[Top 10] D&D Best Illusion Spells

D&D Best Illusion Spells
Those illusory copies may not hurt, but they can sure be frustrating to deal with. Great trick for conga lines!

[Top 10] D&D Best Illusion Spells

We all know that fireball is a good fallback for when everything goes wrong. However, there are many more interesting ways to handle such problems through illusion magic before they become a problem, to begin with. These are 5e spells, and I’m assuming they are part of the spell list for your class.

10. Minor Illusion

A sketch of Geometric shapes that look 3D while set up on a corner.

As a cantrip that can be cast as much as you could ever want, that also has a wide variety of uses… YES PLEASE.

Why Minor Illusion is Great:

  • Cantrip: You may cast it freely if you can perform the components. You may also pick it up as soon as you get cantrips if it’s on your spell list.
  • 30 ft. range: stand backstage, or across the room to cast this spell.
  • No Verbal Component: If people can’t see you, they have no clue you are casting this.
  • Takes 1 action to cast, lasts 1 minute, no Concentration: In theory, you can have 10 illusions running at the same time, as long as you spend your action to re-conjure them.
  • Produce any Image and Sound: If you combine this with Prestidigitation (a spell that produces sensory effects), and Light or Dancing Lights, you have an entire theatre set on demand.
  • Create fun Backgrounds for anyone, and mess with the BBEG as he monologues.

Minor Illusion Details: https://www.dndbeyond.com/spells/minor-illusion

9. Disguise Self

New glasses and a mustache can be considered a disguise. That's what this

If you want to suddenly look like someone else, even if it’s just a change of hair, clothes, or different color of skin, eyes, or even nails, you can do that. You could even make yourself look like the BBEG as you commit crimes as long as nobody sees through your trick.

Why Disguise Self is Great:

  • 1st level spell: You can cast this pretty often, and can even pick it up as soon as you get the spellcasting feature.
  • Takes 1 action to cast, lasts 1 hour, no concentration: When you cast this, you don’t need to worry about somebody slapping off your fancy new monocle.
  • You can look however you want as long as it’s based on your body shape.
  • Suddenly look like Sherlock Holmes ready to perform an investigation, the BBEG about to raid a shop, or even become an identical twin of an ally and fill in for them while they “go to the toilet”.

Disguise Self Details: https://www.dndbeyond.com/spells/disguise-self

8. Silent Image

A mime holding boxes in an image is pretty silent don't you think?

Minor Illusion is great and all, but sometimes it’s too small, or doesn’t go far enough. Or maybe you want to create a larger scene to enhance with Minor Illusion. Whatever you want it for, Silent Image can be used from far away, and can even be animated so you can spend your action to make an illusory guard wave his allies over, or startle that stubborn child into bed.

Why Silent Image is Great:

  • 1st level spell.
  • 60 ft. range, 15 ft. cube: You can make anything appear as long as it can fit within a 15 ft. cube
  • Takes 1 action to cast, lasts 10 minutes, Requires Concentration: While you may have to worry about people slapping you silly with this one, you can really go to town with it if you got everything you need.
  • You can spend an action to move it, and make it look natural (a rolling boulder perhaps?)
  • Play charades with your enemies.

Silent Image Details: https://www.dndbeyond.com/spells/silent-image

7. Silence

A man surrounded with speakers with his mouth blotted out in red.

I’m pretty sure anyone can find a use for this spell from assassinations, to sneaking around or just preventing that annoying spellcaster from doing anything else.

Why Silence is Great:

  • 2nd level spell, Ritual: If you have 10 minutes to spare, you can cast it as much as you like, but even still, it’s a strong spell.
  • 120 ft. range, 20 ft. radius sphere: You can drop this from the other side of the battlefield, and hit most of the actual battle.
  • Takes 1 action to cast, lasts 10 minutes, Requires Concentration: If your casting is disrupted, then of course you lose the spell. But if you cast it from far away, usually you don’t need to worry about losing it.
  • Full immunity to thunder: That banshee can scream at you all she likes, but if you drop this down, even if she drops the bass, you won’t feel a thing.
  • Nullify Verbal Components: Sure, other spellcasters won’t be too happy about it, but as long as you don’t need any other verbal spells then who cares? If somebody wants to heal the barbarian who fell unconscious, then they can spend a healing potion on it. It’s not like your DM should even be forbidding you from collecting them.
  • Turn everybody into mimes.

Silence Details: https://www.dndbeyond.com/spells/silence

6. Major Image

An image with majors. Pretty major isn't it?

On top of providing the image of the object, it provides smell, sound, and even temperature! With this spell, you can create pretty much anything you want! And you can upcast it to make it last until it’s dispelled.

Why Major Image is Great:

  • 3rd Level spell: 3rd level spells aren’t the easiest to come by, but they have a significant jump in power from 2nd level spells.
  • 120 ft. range, 20 ft. cube: You can make up to a Gargantuan creature with this spell, which is large enough to make an ancient dragon.
  • Takes 1 action to cast, lasts 10 minutes, Requires Concentration: Concentration spells are usually concentration for a reason. But you can bypass the concentration and extend the duration indefinitely if you have a 6th level spell slot to burn on it.
  • You can make something that seems completely real as long as it can’t actually harm anything. In order to tell this is fake, you would have to make some mistake that suggests it might not be real, and then your enemy would have to pass the investigation check.
  • You can make the illusion carry a conversation for you.
  • Pretend to be in your bedroom getting ready for the party when you are actually just running out to assassinate someone.

Major Image Details: https://www.dndbeyond.com/spells/major-image

5. Greater Invisibility

An invisible man with a hat and glasses. What did you expect?

If you really want something to use in combat, this is probably what you are going to go want since invisibility gives the invisible creature advantage to hit, and anybody who wants to attack them does so with disadvantage.

Why Greater Invisibility is Great:

4th Level Spell

  • 1 Action to cast, lasts 1 minute with Concentration.
  • Doesn’t break on making an attack, or casting a spell like it's 2nd level counterpart does.
  • You hit your enemies, but they don’t hit you.
  • Sit on your enemies and watch them as they struggle in confusion.

Greater Invisibility Details: https://www.dndbeyond.com/spells/greater-invisibility

4. Phantasmal Killer

Slenderman is a killer, and he's phantasmal too. So he's on the image that didn't appear.

This is the other spell to cast in combat as it’s one of the few illusion spells to deal damage. And if it works, can deal more damage than a fireball.

Why Phantasmal Killer is Great:

  • 4th Level Spell.
  • 120 ft. range.
  • 1 Action to cast, lasts 1 minute with Concentration.
  • Deals 1d10 psychic damage for each level of the spell slot you used every single round until the spell ends, or the creature passes the save (minimum 4d10).
  • Frighten a creature: Disadvantage on ability checks and attack rolls.
  • Summon an enemy’s worst nightmare to kill them. 

Phantasmal Killer Details: https://www.dndbeyond.com/spells/phantasmal-killer

3. Seeming

Multiple Patrick starfishes running around. This is probably what your party would do if they had some time to spare.

Seeming is a better version of disguise self as it lasts far longer, but can also affect other creatures. The reason both are on this list is because seeming may be better, but also comes at a much higher cost, while disguise self is much cheaper, and can be cast much more frequently.

Why Seeming is Great:

  • 5th Level spell: maybe not the cheapest magic, but certainly powerful.
  • 30 ft. range: You can target any number of creatures in this range including yourself and your enemies (they get to save though).
  • 1 Action to cast, lasts 8 Hours, no concentration.
  • Make your targets appear however you like.
  • Wear something weird, cast this, and know if people can see through illusions by their reactions.

Seeming Details: https://www.dndbeyond.com/spells/seeming

2. Programmed Illusion

The image you don't see is a hut scene as Programmed Illusion is kinda like a movie set when you need it.

This is probably one of the most fun spells, as you can cause a short, scripted scene to trigger upon some visual or auditory queue (which doesn’t have to be obvious), and then last for up to 5 minutes. And you only have to invest 25 gp before casting it as much as you like.

Why Programmed Illusion is Great:

  • 6th level spell: really strong if you can get it, and for good reason too.
  • 120 ft. range, 30 ft. cube: fill a room with these, and make an entire voice-activated start to play.
  • 1 Action to cast, lasts until dispelled: if somebody doesn’t want the illusion there anymore, they need to deliberately remove it. You can also drop one down on a whim.
  • Use as the trigger for other spells or programmed illusions in order to make a fully automatic performance.
  • Make Megamind’s “You have fallen for my trap” speech while the BBEG tends his plans.

Programmed Illusion Details: https://www.dndbeyond.com/spells/programmed-illusion

1. Simulacrum
A picture of a man duplicated in a line.

Who doesn’t want a clone army? Probably some people who appreciate the action economy in the 5th edition of D&D. But seriously, this is probably an easily abused spell, which is a good reason it’s so hard to cast, consuming 1,500 GP in powdered ruby, and a 7th level spell slot.

Why Simulacrum is Great:

  • 7th Level Spell: with a level like that, you know it’s good.
  • Create a single near-perfect copy of the resulting creature, with spell slots being the only thing they can’t recover and is a construct.
  • Create a simulacrum of yourself with a 7th level spell slot (while you have the wish spell and a spell slot for it), then have it cast this spell via wish with you as the created creature, and have an army of yourself in a matter of hours, all with the same abilities.
  • Show up after an important conversation you didn’t want to be part of while everybody was talking to “you”.

Simulacrum Details: https://www.dndbeyond.com/spells/simulacrum

In conclusion, Illusion spells are incredibly fun to play whether you simply want to stage fun performances or mess with your enemies. The only way these spells could be better is if they were cast by a wizard from the school of illusion, which makes minor illusion capable of sound and images at the same time, allows you to change the appearance of your illusions if their duration is 1 minute or longer, and even make your inanimate illusions real enough to walk on (but only illusory objects and they cannot harm directly). But once again, you should build your character the way you like, and don’t let anyone tell you that there’s only one way to play.

Common D&D Terms:

1d6: A single six-sided die. The format is XdY where X is the number of dice, and Y is the number of sides on the dice.
    Attack Roll: This is the roll used to determine if you hit an attack. Always rolled with a twenty-sided die.
    Damage Roll: This is the roll used to determine how many hit points a target loses.
    Saving Throw: these rolls are used to avoid debuffs and other nasty effects. Always rolled with a twenty-sided die.
    AC (a.k.a Armor Class): Attack rolls are measured against this. If the attack roll equals or exceeds the AC of the target then the attack hits and deals damage. Otherwise, no damage is dealt. Armor changes the calculation for this whether natural or equipped. The basic AC calculation for all creatures is equal to 10 + your Dexterity Bonus.
    DC (a.k.a Difficulty Class): Saving throws and ability checks are almost always rolled against one of these. Most effects have one listed or a calculation suggested but some can have a DC that is rolled at the same time called a “contested roll”.
    Ability Check:  This is used every time you attempt to do something that has a chance of failure such as: climbing a cliff without hand-holds, figuring out where the rogue hid your favorite spoon, or even seeing if you can pull off a sweet flip over some obstacle.
    Advantage/Disadvantage: This only applies to Attack Rolls, Ability Checks, and Saving Throws. When you have Advantage on a roll, you make the roll twice and take the higher number. Same with Disadvantage, only you take the lower number.

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Belwolf's picture

Belwolf 3 years 5 months ago

I honestly love minor illusion. Imagine casting it to create an illusion of a large-ish stone and crawling into it for pseudo invisibility!

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