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In the 2019 version of the UA Artificer class, one of the specializations is Alchemist. The alchemist gets the ability to create an Alchemical Homunculus.

The description has a section on actions in combat:

In combat, the homunculus shares your initiative count, but it takes its turn immediately after yours. The only action it takes on its turn is the Dodge action, unless you take a bonus action on your turn to command it to take one of the actions in its stat block or to take the Dash, Disengage, or Help action.

RAI, outside of combat, what can it do (other than the actions listed above)? I see it has perception skill of +4, but unlike a normal homunculus, it doesn't list a telepathic bond of any kind. I would assume this means that all commands must be verbal, but it can't talk to relay information back to the player.

Is it smart enough to do things like hover over something and bounce up and down to get the party's attention? I realize we're getting into areas of GM fiat, but I wanted to know if I missed something in the description for how capable it is to follow orders given outside of combat.

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This answer is based more on interpretation, than rules as written. The first thing to note is this:

The homunculus is friendly to you and your companions, and it obeys your commands.

The second thing to note is this: The Alchemical Homunculus's mental stats are...

Int: 10 WIS: 10

For comparison, these are the same mental stats a Commoner possesses. This means that your Homunculus is about as intelligent as a typical human.

So, you have a tiny, flying construct that is about as intelligent as a typical human, and obeys you to the very best of its ability. This makes it significantly more intelligent than a wizard's familiar (the smartest of which has Int: 3).

So, yes, I would definitely say this strongly supports the idea that your Homunculous could figure out how to 'signal' you. In fact, I was say this strongly supports the idea that a Homunculous could be given, and carry out, complex orders without trouble. In terms of 'difficulty,' if a random Commoner could figure out how to do the thing your Homunculous is trying to do--the Homunculous should be able to figure it out as well.

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    \$\begingroup\$ That makes a lot of sense, I hadn't even thought to compare the Int score of the Homunculus to that of a commoner (or familiar for that matter). I'll wait a day or so to see if any other answers show up, then accept this as the answer. \$\endgroup\$ – reffu Apr 12 at 13:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ two words: sign language \$\endgroup\$ – Stackstuck Apr 12 at 20:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Stackstuck The description of it doesn't necessarily include hands "Some alchemists prefer mechanical-looking birds, whereas others like winged vials or miniature cauldrons." Hard to do sign language without those... \$\endgroup\$ – guildsbounty Apr 12 at 20:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ True. But nevertheless, still something to think about. \$\endgroup\$ – Stackstuck Apr 12 at 20:45
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The easiest answer completely within the rules as they are, would be to give it an object that you have used your magical tinkering on to allow the homunculus to tap it and play a prerecorded sound or message to alert people within 10 feet of it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi there! Welcome to the Stack! Have you taken the tour? Could you, perhaps, cite the relevant rules your answer refers to and why you feel they lead to that conclusion? Happy Stacking! \$\endgroup\$ – Jason_c_o Jul 7 at 19:36

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