Per the Lich's Soul Sacrifice description, both the body and soul of the imprisonment spell's target are trapped inside the phylactery. The description also states that this imprisoned "creature" is destroyed in 24 hours.

the lich uses the [imprisonment] spell to magically trap the target's body and soul inside its phylactery.... A creature imprisoned in the phylactery for 24 hours is consumed and destroyed utterly, whereupon nothing short of divine intervention can restore it to life.

p. 203 Monster Manual 5e (emphasis mine)

If we are to interpret the term "creature" as referring to both the body and soul of the imprisoned entity, then the soul is destroyed utterly.

If the soul no longer exists, does it have any afterlife experience?

Additional thoughts:

Might a person voluntarily offer their soul to a lich to avoid judgment for their False or Faithless soul?

The last bit of the Soul Sacrifice description does state that divine intervention can restore a destroyed creature to life, so it likely would not be outside of the power of Kelemvor to recover a soul attempting to avoid his judgment.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I like your additional comment. It should be made into its own question so it can be answered directly. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 29, 2017 at 21:06

2 Answers 2


Short answer: Yes. A soul consumed in a phylactery avoids any afterlife, and once destroyed after 24 hours it is gone completely.

With the religious structure in Forgotten Realms, any type of afterlife is depending on the Deity the character worships. To the point that if the character does not worship any kind of Deity in the Forgotten Realms setting, then divine spells to bring the character back from the dead are not effective, and the character's soul is supposed to sit in a kind of limbo for the rest of existence.

Also, the Imprisonment spell traps both body and soul, so it's better to think of the character being transported to another realm. With both body and soul intact and still connected, the character should still have awareness of their surroundings. In this case, their existence is now inside the Lich's phylactery.

There is no source that describes any specifics about what a creature experiences inside a phylactery. Whatever the character perceives in there is up to the creativity of the DM and the player.

However, since the soul has to be free to be delivered to their Deity to experience an afterlife, the character wouldn't experience that. While in the phylactery, the character doesn't experience an afterlife. After that 24 hour period, the soul is destroyed, not transported to their deity to experience an afterlife.

  • \$\begingroup\$ What is the source for your claim that divine spells cannot return a person who does not worship a deity to life? \$\endgroup\$
    – illustro
    Mar 2, 2020 at 8:33
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @illustro it's not explicitly stated in any 5e material afaict, but is in prior editions; the 3e Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting states on page 39 that: "a character who dies without a patron deity cannot be raised from the dead by any mortal means short of a miracle or wish. When such a character dies, he is considered one of the Faithless, and his soul is used to form part of the wall around the realm of Kelemvor, god of the dead." That fate precludes the "soul is free and willing to return" requirement for all the resurrection spells. \$\endgroup\$
    – Carcer
    Mar 2, 2020 at 10:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Carcer thanks. It would be worth as.beaulieu noting that this caveat comes from other editions and not from 5e (as the question is explicitly tagged as a 5e question). \$\endgroup\$
    – illustro
    Mar 2, 2020 at 10:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ @illustro to be fair, you can easily arrive at the same conclusion by reading the 5e SCAG: "Souls that are unclaimed by the servants of the gods are judged by Kelemvor [...] The truly false and faithless are mortared into the Wall of the Faithless, the great barrier that bounds the City of the Dead, where their souls slowly dissolve and begin to become part of the stuff of the Wall itself." That doesn't sound like a soul "free" to return. \$\endgroup\$
    – Carcer
    Mar 2, 2020 at 11:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Carcer In FR Kelemvor's judgement is not instant. According to the section on Asmodeus in the same source, souls might wait centuries on the Fugue Plane before being judged. While they are waiting they are certainly free to leave (given they can make deals with Devils for their soul). \$\endgroup\$
    – illustro
    Mar 2, 2020 at 11:07

I noticed that the fate of a soul consumed by a phylactery appears to contradict stipulations on the matter regarding being devoured by an atropal in Tomb of Annihilation, so there may well be something different between the two situations.

Given the contradiction it does seem like something amenable at least to DM discretion even without direct invocation of "rule 0".


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