Disbelieving damaging illusions

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Ferretmonger
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Disbelieving damaging illusions

Post by Ferretmonger » Fri Jan 18, 2019 11:26 am

Regarding disbelieving illusions, specifically damaging spells, how do you go about deciding when an NPC chooses to disbelieve a spell or not, before it is cast? Does everyone get to disbelieve, all the time? And why should they disbelieve? Do they have specific knowledge regarding the spell being cast? Have they sensed the casters patternan, noticing some illusion spells in a spell matrix? It feels like the whole “they can choose to disbelieve, and then the spell just washes over them” rule is very (very) open for interpretation. Even the mightiest circle 15 Illusionist coulnd’t even hurt a fly if the fly knew that he was casting an Ephemeral Bolt, no roll needed, while with other illusions, the mind of the caster is somehow tricked into believing that the spell is real EVEN if he knows that it is fake. EVEN if it is the caster himself...
Illusions with short durations are less subtle in their effects, and allow for a target to disbelieve what is happening. These types of illusions are mainly damaging spells, and it will be noted in the spell description if the spell can be disbelieved. If a target chooses to disbelieve one of these spells, they will not suffer any effect from the spell. If the spell is not an illusion, however, the target’s Mystic Defense is considered to be 2 for the purpose of determining the number of successes, as they have opened them-selves up to the magic. In addition, the target cannot use any active defenses (such as Steel Thought) to resist the spell.Illusionists have access to spells that are both real and illusory. The target must decide if they are going to disbelieve prior to the Spellcasting test being made. No test is required—if the spell is an illusion, it simply has no effect.
Who gets to disbelieve, and how do you make that call?
Last edited by Ferretmonger on Sat Jan 19, 2019 12:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

Bonhumm
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Re: Disbelieving illusions

Post by Bonhumm » Fri Jan 18, 2019 2:07 pm

Good question.

My opinion would be that there is 2 big variables here: which spell and who is the target of said spell.

An Adept with some experience behind his belt will be actively aware of the existence of Illusionists and have a basic understanding of their capabilities and thus would be more likely to notice patterns (past and present) and deduce that this person IS an Illusionist and act accordingly.

BUT, even if the 'target' is reasonably certain his opponent is an Illusionist, that does not mean he would disbelieve everything that happens. For example, the Ephemeral Bolt spell (whether 'True' or not) looks exactly the same and (again if he has any experience) the Adept would know that it is possible that the spell IS an Illusion but do he take the risk of ignoring it in case its the 'True' version? I certainly would not!

On the other end of the spectrum, mister farmer-in-a-remote-village would know next to nothing about Illusionist (or magic in general) so would be unlikely to try and actively disbelieve a spell. But then again, a possible scenario for that uneducated guy might be that he is so ignorant about magic that he does not realized what that 'bolt' coming at him is and we could argue that (without actively trying to disbelieve it) the 'untrue' version of Ephemeral Bolt might not damage him at all since he has no idea what that 'thing' is supposed to do to him.

As for the other more 'illusionary' spells, the spell description and game mechanics give numerous example of clues that could be used by the 'target' to realized something is wrong with what he see/sense.


This whole thing, however, makes me wonder how an Illusion would affect someone who does not see it. Would an 'untrue' Ephemeral Bolt shot at someone's back without the target even realizing the spell hit him actually hurt him?

Ferretmonger
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Re: Disbelieving illusions

Post by Ferretmonger » Fri Jan 18, 2019 3:23 pm

The thing is, if I knew someone was an Illusionist, I would disbelieve everything he threw at me. Worst case is that it is a “True” spell, in which case my Mystic Defense would be lowered...but that wouldn’t do that much more damage so that It would really matter in the long run, and even IF I didn’t “accept” the spell, I’d would probably have hit me anyway, so, nothing really changes. Best case, it’s the illusionary version in which case I just won the lottery.

And also, the target has to say Yay or Nay before the spell has been cast. How can you tell what’s going to be cast, before the casting actually happens I mean. The visual/vocal part of the spell only happens when actually casting it. Not beforehand.

And what If the target knows that I’m an Illusionist and wants to disbelieve my spell (before being cast), and what If I in the case of either being a human or meddled in multiple disciplines instead casts a Mind Dagger, or some other non-illusionist spell. Would that still count as the target lowered its Mystic Defense toward that spell as well? The whole “can choose to disbelieve the spell” would require a lot of variables for any namegiver to decide upon, especially at a moments notice and in the middle of battle. But again, always disbelieving someone that you know is dabbling in “Illusory Magix” would probably be your best option, since that negative aspects of “accepting” a True version of the spell really isn’t the end of the world, especially since they usually have a lower damage numbers. And when that happens, then the poor Illusions only has two measly attack spells all the way up to Circle Eight, True Ephemeral Bolt and True Missiles.
Last edited by Ferretmonger on Tue Mar 26, 2019 5:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

Telarus
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Re: Disbelieving damaging illusions

Post by Telarus » Sat Jan 19, 2019 1:41 am

Disbelief is a rules tag that only applies to specific spells, which mention that they can be disbelieved.

C1: Ephemeral Bolt
C2: Phantom Flame
C3: -
C4: Phantom Lightning
C5: Phantom Fireball
C6: Illusory Missiles
C7: -
C8: -

Of the 2 that have true versions, both True version have the side effect "-2 to next Sensing test". The gm doesn't have to say which the NPC caster is casting, and the player can wait until his turn to decide. The target just has to a) be tipped off, and b) decide before the Spellcasting roll to try to shake off the damage they are actually feeling through sheer force of will. If the caster has seen you do that once, they won't try the above specific spells, but may nail you one last time with the True version before changing tactics.

Disbelief does not apply to figments or other illusions, and does not mean you are immune to those spells.
I mean you can plug your ears and go "lalalalala", but it won't matter to his friend with Monstrous Mantle on, or Trust, Unseen Voices, Blindness, Mind Fog, Blinding Glare, Nobody Here, Phantom Warrior (!), Stop Right There, Suffocation, etc. And you've been softened up. Suspicious of not only them, but your own sense data. ;D

As to the "I disbelieved your last spell! Try it again!", "Ok, eat a Mind Dagger!" scenario.... yeah, calculate successes based on dif 2. :lol:

ChrisDDickey
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Re: Disbelieving damaging illusions

Post by ChrisDDickey » Sat Jan 19, 2019 10:40 am

This is a complex topic that can involve a lot of decisions by GM and Players alike.

My own treatment (and not all of this is backed up in the rules, just how I do it) is that ...
  • Mindless things (rocks, tree's, other things who's MD is two anyway) are mostly immune to illusions. Page 267 says "Illusions require a conscious mind. Unless the spell description specifically states otherwise, a target that is unconscious or asleep cannot be affected by an illusion." It's not that they disbelieve, it is that they don't have the awareness to believe in the first place. So they are treated as having disbelieved. Note however that anybody seeing or otherwise sensing an inanimate object struck by a damaging illusion will see/sense the object being damaged. It will seem later on (a few minutes) that the object has been miraculously repaired while nobody was looking. Three melons struck by a crossbow bolt, an Ephemeral bolt, and a True Ephemeral bolt, all look the same at first. It is just that the melon struck by the Ephemeral Bolt healed itself a few minutes later when nobody was looking. The melon disbelieved, nobody else did.
  • Creatures with animal intelligence almost never disbelieve illusions, except rarely in weird cases where they might be common. I can't think off the top of my head any creatures that rely upon disbelievable illusions to hunt, but some of their prey might have developed the instincts to allow them to choose to believe of disbelieve. But for the most part, I almost never have creatures with animal intelligence attempt to disbelieve spells.
  • Going up the scale from there, it depends upon both intelligence and knowledge. I tend to assume that mister-farmer-in-remote-village has a fairly good rank in "knowledge legends and hero's" Learning the tales might be his principle recreation. Experienced adventurers, Major Horrors, and Dragons of course all are likely on the lookout for illusions.
I am not certain why Ferretmonger stated so positively that the target has to have said he was disbelieving before the spell is cast. He stated it with surprising certitude for a concept that I had never heard before. I mean a spellcaster does not need to specify his targets until the instant of casting, I don't see how/why all potential targets need to have specified that they are disbelieving a spell that may or may not be coming until they are actually targeted by it. Is that supported in the rules anywhere? I would not say you have to announce disbelief before the spell is cast, I would say you have to announce disbelief before the GM announces if the spell hit your normal MD.

The sequence I use as GM attacking PC's is I give a brief description of the attack "wiggling green glowing bolt", "ball of flame", etc and who it is targeting. I never ask if they want to disbelieve, but my players know that they have until I announce whether it actually hit them or not to stop me and say that they are considering disbelieving. If they don't stop me, I use their normal MD for the attack and then announce how many successes the attack had. They know that they have until I announce the amount of damage to stop me and say that they are considering using "Steel Thought". This keeps everything going rapidly but gives the players a few seconds between hearing something is happening to having it become irrevocable.

The sequence we use when a PC attacks an NPC is that the Player announces that they are preparing "a bolt" (or whatever), but I don't make him tell me if the spell is True or not until the moment of attack, then he reminds me it could be an illusion and I say "wait... OK what is it" while I figure out (or roll a dice) to see if the target is disbelieving. He states what it was, and I state whether the target was disbelieving or not. That procedure works well if the PC could be casting ether. In cases such as 'phantom fireball', where I know perfectly well that the illusionist does not have access to true version (which is elementalist only), but it is likely that the target would be less certain, I roll a dice. I will give the dice a plus or minus modifier depending upon the circumstances, knowledge and intelligence of the target. I mean if the dragon knows you are an illusionist and not an elementalist, he is likely to disbelieve.

My opinion on some of the other questions...

If somebody attempted to disbelieve a mind dagger, yes it would hit you as if your MD was 2, and you could not attempt to Steel Thought it.

An illusion is not just sight. They are also sound and feel. Also they are a hostile pattern impacting upon your own pattern. An illusion does not damage your meat, an illusion damages your pattern, and then your meat changes to match the damage to your pattern. Bonhumm wondered if a blindsiding illusion was not automatically disbelieved because the target was unaware of it. I would argue that a blindsiding illusion can't be disbelieved because it does it's damage before the target is aware of it, just like you can't dodge a blindsiding crossbow bolt.

The "Always disbelieve" tactic might make a bit of sense if you are very low circle, and your MD is only 6 or so. In that case, you are correct that they are more likely than not to hit you anyway, and your having disbelieved will only grant them one extra success. That one extra success is likely to still hurt however.
However if you are mid or high circle, the math changes. If you have managed to buff your MD up to where they often miss you, then you REALLY don't want to lower your MD all the way down to 2, in which case they definitely will hit you, and will get lots and lots of extra successes. Unless of course you are pretty darn sure the spell coming your way is an illusion.

However there is one cheesy tactical that your group might want to know about. If your group gets hit by a fireball or some other area effect spell. The player(s) with the highest MD and Steel Thought should not disbelieve, and if hit should attempt to Steel Thought it. Everybody else should disbelieve it even if they are 98% certain it is not an illusion. Area effect spells do damage according to the Highest MD in the area. So long as at least one person keeps their MD high, there is no penalty whatsoever to everybody else lowering theirs to 2, and who knows, maybe disbeliving an illusion.
Last edited by ChrisDDickey on Sat Jan 19, 2019 1:36 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Ferretmonger
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Re: Disbelieving damaging illusions

Post by Ferretmonger » Sat Jan 19, 2019 11:50 am

I am not certain why Ferretmonger stated so positively that the target has to have said he was disbelieving before the spell is cast. He stated it with surprising certitude for a concept that I had never heard before.
Straight from the ED4 rulebook page 267
Illusionists have access to spells that are both real and illusory. The target must decide if they are going to disbelieve prior to the Spellcasting test being made. No test is required—if the spell is an illusion, it simply has no effect.

Belenus
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Re: Disbelieving damaging illusions

Post by Belenus » Sat Jan 19, 2019 12:59 pm

ChrisDDickey wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 10:40 am
In cases such as 'phantom fireball', where I know perfectly well that the illusionist does not have access to true version (which is elementalist only) [...]
I'm completely with your thoughts and handle it except for the above part the same as you!
I'm playing a circle 7, nearly 8 Illusionist myself and often make the gamemaster aswell (ofcourse excluding my own character from the adventures, he's learning new spells, increasing his circle or visiting his home the blood wood in the meantime).

Yes, you are right that the phantom fireball does not have a true version for the Illusionist, but that is only so in the players handbook!
Theranian Illusionists might for example have this spell in a true version as common. And since this spell is close to the fireball of the Elementalist, it might be possible for him to adjust it so he could learn it himself. Perhaps there is even such a spell in the upcomming Arcane Mystics book?
The playersguide gives just a "template" to use and it shouldn't be common to most namegivers or even the dragons which spells are present to which discipline except they have knowledge in illusionism themselves.

Edit: Aaand, Illusionst in the 13th circle can cast Illusions as true versions of themselves.

ChrisDDickey
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Re: Disbelieving damaging illusions

Post by ChrisDDickey » Sat Jan 19, 2019 1:22 pm

Ferretmonger wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 11:50 am
Straight from the ED4 rulebook page 267 ... disbelieve prior to the Spellcasting test being made
Ah, OK, that is the confusion. You said "before the spell is cast" a couple of times, and said that the target has no way of knowing anything about the spell or even if they would be targeted by it. but "before the spellcasting test is made" is very different from "before the spell is cast".

The spellcasting test is the 2nd step in casting a spell, and all the gesturing and vocalizing is in step one. The spellcasting test is made against the target number, and the target number depends upon who is being targeted. So the target declaration clearly also needs to be made before the spellcasting roll is made.

The disbelief needs to be declared as the spell is cast, not before. In fact the section after the one you quote also has a phrase that says "The only way to avoid injury from an illusion is to disbelieve the illusion at the time it is cast—a risky proposition at best.". so once again, during spellcasting, not before

In my example of the spellcasting sequence in my post above I said that in my table I tell people what they see and who is being attacked, and they need to announce an intention to disbelieve before I announce the results of the spellcasting roll. That is, from the players perspective the same as before the roll is made (unless you roll openly).

So once again, the caster pulls threads, makes gestures, vocalizes magic words.
The casters player announces target.
The target probably sees a magical effect heading his way. As the effect strikes, the targets player decides if he wants to disbelieve or not.
When the dice are rolled openly, or the GM announces a result, it becomes too late to decide to disbelieve.
You have until damage is rolled or announced to decide if you want to Steel Thought.

But once again, disbelief only has to be announced before the spellcasting roll is made/announced, not before spellcasting starts.

ChrisDDickey
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Re: Disbelieving damaging illusions

Post by ChrisDDickey » Sat Jan 19, 2019 1:50 pm

Belenus wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 12:59 pm
In cases such as 'phantom fireball', where I know perfectly well that the illusionist does not have access to true version [...]
Your points are all good ones. But the main thrust of my point was that when, as GM, I know that the character could be casting ether the True or Illusionary version, I make a game out of guessing which he is going to choose to cast.
If I, as GM, know for a fact due to my out of character knowledge of the characters spellbook or matrixes that he can only cast one or the other, I assign probabilities and make it random. So I am not just choosing which spells will automatically succeed or fail. Because the NPC does not know as much as the GM does.

Ferretmonger
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Re: Disbelieving damaging illusions

Post by Ferretmonger » Sat Jan 19, 2019 5:30 pm

ChrisDDickey wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 1:22 pm
Ferretmonger wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 11:50 am
Straight from the ED4 rulebook page 267 ... disbelieve prior to the Spellcasting test being made
Ah, OK, that is the confusion. You said "before the spell is cast" a couple of times, and said that the target has no way of knowing anything about the spell or even if they would be targeted by it. but "before the spellcasting test is made" is very different from "before the spell is cast".

The spellcasting test is the 2nd step in casting a spell, and all the gesturing and vocalizing is in step one. The spellcasting test is made against the target number, and the target number depends upon who is being targeted. So the target declaration clearly also needs to be made before the spellcasting roll is made.

The disbelief needs to be declared as the spell is cast, not before. In fact the section after the one you quote also has a phrase that says "The only way to avoid injury from an illusion is to disbelieve the illusion at the time it is cast—a risky proposition at best.". so once again, during spellcasting, not before

In my example of the spellcasting sequence in my post above I said that in my table I tell people what they see and who is being attacked, and they need to announce an intention to disbelieve before I announce the results of the spellcasting roll. That is, from the players perspective the same as before the roll is made (unless you roll openly).

So once again, the caster pulls threads, makes gestures, vocalizes magic words.
The casters player announces target.
The target probably sees a magical effect heading his way. As the effect strikes, the targets player decides if he wants to disbelieve or not.
When the dice are rolled openly, or the GM announces a result, it becomes too late to decide to disbelieve.
You have until damage is rolled or announced to decide if you want to Steel Thought.

But once again, disbelief only has to be announced before the spellcasting roll is made/announced, not before spellcasting starts.

Yes, the Spellcasting test is the second step in casting a spell, since all form of threadweaving comes before that, as step 1. I would argue though that the vocalizing and gesturing take place in the same segment as the actual Spellcasting test. No part of the spell is actually generated until after a successful Spellcasting test. All spells are worded “If successful, X happens”.

Take Illusory Missiles for instance, one of the only Illusionist spells that has a True counterpart:
This spell creates an illusory barrage of missiles. The magician throws his arm as if throwing a rock, then makes a Spellcasting test against the highest Mystic Defense of any character in the area of effect. If successful, a hail of illusory missiles saturates the area. The magician’s Effect test determines how much damage is inflicted on each target.
That means that the only thing the target has to go on is the vocal/gesturing part of the casting, since all the effects of the spell e.g. a green glowing bolt, comes after the spell being successfully cast. I would definitely allow an experienced player or npc to decide only using that, but there are some spells, for instance Phantom Flame, that has the exact, word for word, vocal and gesturing part as the Wizard counterpart, Flame Flash. Does that mean that one should need to decide if to disbelieve when someone casts that one also, since they look and are cast the exact same way?

And why would I even want to cast a spell that can be canceled without even a decent resistance roll, since the illusory versions aren’t that much better than the True versions? Wasting at least one round of casting/threadweaving just to have it “ignored” by virtually anyone, regardless of my circle or spellcasting success, will never be something I’d even consider doing unless I can be 100% certain that the spell will hit home.

I just find these rules untested, at best.

/Cranky McCrank

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