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Illusion and Invisibility in RQ


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There have been a couple of threads elsewhere on how to achieve the Invisibility effect in RQ and Legend, as well as some discussion of what the limits of various "illusion" style magics might be.

While I do not want to comment on the discussion that took place elsewhere, as that is bad manners, I am interested in exploring these ideas and the differing approaches and/or philosophies that are behind them. for instance in MRQ2 there is the difference between Divine "Illusion" where a change is made to the actual source of a perception compared to Sorcerous "Phantom" where the manipulation is in what the target perceives in their mind - the subject remains unchanged. What are the implications of these and other approaches, and can both/either produce an image from "nothing", or conceal a subject to the point of "invisibility"? How do other games in the Extended Family of BRP address this?

I look forward to learning more.

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I'm personally partial to the idea of using Illusion magics as a way of achieving invisibility. In my own games I like to treat illusions more along the lines of messing with the viewers minds rather than actually creating a thing pretending to be another thing (this second way does allow some systems to allow illusions to cause physical damage). In this case the subject of an invisibility illusion isn't actually invisible but in the minds (in the minds of those who fail their tests at least) their senses are overruled and the subject is ignored and unseen. It's quite fun sometimes to have players who failed to see through such an illusion to have flashbacks or emerging memories of what was really behind an illusion later on.

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Actually, in Medicine, an illusion is a perceptive misinterpretation of a real stimuli, which often occurs with hypervigiliant states of mind, or distorted perceptions due to fatigue, substance misuse, or other mental disorder. So someone could believe for an instant that a person was climbing in their room at night, when in fact it was only a shirt handing on the windowsill, for example. The "I thought you said something" phenomenon.

If someone perceives a stimuli in the absence of any real stimuli, it is called a hallucination. Similar to the above, but obviously a persons mental state is more impaired. Causes include delirium, excessive intoxication, or exacerbation of features of chronic mental disorder.

So in my game terms, it would it an easy % roll for creating an illusion; a normal roll for creating a phantasm (hallucination); and a difficult % roll for actually 'cancelling' perceived reality, such as causing obfuscate or invisibility effects. Note that I am using the BRP Magic System, and applying this to the Illusion Spell from the Magic Chapter in the BGB.

In RuneQuest, illusions are handled differently, such as using the Folk Magic 'Ventriloquism' spell from RQ6, for instance. I can't remember if RQ6 retains the Phantom (Sense) spells for Sorcery and Divine Magic as they were presented back in RQ3 or not, but from memory all illusionary magics in RQ were a bit cumbersome as they only covered particular senses, and cost alot of Magic Points to create a typical high-fantasy style illusion, to the point where it was often better to spend those points on another spell instead.

I did like the whole 'build' idea of combining different spells to create the illusionary effects, but the magic point expenditure was not relative to the benefits of casting other magics. I do remember, however, that they did not cause any perception effects, but instead they were actually temporary reality, so they were more like Creation magics rather than Illusion magics.

I remember a weird scene where the troupe's sorcerer 'cancelled' an opponent, causing him to cease from existence temporarily by using all the five Phantom Sense spells and saying that part of reality pertaining to the opponent was temporarily not there. It was very cool, but ultimately a huge waste of magic points as the opponent simply came back into existence at the end of the spell duration, and the other player-character with the broadsword slew him (using no magic points). It stuck out as a fun scene, but was an example of how cumbersome the Phantom Sense spells were... hence why I use the BGB Illusion spell now, its so much simpler... I will have to have a good look at RQ6 again to see how they have handled the whole illusion thing

Edited by Mankcam

" Sure it's fun, but it is also well known that a D20 roll and an AC is no match against a hefty swing of a D100% and a D20 Hit Location Table!"

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  • 3 months later...

Stepping outside game mechanics, perhaps the appropriate mechanic would depend upon the setting's or character's metaphysics.

A "Tulpa", for example, is an "illusionary" being that can be called into "existence" in some traditions. A Tulpa is an apparently concrete manifestation of a person's will, intentionally called into externalization. It is, for all intents and purposes "physical" and "solid", but it is also "llusionary"--it is not a real being. Instead, it is a smaller version of the underlying metaphysic that all perceivable reality is merely a type of illusion.

A glamor, on the other hand, has been portrayed as something perceivable only to the target, only to mortals, only to the unprotected, etc. Those who can pierce the glamor see the targets acting quite inappropriately to the actual environment.

I could see room for both in RuneQuest, the former perhaps being more suitable for mysticism.

Science is not about belief. Science is also not about truth. Science is about models. All models are wrong. Some models are temporarily useful. If you want truth, don't ask me, I have science to do. (List of publications in pertinent peer-reviewed journals available.)

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