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DMG 47 states,

Only the severing of a character's silver cord while on the Astral Plane (or the death of his or her helpless physical body on the Material Plane) can result in the character's true death.

MM 160 states,

On a critical hit against a target in an astral body (as with the astral projection spell), the githyanki can cut the silvery cord that tethers the target to its material body, instead of dealing damage.

Does this mean that if the githyanki deals a critical hit against an astral traveler, it can choose to instantly kill its target?

That's what the feature seems to imply, but given that the githyanki has a ~10% chance of rolling a 20 on at least one of its two attacks per round, that makes fighting githyanki on the astral plane exceedingly deadly. Am I reading this correctly?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ it is 5% (1 in 20 => 100 / 20 = 5%) not 10% \$\endgroup\$ – Mindwin Jun 5 '17 at 4:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mindwin, the githyanki has two attacks, and only one of them needs to be a 20 for the instant kill, so that increases the probability. \$\endgroup\$ – Icyfire Jun 5 '17 at 5:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Mindwin: The math is 1-0.95^2 = 9.75%, which I'd say is fair to replace with "~10%". \$\endgroup\$ – Voo Jun 5 '17 at 9:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Voo I stand corrected. \$\endgroup\$ – Mindwin Jun 5 '17 at 13:42
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Yes, a githyanki will kill an astrally projected creature on a critical hit (which occurs 5% of the time for each non (dis)advantaged attack).

However, since they can't kill you at all if they don't get a critical this seems fair enough. Especially when you consider that none of the other creatures you meet on the Astral Plane get this benefit, so they really can't hurt you.

Of course, many creatures you meet on the Astral can kill you in ways that don't involve hitting you with a sword but then, you're playing with the big boys now. Also, at these levels, death is a minor inconvenience rather than a major disaster.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Dale You might want to spell out a bit more clearly what you mean by "death is a minor convenience" since the high level spells that recover from that may not be on hand in a given party \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jun 4 '17 at 23:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast I took it for granted that a party with access to Astral Projection would have access to many methods of reversing death \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M Jun 5 '17 at 0:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ +1, though I was considering a much weaker party entering the Astral Plane through a portal. While 18th level adventurers can handle it easily, I'm not sure 10th level ones could. \$\endgroup\$ – Icyfire Jun 5 '17 at 5:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Icyfire FYI "A character who travels bodily to the Astral Plane (by means of the plane shift spell or one of the rare portals that leads directly there) has no silver cord." \$\endgroup\$ – Purple Monkey Jun 5 '17 at 7:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Escroteitor A PC who travels to the astral plane through a portal or via plane shift can be injured and die in the usual fashion. PCs who go there via the astral projection spell have silver cords and can't be killed unless those cords are severed. (The explanation for this is that PCs using the astral projection spell leave their physical bodies behind; The body they use on the astral plane is their "astral form" and so doesn't have the vulnerability to injury that a physical body has.) \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Jun 5 '17 at 10:36

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