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 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\$ – Sable Dreamer Jun 29 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\$ – Sable Dreamer Jun 29 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 at 15:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ not real people. I would be willing to work with a DM to extend the ruse. \$\endgroup\$ – Sable Dreamer Jun 29 at 16:10

Silent Image

A 1st level wizard or bard would have access to this 1st level illusion spell (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.

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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\$ – Sable Dreamer Jun 29 at 16:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Sable Ah yes, it only lets you move it to somewhere "within range", so that's probably 60 ft within the initial area, especially if contrasted against how darkness is worded, which explicitly describes casting it on an object that can allow the spell to move with it. I guess this alleyway or whatever ought to be nearby to where you make your appearance. A DM might be lenient and go with your first suggestion of it moving with the caster, but that's up to your DM. \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jun 29 at 16:21
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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 at 22:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ You may want to note that he could choose Silent Image at Level 1 as a Bard or Wizard, but a Rogue couldn't take it without becoming an Arcane Trickster which wouldn't happen until Level 3. \$\endgroup\$ – gto Jun 29 at 23:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @gto That's a good point, I skipped over bard entirely and went straight for wizard! I've also added the note about Arcane Tricksters, since the question does mention a rogue. Thanks for the pointers! \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jun 30 at 7:37

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