D&D 5E Wishes and Simulacrums (+)

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
I'm not sure exactly how "plus threads" are supposed to work, but basically "don't allow the wish spell" posts won't be helpful. I'm looking for advice based on the fact that a player now has the ability to cast wish.

My campaign has reached the point where I have a player with a wizard who just leveled to 17th level. So he has simulacrum and wish. I would appreciate advice on how, starting with RAW--but am open to home-brew rules, to adjudicate the use of wish beyond using it to cast other spells. I would prefer some frame works I can use to fairly adjudicate the results of the wish spell.

One thing I didn't really think about until recently is that his simulacrum will be able to cast wish. That greatly reduced the risks of using wish. The risk of never being able to cast wish again and the necrotic damage only affects the caster. So when that sim is gone, then the next sim starts fresh. If I'm missing anything in terms of RAW, let me know.

I have some ideas based on the cosmology of my world, that will affect the results of a wish based upon how they impinge on various deities and powerful creatures domains, but right now, I would appreciate whatever wisdom and links this community is willing to share.
 

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Stalker0

Legend
So the Wish spell itself provides several options beyond duplicating a spell, so I would use those as a starting point. For example, the wish spell allows a single reroll at any point within the last turn (ie 6 seconds). So if a player is trying to change something back in time....its likely going to be a pretty minor change or very recent, or you would be well in your rights to mess with the effect. You can't create magic items by default, and even non-magical objects are no greater than 300 feet in any direction as other examples.

All of this implies that as cool as wish is....its not meant to be the Genie's lamp from Aladdin. Players shouldn't wish the BBEG dead or destroy an entire plane or something without serious consequences, the frameworks within the wish spell are a lot less grand than that by default. If a player tries to get grand with it, you are well within your rights to create some secondary consequences.

In terms of the simulacrum, if you want pure RAW, then yeah a simulacrum can cast the wish, suffer its effects, and the main caster is protected from them. So to prevent abuse, I would use secondary consequences of the wish itself that could still have impact on the main caster. Again as noted above, the spell very clearly outlines that DMs are well within their rights to mess with a wish outside the guidelines, and honestly the guidelines for things beyond spell replication are somewhat limited in scope.... so feel free to use that to ensure the player isn't getting to cast wish "scott free".
 

Personally I'd just make it clear that the setting's supply of ruby dust is fairly limited, and thus that they will only get a few shots at having a simulacrum with a 9th level spell slot available (I wouldn't feel bad since they can now Wish one without a 9th level spell slot every damned day if they want).

Whether there is really a problem is a matter of the scale of the offbook wishes they make. If they are using them to try to nullify major encounters, substantially rewrite the game rules, score magical swag you don't want them to have, or otherwise make the DM's life hard then it's monkey's paw time. If they are just trying to achieve things that feel on the scale of 9th level magic I'd grant the wishes. If they are using it to acquire mundane wealth (not in the form of precious ruby dust) I'd also let that go, because at 17th level they've probably trancended that mattering to anything except the setting economy. If they are using it to accomplish character goals then more power to them.
 


EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
Unfortunately, pre-defined major, lingering consequences for unorthodox uses of wish by a simulacrum are quite limited, forcing you into the realm of "creative" solutions (which may come across as punitive/"unfair" if the player couldn't have predicted them in advance) or house-rule territory.

If you want to stick exclusively to RAW, then you'll have to get at least a little harsh with the off-label wishes. The simple options would be stuff like if the player wishes the BBEG were dead, then the simulacrum (and only the simulacrum) gets teleported forward in time to a period where the BBEG is already dead, effectively wasting both the wish and the simulacrum at the same time. As stated, though, this risks coming across as punitive, as it's kind of the "nuclear option," but that is always a RAW fallback if you feel cornered. In order to get more specific, I would need to know more about the wizard as a character, the player's personality and style, and the overall tone of the campaign. If this is a comedy-relief character with a committed player (that is, a serious roleplayer who is actually playing a good, funny character) and the overall tone of the game is lighthearted, then silly or ridiculous results are very likely appropriate so long as they keep at least a little bit of the spirit of the wish even if it's not quite what the player wanted. If it's a dour no-nonsense character played by a powergamer in a grim-and-gritty game, then you're probably within your rights to push the envelope at least as much as the player does, if not moreso.

Alternatively, this sort of trick could be known...and generally avoided due to drawing the attention of powerful entities. Be they humanoid spellcasters, immortal guardians of magic, lords of the fey, deities, underworld/fiendish beings, or entities from beyond the walls of reality, someone will pick up on this sort of shenaniganery, and arrive to stop, manipulate, control, or recruit the wizard. This has the benefit that you can (mostly) allow the wishes to work "as intended," avoiding the biggest reasons the player might feel you're being punitive, but it comes at the cost of possibly feeling like a rugpull (if they're 17th level, how come they never heard of the Society for Preventing Alarming Magic Misuse before? Where were all these SPAMMers hiding?!), or of forcing the whole party to get embroiled in magic-political annoyances that they didn't ask for. Again, "harsh" can be in the eye of the beholder, but some may find "you nixed my perfectly reasonable rules interaction by making me jump through an endless set of hoops until I stopped" a reason to get upset. Your mileage will definitely vary.

But let's say you're willing to depart from RAW. In general, when I depart from RAW, I either prefer to make it explicit well in advance, or I prefer to "yes and..." it rather than just saying "no," or if I cannot justify "yes" at all, "no, but..." and trying to be as generous as possible. In this case, the player has clearly found an interaction in the rules that works, so outright taking it away--or, IMO worse, pretending to permit it while effectively banning it via horrible over-the-top negative consequences--seems unwarranted. On the flipside, wish is an extremely powerful spell (consider, for example, that Penny Arcade comic about the issues with the Deck of Many Things' wish card), one that can easily harm the whole game experience if the player is allowed to ride roughshod over all semblance of logic, causality, or good sense. Some possible non-RAW tweaks to address the issue, of increasing severity (and, thus, stuff lower on the list should be reserved for more abusive usage/wishes or players who refuse to 'play ball'):
  • Any wish that affects the simulacrum (for example, by transporting it through time or to other locations) temporarily prevents the wizard from casting simulacrum again. When the simulacrum is destroyed, they will be free to use the spell again, but so long as it remains AWOL, the wizard is no longer able to use this trick. This respects the player's discovery of this interaction (the wish spells can still fire), but egregious wishes take away the ability to exploit this trick.
  • While the simulacrum may take the risk of never being able to cast wish again, some amount of feedback still affects the wizard himself. Perhaps an off-label wish that strays too far could prevent him from casting wish for a week, or until the moon completes a full cycle, or until the next equinox, solstice, or cross-quarter day. (These are dispersed about 1/8th of the year around, so about every six weeks.) Or perhaps there's magical biofeedback from the wish effect, so any "spillover" damage the simulacrum experiences would carry over to the Wizard. Again, this respects discovering and using the interaction, but puts some kind of limiter on it. Obviously, the longer the wait, the harder this hits; a much harsher variant would step up the delay each time it happens, e.g. one week, then a lunar month, then the next solstice/equinox, then a whole year, a decade, and finally permanent.
  • Simulacrum cannot sustain more than one simulacrum at a time; if you cast it while you already have any around, any existing simulacra are destroyed. As a result, one could argue that the wizard doesn't create different simulacra, he just creates the one simulacrum repeatedly, and thus the risk of your simulacrum being unable to cast wish again remains even if you yourself can still cast it. Potentially you could temper this by saying that gaining a level reverses such loss because simulacra cannot change, yet by definition a simulacrum produced by a 17th level wizard is different from the one produced by that same wizard at 18th level. (I'd argue that the harshest version of the previous option is harsher than this overall option, just for clarity.)
  • There's a random probability that the negative consequences of a wish spell apply to the wizard himself, not his simulacrum, because the two are so similar. The softest version would be something like "roll a d100, on 01 you get hit with all negative consequences" or "roll with Advantage, if both dice are nat 1s you get hit with all negative consequences." A middle-of-the-road version is probably a natural 1 on a d20. A harsh version would step up the threshold over time, with the harshest doing so by large amounts without allowing any reduction (e.g. at first it's nat 1 only, then anything 5 or less, then anything 10 or less, anything 15 or less, and then only a crit will save you.) This is relatively harsh because it implicitly invalidates at least part of the discovered interaction, but it at least allows some amount of opportunity to benefit from the discovery.
  • Finally, harshest of all, you could just rule that every negative impact that affects the simulacrum always affects the spellcaster too. This essentially soft-bans this rules interaction, since there's now no difference between having the simulacrum cast wish and doing it yourself, other than whether you spend an 8th level or 9th level spell slot...which you only get one a day of either of those. I personally don't recommend you do this, but this is pretty much the end of the line, the only more restrictive thing you could do is just outright explicitly ban a simulacrum from casting wish in the first place.
As I mentioned above, there are other possibilities for how you can deal with this, but they depend on having an invested, cooperative player who is more motivated by narrative losses and concern for the world or people in it than for pure, individual character power. If the consequences of a poorly-structured or dangerous wish are bad enough that the player chooses not to use the power except when it's really, really important to them, that naturally leads to limitations on exploiting it. If done well, particularly on the back of forthright and adult conversations with the player, this can also quite easily avoid any issue of feeling punitive, as an invested and cooperative player will generally understand and accept that "with great power comes great responsibility."

Well short of banning the spell or houserules it's a legit combo.

So you can fix it or not. Houserules or ban pick your poison.
These are far from the only two options. Why push it to such a false dichotomy?
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
So the Wish spell itself provides several options beyond duplicating a spell, so I would use those as a starting point. For example, the wish spell allows a single reroll at any point within the last turn (ie 6 seconds).
On this point, as I read the text of the spell, these options still come with the necrotic damage and 33% chance of never being able to cast the spell again, something that surprised me upon a rereading.

The stress of casting this spell to produce any effect other than duplicating another spell weakens you. After enduring that stress, each time you cast a spell until you finish a long rest, you take 1d10 necrotic damage per level of that spell. This damage can't be reduced or prevented in any way. In addition, your Strength drops to 3, if it isn't 3 or lower already, for 2d4 days. For each of those days that you spend resting and doing nothing more than light activity, your remaining recovery time decreases by 2 days. Finally, there is a 33 percent chance that you are unable to cast wish ever again if you suffer this stress.
Emphasis mine.

Basically, the only risk-free way to use wish that gives the wizard something new is to cast a spell that you don't know, including spells reserved for another character class. With this strict reading, all the alternative effects listed are just examples.

So if a player is trying to change something back in time....its likely going to be a pretty minor change or very recent, or you would be well in your rights to mess with the effect. You can't create magic items by default, and even non-magical objects are no greater than 300 feet in any direction as other examples.

All of this implies that as cool as wish is....its not meant to be the Genie's lamp from Aladdin. Players shouldn't wish the BBEG dead or destroy an entire plane or something without serious consequences, the frameworks within the wish spell are a lot less grand than that by default. If a player tries to get grand with it, you are well within your rights to create some secondary consequences.
True. I'm just trying to come up with some guidelines to help me make decisions on the fly. I'm not sure if all the guidelines I come up with will be shared with the player or not, but I do want to give him an idea as to what he should understand the limits and risks to be.

I'm thinking that if used to enhance an existing spell or remove certain limits from an existing spell, or to cause a very spell-like effect (something I could see being a 1-8th level spell), I would likely let it happen even without the side effects.

Some things that would just not work might include:

  • Changing alignment. Alignment is used and is important in this campaign. This messes with the divine order and just wouldn't work.
  • Certain changes to the timeline and history would not work for similar reasons. But I haven't sussed this out yet.

The will of the gods and the divine order is going to trump a wish spell. But again, I'm just starting to think through what this means.

In terms of the simulacrum, if you want pure RAW, then yeah a simulacrum can cast the wish, suffer its effects, and the main caster is protected from them. So to prevent abuse, I would use secondary consequences of the wish itself that could still have impact on the main caster. Again as noted above, the spell very clearly outlines that DMs are well within their rights to mess with a wish outside the guidelines, and honestly the guidelines for things beyond spell replication are somewhat limited in scope.... so feel free to use that to ensure the player isn't getting to cast wish "scott free".
Yeah. I was chatting with the player about this. I was originally going to rule that the 33% percent chance of never being able to cast wish again would apply to the PC, not just the simulacrum, but the player wasn't happy with this. I could say that this would affect all simulacrums. So he could end up with no future sims ever being able to cast wish. But I'll probably just stick to RAW. I would rather make using wish risky and unpredictable in more interesting ways than just "you may never be able to cast it again."
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Personally I'd just make it clear that the setting's supply of ruby dust is fairly limited, and thus that they will only get a few shots at having a simulacrum with a 9th level spell slot available (I wouldn't feel bad since they can now Wish one without a 9th level spell slot every damned day if they want).
Wish only has verbal components. I'm not seeing the relavance of ruby dust. Was that a required component in earlier editions?

EDIT: Sorry, you mean the simulacrum spell components.

Whether there is really a problem is a matter of the scale of the offbook wishes they make. If they are using them to try to nullify major encounters, substantially rewrite the game rules, score magical swag you don't want them to have, or otherwise make the DM's life hard then it's monkey's paw time. If they are just trying to achieve things that feel on the scale of 9th level magic I'd grant the wishes. If they are using it to acquire mundane wealth (not in the form of precious ruby dust) I'd also let that go, because at 17th level they've probably trancended that mattering to anything except the setting economy. If they are using it to accomplish character goals then more power to them.
Agreed. I'm just trying to come up with some guidelines to avoid having to bring the game to stop whenever it is cast.
 
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MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Well short of banning the spell or houserules it's a legit combo.

So you can fix it or not. Houserules or ban pick your poison.
I'm going with a third option: allow it and find ways to make using it unpredictable and dangerous the more the wish deviates from effects that seem within the realm of an 8th level or lower spell.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I'm going with a third option: allow it and find ways to make using it unpredictable and dangerous the more the wish deviates from effects that seem within the realm of an 8th level or lower spell.

That's pretty much houserule territory. I don't disagree I would ask the player not to abuse it wish or simulacrum are fine not togather.

Plan B is ban simulacrum or errata it.

If they didn't new campaign level 1.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
My campaign has reached the point where I have a player with a wizard who just leveled to 17th level. So he has simulacrum and wish. I would appreciate advice on how, starting with RAW--but am open to home-brew rules, to adjudicate the use of wish beyond using it to cast other spells. I would prefer some frame works I can use to fairly adjudicate the results of the wish spell.

One thing I didn't really think about until recently is that his simulacrum will be able to cast wish. That greatly reduced the risks of using wish. The risk of never being able to cast wish again and the necrotic damage only affects the caster. So when that sim is gone, then the next sim starts fresh. If I'm missing anything in terms of RAW, let me know.

I have some ideas based on the cosmology of my world, that will affect the results of a wish based upon how they impinge on various deities and powerful creatures domains, but right now, I would appreciate whatever wisdom and links this community is willing to share.
Ok, at this point, this player has basically "won the game" with this combination. They can, RAW, literally have a new simulacrum of themselves every round (6 seconds) with nearly full spellcasting capability. Hopefully, your player hasn't found THAT exploit!?

The best way to house-rule IMO is:

1. Instead of saying just you can only have one simulacrum in existence at any time (RAW) you add: a creature can only have one simulacrum of itself in existence at any time, otherwise prior simulacrum disappears/is destroyed/etc. This takes care of the exploit mentioned above.

2. Make it so wish can only be cast by a creature that has learned it or is using a scroll or item. Simulacrum cannot learn, so that would solve that problem. This solves the simulacrum casting wish issue.
 

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