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In one of my groups, I play a squishy sorcerer focused on deception, including having a number of false identities. Last week, we were infiltrating an enemy’s base and my sorcerer used disguise self to look like she belonged.

The session had to end in the middle of the infiltration, but afterwards we were discussing what could already be going wrong. One possibility that was tossed around was the possibility of the sorcerer getting knocked unconscious, either through spells or through simply having very few hit points.

This led to us trying to figure out whether disguise self ends when the caster is unconscious. I know alter self would end, because it is a concentration spell, but would disguise self?

(I asked about this in chat a while ago but went looking for a q&a on this site about it and found none, so I wrote one.)

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Disguise Self does not end when you are incapacitated

According to the rules on spell duration in the Player's Handbook

A spell's duration is the length of time the spell persists. A duration can be expressed in rounds, minutes, hours, or even years. Some spells specify that their effects last until the spells are dispelled or destroyed.

There is no mention of a spell ending early if you are incapacitated. However, under the rules on concentration it says:

You lose concentration on a spell if you are incapacitated or if you die.

Since it is specified for concentration spells, but not for other durations, it is clear that spells do not end early if you are incapacitated, or even killed

As such, since disguise self is not concentration, It does not end early if you are incapacitated

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    \$\begingroup\$ All true. But Disguise Self would end if you are killed, because a corpse is an object, not a creature, and would no longer be a valid target of the spell. This would usually be a DM discretion situation in practice, of course. \$\endgroup\$ – fluffysheap Sep 30 at 22:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ Actually no, it would remain active. Disguise self's target is not limited to creatures, it's limited to 'you'. So, even if you die, you are still you, so the spell remains active \$\endgroup\$ – Smart_TJ Sep 30 at 22:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Smart_TJ But are you your body or your soul? Is your dead body really "you" anymore if your soul is elsewhere? \$\endgroup\$ – IllusiveBrian Oct 1 at 1:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @fluffysheap Isn't the "target" only relevant when casting the spell? \$\endgroup\$ – Behacad Oct 1 at 1:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Behacad No, see ruling from Jeremy Crawford: twitter.com/JeremyECrawford/status/931621590730653696 On topic of dying not actually making you an invalid target for this particular spell - that might be right. \$\endgroup\$ – fluffysheap Oct 2 at 9:33
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The answer provided states that RAW but you may want to clarify with your DM.

Personally regarding spells that remain in play like this as a DM I take it on a spell by spell basis and what makes most sense if a player falls unconscious or dies and then communicate that to my players up front. But I have played at tables where the DM explicitly state’s that when a player falls unconscious all spells end, had situations where that happened only if they died and other tables where it caused no issue whatsoever. It is the kind of thing as a DM and a player I prefer to verify upfront how the DM will handle these situations as opposed to assuming and then being caught out on when your DM makes a call you did not expect.

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