Pretty simple question that I can't find an exact answer for in the book. If a player is affected by a direct illusion (one that only affects the player) say for example, a creature hiding itself, and the affected player uses familiar sight or a similar spell that lets them see from something else's point of view, would the illusion still affect them? Or would they see it as the other creature sees it (potentially unaffected)?

The illusions I'm thinking of are ones that essentially conceal a monster from the sight of the party even though it is standing nearby. Of course normal checks would apply, but I wanted to know if there were any other ways around it that the players might try. Alternatively it might hide one player from the party so it seems they disappeared, but I'm guessing that would require casting the illusion on the whole party.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Great question! I am going to have to go read some rules... do you have an example illusion spell that led you ask the question? \$\endgroup\$
    – Protonflux
    Nov 14 '16 at 18:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ For illusions it says "more insidious ones" can be implanted directly in the character's brain, but that doesn't make it clear whether the creature they're receiving sensory data from would be filtered through this "implant" or simply show up as a discrepancy. \$\endgroup\$
    – thanby
    Nov 14 '16 at 18:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ This will be much easier to answer in a way that's useful to you if you could give us one or a few actual illusions that work the way you're thinking about. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 14 '16 at 18:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also perhaps edit the title of the question as it is not about the familiar sensing the illusion, but the caster sensing the illusion through the familiar. Perhaps "Can owners see around illusions when using their familiar's senses?". It will make people browsing the list of questions understand what you are asking better. \$\endgroup\$
    – Protonflux
    Nov 14 '16 at 18:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not even sure there are any illusions that work the way you describe. Please specify so that answers can address it properly. \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Nov 14 '16 at 22:45

For this specific illusion spell fitting your criteria (I think) it is clear that the caster still experiences the illusion (PHB, p. 264):

Phantasmal Force
2nd-level illusion

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 60 feet
Components: V, S, M (a bit of fleece)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute

You craft an illusion that takes root in the mind of a creature that you can see within range. …

While a target is affected by the spell, the target treats the phantasm as if it were real. The target rationalizes any illogical outcomes from interacting with the phantasm. …

The victim of a Phantasmal Force will experience the illusion even when using the familiar's senses. It "takes root in the mind of a creature" so it does not matter what senses it uses. Even if illusions are not seen when using the familiar's senses in other cases (yet to be discussed or established in another answer), for this spell "the target rationalizes any illogical outcomes" so they will believe it and experience it anyway ("My familiar can't see the invisible orc!").

(Edited) Other illusion spells

I've quickly looked though all the illusion spells in the PHB and they pretty much all create an illusion that you sense from whatever point of view you are looking from, so you would sense them from your familiar too.

However if your familiar has a sense that the illusion does not cover then your DM may give you a save, perhaps even at advantage, if the environmental factors warrant. For instance a bat's blindsight definitely won't sense a Minor Illusion if it is a visual illusion. However you don't get a save unless the DM says so: maybe your character has other possible explanations that cover the situation (e.g. it's possibly because of a silence spell effect) and it doesn't tip into proof or interaction with the illusion in a way that possibly reveals it for what it is.

However there is one clear exception, Phantasmal Killer, which only effects the target. However this works at least in part like Phantasmal Force so "looking" through the senses of your familiar may not help. Again the DM will judge if the save you get every round is effected by this extra information. I've asked a question about Phantasmal Killer to see how closely it should work to Phantasmal Force: Does Phantasmal Killer work on a blind target which discusses things pertinent to attempting to view the spell effect through something elses senses.


I can teach you how to bewitch the mind and ensnare the senses.

Professor Severus Snape

No, a familiar does not help you avoid the effects of illusions.

A common mistake that people make with illusions is thinking that they are in some way different from spells of other schools of magic. All spells do exactly what they say in their description: no more nor less. At least, this is what they do mechanically: how you describe that narratively or thematically is up to you.

Illusions (and other spells) do what they say because ... magic. In general, attempts to justify or invalidate them by logic or physics fail because ... magic.

For the particular case of using your familiar's senses instead of your own. Why would you think it makes a difference? A brief look at the way that one can penetrate illusions from the spell descriptions give the following broad classes:

  • a saving throw (e.g. Phantasmal Force): whose senses you use is irrelevant - its your saving throw.
  • interacting with the illusion using an action and making an Intelligence (Investigation) check (e.g. Phantasmal Force, Programmed Illusion): again, whose senses you use are irrelevant - its your check. If your familiar possesses senses you don't (Keen Hearing for example), this may warrant advantage on the check.
  • physical interaction (e.g. Programmed Illusion): if you are using your familiar's senses then its you that's doing the interaction. A corollary is that if you withdraw your familiar will still be under the effect of the illusion.
  • you can't (e.g. Invisibility): well, you can't.
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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer needs revision to not chide the querent for asking: We already know the spells do literally and exactly what they say. They make you see weird stuff right? Even given that axiom it's quite reasonable to wonder the question: if we're looking at what something else sees when that thing isn't being made to see weird stuff, do we still see weird stuff? We're meant to be seeing what they're seeing, right? Of course we'd think it makes a difference! You need to reapproach, as your current tact comes across as condescending. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 15 '16 at 0:30

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