Looking for a short story where one wizard creates a spell that creates a copy one specific woman that lives in that town and then explores the impacts of the spell on the church, government, brothels, wizard guild and the woman.

The spell was named after the woman and the story might be too but I can't remember her name. I remember it provides a lot more questions than answers and it is supposed to be looked at as a thought experiment for Dungeons and Dragons.

Edit: I read this story online

  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. When and where did you read this? (Was it in an anthology, a magazine or online?)
    – DavidW
    Jul 21, 2022 at 17:21
  • @DavidW I read it online but I might have originated somewhere else.
    – TurtleTail
    Jul 21, 2022 at 17:46
  • There are lots of ways of creating copies in D&D. Simulacrum, for instance. Strictly speaking, it is an illusion spell, but the duplicate is so real that it has all the abilities of the target except being somewhat less durable (3.5e) or being less durable and unable to regain spells (5e). It cannot really learn, but has emotions and so forth.
    – Adamant
    Jul 21, 2022 at 18:54
  • @Adamant I know, I'm not looking for a spell, I'm looking for the story.
    – TurtleTail
    Jul 21, 2022 at 19:21

1 Answer 1


This is "A Spell Called Catherine" by goblinpunch (better known as the creator of the false hydra).


Just last month, Mendalusus finally capitulated to the demands of his friends, and shared a spell he had recently developed. It is simple enough any wizard past his apprenticeship can cast it. He calls the spell "Catherine".

Quite simply, the spell summons a woman of the same name. The spell lasts for several hours. She is young, attractive, blonde, and wears a large blue dress (although she can change into anything provided). In personality, she is quick to laugh and prone to pouting. In all respects, she acts exactly like a real human being. She is especially eager to obey any commands, as long as they are phrased politely.

The colleges of wizardry are in an uproar. There is a lot of discussion about whether Mendalusus violated some unwritten code of wizardry when he made a spell to summon a human.

The single most powerful institution in the world, the Church has already spoken out against the Catherine spell.

Last week, a woman was told that she couldn't buy grapefruit because she wasn't a real person. The grapefruit seller pointed to a nearby sign as evidence, and told her that she as a "spell effect". The "spell effect" complained to the guards, who promptly arrested her. She was held in custody while the guards waited for her to disappear. Except she didn't.

  • Yes, that is what I was looking for, thank you very much. Didn't know the author was the creator of the false hydra
    – TurtleTail
    Jul 21, 2022 at 20:29
  • 6
    'In all respects, she acts exactly like a real human being. She is especially eager to obey any commands' someone doesn't get out much...
    – Jontia
    Jul 21, 2022 at 20:40
  • That story is a bit confusing. It seems like the author thinks that the story would work without modification in D&D, but the story says that only unintelligent beasts could be summoned before, whereas in most versions of D&D, moderately powerful wizards are quite capable of summoning celestials or fiends that are smarter than most humans.
    – Adamant
    Jul 21, 2022 at 22:21
  • Furthermore, even though regular humans are rather weak, any summoning spell with a duration of a few hours would be well above level 1 (what "any wizard beyond their apprenticeship" is able to cast), since level 1 summoning spells tend to last around six seconds when cast at level 1. Most people were playing 3.5e back in 2013, where you would need Persistent Spell to get up to 24 hours and Extend Spell to double a spell's duration. If a human Commoner is weak enough that a spell to summon them for a round (6 seconds) would be a cantrip, 4 or 5 seems right for a spell that lasts hours.
    – Adamant
    Jul 21, 2022 at 22:24
  • 1
    @Adamant I'm not sure where you're getting that the author thinks it would work without modification in D&D. The blog is an OSR blog from someone who has written their own rpg and it even says at the end of the post "D&D + Pathfinder: Both great systems, but don't assume that they're in play here. "
    – Rhys
    Jul 22, 2022 at 6:34

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