The Illusionist: Class, Background or Theme?

Arctic Wolf

First Post
First off this would of been a good poll question but what can ya do :p. Now down to business. I would say that I am in team theme for Illusionist. It clearly defines how the class, in this case the wizard, sorcerer, warlock, bard, does to fulfill its duties. I could also see how a cleric and some other classes could use it but would require a bit of reworking to get it right but that is another story.

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Eh? A conjurer, evoker, or diviner isn't distinct enough, but a necromancer or illusionist is?

Personally, I am against such overspecialization. Just like fighters who only use swords, a mage who only uses illusions has too many situations where their abilities aren't useful. And if you aren't using illusions, why bother with being an illusionist?

Why? You should be able to affect gelatinous cubes with illusions. Illusionary scents rather than illusionary sights admittedly. But nothing wrong with that.

And I'm in favour of the illusionist being a separate class because it should look much more like the 3.X Beguiler than it would the wizard. Spontaneous casting - and a high level illusionist should be Bugs Bunny. Able to create an illusionary door on a wall, walk through that door, then have the enemy run head-first into the wall when they try to follow. As a spontaneous thing. They also need to be artists and conmen (different skill set) - and if you're playing a trickster (as illusionists should be) spontaneous just works better.

I see three basic tiers of illusionist.

1: Illusions only. You can affect any sense (and a small mono-sense illusion such as silent image or ghost sound is a cantrip). Anyone can walk through an illusionary wall at this level. Or fall through an illusion covering a pit trap.

2: Phantasms. A phantasm can convince someone's nervous system that it is real. They feel themselves burning and this will knock them out - or they can't put their hand through a phantasmal wall. Phantasmal monsters are ... frustrating.

3: "Real" Illusions. Your illusions in tier 3 are good enough to fool reality. When you want to. See for instance the door mentioned above or other bugs bunny stunts. Also genuine shapeshifting.


Steeliest of the dragons
Should all mages be able to turn invisible, mirror image, blur or conjure phantasmal force/minor images to trick opponents? Sure.

Should all mages be able to use Color Spray, Hypnotic Pattern, create a mental image of fear so terrible it might kill you, be able to weave light and shadow to the point of being semi-real? No. That's the Illusionist's shtick.

But it is still, at its essence, a full arcane caster class. There isn't any (or enough) distinction that, for me, warrants its entire own class.

Theme please.

Generally speaking, to my mind the Illusionist would be helpful/useful for the Exploration and Interaction pillars more than the Combat, as much as if not moreso than a "full/general" mage. But still can help out/defend themselves in combat/in a pinch/as necessary.

Illusionist -Theme (or Advanced Theme, however that's going to work)
-Forgoes the Mage spell list and chooses only from the Illusionist Spell List
-Illusionist cantrips: Detect Illusion, Dancing Lights, Ghost Sound
-Bonus to saves against Illusions and Mind-effecting magics, penalty to target saves against their illusions.
-Associated Bonus Skills: Sleight of Hand, Performer, Disguise.

Illusionist Spell List
level 1.................................level 2..............................level 3
Chromatic Orb...................Blur...................................Blink
Color Spray.......................Detect Invisible..................Clairvoy./aud.
Darkness/Light..................Hypnotic pattern................Illusory Script
Disguise Self......................Invisibility...........................Invisibility Sphere
Silent Image......................Magic Mouth......................Major Image
Sleep.................................Minor Image......................Nondetection
Ventriloquism.....................Mirror Image.....................Phantom Steed
Wall of Fog........................Obscure Object..................Suggestion

I'll leave higher levels to your imaginations. But you see the pattern/get the gist.


First Post
As others have said, part of the wizard class. Mainly because I want fewer classes. I'm not sure how many others share this inclination.

I generally dislike segregating powers and benefits. I would rather allow as many different characters as possible to be able to use any given power, spell, or ability. In prior editions, I kept stumbling across elements that were restricted to a class or theme or race, and while the restriction was an excellent suggestion, I often couldn't see a real reason why several other characters could not take that particular option.

If it were up to me, each class would basically be an equivalent of 4e's power source. I know bunching up rogues, rangers and fighters into one class would not be D&D, so I'm not pushing for this, but it would be a sensible way to gather options. For example, while tumbling might be something rogues specialize in, I could easily see a swashbuckler (more of a light fighter) or a fencer do the same thing, or even an elven bow-ranger.


I kinda hope specialization is something that is available to the wizard without a theme. Have all the schools and a Generalist school that they can choose, and they gain benefits when casting spells from their school. Generalist would grant a lesser bonus to all spells or something. They would basically be the Wizard version of Schemes or Domains.

Then have a theme for specialists that want to focus even more.


Limit Break Dancing
Hmm...sounds like a theme to me. At best.

If the only difference between an illusionist and a wizard is the spells he can cast, we gain nothing (except another half-dozen pages of bloat in the PHB) by making a separate class out of it. Do we need a Pikeman class, for fighters who specialize in fighting with polearms?


First Post
Class, though probably not a first player's book class. And I'm thinking something along the lines of the 3.5 Beguiller here (though with more effective spells), not just a wizard with a different spell list.


Krampus ate my d20s
Truthfully, I didn't think there was much discussion about the Illusionist. In every class discussion thread, it is taken as a given that the Illusionist will not be a class without much uproar or protest. I am pleased to see there is support for the illusionist as class. I didn't include a poll because I honestly did not think there would be a lot of variety of opinion. Mea culpa.

I would love to see a differentiated Illusionist. Not a scholarly wizard with a PhD in Gnomish Glamer and a minor in Illusiory Ethics, but the D&D version of a street magician, a skill monkey con mage. Blend enchantment spells and illusion spells to a spontaneous caster frame, maybe some faerie Glamer tricks. It winds up being a great deal different than its inspiration though.


First Post
I also agree that the Illusionist should be part of the Wizard class, much like schemes for the Rogue.

If it has its own class, then you equally need a Necromancer class, which is fine and supports its own class, but then you also need an Abjurer, Conjurer, etc., etc. Most of the ones that aren't Illusionist and Conjurer aren't strong enough to warrant their own class. Also, this sections off a big portion of what could be the Wizard's mechanics into other classes. As class features, this adds more customization choices to the Wizard. The Mage in 4e handled schools well (it was the only subclass that Essentials added that I really liked).

My first instinct is to say it needs its own class, simply because the 1e Illusionist was so awesome. But...

If a theme could do two things that need doing, I could see it as a theme, or as a wizard 'scheme', perhaps:

1) Give access to a set of Illusionist spells that generalists don't get, while blocking off certain other spells, and:

2) Perhaps alter the Illusionist's other spells. So for example, an Illusionist can take Fireball... but in his hands it's really a Shadow Evocation, so that people get to save vs. Illusion to take less damage.

EDIT: To develop this a bit more, perhaps a regular Fireball allows a Dex save for half damage, but an Illusionist's Fireball allows a Wis or Int save for one-quarter damage or something.

The more I think about this, the more I think I like a wizard equivalent of "schemes" for this.

Let's not have an artificial completionism in schemes, though. Include only the ones that are truly iconic. The Illusionist (which includes a large chunk of Enchantment, too), the Necromancer, and the Summoner all qualify. Probably also a Thaumaturge (Transmutation and a bit of Evocation), unless that's the generalist shtick. But the Abjurer? Not so much.
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