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I've been looking everywhere on the internet for an answer to this but it seems nobody has even asked the question from what I can find.

In D&D 5e, I want to know if one can kill the physical body of a creature who has used a spell like Astral Projection. All the questions about this spell that I've seen on this site and others only seem to address whether and how to kill the astral version of the creature, not the physical one. I want to address the latter.

From this link discussing Sequester, it seems obvious that taking damage ends the suspended animation effect. So, what about Astral Projection? Would attacking the body kill the astral version as well? Would taking damage automatically bring the astral version back to the physical body?

To put it another way: Let's say you project yourself to the Astral Plane to hide from a group of creatures that are hunting you on the Material Plane. However, they eventually find your body, which is just lying there in suspended animation. Lacking the ability to Dispel Magic, they simply try to attack your physical body. Can they just go to town attacking your body and eventually kill you, or is your body immune to damage while under the effects of the spell (thus making Astral Projection function much differently from Sequester, despite the fact that they are both called "suspended animation" effects)?

The PHB (p. 215) gives no indication of whether this would be possible. It mentions that

The material body you leave behind is unconscious and in a state of suspended animation; it doesn’t need food or air and doesn’t age.

But this does not deal with effects that would damage or destroy the body from the outside, or other harmful spells or effects besides Dispel Magic. It also mentions that

Your astral form is a separate incarnation. Any damage or other effects that apply to it have no effect on your physical body, nor do they persist when you return to it.

but it does NOT state whether or not the reverse is also true.

My own interpretation is that there seems to be nothing special about this spell that would prevent the destruction of the body. If that is the case, the spell is only as good as the body is safe from attack. (As an aside, I assume then that the destruction of the body would also end the spell in that the connection between body and astral self would be severed. Would it therefore trap the soul in the Astral Plane without a way to return to a body on the Material Plane? Or would the soul cease to exist without the body?)

Thank you for consideration and I look forward to receiving some thoughts on the matter.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Historical note: In every previous edition that had the astral projection/astral spell spell, stabbing an astrally projecting person's unattended body was both possible and highly effective. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Jul 24 '17 at 10:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why would someone able to cast astral projection use astral projection to hide from hunters? \$\endgroup\$ – Mindwin Jul 24 '17 at 12:34
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If a creature's original body or its astral form drops to 0 hit points, the spell ends for that creature. (PHB 215)

So if they beat up the body enough, the astral form will meld back into it and you start rolling death saves as normal.

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Easiest answer is - how do you want to treat the situation? What advances the plotline? What are the implications in your game of making the physical body indestructable - which is the natural conclusion if you consider that the body is not subject to damage.

Will damage to the body be something the astral form is immediately aware of, or will they only become aware when their physical body is destroyed?

The lack of a rule to cover a specific situation in the game is liberating, and not a limitation. Inevitably, the only demand on you from your players is one of reasonableness and consistency.

From a 'reasonableness' point of view, if the physical body of an astral form is not subject to physical damage, you might expect to find 'empty husks' of travelers from time to time. I think it'd be far more reasonable to expect people to set wards to protect their physical form when travelling - which argues that they would have a reason to protect it. Furthermore, (personally) - wouldn't you think it reasonable that there's some downside of casting Astral Projection?

It's easy to forget that RPGs cannot possibly prescribe rules for all potential situations - it's a feature, not a bug - and that it's your interpretation as GM that adds the flavor to the game. In this situation, I think it'd be entirely reasonable for the human husk to be vulnerable, and for the astral traveler to be alert to any damage inflicted on the physical body. Indeed, a prudent traveler would probably be well advised to set wards or alarms upon his fragile physical form as a precaution.

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