I've been running the AD&D 1e version of The Temple of Elemental Evil in 5e.

My players have taken the secret tunnel from the tower and found the passage to Dungeon Level 3—I believe completely by in game action because I don't think they have the source material—and are about to turn the corner into the illusory Basilisk.

The heroes are about to encounter an illusory creature that will be capable of petrification on a failed save. I'm having trouble matching the 5e spell that would replicate the 1e effects. The nearest spell I've found is Phantasmal Force.

Yet Phantasmal Force is only described as having a limited duration and no increased duration when cast at higher levels. The description in ToEE clearly makes it out as permanent illusion, or at least one that is not held in concentration by a magic user on watch.

Am I missing a better spell? I stopped the session as they reached the landing of the tunnel just as they are about to enter. I want to get these next actions to work in system for fairness.

NB. I am the DM


You can make a permanent illusion in 5e with the spell Major Image if you cast it at 6th-level or higher:

Major Image

... When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 6th level or higher, the spell lasts until dispelled, without requiring your concentration.

You can also use the spell Programmed Illusion, it also lasts until dispelled but it is 6th-level.

However, for the petrification effect, there isn't a way to do this. Not even Illusory Reality, a 14th-level feature can legally do this, RAW. I suggest you hand-waive the effect as "magic".

  • \$\begingroup\$ And Phantasmal Force, as noted above, is not applicable? Why? \$\endgroup\$ – javafueled Nov 19 '16 at 14:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ One reason PF does not work can be that the gaze isn't "an object, creature, or other visible phenomenon." Mixing spells and monster abilities in 5e is a bit different than 1e ... a lot of 1e monster effects spelled out the equivalent spell. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Nov 19 '16 at 15:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast, yes, it appears the Basilisk's Gaze is "as Flesh to Stone" \$\endgroup\$ – javafueled Nov 20 '16 at 14:08


You might be able to achieve something beyond the scope of the above examples. State your wish to the DM as precisely as possible. The DM has great latitude in ruling what occurs in such an instance; the greater the wish, the greater the likelihood that something goes wrong. This spell might simply fail, the effect you desire might only be partly achieved, or you might suffer some unforeseen consequence as a result of how you worded the wish. For example, wishing that a villain were dead might propel you forward in time to a period when that villain is no longer alive, effectively removing you from the game. Similarly, wishing for a legendary magic item or artifact might instantly transport you to the presence of the item’s current owner.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This could "explain" how the illusory Basilisk is capable of the petrification effect, but what a waste of a Wish spell by the creator. \$\endgroup\$ – javafueled Nov 20 '16 at 13:53

I have to upvote @daze413 for the spell alternate, and credit both @ KorvinStarmast and @sevensideddie for their poking and prodding at the core of my question.

However, after research, I think this is simply a Flesh to Stone Spell Trap with an Major Image Illusory aspect. While I can't find the construction of such traps within the AD&D DMG or Players Handbook, it is part of Pathfinder and 3.5, so I can possibly, maybe, faintly, vaguely, see lineage to 1e. Using Pathfinder/3.5 as a guide, it's a costly trap to be sure with various additional spell components including Darkvision (or True Seeing), plus or minus Arcane Eye as a trigger.

Creating magical traps is not detailed in the 5e DMG, but more vaguely eluded to in the Traps section (p 120-123), so I can certainly handwave the creation from earlier editions.

Ultimately, the spells cast are various levels, Flesh to Stone is a 6th level spell, I can derive the Saving Throw from that.

Thanks everyone for giving this question their attention and some consideration.


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