I've been idly scrolling through the questions on Simulacrum & find myself suffering from some serious confusion, from the answers given it doesn't appear to be the same spell I knew at all.

As an example questions like "does it have a soul" are clearly answered within the spells description in both the 1st & 2nd editions spell descriptions (essentially the same rules with a cosmetic make over & a few post 2nd edition publishing date supplements slid in).

So what's different, is it not the same (sort of three part) spell it used to be.

In the dnd-2e version it had the appearance & same stats including intelligence & wisdom as the original but the motive force (its mind) was essentially the same as that of an animated skeleton or zombie until you cast Reincarnation on it to gave it a mind (or spirit) of it's own.

  • Simulacrum only got you the physical likeness of the original with none of its memories & no real mind of it's own able to follow only simple instructions needing no judgement or decision making on it's part of no more than one or two dozen words.

  • They had 51% to 60% of the originals hit points & 20% to 50% of the originals level (if any).

  • A Reincarnation spell gave it a mind (or spirit) which let it understand anything the original could (including instructions) while still being fully under the control of the spell caster that made it.

  • To imbue it with 40% to 65% of the knowledge & personality of the original needed a Limited Wish.

The spell description lacked any detail of if this memory included spells the original knew & it could memorize those (but would have no spells to start with), or if it was spells memorized by the original (at the time the sample used for the Simulacrum spell was taken) & it could only cast them once.

Both the questions asked & answers given for all of the questions I've read about simulacrum tonight appear to be entirely absent of any awareness of any of this detail, which prompts the question.

Has some of this stuff somehow been left out of newer editions or has the spell changed completely?

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2 Answers 2


Yes it has changed; most of the specifics you mention have been removed.

While I agree that each major edition after second has had a major shift in mechanics and the philosophy which shaped them, with spells in many cases there isn't that much difference. The basic mechanics of simulacrum have changed a bit, but like a lot of fifth edition (5E) versions of old spells it's remarkably similar. The 5E version is still a 7th level illusion, with the same requirements and the same effect; it's just been simplified and reworked. The most significant changes are:

  • The 5E spell takes 12 hours to cast (in my old AD&D2E PHB, the casting time is listed as "special" but not explained in the text of the spell).
  • The 5E version can duplicate only a beast or humanoid, not "any creature".
  • The 5E simulacrum has half the original creature's hit points, instead of 50 + 1d10 percent of the original's.
  • The 5E simulacrum otherwise uses the same statistics as the original; this means it can cast spells, use magical abilities and so on.
  • There is no specific limitation on what commands can be given to the 5E simulacrum (though my AD&D PHB version doesn't mention your limitation on the length of command that can be given to the basic, unempowered version).
  • A 5E caster can only create one simulacrum at a time.
  • There is no mention of the 5E simulacrum being "a zombie-like creation", and no other spells are required to grant it "a vital force" or the partial memories and personality of the original.

That last part is largely the reason for the questions you're seeing (like "what does a simulacrum know?"): the spell doesn't say what the simulacrum shares with the original beyond its game statistics, so whether it has a soul or shares the original's memories and personality isn't explicit. This is in keeping with the 5E philosophy that "spells only do what they say they do", and of leaving in room for the individual Dungeon Master to make the best ruling for their table. There's also no interdependence of spells in 5E, so while there's some room for disagreement (see the afore-linked question), it seems reasonable to assume the 5E version has approximately the same effect as the original when cast in conjunction with reincarnation and limited wish.

The spell is otherwise pretty much the same, though expressed in the language of 5E rather than older school AD&D - for example, it says the simulacrum will "obey your spoken commands", which is more succinct (and specific) than the older version's "no special telepathic link exists, so command must be exercised in some other manner". It also specifies the cost of the powdered ruby required as part of the spell's material components, in accordance with modern spellcasting rules differentiating components with a listed cost from those without.


AD&D 2nd edition is completely different than D&D 5th edition

After AD&D 2nd edition, none of the games that followed named “D&D” were the same game you know. Third edition shared the ideas, but the rules were changed incompatibly, and so the details of everything, including spells, changed too to work with the new rules. Being made by new designers, they also changed things to better fit their different design tastes, beyond what was needed to fit the new rules. Details of spells, races, classes, weapons… everything was changed.

This happened again with every new edition after.

Fourth edition was again a completely new game, using the same ideas but different mechanics and different design tastes.

Fifth edition continues this trend: it has many of the same ideas, but it is not the same game at all as 4th, or any earlier edition.

Each game has been a complete rewrite, and incompatible with what came before. Although TSR maintained a broadly compatible set of rules across their D&Ds, as you’re familiar, WotC instead allowed each edition to tread new design ground in their quest to address the (real and perceived) problems of each prior edition.

Simulacrum is just one small part that uses the same general concept, but which works completely differently than it did in earlier editions.


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