FrankenFourth: The Illusionist

Something that's been on the docket for awhile now is the illusionist talent tree.

Jacob has been playing an illusionist/enchanter hybrid since the start of the Age of Worms playtest campaign, though he's since branched out into Necromancy because c'mon, animating big-ass undead minions and interrogating ghosts is pretty damned awesome and useful.

Not to say that his illusions haven't at least been useful, because they have: there's been many an enemy temporarily blinded by illusionary cubes conjured around their heads, and Jacob has even used illusionary walls to conceal the party's presence.

Despite its three or so talent requirements, Phantasmal Killer has been less then phenomenal: I don't even know what its Mana cost is, but it's pretty steep considering that you gotta cobble it together using several talents, and it only does something like 1d10+Intelligence psychic damage.

Yeah, the damage ignores armor, and unlike an undead minion you don't need a corpse handy to make it (plus when it goes away or gets destroyed you can just do it all over again), but then it's only hop and skip down the Evoker path before you're blasting enemies apart with handfuls of dice at a fraction of the cost and time it takes to math out the Mana expenditure.

So, I took it back to the drawing board, and while I was there tweaked costs and effects of most if not all of the other illusionist talents. Here's what they look like, now:

Fatigue: 1d4 per 5-foot cube (see below)
Duration: 1 minute per wizard level
You know how to weave stationary visual illusions. They can be up to 60 feet away, and occupy space no larger than a 5-foot cube per 1d4 fatigue suffered (but no more than one 5-foot cube per wizard level).
They last as long as you maintain concentration and don't move beyond the maximum range. They are not solid and make no sound. A creature viewing the illusion must make a Will save or believe that it is real until something happens that reveals otherwise. If a creature touches the illusion there is a visible distortion, revealing that it is fake.
Cantrip: You can conjure a small illusion that occupies a space of no more than one cubic foot within 5 feet of you.

And here's what some of the potentially confusing terms mean:

  • Concentration is a key word that means the talent lasts until you stop concentrating on it, or the duration expires, whichever happens first. If you suffer damage while concentrating on a spell, you have to make an Arcana check or the spell fizzles away anyway. You can normally only have a single concentration effect going at a time, but there will be magic items and possibly race/class talents that let you maintain more than one.
  • Fatigue is the amount of Mana you spend when using the talent (though I'm thinking a term like Drain would be more appropriate). If you don't have enough Mana, you spend the rest from your Vitality and/or Wounds, and if that's still not enough, you fall unconscious and the spell doesn't do anything at all.
  • Cantrips are little bonus things that some talents give you. They normally don't cost anything. Many of the illusionist talents modify the core Illusionist talent.

This talent grants a good deal of flexibility: you could use it to conceal the party, create an obstruction, a visual aid when trying to convey information (possibly for free if you keep it small), or something that might lure or dissuade someone from approaching (like a pile of treasure or some creature that wouldn't normally move).

Wizards start out with 4 Mana, which means you can safely create one 5-foot cube's worth of illusions, and on average you can get away with two if you don't mind maybe draining your 1 point of Vitality.

Prerequisite: Illusionist
Fatigue: +1 per 5-foot cube
Illusions you create can move as you will, but cannot move beyond the talent’s indicated maximum range. You must pay the cost when the illusion is created: you cannot pay it after making an illusion to give it mobility. You can move each illusion affected by this talent as a Swift action, and they can move as quickly as you like: for example, you can have the illusion of a person walk or run from one location to another, or just suddenly vanish and appear somewhere else.
Cantrip: Illusions you conjure using the Illusionist cantrip effect can move.

Prerequisite: Illusionist
Fatigue: 1d4
Every creature in a 15-foot cone must succeed on a Will save or be dazed until the start of your next turn.

Prerequisite: Illusionist, Animated Illusion
Sustain: 1d4
You completely change your appearance, including clothing, weapons, armor, and other equipment. You can only change your apparent height by about a foot or so. The illusion isn’t solid (without the Solid Illusion talent), and anyone interacting with your disguise will immediately know that it is fake.

Concentration (Special)
Prerequisite: Illusionist
Fatigue: 1
Duration: 1 round per wizard level
You create sound within 30 feet. It can be of a single creature, as loud as a lion roaring. It can be used with other illusionist talents that require concentration: in this case treat them both as a single effect.
Cantrip: Illusions you conjure using the Illusionist cantrip effect can make noise no louder than a person speaking.

Prerequisite: Illusionist, Veil
Fatigue: 1d6
Duration: 1 minute/wizard level
You or a creature touched becomes invisible until the duration ends, you stop concentrating, or the target attacks or casts another spell.

Prerequisite: Illusionist, Animated Illusion, Ghost Sound
Fatigue: 3d4
Duration: 1 round/wizard level
You create an illusionary creature up to 60 feet away that assaults a creature's mind. Each round you can command it to move anywhere within range and attack an adjacent creature as a Swift action: the target must make a Will save or suffer 3d8+Intelligence psychic damage (ignores armor).

I figure just giving it a fatigue cost was better than forcing the wizard to tally a bunch of other costs. Also upped the damage and gave it a set duration.

Prerequisite: Illusionist
Fatigue: See below
When you use illusionist, you can suffer an additional point of fatigue per 5-foot cube to make the illusion solid to the touch (there is no distortion when interacted with, and it feels normal), but the creature can still make a Will save to disbelieve the illusion if it has reason to. Even if the illusion is believed, it doesn't provide much resistance: a DC 5 Strength check is enough for a creature to force its way through. It cannot support more than a few pounds of weight.
You can use this with disguise self to make it solid (increasing the fatigue cost by +1), so people interacting with you won’t immediately realize that your disguise is fake.
Cantrip: Illusions you conjure using the Illusionist cantrip effect can be solid to the touch.

That's really all to expect in the Basic Rules. For illusions, anyway: there's a similar number of Abjurer and Evoker talents, and other schools will be available down the road. There default level cap is five, though it's pretty easy to look at the class and XP table and go higher if you want. Since wizards get something like 10 talents over the 5-level spread this will still have you mostly covered if you really want to focus on illusions.

If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

Dungeons & Delvers is also on Kickstarter now: check it out, and if it looks like something you'd enjoy give it some support!

The Rogue is our latest alternate-addition to the Dungeon World core class roster. If you want something different and/or more flexible than the thief, be sure to check it out!

Just released our second adventure for A Sundered World, The Golden Spiral. If a snail-themed dungeon crawl is your oddly-specific thing, check it out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

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