Simulacrum in AD&D 2e creates a duplicate, but it has none of the original’s knowledge or memories before you cast Limited Wish to give it some. But you can control it verbally & the spell expressly states there's no telepathy or empathy involved.

The spell’s description regarding the use of Limited Wish to give it (some) of the knowledge & memory of the one it's a copy of seems (to me) to imply that it won't know any languages known to the original until a Limited Wish is cast to give it those memories.

So how does a Simulacrum that's not yet been imbued with any memories know what you're saying when it doesn't know any of the languages the original it's a copy of spoke?

Or should we assume some basic language skills prior to the use of Limited Wish are part & parcel of the Simulacrum spell? If so, which language: the caster’s or the original creature’s mother tongue?

Is there perhaps a ruling for this in Dragon or any of the supplements?

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2 Answers 2


Question: What language(s) do Simulacrum know before Limited Wish is cast?

Answer: it knows whatever language the Wizard commands it in verbally, written, or physically.

The limitation that the simulacrum cannot be commanded telepathically is meant so that a player cannot cheat and have the simulacrum speak knowledge that is being telepathically transmitted to it by the caster to appear more authentic. In its unmodified state, it acts more like a zombie, and obeys only the casting wizard. It is supposed to be easily identified as a decoy unless you were to cast resurrect and limited wish on it.

So, the possibility of a telepathic link was removed. However, it doesn't just understand the wizard's speech, it can also understand written text and other bodily signals, as long as it originated from the wizard.

It is an Illusion/Phantasm and as such is manipulated by the wizard's magic. Magic is fun in D&D since it oftentimes overlooks logic. If it was logical it would be a gnome's construct. So the language it knows is the wizard's own, whether it be Draconian, Common, or Sign language. Crazy cool that a simulacrum could understand and read Draconian and yet be duller than my 20-year-old kitchen knives.

Again, I must stress that this impedance of telepathic link was created to prevent a simulacrum from appearing more authentic than it is in its base form. Not necessarily to create confusion as to its intelligence modifier.

Here's the official text from 2e I am referencing:

[...] there are areas of knowledge that the duplicate does not have, and a detect magic spell will instantly reveal it as a simulacrum, as will a true seeing spell. At all times the simulacrum remains under the absolute command of the wizard who created it. No special telepathic link exists, so command must be exercised in some other manner. The spell creates the form of the creature, but it is only a zombie-like creation.

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I have to disagree with Val's answer, it knows no language. A simulacrum before the use of a Reincarnation (not Ressurrect as Val says) spell is just a snow/ice form under a illusion (a zombie-like creation, but unlike a zombie, without a lifeforce or negative force) at this point, it does nothing. We can assume that when a simulacrum receives a Reincarnation spell, it becomes very-like a zombie, and now yes, it can obey commands, like a zombie does (see the Monster's Manual description):

They are given only simple, single-phrase commands.

It can be considered a very limited understanding of a language (but I certainly would exclude written knowledge at this point). The zombie obeys orders impelled by magic only. The simulacrum remains without language knowledge until it receives the Limited Wish spell, so it now understands the native language of the target and maybe others as well (in the range of 51-60% of knowledge). This has one more implication: If the caster does not knows a language to communicate with the simulacrum (based on target's knowledge), command must be exercised in the same way of the 'just Reincarnation spell' phase.


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