In the English core rule book on page 290, under the Mana Illusions heading, it says "you're never affected by your own illusion spell", but doesn't qualify this statement as explicitly only applying to mana illusions.

The subsequent section, Physical Illusions, says that physical illusion spells "create actual images or alter physical properties". Can magic users 'see' through their own physical illusions without the physical illusion Intuition + Logic check?

If so, are they essentially getting a huge bonus to that check such that they can cue into the imperfections in their own illusion such that we don't roll; or is the manipulation of light and sound not affecting what reaches them (I.e., if they had cybereyes recording the illusion, would the playback lack the illusion?)

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    \$\begingroup\$ I guess you are asking: "If I create an illusionary wall, can I see what is behind the illusionary wall?", which isn't quite the same as Aiken's approach to the question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Theik
    Sep 18, 2014 at 13:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Theik: That is essentially correct. A much better way to phrase the question. In my particular case, I'm wondering if the magician can see through their own improved invisibility spell. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 19, 2014 at 0:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've updated my answer considerably based on these comments, hope the improved answer is more useful :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Aiken
    Sep 22, 2014 at 15:09

1 Answer 1


Can they tell it's an illusion?

An illusionist can tell that a physical illusion she created is an illusion, because she created it.

In the same manner someone in our modern world could look at an image they had altered with photoshop (or a similar program) and know that it was 'shopped not because of the image's content, but because they personally made the changes to the image, even if someone else would have great difficulty deducing that the image had been altered.

What's the difference between Physical and Mana illusions?

It's worth noting here that what we 'see' is just an image our minds construct based on photons (particles of light) hitting the retinas in our eyes.

A physical illusion alters the photons in the world itself, this is why all imaging systems (biological and technological) pick up the illusion and convey that message to the brain or computer system connected to them.

With Mana illusions think of it as applying special effects directly to the image the brain produces, the eye doesn't see the bugs in a Swarm spell (because they don't exist) but your spell edits the image the brain produces to add the bugs in afterwards. Since a security camera is not connected to a living brain, mana illusions have no effect on the image it records.

What does that mean for this question?

Whether or not you argue that this allows the caster to literally see through mana illusions is up to you and your GM. The rules state that 'you are unaffected' but whether this means you simply know the illusion to be false or cannot see it at all is not clearly stated.

However as this refers to physical illusions the answer is clear, your spell alters the photons that are bouncing around the world. Your brain can't separate these photons from any others and thus any invisible person or illusory wall appears (even to the caster) exactly as the illusion spell intends it to.

How does this affect Improved Invisibility specifically?

It's worth noting that the caster of an Improved Invisibility spell must consciously sustain the spell in order for it to remain active, it therefore makes sense that they have an innate knowledge of where the target of this spell is. In short, for as long as they sustain that spell they can't see them (because their eyes can't possibly pick them up) but they would almost certainly still know where they were. Astral Perception may also allow them to see the aura produced by their spell and thus somewhat 'see' the invisible person.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't know if the Photoshop analogy can hold when the thing you photoshoped is off and moving under its own power and you can't see it. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 20, 2014 at 14:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think this is a nice revision, but it doesn't quite sate my curiosity as to whether or not a person can see through their own illusory wall. If you make a fake wall and then someone stands behind it, can that person be seen even by the caster of the wall spell? Perhaps there just isn't enough in the rules to know... \$\endgroup\$
    – BrianH
    Sep 22, 2014 at 16:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BrianDHall: There isn't enough in the rules to know. The specifics of how the photons are being manipulated would be critical. To make a wall two things would have to happen, the light from the objects would need to be blocked or manipulated and the light from the wall would need to be produced (although not emitted directly otherwise the wall would glow in the dark). \$\endgroup\$ Sep 22, 2014 at 16:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ All in all, any resistance test to physical illusions is silly if it is altering a physical property of the world. Thereby, even if you resisted an illusion of a wall you wouldn't see behind it, you'd just notice the flaws in the illusion and know that it was an illusion (or at least that something wasn't right about the thing you were seeing). \$\endgroup\$ Sep 22, 2014 at 16:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ Great revision. I think the wall question is a question in its own right. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 22, 2014 at 16:40

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