Dungeon Master Assistance

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D&D 5E – Effects of Magical Aging


Can my D&D character die of old age?

In 3.5 and earlier editions of D&D your character could die of old age. This is not presented as an option in 5th edition. If you want some rules for how your characters are effected when they are magically aged, with the possibility of dying from old age, this post is for you.

Your character ages normally as time passes in your campaign. Most campaigns won’t represent a long enough time for your character’s advancing age to effect your character’s abilities. But the world of D&D is a world full of magic and anything can happen.

The Player’s Handbook tells you when each race is considered an adult and their expected lifespan. You also learn that the “petrified” condition ceases aging and creatures under the effect of the “imprisonment” spell don’t age. You also learn that the “resurrection”, “true resurrection”, and “revivify” spells don’t work on creatures that died from old age. I would also have to assume that a properly worded “wish” spell could change the age of a creature.

From the Dungeon Master’s Guide you learn that both the “Boots of Immortality” and the epic “Boon of Immortality” both stop you from aging, make you immune to any effect that would age you, and with them you can’t die from old age. You also learn that a creature trapped in an “iron flask” doesn’t age.

The Monster Manuel only has one monster that effects aging. The “Ghost” has a “Horrifying Visage” ability that can age a character 1d4 x 10 years. The aging effect can be reversed with a greater restoration spell, but only within 24 hours of it occurring. [For the following rules to work as intended, change the aging from “1d4 x 10 years” to “one age category”.]

In the magical world of D&D there may be additional spells or magical effects that are not in any of the core books. As the result of some magic, you might be unnaturally changed to any older (or younger) age. I have created the following unofficial rules to provide a framework for the DM to handle these situations.

I have divided the ages into 3 groups: Young, Mature and Old
Each of these groups are further divided into three categories. Although the Player’s Handbook says that you can choose any age for your character, it is assumed that a starting player character would normally be somewhere in the “Mature” group.

The three age groups and the categories for each group are as follows.
Young: Infant, Child, Adolescent
Mature: Young-adult, Adult, Middle-aged
Old: Senior, Elderly, Venerable

When a creature is affected by magic which changes its age, it will typically make it older (or younger depending on the magic effect) by a single age category. When your age is changed in this way your character changes as described below. Please note that, except for Infants, you are NOT changing any ability scores. Also these changes are NOT cumulative. When your age is magically changed to one of these categories you should start by removing any previously applied changes from earlier age changes before applying the new changes.

PC age categories

Infant: Your size becomes tiny, Your speed becomes 0, You loose all ability to communicate. You can’t cast spells. You loose all of your proficiencies. All of your ability scores become 3. You automatically fail all ability checks and saves.

Child: Your size becomes small. Your speed becomes 10. You can’t cast spells. You loose all of your proficiencies. You have Disadvantage on STR, INT, WIS and DEX checks and saves. You have Advantage on CHA checks and saves.

Adolescent: You loose all weapon and armor proficiencies. You must succeed on a concentration check to cast any spell. You have a -2 on STR, INT and WIS checks and saves. You have a +2 on CHA checks and saves.

Young-adult, Adult, and Middle-aged: No changes.

Senior: You have a -2 on STR, DEX and INT checks and saves.

Elderly: You have disadvantage on STR, DEX and INT checks and saves. You have a +2 on CHA and WIS checks and saves.

Venerable: You automatically fail all STR and DEX checks and saves. You have advantage on CHA and WIS checks and saves. If you fail any CON save you receive one level of exhaustion. If you die from exhaustion, you will have died from old age.

Too young or too old:

If magical ageing makes you younger than the youngest category you die from never having been born. Your body dissipaters and your sole returns to the font on the Positive Energy Plain from whence it came.

If magical ageing makes you older than oldest category you die of old age.

PC Races

For the races that are in the Player’s Handbook.

Dwarf
Young: Infant 0-1, Child 2-19, Adolescent 20-49
Mature: Young-adult 50-99, Adult 100-149, Middle-aged 150-199
Old: Senior 200-249, Elderly 250-299, Venerable 300-350

Elf
Young: Infant 0-1, Child 2-19, Adolescent 20-99
Mature: Young-adult 100-199, Adult 200-299, Middle-aged 300-399
Old: Senior 400-499, Elderly 500-599, Venerable 600-750

Halfling
Young: Infant 0-1, Child 2-13, Adolescent 14-19
Mature: Young-adult 20-49, Adult 50-89, Middle-aged 90-129
Old: Senior 130-159, Elderly 160-199, Venerable 200-250

Human
Young: Infant 0-1, Child 2-12, Adolescent 13-17
Mature: Young-adult 18-24, Adult 25-44, Middle-aged 45-64
Old: Senior 65-79, Elderly 80-99, Venerable 100-120

Dragonborn
Young: Infant 0, Child 1-3, Adolescent 4-14
Mature: Young-adult 15-24, Adult 25-34, Middle-aged 35-44
Old: Senior 45-54, Elderly 55-64, Venerable 65-80

Gnome
Young: Infant 0-1, Child 2-19, Adolescent 20-39
Mature: Young-adult 40-99, Adult 100-159, Middle-aged 160-219
Old: Senior 220-279, Elderly 280-339, Venerable 340-500

Half-Elf
Young: Infant 0-1, Child 2-14, Adolescent 15-19
Mature: Young-adult 20-34, Adult 45-69, Middle-aged 70-94
Old: Senior 95-119, Elderly 120-144, Venerable 145-180

Half-Orc
Young: Infant 0-1, Child 2-5, Adolescent 6-13
Mature: Young-adult 14-23, Adult 24-33, Middle-aged 34-43
Old: Senior 44-53, Elderly 54-63, Venerable 64-75

Tiefling
Young: Infant 0-1, Child 2-12, Adolescent 13-17
Mature: Young-adult 18-24, Adult 25-44, Middle-aged 45-64
Old: Senior 65-99, Elderly 100-119, Venerable 120-150

Monster age categories

For NPCs and all Creatures that do not have a class level (monsters) what happens when they are magically aged depends on their type. They will use the age categories that are shown below for the monster type. We can ignore their actual age in years.

Aberrations, Celestials, Constructs, Elementals, Fey, Fiends, Monstrosities, Oozes, and Undead are immune to magical aging.

Beasts
Beasts are assumed to start as an Adult.
Beast age categories:
Child: Disadvantage on STR and DEX checks and saves.
Adolescent: -2 on STR and DEX checks and saves.
Adult: Starting age.
Old: Disadvantage on STR and DEX checks and saves.

Dragons
Dragons have their own age categories. When they magically change to a different age category all of their stats change to those for a dragon of the same color but with the new stat block.
Dragon age categories:
Wyrmling 0-5 years
Young 6-100 years
Adult 101-800 years
Ancient 801+ years

Faerie Dragons
They will change color, and the abilities associated with that color, as they change change age categories.
Faerie Dragon age categories:
Red 0-5 years
Orange 6-10 years
Yellow 11-22 years
Green 21-30 years
Blue 31-40 years
Indigo 41-50 years
Violet 51 years

Giants and Humanoids
Use the same age categories as shown for PCs.
Giants and Humanoids are assumed to start as an Adult.

Plants
Plants are assumed to start as an Adult and they don’t die from old age, they just get larger. Use your common sense, for instance plants that don’t have a speed or move rate don’t get them when they change size.
Plant categories:
Young: Size decreases from Adult by two size categories and reach decreases from Adult by 10′ and speed decreases from Adult by 10′.
Young-adult: Size decreases from Adult by one size category and reach decreases from Adult by 5′ and speed decreases from Adult by 5′.
Adult: Starting age.
Middle-aged: Size increases from Adult by one size category and reach increases from Adult by 5′ and speed increases from Adult by 5′.
Old: Size increases from Adult by two size categories and reach increases from Adult by 10′ and speed increases from Adult by 10′.

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