Minor Illusion has got to be the most versatile cantrip in all of Dungeons and Dragons. I remember back when I first started playing D&D that I felt like the spell never came up for my character. I actually asked my DM (founder of Mym’s Well, Mike K.) if I could remove it from my spell list and give Fiora Starbreeze, my Glamour Bard, Prestidigitation instead. And although Prestidigitation has a plethora of uses too, I really under valued the Minor Illusion spell. If you get creative, the cantrip has nearly endless uses.
One thing to bear in mind, that while this cantrip is very diverse, it does have a few limitations that are easy to forget: you can’t have two instances happening simultaneously, the image is static and cannot move – or be moved; and it only lasts for a single minute unless you’re able to recast it. That being said, check out these clever uses of this creative cantrip.
- Being chased? Create an illusory wall to block their path!
- Did they get through your illusory wall? Hide inside an illusory crate until they pass by!
- A trail of misleading tracks could throw off someone following you!
- Destroy that bridge you just crossed and create an illusory bridge over top
- Create an illusory stool in the bar and invite someone to join you at your table.
- Leave illusory notes for someone that can read it and it vanishes. Great option if you don’t have the Message cantrip.
- Change what street or store signs say
- Need to see what’s in a room before you enter? Create an illusory door where the door is, open it, and peek in!
- Steal an object and create an illusory replica to keep the guards unaware.
- Need to sneak out of your inn room unnoticed? Create an illusion of yourself in bed.
- Escape prison without alerting the guards by creating an illusion of yourself still in your cell.
- Bait someone with an illusory treasure chest in a room and ambush them.
- Create an illusory copy of a magic item someone is after and while they’re trying to get it from you, your party is off trying to obtain it
- Need to hide a body? Minor Illusion terrain over top of it. Passing guards are none the wiser!
- Is there a window you need to sneak past? Cast Minor Illusion inside of the window with a normal landscape image to simply just walk past.
- Need to defend someone or something in a pinch? Create a minor illusion guard dog! (Due to spell restrictions, perhaps a sleeping one)
- Low on health in the middle of combat? Break line of sight of an enemy and create something illusory to hide inside of: a boulder, a tree, a staircase, etc. Shoot from inside it to remain safe for a few rounds.
- Want to show what someone looks like? Create an illusory depiction of them
- Need to talk with your allies without being heard? Use comic style speech bubbles
- A big pile of coins could be very useful in many different cases
- On the other hand, so could a big pile of poop!
- Need a slide-show? You can use minor illusion to depict the information!
- Unable to speak? Unable to leave a zone of silence? Talk using your minor illusory voice.
- Create music to improve troop morale even without musical proficiency.
- Create eerie ambiance to help induce the frightened status.
- Create a distracting sound (IE. twig snapping, dog barking, etc.) in the distance when trying to sneak past guards.
- Classic fart noises!
- Sound an illusory alarm to make someone leave the vicinity, possibly even luring them into a trap as they try to escape
- Walk into an enemy camp and yell, “ATTENTION!” in their commander’s voice to provide a great distraction and confusion.
There are so many more options, but these are a list of our favourites. Can you think of any that should be added to these lists? Let us know what your favourite use of Minor Illusion is in the comments below or gives us a like on our Instagram, Twitter or Facebook accounts!
28 Replies to “Clever Cantrip Uses : Minor Illusion (DnD 5E)”
Like a third of these are impossible considering the limitations in the opening of the article…
Which ones, friend?
I’ll preface this with saying that I love this spell as well, I just think its important to keep to the rules as written to preserve the usefulness of higher level illusion spells. Balance must be maintained and all that jazz. Though, ultimately each group is different and all of the preceding is just my opinion.
1. The Illusory Wall: This effect could only work if you’re running down a corridor that is no more than 5ft high and 5ft wide. Otherwise it’ll be immediately obvious what’s going on.
2. The Bridge: This could only work if the bridge is no more than 5ft long and 5ft wide. I’m not saying its impossible…just improbable.
1. Leaving an Illusory note: They better read it within 60 seconds. It’s certainly not something you could leave behind for someone either, in addition to the time limit, as the range is 30ft from your person.
1. Leaving a decoy item to trick guards: Only works if you stay within 30ft and only for a minute, you may as well just use that time to haul ass in the other direction.
2. Sneaking out of an inn/prison break: 30ft/60secs. They’ll know you’re gone before you’re out of the building.
3. Create a copy of a magic item and run around with it as a decoy: Time is only a minor issue as you can recast every minute, still annoying though. The real issue is that you can’t make tangible objects. You can’t carry an illusion around with you (at least not one cast with this spell lol).
1. Guard Dog: It’d be perfectly still and utterly lifeless…very creepy though.
1. A pile of gold: This could work on a particularly stupid or gullible person assuming its on a table or at the bottom of a chest and you don’t let them close enough to touch it.
2. Poop: I mean…it doesn’t smell and you can’t throw it at people. Maybe you could get a reaction from someone with a weird fetish or phobia though…
The rest of them look solid though. I especially like the barstool one lol.
I use MI to back our bard up with some incorporeal percussion when she plays. If I’m feeling charitable and she cuts me in on her tips I’ll spice the show up with some classic prestidigitation fireworks too.
Thanks for the reply by the way.
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^ These are fantastic criticisms to keep the limitations clear for minor illusion and, at the same time, keep the strength of more powerful illusory spells.
I think you can see how some of these can still happen or how the DM might be lenient in some use. Past that, you’re totally right. Some of the most fun in a D&D session is debating the plausibility of an action, and I think the guard dog might be the most hilarious because you could argue that, instead, you must cast the illusion of a stuffed dog because only then it is an object, yet I think it might be more terrifying.
Thanks again for the notes!
I agree and it only lasts a minute. Nice ideas but people also forget that somatic isnt just a flick of the wrist but often noticeable gestures but its up to DM discretion
I loved your criticisms because it helps point out the author’s oversights and also how many of them can be performed in a modified manner.
Illusory Wall: This is great for a little alcove or alleyway, turn a corner than jump into the alcove around a backdoor or trash area and make a short wall to hide you. You can also duck down and make one of those angled basement doors.
Bridge: For larger bridges, you can’t make an illusion of the whole thing, but you can make illusions to hide holes in the bridge(or make one and then hide it). Then you just hope the enemy walks into the hole.
Body Decoy: Mike already noted these in other comments(you should amend the article!) the ‘object’ is a wax statue of yourself, or simply a blanket with bumps and bulges to look like a person is under it. Same for a guard animal, a taxidermy monster staring into a peephole or window.
Here’s another note: If you want to hide inside an illusionary object and shoot out of it, you’ll quickly give away that your item is an illusion. A better way is to hide behind your illusionary stone, crate or barrel and shoot around it. It’s not real cover, but it should give you similar benefits for a moment. Another option is to make something like a mantlet, sort of a small wall on wheels with an arrow slit.
Where does it say the illusion can’t move? I never noticed a rule like that and allowed my players to lure some hill giants away using an illusory pig during battle. I know it was relatively lenient to let them do that but I wanted to reward them for being creative. It didn’t look like it went directly against the rules.
Yeah, ultimately it is the DMs choice because having fun is paramount to following rules. Jeremy Crawford clarified that the intent was to make it static so that there is more potency and strength to higher level illusion spells. See his tweet here about it: https://twitter.com/JeremyECrawford/status/966499020116918272?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
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It creates an illusory three dimensional image that fits in a 5ft cube. For something that can move, you’ll have to use the 1st level spell Silent Image. Silent Image can also cover a 15ft area and lasts longer.
As for where it says it can’t move: Spells in DnD tell you what they can do and not what they can’t. Since it mentions nothing at all about any motion or movement, only an image, that means Minor Illusion can’t make anything that moves.
Ditto on the multiple of these not being allowed; I don’t like the illusion school too much because of the limitations and breaking them on the cantrip just makes it pointless to join (imo) when you could just take MI. Also, it has a somatic component so you couldn’t use it to talk through a silence of some sort since you can’t speak to cast the spell. And even though several of them were not RAW compatible, I really liked the ideas you had. Just make sure not to try to pull those stunts if you’re really being chased or as mentioned you would be better off dashing to GTFO instead of wasting several seconds casting up an unbelievable wall.
You can cast Minor Illusion through silence because it does not have a verbal component. Somatic is the necessary movement of your body to cast the spell.
As I understand it, that guard dog trick would also, unfortunately, not work. The spell specifically states you can create an image of an object. Higher level illusion spells state they can create creatures and objects, so this one is just objects. Still useful but you can’t make an illusion of yourself, a dog, or any other creature. Maybe you could convince your dm it’s a freshly dead dog (are corpses objects?) or a realistic statue.
Of course, like you said, the dm can Homebrew and interpret the spell however they want
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Is a taxidermy dog a creature or an object?
Object because it is essentially a dog fur rug with stuffing.
Keep two conversations going, one you don’t want people around you to hear and one you do. Whisper in the other person’s ear while you’re both talking boisterously about an entirely different topic. Do note that casting is normally quite obvious and this requires a somatic component, it only works if they’re listening in from around the corner or maybe the next room over.
I think this article is a great argument for why this effect is simply too powerful for a cantrip and should instead be a rudimentary first level spell.
I can see what you mean, which is why the comments about the limitations are very important. If it were a first level spell, I’d struggle to balance it with the silent image spell. Truth is I have not encountered many issues with illusions in real games and they’re actually most often used for fart noises and attractive distractions.
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Most of these don’t work because the illusion must be **an** object. Therefore you sleeping in bed as an illusion isn’t an object it’s a creature. A dog is a creature a terrain is a terrain not an object. The box and and wall stuff is fine but it’s not a quite as crafty as you make it out to be.
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What about a taxidermy dog or a wax statue of yourself? 😀
In a current campaign, we have been doing an underwater segment. I came up with the idea of using Minor Illusion to make comic style text bubbles so I could still communicate with the party. Unfortunately only me and the arcane trickster could do it, but it was still awesome. We even started communicating in Emojis!
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You don’t play dnd
Would you DM for me?
Thanks for making this article! Personally, I like the idea of using Minor Illusion to cover hunting traps, caltrops, ball bearings or even prepared pit traps.
I love the idea of covering up traps right before someone is about to step on them. Genius addition. Thanks for reading and sharing!
I think my favourite use of this cantrip so far was done by a High Elf Wizard in my current campaign. We’d gotten into a bar fight with dwarves and they distracted the guards that were chasing us with an illusion of my character (a tiefling) running away.