How easy is it to render a clone invalid to be used as a soul receptacle, regardless of its maturity?

The Clone spell says

It [the clone] remains inert and endures indefinitely, as long as its vessel remains undisturbed.

Does this mean that a clone could be rendered invalid by simply shaking the vessel, or does one have to deal damage to the clone itself to invalidate it? If so, does the clone have its caster's Hit Points when they cast the clone? If so, is the clone's Hit Points proportional to its maturity before it fully matures?

And finally, how does Wishing the clone (a.k.a. without any spell components) influence this?

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    – Someone_Evil
    May 7, 2022 at 15:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ Note for anyone reading this: the 3 answers here seem alll to be good, each with their own nuances. \$\endgroup\$ May 7, 2022 at 19:01

3 Answers 3



  • both sides of the question have some aspects that the GM needs to rule on
  • breaking a clone's vessel trivially is kinda a dick move, so this GM's interpretation is that they're not fragile per-se, but they can be broken without too much effort; think "good furniture": you can use a good table or bookshelf for decades - even centuries - without damaging it, but you can also turn it into rubble without too much difficulty if you really want to
  • being able to ignore costly material components would not meaningfully affect the difficulty with which the vault could be disturbed, but may affect its convenience for the caster

What does clone do?


grows an inert duplicate of a living creature ... inside a sealed vessel.... It remains inert and endures indefinitely, as long as its vessel remains undisturbed.

How fragile is a clone?

D&D 5e doesn't have hidden rules, and spells do exactly (and only) what they say they do (see here, here, and here).

5e is also written using "plain English", so any term not specifically defined uses the standard dictionary definition. I can't find a D&D definition of "disturbed", so we have to use the dictionary definition:

characterized or affected by interference, alteration, or disruption


departing or deviating from a normal condition : marked by impairment

So, what does it mean for the vessel to be "affected by interference" or "deviating from a normal condition"? The spell simply doesn't tell us.

A malevolent GM could rule that the "normal condition" of the vessel is the condition immediately upon completing the casting of the spell, in which case they could further rule that allowing it to become dusty would constitute "deviating from a normal condition". If your GM rules this way, find a better GM.

This GM's interpretation would be that disturbing the vessel would require an act that would likely damage the vessel. This could include an intentional action (eg., someone chooses to break it by hitting it with their sword), an accident (eg., carrying a vessel and failing a check, dropping the vessel), or - rarely - natural phenomena (eg., earthquakes). I stress that this GM would use natural phenomena rarely, since that (IME) gets awfully close to the "well, it's now dusty, so it's deviated from its normal condition" territory; there would need to be some kind of foreshadowing for this GM to resort to earthquakes.

A player who has a clone waiting for them at this GM's table would need to take some precautions against its being damaged. Putting the vessel in the vault of a reputable bank (à la Gringotts in Harry Potter) would probably be sufficient, as would the basement of their guild hall (... all parties have a guild hall, right? 😅); leaving it in the middle of the town square would ensure that it was disturbed prior to use (rotten teenagers 😁). Putting the vessel inside a larger box (with allowances for the caster to get out of said larger box, of course) would also be a good idea, though it might lose some of the "cool" factor.

This GM does tend to assume that the hard part is finding the vessel's location and getting to it. Disturbing the vessel is likely very easy to do once you get to it, unless the caster has provided additional protections (eg., magically hardened the vessel, used wards to prevent damage, etc.). It's like a heist: once you're in the vault, putting the diamond in your bag is the easy part.

All of that is to say: the GM has to determine what "undisturbed" means. As with all cases of GM rulings, it's best for the player and GM to work together to have a firm understanding of what "undisturbed" means in this context.

How does avoiding the material components affect things?

Wish is perhaps the most obvious way to avoid needing the material components, but I'm sure there are other options out there; "absolutes are always wrong", especially in D&D.

Anyway: if the caster has a way of avoiding the material components, how is clone affected? This GM has to conclude that wish would create a suitable vessel, though possibly one that is awkward to work with - it may form the vessel inside a handy tree, so moving the vessel would require moving the whole tree.

Show your work, minnmass.

Clone requires a vessel "that has a sealable lid and is large enough to hold a Medium creature", and the cloned body "forms inside a sealed vessel". It's implied that the vessel in which the cloned body forms is the one which the spell requires, but it's not stated explicitly. Further, the spell means that both a tiny a gargantuan creature would both require a vessel sized for a medium creature (that is, both a weasel and diplodocus would require a vessel sized for a human).

However, we do know that wish allows us to cast a spell without costly material components, and that the spell cast in that manner "simply takes effect". And, the effect of clone is that a cloned body "forms inside a sealed vessel". The most reasonable - and, indeed, only - interpretation that this GM can take is that wish would create a suitable vessel.

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 This is very thorough. Wouldn't the clone being at most medium sized indicate that you cannot clone a creature that does not fit into a medium sized vessel, even if it does not say so explictly? \$\endgroup\$ May 7, 2022 at 16:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GroodytheHobgoblin - Under the "spells do what they say they do" rubric, no: the spell says it "grows an inert duplicate of a living creature ... inside a sealed vessel", not that it does so "inside a sealed vessel large enough for the creature" (though I see that as a reasonable change to the material components). That could mean that the diplodocus comes out of the vessel with a stiff neck, or that the spell grows the vessel to fit it; either could be reasonable (the former especially for large but non-bulky creatures, which could fold up into a medium creature's vessel - big spiders, say). \$\endgroup\$
    – minnmass
    May 7, 2022 at 17:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ And, the vessel is now a part of a spell, and therefor magical. Who's to say it doesn't become bigger on the inside to compensate for a larger creature? That brings up the issue of getting out, but that's another story. I like the idea of growing an entire dragon inside of a coffin. \$\endgroup\$ May 10, 2022 at 18:26

Probably pretty fragile

The spell doesn't provide much guidance other than saying it's an "inert duplicate". As such, at best it is probably no more robust than an unconscious creature.

If you're a player and it's YOUR clone

If you're a player, and you want to protect your clone, you really, really want to put it somewhere safe. How robust it is isn't really going to matter in most cases, because if someone gets hold of it, they can surely destroy it. A demiplane is probably a safe place. If you have access to clone, you probably have (or can get) access to demiplane. Wherever you put it, guard it. Put it in a fortress or a bank or a castle, or the heart of a mountain. You will want to work with your GM on this. You're talking about a significant investment of particularly time (game time, I mean), and you'll want to make sure you're in sync with the GM. I mean, sure, 2000gp for the container; but the castles, armies, bribes, minions, and alarms to protect it so it's there when you really need it? Priceless.

If you're a player and it's SOMEONE ELSE's clone

Again, you're going to have to work with the GM, since the rules don't specify how fragile it is, it's going to be up to the GM. See above though, chances are, finding it is going to be harder than destroying it. Outside of combat, or some other time pressure, you have time to hack it to pieces and destroy the vessel, so things like HP don't matter. In combat, it's going to be up to the GM to establish what actions it will take to destroy the clone or vessel.

There is nothing in the spell that that suggests that the clone or the vessel are hard to destroy, requiring, for instance, some special spell, but that will be up to the GM.

If you're the GM

You're going to have to make some rulings.

What do we know?

  • It is an "inert duplicate"; presumably an inert body, in some sense alive and not alive
  • It "endures indefinitely, as long as its vessel remains undisturbed"

If this is for a PC, you are probably pretty justified in establishing with your player that their clone is easily destroyed and it must be protected.

If you're talking about an NPC clone, similar rulings would apply. If your PCs actually find the clone, they should be able to destroy it pretty easily.

If you need numbers, say for HP, come up with something that seems reasonable to you. To me, 10 hp seems reasonable for a completely helpless, naked body that is just lying there.

Likewise, a reasonable ruling is that if the container is destroyed, the clone is destroyed, since the spell says it only endures if the vessel is undisturbed. I would not give the container a great deal of HP either; depending on the container. An urn, a coffin, a crystal container; surely these aren't more than 10-20 HP. A mud-filled cyst (again, yuck, who does that), probably something similar. If the PC makes their container out of something sturdier, like adamantine, you should adjust accordingly.

You mentioned shaking the vessel. That seems overly fragile to me, but if you imagine shaking the vessel to be significant in some way, then you could rule that even shaking it destroys the clone.

Using wish

Will require GM adjudication as to the nature of the container, but other than that, it should follow the spell itself, since it's duplicating the spell. A reasonable approach would be to allow the player to choose something similar to the containers described.

  • \$\begingroup\$ HI @Jack - posts crossed. +1 for Demiplane, I think this is the way to do it a a PC \$\endgroup\$ May 7, 2022 at 17:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yep -- our campaign is going much slower, but theoretically you can go all the way to level 20 in under in-game 40 days. You'll never see the payoff from your clone. My plan for clone is immortality -- make young copies of yourself every 30 years or so. My plan for not dying is an ally with access to True Resurrection, that's more practical. \$\endgroup\$ May 7, 2022 at 17:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Quite to the bone of the matter; the final plan of this wizard involves demiplanes. Tagged the other answer as "correct" because it answers the more general question and I couldn't find that anywhere else, but I'm glad the demiplane solution was also mentioned. Hats off to you sir \$\endgroup\$ May 7, 2022 at 18:48

This is up to the DM

The spell does not say what counts as disturbed, so it could range from slightly moving the vessel to breaking it open. Your DM will need to rule this.

Disturbing consequences

However this may be, clone only says:

It remains inert and endures indefinitely, as long as its vessel remains undisturbed.

Spells do only what they say they do, and the spell does not say that the clone becomes non-functional when the vessel is disturbed. So the clone will work, even if the vessel is missing or disturbed, it will just not "endure indefinitely".

Now what does that mean? Again not clear. It might start to rot, if not stored in stasis or cold storage. And it is unclear at which stage of rot it becomes unsuitable as a living body to receive a soul. All DM ruling territory.

Anybody who can damage the vessel can likely also damage the clone itself. As it is the inert copy of a body, it should be no harder to destroy than a corpse. So in reality, you need not to protect the vessel, you need to protect both the vessel and the clone.

How to protect your clone

The classical solution for this is that you also get demiplane on spell level 8. It is an awesome spell in and of itself, with many applications and shenanigans (transport large amounts of troops or stuff somewhere, load it up with glyph of warding as a death trap, never worry about carry capacity again, escape room, lure strong opponents inside and let them rot, get rid of evidence etc. etc.). Put your clone in one of those, and the chance someone will disturb it are near zero.

Casting clone with wish

Casting the clone via wish removes the need for requirements

You don’t need to meet any requirements in that spell, including costly components. The spell simply takes effect.

While one could argue that both the vessel and the growing time are obviated by wish, consensus is the growing time is not avoided. As it is not clear what will happen, again the DM will need to make a ruling. I can see at least these options:

  • The wish creates the vessel as part of creating the clone (most likely)
  • The wish creates the clone which can mature without a vessel (maybe?)
  • The wish creates the finished clone immediately without vessel (consensus is it does not)

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