I have a character who is a non-standard race, and he doesn’t want people to know what he is.

I’ve read the disguise rules but they only seem to apply for trying to look like something specific, and not for hiding aspects of your appearance. I also couldn’t find anything in particular about identifying particular aspects of a creature’s appearance under clothing.

If my character wants to hide his race (like by wearing full body clothes and a mask), would he be rolling disguise opposed by perception or something else, like sleight of hand, performance, etc. opposed by, say, perception, or just a standard knowledge check by the opposing party?


2 Answers 2


The Disguise skill would be most appropriate.

You are partially correct that a Disguise check can be used to appear as someone specific. However, the Disguise skill is more broadly used for creatures trying to hide aspects of their appearance. It is used when the character has made some effort into disguising themselves, such as wearing clothes and a mask, as you described.

You are skilled at changing your appearance.

The Disguise skill description also mentions a -2 penalty to disguise oneself as a different race. This would apply because your character is pretending to be something other than their true race.

In practice, you typically make a Disguise check when trying to fool observers, rolling opposed to their Perception checks.

Check: Your Disguise check result determines how good the disguise is, and it is opposed by others’ Perception check results. If you don’t draw any attention to yourself, others do not get to make Perception checks. If you come to the attention of people who are suspicious (such as a guard who is watching commoners walking through a city gate), it can be assumed that such observers are taking 10 on their Perception checks.

It's possible that the GM may let you substitute other skills (such as Bluff or Perform) to disguise your appearance. But that will be highly subjective and may depend on the specifics of the situation.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I was about to comment that you may want to mention that the disguise skill has a modifier for disguising as a different race since I didn't see it on my first pass, but then I reread your answer once again. You might want to make that point stand out a little more as (I know, anecdotal evidence fallacy) I found it easy to skip by. \$\endgroup\$
    – willuwontu
    Commented Jul 28, 2020 at 3:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Amusingly, Pathfinder dispensed with 3.5's 10%-either-way rule for the Disguise skill (see here). Since race is a fluid term in Pathfinder, does anything about this question and answer prohibit the subject in the question from being a human who is disguising herself as an ankheg, balor, or gray ooze? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 30, 2020 at 14:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan The disguise can be one size category larger or smaller than the creature's actual size, and there's a -10 penalty for doing so. So a human disguised as a half-orc would use the same Disguise check as though disguising as a medium-sized ooze. \$\endgroup\$
    – MikeQ
    Commented Jul 30, 2020 at 14:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ That might be worth adding to this answer just so the users don't try to have their halflings disguise themselves as tarrasques. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 30, 2020 at 14:45

Disguise will work.

If it allows you to use Disguise to look like a specific person, it stands to reason that you can use it to perform a more general transformation, such as obscuring your race. To me, how much the look is to change, and how detailed he/she goes into making his disguise would determine the DC for the Check.

For instance:

A Strix, as illustrated in the Advanced Race Guide, can be described as a winged Drow, so to look like a Drow would be a lot easier than trying to look like a normal Elf; and therefore would have a higher DC to accomplish the latter, since they could just put on a coat and shoes, realistically, to look like a Drow, but the Elf would be a lot harder due to their dark-colored skin.

Technically, there is the -2 to the check due to trying to look like a different race, but personally, I wouldn't worry about it too much depending on what they're trying to do. Say if a town was predominantly Human, and hated Elves, if a Half-Elf walked into town, he would be shunned, and it would be hard for him to do much, but if, say he pulled his hair over his ears, they'd all of a sudden look Human from that simple trick. I wouldn't make a player in that scenario take a -2, but they would still have to roll the check, or I would make suspicious onlookers make a Perception check to see it. The Strix trying to look like an Elf would, however, take the -2 in addition to the high DC from trying to look like a completely different race.


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