When casting/recasting find familiar, find steed, or find greater steed does the resulting creature retain memories from its previous life as a spirit or the creature you had it as before?

  • For instance can a warlock's imp provide information on people that bound it before?
  • If you command the imp to never harm an ally when it acts independently will it forget the command if it dies and is brought back?
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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you asking not just about memories of being summoned to you over time, but also their memories prior to the first summoning? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Sep 6 '19 at 16:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ That is correct. \$\endgroup\$ – kent Sep 6 '19 at 16:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch typo. Meant to say it was ordered not to when it was a spider. Order of events. Unintelligent pact of chain spider is bothering people during independent actions. Basically ordered to not bother party. That spider is transformed into a sprite who learns information about the party. Then that sprite is transformed into an imp who "bothers" the party using information learned as a sprite. The imp may not have a personality but it is still lawful evil and intelligent. \$\endgroup\$ – kent Sep 6 '19 at 22:09

'Found' creatures (familiars/steeds summoned with Find Familiar, Find Steed or Find Greater Steed) are a summoned spirit manifesting in different forms. For each spell, it is a single spirit that is summoned and re-summoned after any particular form drops to 0 hit points.

Find Familiar:

You gain the service of a familiar, a spirit that takes an animal form you choose. [...] When the familiar drops to 0 hit points, it disappears, leaving behind no physical form. It reappears after you cast this spell again.

Find Steed:

You summon a spirit that assumes the form of an unusually intelligent, strong, and loyal steed. [...] When the steed drops to 0 hit points, it disappears, leaving behind no physical form. You can also dismiss your steed at any time as an action, causing it to disappear. In either case, casting this spell again summons the same steed, restored to its hit point maximum.

Find Greater Steed:

You summon a spirit that assumes the form of a loyal, majestic mount. [...] The mount disappears temporarily when it drops to 0 hit points or when you dismiss it as an action. Casting the spell again re-summons the bonded mount, with all its hit points restored and any conditions removed.

In each case, when one form is dismissed or killed, a familiar that is later summoned again is still the same spirit. In the absence of any reason to think they lose all memories and personality, it makes more sense to treat these as continuous.

Dev commentary, if dev interpretation is of interest:

A spell doesn't erase/suppress your memories unless the spell's text says it does.
When the text of a spell, like polymorph, says you retain your personality after a transformation, that's a terse way of saying, "You're still you, despite the radical changes you undergo." #DnD

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You beat me to it :) Though the latest edit to the question regarding a warlock's imp being "rebound" may need some clarification, as this would appear to be an entirely different situation (where I would say that it would be entirely up to the DM if the imp you summoned happened to be bound to someone else previously). \$\endgroup\$ – PJRZ Sep 6 '19 at 16:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BlackPuddingAteMyDessert the follow up question to your comment is what is the purpose of explicitly retaining personality while polymorphed and wild shaped. For even a jovial gorilla can get stressed and maul it's closest ally. \$\endgroup\$ – kent Sep 6 '19 at 16:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ OP is also asking how to treat prior knowledge from the spirit from it's first summoning. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Sep 6 '19 at 16:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ My bad I edited and he answered at the same time. \$\endgroup\$ – kent Sep 6 '19 at 16:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is a great answer to the "resummoning" part, however it does not answer whether a newly summoned familiar could have memories/personalities from its previous owner. It seems the spirit could simply spawn into existence to answer the summon, and blink out of existence when finally dismissed, or that once bound it could never be bound again by another even after being dismissed. \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. Sep 6 '19 at 19:20

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