[5E] Disguise Self - Scope and RAW
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  1. #1
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    Myrmidon (Lvl 10)



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    [5E] Disguise Self - Scope and RAW

    I have a question for the group. Disguise Self allows the caster to change his appearance to "look different". This would seem to include all general humanoid possibilities based on the rest of the spell text, but I'm not sure about the scope for the spell to make you look like specific people. From a RAW perspective this would seem to be included inside "look different" but it would change the scope of the spell considerably, especially in intrigue/social pillar campaigns.

    The specific reason I'm curious about the range of opinion is I've been looking hard at the utility of a 2 level warlock dip for Mask of Many Faces (disguise self at will) maybe combined with the mimicry ability that's part of the Actor feat, as part of a Bard-based Spy/Infiltrator skill monkey build. If Disguise Self lets you look like specific people, and Actor lets you perfectly mimic their voice, the possibilities are pretty sexy.

    Personally, I think this might be more DMs discretion than straight RAW, but I'd like to know what people think.

  2. #2
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    The spell says that other than having the same body type, the extent of the illusion is up to the caster. So, I would say that this means you can look like specific people.

    That said, as DM, it seems reasonable in the absence of specific mitigating circumstances that it is harder to pull off than appearing to be some non-specific person. Thus, I recommend being ready to have to hit some higher DCs if an NPC tries to discern that you are disguised.

    And, of course, the disguise may be noticed the moment that an NPC physically interacts with your character. Something to bear in mind. A simple hug or handshake or other common physical interaction may spoil the illusion.
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  3. #3
    You definitely can look like specific people, because if its not allowed, it would be spelled out explicitly, like in Assassin's feature for Rogue.

  4. #4
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    Myrmidon (Lvl 10)



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    That brings up another good question. Disguise Self has a built in INT (investigation) to see through specifically the physical part of the illusion. However, the game has different mechanics for pretending to be people, namely Deception, and the actor feat gives advantage on that kind of role. So is the disguise simply physical in all instances (so always INT), or does Deception come into play when the disguuse has more than one element? I can see an argument going both ways.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Fenris-77 View Post
    That brings up another good question. Disguise Self has a built in INT (investigation) to see through specifically the physical part of the illusion. However, the game has different mechanics for pretending to be people, namely Deception, and the actor feat gives advantage on that kind of role. So is the disguise simply physical in all instances (so always INT), or does Deception come into play when the disguuse has more than one element? I can see an argument going both ways.
    Looking like someone else is one thing, behaving like someone else is another. Of course YMMV depends on DM, but mine has always have NPCs believe the disguise at first glance, until given sufficient reason to suspect otherwise (thats where the Investigation check comes in). Actor only helps you sound like them, but if you say things that the disguised NPC would never say, that won't help you.
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  6. #6
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    Myrmidon (Lvl 10)



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    My point was more that Deception is the 5e mechanic for instances of "pretending to be someone else", which is why you make a deception check when in disguise seperate from the check to make the disguise using the disguise kit. My question would then be is the spell Disguise Self, in this instance, standing in for just the physical disguise? More specifically, does Deception interact with it in the same way it does with a physical disguise? Because if it does most characters have way higher mods for Deception than their basic spell DC. Its an effectiveness question.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fenris-77 View Post
    My point was more that Deception is the 5e mechanic for instances of "pretending to be someone else", which is why you make a deception check when in disguise seperate from the check to make the disguise using the disguise kit. My question would then be is the spell Disguise Self, in this instance, standing in for just the physical disguise? More specifically, does Deception interact with it in the same way it does with a physical disguise? Because if it does most characters have way higher mods for Deception than their basic spell DC. Its an effectiveness question.
    In D&D 5e, the ability check happens when the task that is being described has an uncertain outcome and a meaningful consequence for failure. With that in mind, we can deconstruct how this is handled. Passing yourself off as someone else (goal) by using a disguise (approach) might reasonably be resolved by a Charisma (Deception) check, if the DM decides to call for one. Your character is undertaking that task. An NPC on the other hand might interact with your character and, during that interaction, try to closely inspect your appearance (approach) to figure out if you are who you say you are (goal). Thus, the DM may make an Intelligence (Investigation) check - a deduction based on available clues - to resolve any uncertainty as to the outcome here.

    A DM may resolve this based on who is describing what task at what time and what exactly is at stake in that moment. It might also be resolved as a contest in which case your Charisma (Deception) check becomes the DC for the NPC's Intelligence (Investigation) check.
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  8. #8
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    Myrmidon (Lvl 10)



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    I'm completely fine with the INT check in cases of physical inspection, variable DC or not, that makes sense. Extending things to add the Deception check is a little less clear, from a RAW perspective at least, and that was what i was curious ro get opinions on. If the character with expertise, for example, gets to roll deception (with advantage!) it puts the whole endeavor at a very different level of effectiveness. Assuming you can avoid the physical inspection pitfall.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fenris-77 View Post
    I'm completely fine with the INT check in cases of physical inspection, variable DC or not, that makes sense. Extending things to add the Deception check is a little less clear, from a RAW perspective at least, and that was what i was curious ro get opinions on. If the character with expertise, for example, gets to roll deception (with advantage!) it puts the whole endeavor at a very different level of effectiveness. Assuming you can avoid the physical inspection pitfall.
    Charisma (Deception) is what the rules say is the ability check used to resolve a task to pass one's self off in a disguise, if there's uncertainty as to the outcome and a meaningful consequence for failure. That is the task your character is undertaking.

    The spell creates uncertainty and, presumably a meaningful consequence for failure, by default which prompts the Intelligence (Investigation) check from (in this example) the NPC if it attempts to undertake the task to inspect your appearance. "Inspect" does not appear to mean any sort of "physical" inspection. Engaging with the disguise physically removes the uncertainty the spell provides and reveals it to be false under certain circumstances as outlined by the spell.

    In short, the two ability checks resolve two different tasks by two different people: The character trying to pass himself or herself off as someone else or the NPC trying to inspect the character's appearance. It depends on who does what.
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  10. #10
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    Myrmidon (Lvl 10)



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    Let me be clear. I agree with you completely. I can see a certain kind of GM sticking to the straight INT check though, and I was sort of wondering how many guys like that were out there. When it comes to things like guides and general builds, establishing some consensus of opinion is important.

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