Disguise Kit 5E Guide | How They Work and When to Use Them

Disguise Kit 5E

5e offers a series of bonus proficiencies that weren’t used before; tools. In older editions, tools simply boosted skill checks and made some uses of skill checks possible. Now, tools are their own separate proficiencies and take on a role as a somewhat niche – but potent – extra skill. Today, we’re going to be looking at one such tool – the Disguise Kit. Get the scoop with our Disguise Kit 5E Guide. 

What’s A Disguise Kit? Disguise Kit 5E Guide

Disguise Kit
Cost: 25 gp
Weight: 3 lbs
Description (Player’s Handbook): This pouch of cosmetics, hair dye, and small props lets you create disguises that change your physical appearance. Proficiency with this kit lets you add your proficiency bonus to any ability checks you make to create a visual disguise.

This is a somewhat vague description, yeah? You just have a pile of baubles with which you can make something out of. This is generally just generic stuff that you can use to make “any disguise.” Most likely, there’s a lot of pencil-able styles, stickers, outfits, armors, crests, etc., just to make things easy on the GM and player alike.

What’s the Disguise Kit Useful For?

So, one thing that comes up when considering the Disguise Kit is why to use that over deception. After all, according to the Player’s Handbook, Deception has a few typical situations, including;

…trying to fast-talk a guard, con a merchant, earn money through gambling, pass yourself off in a disguise, dull someone’s suspicions with false assurances, or maintain a straight face while telling a blatant lie.

While Deception says “disguises,” it actually doesn’t say anything about making a disguise. Making a disguise is actually one of the attributes given to Intelligence checks;

  • …Estimate the value of a precious item
  • Pull together a disguise to pass as a city guard
  • Forge a document…

So, it’s actually an Intelligence check to, say, pull items together to pass as a guard. If you’re proficient in Disguise Kits, and have one handy, then you get to add your Proficiency mod, which can be a lifesaver.

In-Game Examples and Suggestions

However, this is a tool, which means that it has general application amongst skills. If you are able to observe a guard for a long time, you may be able to use Wisdom (Disguise Kit) to remember details of his gear. Maybe the disguise requires accurate makeup and tattoos, allowing for Dexterity (Disguise Kit). Strength and Constitution would be less applicable, and Charisma is usually just for skills after you have the disguise on you.

This is GM discretion, however, so there could be times where other skills are needed. Maybe the barbarian tribe you’re trying to disguise as have broken skeletons littering their body, requiring a Strength (Disguise Kit) check to break the bones. Or maybe the parts of the disguise are fully reliant on your ability to communicate with others – maybe people give you jewelry to implement into your disguise. 

Try to find a way to use your best ability score, or class expertise, on this check. For example, the Wisdom (Disguise Kit) to copy the outfit of a guard might allow a Kenku to use Expert Forgery on it.

After the disguise is applied, Charisma (Deception) becomes really, really important. Your Disguise Check is put against the passive Perception of passerby, and most GMs roll the Disguise check secretly. Being able to effectively improvise with Deception to avoid suspicion becomes essential, just in case.

When Should I Use It?

Clearly, this is an out-of-combat, prepared tool; According to Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, a disguise takes 10 minutes for slight changes in appearance, or 30 minutes for a larger one. It’s most useful in Town scenarios, where you can disguise as an important humanoid and use your image as a tool for gathering information or gaining access to areas. It’s less useful in a combat scenario, or against beings of a completely different race; An elf would have a really hard time making themselves look like, say, a Kobold. 

Your GM is the final verdict on what is possible, but you cannot typically get away with more than a foot of size difference from your normal size. Your GM also decides how long a Disguise takes to make; while Xanathar’s Guide gives good estimates, it might take a really long time to make sure tribal makeup is on point, or that all the clothing fits just right.

If you have time to prepare, a Disguise Kit can be extremely useful in terms of skill checks. Most GMs would give bonuses to Intimidate or Persuasion with certain disguises, although it’s not an expressly listed benefit.

If you don’t the spell “Disguise Self” does everything a Disguise Kit does instantly, but poorly; it’s 1 Action for a new appearance, but the entire thing is an illusion. The spell “Alter Self” lets you get more details, race changes, and even quadrupedal transformation, but doesn’t let you change size. Either of these are better for snap-shot situations, but can be found with Detect Magic. Thus, Disguise Kits are still more useful when you can prepare.

Final Thoughts on Disguise Kits

As a Tool for proficiency, you’d be surprised on how often a Disguise Kit can be useful. With a creative party, a rather smart disguise operative, and a really good face character, a disguise can circumvent encounters and let you have an alternative to murdering everyone. Consider this the next time you see a dragon transform into a Human form in front of kobolds, or see a cult member getting into a trapdoor by recognizable clothing. You might be surprised how well it goes for a well-prepared, organized group.

That wraps up our Disguise Kit 5E Guide. Need more tips on starting out on a new character? See our guide for selecting Starting Gold by Level!

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