Can a Simulacrum or a homunculus research spells or create magic items while the player went out adventuring (assuming they had the materials and capabilities)?

The idea here is that our characters keep going from one adventure to the next with no downtime to use for spell research or item creation. So I thought: maybe the simulacrum or homunculus could do it?

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    \$\begingroup\$ As always I am fine with down votes, but let me know why, this seems like a legit question, and I searched for an answer, and there wasn't any I could find. \$\endgroup\$ – Sam Lacrumb Mar 3 '20 at 4:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is this for Adventurer's League? Does your table normally allow spell research or magic item creation? If so, which rules do you use for those? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Mar 3 '20 at 14:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ It is not, we play official hardcover books only tho, no UA. We use dmg spell and item creation. \$\endgroup\$ – Sam Lacrumb Mar 3 '20 at 15:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Does your DM allow player crafting of items using the DMG rules or the Volos rules? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Mar 3 '20 at 15:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related on Are there requirements for crafting magic items? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Mar 3 '20 at 15:17

A simulacrum cannot research spells

By the text of the spell, the simulacrum "lacks the ability to learn or become more powerful" (PHB p.276). It cannot learn new spells, and it certainly can't create new spells.

A simulacrum might be able to create magic items

This mostly depends on whether your DM allows NPCs to craft magic items following the same rules as PCs. By the text of the spell, the simulacrum "can take actions... as a normal creature," "uses all the statistics of the creature it duplicates," and it obeys your commands. So if a normal creature with your present capabilities can create a magic item, you can command it to do so.

As stated, the simulacrum cannot learn, so if your DM does allow NPCs to create items this way, it will only be able to create something you already have the ability to create on your own.

A homunculus probably can't take advantage of any kind of downtime activity

The homunculus description indicates that it acts as an extension of its creator, "sharing thoughts, senses, and language" (MM p.188). It's likely that any activity the homunculus takes on requires at least some of your focus. This is supported by the Shared Mind feature:

A homunculus knows everything its creator knows, including all the languages the creator can speak and read. Likewise, everything the construct senses is known to its master, even over great distances, provided both are on the same plane.

Note that the text indicates that the shared knowledge relationship goes one way. What the homunculus learns is not automatically transferred to the master; the master can experience its senses, but to actually benefit from a downtime activity, it is required that a certain amount of time and energy be spent focusing on that activity.

It is certainly possible to interpret this differently (a broad reading of "a spellcaster engaged in secret experimentation" would support your view, for example,) but the wording of the homunculus' description seems carefully written to make the master the active party when it comes to accumulating knowledge.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Hhm I wonder if in the case of the homonculous, at least, I can use 8 hours per night while the party rests to fo research through the homonculous? Assuming I can find a way to forgo sleep (warforged, elf, etc..) \$\endgroup\$ – Sam Lacrumb Mar 3 '20 at 5:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ I sort of disagree that researching a new spell makes the simulacrum more powerful. He doesn't get to learn or cast the spell, he is simply doing the research. It is the og caster who gains the spell. But as you say it is up to the dm. \$\endgroup\$ – Sam Lacrumb Mar 3 '20 at 5:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure how you picture the simulacrum conveying the results of its research without having learned about the spell. If you want your simulacrum to actually understand the spell enough to teach it to you, then it needs to be able to learn. Alternatively, if you are learning the new spell and not the simulacrum, then surely you need to spend downtime as normal in order to do so, right? \$\endgroup\$ – 1600hp Mar 3 '20 at 6:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I guess I was thinking more along the lines of the simulacrum gathering the research, and the caster doing the final steps. But I see your point. \$\endgroup\$ – Sam Lacrumb Mar 3 '20 at 7:06

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