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When a Bodytaker plant successfully produces a Podling based on the form & memories of an enveloped creature, does that Podling retain any of the creature's skills or other capabilities?

The result of the Bodytaker Plant's Entrapping Pod, reads:

If the target dies while enveloped, it immediately emerges from the pod as a living podling, wearing or carrying all of the original creature's equipment.

Their background info reads, in part:

These invasive organisms subvert whole societies by consuming individuals and replacing them with duplicates called podlings.

Meanwhile, the background info for a Podling says:

Podlings are near-perfect mimics of the creatures they replace. Despite having the knowledge of those they mimic, podlings frequently miss the nuances of interactions between sapient beings. These duplicates make excuses about their odd behavior, but those familiar with an individual replaced by a podling can often tell something's amiss. Roll on the Podling Behavior table to see what unusual habits a podling might demonstrate.

The Podling's statblock includes the following Trait:

Semblance of Life. The podling is a physical copy of a creature digested by a bodytaker plant. The podling has the digested creature's memories and behaves like that creature, but with occasional lapses. An observer familiar with the digested creature can recognize the discrepancies with a successful DC 20 Wisdom (Insight) check, or automatically if the podling does something in direct contradiction to the digested creature's established beliefs or behavior. The podling melts into a slurry when it dies, when the bodytaker plant that created it dies, or when the bodytaker plant dismisses it (no action required).

This would all seem to indicate that the Podling is at least a reasonably convincing duplicate, aside from some very specific mental lapses. However, neither the Bodytaker Plant's nor the Podling's statblock give any indication that the target's skills or other attributes are passed on to the Podling:

Not only is the Podling's form a Plant, but its movement speed is only 20ft with no mention of retaining any other movement (such as Flying or Swim speed). Neither does the Podling statblock say that Water Breathing or other essential survival traits are retained; this would make mimicking an aquatic or flying creature extremely ineffective (despite the Bodytaker Plant having a Swim speed).

Moreover, I find nothing to indicate that any learned skills, or Feats or class features, or attributes from the target's Background or Race or creature type, are endowed to the Podling.

Its only listed attack is Slam, with no mention of weapon proficiencies.

So, while a DC 20 Wisdom (Insight) check might theoretically be required for an observer familiar with the target creature to recognize the discrepancies, it seems far more likely that the Podling would be revealed "automatically" by its total inability to employ any of the target creature's signature capabilities (from flight, to attack types, to Lore/Arcana/Medicine/Tool checks).

Is there anything in Sage Advice or 5e rules or other canon (or even adventure module events), to indicate that a Podling is actually able to assume a target creature's role in its society / party? Or, is this creature basically a pale imitation, with no significant capabilities of the original it was intended to replace?

By my reading, I fear the Podlings may be pretty useless; I'd like to be wrong about that, but I'm looking for an answer based on Rules As Intended.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Downvoted, but I'm not sure why. Is the answer obvious? Or did I phrase it badly, or use inappropriate tags? Are "Rules As Intended" questions inappropriate? I am not even certain that Rules As Written leaves the Podling without skills, but I'm especially uncertain about the intent. If this question could be improved or shouldn't have been asked, please advise as appropriate? \$\endgroup\$ May 13 at 4:54

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The podling’s statblock says what it can do.

As with all monsters, aside from the general actions available to all creatures, the podling’s statblock contains the podling’s traits, features, and abilities. Since it makes no mention of retaining the copied creature’s abilities, it does not.

Occasionally, the lore material surrounding a monster’s statblock will elaborate on its features and abilities, but in this case, we don’t get anything new that isn’t printed directly in the statblock.

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    \$\begingroup\$ That makes sense, & it's honestly the answer I expected. The phrasing used in its description (& the rather high DC 20 check to reveal it) led me to believe that the intent might have been for Podlings to take on some of the original's capabilities, such as weapon proficiency or passing a Lore/Arcana/Tool check... but as you pointed out, the statblock should specify such capability if it existed. I feel like these creatures are not nearly so convincing a mimic as they're described, but I find no basis for that in their stats. I guess it's a flavor vs mechanics mismatch? \$\endgroup\$ May 13 at 5:04
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Podlings are perfectly capable of mimicking Commoners.

Sure, they might not be able to convincingly mimick mages, warriors, or skilled craftsmen, but they can easily mimick the basic Commoners that make up 90+% of the world's population.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ ...and most of us on social media. \$\endgroup\$
    – biziclop
    May 15 at 15:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's a very interesting point! So far as I know, 'peasants, serfs, slaves, servants, pilgrims' & 'merchants', do not gain any Tool or Skill proficiencies! I'd imagine 'artisans' would get some Tool proficiency (Painter's Supplies, etc) & 'hermits' do get proficiency with Medicine & Religion & the Herbalism Kit... So, this isn't a perfect explanation (& I seriously doubt it was the design intent) but it's probably the best explanation we're going to get!? Feels weird to give them all the memories of a character & none of its skills, but there is precedent in other effect descriptions... \$\endgroup\$ Jun 3 at 15:02

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