Can the first level spell Disguise Self be use to change the appearance of your race or sex?

Can a elf look more human, or can a boy look more like a girl?

The spell specifies that it can change the appearance of height and weight, but are other visual or facial features affected?

If no, then I assume you always look like a slightly shorter /taller / fatter / skinnier version of yourself including eyes / hair, etc.


2 Answers 2



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.

This seems to indicate that as long as the new apparent form is within the given parameters, thus humanoid unless you are running something weird in your games, an elf can appear as a human or orc or vice versa. Gnome to Halfling or Goblin etc.


Yes. Disguise Self can be used to make you appear to be a different sex and race within the given limits.

The spell description reads as follows:

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.

The line I emphasized implies that the illusion can be anything within the limits stated above. Additionally it states that the illusion applies to "yourself" and your equipment. Thus you could make your face, eyes, hair, etc, take on any form. You are only limited by height, body type, and arrangement of limbs.

Thus you could easily make yourself appear to be a man instead of a woman, or an elf instead of a human, assuming you are within one foot of your original height.

Furthermore, you could mask your face entirely, take on the appearance of just about any humanoid race (assume you yourself are humanoid), or even change the color of your skin to look like a status.

It is debatable if you could mimic the tail of a Tiefling for example. You would need to talk with your DM about if this would count as a "limb".

However it is up to your DM when another creature would get an Investigate check to discern the illusion. Mimicking a specific person may require a Performance, Disguise or Deception roll to avoid raising suspicions.

To discern that you are disguised, a creature can use its action to inspect your appearance and must succeed on an Intelligence (Investigation) check against your spell save DC.

Given that the creature must use its action to inspect your appearance, this implies it must actively be inspecting your appearance, and does not get a passive check to notice the illusion unless given a reason to look.

Please reference "What are the practical limits to the Disguise Self spell in D&D 5e?" for additional information.

  • \$\begingroup\$ After further research, I decided to try to answer my own questions and share my findings and interpretation. I will however leave it to others to determine if my answer is a good one. Comments welcome. \$\endgroup\$
    – Imaginary
    Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 4:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ I like the answer, +1 \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 9, 2016 at 22:04
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The tail stays in the pantaloons \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 6, 2019 at 21:29

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