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Somewhat a follow up to this question, when one creates a simulacrum, it obviously has to know some things (language, basic motor skills, complex motor skills needed to act in combat). It also has the statistics of the original. But would it have the information that the original has?

A practical example:

The party is tracking down a cult; they manage to capture (and prevent the suicide of) a cultist. They ask the cultist where the HQ is, but the cultist refuses to answer. Could the party make a simulacrum of the cultist and then ask the simulacrum the location of the cult's secret HQ and expect it to be able to answer it? Then could the simulacrum also be used to sneak into the HQ as a convincing double agent?

The question restated is: "Would a simulacrum know enough to imitate the original target effectively, or answer questions only the original target would know but the caster would not?"

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The Simulacrum knows Known knowns, and known unknowns, but there are also unknown unknowns, things that the simulacrum doesn't know it doesn't know. \$\endgroup\$ – Sandwich Oct 10 '17 at 20:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Historical Note: Some earlier editions of the game did explicitly state that the simulacrum had only a limited fragment of the original's memories and personality, and included rules for granting it a portion of the original's memories by casting limited wish. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Mar 15 at 8:55
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No.

Trivially, the spell text does not say that a simulacrum knows what its "original" knows. Spells only do what they say they do, so the simulacrum doesn't know what the original knows.

For instance, the Clone spell explicitly states that the soul-infused clone keeps its memories (emphasis added):

The clone is physically identical to the original and has the same personality, memories, and abilities, but none of the original’s equipment.

Simulacrum does not have this language, so it doesn't retain its memories. It's also worth noting that this text delineates between three key aspects of a character: personality, memories, and abilities. While a simulacrum might know just enough to use its abilities, as detailed by its game statistics, it would not have memories like the location of the cult's secret HQ.

Other support:

It's not specifically stated in the spell, but the wording of the spell suggests that the simulacrum is a different creature that has the same game statistics and appearance as the original.

Below, I've bolded the places in the spell that show how the duplicate is different from the original:

You shape an illusory duplicate of one beast or humanoid that is within range for the entire Casting Time of the spell. The duplicate is a creature, partially real and formed from ice or snow, and it can take actions and otherwise be affected as a normal creature. It appears to be the same as the original, but it has half the creature's hit point maximum and is formed without any Equipment.

Thus, the simulacrum has the appearance of the original creature, but nothing else.

Moreover, just because two creatures have the same game statistics doesn't mean they have the same knowledge--you can have two wizards that have the same stats but different knowledge, for example.

As for spells, as you point out, the text refers to expended spell slots, which seems to assume that the simulacrum does keep the spellcasting class feature of its original.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ What about the targets spells? It does mention spell slots, and spells known is something that is part of casting classes, and the simulacrum is incapable of learning new spells once created. So would it know the spells of the target, or is that line dealing with creatures that have innate spells? \$\endgroup\$ – Michael Gorman Sep 13 '17 at 15:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ "duplicate" indicates it is the same except the mentioned pieces after that text. \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Sep 13 '17 at 15:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Slagmoth, a lot of illusion spells, like Mirror Image, use the word "duplicate," but I don't think anyone is disputing whether your mirror images have the same knowledge as you. Duplicates can be purely visual, as well. \$\endgroup\$ – Icyfire Sep 13 '17 at 16:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, but most illusion spells only create an image, where as simulacrum creates an actual creature that is a duplicate. that along with the fact that it will need to know some things, makes the question a bit about where is the line of what is known? \$\endgroup\$ – Michael Gorman Sep 13 '17 at 16:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Conversely, and not to be pedantic but..., the verbiage also doesn't explicitly say it doesn't have the memories of the original. \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Sep 13 '17 at 19:27
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Tentative yes:

The 5e PhB provides limited clues about this question. It is stated that a simulacrum:

never increases its level or other abilities, nor can it regain expended spell slots

This implies that the simulacrum has spellcasting abilities or levels similar to (or at the same rank as) the original creature. Given that spellcasting abilities and class features require a lot of training, it would be reasonable to assume that the simulacrum also has basic memories of the target creature as well.

If we look at earlier editions for guidance, here is what we can learn from the 2e PhB, which has essentially the same spell with some differences. The 2e version is also of 7th level, it also creates the duplicate from snow and ice, it also states that the simulacrum has about half the original's hit points and 100 gp is required to fix each lost hit point. But according to the 2e version, the simulacrum is zombie-like and requires a reincarnation spell to obtain an actual vital force, and a limited wish spell to duplicate 40-65% of the original's knowledge and personality. Given that no such details are listed in the 5e edition version, but levels and spells are mentioned without the need for the casting of any extra spells, it might be reasonable to assume that the 5e simulacrum does automatically have about half (or more) of the knowledge of the original creature and could act as a double agent in a limited fashion.

Please note that the following tweets by Jeremy Crawford and Chris Perkins can also be read for guidance, and seem to support the arguments outlined above.

Finally, please note that the twitter thread that follows the last item listed has a sentence:

It's up to your DM how much the simulacrum can do while abiding by the limitations set by the spell.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Another consideration is if there are other spells that do similar things. Would it be broken to have a seventh level illusion spell be used in place of spells that would other wise fall into the domain of Divination (obtaining information) or Enchantment (bending a creature to your will). And since this would ultimately be RP heavy effects, its balance would depend heavily on how the game is being played, (a set-em-up knock-em-down game might not have a problem, where a espionage/intrigue game might) \$\endgroup\$ – Michael Gorman Sep 13 '17 at 16:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MichaelGorman: I generally concur with your comment. But the DM should also be taking into account that the simulacrum has a very high cost: 1500gp and you need to keep the creature bound for 12 hours. Dominate Person (enchantment) or Detect Thoughts (divination) are much less costly and are of lower levels. \$\endgroup\$ – ZwiQ Sep 13 '17 at 16:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thats what I was thinking (though I didn't know off hand what the levels/costs of the spells were), and while the Dominate person only lasts 1 minute vs the simulacrum's permanent, simulacrum's cost can account for that. Also both dominate person and detect thoughts get a saving throw, the casting time (while in contact with target) and higher level of simulacrum can account for that \$\endgroup\$ – Michael Gorman Sep 13 '17 at 16:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Couldn't this argue just as easily that it would take another spell to duplicate some of the knowledge and personality (as it required limited wish in 2e)? \$\endgroup\$ – Barker Sep 13 '17 at 17:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Barker: I considered that as well, but the wording of the 2e spell is quite clear: a base simulacrum is essentially a zombie and cannot do anything complex, let alone cast spells. That is why I concluded that the upgraded simulacrum is more akin to the 5e version. \$\endgroup\$ – ZwiQ Sep 13 '17 at 17:45
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No, and you probably would need a wish to make it happen...

The interpretation of the rules by Icyfire are dead on spot. The simulacrum does not have any memories or knowledge (apart from the general stuff that the proficiencies would give) of the original.

And it was as such during almost all editions of D&D.

In AD&D 2e, it was specifically stated in the spell description:

(...) a limited wish spell must be used to empower the duplicate with
40% to 65% (35% + 1d6 * 5%)
of the knowledge and personality of the original (...)

5e does not have limited wish, so as a last resort a wish to endow the simulacrum with the memories of the original could work depending on the DM approval.


If it were in my game, I'd allow such a wish on one condition (apart from the whole stress and 33%'s):

  • (unless willing) The original creature fails a saving throw (maybe Intelligence) against the 9th level spell (wish). The magic would scan its brain for precious information, so allowing a saving throw is very fair.
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Based on clarification by Jeremy Crawford himself, I'd say that this would be a definitive Yes.

A simulacrum is a duplicate of another creature at the time of the spell's casting. You essentially take a snapshot of that creature's game statistics at the completion of the 12-hour casting, and those become the statistics of the simulacrum. #DnD https://t.co/vupGQPmPEX — Jeremy Crawford (@JeremyECrawford) June 25, 2018

Since Jeremy Crawford said that a simulacrum is essentially a duplicate of the target at the time of casting, I'd say that a simulacrum would know everything the original knew at the time of casting.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This conclusion does not follow from that quote. The quote says that you take a snapshot of the creature's statistics and those become the simulacrum's statistics. The game statistics are the things found in the stat block, nothing else. What a creature knows isn't part of their game statistics. So it's silent about whether those statistics are copied. \$\endgroup\$ – Benjamin T Hall Mar 15 at 5:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ Jeremy Crawford's tweets are no longer official information. \$\endgroup\$ – Jon Aristotle Mar 15 at 5:38

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