Illusion Wizard: The Most Underrated D&D Class

Illusion Wizard: The Most Underrated D&D Class

There are an arguably overwhelming number of subclasses to choose from in D&D. It's a big part of what makes the game so much fun, you can customize your character down to the last detail. But because of the huge number of options it can become easy to get lost in what is and isn't useful. There's an understandable focus on damage and on choosing subclasses with cool, specific abilities. Because of this, some very fun, strong subclasses fall by the wayside, and today I want to talk about one such subclass: the Illusion Wizard.

The Wizard Class for Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) Fifth Edition (5e) - D&D  Beyond

Still a Wizard

It's no secret that spellcasters in D&D are very strong. Magic has the potential to deal huge amounts of damage, but perhaps more importantly the massive variety of effects you can produce using a spell list as expansive as the Wizard's also lends you a ton of versatility. Illusion wizards are no different. They have access to the most number of spells and spell slots of any class, which immediately sets you up for success. That means you can still choose damaging cantrips and spells that will cut down enemies when you need them to. But since that's just a baseline D&D wizard it's probably left you with a burning question...

Are Illusion Spells Even Good??

The short answer is yes but the long answer is more complicated.

Combat Potential

The reason every D&D player equips their caster with fireball is because it's easy to understand and deals a ton of damage in an area. That makes fireball really good, choose a spot littered with bad guys and toast them. On the flip side, Illusion spells are often wordy and complicated and deal comparatively less damage, if they deal damage at all. Most do not. The ones that do, like Phantasmal Force and Phantasmal Killer are wordy and have a lot of other uses, which is why they deal less damage. And less damage means less good in combat right? Well sometimes, but there are a lot of Illusion spells that are combat staples that you may not think of as illusions. Invisibility, Greater Invisibility and Mirror Image are all combat staples that hail from the the school of Illusion magic. And those are just the spells that are universally applicable, you can drastically alter the course of a battle with spells that fit the situation, like Hallucinatory Terrain or Mislead. Besides, as we've noted, if you want to simply deal outright damage you can still choose the spells designed for that. Where the school of Illusion truly shines is outside of combat.

What are some tips for making an effective illusionist class in Dungeons &  Dragons? What kind of spells should they use on which enemies? How would  you design one for your game

Roleplay and Adventuring

Combat is dangerous and full of glory, but most of your time spent playing D&D is spent roleplaying and adventuring, and no D&D wizard subclass is better for those two actions than Illusion. Illusion spells are designed to mislead and bewilder, which is perfect for interactions with NPCs that you're trying to get information out of, scare, or feed false information. Spells like Phantom Steed make travel fast and easy, Illusory Script lets you pass messages without fear of being caught. And that's not even touching on the capabilities of Minor Illusion and Major Illusion, which are truly as limitless as your imagination. That's really the crux of the misunderstanding of Illusion comes from, because it doesn't have specific values attached to it, like damage numbers or healing numbers, it seems as though it isn't strong, when in reality you have the power of whatever your own mind can conjure.

So yes, Illusion spells are good.

Let's Talk Nitty Gritty

Enough stalling, let's break down the features of the Illusion Wizard, so you can understand how all of the subclasses features are useful.

Illusion Savant: 

Simple, same as every wizard. We've established how versatile Illusion spells are, so learning them fast and cheap makes this helpful, in a normal kind of way.

Improved Minor Illusion:

Minor Illusion is a fantastic cantrip, useful to anyone who can cast it as a distraction, to back up a lie, to clarify information, and an unending host of other uses based on its regular description. Add a second sense to that illusion and the possibilities literally double. Useful nearly anytime, nearly anywhere, completely for free because it's a cantrip.

Malleable Illusions:

Now this one may feel like the weakest of the bunch, but keep in mind the strength of an illusion is in its believability. Being able to adjust your illusions to ensure they continue to function as you want them to allows you to adjust to changing situations with otherwise unattainable speed (1 action instead of recasting a new spell and burning a spell slot). It's another example of part of the Illusion subclass that feels weak but in reality is solely dependant on the strength of your imagination.

Illusory Self:

You get to avoid an attack for free. For a class that's notoriously made of glass, and at a level when enemies start hitting for some serious damage, being able to choose not to take said damage is incredibly strong, and adds to the combat kit of the Illusory wizard, rounding it out to go along with all its roleplay potential nicely.

Illusory Reality:

Make your illusion real. Sure you can't create life, but any object?? Unbelievably useful and powerful when you're in need of something. The fact that it extends all the way down to 1st level illusion spells make this incredibly powerful.

D&D 5e: Magical Styles – Stands in the Fire

Wrapping Up

So there you have it. In essence, Illusion Wizards appear underpowered because of its descriptions that lack specificity, but those same descriptions give you as the player the opportunity for limitless customizability. That is why D&D Illusion Wizards are the most underrated subclass in the game.

You Know What's not an Illusion?

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