5E Simulacrum - How strict do you treat the "Can't Learn" clause?
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  1. #1
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    Simulacrum - How strict do you treat the "Can't Learn" clause?

    Simulacrum has the clause "lacks the ability to learn or become more powerful, so it never increases its level or other Abilities, nor can it regain expended Spell Slots"

    I was curious how strict people are with that interpretation. I can see it range as loose as "just can't gain XP" to as strict as "anything outside of the shortest term memory it can't remember".

    How do you treat it?

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    It doesn't learn anything new, or gain any new capabilities from the point of creation.

    It can react and reason like the original, but no "diverging*" I guess you would say.






    *On second thought, as it went through life, it would have different memories, encounters, even relationships?.

    BUT, it would not progress or gain any new abilities, through class or downtime, etc.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Stalker0 View Post
    Simulacrum has the clause "lacks the ability to learn or become more powerful, so it never increases its level or other Abilities, nor can it regain expended Spell Slots"

    I was curious how strict people are with that interpretation. I can see it range as loose as "just can't gain XP" to as strict as "anything outside of the shortest term memory it can't remember".

    How do you treat it?
    My own answer is "it doesn't level up, it doesn't regain spell slots - otherwise it acts just like any other NPC" since that's all we have to go on from the spell description, that isn't completely unplayable.

    Your strict ruling sucks all the fun out of the spell - if I considered it overpowered, the easy solution would be to ban the spell.

    PS. Have you seen JCraw's RAI?

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    Quote Originally Posted by CapnZapp View Post
    PS. Have you seen JCraw's RAI?
    I have now. Thank you that neatly answered the question.

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    A 1e title so awesome it's not in the book (Lvl 21)



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    In general, cannot gain xp, cannot lv up, cannot regain spell slots. Other memory functions aren't impaired.

    But depending upon the exact story/plot atm I might vary some of that.

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    One of my players recently brought this up to me. "Lacks the ability to learn" is a tough one- does it remember what is in a book that it reads, for instance? I'm inclined to say yes, but haven't had to actually rule on it yet, so I am still mulling it over.

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    If created in my game, it would not advance in levels or gain leveling abilities. It would however engage in all of the daily processes of life. If the simulacrum were to read the daily paper it would be able to converse on any topic contained therein. It would remember the paper's contents from one day to the next. Given enough time it could for example learn another language as this is not part of "gaining benefits from leveling." From the point of creation it would have it's own thoughts, ideas and dreams. It is merely stuck in a limbo like state.

    Yet, if it's creator were to perish it would become fully alive and advance as does any other living being. Whether or not it went out to seek the cause of it's creator's demise is another story.
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    I'd allow most normal things. It could remember things it read or heard. However, I wouldn't allow it to learn a new language. It'd be able to learn words and perhaps even phrases, but a language is more than the sum of it's parts, and that's the critical aspect that the simulacrum could never master. Similarly, you could teach it to play a certain song on an instrument, but not to jam with a band. IMO, it lacks the vital spark necessary to make such true comprehension possible.

    It's like an old computer running a chatbot program. You might be able to program it well enough that it might fool people some of the time, but it'll never fool everyone every time. It's more like it's working from a complicated, yet finite, script. That doesn't apply in the case of the original's capabilities of course, since in that case it's like you're creating a frozen copy derived from a true intelligence. It can't grow further, at least not in the most meaningful sense, but it retains the complexity derived from the original.
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    Of course none of us are addressing the elephant in the china shop.

    Whether the simulacrum can read the newspaper kind of fades compared to HAVING A DISPOSABLE COPY OF A PARTY MEMBER.

    Talk about winning the game. No other buff comes close to another deadly fighter, or doubling your own caster DPS, or having TWO wild shaped druids going at the same time...

    Since the rules language specifically tells us the simulacrum obeys your commands, with zero provision for morale checks or self-preservation, I don't see how this discussion can end in anything other than a completely broken game...
    Last edited by CapnZapp; Monday, 20th May, 2019 at 12:44 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CapnZapp View Post
    Of course none of us are addressing the elephant in the china shop.

    Whether the simulacrum can read the newspaper kind of fades compared to HAVING A DISPOSABLE COPY OF A PARTY MEMBER.

    Talk about winning the game. No other buff comes close to another deadly fighter, or doubling your own caster DPS, or having TWO wild shaped druids going at the same time...

    Since the rules language specifically tells us the simulacrum obeys your commands, with zero provision for morale checks or self-preservation, I don't see how this discussion can end in anything other than a completely broken game...
    I agree with you on that. People get excited about the "army of sims" exploit, but even if you play the spell as straightforwardly as possible, it is still astonishingly powerful.

    IMO the spell should be something like: only at-will abilities, all damage is halved, and the sim has a max of like 20 hp. It would still be a great spell even with no combat utility at all, because it is ideal for infiltration and investigation scenarios. (Though perhaps the gp cost could be reduced in that version.)

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