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Consider the clone spell in D&D 5e. It allows you to grow a new body for a living creature (a process taking 120 days) provided you have a sample of their flesh.

At any time after the clone matures, if the original creature dies, its soul transfers to the clone, provided that the soul is free and willing to do so.

Obviously, if a creature has a clone ready and they then die, their clone comes to life. But my question is whether clone still raises the target to life if they die between the casting of clone and the maturation of the clone 120 days later. One could argue that the present tense of 'dies' precludes this possibility, but it isn't explicitly ruled out, leaving a bit of ambiguity.

I ask partly because Pathfinder's equivalent of clone explicitly does allow you to use clone to raise an already-dead creature. Although Pathfinder's version differs from D&D 5e's version in several ways, so this might be another difference between them.


Thank you to MikeQ for pointing out that clone can only be cast on living creatures, as per the first sentence of the spell description, allowing me to narrow the scope of this question to just the 120 day period between the casting of the spell and the maturation of the clone.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Please do not change your question with editing. If you have a new question, ask it as a separate question. \$\endgroup\$ – Miles Bedinger Feb 19 at 7:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MilesBedinger Strictly speaking, it wasn't a new question, but half of my existing question. \$\endgroup\$ – BBeast Feb 19 at 7:43
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If the original dies after the Clone spell is cast, but before the clone is finished maturing, then the clone remains inert indefinitely.

This occurs during the 120 day window while the clone is growing and maturing. The spell says that the soul transference occurs after the clone is mature.

This clone forms inside a sealed vessel and grows to full size and maturity after 120 days

The spell's wording suggests that the clone would remain inert indefinitely.

It remains inert and endures indefinitely, as long as its vessel remains undisturbed.

If the original dies, and the clone isn't mature yet, then the original's soul does not go into the clone; instead it goes wherever souls normally go. The clone may eventually mature after the 120 day period, but remains inert indefinitely. Unless the original dies (again), the clone remains inert permanently.

However, it is possible to die twice in D&D, and the Clone spell has no clauses against previous deaths. For example, consider the following sequence of events:

  1. Someone casts Clone on the original creature. The 120 day process begins.
  2. The original dies before the clone matures. The original is dead and loses their soul.
  3. After the clone matures, someone resurrects the original. The original gets their soul back.
  4. The original dies again, and since the clone is ready, their soul transfers to the clone.

Assuming the clone is intact, the spell has no provisions against this loophole.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think step (3) is slightly too restrictive; I do not think it matters whether the original is raised, revivified, resurrected, etc... before or after the clone matured. I would even go so far as to say that the character could be turned into an undead, killed, and resurrected, any of those before or after the clone matured, and it would still be fine. \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. Feb 19 at 12:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MatthieuM. Sure. The answer says "for example". It would be too much of a tangent to try to list all the ways a D&D character can "die twice". \$\endgroup\$ – aschepler Feb 19 at 12:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ Another loophole: Get 9th level spells, learn Wish. Wish for clones, you get a free vessel. Remove (and consciously discard - winners don't do necromancy) immature clone, clean up and sell vessel. \$\endgroup\$ – Mindwin Feb 19 at 12:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mindwin Don't know about that. Wish allows you to cast without components. Not create the componets. By raw, clone created by wish doesn't require the vessel \$\endgroup\$ – OganM Feb 19 at 23:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @oganm wish gives you the costly material component. A clone without the vessel is just dead meat to be recycled. \$\endgroup\$ – Mindwin Feb 20 at 14:13

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