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Minor Illusion allows the creation of a 5-foot illusory object: can I hide behind this object (wall/crate/anything) and gain advantage vs. creatures who can't see past the illusion?

If so, given that examining the illusion requires an action, am I guaranteed to have advantage at least until their turn arrives?

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    \$\begingroup\$ The context you're envisioning is unclear. Do you want to create this illusion mid-combat (i.e., while your opponent watches), or in preparation for an ambush? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 16 '15 at 23:26
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Can you hide behind the illusion? Probably. Can you get advantage just for being behind it? Probably not unless you're a halfling.

Here's the problem, ultimately, you're only creating a 5' cube. That's probably not enough to hide behind without an actual stealth check.

Basically, you need to completely block line of sight from the creature you want advantage on, to yourself. You also, theoretically need to maintain said blockage of line of sight to your opponent until the moment you attack...

The way this probably works best is if you're a halfling and cast this the turn before. Then you could duck back, and shoot through the illusion with advantage.

For a normal sized character, without an action to hide, I'd probably not allow you to remove yourself from LOS behind the illusion (that's not to say that it doesn't block). Most characters are over 5' tall (a huge swath of humans are, like probably 80% or more, and likely even more adventuring humans). That means that even though you only take up a 5' cube in game space, you'd be seen over an illusory one. You'd get cover...but the thing is an illusion so if you're shot at, I'd give the creature the impression you had cover, but none would be applied to the attack (or maybe half the cover number, so -1 or -2 instead of -2/-5). Advantage on you attacks though, not so much.

However, if you're willing to spend the action (to make a dex(stealth) check) to hide, I'd acknowledge that, because you're actually spending a whole action, and that is modeled by being quiet, stepping softly, and possibly crouching behind an illusory object.

So yes, the wall is opaque, and you'd be able to hide behind it/have advantage from attacks (technically, if it was a real object, they wouldn't be able to target you..I'd allow the targeting)...but only if you completely fit behind it, and that's not the case for most PCs.

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    \$\begingroup\$ 6' people can crouch... \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 24 '14 at 17:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't understand this answer at all. Hiding normally requires a Dexterity (Stealth) check, so why are you talking about hiding without one? I am totally confused. \$\endgroup\$ – Bradd Szonye Oct 25 '14 at 19:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think the phrasing "that's probably not enough to hide behind without an actual stealth check" has the potential to confuse. Hiding (the mechanic) always requires a stealth check. So "hide without a check" makes no sense. If you meant "hide" more colloquially, I'd suggest something like "that's probably not enough to ensure your target can't see you, unless you take an action to hide (bonus action for rogues)." \$\endgroup\$ – detly Jul 16 '15 at 22:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ There is a subtle difference between being unseen and being hidden - there,s a question on it somewhere \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M Jul 29 '15 at 8:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ Have you considered the possibility of hiding within an illusory object? Like crouching in a 5' crate and just attacking from the inside once with advantage? Or is that not realistic here? \$\endgroup\$ – Javelin Nov 16 '15 at 8:19
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There is no clear cut rule for this, so the DM must make a ruling. There are several ways to go about it that would make sense:

  1. The character is fully hidden and has advantage, assuming they are a small or medium character. Yes, humans are taller than 5', but you can interpret the spell's "no larger than a 5-foot cube" to allow a taller but thinner cover object, or just assume that tall people crouch.
  2. The character can use the object to hide behind. If they succeed, they get advantage. (Variants: requires action/doesn't, hide with advantage.)
  3. Treat small characters differently, giving them #1 and medium characters #2.
  4. No benefit, for whatever reason.

Personally, I'd probably go with #1 for simplicity. However, if you shoot or cast a spell through the object, I would allow anyone seeing it to immediately know it's an illusion, since they see something going through the illusory object, which is called out in the spell description as revealing it.

Jeremy Crawford also supports this interpretation:

Minor illusion can create an illusory object that is big enough for you to hide behind or within (assuming you're not Large+). However, if you're taller than 5 ft., you'll often have to be effectively prone if you're trying to attack from inside the illusion.

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    \$\begingroup\$ just a heads up, unless you've read something I haven't hiding always requires an action (unless you're a rogue, in which case it's a bonus action) \$\endgroup\$ – wax eagle Oct 25 '14 at 12:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ @waxeagle, sure by RAW, just thinking of ways a DM might handle it if they want to reward such behavior. \$\endgroup\$ – Hassassin Oct 25 '14 at 12:12
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I allowed this in one specific case; two players had found a secret compartment in a dungeon, covered with plaster, which they ripped away to reveal a small entrance into a secret room.

I allowed them to create an illusion of the plaster still being present, to ambush a patrol. It was a 5" square sheet of plaster. I allowed it because there was space for both players to shoot an arrow through the illusion, in a surprise attack.

If they created a crate, the guards may have realised that something was up, as the crate was not there a few hours earlier. However, if they guards were not familiar with the dungeon, they may have tried to open the crate, only to receive the rogue's rapier somewhere uncomfortable.

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"If the creature discerns the illusion for what it is, the illusion becomes faint to the creature." - so yes, you can see through your own cover.

"it must be no larger than a 5-foot cube" - on a grid, medium characters take up a 5' cube (even if they are technically 6' tall). The size table in the PHB says "Medium: 5 by 5 ft."

"A target has total cover if it is completely concealed by an obstacle." If your illusion is say a solid 5' cube of steel, you will be completely concealed in its square.

You do not need to hide. You have advantage merely as a result of being an unseen attacker. "When a creature can’t see you, you have advantage on attack rolls against it."

In short, this works just fine.

To avoid arguments with your DM however, you may want to just make this a 5' arrow tower, so you have 3/4 cover, and are shooting at your enemy through a slit so as not to give away the insubstantial nature of your defense.

Additionally, you may want to consider Silent Image, since it is bigger, and can create a "visual effect" not just an object (like a pea soup fog), again, allowing you to avoid arguments as arrows can pass through fogs just fine.

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I would rule that it does work, once. But I would also require the character to give thought to the type and location of the illusion. A simple black square in the middle of a hallway the enemy is familiar with might, technically, provide cover but most creatures will probably be able to determine that it is an illusion and see right through it (advantage on their investigation check?). But making an open doorway appear to be a closed door or adding a bush in the right spot in an area full of similar bushes could work, once.

If LOS is the problem, the illusion could be OVER the character (i.e, in his square), thus no creature could see him crouching behind it. While the examples provided for minor illusion (chair, muddy footprints, small chest) don't seem to be large enough to cover/conceal a medium sized creature, the 5 foot cube restriction certainly is.

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Here is the problem that none of the other answers address.

You cast the illusion, now the caster has no special privileges over and above anyone else so until you physically interact with it or use an action and pass an Intelligence (Investigation) check, you can't see through it. The advantage you gain by being unseen is offset by the disadvantage you get by not being able to see your target.

Now, you may argue that you know its an illusion because you cast the spell. So what? Knowing it is an illusion is not one of the methods listed that enables you to see through it.

Now with enough time, you can physically interact with it and then put your plan in action so it is a good spell for a planned ambush but not so good for an ongoing melee.

Personally, I don't see any game balance issues with this since it effectively using a cantrip to give the same benefits of a different cantrip (True Strike). I certainly like the 5e treatment of illusions which bring back some of their power and versatility that has been nerfed out over 3rd & 4th editions.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Does knowing whether it is illusory or not matter? You may as well not have to interact with the object in any direct way, instead hiding behind it and attacking from there, which should be fine. \$\endgroup\$ – Javelin Nov 16 '15 at 8:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Javelin I like to think that the illusion is so complete that even though you know it is one your brain says "Are you sure?" \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M Nov 16 '15 at 10:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ But then it could amount to actually conjuring a thing and just hiding behind that anyway. \$\endgroup\$ – Javelin Nov 16 '15 at 15:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ I like this answer except I don't think the requirement to "examine" the illusion necessitates physical interaction. The spell specifies only an action and a successful Intelligence (Investigation) check to perceive the effect faintly. If this were otherwise, an illusory sound could never be perceived as an illusion. \$\endgroup\$ – sippybear Aug 17 '16 at 6:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @sippybear I didn't say it does: physical interaction OR action/investigation is required \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M Aug 17 '16 at 6:48
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A way you could use it would be to create a small illusion of a rock formation around you. This would work on two conditions: 1. Your character is small enough to be concealed within the illusion and 2. It is out in open fields, or in a cave.

You could also use this to create a box around yourself, or an illusion of the area around you forming a hill, inside of which you are crouching.

You could also use this to cover up a pit you and your party have dug, or hiding yourself behind a "wall".

Anyway, I am yet to try out these tactics so feel free to tell me if they would not work.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is how you would implement this, but is this backed by the rules? \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Jacobs Feb 18 '18 at 0:33

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