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The simulacrum from the simulacrum spell is a partially-real "illusory duplicate of one beast or humanoid" – which, if damaged, can be repaired in an alchemical laboratory.

In our game, my wizard is now able to create simulacra, and we are working out how this is going to work in our game. Interpretation is up to the GM, but he expects us to come with the relevant information and perhaps an opinion when we ask for adjudication.

My inclination is that yes, the simulacrum should be able to regain hit points, since it uses the statistics of the original, and since the description says you can repair it in a lab, but it doesn't say "you can ONLY repair it" in a lab.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Related: Can the creature created by a Simulacrum spell be affected by healing magic? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 26, 2022 at 16:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ That question is relevant, but potentially misleading. JC wasn't asked about rests, he was asked about healing spells. I'm not sure that extrapolating that he was referring to rests as well as healing spells may be reading more into the tweet than is warranted. Or maybe it isn't, but either way, we're back to guessing designer intent, as regarding rests. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Feb 26, 2022 at 16:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ You might want to clarify the scope of your question. The title and the bold text in the question are not the same question, because recovering hit points during a long rest doesn't use hit dice. \$\endgroup\$
    – smorgan
    Feb 26, 2022 at 22:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @smorgan Good point, I've clarified. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Feb 28, 2022 at 10:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: Can a simulacrum (of a humanoid that can take a long rest) take a long rest? \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Feb 28, 2022 at 16:28

3 Answers 3

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Your DMs call, designer intent is it can only recover hit points by alchemical procedure

There is already this answer, which argues that since simulacrum's text explicitly states

If the simulacrum is damaged, you can repair it in an alchemical laboratory, using rare herbs and minerals worth 100 gp per hit point it regains.

this is the only way it can be healed and it cannot be healed by healing magic.

There also is the argument that the alchemical procedure would be meaningless if there were other significantly cheaper and simpler repeatable methods of healing the simulacrum, like long rests (thanks to Thomas for pointing this out).

Designer intent: Regaining hit points

There are multiple tweets by Jeremy Crawford, that the alchemical procedure is the only way to have the simulacrum regain hit points, and this is not a case where he is inconsistent. There is this tweet:

Q: Can the creature created by Simulacrum be healed by spells?

A: To restore hit points to a simulacrum, you must use the costly alchemical procedure mentioned in the spell.

He does not make any exception, not even for Wish. Gandalfmeansme found yet another tweet asking about hit dice explicitly where Jeremy again confirms:

Q: Is the intent of Simulacrum that it can be healed through magic,hit die/resting,or ONLY through the alchemical process?

A: The intent is that the simulacrum (PH, 276) can be healed only by the alchemical process.

Designer intent: use features once and then nevermore

Additional tweets by Jeremy state that simulacrum cannot regain spent features.

The creation is meant to be unable to regain use of any of its features that it expends (RAI)

In a followup he suggested there may be errata to this effect in the future and that

A simulacrum is meant to lose efficacy over time, essentially running out of juice, until only at-will abilities remain.

You could argue that regaining hit dice is such a not-at-will ability, and thereby it should be possible to use the hit dice the simulacrum got during its creation at least once, during a short or long rest.

However, since specific overrules general, then the specific, explicit ruling about hit points overrides the more general one about using up features

Conclusion

Jeremy's tweets are not official any more. You can of course decide to ignore his missives about designer intent, and rely only on what is written in the official rules.

Consider that Simulacrum is widely seen as a spell that is already broken, effectively doubling your spell slots and actions and providing unlimited ritual casting. I think it is wise to employ any reasonable restrictions.

You should clarify how this is handled with your DM.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Interesting, thanks! Although the spell is annoyingly obscure. If the intent were that it can ONLY be repaired, then it should say ONLY, darn it. Or "must" instead of "can". The plain English interpretation of that sentence, imho, is that lab repair is being added as an option. Since it is a construct, most healing spells already don't work. And . . . the whole point of my question, and I think I said it, was that I'm looking for guidance so that I CAN clarify it with my GM, from an informed point of view. Just saying. :) Thanks! \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Feb 26, 2022 at 16:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jack; I think the hard line would be that contrary to other features, this specifially cannot be used and you only can heal with alchemy, due to JCs additional utterances. If there is more solid information, I'd also be happy to see it. The spell text itself is not clear, and there is no official Sage Advise on it. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 26, 2022 at 18:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ You should definitely include some more commentary on the last section. To me, the argument that the alchemical procedure would be totally meaningless if there were other significantly cheaper methods of healing is incredibly compelling, and should be repeated here. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 26, 2022 at 21:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, I did so. I think this argument is strongest against repeat use / refreshing hit die for healing. When they are one-time use, they get used up and then there is no long term solution for healing other than costly alchemy. This of course still makes the sim stronger (effectively doubling its available hits, which is a lot), and I would house rule it cannot use hit die. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 26, 2022 at 22:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GroodytheHobgoblin I've edited the question a bit to tighten the scope on just short rests, which is what I was after. I think a similar question could also be asked about long rests, too, but that's a different question. I don't think tightening up the question changed the validity of the answer but I wanted to call it out to you so you could review if you wish. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Feb 28, 2022 at 10:00
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Rules-as-intended indicate that you cannot heal a simulacrum with hit dice (or any method other than expensive alchemy)

First of all, it is absolutely true that the text of the simulacrum spell (PHB, p. 276, bold added) features the word "can" when describing repairing it:

If the simulacrum is damaged, you can repair it in an alchemical laboratory, using rare herbs and minerals worth 100 gp per hit point it regains.

Note, however, that the word "can" here only explicitly gives us the freedom to choose whether or not we "repair it": it does not necessarily mean that other means of repair/healing will also heal the simulacrum.

If you can rest, why spend all that gold at all?

If it were possible for the simulacrum to regain hit points through short rests (by expending hit dice), then it would be difficult to explain what exactly prevents it from regaining all its hit points by taking a long rest. Both require the expenditure of resources (in one case hit dice and time, in another only time), neither are spells or magical means of healing, and neither is explicitly forbidden by the above text. But if both are allowed, it makes the extremely costly process of alchemical repair practically pointless (as has been pointed out in another excellent answer to a similar question).

Even if long-rest healing is not permitted, short-rest healing could open the floodgates to other non-magical means of healing. For example, does the Healer Feat permit you to heal a simulacrum with a Healer's kit? If so, you could heal them for 1d6+4+Simulacrum's Level hit points up to ten times over the course of ten days (since simulacrums can take long rests), spending no resources other than time and a 5gp healer's kit. Presumably, you could even hire someone to do this who has the Feat, thus not having to spend the valuable Feat yourself. No matter how much a (mundane) healer charged for their services, it's extremely unlikely to approach the 100-gp-per-hit-point cost of the alchemical lab. Thus, for the lab option to have some purpose it likely is meant to be the only means of healing the simulacrum has available.

Ok, ok: but the rules are still ambiguous. So how do we proceed?

It's worth noting that the text in the spell is unclear on this issue: unlike spell slots, hit points are not explicitly declared to never refresh to a simulacrum through standard means. So we need to clear up this ambiguity to understand the rules. Luckily, the designers of the game have clarified the intent of simulacrum through (unofficial) tweets. Other answers to this question have already cited tweets related to healing a simlulacrum using spells (and correctly identify that you cannot do that): but we are asking about healing through a rest. On that topic, the following exchange is particularly relevant (bold added):

Q: Is the intent of Simulacrum that it can be healed through magic,hit die/resting,or ONLY through the alchemical process?

A (Jeremy Crawford): The intent is that the simulacrum (PH, 276) can be healed only by the alchemical process. #DnD

This answer, though unofficial, gives us explicit RAI (rules-as-intended) guidance on this question. Just like spell slots, hit points are intended to not return to a simulacrum through standard means, like taking a short or long rest. Instead, the alchemical process is intended to be the only way to restore lost hit points to a simulacrum.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You're getting some extra points for this one. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 2, 2022 at 18:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think this is a really good answer. I have some problems with JC's tweets, though. In this case, like in others, it does not appear to me he is answering in a way that fully addresses the issue. I agree it is reasonable that the tweets you cited probably mean RAI simus aren't intended to use hit dice. But if that's really the RAI, why not actually issue corrections or explanations via sage advice? It feels like the tweets are pretty off the cuff. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Mar 2, 2022 at 23:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jack I can’t comment on why anyone didn’t say what they didn’t say, or didn’t write what they didn’t write. Personally, I try not to base too many arguments on the basis that someone could have provided more evidence but didn’t. That’s not a very reliable argument to me, because it always works both ways (in a case of ambiguity, they always could have written either interpretation explicitly). The best I can do is interpret what they did say, as cohesively as possible. But in this case, I don’t see RAI as ambiguous: he was asked, and he answered. And all the other answers he gave agree. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 3, 2022 at 0:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ I am not a fan of rules-interpretation-by-balance. Balance is a result of rules, and while rules can be made to create balance you shouldn't use balance as a basis of interpretation. It's like arguing that tridents actually weight 3lbs because of course they must or no one would ever use them. The rest of your post is as strong RAI as possible - a direct quote from JC answering the exact question in an unambiguous way (extremely rare for a JC quote!). But the rest of the answer trying to project onto the rules based on a notion of balance doesn't make a lot of sense. \$\endgroup\$
    – user73918
    Mar 3, 2022 at 5:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Non-humanPerson I agree, balance isn't a foolproof way of assessing rules interpretations: Mondenkainen's Sword is worse in almost every way than a 7th level Bigby's Hand (other than the fact that the hand has hit points), but that doesn't mean we are misinterpreting the two spells. I see balance as an imperfect but useful way to discern RAI: we can assume that the game designers intend things to be balanced (though they aren't always successful), and interpret rules through that lens when they're ambiguous. But for me, it's definitely the actual designer commentary that clinches it. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 3, 2022 at 16:18
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Yes, the simulacrum can regain hit points using hit dice.

The simulacrum spell description says, in part:

[...] The duplicate is a creature, partially real and formed from ice or snow, and it can take actions and otherwise be affected as a normal creature. It appears to be the same as the original, but it has half the creature's hit point maximum and is formed without any equipment. Otherwise, the illusion uses all the statistics of the creature it duplicates, except that it is a construct.

The simulacrum is a creature, and creatures regain hit points via hit dice. As noted in the quote above the simulacrum uses all the statistics of the original, except it has a different hit point maximum and has no equipment, neither of which prevent it from using hit dice.

Furthermore the spell says the simulacrum "lacks the ability to learn or become more powerful, so it never increases its level or other abilities, nor can it regain expended spell slots". Using hit dice is not learning, increasing a level or other ability, or regaining an expended spell slot.

Furthermore, the spell says "if the simulacrum is damaged, you can repair it" in a lab. It does not say you MUST repair it in a lab, and it doesn't say you can ONLY repair it in a lab. Without MUST or ONLY, the plain English reading of this sentence is that it is an additional way for the simulacrum to regain hit points, but not the only way.

Furthermore, simulacrums are constructs, and generally constructs cannot be healed, but they regain hit points during rests.

Finally, there is this November 2016 tweet in which rules designer Jeremy Crawford was asked:

Can the creature created by Simulacrum be healed by spells?

His answer:

To restore hit points to a simulacrum, you must use the costly alchemical procedure mentioned in the spell.

I note that JC was asked about healing a simulacrum with spells, in which he cited that you must use the alchemical procedure. That can be read strictly that the response was in answer to the question, or, it can be read that JC was making a global statement regarding all the ways a simulacrum can regain hit points.

I argue that his statement was not global, referring to all possible ways of restoring hit points to a simulacrum, because if it was, it means that a simulacrum could not regain hit points by means of wish or divine intervention. He could have easily tacked on the end, "barring wish or similar". Statements that are absolutes usually say "by any means" or similar language, such as the limit of abilities to 30. So that means we have to read into the tweet that he WAS excluding hit dice, but was NOT excluding wish, which seems like a lot to read into a tweet.

Obviously, this is interpretative. In the end, the GM is going to have to adjudicate.

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    \$\begingroup\$ So you’re saying you can either spend huge piles of money healing your simulacrum, or you can just wait an hour/ day for hit dice you work? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 26, 2022 at 21:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm saying that's the way it's written. Rules do what they say they do. I find the contrary argument certainly no more persuasive. It would be interesting to know what would be effective house rules that people have used to arbitrate it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Feb 27, 2022 at 2:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ I’m confused by your statements about Crawford’s answer being “in answer to the question” or “global.” You concluded that it probably wasn’t “global” because “if it was, it means that a simulacrum could not regain hit points by means of wish...” But “wish” is a spell. So even if the answer was taken as “in answer to the question” (ie “ Can the creature created by Simulacrum be healed by spells?”), wouldn’t that also rule out being healed by a wish? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 2, 2022 at 18:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ And that's my point. What, in the game, is excluded from wish? "I wish to restore my simulacrum to full health." "Hmm, yeah, that won't work, because RAI JC excluded wish." That doesn't make any sense. I realize I'm picking at threads. But darn it, this is why his tweets are no longer "official", because they're just off-the-cuff responses. They're reprinted the PHB like 6? times, if it's really RAI, why not just fix the wording of the spell? \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Mar 3, 2022 at 0:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Gandalfmeansme I edited the sentence with global in it, to try to clarify. Lol, my GM reversed his previous decision on this answer and now says simus don't get hit dice, and none of these arguments mattered a bit to him, either way. And I quote, "I don't care what Jeremy Crawford says, but it's a 7th level spell, you don't get a second character out of it." \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Mar 6, 2022 at 10:38

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