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Both the Talisman of Pure Good and the Talisman of Ultimate Evil deal damage to creatures of the wrong alignment who touch them (6d6 to neutrals and 8d6 to the exact opposite alignment). Here is the relevant passage for the Talisman of Pure Good:

A creature that is neither good nor evil in alignment takes 6d6 radiant damage upon touching the talisman. An evil creature takes 8d6 radiant damage upon touching the talisman.

What I'm wondering here is whether the contrary is true: if a creature of the wrong alignment gets touched by such a Talisman, would it take damage? And if so, what would be the mechanics of trying to attack a wrong-alignment creature with a Talisman if you are of the right alignment yourself?

  1. None, the target has to willingly touch the Talisman to be damaged by it and/or touching =/= being touched by.
  2. Unarmed strike on the target with the Talisman, dealing the damage on a hit (works with Extra Attack).
  3. Same, but Improvised Weapon instead of Unarmed Strike.
  4. Action to try to touch the target with the Talisman, who may get a Dexterity saving throw (against what DC?) to avoid it.
  5. Grapple check (Athletics VS either Athletics or Acrobatics), dealing the damage on a success (either in addition, or instead of, the grappled condition).
  6. Other mechanics.

Another thing to wonder is, if option 2 or 3 is the right one, whether, in addition to the 6/8d6 damage, the normal unarmed strike / improvised weapon damage would also apply.

I personally believe it would be option 3 (plus the regular improvised weapon damage), but it's better to verify on this site.

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The talisman can be used as an improvised weapon to strike a maligned creature for additional damage.

Nothing in the linked text indicates that the touching must be willful. In addition, this linked question has a highly upvoted answer on how to interpret the word "touch" with regard to rulings and is in line with my answer:

You are correct in deciding to go with your 3rd listed ruling. A creature could use the talisman as an improvised weapon to attack a maligned creature. On a successful strike against the target's AC, the attacking creature would deal 8d6 or 6d6 (alignment dependent) radiant damage plus the damage for an improvised weapon strike.

Improvised weapons include any object that you can wield in one or two hands, and can be as ridiculous as a dead goblin, per the PHB.

The DM has some leeway in determining how this works. Two DM dependent clauses in the PHB on improvised weapons are:

At the DM's option, a character proficient with a weapon can use a smiliar object as if it were that weapon and use his or her proficiency bonus

and

The DM assigns a damage type appropriate to the object.

This makes this use of the talisman pretty powerful; the above is how I would rule, and how it appears to work RAW.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Marvelous. I'll wait for other answers, but yours is very pleasing to me (for the record, I am playing a Tavern Brawler in Adventurers League and intend to eventually unlock a Talisman of Pure Good to go smackin' around with it -- a visually appleaing thing to imagine for sure). \$\endgroup\$ – Gael L Jan 16 at 20:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ You may want to note that an object can only be used as an improvised weapon with GM permission (as the GM has to rule on whether an object can be wielded): "an improvised weapon includes any object you can wield in one or two hands" \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Jan 16 at 20:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DavidCoffron Oh. Good point. So, as a DM, if you would rule that a Talisman can't be wielded in this way, which other mechanic would you apply ? \$\endgroup\$ – Gael L Jan 16 at 20:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @David Coffron I've checked the section on improvised weapons and didn't find anything on explicitly referencing the DM to disallow using any given item as an improvised weapon which fits the parameters in that section. I've added the DM dependent clauses to my answer. Thoughts? \$\endgroup\$ – Token Jan 16 at 20:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ At the very least, you could (probably) throw the talisman as an improvised ranged weapon, but in the case of a target wearing clothes, the DM may just say you hit a clothed portion of them. \$\endgroup\$ – Nicolas Budig Jan 16 at 21:05
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Ask your DM

Touch means several things, the most relevant being:

  1. to put your hand or another part of your body lightly onto and off something or someone

  2. (of two or more things) to be so close together that there is no space between; to be in contact

By the first definition, you touching them doesn’t qualify. By the second, it does.

Personally, I lean to ‘No’ because the phraseology “... upon touching ...” suggests, but only suggests, that it is an activity of the creature affected.

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