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Pathfinder - Character Optimization - The Veiled Illusionist Handbook


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The Veiled Illusionist is a fun take on Illusionists. The core mechanic is the Veil pool, which powers a collection of abilities based on whatever disguise you adopt. It's not screamingly powerful, but the flavor is great and with some creativity the Veiled Illusionist can add some exciting new options for illusionists.

The Veiled Illusionist is a full caster closest to a Wizard, but because of their emphasis on illusions their skillset can fall somewhere between a Rogue and a Wizard, which can make them hard to fit into a party which required specific roles to be filled.

Much of the Veiled Illusionist's decisions (including gear) are essentially identical to those of a Wizard, so be sure to check out my Wizard Handbook.


Feat: This is a given considering the concept you're clearly trying to build.

Skills: 5 ranks in the first two isn't awful, and if you spend your favored class bonus on skill ranks even a Sorcerer with 8 Intelligence shouldn't have too much trouble meeting all of the skill prerequisites by level 5 or 6.

Spells: This is a given considering the concept you're clearly trying to build.

Veiled Illusionist Class Features

Hit Points: d6 hit points is common for straight casters.

Base Attack Bonus: 1/2 BAB, but you should never need it.

Saves: Will is the Veiled Illusionist's only good save, which probably matches the good saves of your base class.

Proficiencies: None.

Skills: 2+ skill ranks and a very small skill list. Fortunately Pathfinder's skill system is fairly flexible, so Veiled Illusionists with lots of skill points can continue to easily invest in the same skills which they took with their base class.

Spells per Day: Like most prestige classes which advance your spellcasting, you only get additional spells per day (and spells known for spontaneous casters). Arcanists, Witches, and Wizards all need to go spend money to learn additional spells.

Veil Pool (Sp): The Veil Pool is the source of all of the Veiled Illusionist's abilities, and the class is limited by the points in the pool. Any Veiled Illusionist should do everything they can to boost the size of their pool, or they will find themselves depending solely on their spells.

  1. The first level benefit is the most important, and possibly also the most problematic. Using this ability is basically the "on switch" for your class. The duration is hours/level, so at early class levels you'll spend many of your Veil Pool points just keeping this turned on, but this will taper off quickly as you gain class levels, just in time for you to make use of your other class abilities.
  2. I'm not sure exactly what this entails with Disguise Self. Most of the time you're going to change from something human-like to something else human-like. It might matter when you can change into a Cyclops and want to sound like a big stompy giant.
  3. The touch component is weird, but the ability to mimic voices is important.
  4. Situational, but very cool.

Goddess's Veils: Goddess's Veils are essentially "modes" for the Veiled Illusionist. You pick a veil, and you get a cool ability based on that veil until you switch to a different one.

Quick Veil: With an hours per level duration, you can run your veil for 5 hours on a single point by the time you get this, so you should never need to use it in combat unless your are ambushed. However, once you get True Veil you can use a Swift Action to turn on the special abilities granted by your Naga veil.

True Veil: Keep in mind that this uses a different duration from the hours/level duration for your normal Veil. The humanoid forms are an absolute waste when you've been able to cast Alter Self for something like 10 levels, and Alter Self will have a much better duration without wasting Veil Pool points.

Because this is a Polymorph effect, it may be helpful to read my Practical Guide to Polymorph, especially the "How does polymorph work" section. Below is a specific explanation of the abilities you get from possible option so you don't need to go look it up in addition to advice on which forms to use.

Note regarding poison DC's for polymorph effects: I'm not sure how to calculate the DC of the Naga's poisons. Since the veils are a spell-like ability, it should use the universal monster rules for Spell-like Abilities. The spell replicated by True Veil is unclear for the Cyclops/Naga forms, but Veil Pool uses disguise self, which means that the poison DC is 10 +1 (Disguise Self's spell level) +Charisma. Alternatively, you might rule that the DC is based on the DC of the originating effect (which makes sense based on the general Polymorph rules), so your DC is 15 + the number of points in your Veil Pool. Check with your GM for a specific ruling.

Base Classes

Full casters are an obvious choice.


The Veiled Illusionist's abilities will be identical to those of your base class.


Any race which works well for your base class will work well for the Veiled Illusionist. Gnomes are a particularly good choice for their racial bonus to Illusion DC's.


Traits which work for your base class will work for Veiled Illusionist. Resist the urge to pick up traits which get you Bluff and Disguise as class skills because you will get the class skill bonus from your first level of Veiled Illusionist, which essentially erases the benefit for the traits.



Veiled Illusionist feats are essetnailly the same as Wizard Feats.

Example Build - Elf Wizard Veiled Illusionist

I honestly have no idea how many people are in this adventuring party. Every time I turn around there's some new guy there. Sometimes a giant snake shows up for no readily apparent reason.

This is an extremely generic build, but it's a great baseline from which to work. Because this is a Wizard-based build, this build is intended to fill the role of your party's primary arcane spellcaster.

We'll take the Illusionist school (obviously), but we'll avoid the subschools because their lower level abilities are bad and you won't get enough Wizard levels to get their better abilities until extremely high level. Give up Necromancy or Evocation.


Assuming 25 point-buy, we want high Intelligence and a bit of Charisma to back up Bluff and Disguise.


Elf. Elves make fantastic spellcasters of all kinds.


We'll essentially ignore the Veiled Illusionist skill list, and treat our skills mostly like we're building a straight Wizard, except that we will also pick up Bluff and Disguise. We'll go ahead and max them to keep things simple.

Additional Skills

As you improve your Intelligence, you gain skill points retroactively, so you'll pick up additional skills at 8th level and 16th level. In additon, the Headband of Vast Intelligence grants you ranks in one skill equal to your hit dice, so your +6 Headband of Vast Intelligence gets you three free skills!


Almost anything will work really. Reactionary provides a fantastic +2 bonus to Initiative, and Life of Toil helps with our garbage Fortitude saves.

If your party needs a Face more than a Librarian, drop two of your Knowledge skills and pick up the Ease of Faith and Outcast's Intuition traits to get Diplomacy and Sense Motive as class skills.


Level Feat(s) and Features Notes and Tactics
1 - Wizard 1
  • Feat - Spell Focus (Illusion)
  • Feat* - Scribe Scroll
  • Arcane Bond (Your choice)
  • Arcane School: Illusion
    • Extended Illusions
    • Blinding Ray
  • Cantrips

First level is hard for an Illusionist because you don't have a lot of options. Fortunately, Color Spray is a fantastic save-or-suck option at low levels. Extended Illusions is useless at this level, but Blinding Ray is a passable crowd-control effect. If your party's DPS characters are available it's good way to bring down a single target quickly. Of course, the Daze cantrip will have a comparable DC, will work on most enemies at level 1, and completely robs the target of their turn, so it might be a better option at level 1.

For your spells, pick up Color Spray, Disguise Self, Silent Image, and 4 others of your choice. It's okay to skip over less important illusion spells because eventually the Human Veil will allow you to expand your spell list to add your "B-list" spells which you don't always need, but still want available at a moment's notice.

2 - Wizard 2

For your 2 free spells learned, pick up whatever you want.

3 - Wizard 3
  • Feat - Improved Spell Focus (Illusion)

By this level you might start running into things wihc won't be completely dropped by Color Spray, so start using Hypnotic Pattern to subdue them while your party walks past them or prepares to drop a pile of damage on them.

For your 2 free spells learned, pick up Hypnotic pattern, Minor Image, or Insivisiblity, and something that isn't an illusion.

4 - Wizard 4
  • Ability Increase - Intelligence

For your 2 free spells learned, pick up whatever you want.

5 - Wizard 5
  • Feat - Improved Initiative
  • Feat* - Spell Penetration

For your 2 free spells learned, pick up Major Image and something that isn't an illusion. Remember that this is your last level of free spells known because of the way prestige classes advance spellcasting.

6 - Veiled Illusionist 1
  • Goddess's Veil (Human)
  • Veil Pool

Suddenly your Elf is a human for up to 6 hours a day. The Human veil will get you one free Illusion spell known of any level you can cast. Anything you want available permanently you should spend gold to add to your spellbook, and save the Human veil spells for odd illusions which you only need occasionally (and almost never in combat).

7 - Veiled Illusionist 2
  • Feat - Any
  • Goddess's Veil (Halfling)
  • Veil Pool

The Halfling veil is very situational. I don't see it getting a ton of use.

8 - Veiled Illusionist 3
  • Ability Increase - Intelligence
  • Veil pool (auditory)

Small upgrade to the Veil Pool's disguise effects

You should now have 22 Intelligence (before items), so be sure to pick up an extra skill with your new skill ranks.

9 - Veiled Illusionist 4
  • Feat - Greater Spell Penetration
  • Goddess's veil (elf)

With Greater Spell Penetration and the Elf veil, you should never have another problem with Spell Resistance.


Very little changes from levels 10 to 14. You get new spell levels, and the Gnome veil gives you a neat new trick, but that's about it. Do whatever you want with your feats; there's not much that you really need at this point. Consider item creation or metamagic.

15 - Veiled Illusionist 10
  • Goddess's Veil (Naga)
  • True Veil

And now you're a snake for 10 hours at a time! Once in a while you might turn on True Veil and spend a minute poisoning people, especially if you're low on good spells.