Estimating Apparent Age

Has anyone worked out a good rule of thumb to estimate an NPC's apparent age in 5th ed?

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Mari from Semita Errabunda took a longevity potion before reaching even her 30th year: there should be some rules about apparent vs. real age in her character description.

Kind regards,


The standard Aging rules work, if you apply them year-by-year. Note that someone like Mari (working to assist her parens, so adding her own Int+MT) can get a good LP early on (about -15 or so), so that most years the modified die roll place her in the "no increase in apparent age"... since she was young then anyway, and not subject to difficult aging rolls, she still looks much as she did when she first used the LR.

There isn't an easy rule-of-thumb that works across a wide band of ages, since it's a probabilistic thing. What you can say is that a young maga with a powerful potion "won't age", and an older magus with the same potion will appear to age, but probably not suffer as a result. Each decade sees a 1 point (c. 10%) shift...

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Reviving this decade old thread to check if anyone has tackled this issue, has some sort of system or whatnot.

I'm sure you could estimate the odds of not gaining Apparent Age in each decade (based on living conditions, mostly) and adjust Apparent Age appropriately, 'on average'. For example, if during your 40th to 49th year if you have a 20% chance of not gaining Apparent Age each year, then they'll only gain 8 years of Apparent Age for those 10 years, and at 49 appear 47.

For most NPCs the only thing adjusting their odds will be Living Conditions, though it would be fairly easy to create a table that applied to a broad range of age roll modifiers.

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I have a hacked together python code that automates the aging rolls for my covenant.


Back in 4th I played a maga with Strong Faerie Blood, who had quite a eel of bonus vs aging.
We ruled that you rolled for Apparent Aging even before taking Longevity. She eventually made a good Longevity Potion (it was called back then).
When the saga died out she was 53 but looked 19.

I start new sagas creating a spreadsheet of the magi population in the tribunal.
It is Stonehenge now, and most magi
Have only a small blur (or just a mention).
Now I have a whole list of NPCs I have to assign age and apparent age to, and I’m definitely not creating individual sheets or rolling for each - I’ll make them as I need them. However, sometimes you just need the general idea of an NPC for an interaction, but apparent age is a must in the description for this interaction.

Anyway, I’m just assigning arbitrarily :man_shrugging:t2:

For actual numbers there is this simulation by my husband:

look in the first linked folder and there is a spreadsheet, one column of which is apparent ages, but a wealth of other information as well.



Bob and husband: thank you so much!
I found this other thread but couldn’t access the results from there.

Great stuff!

Bob that indeed looks interesting, I think my group will set up an SQL server and run this while the saga is still being planned. Thanks for making it available

While I did not run the simulation provided by Bob I did run a few magi up to fairly advanced ages using the default 30 xp per year and reflection. Of note to this conversation are these two, the ones that went the longest (150 years each).
Adelbert of Gurnicus
Ranulf of Flambeau

Adelbert is 180 apparent age 101
Ranulf is 174 apparent age 55

Difference in actual age 6 years, difference in apparent age 46 years. One of them used longevity rituals that were strong for his age, the other used longevity rituals that just barely let him skate by without loosing characteristics.


Let us compare using tenths of decades based on the roll needed to gain no apparent age vs actual aging, using my current Magus.

First the actual rolled aging

  • In my group we came to an agreement that you could make Aging rolls starting after 20 only for modification of Apparent Age using a simple die. The actual age is completely up to your group, we reached 20 because it is a nice round number that falls in line with normal (age 35) and Strong Faerie Blood (age 50). This also prevented Characters without Aging resisters from not going up in Apparent Age (+3 or more to the roll based on Age, need a 2 or less to not increase Apparent Age)

  • At the start of the Saga, my character was 23 (apparent age 22). He has Strong Faerie Blood (-3 on roll) and Living Condition during apprenticeship of -4 to the roll (Covenant & Lab). In play his Living Conditions modifier actually improved by our very healthy location to -5. Improvements to Lab Health kept his rolls at roughly <=7 through 49 years old. I rolled higher 8 times and ended up with an Apparent Age of 30 starting my 50th year. Thanks to a powerful LR, have not gained any Apparent Age since then and the character is Age 127 (Apparent 30).

Now lets look at it without rolling and taking the # or less you have to roll not to increase apparent age x10 as he percentage of that decade to not increase.

  • Before play begins he needs a 6 or less, so averages increasing Apparent Age by 4 every 10 years, which would give him an apparent age of 21.2.
  • After start of play, for the first 26 years he was mostly in the roll 7 or less to not apparent age (few years it was 6 or less, a few it was 8 or less). That means his Apparent Age increased by 7.8 to 29.
  • For 50 onward it became don't explode on the die roll too badly (I did explode a few times, but modifiers kept it in check) since the effects were always roll something like roll 20+. No change to apparent age.

Net effect is that rolling made my character appear 1 year older than averages per decade.

So for figuring apparent age, figuring out how much it increased based on living conditions up until taking the LR using fractions based on what they have to roll under per decade. After taking it, you have to decide if they went really big (which would stop almost all apparent aging), just enough to avoid actual aging effects (which would normally mean they stay in the 3- to 5- roll range), or somewhere in between (which might start at no apparent aging and creep into the non-exploding range over decades).

You end up with a range somewhere between 70% of their Age as Apparent Age all the way to Apparent Age is when they first took the LR (possibly even lower with modifiers).

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As a story guide, you choose what works. I can't see why you'd want a random result. If you roll and the magi is really unlucky, they could get a decrepitude point and a crisis quite young, to me, that would be such an extreme event, it could affect how the NPC acts. You could easily have a 100 year old mage die with some bad luck. Why let the dice decide?

As characters, it should be a case of very little chance of truly guessing an age. A good check on a relevant knowledge skill, could argue the person knows when the magi passed gauntlet and can do the maths. Otherwise, with no foreknowledge of the strength of the potion it could be near impossible.

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