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Friday, November 17, 2017

RSA: Projected Image

There are a couple of reasons that I'm not surprised I haven't seen this spell used in a BX game. For one thing, there simply aren't a lot of illusion spells in the game. For another, as a sixth level spell, it's competing with some heavy hitters. Lastly, I simply haven't player or ran many classic games where the PCs have gotten high enough level to cast 5th or 6th level spells. That said, this one bugs me. The description is short enough that I'll just post the full listing here:

Projected Image  MU: 6th
Range: 240'
Duration: 6 turns

This spell creates an image of the magic-user that cannot be distinguished from the original except by touch. All spells cast by the magic-user will seem to come from the image. However, the caster must still be able to see the target. If touched or struck by a melee weapon, the image will disappear. Spells and missile attacks will seem to have no effect on the image. The magic-user who casts the spell can make the image appear up to 240' away.

Right off the bat. SIXTH level for this spell?! Really? I mean, it's got a good range and duration, but c'mon! I can think of several instances where such a spell would be handy, but as a 3rd or 4th level maybe, not 6th.

There are also some interesting limitations that are implied by the brief description. Even though the spells can "appear" as if coming from the image, the caster himself must have line of sight on it. This seems to be saying that the image doesn't relay any information back to the caster. Also, despite the fact that while a melee attack dispels it but a missile weapon does not (huh?), having the illusion unaffected by ranged/magical attacks can be a drawback, since the image endures even after it looks like the wizard should have at least been hurt.

So why would anyone choose or cast this spell? Well, I think it's main strength lies in two (admittedly specific) areas.

  1. This spell creates an image of the magic-user that cannot be distinguished from the original except by touch.
  2.  All spells cast by the magic-user will seem to come from the image.
So the illusion looks, sounds, and smells like the caster. If it is standing in the room with you, you can't tell it isn't him unless you make physical contact. That's kind of handy. Likewise, if that Fireball looks like it's flying of the illusion's fingertips, that can confuse enemies and make them pick the wrong target.

One of the other things to keep in mind is that, as a sixth level spell, that means the magic-user is at least 11th level (barring the use of something like a scroll). That means he could potentially have fifteen more spells in his repertoire for the day. Not only does that allow for him to mislead foes a lot with where the spells are coming from, but a prepared mage could cast other spells to boost the illusion. Turn yourself invisible and have your illusion draw the fire. Use Wizard Eye, Clairvoyanceand/or Ventriloquism to let you see and hear without actually being in the room.

Such tricks could lead to some fun encounters, combat or otherwise, but would require the wizards to really plan ahead. As a result, I don't know that I would keep Projected Image memorized by default, but I could see using it as part of a more involved, pre-planned scheme.


  1. The spell level does seem unreasonable, as the old 'mirror image' spell was second level.

  2. Yep. I was trying to think of ways to make it worthwhile. An 11th level MU with so many other spells to channel through it was about the best reason I could think of. A lower level spell, cast by a lower level mage with fewer spell slots meant not taking as much advantage of that feature, but it still seems limited in application. Might be a fun NPC wizard twist, though!

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  4. I did notice that nowhere in the spell's description does it say that the spell ends if an image is indeed struck by a melee attack or touched (N.B. the spell's duration of six turns). I would interpret this as the caster being able to create another image after the first disappears, etc. (perhaps coming from around a corner or similar cover). I love the slightly ambiguous nature of many of the B/X spells which leaves quite a bit of room for the DM to interpret
    them in a reasonable fashion.