What is the in-game origin of the clone spell? I'm looking for the inventor (or the first inventor) of the clone spell within the multiverse of D&D settings. Since D&D settings have a tradition of being interconnected and existing more-or-less in the same timeline, the single earliest invention in any official setting is what I'm looking for.

To reiterate, I am looking for an in-game origin, not a publishing history or list of editions it appears in.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Most spells in D&D don't really have any backstory. The ones that do mostly seem to just be "invented by XYZ", where XYZ is usually the PC run by some early player. Is there any particular reason you're expecting clone to have an origin story in the fiction? \$\endgroup\$
    – user17995
    Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 3:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ I seem to recall there being one... I'll have to research some more to see if I can find/recall it. \$\endgroup\$
    – nijineko
    Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 3:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ I've voted to close as too broad (and due to vote majority, it's been closed as unclear). Spells do not generally have one single origin in D&D outside of an author's real-world development office; they many multiple origins possibly explained in multiple settings used throughout the game's history -- Forgotten Realms, Eberron, Dragonlance and so on. This is a reasonable answer to ask of a specific setting, but doesn't have a very meaningful answer otherwise, because one setting's answer does not apply to another. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 12:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ As the settings are all interconnected, your concern isn't really relevant, and claims of 'too broad' are completely incorrect. besides, the answer given is correct. My tag was D&D (as a whole) therefore, you are again, incorrect as the scope of all D&D was intended. \$\endgroup\$
    – nijineko
    Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 18:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ I am not sure who will know, but I have been in contact with a gent who used to play in Barker's EPT original campaign who also played with Dave Arneson in the Twin Cities area. I'll see if I can jog his memory. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 18:40

3 Answers 3


In the Forgotten Realms, the Netherese arcanist Dethed (-1,990 DR to -1,838 DR) has the earliest credit (and only, as far as I know) for creating a clone spell. Named "Dethed's Clone", it is an 8th-level Arcanist (Inventive) spell. See "Netheril: Empire of Magic" (pp 110, 121).

  • \$\begingroup\$ While clone predated the existence of the FR world by some years, I think I understand that your answer is based on an "in game" and "in universe" attribution via FR lore. Do I understand your answer correctly? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 2:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I asked the question because I was trying to recall the information I used to answer, however the way I phrased the question invalidated my answer as being the earliest "in-game context", or "in-universe" as you mentioned. My answer may be the first appearance of the clone spell in the game, but it is not the earliest in any of the connected timelines. \$\endgroup\$
    – nijineko
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 21:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ Great point in your comment. As my answer points out, your answer did not cover the first appearance of the clone spell in the game, since City of Gods had been run numerous times before GG and RK ran their raid in 1976, and the spell was already in the published game (Supp I) a year before that. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 21:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Yes, this is how I interpreted the question's request for an "in-game" origin. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 3, 2016 at 8:28

I found the reference I was vaguely recalling: The City of the Gods adventure, Robilar Remembers article in Oerth Journal #6. This game session took place in 1976 with Dave Arneson being the DM for Gary Gygax and Robert Kuntz. Much, much later it was converted into an adventure (DA3) and released publicly.

In game, this took place in Blackmoor, which would normally make for a tough call as to in-game time, due to the frequent time travelling aspects. However, no mention is made of the Inn, so it can be assumed that they entered, and exited, in their native timeframe.

The City of the Gods had much treasure unfound, and...

is actually a crashed starship, based on other correlations; there is no telling how far back in time, the artifacts therein came from, such as...

...the scrolls recovered therefrom were all clone spells, an invention of Dave Arneson, and the first time the clone spell was introduced to D&D.

However, I have defeated myself in that I was looking for "first in-game", not "first time introduced". Still I shall post this answer here as an interesting point of history. (And so I can find it again, should memory dim.)


From the evidence in your source, the first use was in the Blackmoor Campaign.

Based on Rob Kuntz' notes in the source you cited, Oerth Journal, 6, p. 52, its origin and first use before 1975 can only be attested to by veterans of Arneson's campaign: Dave Arneson was running his Blackmoor campaign as far back as 1972, or even 1971. Per Kuntz' comment, Dave Arneson is the clone spell's inventor.

From the Oerrth journal entry, Rob Kuntz:

The adventure took place in 1976 at TSR's Dungeon Hobby Shop. Gary, myself and Dave Arneson were the only participants. Dave's campaign had been running for some time previous to this and many adventures into that fabled city had taken place before ours. Dave had in fact published a Blackmoor piece with an accompanying map in the long defunct newsletter for the Castle and Crusade Society, "Domesday Book," issue #13, 1972 (Editors/Founders: Gygax/Kuntz).

{snip} The cross netted over 100,000 gold; the scrolls were all clone spells (Dave's invention); and the candles were "Nobelite" (i.e, dynamite).

You can state with some confidence that player(s) in the Blackmoor dungeon/campaign in the Twin Cities area (well before this session in 1976) would have been involved in the play, and play test, of Dave's invention, since clone was published in 1975 in the Greyhawk book (for which Arneson did not get "name" publishing credit) but after the original spell list in the original D&D, Men and Magic (TSR, 1974).

  • There was considerable cross talk between the Lake Geneva crew(Gygax) and the Twin Cities crew(Arneson) for some years before the early-1974 publishing of D&D.

    In the summer of 1972, Arneson famously wrote an article detailing

"Facts about Black Moor" for Domesday Book #13, which brought his innovations to the attention of the rest of the Castle & Crusade Society. That fall, Arneson demonstrated the game for Gygax, and work on Dungeons & Dragons commenced. As rule development proceeded, the Blackmoor campaign continued, and began coordinating with a parallel campaign known as Greyhawk run out of Lake Geneva by Gygax and his circle.[4] After the publication of Dungeons & Dragons, the Blackmoor campaign continued, but as a number of key participants (including Arneson) left Minneapolis to work in Lake Geneva, play of the campaign grew more sporadic. (source)

  • 8th level spells were not in the published game as of 1974; whether Dave created the spell before or after original publishing of D&D can only be known by those who played in his Blackmoor campaign.
  • The clone spell's import into published D&D via Greyhawk Supplement (1975) suggests X amount of play or play test before that date and after the creation of the Blackmoor castle/campaign around 1972, before 1975, during which time Dave came up with that spell in his campaign.

The first in game use of the clone spell is unknowable. Its first publication as an 8th level spell was in Greyhawk, OD&D Supplement 1, spring 1975, TSR.

Greyhawk was already in process at the time of TSR co-founder Don Kaye's death in January 1975, and was published a few months later in the spring of 1975.

The Wikipedia entry squares with my experience, having begun D&D in summer/fall of 1975; Greyhawk was already available (clone was/is on p. 26). We used the clone spell during play in 1975. (It's a good thing we did, or my original character would never have survived to 9th level. Thanks to clone, we made that NPC wizard rich ...) Paying a wizard for a clone spell out of our treasure was one of the few ways we had of recovering dead party members, who came back as their "previous self" (no XP for the fatal raid) due to how that 8th level spell worked.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This Clone spell history question you've voted to reopen and answered here is looking for an earliest in-game appearance and has explicitly stated it's not interested in meta-game history or editions which is what you appear to be discussing here. (For my part I have no idea what that means an answer would look like.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 19:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener. Given that I used it in game in 1975, I can attest to that earliness. My other point is that using the reference cited by the other answer, 1976 is far too late. The spell had to appear in a game earlier than 1976 because of Greyhawk's publishing date in early 1975. The cited source can confirm that since Dave Arneson invented the spell, it was used first in game at some point in his Blackmoor campaign before Greyhawk was published. I say as much in my answer. I like the FR answer because it has some lore to back it up in that officially blessed lore stream. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 20:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ So you're interpreting the in-game origin to mean the first time it was used by a player? I was reading into that as earliest occurrence in a setting (but I don't see the usefulness of that, e.g., here's a setting produced last year in which it was invented in the year negative ten billion. Is that now correct?) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 20:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener "Settings" is a post hoc assumption; Settings isn't how the spell got into the game unless you agree with me that Blackmoor, which the spell's inventor Arneson ran for some years before D&D was even published, is a "setting." If that's the case, I can still tell you that it got into the game in Blackmoor via arneson between about 1972 and 1975. Again, I say that much in the answer, but I can see where I should have put that up front. Should I reorganize? If you look at how the Q'er answered, it places the spell "earliest" in 1976 which is well after it was published. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 20:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ From his own source, as RK and GG were NOT the first to play that module/adventure, and it had been run a lot before their session, Arneson had that spell in the loot scrolls after he developed the spell ... \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 20:11

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