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I will be playing a Changeling in an upcoming campaign (homebrew setting). I'm interested in hiding not only my race, but also having one or more "retainers" -- alternate identities/personas that my changeling can slip into and out of as needed.

The catch is, I wish to conceal (at least at first) the fact that the PC and the NPC retainers are actually a single entity! The most straightforward way of doing this would seem to be observers seeing "both" characters arrive to the starting town at the same time. I would want this to deceive NPCs and fellow PCs.

What magic/mundane/class features do I need to pull off such a deception at level 1? If not, what's the earliest level you could realistically pull the wool over NPC eyes, solo? The ruse must be able to confound casual observers, but bonus points if it can stand up to additional scrutiny!

I don't have a set class for this character, but am leaning towards Bard, Rogue, or Wizard. Since I'm trying to fool the party as well, count on no help from them.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Is this in-game only, or also at the table, deceiving the other players? \$\endgroup\$ – WakiNadiVellir Jun 29 '20 at 14:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @WakiNadiVellir ultimately in-game only. I don't expect to keep up the deceit to the other players. (Though it's intended to start that way, I expect a reveal within the first few sessions, some shared chuckles, and we move on with the game.) \$\endgroup\$ – Raven Dreamer Jun 29 '20 at 14:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't expect the DM to need to railroad -- and I definitely want the other players to make those checks, eventually. (Just not passively figure it out!) \$\endgroup\$ – Raven Dreamer Jun 29 '20 at 14:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ Are the NPC retainers real people, who let your PC take on their identities for a little while? Or are they only fake identities of your character, with nothing else underlying them? Would you be OK with the GM "playing" your PC while they are in the NPC guise (perhaps with clandestine guidance from you, as to your goals for the scene)? \$\endgroup\$ – Blckknght Jun 29 '20 at 15:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ not real people. I would be willing to work with a DM to extend the ruse. \$\endgroup\$ – Raven Dreamer Jun 29 '20 at 16:10
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Silent Image

A 1st level wizard or bard would have access to this 1st level illusion spell1 (a rogue would have to wait until level 3 to have access to it, and even then, only if they chose the Arcane Trickster subclass), which you can then animate with your action (PHB, p. 276):

You can use your action to cause the image to move to any spot within range. As the image changes location, you can alter its appearance so that its movements appear natural for the image. For example, if you create an image of a creature and move it, you can alter the image so that it appears to be walking.

That said, it is only visual, hence the name silent image, so although you could use this to make it appear as though you and one of your alter egos could walk into town together, the illusion wouldn't be able to speak, and they wouldn't be accompanied by smells or any other sensory information.

So that you aren't found out too soon, you'd probably want to say goodbye to your illusory friend as soon as the party meets you, and have the illusion nod/wave goodbye back and then walk down an alleyway or something, where you can then drop concentration on the spell once the illusion is out of sight.


1 Note that sorcerers would also have access to this spell at 1st level, and warlocks can have access to it as early as 2nd level if they pick the Misty Visions eldritch invocation; finally, fighters, if they take the Eldritch Knight subclass, can have it at 3rd level as their initial non-abjuration/evocation spell.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ How does the spell range work if you move? Is it 60 ft. from the caster for the duration? Or is it anchored to the initial area of the illusion? \$\endgroup\$ – Raven Dreamer Jun 29 '20 at 16:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SableDreamer: 7SD argues (Can a Major Image illusion move outside of the range in which it was originally cast?) that "within range" means a range from the caster, at the time they choose to move the illusion. So yes, you could walk with your illusion. Another answer on that linked question suggests another possible interpretation is within 120ft of the current position of the illusion (or 60ft for Silent Image), but nobody is suggesting that it's pinned to near the area where it was initially cast. That sounds like an inconvenient interpretation. \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Cordes Jun 29 '20 at 22:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SableDreamer I can see that; I've included it as a footnote, that way the "main body" of the answer still relates to your question and its restrictions, but as you say, others can be helped by the additional information if they don't have the same restrictions as you. \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jul 14 '20 at 14:49

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