After my Ranger died, I talked to my DM about if the wizard I create next can eventually become a Lich and betray the party. He said he liked the idea and would try to implement it when I'm a level 17 wizard.

I was wondering what would happen if a Lich's phylactery is a piece of salt or sugar and it dissolved in the ocean. Would the ocean become the phylactery or would the Lich die? Would I even be able to make a piece of salt a phylactery? Even if I can do it, would it be too game-breaking?

I just want to know what I can and can't get away with.


This plan won't work (unless your DM allows it)

You are unable to create a phylactery purely out of salt

According to the Monster Manual entry for lich:

A phylactery is traditionally an amulet in the shape of a small box, but it can take the form of any item possessing an interior space into which arcane sigils of naming, binding, immortality, and dark magic are scribed in silver.

Assuming you got a chunk of salt large enough that you can hollow it out it still has to have runes scribed in silver which means the phylactery can't be purely salt. And silver is not going to dissolve in water like salt would. Thus, the plan of dissolving the entire phylactery is not going to work as expected.

Dissolving a phylactery would destroy it

If you dissolve your phylactery you destroy it. Dissolving is the act of destroying the chemical bonds of something and allowing the physical form to be completely broken down. However, in the case of a phylactery that physical form is required. There has to be a tangible object that souls can be fed to. And that object must have a cavity and have silver runes scribed on it. When the phylactery dissolves it meets none of these requirements. And neither does the ocean at large.

Dissolving a phylactery would be very difficult if not impossible

Destroying a lich’s phylactery is no easy task and often requires a special ritual, item, or weapon. 

It is unlikely that simply submerging a phylactery in water would be enough to destroy it. Phylacteries are powerful magic items and would likely not be able to be destroyed by the simple act of submersion in mundane water because of the powerful magic energies that power it and hold it together.

So what happens if you submerge a salt phylactery in water? Either it will be destroyed by dissolving or it will simply be unaffected by the water. Neither option allows you to make the whole ocean to be your phylactery.

There are no rules for PC liches

Even beyond what I talked about above it is worth mentioning that this entire scenario is already outside the scope of the rules essentially. There are only rules for DM controlled liches and no options exist for PCs at all. So the DM is going to have to create the rules for it on the fly with little to no guidance from the rules.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The simplest evidence for this: what happens when you drop a regular phylactery into acid? \$\endgroup\$ – anaximander Oct 10 '18 at 12:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ good, but there is a lich template and the DM would (assumably) control the character as if its alignment had changed drastically. \$\endgroup\$ – user50904 Mar 9 '19 at 4:39

I was wondering what would happen if a Lich's phylactery is a piece of salt or sugar and it dissolved in the ocean. Would the ocean become the phylactery or would the Lich die?

Assuming the salt-based phylactory was allowed, then this should count as destroying the phylactory, and the lich would not be able to reform its body when it was killed.

When you smash something, the parts of it all still exist. Scientifically, when you burn something, the ashes still contain the same atoms of the thing. If a dissolved phylactory counted as still existing, then those scenarios should still count too, and it would be an odd outcome.

Would I even be able to make a piece of salt a phylactery?

It would be unusual, but not restricted by RAW. I guess it would be carved rock salt or similar. Here is some rock salt jewellery - it would not take much to add an interior space to that.

Even if I can do it, would it be too game-breaking?

If the goal is to have a character that is near impossible to be permanently killed, it is not that game-breaking at level 17, because there are many ways to come back by that point.

However given that you want to set the character up as a villain at the end and have the other PCs fight them, it seems a little cheap, and in my opinion bends the rules too much to count as fun for anyone involved but you.

You might be able to find some clever way to hide find or move the phylactory that allows the character to come back once or twice extra before being destroyed permanently. Look through some spell options, or talk to your DM about this. The goal should ideally be to make the betrayal fun and epic for you all . . . no need to look for rule bending ideas when you have the DM on side with the idea. Maybe get some powerful minions assigned etc.


Salt or Sugar Cube Phylactery

tl;dr the sugar or salt crystal is destroyed leaving the lich without a phylactery or the phylactery is at the mercy of the ocean.

Destroyed by Dissolving

Tossing a salt or sugar crystal into water dissolves it and destroys the crystal. If the phylactery was the crystal, then it is destroyed. The lich does not die immediately, but it is then without a phylactery. This means the lich will not rejuvenate.

Magically not Destroyed

If the crystal retains its cohesion by magical means, then it would be just like any other non-dissolving crystal in the ocean. This would mean that the lich reappears near it when it rejuvenates, and that the phylactery is available to be found/destroyed/consumed by anything that it encounters.

  • \$\begingroup\$ How is the litch creating a salt phylactery in this situation? \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Oct 5 '18 at 18:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ A piece of salt could of any side including being very large. Salt crystals grow to enormous proportions in some places. You could carve an entire sarcophagus out of one with hieroglyphics and everything. \$\endgroup\$ – GcL Oct 5 '18 at 18:50

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