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I wanted to know in case I had ever wanted to have an NPC that has a hidden birthmark and I didn't want the players to just guess it.

Waybe what I really wanna know is if the illusion in Disguise Self is based on what the player sees or what they say.

If they said "I appear as Lady Morticia," would they be able to know that Lady Morticia has (for example) a third nipple?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented May 1, 2019 at 20:27

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No, disguise self doesn't grant the caster any knowledge.

The disguise self spell description says:

You make yourself--including your clothing, armor, weapons, and other belongings on your person--look different until the spell ends or until you use your action to dismiss it. You can seem 1 foot shorter or taller and can appear thin, fat, or in between. You can't change your body type, so you must adopt a form that has the same basic arrangement of limbs. Otherwise, the extent of the illusion is up to you.

Spells do what they say they do. No part of the spell description tells you that you gain any knowledge - it simply says you can make yourself look different.

You can choose exactly what you look like within the limits of the spell description, so you could emulate the appearance of any roughly humanoid (in terms of body type) creature of relatively similar height to the best of your knowledge - but people can't copy things they don't know about.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I feel like the key line is "the extent of the illusion is up to you". You control the illusion (outside of certain restrictions) - there's no special spell intelligence that can shape the illusion beyond what you choose \$\endgroup\$
    – divibisan
    Commented May 1, 2019 at 20:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @divibisan: Pretty much. It doesn't magically copy someone else's appearance completely; it magically disguises you in ways that you specifically choose. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented May 1, 2019 at 20:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ It is also Illusion not Divination, I know schools took a serious backseat in this edition but they are still there even if they break those rules with Polymorph and Goodberry. \$\endgroup\$
    – Slagmoth
    Commented May 1, 2019 at 23:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ While I agree with the ruling, it's interesting that often people short-hand it like the example "I appear as Lady Morticia" in OP's question when the spell designates "The extent of the illusion is up to you". It's an interesting precedent to set that the magic can be the exact same spell that a different person casts, but the effects are based entirely on each caster's perception of the thing they're conjuring. Basically only important here to bring it up with whatever specific circumstances OP might be able to use with it. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 2, 2019 at 0:11

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