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This question was provoked by a discussion in the comments of my answer to this question: What is the maximum number of Simulacra I can have? (the discussion itself has now been removed).

The wish spell text reads:

By simply speaking aloud, you can alter the very foundations of reality in accord with your desires.

Can a Simulacrum have desires? In other words, can you order the simulacrum to have a desire and cast wish?

I am looking primarily for RAW answers, but should this not be possible, I am willing to accept some speculation as to the intent of the designers (any tweets, or Sage Advice?).

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Hey thats my question :D.

Anyways I would argue yes although final decision would be the DM's choice. Though Simulacrum does not state that they are mortal, they also do not state that they have no emotions. Because it does state that

The simulacrum is friendly to you and creatures you designate. It obeys your spoken commands, moving and acting in accordance with your wishes and acting on your turn in combat

RAW seems to show that they do in fact have emotions as well as that it states that the Simulacurm

Otherwise, the illusion uses all the statistics of the creature it duplicates.

So I would assume they would be able to cast wish. Although remember they still do have that 33% chance of failing to cast wish.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Remember that the 33% chance of failure only applies to wishes that do not duplicate spells. \$\endgroup\$ – Ladifas May 10 '16 at 11:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ The 33% is not a failure it is to never again be able to cast Wish should you suffer the stresses indicated in the last paragraph. " Finally, there is a 33 percent chance that you are unable to cast wish ever again if you suffer this stress." \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Jun 16 '16 at 20:00
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A simulacrum is a creature; the rules support it casting wish

p. 276 PHB.

"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."

p. 288 PHB.

Wish is the mightiest spell a mortal1 creature can cast.

At first blush, being a creature it can cast the wish spell.

Detailed analysis

Is the simulacrum alive or dead? The strongest case is for alive ("partially real") but this is open to some question (see repair below). I see partially real as a condition like partially pregnant: you either are, or you aren't.

Once the spell is cast, there it is standing there in front of you, your simulacrum. It's real, and it's really there (in game reality) until dispelled or reduced to zero hit points. It acts as a creature acts.

It has the capacity for emotions (because it can be friendly) and it has life, albeit 1/2 the HP of the caster.

One of the cons to this approach is that when it takes damage, the simulacrum is repaired rather than healed.

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. The simulacrum lasts until it drops to 0 hit points, at which point it reverts to snow and melts instantly.(SRD, V5.1, p. 180)

So while it dies, or is destroyed, when reduced to 0 HP (similar to most creatures) the simulacrum (like a door or a wall) is repaired if it has taken HP without being destroyed. Most creatures are healed of their damage/wounds. We don't see any rule that a simulacrum could be raised from being dead via the appropriate spell (reverts to snow and melts) as mortal creatures can be so that's a point against the simulacrum having a soul, and being a mortal creature rather than a thing, or an object.

What kind of creature is it?

A simulacrum is not classified as a construct (a pity, as that would remove a lot of ambiguity) but it's similar. Like a construct, it is made not born. (MM p. 6, Constructs). The simulacrum arises from "snow or ice in quantities sufficient to make a life sized copy of the duplicated creature." (PHB p. 276)

Constructs can be programmed automatons, or can have sentience and independent thought. Compare the simulacrum to a homunculus (a construct) in terms of relative power, strength, and complexity. It compares favorably in terms of the capacity to behave as a creature.

Given the level of spell that this made not born creature comes from (8th) and the capacity in the description for having emotions, sentience and the capacity for independent thought, ruling that it is a mortal creature and can thus cast the wish spell is reasonable and looks to have solid rules support.

  • @BenBarden points out that being a creature suffices to be able to cast a wish; being a mortal creature or not a mortal creature does not seem to be germane. That strengthens a ruling that a simulacrum can cast the wish spell.
  • In support of that point, even though a regular efreeti (a creature, SRD p. 310) cannot cast the wish spell, an efreeti from an Efreeti Bottle (still a creature, SRD p. 220) can cast three wishes:

    The efreeti can cast the wish spell three times for you. It disappears when it grants the final wish or after 1 hour, and the bottle loses its magic.

    Ruling against is not as well supported

Choosing to emphasize the made/repaired quality of the simulacrum would support a reasonable ruling against it casting the spell. The problem with that ruling is: what other spell can't it cast it if can't cast that particular spell?


1 Mortal creature: in the context of D&D 5e, souls exist as does an actual afterlife. If the in-game meaning of 'mortal' means that a creature has a soul, then a simulacrum is not a mortal creature. Given the research pokep did for the answer on desires and mortal, that quality is not specified (though it could be assumed or inferred).


FWIW, Adventurer's League rules operate in the basis that simulacrum can cast a wish:

You Are You; and So Is He. If a simulacrum you have created casts wish, both you and your simulacrum suffer the stress associated with casting the spell—including the risk of being forever unable to cast wish again. The inability to cast wish extends to any simulacrum you create in the future. (AL FAQ).

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    \$\begingroup\$ "wish is the mightiest spell a mortal creature can cast" does not directly imply "only mortal creatures can case wish". \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Sep 5 '17 at 13:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BenBarden I edited this to take your point into account. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Sep 5 '17 at 15:44
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I just spent too much time with the SRD PDF gathering up quotes using "mortal" and "desire". Here's what I came up with:

Acolyte Background: "You act as an intermediary between the realm of the holy and the mortal world ..."

Astral Projection: "Your astral body resembles your mortal form in  almost every way ..."

Raise Dead, Resurrection: "This spell closes all mortal wounds ..."

Egyptian Pantheon: "Ma'at - the fundamental order ... that puts gods, mortal pharaohs, and ordinary men and women in their logical and rightful place in the universe."

The Material Plane: "... the jumbled existence of mortal life and mundane matter."

Celestials: "... servants of deities, employed as messengers or agents in the mortal realm and throughout the planes."

Arcane Traditions: "The study of wizardry is ancient, stretching back to the earliest mortal discoveries of magic."

Warlock: "Such beings desire the corruption or destruction of all things ..."

Guards and Wards: "The warded area ... shaped as you desire."

Wall of Stone: "The wall can have any shape you desire ..."

Outer Planes: "It might be possible to take a guided tour of the Nine Hells ... in a single day — if the powers of the Hells desire it."

Demiplanes: "Some are created by spells ... or generated at the desire of a powerful deity or other force."

Half-elf: "They value both personal freedom and creative expression, demonstrating neither love of leaders nor desire for followers."

"Desire" is used in only two spell descriptions other than wish - almost always the authors prefer "choose" or "choice". "Mortal" is used twice as an adjective in the mundane sense of "subject to death". The clear majority of uses connote something more.

To me it sounds like the writers intended to limit the spell from being cast by simulacra and other constructs (such as might come up in later books) but didn't want to spell out a specific metaphysical test. One thought-experiment to consider here is to ask, "How else could they have written it to achieve the same result?" Any other formulation that comes to mind would sound awkward in comparison.

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    \$\begingroup\$ After a comment by @doppelgreener, I have decided to change the question a bit. Your section on 'mortal creature' is no longer so relevant. In case he removes it, he said: "Wish is the mightiest spell a mortal creature can cast." doesn't actually imply you must be mortal to cast it, any more than "this is the heaviest weight I can lift" implies you must be me to lift that weight. \$\endgroup\$ – Ladifas May 10 '16 at 12:35
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The text you quote is flavor text and does not hold any bearing on how the spell actually works. It does not require a mortal soul and does not require desire any more than any other spell does -- more like it requires intent. So yes, your Simulacrum could cast Wish as long as all the other requirements are met (ie: if it could cast a level 9 spell and if it knew the Wish spell).

If you're going to say that every sentence in the book is a rule, you're going to be diving into a philosophical argument on what it truly means to have a "desire" or "want", and frankly I think that's just silly and not what the rules intended when they were written that way. Much of the book is written in a way to not only describe, but also captivate and to inspire players and DMs alike, rather than reading the PHB like a car manual.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think any text in 5e spells can be simply written off as 'flavour'. See: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/78012/… \$\endgroup\$ – Ladifas May 10 '16 at 11:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ladifas I've updated my question to reflect that \$\endgroup\$ – Premier Bromanov May 10 '16 at 18:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ Your first sentence is inaccurate. The simulacrum is friendly to you and creatures you designate. That's a limitation or bounded property. You can't assume friendly, you must designate. It obeys your spoken commands -- you have to speak commands, hence no telepathy or mental commands -- moving and acting in accordance with your wishes -- not someone else's, yours -- and acting on your turn in combat -- clarifies when it acts. No, that isn't "flavor" text, the words provide some guidance on how the simulacrum acts, how to command it, and whom it obeys. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jun 8 '16 at 2:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Either I'm missing something, or you and Premier B are talking about different “text you quote”. As far as I can tell, the text referred to by the first sentence here is “By simply speaking aloud, you can alter the very foundations of reality in accord with your desires.”, a quote from wish in the question. The text you're quoting seems to be from simulacrum. Is there a connection I'm missing? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jun 8 '16 at 4:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's directed at the question "can it have desires". The quote in question is the only quote I can see in the question, unless I'm missing something \$\endgroup\$ – Premier Bromanov Jun 8 '16 at 16:02
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Nothing prevents a simulacrum from casting Wish in any way short of the source original creature would have had to be able to cast it either naturally (efreet pasha for example) or have it prepared at the time of the completion of the spell.

Now it would be up to the DM... would you suffer the stresses of casting the Wish that your simulacrum cast at your command? I think that would be an interesting role-play to say the least and personally I would probably impose some "stress" but not likely the full brunt of it. Since the Simulacrum can't regain slots RAW (something I don't necessarily agree with) it could, in theory be used as a proxy to cast a secondary wish each day and thereby destroy the Simulacrum in the process (something the DM could easily impose)... assuming of course you had some sort of way to keep making 17th level Wizards or Efreet Pashas each day as well :D

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  • \$\begingroup\$ While this is an interesting and useful point it is not a complete answer to this question. \$\endgroup\$ – Ceribia Jun 8 '16 at 0:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ I've removed all the parts that are not answering the question. The order of operations is 1) get commenting privileges 2) make comments. Using an answer post to reverse that order of operations results in, as you've seen, downvotes and removal of non-answer content. Don't worry though—answer or ask a few questions and in no time you'll get the 50 rep necessary to earn the commenting privilege. :) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jun 8 '16 at 2:19

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