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I was trying to work out the effects of creating a similacrum based on a summoned creature. I had a few questions that I could not resolve.

First and foremost was if the abilities of the similacrum mimic those of the restricted summoned version, or if the similacrum gets the abilities of a normal creature of that type. For example, many creatures can summon other creatures or teleport at will, but summoned versions cannot due to limitations impressed by summoning spell mechanics.

My other questions regarded if the similacrum creature would be considered a summoned creature itself. Would it be vulnerable to anti-summon spells? Would it have a duration based on its source creature's summoning spell? Would it reform on the source creature's home plane if destroyed?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The DM has already said yes to making simulacra of summoned creatures, correct? \$\endgroup\$ May 7 at 23:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @heyicanchan this has not come up at our table, and I don't think it's likely to. I saw another unrelated question about similacrum, and it just got me wondering. I mostly curious about what the RAW interaction of similacrum and summoned creatures would be. \$\endgroup\$ May 8 at 0:52
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Creating simulacra of summoned creatures

The 7th-level Sor/Wiz spell simulacrum [illus] (Player's Handbook 279–80) is one of the game's most powerful spells if the caster can acquire "some piece of the creature to be duplicated" (280). Unlike many spells with a material component, the simulacrum spell appears on the spell list of 8th Level Sorcerer/Wizard Spells (195) followed by a superscript M, so the spell's "material… component… is not normally included in a spell component pouch" (181). This makes a summon spell seem like a pretty good way to avoid having to go to Limbo to convince a red slaad to part with its ear, for example.

However, it might require more finagling than initially imagined to create a simulacrum of a summoned creature. Spells in the conjuration subschool summoning "bring manifestations of… creatures… to you" (172), but the broader question as to the differences between a creature and a manifestation of a creature are, so far as I'm aware, addressed in some detail only in the Dragon magazine Wizards Workshop column "Questions and Answers" by Skip Williams, author of the Monster Manual and one of Third Edition's lead designers. The column includes this exchange:

My wizard used summon monster VI to summon a red slaad for a battle. One of a slaad's attacks is implanting eggs in its victims…. Will the eggs disappear when the spell expires and the slaad departs, or do they remain?

Any magical effect a summoned creature creates ends when the summoning ends (even if it is normally permanent). Many such effects, however, actually have instantaneous durations, but lasting consequences.… Anything separated from a summoned creature’s body also vanishes when the summoning ends. This includes parts severed from the body and anything produced from the creature’s body, such as poison or eggs. In the case of poison, any effects the venom already has caused remain.… (110—11 and emphasis in reply mine)

(This exchange is repeated in the D&D Frequently Asked Questions dated June 27, 2003, for Dungeons & Dragons, Third Edition. So far as I know, this ruling wasn't contradicted by later texts therefore it remains relevant post-revision according to "Why a Revision?" (Dungeon Master's Guide (2003) 4). Of course, there are still problems—q.v. here.)

The simulacrum "spell is cast over the rough snow or ice form, and some piece of the creature to be duplicated (hair, nail, or the like) must be placed inside the snow or ice" (PH 280), but at what point the piece must be placed inside the snow or ice is a mystery.

  • A DM may rule both that the piece must be placed inside the snow form at the beginning of the simulacrum spell's casting time and that the piece must stay there throughout the spell's casting time.
  • A DM may rule that the piece need only be placed inside the snow form for a moment during the simulacrum spell's casting time.

In either case, the piece is annihilated like any other material component when the caster finishes casting. Obviously, because many summon spells have a duration of 1 round per caster level and the casting time of the simulacrum spell is 12 hours, the second ruling is far more conducive to creating simulacra of summoned creatures. Good luck!

So you created a simulacrum of a summoned creature

Congratulations! Now the caster now has a

duplicate creature [that] is partially real and formed from ice or snow. It appears to be the same as the original, but it has only one-half of the real creature’s levels or Hit Dice (and the appropriate hit points, feats, skill ranks, and special abilities for a creature of that level or HD).… A simulacrum has no ability to become more powerful. It cannot increase its level or abilities. If reduced to 0 hit points or otherwise destroyed, it reverts to snow and melts instantly into nothingness. (279–80 and emphasis mine)

However, over the past 20 years I bet pretty much every word of the simulacrum spell has been debated. It's the D&D 3.5 game element equivalent of Hamlet. So, honestly, to know for sure how your simulacrum of a summoned creature functions, ask the DM.

How this GM would rule

If you're interested in opinions, were I the DM, I'd make a couple of rulings. Generally, for my campaigns, I'd rule that the incoming duplicate copies the creature as the creature exists right now. In my campaigns, casting a simulacrum spell incorporating a piece of a dead creature brings forth a dead duplicate, and a caster can't use a hair from the septuagenarian queen's quinceañera hat to create a teenage queen. This includes any effects presently affecting the creature, like curses, diseases, poisons, and even spells; these all remain on the duplicate for as long as they would have remained on the original creature or on a creature like the original but with half the original's HD—whichever's worse? Better? With or without equipment? We'll discuss when it comes up.

Anyway, this means that, in my campaigns, a simulacrum of a summoned creature would only continue to exist for as long as the original is currently existing. If the summoned creature isn't presently existing as a summoned creature, then the simulacrum spell fails. If the summoned creature exists as a summoned creature, then the simulacrum spell succeeds, but all of the same restrictions apply to the duplicate as if it were the summoned original—for example, the duplicate is hedged out by appropriate magic circle effects and still refuses to use its spell-like abilities that would cost XP were they spells.

In short, here are the answers to the questions were they posed by a player in my campaign.

  • Are a simulacrum of a summoned creature's special abilities usable as per the original (i.e. not summoned) creature or are special abilities usable only in the limited fashion of a summoned creature? The latter. The simulacrum is a limited duplicate of that creature as it exists right now.
  • Is a simulacrum of a summoned creature considered itself a summoned creature? Yes. The simulacrum is a limited duplicate of that creature as it exists right now.
  • Is a simulacrum of a summoned creature vulnerable to anti-summoning magic? Yes. The simulacrum is a limited duplicate of that creature as it exists right now.
  • If a summoned creature dies, "[i]t is not really dead. It takes 24 hours for the creature to reform, during which time it can't be summoned again" (PH 173) Does this apply to a simulacrum of a summoned creature? No. One of the ways that the duplicate is limited is that the simulacrum spell still applies when it can, and it can here: "If reduced to 0 hit points or otherwise destroyed, [a simulacrum] reverts to snow and melts instantly into nothingness" (280).

Probably the most important thing to remember is that a simulacrum of a summoned creature will only continue to exist for as long as the original would continue to exist at the time it came into existence. In other words, if there's 4 rounds left on your existing Huge air elemental when you create that Huge air elemental simulacrum, that Huge air elemental simulacrum will only exist for 4 more rounds after it comes into being.

On a campaign scale, this means that once you're level 2 or higher you can cut deals with high-level casters: Give them body parts you're finished with, and they make sure you're not petrified or cursed or whatever. As written, creatures with PC classes are rare (DMG 137–9), so even a level 13 wizard might have use for an ice duplicate of a level 1 artificer, cleric, or psion. O, and high-level folks worry about seditious barbers. And imprisonment becomes more common. And folks breed and train monsters so their unimportant pieces can be sold to wizards along with a policy promising that the monster will be kept safe. (Sabotaging that ranch could be quite an adventure!) I could go on.

What about the other way?

Change as it exists right now to as it existed when the piece was removed, and things end up working in practice pretty much the same way as above. However, the campaign implications are, I think, much greater. For instance, a lot of creatures—some that adventurers in other campaigns might not otherwise expect to—will keep a clearly labeled body part collection, probably by monster name and the functional equivalent of HD or HD range if it could be determined. (As to why: If you knew that in real-life you could bargain with a wizard only if you had a curated collection of nail clippings, would you keep such a collection? Even if you didn't expect to meet a wizard? Now imagine that in a world where 1 person in, like, at most, 900 is a wizard.)

I can even imagine weaponizing a body part collection: The kingdom sets aside gp to pay high-level beings to acquire every buff they can and also be the subject of the kingdom's most powerful spells and effects then get killed instantaneously. The high-level adventurer is then the subject of the 4th-level druid spell last breath [trans] (Spell Compendium 130), and the kingdom keeps the high-level dude's original body. That corpse, enough casters or scrolls, and a meat slicer means that the kingdom in 12 hours can essentially roll out the fantasy equivalent of a squad of disposable ground-attack aircraft or MBTs. Sure, oddly naked jet fighters or MBTs, but still an ancestral kingdom's cache of ancient heroes might be its most prized possession. Heck, even early- and mid-level creatures that are expecting to die may shave their heads and clip their nails so allies can make use of their pieces if they're disintegrated in battle. I could go on.

Either way, my suggestion is to emphasize the simulacrum spell description's word duplicate. If the duplicate is different from the original in any way other than because of the creature's new Hit Dice or level or its equipment—since the simulacrum spell is unlikely to copy much of that—, then I'd argue that the duplicate is not a duplicate. Unfortunately or fortunately, this should mean that if you use a piece of a summoned creature to create a simulacrum then you'll create a simulacrum of that summoned creature and everything that entails.

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