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The Seeming spell gives any number of creatures you can see within range a new appearance. Is it possible to use this spell to make the caster and their friends transparent?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Shocked to find we haven't had this asked before, but it doesn't... <ahem> seem that we do. \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    May 24, 2023 at 3:28

4 Answers 4

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No.

It's just a disguise.

This spell allows you to change the appearance of any number of creatures that you can see within range. You give each target you choose a new, illusory appearance. [...] The spell disguises physical appearance as well as clothing, armor, weapons, and equipment. You can make each creature seem 1 foot shorter or taller and appear thin, fat, or in between. You can't change a target's body type, so you must choose a form that has the same basic arrangement of limbs. Otherwise, the extent of the illusion is up to you.

Seeming is a disguise, not an open-ended illusion (as an aside, Mirage Arcane actually calls out "disguise" and "conceal" separately: "the spell doesn't disguise, conceal, or add creatures"). There are some clear boundaries on how much larger and smaller you can appear: you can be taller, but only 1' taller. You can be heavier, but only up to "fat."

It seems like the question here is mostly based in "otherwise, the extent of the illusion is up to you." 5e doesn't define "disguise" in a rules context here to necessarily exclude invisibility, but I would take the stance that "invisible" does not constitute "a new, illusory appearance." Beyond this, we get into quibbling about the intent and the "natural language" of 5e, so I think it's simpler to just consider the balance implications of the ruling and work backwards from there.

It would be massively imbalanced.

Invisibility at 2nd level can make one character invisible for an hour, but "the spell ends for a target that attacks or casts a spell." You can upcast it to 5th level to make 4 characters invisible for an hour.

Greater Invisibility at 4th level can make one character invisible for a minute, lasting through attacks and spellcasting.

As Seeming lacks the clause from Invisibility, it would behave as Greater Invisibility: losing invisibility on attack/cast is not an implicit aspect of being invisible; it is an explicit part of the spell Invisibility. This would yield a spell that, at 5th level, casts as Greater Invisibility with more targets, lasts 480x as long, and doesn't require concentration.

In a similar vein, this would make Disguise Self a self-only, 60x duration, no-concentration Greater Invisibility from a 1st-level slot.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ In theory, what you could do is create a disguise that mimics the background behind the target. That way, they would be effectively invisible, but only from a specific angle. (Of course, the better term for that would be "camouflage".) \$\endgroup\$
    – Abion47
    May 24, 2023 at 17:29
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No: the spell does not grant the invisible condition.

Being invisible has specific mechanics and it is a well-defined game term.

The Seeming spell does not grant the invisible condition in any way.


Beside the excellent analysis made by Shivers in their answer, one should note that by using this spell

You give each target you choose a new, illusory appearance.

Any meaning of "appearance" refers to the visible aspect of a person, and illusory stands for something that looks real but it isn't.

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Invisibility, no; camouflage, maybe

As Shivers and Eddymage explain very aptly, "Invisible" is a very specific state a creature can be in. Seeming does not allow you to gain access to that state.

I would rule however that you could give yourself and your friends a brick-wall "texture", which you could then use to camouflage against a brick wall. How well you succeed in creating this textured appearance would be subject to an Arcana check, and how well everyone manages to line up with the wall behind them would be another check (probably Stealth). But it seems doable!

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Transparent: no reason why not, but don't expect it to help with stealth

You can probably use Seeming to become ghost-like, if you're trying to haunt people. Hollywood ghosts are often transparent but clearly visible.

A blue ghost in front of some books

Invisible: no, but infinitesimally small might be possible

You can make each creature seem 1 foot shorter

What happens if the creature (say, a familiar) is less than a foot in all dimensions, can you reduce its height to zero? (Given the discussion of thin/fat build, the spell presumably gives you a width and height appropriate for a zero-height creature, so you are zero size in all dimensions)

What if a much-shorter-than-average halfling (average height, 3') is Reduced to less than 1.5', and Seems much less than six inches tall?

This is very clearly not the intention of the spell, so I recommend not trying this unless your GM appreciates rules abuse at the table.

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