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Something very weird happened last Sunday night in my Tier 4 gaming session : a player had a simulacrum that was True Polymorphed (into a Red Abishai) for more than an hour (became "permanent"). A foe casted Dispel Magic at 3rd level on the True Polymorphed Simulacrum, and succeeded the DC17 check for Simulacrum, but failed the DC19 check for True Polymorph.

I ruled that it became an actual, real, independent (free-will) creature (here, a Red Abishai), but I'm not sure if that was correct.

What happens when a True Polymorphed Simulacrum is affected by Dispel magic, but only the Simulacrum spell is dispelled ?

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The creature "dies" when Simulacrum ends

True Polymorph lists many things in its spell description, but one thing it does not mention is magical effects. Casting True Polymorph on a target does not end or alter any other magical effects that were already affecting that target. Note that the targeted entity is still the same, even when changed by True Polymorph: it isn't replaced, it has simply been changed.

In this case, Simulacrum is an active magical effect on our True Polymorph target. And again, since True Polymorph doesn't say it alters any magical effects, it doesn't. So, our target is now affected by both Simulacrum and True Polymorph, and is beholden to the conditions of both spells.

Simulacrum lasts until dispelled, at which point the effect ends, and the entirety of the creature "dies" and becomes ice and snow once more.

We can see a similar application of this logic if we were to True Polymorph a summoned creature. Summoned creatures are still bound by the rules of their summon, so even if we've cast True Polymorph on them, they still disappear when the duration of their summon ends.

But True Polymorph can target objects!

We potentially run into a gray area when we consider True Polymorph's targeting capability: True Polymorph can target an object or a creature. When Simulacrum ends, our creature becomes an object (or a pile of objects, depending on how we look at it). One might argue that True Polymorph doesn't end when Simulacrum does since, as an object, the target of the spell is still valid under True Polymorph's description. However, we should consider that we chose our target for True Polymorph when we cast the spell, and True Polymorph doesn't check for new targets at any point in its duration. This DM interprets that to mean we would need to re-cast True Polymorph on a new target (the object, or something else) if we wanted another Red Abishai around.

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Simulacrum lists the duration as "Until Dispelled".

If Dispel Magic succeeds the spell would end and the creature should be dispelled.

Consider a later Dispel Magic that ends the True Polymorph, what would the creature revert to?

Ruling that the creature remains until True Polymorph is dispelled doesn't seem like a big stretch, but I can't find support for the creature becoming real.

On the other hand, the DM always has the final say.

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I don’t think the simulacrum should have been dispelled at all since it wasn’t a valid target to begin with. While dispel magic would target ongoing magical effects on the original form of the TP’d creature, the simulacrum itself is a magic effect, in tandem with the material component used to create it. To dispel it would mean that the dispel magic must recognise it to be a target before it resolves, however for the intents and purposes on TP, that simulacrum doesn’t exist anymore, it has been replaced by something else. Allowing the dispel magic to target the simulacrum would mean that any time a spell effect is levied against something that is TP’d means that it must be applied to the original form also.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, dispel magic rulings explicitly state that you can choose only ONE object, creature or magical effect to target on casting. I don’t believe the DC level check can be a priori to choosing a target. \$\endgroup\$ – Sid Nov 6 '19 at 5:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi Sid, welcome to rpg.se! Take the tour and visit the help center to learn about the site. Generally we are looking for answers that are supported by rules or evidence, do you have any references that support your position? If so please edit them into the question. That said your last point about the implications of allowing this is a good one. It would be good to see some supporting examples to help decide one way or the other though. Good luck and happy gaming! \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Nov 6 '19 at 5:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Sid Except that it also says, if the caster chooses a creature as the target: "For each spell of 4th level or higher on the target, make an ability check using your spellcasting ability. The DC equals 10 + the spell's level. On a successful check, the spell ends." Rolling for each effect in this case is correct if the chosen target was the creature and not a particular magical effect. \$\endgroup\$ – G. Moylan Nov 15 '19 at 16:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ True Polymorph doesn't replace the target with a new creature/object, it simply changes the target into a new form. \$\endgroup\$ – G. Moylan Nov 15 '19 at 16:04

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