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Let's assume a paranoid Lich casts Wish, wishing that his most valuable magic artifact XYZ can never be removed from his side.

PC party member Gandalf later wishes for this item to appear next to him, without its owner.

What happens? And would the result be different if Gandalf had explicitly included a phrase like "override any contradicting Wishes", if that's valid to include?

Assume that the GM permits both Wishes; quote from the spell description:

  • [examples]

You might be able to achieve something beyond the scope of the above examples. State your wish to the DM as precisely as possible. The DM has great latitude in ruling what occurs in such an instance; [...]

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    \$\begingroup\$ There are several down and close votes, but no comments. Please remember that comments help querents improve questions. As written, this seems like a reasonable thing that could happen and worth asking. If you disagree, I am curious why. \$\endgroup\$ – Pyrotechnical Sep 4 '18 at 0:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, if the answer is "there's no official guidance, it's up to the DM", that doesn't render the question unanswerable. (However, any answers should state that answer first if they intend to suggest a reasonable interpretation of how to resolve the situation.) \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Sep 11 '18 at 8:08
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You have to ask your GM

The effect of custom wishes is entirely in the purview of the GM. We get this quote from the spell description:

This spell might simply fail, the effect you desire might only be partly achieved, or you might suffer some unforeseen consequence as a result of how you worded the wish.

Any of these possibilities and so many more could be an option in this circumstance.

Some things for the GM to consider

  • The wording of the wishes. Wish has traditionally been a spell heavily influenced by wording so perhaps wishing the item to appear at your side teleports the lich with the item since the lich is not the rightful owner (perhaps the artifact was stolen). I'd be careful when abusing wording as the player can sometimes feel cheated or duped.
  • Unforeseen consequences. This is usually my favorite approach for "game-breaking" wishes. If the lich having the artifact is integral to the plot, perhaps the item divides into two parts. I've used this method before and it leads to lots of interesting developments, especially if the artifact gains the desire to be united adjusting its usefulness for both the PC and the NPC.
  • It might just fail. While this is often dissatisfying for the player, when properly described it can lead to a deal of gravitas with the situation. I've said things like "a great reality-fixing magic holds the artifact to the lich and your words of power are unable to separate the entities. The wish fails." (with different context of course). This shows the players the vast power of the lich and encourages more precaution when preparing to combat the creature.
  • What's more fun? What it mostly boils down to is what is best for the game so that everyone has a good time. This will depend on the table and the players involved (including the GM). Wish is a very fun spell when used properly and can lead to many shenanigans that spice up the story. Treating custom wishes like a plot steer-er rather than a set-in-stone mechanical option is the best approach from my experience.
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The DM could rule either way. There is nothing in wish preventing countering the effects of an earlier wish. Personally, as DM, I'd rule sideways:

With the wording given:

"I wish that my most valuable magic artifact XYZ can never be removed from my side."

and:

"I wish for XYZ to appear next to him, without it's owner."

I'd either be tempted to have the artifact and the litch's disembodied side, appear next to Gandalf. Or, if the artifact is too powerful, have the artifact "appear" beside him -- that would be to have the image of the artifact appear next to Gandalf.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Have you used either of these interpretations in a game in similar circumstances? How have they gone for you? Did the player feel cheated/was it fun for the table? \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Sep 4 '18 at 0:23
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Partially fulfilled, up to DM

This can range from the spell failing, to only getting part of the effect, to getting an undesired consequence.

The DM can consider partially fulfilling the contradicting Wish by ignoring the contradicting requirement. In your case, the restricting requirement "without its owner" will be ignored and the artifact will appear beside you.

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As others have said by the spells own wording says it is up to the DM. So this can only be recommendations to the DM.

The wish spell has a duration "instantaneous", so newer wish can trump the effects of older ones, the first wish alters the universe then ends, the second alters the universe in a different way then ends. The effects of a wish may be ongoing but the spell is not so the effects can be overwritten be an equally powerful spell, just like you can Stone Shape on stone that has already been shaped by Stone Shape. Wish might be better described as shape universe.

How the first wish was handled will also have an effect, did it create a adamantine chain linking the item to the person then surround him by an antimagic field centered on the object, did it just fuse it in to the persons hand, did it make the object the lich's new philatary, did it give him the ability to summon it at will, how did it make it unable to leave their side. Each of these would have very different answers.

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Personally what I like about stories with wishes is when you get what you said you wanted, and it's not what you wanted. (I love that Monkey's Paw...)

So when I read, "Gandalf later wishes for this item to appear next to him, without its owner," I teleport Gandalf to the item, with the lich behind it. The lich is not next to Gandalf, the item is.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ In that case, Gandalf appeared next to the item though, not the item next to Gandalf \$\endgroup\$ – PixelMaster Sep 12 '18 at 19:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would be aggressively abusing the ambiguity of "appear" --- which can mean, "to be seen." I would agree that if the wish had used the word "teleport" I wouldn't be able to use that ambiguity to be as annoying. \$\endgroup\$ – tom Sep 12 '18 at 19:55

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