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The material component of the summon lesser demons spell is

a vial of blood from a humanoid killed within the past 24 hours

If a creature is killed and brought back to life, could their blood (if collected before their resurrection) still be used for the material component for the spell?

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By the letter of the rules, it would work.

The material component is:

a vial of blood from a humanoid killed within the past 24 hours

The blood has to meet the condition of being from a humanoid who was killed within the past 24 hours, regardless of the current condition of the humanoid or the time of collection.

By the spirit of the rules, it seems unlikely to work.

What's the point of the material component in this case? The blood is used 1) as part of the casting but also 2) to paint a circle that acts as a barrier to contain the otherwise hostile demons.

Effectively, the caster has to be willing to kill someone (either directly or by proxy) in order to summon the demons and to be protected from them. The caster is trading someone else's life for their own safety in order to summon "incarnation[s] of chaos and evil" (as the demons are described in the bestiary of Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes).

It seems obvious to me that the caster has to commit an evil act to finagle a benefit from the spell. Killing for the purpose of summoning evil creatures to do evil things should be an unambiguously selfish and evil act, but a kill-and-resurrect method of acquiring the blood (possibly even from a consensual blood donor) would seem to go against the spirit of that commitment to evil. This seems like a way to have your demon cake and eat it too.

As a DM, I might rule that the spell just fizzles or that the containing circle doesn't function because the blood provided failed to comply with the implied thematic requirement that the caster commit to their evildoing. I would consider the kill-and-resurrect method to be an exploit of a technicality of how the rules are worded in violation of how they seem to be intended.

I would consider similar complications for other exploits, like trying to resurrect the person after using their blood only to find out that the resurrection doesn't work or the person returns different or corrupted due to yanking the demons' collective chains. This would actually make a fantastic plot hook, but only if the players understand the risks going into it.

Your mileage may vary if you think that kill-and-resurrect is chaotic evil enough to work or that the blood merely needs to have been tainted by the duress of undergoing death, but I think demons are smarter than that, given their "fiendish, subtle shrewdness" (according to MToF's overview of the demonic point of view), and that they would consider kill-and-resurrect to be too vanilla.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I figure if you try to resurrect them after sacrificing them in a demonic ritual, you fail because they're already in Hell. The demons will not give up their payment so easily. \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Sep 16 '18 at 20:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NeilSlater I figured that was clear in my answer, but I'll add a sentence about it (basically in line with what Mark Wells said). \$\endgroup\$ – Bloodcinder Sep 16 '18 at 23:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not convinced. There are lots of cases in fantasy (and, indeed, in real life) where killing humanoids is not an evil act. If the rules aren't written with any attempt to disallow using the blood of, say, an evil orc bandit that the caster killed to save the life of a helpless traveller, then why make the inference that the killing had to be an evil act in order for the blood to qualify? \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Amery Sep 17 '18 at 11:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't believe it's a sufficiently common edge case to address in my answer: that a caster would happen to undertake an unplanned killing that counts as good even though they intend to collect the blood to later summon literal incarnations of evil. Regardless of the motive for the killing, intentionally collecting and using the blood to summon demons is still having your demon cake and eating it too, which is covered in my answer under "similar complications for other exploits." \$\endgroup\$ – Bloodcinder Sep 17 '18 at 12:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ The RAW aspect is now reinforced by Jeremy Crawford, lead designer, on Twitter \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Nov 14 '18 at 21:17
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Yes

Summon Lesser Demon:

a vial of blood from a humanoid killed within the past 24 hours

It does not say it has to be dead at the time of casting.

It does not even say it has to be dead at the time of collection, but I think that was the intent.

Balance Considerations

This spell is a bit weaker than Conjure Animals.
What arrives is on the same power level, as the summoned creatures have same CR. However with Conjure Animals you have more control over what you get, and what they do.

So for balance the components of Summon Lesser Demon should be less restrictive, not more.
For me this means whatever workaround or shortcut you can take you deserve it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "It does not even say it has to be dead at the time of collection, but that is implied." - What if you kill them, resurrect them, and then take some blood from the now-living humanoid? Is that legal? \$\endgroup\$ – Kevin Sep 16 '18 at 18:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kevin RAW yes, but I very much doubt RAI. \$\endgroup\$ – András Sep 16 '18 at 20:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is backed up now by Jeremy Crawford, lead rules designer, on Twitter \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Nov 14 '18 at 21:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's kind of backed up. He affirms that the creature was still "killed" (which nobody really disputes) but doesn't actually say that the spell will work in that case. \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Nov 14 '18 at 22:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MarkWells: I mean, if the creature in questions was still killed, then the vial of their blood is still "from a humanoid killed within the past 24 hours". It seems pretty clear. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Nov 15 '18 at 0:52
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Yes

It doesn't require the blood to be of a humanoid who is currently dead, only one who was killed in the past 24 hours.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is backed up now by Jeremy Crawford, lead rules designer, on Twitter \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Nov 14 '18 at 21:18
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Someone asked a question about this on Twitter, and Jeremy Crawford responded:

The spell Summon Demon's material component is blood from a recently killed [humanoid]. If that [humanoid] is revived would the spell end, a circle of the blood no longer grant protection or would it the person still be considered killed in the last 24 hours.

If someone is killed and then revived, being revived doesn't change the fact that they were killed.

Of course, the DM could probably reasonably houserule that the spell might work slightly differently or less effectively if the "killed" creature were then revived.

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