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I'm trying to understand the Awaken spell. My confusion stems from the duration of the added intelligence.

What happens to the intelligence of a creature after the 30 day charm period?

Is it gone, or is the creature intelligent forever, but would walk away?

I'll add that a group of druids could use it to introduce a new race to the game. A player could make an NPC out of a pet and so on.

I'm aware of the limiting 1000GP cost but at high levels that is not such an obstacle.

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The creature remains intelligent.

The Awaken spell has a duration of "instantaneous", which means that there is no active spell keeping the (now) creature intelligent. It just is.

That means when the creature is Awakened, it immediately becomes a free-willed NPC with intelligence 10, forever.

It then also becomes Charmed towards you for 30 days, which makes it easier to interact with it, but it is already free to do whatever it wants. It could walk away 5 minutes after being Awakened (although I wouldn't generally consider that good DM'ing without a very good reason). It just can't attack you outright while charmed.

The line "stays friendly" suggests that the creature is initially friendly to you, although the spell doesn't seem to state that outright.

Regarding the things you added:

I'll add that a group of druids could with that introduce a new race to the game.

Maybe, but it's up to the DM whether or not the intelligence is hereditary, both when the awakened creature mates with a common animal of its type or a second awakened creature of the same type. (It's also a DM call on whether or not an awakened creature would be comfortable mating with a non-intelligent creature of its same species)

A player could make an NPC out of a pet and so on.

Definitely! That's what the spell is for. That's how Druids make their own friends.

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    \$\begingroup\$ My answer would have cited "The target gains an Intelligence of 10. " I think it is helpful to parse the distinct effects, but this looks good. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    May 19 at 8:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ Haha I just love your last point. \$\endgroup\$
    – Toma
    May 19 at 9:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think a duration being "instantaneous" is relevant. Instantaneous duration doesn't mean perpetual effect. For instance, Goodberry has instantaneous duration, but it works only for 24 hours. \$\endgroup\$
    – enkryptor
    May 19 at 10:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ Goodberry is a weird example because the berries last for "the duration" but the spell doesn't have one. That just seems to be an issue with the Goodberry spell, which probably should have a Duration of 24hrs. But "Instantaneous" does mean that the changes the spell make will remain after casting the spell is complete, unless the spell explicitly spells out those changes go away somehow (which Awaken does not except for the Charmed effect) \$\endgroup\$
    – Erik
    May 19 at 11:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ "I'll add that a group of druids could with that introduce a new race to the game." - If a subset of the awakened animals are capable of gaining class levels as Druids and they live in a place sufficiently rich in the raw materials needed to make the spell components for Awaken so that it can be cast many, many times, you might be able to get a society that self-perpetuates and can exist for multiple generations... \$\endgroup\$
    – Dave B
    May 19 at 16:06
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The increased intelligence is permanent.

The specified duration of the spell Awaken is "instantaneous". As the PHB's chapter on spellcasting explains:

Many spells are instantaneous. The spell harms, heals, creates, or alters a creature or an object in a way that can't be dispelled, because its magic exists only for an instant.

This applies to most effects of Awaken, because no other duration is specified for them by the spell. This means that once the creature has been granted its new intelligence, ability to speak, and (in the case of plants) locomotion, those are now permanent features of the creature, not ongoing magical effects that could be dispelled or will expire.

Awaken also causes the target to be charmed by you for thirty days, but that is in a separate paragraph of the spell description and the other effects of the spell are in no way tied to that thirty day duration. The spell clarifies that once the charm expires, the creature is now free to choose whether or not they like you:

When the charmed condition ends, the awakened creature chooses whether to remain friendly to you, based on how you treated it while it was charmed.

But it doesn't say that their intelligence, or any other effect caused by the spell, expires at the same time.

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