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Context I am playing a 4th-level Tangible Dream (Emotional Acceptance) Psychic, preparing for the 5th level.

Weighing my options, Shadow Spy + Final Sacrifice could really put an immediate end to a combat encounter with a group at around round 2 or 3 granted we get a few hits in prior. Not to mention, Shadow Spy alone is incredibly useful for RP purposes.

Questions

Since the homunculus from the spell "Shadow Spy" is a summoned creature, it had the minion trait right? (Core Rulebook pg. 637 4.0) Does that mean I can indefinitely use "Final Sacrifice" on it?

Can I Command the homunculus at all, outside of the spell description? (given the rules for creatures with the minion trait, although it could be argued that the spell 'otherwise specifies.')

...for a minion that's a spell or magic item effect, like a summoned minion, you Sustain a Spell or Sustain an Activation; if not otherwise specified, you issue a verbal command as a single action with the auditory and concentrate traits. Core Rulebook pg. 634 4.0

You then command the bird to fly to a location within range and observe all around it. The bird has the statistics of a homunculus, save that it has all of your senses and shares your Perception modifier. Once the spell's duration elapses or upon a trigger you set (which must be fairly simple—“at dusk” or “when the judge leaves”), the bird flies to your location. Dark Archive pg. 107

Can I perch the homunculus on my shoulder instead of sending it off? Like the result of a trigger be specified to not have it return but instead do something else fairly simple? I.e. fly forward when given a certain command during combat... I'm wondering if the wording of the spell prohibits that.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE, and thanks for your question! Be sure to check out the tour and visit the help center if you have any further questions about the site. Also, Shadow Spy is heckin' creepy. Clever idea though! \$\endgroup\$
    – ESCE
    Mar 27, 2023 at 16:27

1 Answer 1

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You can't sacrifice the bird

The target of Final Sacrifice is:

1 creature with the minion trait that you summoned or permanently control

Unfortunately, the bird isn't a minion. Shadow Spy's third sentence tells us exactly what the bird is:

You mix blood, soil, and shadow together to form a half-real homunculus in the shape of a crow, sparrow, or other bird. You then command the bird to fly to a location within range and observe all around it. The bird has the statistics of a homunculus, save that it has all of your senses and shares your Perception modifier. Once the spell's duration elapses or upon a trigger you set (which must be fairly simple—“at dusk” or “when the judge leaves”), the bird flies to your location. If you wring its neck and drink its blood, you learn all that it saw since its creation.

The humunculus' statistics do not include the minion trait and Shadow Spy doesn't grant the bird the minion trait either, hence the bird doesn't have that trait and can't be the target of Final Sacrifice.


By comparison, a spell like Animate Dead explicitly grants the summoned trait:

Your magic dredges up a corpse or skeleton and fills it with necromantic life, and you force the dead to fight at your command. You summon a common creature that has the undead trait and whose level is –1; this creature gains the summoned trait. Heightening the spell increases the maximum level of creature you can summon.

And the summoned trait in turn grants the minion trait:

A creature called by a spell or effect gains the summoned trait. A summoned creature can't summon other creatures, create things of value, or cast spells that require a cost. It has the minion trait. [...]

You can't command the bird further

As the bird is not your minion, it behaves according to the spell's description and not according to any other commands you may have for it: it flies off to a location of your chosing, spies, and then flies back to your location.
The location you choose can be your own, in which case the bird could perch on your shoulder, but you are not the target, so the bird won't follow you if you leave that location.
If you choose a trigger that you can control (like "when I raise my arm") then you can, in practice, decide when the bird flies back.
Once the bird flies back, there's no indication of how long it exists for if you don't wring it, so at this point (GM willing) you could perch it on your shoulder, but it won't do anything.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh okay, I see, thank you! I understand the latter part, then, and will discuss those mechanics with my GM. Although I am still a little confused regarding the summoned and minion traits, I'm not sure if I'm getting something wrong or if there is another rule that clarifies. >"A creature called by a spell or effect gains the summoned trait." Would that not insinuate that the homunculus, a creature, that was called by my spell, would gain the summoned trait? Is there rule that outlines it needs to be mentioned within the spell? (Apologies for the bother, just trying to understand! <3) \$\endgroup\$ Mar 28, 2023 at 6:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @QueerieDearie Shadow Spy doesn't so much call the bird into existence like the typical summoning spell, but makes it out of blood, soil, and shadow. The way that the summoned trait can 'spontaneously' grant itself to creatures also makes it an outlier among traits. We are dealing with an atypical spell and an atypical trait, so maybe there is leeway to rule differently than my answer, but in my opinion that the different wording that Shadow Spy has from proper summoning spells strongly suggests that the bird shouldn't have that trait afterall. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ruse
    Mar 28, 2023 at 8:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @QueerieDearie But even if the bird had the summoned trait (making it a viable sacrifice), the bird would still follow the behavior described in the spell over your own commands, because the behavior described in Shadow Spy is a more specific rule than the behavior described in the summoned trait. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ruse
    Mar 28, 2023 at 8:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ That makes sense, I'll talk to my GM about it then with all this in mind. Thank you again! \$\endgroup\$ Mar 28, 2023 at 14:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ Wouldn't "my shoulder" be a location? It seems like that as a moving location could work with the spell. \$\endgroup\$
    – brandon
    Aug 8, 2023 at 18:25

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