For example, conjuring a sheet of paper which was face down, or a portrait with an inscription on the back. Can the object be conjured in order to examine details which cannot be seen on the original?

If no - what appears in the place of the missing details? For example if you conjure a small chest knowing it has a latch but not knowing what kind of latch, what is holding the chest shut?


Minor Conjuration does not duplicate objects

The relevant text states, (PHB 116, emphasis added):

Starting at 2nd level when you select this school, you can use your action to conjure up an inanimate object in your hand or on the ground in an unoccupied space that you can see within 10 feet of you.

This text does not say that you can conjure an exact copy of something; only that you can conjure something at all.

In the case of your sheet of paper, you can conjure a sheet of paper that looks exactly like the unknown one, but you wouldn't be able to verify that the writing on the other side actually matches the unknown's. Likewise, for the small chest, you will summon a chest with a latch, but it may or may not be the same as the target chest.

Given that there isn't much detail in the text of the rules, it will be up to the DM to decide exactly how accurate that conjuration will be. For example, I would rule that the object conforms to the caster's desires: if the caster wants to see a piece of paper with incriminating evidence, they will conjure one, even if it differs from the real sheet of paper. Such a ruling is consistent with the fact that the conjurer has control over what the conjured object is.

It's also worth adding that minor conjuration is worthless for forgeries, because it requires the conjured object to be nonmagical, but

The object is visibly magical, radiating dim light out to 5 feet.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree with you btw and approve of what you've said, but what about the word "facsimile" (literally exact copy) in this tweet? twitter.com/JeremyECrawford/status/799395125130498048 \$\endgroup\$
    – Rubiksmoose
    Dec 22 '17 at 18:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose, Crawford doesn't address the underlying question of knowledge--if you know all the details of the object (like your spellbook), then you can make a facsimile, but he doesn't say what happens if you don't know specific details (like what's written inside a random book). \$\endgroup\$
    – Icyfire
    Dec 22 '17 at 18:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose Except “facsimile” doesn't literally mean an exact copy. It literally means a copy that is similar but obviously not the original, both from the root words it's made from (meaning “to make” and “similar”), and its practical meaning of the output of copy machines that made inferior reproductions of originals. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 22 '17 at 19:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie That may be the historical origin, but it looks like the primary modern definition is " an exact copy" I looked at several sites but Webster should be official enough no? merriam-webster.com/dictionary/facsimile Regardless, icyfire's logic is more than enough to address the concern so I don't think there is any need to squabble further about definitions \$\endgroup\$
    – Rubiksmoose
    Dec 22 '17 at 19:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose MW online is notorious for being too brief to be used to support real research. The sense of “exact copy” carried by “facsimile” is only in the sense of a faithful representation of the intended and accidental marks on a page — the content is reproduced faithfully enough for documentary purposes. An object that is called a facsimile is contrarywise an imperfect reproduction, as an object — it may have the looks, but is not identical to the original. The word is very nuanced, much more than MW's free, brief, online dictionary entry conveys. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 22 '17 at 19:39

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