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Elements of a Good Game Part 2

Written by Krystal - Published on March 26, 2010

Illusions – how you use them and how to use “Disbelieve”.

4E: (Page 68, DM’s guide) “Illusions can mimic any terrain. Creatures that realize that an object is an illusion ignores its effects, while those that do not realize the truth behind the illusion react to it as appropriate. Use Character’s passive insight checks to determine if they notice something “not right,” but don’t allow them to make active checks without a good reason.” This is the introductory to illusions for 4E, and how it explains to use something similar to “disbelieving”. It also goes on to explain on page 42 gives you a DC chart be level table that can help you.

Illusions never actual damage a player, and interacting with them might come with something suspicious. Illusions can be monsters, terrain, objects, walls, and more. An illusionary monster may not actually harm a player or maybe it does, that’s up to you honestly. As the player may feel like they are being torn apart, and react that way, people who do not see the illusion will see him acting out and will presume him crazy (or may be smart enough to realize he’s being victim to an illusion). Illusions can be extremely scary, and can come from the mind and cause forms of insanity, perhaps the illusion is not a monster but something of his past. Have fun with this.

Many times we also put Illusory Wall’s in our game, which is also explained in the same section as stated before which tells us that it blocks line of sight. They can walk through without any penalty, though creatures who believe it’s a wall aren’t likely to do so. They work the same as one way mirrors, so on one side it’s a wall, the other it’s not. Neat, huh? Though it is your world, you can make it work just as a wall and not a two-way mirror. It is your decision after all. And perhaps this is a one-way only wall, so from one way it’s an illusion, but when you try to escape the same way you are blocked out. Hmm…could pose some interesting situations there.

I was unable to find an area that explains illusions in 3rd edition, though they work similarly. If I do recall correctly, we got a chance to “disbelieve”, which was similar to a will save, though I don’t wish to lead you astray I will state this is what I recall and could be incorrect (feel free to give some advice or correct me on any of this, it’s much appreciated.). Illusions can be linked to traps, and other things. You might see a jewel, but when you place your hand on it you find it’s really a poisoned staff or a creature that attacks, and perhaps you have a lever that is disguised as a snake snapping at the PC’s. Killing the snake will destroy the lever.  Be creative, and have fun with it.

Places, where and what!

Places in your world are just as important as any part of the story, they help create the environment around the person, and the “feel” of the game. Imagine your environment to be similar to theme music, it helps set the mood. So a spooky place will help set the mood for a Necromancer’s liar or some undead, a scary (meaning more real dangers, gore, etc. Rather than just the eerie ghost feeling) places could be for a demon’s home, a nice, subtle weather and a quiet village is also nice for the players sometimes too, this could be a genuinely nice pit stop or can be lulling them into a false sense of security for something dangerous to handle!

Page 158 in 4E DMG has some weather assistances as well as environmental dangers, also on page 67 it gives you an idea of “Fantastic Terrain”, with such example as cloudspores, cave slime, loadstone, aswell as the illusory well previously spoken about, slides, sacred circle, and a few other things. These can give you wonderful ideas and tips on creating a more magical world to surround your players. Remember, it doesn’t have to make sense, it’s a FANTASY based RPG that is meant to utilize imagination and to create a new world that isn’t the real world. Again, please refrain from strictly adhering to things such as Lord of the Rings, or any other movie based fantasy, or even a book. Unless you are trying to imitate one of those things or using a fantasy based setting from the pre-made Campaign settings that are provided try and be creative, even when using someone else’s world. Be. Creative. That is what will separate you from the “Average DM”.

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Written by Krystal

At a young age, my mother opened up her own gaming store. We had two game rooms, an office, and the front area which had a ton of miniatures and books. I helped manage that store for several years, my mother teaching me the ropes and treating me like an adult so I could learn. Even beyond that she played games at stores like Haster Hobbies and several other places. In fact, my parents met gaming! DnD kind of runs in my blood, as well as any other gaming you can think of. I’m simply a gamer at heart, an artist, and a jack of all trades. I love to write and that’s why I’m here at Dungeon Mastering! I’m going to be going to school for Video Game Design, and my bf is going to school so he can publish Core Rule Sets. In the short few years I’ve been with him I’ve learned all about how to create my own rule system and create a game from the ground up! But my expertise is not limited to DnD alone. I’ve ventured far into Call of Cthullu, and beyond to games like Shadowrun and some White Wolf games..though I’m not a big fan of dice pools. :)

Anyways! Gaming is my passion and my life. I game constantly, go to conventions, and so much more! Maybe I’ll see you there! Happy Gaming!

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9 Responses to “Elements of a Good Game Part 2”
  1. Noumenon says:

    I was unable to find an area that explains illusions in 3rd edition

    All the rules for 3rd edition are online at http://www.d20srd.org, so you can search them for Illusion and get this page about the eight schools of magic, and the five subdivisions of illusion (glamer, figment, shadow, phantasm, and pattern), and… 4th edition people sure have it a lot easier, don’t they?

  2. Elderon Analas says:

    i much prefer the complexities of the older editions. they really simplified too many things in 4e for my taste.

    on illusions. my advice for 3E. (to the DM) “Illusions are what you make them.” or, “See that wall. [yes] Ok. Now make it see through from one side. [ok.] Now throw a few zombies back there. [ok i did.] Good. you just made an illusion. and a trap. [YAY!!] (to the player) “Trust nothing.” or, “Be weary of your surrondings for you never know if that wall is a wall, or something else, or if that table is really a monster in waiting.” or, “keep a watchfull eye on your surrondings. All is not what it seems.” I could do this all day but, I dont want to, and I don’t have all day.

    @Noumenon
    Glad to see another person who uses the d20 System Reference Document as well. YAY!

    Your Friendly Brass Dragon,
    Elderon Analas

  3. kocho says:

    hey, 4e may have over-simplified some things but it’s great for setting up games with people who have never played role-playing games before
    I tried to set 1 up in 3.5
    it never even got past character creation with these guys

  4. Elderon Analas says:

    Try 1E thats where I started and it made me a better player. Or at least I think it did. I certainly have a better imagination for it.

  5. TheWhite says:

    Mmmm illusions. One of our favorite memories (not me DMing this time) was walking into a room and seeing an elf floating in mid air. “WTH are you doing floating up there?” We ask “Floating?” he says “I’m sitting in a tree!”

    Long story short, the elf honestly believed he was sitting in a tree having believed the illusion while the rest of us could not see it. Eventually we convinced him that the tree wasn’t there and he suddenly crashed to the ground since the illusionary tree no longer existed for him either. Best new character introduction ever!

  6. Toph says:

    @Elderon Analas and @kocho: Got my start in 1E as well, and still have the old red and blue booklets. I still start new players with similarly stripped down rules, and introduce them to greater complexity bit by bit.

    The 1E suggestion for DMs is also still the best: The way to introduce new players is to get them into an exciting adventure immediately. (Once they decide they like rpgs, they may want to make elaborate characters, but first allow them to play without learning any more rules than absolutely necessary.)

    @TheWhite: Sweet! Illusions that really ARE real as long as you believe them… could be very dangerous, or powerful. Makes me want a situation where a character desperately needs to keep believing in an illusion to use it to their advantage somehow, even though they’re starting to doubt — even forced to save, and hoping to fail!

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