I have an idea for a cool chaotic BBEG. His/her ultimate goal is to completely destroy existence.

Could a Wish be cast in such a way as to create a paradox, allowing me to destroy existence? Or does the wish "altering reality" part of the spell indicate that it cannot produce a paradox?

For example, "I wish I was never born"?

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    \$\begingroup\$ One part of this question that I don't understand: Why would "creat[ing] a paradox... destroy existence"? I feel like there's a logical leap or inference there that I don't get. \$\endgroup\$
    – DuckTapeAl
    Jan 10, 2018 at 1:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ ♦ Reminder: comments are for clarifying content, not posting small or incomplete answers. Please only use answer posts to submit answers on the site. Prior comments containing answers have been removed. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 10, 2018 at 21:07

4 Answers 4


It's important to differentiate between what a Wish spell can definitely do and what a wish spell can maybe do.

A Wish spell can reliably do any of the following:

  • duplicate other spells (with max spell level depending on whether it's a wizard/sorceror spell and whether the spell's school is prohibited to you)
  • undo otherwise permanent spells such as geas or insanity
  • create a nonmagical item worth no more than 25kgp
  • create a magic item, or improve an existing magic item
  • give a +1 inherent bonus to one ability score
  • remove any one kind of affliction from a group of creatures
  • revive the dead as with resurrection
  • teleport a creature to a location of your choice on any plane
  • force a re-roll of any 1 roll made in the last round

If you wish for something on that list, then you get exactly what you wished for.

If you wish for anything that is not on that list, then the result is entirely up to the GM, and the spell not only allows but encourages the GM to twist your wish into a result you didn't want.

If you are the GM, then you can allow an NPC to get anything they wish for, but you probably shouldn't. If you start letting NPCs wish for crazy world-altering effects, eventually the players are going to be capable of casting Wish and they'll expect to be able to mess up your world the same way.

If you need an NPC to be able to produce an effect that the players should never be able to produce, then make up some elaborate ritual, divine intervention, or other special circumstances that are needed to accomplish the effect, which will never be available to the players. Absolutely do not use a spell the PCs can cast, because that sets the expectation that they can use that same spell to achieve the same results.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 10, 2018 at 21:07

As the inquirer noted, RAW, "reality reshapes itself to accommodate the new result." This implies paradoxes will not be created, or alternatively, that the new reality created permits both halves of the paradox without contradiction. While it's less valuable an observation, one can also note that certain wishes may only be partially fulfilled, implying there is a limit to Wish's scope.

For the record, wishing oneself to have never been born does not generate a paradox, as Wish is not the only manner in which to never exist. (For example, if one's mother had rejected one's father's advances, it very well might come to the same desired result of your nonexistence. "Wish" in this case would create such a mundane history in order to avoid a paradox.)


It works that way if you say it does

In 3.5, wish produces an effect selected from the list in its spell description (here). It produces those effects reliably and without any particular complication1.

However, wish also notes that:

You may try to use a wish to produce greater effects than these, but doing so is dangerous. (The wish may pervert your intent into a literal but undesirable fulfillment or only a partial fulfillment.)

So, if you try to use wish "off-label," if and how it works is entirely DM fiat. Asking how wish works in that case has only one answer: ask your DM. Since you are the DM, only you can answer that.

Should it work that way?

Probably not.

First, it's way out of line with the rest of the effects. Used as indicated, wish is powerful. But it's not world-changing. Heck, it's not even city-changing. At worst, I would expect a wish paradox to have some local effect, like a local antimagic field effect ("because it's draining all the local background magic in an infinite loop!")2.

More importantly though: it doesn't give your players much to engage with. If you use wish as your vehicle for this, your BBEG will go from no threat at all to suddenly able to destroy everything with a standard action. How do you expect your players to counter that? Are they racing to find him before he levels up enough? That's iffy with scrolls and such. Is he trying to get access to wish early, perhaps through BoVD sacrifices or some elaborate ritual? If so you already have an elaborate ritual built in, and may as well go directly from there to the end of the world, without putting wish in the middle.

  1. Obviously the DM can rule that items off that list have secret drawbacks, (e.g. removing an affliction with wish reverts a player to infancy pre-affliction), but the DM can just as easily rule that the same player has a flat chance to chokes on a bone and die every time he eats fish. Neither has any particular rules support behind it. Absent some compelling reason, neither should be entertained.

  2. Note that I haven't tried this effect in play and can't vouch for it specifically. I give it as an example for scope only.


This is D&D. Anything can do anything, if the DM says so.

If, however, you want a playable game with consistency, we'll see what we can do.

A wish has a list of effects. Anything wished for elsewise is encouraged to be twisted into something that the wisher does not want, the more powerful the wish the more twisted.

If an effect this strong was easy to get, well, players get wishes all the time. We shouldn't give the BBEG the same ability and make the BBEG's version better for no good reason.

So let us come up with a reason why the BBEG can do this, and make it one that can involve the PCs getting involved.

In order for a BBEG to make a wish that cannot be twisted even though it destroys reality, the wish must be perfect. So perfect that it cannot be twisted.

It has to be perfect words said with perfect intent.

Finding the perfect words and creating a being to state them with perfect intent is going to be much harder than simply casting wish. If the BBEG simply states a naive paradox, something that the BBEG didn't intend will happen and probably defeat the BBEG.

So the BBEG needs a perfect oracle, and a perfect creature to make the wish. If the BBEG has both, they can end reality.

For an example of a source of a perfect oracle, suppose the God of Truth owed a favour to a mortal, and promised them a Truth. This Truth was never "cashed in". The God of Truth cannot lie, and has perfect oracular abilities. So the BBEG seeks to get the right to ask the question of the God of Truth.

Maybe a particular bloodline has the right to ask the question, or the holder of a particular object, or someone with a particular position (like the Queen of a particular land). Or all 3; bloodline, crown and throne. So the BBEG's initial plot is setting up a Queen of Ancient Royal Blood in a revived ancient empire, crowning her, and then compelling her to ask a specific question of the God of Truth.

At this point, the BBEG could seem to be a good guy (with some foreshadowing), where they overthrow some despotic kingdom to place the Rightful Returned Queen on the Throne (in exchange for a simple favour; asking that one question, bound by magic to occur).

Once the question is asked, the BBEG now knows the words and what kind of creature has to say it. And the PCs become aware of the BBEG's plan, because they are there when the BBEG asks the question (or they get to talk to a witness).

Naturally the wish is in the ancient language of the Gods -- the language of Creation itself -- as no other language can express the paradox in a way that cannot be warped, and only a God can speak that langauge properly.

The BBEG now tries to acquire a God to ask the question, while the PCs race to stop the BBEG.


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