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When using resurrection spells like Revivify or Raise Dead, it's obvious that you return to life as you were before you died - as in, same body, same age, etc.

However, Reincarnate, the druid's resurrection spell, fashions a new body for the target. Since spells only do what they say, we have to assume that you will be as old as you were before you died - but are we talking about physical age or mental / actual age?

For example, what happens if you're a 90-year-old human who gets reincarnated as a member of a longer-lived race, such as elves? Are you now an elf with a physical age of 90 years (and therefore a pretty young elf)? Or are you the elven equivalent of a 90-year-old human, and therefore also suffer from the disadvantages of old age (whatever they may be for elves)?

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Yes, a reincarnated creature has the lifespan of its new body

The relevant part of the reincarnate spell description says:

Provided that the creature has been dead no longer than 10 days, the spell forms a new adult body for it and then calls the soul to enter that body.

As you can see, the spell creates a new adult body for the creature.

Regardless of lifespan, if a creature dies of "old age", it generally means their bodily functions failed in some way that resulted in their death. It is a dysfunction of the body, not of the mind (except to the extent to which the former causes the latter).

Thus, your new lifespan is determined by the new body you're reincarnated into, not by the age you were before you were reincarnated. Nothing about the spell says it maintains your "proportional age", so the age of your new body is simply that of an adult of that race (you're not a child, or an old man/woman). You then have the typical lifespan of that new race, from then on.


Rules designer Jeremy Crawford unofficially confirmed this interpretation when he answered this question in a series of tweets from November 2017:

More about reincarnate: if you're a 200-year-old elf, you're still 200 after being reincarnated. But really the question is about the body. You get a new adult body—not young or old—appropriate for the body's race, so your inner and outer ages can be mismatched.

Which age determines when you die of old age?

If your soul and your body have different ages, bodily death is tied to your body's age, not your soul's.

So that means reincarnate can be used repeatedly every time a creature dies of old to let them live indefinitely?

That's correct.

This fits with the spell description, which has no exception preventing it from working on creatures that die of old age, and which states that it creates a "new adult body" for it. Your soul and memory are the same, but it's a totally new body - and if the new race has a longer lifespan, the creature now has that lifespan. (Though how often do adventurers actually live long enough to die of old age?)

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    \$\begingroup\$ Right. It would be silly (but perhaps interesting) if a 200-year old elf could be reincarnated as a human who promptly drops dead of old age. \$\endgroup\$ – Robert Columbia Jan 16 '19 at 14:33
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Yes. The spell changes the creature's racial traits.

From the spell's text.

The reincarnated creature recalls its former life and experiences. It retains the capabilities it had in its original form, except it exchanges its original race for the new one and changes its Racial Traits accordingly.

The creature is now an elf. See the PHB description of elf to assess the effects of the change.

A Timeless Perspective
Elves can live well over 700 years, giving them a broad perspective on events that might trouble the shorter-lived races more deeply.

This provides a rich role play opportunity as the character gets used to being an elf.

Elf Traits (PHB)

Age. Although elves reach physical maturity at about the same age as humans, the elven understanding of Adulthood goes beyond physical growth to encompass worldly experience. An elf typically claims adulthood⁠ and an adult name around the age of 100 and can live to be 750 years old.

RAW support for this position: the elf trait specifies the longer age before death.

Dev tweet support here, if needed.

{Crawford} If your soul and your body have different ages, bodily death is tied to your body's age, not your soul's.

So that means reincarnate can be used repeatedly every time a creature dies of old to let them live indefinitely?

{Crawford} That's correct.

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