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Illusionists control their surroundings by shaping, distorting, and deceiving the perceptions of others. To some their abilities seem weak, because they only distort and disguise rather than effecting true change, but those affected by an illusionist's spells know better, understanding that their own senses can be turned against them at any time.
Campaigns that deal in deception or that have a high level of social interaction, a fair number of mystery adventures, or even simply suspicious players can benefit from the introduction of variant illusionists. Campaigns featuring multiple types of variant illusionists might give each group or variant an even more distinctive flavor by making each the master of a particular subset of illusion spells. Illusions from one nation might, for example, have the chains of disbelief variant ability and favor phantasms, while the illusionist thieves guild might have the shadow shaper variant ability and favor glamers and shadow magic.
Chains of Disbelief (Ex)
Even if a viewer disbelieves an illusion created by an illusionist using this variant and commuincates the details of the illusion to other creatures, those other creatures do not receive the normal +4 bonus of their saving throws to disbelieve the illusion. Furthermore, even when presented with incontrovertible proof that the illusion isn't real, creatures must still succeed on a Will saving throw to see objects or creatures that the illusion obscures, although they get a +10 bonus on the saving throw.
An illusionist using this variant permanently gives up the ability to obtain a familiar.
Shadow Shaper (Ex)
An illusionist using this variant has a special bond with the Plane of Shadow, and gains several special abilities as he advances in level.
At 1st level, Hide is treated as a class skill for the illusionist.
At 5th level, the illusionist may add his Intelligence modifier (in addition to his Dexterity modifier) to his Hide skill checks.
At 10th level, the illusionist's illusions become infused with shadow stuff from the Plane of Shadows, making them more realistic and more likely to fool the senses. The save DCs of the illusionist's illusion spells increase by +1. This benefit stacks with similar bonuses, such as from Spell Focus.
At 15th level, the illusionist can hide in plain sight (as the ranger ability, except that the illusionist need not be in natural terrain).
At 20th level, the illusionist gains the ability to blend into shadows. In any condition of illumination that would normally grant the illusionist concealment, he instead gains total concealment (as if he were invisible).
An illusionist using this variant does not gain additional bonus feats for advancing as a wizard.
Illusion Mastery (Ex)
An illusionist using this variant automatically adds two illusion spells to his spellbook every time he gains a level that grants access to a new spell level. Furthermore, any time the illusionist learns a new illusion spell, he treats that spell as if he had mastered it with the Spell Mastery feat.
An illusionist using this variant does not gain additional spells per day for being a specialist wizard.