log in or register to remove this ad

 

D&D 3E/3.5 Your take on Mirror Image, 3.0 or 3.5

Scrivener of Doom

Adventurer
But if ths is the case - especially if images are overlapping - then why can't I just carve through them and hit the caster? I mean, they're just figments - they don't actually block my sword! (snip)

True but you cannot attack the entire space a creature occupies with your sword. A 5' square (or cube, depending on how you look at it) has a lot of dead air that your sword will swing through on a normal miss, forgetting the whole mirror image issue.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Uller

Adventurer
With 8 images, you have an 87.5% miss chance; when you close your eyes and are effectively blinded, you have a 50% miss chance.

...and when you are effectively blind you grant combat advantage, sneak attacks, etc. Doesn't seem like a particularly effective counter.
 


pemerton

Legend
That's what the idea of just swinging through all the images at once sounds like: Somebody forgot what the term "attack" means in the game.
I'm not confused about what the term "attack" means in the game. I'm just confused about the fiction that I'm meant to be imagining. [MENTION=205]TwoSix[/MENTION] repeated my point for me upthread - I don't see how I'm supposed to immerse into the fiction when this spell is using these apparently wonky mechanics.

Because I haven't played much 3E I haven't seen this spell in action since my Rolemaster days - where it is called "Replica Images" creating simple figments about the caster, and the question of which one an attacker targets is resolved via Perception mechanics and common sense based on the fictional positioning of all involved. I saw it used in AD&D too, but back there it just modelled the chaos of melee within a 1 minute round. But this 3E version I don't really get at all!

The image doesn't stop the sword. It just gets you to swing at empty space.
But if there are 8 images plus a warm body within a 5' square, and I'm wielding (say) a great axe, how much space is there that is empty both of the body and of other images? I mean, if I know there's mirror images around it's not like I'm going to muck around with nuanced attacks that are aimed just-so - I can just heave-ho at the lot of them, because a clip is as good as a crit ("The figments . . . disappear when struck").

You can stop and study the ground to look for footprints, in combat, but if I were the DM I'd say that taking your attention off the opponent that way is just begging for an AoO.
OK. I think my plate armour wearing, greataxe wielding fighter is happy to run the risk of a 3rd level mage's OA with staff or dagger if that will eliminate an 80% miss chance (assuming a 3rd level caster with 4 images).

listening for breathing or the sounds a body makes won't help. The spell says that creatures dependent on sight or sound won't be able to discern the difference.
I just noticed some more weird things from the spell description in the 3.5 SRD:

observers can’t use vision or hearing to tell which one is you and which the image. . .

An attacker must be able to see the images to be fooled.​

So why does it not fool me if I'm blind, but if I can see it then it fools my hearing too? Is that some sort of mind control? Well, the spell type says "figment", not "phanstasm", and there's no Will saving throw. So what's up with that? I would have thought Tremorsense or Blindfighting or just a good Perception/Listen skill would be the perfect counter for this spell.

And here's something else:

Figments seem to react normally to area spells (such as looking like they’re burned or dead after being hit by a fireball).​

So if I make an attack with a torch or a flask of oil - which is a roll to hit, dealing fire damage - I can destroy a figment; but if I drop a Fireball on the whole lot of them, I can't. Why is the hotter fire of a fireball less damaging than the flame from a torch or lantern oil.

Or if a disarmed kobold punches one of them with its puny fist, it pops; but if a dragon lands on the lot of them, triggering an AoE attack with a Reflex save, then it doesn't pop any (they just look very flat). Why is a kobold's fist tougher against Mirror Images than the weight of a whole dragon?

Putting the same point in game terms: why does the fiction of Mirror Image differ depending on the mechanical convention adopted to model an attack (saving throw rather than attack roll)? It doesn't really make much sense to me.

EDIT: I also just looked at the SRD, which says that Searching a 5' x 5' area (including for footprints) is a full round action, and that says using a skill that takes 1 action usually provokes an OA. I assume that taking a full round action to search therefore would provoke an OA. Nevertheless, as I said, an OA from a 3rd level wizard doesn't sound that fearsome (approx 15% chance to hit through my plate armour, for 1d4 damage or so). Giving up the full round seems worthwhile too if it lets me work out which one to attack (say if the mage provokes an OA by casting next to me), and/or tell my friends which one to attack (if they act after my Search check but before the wizard's next turn).
 
Last edited:

If this is the only reason, then rule that the images can't be defeated by closing your eyes.

The spell description specifically states "An attacker must be able to see the images to be fooled. If you are invisible or an attacker shuts his or her eyes, the spell has no effect."

I'm a fighter who sees a mage in front of me. Now the mage casts Mirror Image, and a line of casters is spread out in front of me. I still know which one was the mage,

Note that the spell has a somatic component. Moving in such a way to confuse an observer about which image is real could easily be part of that.

So why does it not fool me if I'm blind, but if I can see it then it fools my hearing too?

There's an old adage in the theatre world: "if you can't see them, you can't hear them".

It's magic. The visual component is necessary for the spell to take effect. Does it make scientific sense? Not really. Does it make scientific sense that you need a pound of gold to make a Wall of Iron? No, they're completely different elements. Sometimes you just gotta roll with it.


...and when you are effectively blind you grant combat advantage, sneak attacks, etc. Doesn't seem like a particularly effective counter.

It would be relatively trivial to close your eyes as a free action before you take a swing, and immediately open them afterwards. You're vulnerable to readied actions, but not much else.
 

pemerton

Legend
[MENTION=6747056]Des[/MENTION]ert Gled: what's your opinion of using a Search check (as a full round action drawing an OA, per my reading of the SRD) to identify which of several images is the real caster (via footprints etc)?
 

GaimMastr

First Post
FRA

@Desert Gled: what's your opinion of using a Search check (as a full round action drawing an OA, per my reading of the SRD) to identify which of several images is the real caster (via footprints etc)?

Searching during combat is a full round action and "usually" triggers an AoO.

As for the difficulty check, I'd start it at 20 + the spell level (22).
 
Last edited:

GaimMastr

First Post
NIce...

It's relieving to know that there are so many different views on this. It doesn't, however, surprise me that some of you didn't even think to RAW.

While I dislike the simplified versions of the spell, I appreciate the input.

In my games I have multiple version available as I have players who believe that the spell should function in different ways and we agreed on having multiple versions. I have ruled that there are 2 versions of the spell. The one that functions like the PF version is Lv 2 and the version where the images spread out is lv 3.

If a fighter say for example is fighting a caster of MI. In order for the caster to even know what happened what the spell was cast would require knowledge of spellcraft. The spell description is designed to purposefully suspend belief of the true caster in the person attempting to attack. The method I use to determine that the caster was hit, for the simpleton version of the spell, is If there are 3 images and a caster I roll a d4; The number I roll is the caster and the player then rolls a d4, if the numbers match the caster was struck. In the advanced version where you can place the images withinn 5 feet of the caster or another image the attacker is forced to pick a random one within range using the same dice method. This does mean that some of them may even be out of the immediate threat range of the attacker, unless they were to move. This could potentially provoke AoO's from the caster OR even a figment which can give away the ruse of that particular figment as the attack would be insubstantial.

I find the description of the RAW on the spell very cut-and-dry personally so this helps with me being able to adjudicate on the fly like this.

And now to formulate my next inquiry for posthumous postulation. ...Look for it...
 
Last edited:

Empirate

First Post
I find it curious to see so many folk who seem to have serious problems with this spell. I find the spell description quite sufficient to rule how the spell works.

As for imagining it, or immersing myself into the "fiction" as somebody called it... I seem to say this a lot on this board, but please, please read the rules first, understand them second, and only then start to think about the way you'd imagine this or about the way it "works"! Don't go from basic assumptions like "swinging your axe just so should enable you to hit all the images", or "but you could look at the footprints" (as if a figment couldn't easily replicate those, too...), or "but the fireball is even hotter, so the magical figments should burn even better than from a torch" (can't believe I'm actually typing this).

I was very much impressed by the quantum effect hypothesis offered upthread. It basically takes care of everything. But other ways of explaining how the spell works in-game-world are very much possible. As long as you take a peek at what the spell actually does (in game terms) first and come up with your in-game-world explanations second!



And yes, it's a powerful spell for 2nd level, but so are others (Glitterdust, Silence, Invisibility...). When playing a Wizard, I usually try to memorize this every day, but it's not so stupidly powerful that it makes you "safe" (whatever that might mean in D&D), or that it's an automatic go-to in the first round of every combat. In fact, it's a good pick for Sorcerers, but far from mandatory. It's not Detect Magic or Dispel Magic, it's just rather good is all.
 


Enkhidu

Explorer
...In my games I have multiple version available as I have players who believe that the spell should function in different ways and we agreed on having multiple versions. I have ruled that there are 2 versions of the spell. The one that functions like the PF version is Lv 2 and the version where the images spread out is lv 3....

Yoink!

I've always envisioned mirror image as a bunch of copies of the caster that move independently, constantly shifting in and out of the caster's true position in order to confuse an attacker. Having a 3rd level version that simply increases the area of effect of the spell (the area in which believable images roam) makes a lot of sense to me.
 

Greenfield

Adventurer
But if there are 8 images plus a warm body within a 5' square, and I'm wielding (say) a great axe, how much space is there that is empty both of the body and of other images? I mean, if I know there's mirror images around it's not like I'm going to muck around with nuanced attacks that are aimed just-so - I can just heave-ho at the lot of them, because a clip is as good as a crit ("The figments . . . disappear when struck").
Where are people getting this idea that the spell is like Blur? That the images are all in your square?

SRD said:
Mirror Image
Illusion (Figment)
Level: Brd 2, Sor/Wiz 2
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Personal; see text
Target: You
Duration: 1 min./level (D)
Several illusory duplicates of you pop into being, making it difficult for enemies to know which target to attack. The figments stay near you and disappear when struck.
Mirror image creates 1d4 images plus one image per three caster levels (maximum eight images total). These figments separate from you and remain in a cluster, each within 5 feet of at least one other figment or you. You can move into and through a mirror image. When you and the mirror image separate, observers can’t use vision or hearing to tell which one is you and which the image. The figments may also move through each other. The figments mimic your actions, pretending to cast spells when you cast a spell, drink potions when you drink a potion, levitate when you levitate, and so on.
Enemies attempting to attack you or cast spells at you must select from among indistinguishable targets. Generally, roll randomly to see whether the selected target is real or a figment. Any successful attack against an image destroys it. Animage’s AC is 10 + your size modifier + your Dex modifier. Figments seem to react normally to area spells (such as looking like they’re burned or dead after being hit by a fireball). While moving, you can merge with and split off from figments so that enemies who have learned which image is real are again confounded.
An attacker must be able to see the images to be fooled. If you are invisible or an attacker shuts his or her eyes, the spell has no effect. (Being unable to see carries the same penalties as being blinded.)
(Emphasis mine)

They SEPARATE FROM YOU. They aren't overlayed with you in your square.
OK. I think my plate armour wearing, greataxe wielding fighter is happy to run the risk of a 3rd level mage's OA with staff or dagger if that will eliminate an 80% miss chance (assuming a 3rd level caster with 4 images).
Okay, so you spend your round doing a Search check to tell which one is the caster, drawing your AoO in the process.

The caster now get's their action, which includes casting a spell and moving. And when they move, the crowd of images shuffles so that you lose track of the real caster. It's in the spell description.

You've just wasted your round.

Now, you decide to close your eyes and attack blindly, dropping the miss chance to 50%. But that only works if you know which square to attack into. Pick the wrong one and you have a 100% miss chance. But if you know the right one, well, why close your eyes at all? If you know which square the caster is actually in then you can attack them directly and the MI doesn't come into play.

But it's that "know which square the caster is in" part that screws up that idea. That is exactly what the spell is designed to deny you.

So take your attacks, one per image. If one of them hits, you know which opponent is real, at least until the caster's next action.

(I recommend grappling at that point. :) )


And here's something else:
Figments seem to react normally to area spells (such as looking like they’re burned or dead after being hit by a fireball).

So if I make an attack with a torch or a flask of oil - which is a roll to hit, dealing fire damage - I can destroy a figment; but if I drop a Fireball on the whole lot of them, I can't. Why is the hotter fire of a fireball less damaging than the flame from a torch or lantern oil.
It isn't the heat of the flame, it's the physical contact of the torch or flask.

Putting the same point in game terms: why does the fiction of Mirror Image differ depending on the mechanical convention adopted to model an attack (saving throw rather than attack roll)? It doesn't really make much sense to me.
Because the spell says so. An attack is aimed, and so you can tell if the target you aimed at is real. AoEs aren't aimed. No specific target, no specific reaction/result.

EDIT: I also just looked at the SRD, which says that Searching a 5' x 5' area (including for footprints) is a full round action, and that says using a skill that takes 1 action usually provokes an OA. I assume that taking a full round action to search therefore would provoke an OA. Nevertheless, as I said, an OA from a 3rd level wizard doesn't sound that fearsome (approx 15% chance to hit through my plate armour, for 1d4 damage or so). Giving up the full round seems worthwhile too if it lets me work out which one to attack (say if the mage provokes an OA by casting next to me), and/or tell my friends which one to attack (if they act after my Search check but before the wizard's next turn).

First, you aren't Searching a five foot square. You're Searching an entire area, occupied by a number of images and one real caster (maybe).

Once you accept that the images really do separate from the caster, and that each can have its own square, most of your complaints disappear.
 

Uller

Adventurer
The spell description specifically states "An attacker must be able to see the images to be fooled.

It would be relatively trivial to close your eyes as a free action before you take a swing, and immediately open them afterwards. You're vulnerable to readied actions, but not much else.

From the SRD: An attacker must be able to see the images to be fooled. If you are invisible or an attacker shuts his or her eyes, the spell has no effect. (Being unable to see carries the same penalties as being blinded.)

A combat round is 6 seconds, lots of stuff takes place in a round. It is abstracted into turns and such to keep it simple. I've always just looked at location on a battlemat as a "superposition" as someone else mentioned...that isn't your exact position, it's your average position over the round.

If you are going round closing your eyes during your turn enough to counter the spell then you are blinded (says so right in the spell). This may be a fine tactic. As mentioned with the great axe...but in my experience, it's better to just focus fire on the mage and his images until they are all "popped", but maybe not...maybe the mage is down to only a few hp, one hit from a great axe will off him and it's your only hope before he gets off some other spell...fine. Close your eyes, take your 50% miss chance and swing away, but then no images are "popped". But if you miss, the mage can move away with no AoO and cast another spell.

I've never had a problem with this spell. It gets used all the time at my table. No one ever had trouble imagining a mage with 4 copies of himself all running around like the shell game at a carnival. Others may place four more figures on table and then have a random determination of which one is "real" that works too. Doesn't seem like a spell worth arguing at the table about.
 

Greenfield

Adventurer
Please remember the other part of being blinded: If you aren't attacking into the right square you have no chance of hitting.

MI creates images that "separate from you". They aren't in your square.

So when an attacker decides to try Blindfighting (with or without the feat), their chance of hitting the real you is no better than if they'd kept their eyes open.

In fact, it's worse. First, they have to pick the right square to swing at, then roll their attack, then roll a 50/50 on top of that.

Some DMs place markers around the caster's figure to represent the images. Some just place a single dice to represent the count of images.

To do it truly correct, they should replace the figure with a marker, and then place a number of identical markers around it. Mark the bottom of the real one. Then shuffle the markers so that nobody knows which is which.

Then opponents pick their targets and take their shots. When they choose the DM checks the marker, so he/she knows the AC the attacker is swinging at. Hit the real one and win a prize!

And next round, shuffle again.

If it's a PC, the player should know which is real. Nobody else needs to know.

Pennies make good markers.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Supporter
In fact, it's worse. First, they have to pick the right square to swing at, then roll their attack, then roll a 50/50 on top of that.

Some DMs place markers around the caster's figure to represent the images. Some just place a single dice to represent the count of images. .
I think the issue is that this interpretation (which I also favor) is seemingly contradicted by the line of "Generally, roll randomly to see whether the selected target is real or a figment." Realistically, the image targeted on the selected square should be the only indication of whether or not the image is a figment or actually the caster. Making it a random roll AFTER target selection leads to the weird "quantum caster" interpretation.

I think that "Generally, roll randomly to see whether the selected target is real or a figment" is more of an admonition not to play cheesy games with figuring out where the target actually is.
 

Uller

Adventurer
Please remember the other part of being blinded: If you aren't attacking into the right square you have no chance of hitting.

MI creates images that "separate from you". They aren't in your square.

So when an attacker decides to try Blindfighting (with or without the feat), their chance of hitting the real you is no better than if they'd kept their eyes open.

It's pretty hard to square that with the text of the spell: "blind creatures aren't fooled". It seems pretty clear to me that you can either be fooled or blind, not both. The images are constantly moving and shifting. They don't just stand in one spot.
 

Greenfield

Adventurer
Blind creatures may not be fooled by the spell, but they are often fooled simply by being blind. And if they plan to open their eyes periodically to orient themselves, then they're orienting themselves v a crowd of figments.

Check the rules for targeting an invisible opponent. If you don't know which square to shoot or swing into into, you miss 100% of the time. You also give up AoO opportunities.

So how, if you can't tell which square holds the real opponent when you're looking it it, will you be able to tell which one holds the target when you can't see at all?

The advice to "generally, roll randomly" is a simple way to adjudicate the spell, specifically because there is no way for an observer to tell. For those who insist that their PC is "special" and can do what the spell specifically says they can't, or who can't envision a crowd of images without something on the board to mark them, use the markers.

So, to be clear, the use of markers doesn't run contrary to the "generally" part of the spell description. It's what you use when "generally" isn't good enough. "Generally" isn't "always".
 

Uller

Adventurer
Blind creatures may not be fooled by the spell, but they are often fooled simply by being blind. And if they plan to open their eyes periodically to orient themselves, then they're orienting themselves v a crowd of figments.

Right. But I think you are making an assumption that those figments are spread out one per 5' space. I don't think that's what is intended.

I'm not saying your way is wrong, I just think it opens up the table to rules lawyery shenanigans.

What if there aren't enough spaces?
What if there are enough spaces but it's a narrow hallway forcing the images to be in a line rather than a cluster as stated by the spell?
What if the caster is surrounded?
What if the caster had already moved or took a 5' step before casting, wouldn't everyone know exactly where he is?
What if I just move through spaces containing images until I bump into the real caster?
What if I successfully grab the caster?
What if the caster is not adjacent to an enemy and moves or does something that would provoke an AoO? Does his images provoke AoOs?

Way too many questions.

Simply ruling that everyone can tell what square the caster is in but creatures that normally use vision to target attacks find themselves a little disoriented and may or may not target an image instead seems so much simpler and straight forward to me. If they do and hit it, the image pops. If they close their eyes, they have a 50% miss chance and suffer the other effects of being blind (IMO, until the beginning of their next turn...but that is an assumption on my part). This makes the spell easy to adjudicate and keeps it right on par with a short lived displacement or blindness spell (3rd and 2nd level respectively).

Again...not saying your way is "wrong" but I don't think it is necessarily "the correct" way. It's _a_ way. An NPC used this spell in my 5e game the other night. We were using a battlemat. No one had any problems understanding the way I ran it. It gave the mage an extra round or two before he had to flee. Seems about the right level of effectiveness for a second level spell.
 

Greenfield

Adventurer
Yeah, ruling that they're in the same square is simpler, but opens it up to the "Why can't I just swing my pole arm through the entire square?" argument.

I'd say that, by default, the images cluster near/around the caster, as space permits.

That's implied by and consistent with the "within 5 feet of another image, or you" part of the spell description. It shuts down the "I use Search to find my target" argument, since they aren't searching just one square, and also stops the "I'm a better fighter, blind, than I can when I see" nonsense as well.

It lets the spell work as intended.

More to the point, the spell description says when you can switch/shuffle with your images. If they were all disco-dancing in the same square you'd be "switching" with them all the time, not just on your move.

Placing them in the same square also makes it hard for them to mimic your actions. They can't do that, and be an ephemeral mosh-pit at the same time. But if they're in separate squares, everything described in the spell description becomes possible.

Now, obviously, there are a lot of ways people play this, and any DM is free to interpret it as they choose. The way I see it though, separate squares is what's being described in the spell.
 

pemerton

Legend
Where are people getting this idea that the spell is like Blur? That the images are all in your square?
Because otherwise no one would be fooled? I mean, suppose the mage moves, then (for whatever reason) stops in front of the fighter, then casts mirror image, making a whole lot of images spring up on either side of himself/herself. Why wouldn't the fighter just tock the mage standing right there (after all, s/he knows, presumably, that the mage can't move any more that round).

The situation can be made more puzzling if there are pit traps either side of the square the mage is in - let's suppose that s/he flew in over the top of them and then landed in the one square that is safe (X = pit, O = empty square, w = wizard, f = figther):

XXXwXXX
OOOfOOO

In this situation, if the mage creates images that hover over the trapped squares the warrior would just ignore them, knowing that they must be fakes because if they were the real mage then s/he would be falling down a pit.

Or here is another examle. The wizard casts mirror image with the following spacing of images (hoping to fool a whole lot of archers 50' away), and there is an invisible fighter adjacent whom the wizard is ignorant of, and who is unable to move out of his/he square - perhaps due to engtanglment, or geas, or whatever; M = image):

MOMOwOMOM
OOOO f OOOO

In this example, the fighter cannot reach any target but the wizard, so why is there random determination of whether the wizard or an image is hit? Uness you think that the spell also gives the wizard bonus movement, so that s/he can somehow teleport to one of the squares an image is in.

But it's that "know which square the caster is in" part that screws up that idea. That is exactly what the spell is designed to deny you.
I've given examples where this doesn't work, unless you think the spell gives the caster bonus movement/teleportation.

To do it truly correct, they should replace the figure with a marker, and then place a number of identical markers around it. Mark the bottom of the real one. Then shuffle the markers so that nobody knows which is which.
Where does the spell say that the caster gets to move around like this? And what if the caster is standing on a pillar of rock in the middle of an abyss? Or even my example above, where s/he has pits on either side of him/her?

Okay, so you spend your round doing a Search check to tell which one is the caster, drawing your AoO in the process.

The caster now get's their action, which includes casting a spell and moving. And when they move, the crowd of images shuffles so that you lose track of the real caster. It's in the spell description.

You've just wasted your round.
I already explained why your round wouldn't be a waste. First, if the caster tries to cast another spell you know where s/he is for OA purposes. Second, you can tell your friends which image to attack, so they can take down the mage (which seems more efficient to me than focus firing the images).

Because the spell says so. An attack is aimed, and so you can tell if the target you aimed at is real. AoEs aren't aimed. No specific target, no specific reaction/result.
I know the rules. I'm querying the fiction. A pebble thrown at an image (attack resolved via a to hit roll) can pop it. A war machine rock hurled at the whole area (AoE resolved via Reflex save) cannot pop any of the images it lands on. How do the images know that the pebble was aimed at one target but the machine-hurled rock was aimed at a whole area? Can the spell read minds too?

I think the issue is that this interpretation (which I also favor) is seemingly contradicted by the line of "Generally, roll randomly to see whether the selected target is real or a figment."
I think there are issues with the favoured interpretation as soon as the terrain is anything more than a flat, featureless area. Another possibility I haven't canvassed is this one: the caster is standing in a square at the centre of a T-junction. The images are spread out either side on the top of the "T". An archer fires from 30' away down the stem of the T. If the images are in squares either side of the caster, the archer can't see them, hence can't aim at them, hence has no miss chance against the caster.

Or if, instead, we say the images are in the caster's square or in the squares between the caster and the archer, why does the arrow not just travel through them as it would any other figment, and hit the caster?

I don't get it. I especially don't get how it is meant to fit with the ostensibly "simulationist" tenor of 3E that I frequently see mentioned as a feature of that system.
 
Last edited:

Advertisement2

Advertisement4

Top