Aging and Immortality and does it Matter?
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  1. #1

    Aging and Immortality and does it Matter?

    I was perusing Wizard Schools and noticed that Transmuters can restore youth. I notice that there is a caveat 'it doesn't extend the creature's lifespan.' Why is this a 14th level ability?

    There is the Druid ability and the Monk ability as well that slows age.

    It's been a longstanding tradition in D&D that certain abilities (or a spell like Wish) can stop aging but that 'you still die at your natural age.' So, the Orcish Druid dies way sooner than the elven druid even though they don't actually age any more (at least they didn't in 3e). Here's the thing...does it matter? Most RP games I play don't care if you are 15 or 1000 years old, as long as it makes sense for the character. I'm curious at D&D's obsession with 'limiting' age.

    In 3e and earlier, if you played an old character, you got bonuses and penalties based on your age. And being aged by a ghost could seriously change or hamper a character. In 5e, that doesn't exist. (as far as I know) Aging 40 years is completely an rp thing.

    In the grand scheme of a campaign, where elves live 800 years, does it matter whether or not you age? Why is this an 14th, 18th and 15th level ability? To me, it could be a 3rd level ability and have as much effect on the game. In fact, if a player asked to play a character who never aged, I'd allow it as part of their background.

    So, in your games, does it matter? Would you allow a player to play a human with a background where he is cursed with immortality and has been alive for 400 years? Is that any more game-breaking than allowing a 400 year old elf? Has anyone run a campaign that has spanned centuries? If so, how did it go?

    Edit: to clarify, when I say immortal, I don't mean they can't die but instead do not age.
    Last edited by TaranTheWanderer; Tuesday, 6th November, 2018 at 04:30 PM.

  2. #2
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    In earlier editions, there were modifiers to your stats due to age, and the analogous abilities guarded you against the negative stat modifiers.

    Nowadays? It is mostly fluff. It may matter for some long running campaigns and worlds - if a second campaign is set later in the same world, who is alive, and what state are they in?

    I, personally, have not run a 5e campaign in which it mattered.

  3. #3
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    If I was going to homebrew, I would include a max age chart. I have one written. I would also change how ghost and banshee work. Example a banshee would age a human 10-40 years but 100-400 years.
    Would I allow a human with a immortality background No! Would I let a pc human try for immortality yes.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by jasper View Post
    Would I allow a human with a immortality background No! Would I let a pc human try for immortality yes.
    I'm curious about the reasoning behind this. I like the idea of a Character searching for immortality (The story of becoming a god, or turning in to a lich, finding the fountain of youth etc...)It's a pretty common trope in D&D and fantasy in general.

    Why would you not allow a 400 year old human when 400 year old Elves are common? Is there a specific reason why you wouldn't allow it? I'm not saying they can't be killed but, instead, don't age. Do you feel it would break the game somehow or is it something else?
    Last edited by TaranTheWanderer; Tuesday, 6th November, 2018 at 04:39 PM.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by TaranTheWanderer View Post
    I was perusing Wizard Schools and noticed that Transmuters can restore youth. I notice that there is a caveat 'it doesn't extend the creature's lifespan.' Why is this a 14th level ability?
    It is a very powerful story-altering ability, way more powerful than being able to walk out on your tab without consequence. It doesn't have much utility in combat, but that isn't really the point.


    You are right that lifespan is essentially little more than background flavor, tho.
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  6. #6
    There are few cases where it would matter how old you are. I think it's pretty campaign dependent. The Sphinx sending you to another time. perhaps a trap or some creature or curse whose damage was described as magically aging you like when the Potion of Rejuvenation backfires. Usually it's fluff. If as the DM you want there to be reasons for it to matter occasionally, feel free to add some.

  7. #7
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    How aging might affect a character is left to the DM. I would definitely set some limits on what a character well beyond his or her prime adventuring years could do, on a case-by-case and consistent basis. And if a character was aged to the point where he or she could reasonably die of old age, then he or she just dies. If there was ever any question as to how old a character could be, I'd just settle on a fair roll with the players and see what happens.

    Likely due to knowing this, my players adjusted their strategy when dealing with four ghosts in a maze recently: They sent the half-elf and the dwarf in to solve the maze and achieve the goal while the other three humans in the party stayed away. They were both aged a couple decades, but were able to reduce it by eating some floating fruit in the maze.

  8. #8
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    I am role-playing a old goblin PC who is 59 and knows that no goblin lasts past 60 years. For me (and him), age matters. I will soon start rolling a D20 each morning: on a 1, he won't wake up. So I guess it's important for me because I chose that age (56 at the start) to roleplay him and am finding it very interesting.

    I am also playing an 82 year old human wizard who is suffering from dementia. It is funny at times but also humbling on other occasions. The age thing is obviously interesting to me from a role-playing standpoint. As for levels of Features: No idea.
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  9. #9
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    No it doesn't matter.

    Because PC's either die or level out of the game before they get that old. And NPC's are whatever the DM says they are.

    So, no, it doesn't matter, unless you choose to make it.
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  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by TaranTheWanderer View Post
    I'm curious about the reasoning behind this. I like the idea of a Character searching for immortality (The story of becoming a god, or turning in to a lich, finding the fountain of youth etc...)It's a pretty common trope in D&D and fantasy in general.
    Or what about the story of a character searching for mortality? Not as common, but still an interesting one - see, for example, Smendrick the magician in The Last Unicorn (the book).

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