The ability to change or create small details in the world is what the cantrip spell Minor Illusion is all about. The focus here is on what it does, how it works, and how to use it effectively.
The rules for Minor Illusion can be found in the Players Handbook on page 260.
Minor Illusion 5e
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 30 Feet
Components: S, M (Abit of fleece)
Duration: 1 Minute
You create a sound or an image of an object within range that lasts for the duration. The illusion also ends if you dismiss it as an action or cast this spell again.
If you create a sound, its volume can range from a whisper to a scream. It can be your voice, someone else’s voice, a lion’s roar, a beating of drums, or any other sound you choose. The sound continues unabated throughout the duration, or you can make discrete sounds at different times before the spell ends.
If you create an image of an object- such as a chair, muddy footprints, or a small chest- it must be no larger than a 5-foot cube. The image can’t create sound, light, smell, or any other sensory effect. Physical interaction with the image reveals it to be an illusion because things can pass through it.
If a creature uses an action to examine the sound or image, the creature can determine that it is an illusion with a successful Intelligence (Investigation) check against your spell save DC. If a creature discerns the illusion for what it is, the illusion becomes faint to the creature.
The rules for the Minor Illusion cantrip reveal its true intended purpose, versatility. Being able to create a sound or an image gives the player double the opportunity to make use of this spell. It provides the potential for avoiding a conflict all together or at least creating a great diversion.
What can you do with Minor Illusion?
Minor Illusion is one of those spells that seems great but is impractical in an actual game. To get the most out of this spell, it is critical to know what can and can’t be done with it.
Minor Illusion can create a sound or an image as described in the spell above. This means Minor Illusion can create a distraction. Minor Illusion can also be used to mislead. In addition, this cantrip can be used in place of disguise self in a pinch. It can buy you just enough time to get away or get the drop on someone. It can even be used to modify the casters voice to sound like someone else.
What Minor Illusion can’t do: Per the spell, Minor Illusion (object) can’t emit light, smell, sound, or any other sensory effect. Minor Illusion can’t change your voice. It also will not hold up under close scrutiny or touch. It also doesn’t move. Minor Illusion doesn’t block light, wind, or any other “object.”
What is Minor Illusion?
Minor Illusion is an illusion cantrip. It is a versatile, non-game breaking spell that is often avoided at early levels for its lack of damage. It is a great spell for any caster, but the Arcane Trickster rogue can probably benefit the most. It makes a great quick opportunity to hide long enough for a getaway.
It can be used to hide for advantage on an attack triggering the sneak attack ability. Considering that it doesn’t require concentration and it lasts a minute, one cast could be reused multiple times.
Minor Illusion: Uses in Combat
The sections above cover what Minor Illusion is and what it can or can’t do. To make the most of the spell in combat can require some finesse, but the setup is well worth it. The rules on unseen attackers and targets states, “when a creature can’t see you, you have advantage on the attack rolls against it.” Simple enough, throw up the Minor Illusion of a wall in front of you and attack through it.
Here is where things can get tricky. The spell can only create a 5-foot cube of an object. If you are in the middle of a room and make a pillar appear in front of you, you are visually obstructed but not hidden or unseen. This can come down to a DM judgement call.
As a player, you never want to risk wasting a turn in combat. The key to this setup is breaking line of sight. Running around a corner and then throwing up a pillar is an entirely different scenario. Now the enemy has no idea where you are, to begin with. This means that you can be hidden or unseen because you have effectively disappeared.
Minor Illusion is a fun, versatile cantrip. It has uses in roleplay situations and in combat scenarios. The most important thing to remember about this, and illusion spells in general, is to have realistic expectations. It shouldn’t work or fail every time. It can add a bunch of fun to a game and encourage creativity in the players.