Rant: If Invisibility is Mind-Affecting, I'll Kill Myself
Back to SeanKReynolds.com home
This rant is actually pretty short because my point is easy to prove.
The idea that invisibility is a mind-affecting spell is ridiculous
for several reasons.
1. 1st-edition AD&D Player's Handbook
In the 1st-edition AD&D game, the Player's Handbook had the
spell and the invisibility psionic power. The psionic power reads,
"However, psionic invisibility
cannot be detected by any form of magic , only a mind bar being
able to prevent the power from opperating with respect to that particular
creature, for this power affects minds, not light waves or similar physical
So if the psionic power affects minds (and not light waves) and isn't
affected by magical detection (such as detect invisibility), the
only reason the detect invisibility spell is in the game is to detect
non-mental (light-based) invisibility.
Since the only other form of invisibility in the game is the invisibility
spell (or potions or items based upon it), that must be the kind of invisibility
(light-based) that detect invisibility works on, which means that
the invisibility spell has to work on light, not minds.
2. 3rd edition D&D Player's Handbook
In the new version of the game, invisibility is a glamer, not a
phantasm. A glamer "changes a subject's sensory qualities, making it look,
feel, taste, smell, or sound like something else." To be a mind-affecting
spell, it would have to be a phantasm, because of all of the kinds of illusion,
only a phantasm creates "a mental image ... [that] is totally in the mind
of the subjects ... all phantasms are mind-affecting spells." Note also
that the invisibility spell doesn't have the [mind-affecting] description.
So invisibility is no more a mind-affecting spell than fireball
3. Common Sense
If invisibility is a mind-affecting spell, then it is the most powerful
spell in the entire game and is very broken. Why? Because invisibility
has no saving throw, has no limit to the number of targets it affects,
and affects all creatures that see it, no matter how far away they are.
No other spell in the game allows you to affect an unlimited number of
creatures at an unlimited distance (even on other planes) with no saving
throw. Certainly no 2nd-level spell does. Invisibility can't be
a mind-affecting spell, because it just can't affect that many people in
that way and still be a second-level spell.
An invisible character can stand in front of a 20th-level character and
the character has no ability to resist the spell's effect on her mind.
An invisible character can stand in front of an army of 100 soldiers, and
none of the soldiers would see him. No save. Heck, she could be in front
of 100 20th-level characters, same thing - nobody sees him, no save.
An invisible character could be standing on the ground 1,000 feet below
a red dragon, a pit fiend, a solar, and a flying tarrasque, and none of
those creatures could see the invisible character (the character is out
of range of the dragon's blindsight, so even that won't help). No save.
Hell, he could be standing under 100 of each of those critters and
they wouldn't be able to see it. Bloody hell, the character wouldn't be
seen by someone on another plane that was scrying that location
with a scry spell.
Think of it this way: Imagine you are my DM and I am a player
of a mage character in your game. I'm doing spell research. At what level
would you peg the following spells?
Option (e) is a fairly reasonable attack spell. I'd probably put that at
2nd or 3rd level, possibly higher depending upon the rest of the spell's
stats. That means that option (f) has to be a more powerful spell than
that (so 3rd or 4th level), and option (g) is even more powerful than that
(4th or 5th level). By the way, option (g) is the attack-spell equivalent
of invisibility. If invisibility is a mind-affecting spell
that affects an unlimited number of people at unlimited range, no save,
then it should be at least a 4th- or 5th-level spell. Strangely enough,
is still pegged at 2nd level.
(a) A spell that caused 1 point of damage to 1 character within 25 feet
of me, no save.
(b) A spell that caused 1 point of damage to 1 character/level within 25
feet of me, no save.
(c) A spell that caused 1 point of damage to 1 character/level within 100
feet of me, no save.
(d) A spell that caused 1 point of damage to 10 characters/level within
100 feet of me, no save.
(e) A spell that caused 1 point of damage to all characters within
100 feet of me, no save.
(f) A spell that caused 1 point of damage to all characters within
1 mile of me, no save.
(g) A spell that caused 1 point of damage to all characters looking
at me, no matter how far away, no save.
Invisibility doesn't affect minds. It affects light. It affects
the light around the target creature. That's why it is a "Target:
You or a creature [touched]" spell instead of a "Target: everyone
in line of sight" spell.
Invisibility is not a mind-affecting spell.