I'm confused about illusion spells in SR5. The rulebook states that illusions do not cause direct permanent damage but can cause side effects such as pain, nausea, or loss of balance and/or indirect harm (e.g. a guy that tries to walk on an illusionary bridge will fall to his death, but an illusionary gun can cause only pain that doesn't last longer than the illusion, it cannot kill).

Fair enough. Now say a mage casts Trid Phantasm, a physical AoE spell. He can choose any area in his field of view and basically create a realistic Illusion of anything he (the mage) has seen before. It only has to fit in a sphere with a radius equal to the spell's force rating. The mage can move the AoE with a complex action as long as it is sustained. Still, it has to be in the mage's field of view. That much is clear to me.

Now here are my questions, and let's assume the target failed its resistance check against the illusion:

  1. Are people outside the field of view of the mage still affected by the Illusion? At the beginning of the chapter on Illusions, it says, some illusions "affect the senses of anyone perceiving the subject of the spell", i.e. perceiving the AoE. But in the paragraph about AoE effects it says "If a potential target is outside your vision (behind a screen, for example), they're not affected."
  2. As the target falls off of the illusionary bridge earlier, will it think it's still walking on the bridge until either the spell ends or it falls out of the field of view of the mage? Or more plausible, will it fall but see the bridge from below and think "*****"? The latter creates another problem:
  3. If the target fights against a illusionary enemy, will it feel the enemy's attacks? If so, will the pain cause injury modifications to the dice pool? If so, should the illusion actually roll damage as if it was real, with the damage later vanishing? If the Illusion parries a sword in melee, will the sword of the target pass through the illusion's sword or stop? If it passes through, does the target realise it fights an illusion and stop, does it get another resistance check, does it automatically see through the illusion? If it sees through the illusion, is it still affected by the pain and wound modifications and can the illusion cause further pain?

So basically my question is, how real in terms of rules is a physical Trid Phantasm?

Here is a reddit discussion of Trid Phantasm, that is very related.


1 Answer 1


Yes, on physical spells they are affected

If you read the sidebar "Physical Illusions" section of pg. 290 you would find.

Physical illusion spells create actual images or alter physical properties, such as light or sound.

Altering light and sound would affect anyone who can see the physical illusion. The mage only needs to see the target of the AOE in order to cast the spell. So, if you're at the corner of a building, you can make the illusion of a rabbit appear in the road across from you, and the people you can't see on the other side of the corner would be able to see it.

They would probably know once they started falling

Trid Phantasms are multi-sense spells, so you could cast one that could affect all the senses to make it seem like they're real, but once any actual touch/pressure were applied, though the person could feel the pressure it wouldn't stop their hand. Imagine touching a sheet of hanging paper: there's a sensation of contact and light pressure, but it almost immediately gives. In this case, the phantasm would immediately give, because it can't be actually physical (and thus able to cause harm).

There would be feeling, but no damage

The attacks can cause pain, yes, but none of it would be real damage. Thus, there would be no modification to the dice pool.

The sword would pass through the illusion.

So, as far as all of the senses go, it's real. But there's no actual physical harm/concussing, thus not affecting the die pool. Could be great for "enhanced interrogations".


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