I'm working on a campaign (DnD, 5e-based, Forgotten Realms with some customizations) in which my party would go through a land in which one of my players is not welcome, because of her race. She's an elf, and humans there don't like elves: some fear them, but some sincerely hate them, to the point they may even harm them.

However, I have customized my Elf races to appear more human.

I know I may face criticism about featuring racism or other forms of discriminations, but it's actually part of the plot and it's important that it's there. Plus, I'm not convinced that the fantasy world should be an idealised version of our culture. But let's get back to the technical question.

A character in the party is an elf, but she clearly has to stay with the party (unless they explore different options, but let's suppose they don't). Her appearance his sufficiently human-like that she could get away with some make-up or by dressing in a certain way to hide all elf traits.

What are the different levels of "elf detection"? For example, common people may just think she's a short, thin girl, but an "elf hunter" could notice certain behaviours, or a special attitude (which ones?). Is there magic that can detect a person's race, and if so, can it be fooled?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Does this answer your question? How could an elf PC disguise themselves as a human? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 4, 2022 at 12:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov Yes, but only partially. I'd also like to know the other side of the question: how could NPCs find out the PC is an elf? What would they look for, apart from pointy ears? If the PC uses a spell, can a caster detect the spell and/or cast a spell to uncover their true race? \$\endgroup\$
    – Simone
    Apr 4, 2022 at 13:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ Related on How can i tell that a polymorphed dragon is actually a dragon? \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Apr 4, 2022 at 13:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi Simone! Welcome to our stack! You can learn about how operate here by taking the tour and can pick up even more info in our help center. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Apr 4, 2022 at 14:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ It does seem like you've got a few questions in here that should be separated/clarified. We typically prefer one question per question - and you're asking about: 1) Can a NPC detect a disguised PC (this may be the core question), 2) What details should I be aware of/how should NPCs respond( this is going to be opinion-based, unless you are looking for existing lore in 5e or across editions that gives examples of how the races in question have treated each other), 3) What are different levels of detection that a community might use and how would they act (also likely opinion-based.) \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Apr 4, 2022 at 14:08

1 Answer 1


These are all Deception checks.

Hiding your identity is just another type of lie that we would normally model as an opposed Deception check versus the opposing character's Insight. Given some type of enhanced preparation (Disguise Self spell, disguise kit, etc.), I could see granting advantage on the Deception roll. If you had some type of anti-elf inquisition squad, those members would probably have proficiency in the Insight skill regarding who is & isn't an elf. Expertise wouldn't be out of bounds for a sufficiently zealous and trained elf hunter.

My caution (strictly opinion) would be to beware of making it too hard for the elf to pass as human, since one bad Deception roll could result in a path for the adventure you weren't planning on.


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