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I was considering porting a character from an earlier edition of the game, who had been reincarnated before becoming an adult. This is purely backstory, however it got me thinking about how this would work in game.

I don't know if the spell changed between editions, or if I had missed it entirely but the wording now makes me wonder how reincarnation works when reincarnating non-adults?

You touch a dead humanoid or a piece of a dead humanoid. 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. If the target's soul isn't free or willing to do so, the spell fails.

Emphasis mine.

Do infants/children/teenagers get reincarnated as adults? Are there any in-game rules ramifications?

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RAW, it appears they are given an adult body

You have quoted and emphasised the relevant text; it appears that RAW, a dead child would be resurrected into an adult body.

However, I highly doubt this is Rules As Intended. I imagine the designers weren't thinking of dead children when they wrote this, assuming that this would only ever come up for adults.

I think any DM would be highly advised to give resurrected children an age-appropriate body, since things could get very weird otherwise.

In your case, I think it's especially recommended to assume a sensible ruling, unless you wanted a child who skipped several years or emotional maturation to suddenly become part of your backstory (which I'm guessing wasn't your intention).

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    \$\begingroup\$ I take this to mean there's nothing in date advice or Xanithar's guide or similar? Otherwise your answer is very sensible. \$\endgroup\$ – AncientSwordRage Aug 9 at 12:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm only wary of your speculation regarding RAI. It's not really necessary for the answer nor helpful because it's a guess. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Aug 9 at 13:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ It seems likely that the "adult body" wording is present to make it clear that the reincarnated person does not have to go through gestation, birth and upbringing. Since that's how religious concepts of reincarnation work, it's an obvious possibility for misinterpretation of the spell, and I once encountered a DM who treated it that way. \$\endgroup\$ – John Dallman Aug 9 at 14:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ "The mind of a child in the body of an adult" is a very well worn trope. I mean, it's been done to death ... \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Aug 9 at 16:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Many darker themed stories (books, movies, games, etc) include elements wherein a child dies and the parent seeks to resurrect their child. Killing children isn't fun, but exploring the ramifications of death (even of children) in a world where death isn't permanent can certainly be interesting. I recall The Witcher 3 having an entire storyline with this idea of a baby's death and "revival" (gone terribly wrong). \$\endgroup\$ – Doc Aug 10 at 3:27
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How interested are you in role playing a child in an adult's body?

There have been a number of movies- I'll use Freaky Friday as an example - where adults and children "swap bodies" so this kind of story isn't beyond the realm of imagination.

RAW, the creature is raised in an adult body ...

... but it's most likely to come back as a different humanoid kind than it died as. An elf child may come back as a dwarf adult, a gnome child may come back as a human adult, etc. Looking at the table1, this fifth level spell by definition creates a non trivial change in the PC, unless the PC gets very lucky on the die roll.

Dream fulfillment with a twist

Take the body swap idea of "Freaky Friday" into a world where half orcs, half elves, gnomes, kobolds and much else exist as humanoids. But remove half of the swap. Any child, after hearing various stories and legends, may dream of being a great Elven warrior, or of being a clever Gnome illusionist, or a Kobold who lives by his wits in a world where everyone else is bigger, etc. Why your table is killing off children as part of play is between the DM and the players - various plagues, hordes of undead, an evil cult that kidnaps children and adults and tries to turn them into undead minions (we had that last one at one of our tables, it was suitably dark in tone, but there was no high level cleric nor druid to do anything about their demise) etc. If you take the death of the child as a chance to 'fix' the problem of a dead child with magic, you may run into two age old problems.

  1. Each problem you 'solve' raises a subsequent problem and
  2. In some cultures, saving someone's life may incur on you a responsibility for them.

Discuss this at the table with the DM and the other players: is this the kind of game challenge that interests you?

Better Dwarf than Dead

So what would you rather be? That's a game kids play with each other all the time. "Would you rather be an octopus, or a porcupine?" etcetera.

Here's that question-game adapted to your situation: "Would you rather be a {dwarf} or dead?" (Sub in gnome, half orc, dragonborn, etc for "dwarf" as needed). Most children would rather not be dead

Here's your challenge: role play a child in an adult world

If the PC's player is up for this, using a child's lack of full perspective, or world view, could make for some unusual interactions as the party faces various decisions. Granted, the 'child' will grow up in a hurry once exposed to the dangers of adventuring, but for the right player, this "child like view of the world in an adult body" could make for some great role play.

Or, get a cleric, rather than a druid, to cast a spell for you.

Raise dead and reincarnation are both level 5 spells. Get thee to a cleric, pay to raise the child up from the dead, and let them grow up as they'd been doing before the Grim Reaper came calling.

Either way could add some interesting role play to your table.

1 On a d100; 01-04 Dragonborn; 05-13 Dwarf, hill; 14-21; Dwarf, mountain; 22-25 Elf, dark; 26-34 Elf, high; 35-42 Elf, wood; 43-46 Gnome, forest; 47-52 Gnome, rock; 53-56 Half-elf; 57-60 Half-orc; 61-68 Halfling, lightfoot; 69-76 Halfling, stout; 77-96 Human; 97-100 Tiefling

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Yes

As noted in the question, the spell states

a new adult body

Since spells do what they say they do, a child would get an adult body. But so would an adult.

I believe the key ramification is the reverse of your question: an adult won't end up as a child just because their original race matures faster. For example, a Dragonborn is an adult at 15, and a Half-Orc at 14. If a 14 year old Half-Orc regenerated into a 14 year old Elf/Dwarf/Halfling body, society would end up treating PCs as children for something like 10 to 80 years, depending on the race. That would seem to kill or derail a game much faster than "just" changing the character's race.

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