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So, I have a player with an Echo Knight character. I know it can manifest a black and white projection that can attack through (and react through with opportunity attacks) ... but I'm curious how enemies are meant to respond and interact with it. This may be dependent on each monster ... but I'd like to get some guidance.

If an echo knight's manifestation appears next to a bandit, will the bandit waste their attack and swing at the echo? Since an echo knight can use an opportunity attack, wouldn't an enemy almost always choose to attack the echo (so it doesn't get hit)?

If a hungry monster is nearby, and doesn't smell the echo ... but can see the form and other players ... would it choose to go after the echo at all? Or proceed toward "real" characters?

I feel like my enemies are wasting rounds attacking the apparition, which the echo knight just brings back the next round. I need to know if I have to adjust encounters by adding more enemies (because most of my enemies just spend their turn wasting attacks on the echo ... and sometimes miss)

So, the question isn't ... does the enemy know the manifestation is "fake"? It's, how will the enemy react to the manifestation (since the manifestation can cause damage)?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Good luck if your echo knight picks up polearm master and sentinel \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Feb 28 at 18:06

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All but the least intelligent of creatures should be able to easily distinguish between the real knight and their echo.

The Manifest Echo feature describes the echo:

This echo is a magical, translucent, gray image of you

The PHB defines intelligence as:

mental acuity, accuracy of recall, and the ability to reason.

Now, the PHB does not describe how smart or stupid a creature of any particular intelligence score is, but I have both played and DM’d for echo knights many times, and can tell you how I have handled this.

I ran into this same question the first time I played as an Echo Knight. After talking with my DM about it, we decided that the DM doesn’t need to keep in mind the intelligence scores of all the creatures in combat. It’s just another thing on the DM’s plate to have to check the creature’s intelligence when deciding how it responds to the echo. Instead, we decided that unless the creature’s intelligence score is 1, the creature knows the echo isn’t real. The DM can then mark the 1 intelligence creatures, if any, and know how to run them in combat.

And this idea makes some sense from a roleplaying perspective too. A horse, with intelligence 2, has seen a real person, and I think it could distinguish between a real person and a translucent gray image of a person. So unless the creature is the dumbest the rules allow creatures to be, it can recognize the echo as a fake. It makes the game easier to play.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I find a DM not considering the NPC stats to be really poor advice in general. In terms of the question though, this doesn't really mention how any creature may decide to deal with the echo once they have identified it as such (or otherwise). \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Feb 28 at 18:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ So, by your logic ... if the monster isn't stupid (int > 1), then the monster would know that the manifestation is "fake" ... But that ignores the question of how the monster will react to it. The monster could know that the manifestation can attack (especially if the manifestation has attacked already). Therefore ... the original question still remains ... how would the monster treat the manifestation? Just because the monster knows its "fake", would it ignore the manifestation and just run past it and take an opportunity attack... would it choose to go after other targets (and why?) \$\endgroup\$ Feb 28 at 19:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jabbamonkey If that’s all you’re after, the question is opinion based - the answer is “however you want them to react”. The rules don’t govern this, the DM does. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 28 at 19:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ I guess that's the point ... I'd like DMs opinion on how they would handle these situations (especially since there are no "rules" for this). An answer of "however you want them react" can lead to confusing situations and potentially angry players... \$\endgroup\$ Feb 28 at 23:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jabbamonkey Give some thought to what the enemies may know about the echo's 'mechanics' during the combat. If they've never seen an Echo Knight, they might initially act as if the echo is only an illusion. Once they see it attack, particularly an opportunity attack, they might choose to target the echo to remove it as a threat. Once they see the Echo Knight re-summon it multiple times, they may decide to ignore it again if they feel they're wasting their actions. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kayndarr
    Feb 29 at 5:23
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The echoes are not illusions. If they were, the feature would explicitly state that. Compare with the spell Mirror Image:

the duplicates move with you and mimic your actions, shifting position so it's impossible to track which image is real.

and

A creature is unaffected by this spell if it can't see, if it relies on senses other than sight, such as blindsight, or if it can perceive illusions as false, as with truesight.

A "hungry monster" would probably not mistake a "translucent image" for food. As for whether or not an enemy would attack the echo instead of a player character, the DM would have to adjudicate that. I would probably have intelligent opponents focus on the knight, once they noticed either that they can't hit the echo or that the knight is the one that keeps summoning it.

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It depends

Most enemies would instantly conclude they are outnumbered and act accordingly, that means run, use AOE or other means of changing dynamics of this battle like for example identifying source of danger and that means focusing mentioned echo knight. You must remember that many monsters or other enemies have means to make ranged attacks that all should go towards echo knight in question. If the enemy have knowledge before the fight on how said character fights they can even prepare ropes/traps or other means to restrain said knight so the fight changes to their favor, if the said pack of enemies is smart enough to use such tactics depends entirely on DM but you should remember that that even the monsters that has intelligence score 1 are able to hunt and are sometimes smart enough to do what they needs to survive.

That said it does not mean you should punish your player in every encounter, sometimes enemies will panic and wont know what to do and especially in situations where there is single big enemy vs your group it is hard to balance this but if you let this one player shine sometimes when encounters like that happens it will just be fun for everyone.

tl;dr

It is more likely that many small enemies will focus echo knight especially if they have ranged attacks available to simply turn off all illusions.
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