. Saying that it sits at a "fixed point in space" is arbitrary. Fixed in space in relation to what? The planet? The Sun? This crate? That guys head/arm/back? it doesn't actually specify any of these things. \$\endgroup\$ – RevenantBacon Feb 21 at 22:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @RevenantBacon It doesn't need to say that you can't move for you to not be able to move it, it has to say that you can so you can. All illusion spells that allow you to change parameters about the illusion (such as its location and appearance and what not) say so in their description. \$\endgroup\$ – Cubic Feb 21 at 23:11
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No; it's an illusion that's fixed in place unless you recast the spell.

The description of the minor illusion cantrip says (emphasis mine):

You create a sound or an image of an object within range that lasts for the duration. The illusion also ends if you dismiss it as an action or cast this spell again.

[...]

If you create an image of an object—such as a chair, muddy footprints, or a small chest—it must be no larger than a 5-foot cube. The image can’t create sound, light, smell, or any other sensory effect. Physical interaction with the image reveals it to be an illusion, because things can pass through it.

The spell doesn't grant the illusion any ability to move - it's fixed in space. (Though as Jeremy Crawford stated on Twitter, "The rules of D&D don't account for planetary rotation.") As such, if you attempt to physically interact with the illusion of the object at all, it will stay where it is; in addition, anyone who witnesses the interaction will be able to identify it as an illusion.

The only way you could make it look like you're wearing the illusionary object is to remain perfectly still. (The same applies if you're casting minor illusion to make an object appear on/near someone else.) This does not seem likely to be an effective ruse.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I guess the question of fixed in space vs attached to objects around it is ultimately the essence of what I was asking. My sense was that maybe it was fixed in space, but I was looking for a convincing reason. Ultimately, I'm mostly looking to do fun RP things with it, nothing mechanically powerful. \$\endgroup\$ – retriever123 Feb 21 at 21:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @retriever123: What you want isn't possible using the spell as written. You might be able to achieve what you want with a higher-level spell like silent image, which you can move with your action. Otherwise, your DM could house-rule to allow this, but keep in mind that allowing the illusion to move does make the cantrip significantly stronger/more useful. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Feb 21 at 21:55
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No.

First, drawing from the "spells do what they say they do" guideline, the spell description does not say anything about the image being capable of movement or animation.

Second, it's hard to suggest that one object moving in concert with some other object isn't due to a physical interaction. A crown on a person's head moves as that head moves, and a battleaxe strapped to someone's back moves as their torso moves, and so on.

The relevant part of the spell description states that

Physical interaction with the image reveals it to be an illusion, because things can pass through it.

If the image could be animated, you could maybe get past this problem. But even then it would be hard to do perfectly. And there is little support from the spell description that suggests you could move the image-- the only changes it describes permitting relate to sounds.


As for the follow-up question about practical limits of Minor Illusion the following may be worth considering:

Spells that can do what you're looking for already exist (especially Disguise Self, Major Image, and possibly Programmed Illusion), and these are all higher level than Minor Illusion and require resource expenditure (in the form of material components and scarce spell slots, or taking specific class features to obtain).

This is good guideline that for what Minor Illusion should and shouldn't be able to do for any practical application: a lower-level spell, and especially a cantrip, should not be able to trivially duplicate the effects of higher level spells or racial and class features.

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