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”.