minor illusion 5e guide

The Ultimate D&D Minor Illusion 5e Guide

In the real world, magic tricks are merely illusions, tricking the audience’s eyes with fast movement and misdirection. Magicians can pull out a rabbit from a hat, perform card tricks, and stuff like that. In the D&D world, magic is much more powerful; you can revive the dead, transform into other animals and creatures, literally change reality, and so much more.

And yet, you can still use magic to cause misdirection with the use of Minor Illusion, and it wouldn’t even expend one of your character’s spell slots because it is a cantrip. This spell does not cause damage nor offer buffs to your party. It simply is a useful tool that you can use on the go if you want to misdirect and mislead others.

Its use is situational, but can be commonly used. After all, tricking your opponents to force them to make decisions that greatly benefit you and your party is part of the adventure. If you are looking for cantrips to add to your list of spells and you are considering adding Minor Illusion, read on further to conclude your doubts. Continue reading our Minor Illusion 5e Guide.

What is Minor Illusion?

Minor Illusion is an illusion cantrip that can be found on page 260 of the Player’s Handbook. Cantrips are spells that your character can cast at their will anytime. It does not expend a spell slot, so you can use it as many times as possible. Illusion spells are spells whose main purpose is to deceive others. Listed below are the details of this cantrip.

  • Minor Illusion
  • Illusion cantrip
  • Casting Time: 1 action
  • Range: 30 feet
  • Components: S, M (a bit of fleece)
  • Duration: 1 minute

The next sections talk about how to use this spell and how it works.

How to use Minor Illusion

First, here are the things you need to consider when deciding to cast Minor Illusion:

  • You must be able to use this spell (e.g. have this spell in your spell list, have this spell as a racial feature, etc.).
  • Your hands must be free to move (e.g. they are not bound by shackles, ropes, etc.).
  • You must have the materials needed (i.e. a bit of fleece) unless you have an arcane focus.

Since this spell has a somatic component, this means that you need to move your hands in gestures to cast it. Thus, if your hands are not free to move, you are not able to use this spell. You must also have a bit of fleece to cast this, although if you have an arcane focus (which spellcasters have), then you would not need to have this material with you.

When all of the above requirements are fulfilled, you then must choose a point within range (30 ft. of you) to make either a sound or an image of an object.

How to make a sound

If you choose to make a sound, you can decide how loud it is, ranging from a whisper to a scream. You can also choose whose voice it is or what source it may come from. For example, you can create a sound of your voice calling for help, a roar from a lion, or even a cacophony of a trumpet.

You can also choose the time intervals of which the sounds play, as long as it is within the time duration of the spell (i.e. one minute). So for example, you can create the croaking of frogs every ten seconds within a minute. You can also create different sounds at different intervals, like making the sound of a young boy giggling after making the sound of a clown’s laughter. You can choose when the sound stops and when the sound begins.

How to make an image

If you choose to make an image of an object, it must be no larger than a 5-foot cube such as footprints in the mud, a nightstand, or even a small chest. Furthermore, the image must be something still, not something that is moving. This means that you cannot make an image of water flowing through a fountain, or a person waving.

If you want to cause an illusion of something moving, you would have to cast another spell like Major Image, a 3rd-level illusion spell. Otherwise, Minor Illusion is great for static images. Also, keep in mind that the image is merely an illusion, so it cannot interact with the world around it. The next section will explain what would happen if someone tries to interact with the said image.

How does Minor Illusion work?

You create fake images and sounds with the Minor Illusion spell. Since the image created is merely an illusion, it cannot cause sound, light, smell, or any other sensory effects. So, if you are trying to create an illusion of a lamp or a swarm of fireflies, it would not shine in the dark. When making an illusion of a pile of onions, it would not smell bad when someone goes near it.

When something or someone tries to physically interact with the illusion, they would simply pass through it. Think of it as a realistic 3d hologram, only powered by magic instead of highly advanced technology. When a creature uses an action to examine the image, they can determine that it is fake if they are successful in an Intelligence (Investigation) check against your spell save DC.

As for sound, it can be heard by anyone with a sense of hearing as long as they are within the right distance for it to be heard. So for example, a whisper would only be heard by those near to the caster’s chosen range. The number of creatures who can hear the sound depends on how loud the sound is. If it is loud, you cannot choose who can and cannot hear it in its hearing distance.

Who can use Minor Illusion?

Classes

Minor Illusion is a highly accessible cantrip as four main classes can have this spell in their arsenal. Listed below are the said classes, as well as their sources and spell save DC.

Classes that can use Minor Illusion Source Spell Save DC
Bard Player’s Handbook, page 51 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier
Sorcerer Player’s Handbook, page 99 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier
Warlock Player’s Handbook, page 105 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier
Wizard Player’s Handbook, page 112 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier

Subclasses

There are at least five subclasses that can learn this useful spell, and they are listed below along with their sources and their spell save DC.

Subclasses that can use Minor Illusion Originating Class Subclass Source Class Source Spell Save DC
Arcana Domain Cleric Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide, page 125 Player’s Handbook, page 56 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Wisdom modifier
Arcane Trickster Rogue Player’s Handbook, page 97 Player’s Handbook, page 94 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier
Eldritch Knight Fighter Player’s Handbook, page 74 Player’s Handbook, page 70 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier
School of Illusion Wizard Player’s Handbook, page 118 Player’s Handbook, page 112 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier
Way of Shadow Monk Player’s Handbook, page 80 Player’s Handbook, page 76 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Wisdom modifier

Even though the Wizard class has already been featured, its “School of Illusion” subclass is still featured in this list because of the Improved Minor Illusion class feature. When you pick up this subclass, you automatically learn the Minor Illusion cantrip. If you already have it, you can choose and pick another cantrip. What’s even better is that this subclass can create both sound and image in a single casting of the Minor Illusion spell.

Races

There are a few races that can perform the Minor Illusion cantrip automatically as a race feature. The ability is built into their DNA. They are listed down below along with the racial feature that grants them the ability, their source, and their spell save DC.

Races that can use Minor Illusion Racial feature allowing the ability Source Spell Save DC
Elf (High) Cantrip (can choose Minor Illusion as the cantrip of choice) Player’s Handbook, page 23 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier
Elf (Mark of Shadow) Spells of the Mark (needs to have the Spellcasting or the Pact Magic class feature) Eberron: Rising from the Last War, page 49 Depends on the class
Gnome (Forest) Natural Illusionist Player’s Handbook, page 37 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier
Tiefling (Glasya) Legacy of Malbolge Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, page 22 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier

Is Minor Illusion good?

Many consider Minor Illusion as one of the best cantrips to have due to its versatility in terms of usage. There are a lot of ways you can use this spell; you have to be very creative to get the most out of it. It is one of the best tools in terms of simple misdirection because (1) it does not expend a spell slot, (2) it can be available by level one, and (3) it can create either sound or an image.

If you can find creative ways to use Minor Illusion, your DM would surely reward you well. For example, you can create an image of something and hide behind it or inside of it. You can use this technique to escape the eyes and clutches of creatures chasing you, or even use ranged spells and attacks on unsuspecting enemies.

Minor Illusion examples

Are you being chased? You can take a turn and cast Minor Illusion to create the sound of audible footsteps going in the opposite direction. Perhaps you can escape by doing that. Or you can also cast Minor Illusion to create a mighty roar of a fearsome creature, and perhaps your pursuer would get frightened by the sound and run away. Maybe you can create an image to distract the pursuer with something like a weird-looking statue.

You can even use Minor Illusion in terms of combat, so it truly is an excellent spell both in offense and defense. If you hide behind or inside an image you created through this spell and make a ranged attack on an enemy, you can gain an advantage on your attack roll against them because they cannot see you. They can only see the image. You can even cast this spell in the middle of the battle to distract your enemies or trick them into disadvantageous positions.

There are so many fun and creative ways to use this spell to your advantage. If you think outside the box, you will find that Minor Illusion is an extremely helpful cantrip.

FAQs

Question: Is Minor Illusion a cantrip?

Answer: Yes, it is an illusion cantrip. A cantrip is a spell that you can use anytime you want without a limitation of how many times you cast it unless stated otherwise.

Question: Is Minor Illusion static?

Answer: In terms of images, yes, it can only create static/non-moving images. Thus, images such as flowing water or moving people cannot be produced through this spell. If you want to create illusions of moving images, you would need the 3rd-level illusion spell Major Images.

Question: Is Minor Illusion a bonus action?

Answer: No, you cannot cast Minor Illusion as a bonus action because it is indicated in its spell description that it has a casting time of one action. However, some certain events and effects allow one to cast spells that would normally take one action as a bonus action, such as one of the Magic Surge options of the Wild Magic sorcerer.

Question: Can Minor Illusion make something invisible?

Answer: Usually, no. However, you can use Minor Illusion as a camouflage to hide in to make ranged attacks. At the end of the day, it is up to your DM’s rules on how they want to do this.

Question: Can Minor Illusion block light?

Answer: No. As stated, things pass through it upon interaction, so the light would normally pass through the images created by Minor Illusion.

Question: Can Minor Illusion create light?

Answer: No. As stated, images made from Minor Illusion cannot cause sound, light, smell, or any other sensory effects.

Question: What’s the difference between Minor Illusion vs Thaumaturgy?

Answer: Minor Illusion is an illusion cantrip while Thaumaturgy is a transmutation cantrip. This means that Thaumaturgy can create and change real effects such as changing the color of flames. Minor Illusion is more versatile in terms of use as Thaumaturgy only has a limited number of effects that one can do with it.

Question: What’s the difference between Minor Illusion vs Prestidigitation?

Answer: Just like Thaumaturgy, Prestidigitation is a transmutation spell, and just like Thaumaturgy, it has a limited amount of effects that can be produced using this spell. Prestidigitation is mostly about changing the appearance or temperature of things such as the color, warmth of an object, etc.

Scroll to Top