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I'm running Descent into Avernus and two characters died at one point. They were morphed together as a flesh golem by an NPC.

The players wanted to stay in the game with their (flesh golem-ified) characters, and it's hell. They could roll up new characters, they'd just prefer not to. We had our laughs about it and everyone thought it was funny when they had a giant weird flesh golem thing on our team.

But after about a week, which brings us to now, they want their characters back to normal and I said sure. Then I stopped dead in my tracks as I realized that I don't think separating a flesh golem is an actual thing.

Main question: Can you separate parts of a flesh golem to make two separate people? If so, how?

The characters are about level 7. It's not an issue if this isn't a thing, I'll figure out a way around it, I was just curious because I couldn't find this on the internet.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Just so I am clear on this... you allowed two objects to be polymorphed into a new creature and allowed this creature to have memory of its component objects' former lives? \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Feb 3 '20 at 15:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you add what “morphed” means? Normally a flesh golem is made by sewing body parts together. But if it’s a curse or a spell that just made 2 into 1 that’s a whole different answer \$\endgroup\$ – MivaScott Feb 3 '20 at 15:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Slagmoth yes, yes i did \$\endgroup\$ – Austin Cruce Feb 3 '20 at 16:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MivaScott I meant that in a metaphoric way. yes they were sewn together and had magic cast over them like a normal flesh golem, just both of their brains are there so theyve retained their memories \$\endgroup\$ – Austin Cruce Feb 3 '20 at 16:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is there some mechanic in the module for this, or did you Homebrew it? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Feb 3 '20 at 22:04
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Well, you slightly created a rod for your own back here, but strange things happen in D&D!

There is no specific rule for turning a flesh golem back into separate people (funnily enough). But the characters are dead and their body parts make up the golem. Killing the golem would allow someone to separate out the body parts (I recommend a good axe).

Then a cleric could cast Resurrection on the appropriate parts. This spell doesn't seem to say how much of a body is required, but it does say it closes all mortal wounds and restores lost body parts. So I think allowing it to work on half a body would be acceptable (failing that, True Resurrection doesn't even require a body, so that would certainly work).

(Resurrection would be too high level for the party to access cast themselves, but a DM that really wants to provide the characters with an 'out' could always allow an NPC cleric to be sought out. Of course, such services don't come cheap, and the cleric may want a service in return...)

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    \$\begingroup\$ Would upvote twice if I could - just for the "I recommend a good axe" comment. Imagine their first conversation after Ressurection. "Wait were was your hand?" This has a lot of potential for a comedy adventure. \$\endgroup\$ – Thank-Glob Feb 3 '20 at 21:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Orc'sPlunder not to mention how many mishaps the DM can still make as they become two creatures... "wait... do I have your left hand instead of my right?" \$\endgroup\$ – Patrice Feb 4 '20 at 18:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 That sounds like an awesome storyline to me. If I were the DM of this group I would jump onto this opportunity, even if I had to handwave why some cleric did two resurrections for cheap (enough). \$\endgroup\$ – xLeitix Feb 5 '20 at 15:23
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Flesh Golems are described as:

... a grisly assortment of humanoid body parts stitched and bolted together into a muscled brute imbued with formidable strength. Powerful enchantments protect it, deflecting spells and all but the most potent weapons.

So they're not made from whole corpses, but rather parts. While it's possible to take a Flesh Golem apart (although it might let you do it) you'll end up with a bunch of random parts that belonged to your original party members. There's likely no way to reassemble the original bodies (or even figure out which parts belonged to which person) and probably the bodies won't be complete either.

But you will have enough pieces to cast Resurrection, which will "restore any missing body parts", even though that's most of them. So if you have powerful enough magic, you might be able to get them back.

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    \$\begingroup\$ A flesh golem is just Frankenstein's monster, then. \$\endgroup\$ – NomadMaker Feb 3 '20 at 16:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NomadMaker A flesh golem is surely less intelligent. Flesh golem's are comparable in intelligence to an ape, whereas Frankenstein's monster learned and interacted in no way less than a human. \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Feb 3 '20 at 16:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DavidCoffron True, but the flesh golem was based on Mary Shelly's concept and if you delve into Ravenloft they are many examples closer to her vision in that setting (the older ones at least)… Van Richten's Guide to the Created is a nice resource from older editions that still has plenty of stuff to use if you want to get fun with your patchwork monsters. \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Feb 4 '20 at 13:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Wait, so if I chopped a body into pieces, kept them separate, and then cast Resurrection individually on each of the pieces, have I just invented cloning? \$\endgroup\$ – Darrel Hoffman Feb 4 '20 at 19:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DarrelHoffman "If its soul is free and willing" Sadly no, the original soul is an ethereal component of the spell. At best you made a meat factory, at worst you made a diamond pulverizer. \$\endgroup\$ – Tezra Feb 4 '20 at 20:18
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I think PJRZ gave the best possible answer, but this is D&D and there's more than one way to do things. There is another (definitely worse) answer.

The Manual of Golems is a magic item that allows you to make flesh golems. If you divide up the parts and make 2 new flesh golems, your players have their characters back, though not quite as they were.

Disadvantages:

  • This requires 2 Manuals of Flesh Golems (very rare magic items), 100,000 gp, and at least 60 days of downtime. (120 days if you don't have 2 casters who can work in parallel)
  • Doesn't really return the original characters back to life, creates new creatures that have most of the same parts. It would be a matter of DM fiat for these creatures to have personality or memories at all. Let alone having the same personality of their primary organ donor.
  • The characters are CR5 constructs, not really PC characters. Some house ruling would have to go on to allow flesh golems to have class levels and racial bonuses and whatnot.

Advantages:

  • Can be done by a 10th level caster of any class. Resurrection is only available to Bards and Clerics at 13th level.
  • Does not prevent resurrection from being performed later.

If you really want to separate a flesh golem, but all you have are 10th level wizards, warlocks, or sorcerers, there is an option. A weird, expensive, and grizzly option.

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