Today I was thinking of a cool, high-level adventure to create. It involves a lich, and I thought it would be cool if his phylactery was a mirror.

Would such a thing fit the official lore/rules for liches? Or does the phylactery of a lich have to be a box in which their soul is stored?

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    \$\begingroup\$ What do you mean by "Is this legal?" Since you're creating the adventure, I'm assuming you're not being forced to abide by any rules. Or are you asking if this fits with the lore? (Also, there's a difference between "does it have to be a box?" and "can it be a mirror?". Which are you asking?) \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Feb 28, 2019 at 4:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ I know that I can bend the rules anyway I see fit, I was just wondering what the rules say since I missed it when I went through. \$\endgroup\$
    – Wise Man
    Commented Feb 28, 2019 at 4:14

3 Answers 3


Not a regular mirror.

A standard, silvered mirror doesn't have "an interior space into which arcane sigils of naming, binding, immortality, and dark magic" can be scribed, so switch it up, and use an infinity mirror, which very much does.

You have two mirrors facing each other, creating a hollow space, and, conveniently, the sigils have to be scribed in silver, which is also how mirrors could plausibly be made in D&D: silvering glass. If the runes are along the periphery, you would have the neat effect of them marching off into infinity.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I guess one of the points of a phylactery is for its nature as such to be hidden. I'm fairly certain that should the heroes make it into the evil lair and find a mirror with arcane symbols floating into infinity in the bedroom, that is the first thing that gets smashed. Points for flair though. \$\endgroup\$
    – Suthek
    Commented Feb 28, 2019 at 13:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ It is worth to note that, for all effects, the Infinity Mirror is still a box - just a very flat, stretched and specifically-built one. \$\endgroup\$
    – T. Sar
    Commented Feb 28, 2019 at 15:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Suthek Neither Sauron nor Voldemort got that memo. \$\endgroup\$
    – T. Sar
    Commented Feb 28, 2019 at 19:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Suthek: That's why you make the infinity mirror the decoy, and make the actual phylactery an unremarkable wooden box hidden under the floorboards. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kevin
    Commented Feb 28, 2019 at 21:03

From the Lich's description on page 203 of the MM:

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.

A mirror probably doesn't count as having an "interior space into which arcane sigils are scribed" but if you're the DM and want to have the lich's phylactery as a mirror then you have the power to do just that. The rules are a guideline; they can be bent of broken as the DM sees fit.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Rule 0 does allow that. But if the characters know about the rules for a phylactery (assuming the players know) then they might ignore the mirror reasoning that it can't be it since it doesn't have an interior space. For that reason, if you do use a mirror, I'd suggest extra hints pointing the players towards it. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 28, 2019 at 6:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ Unless the mirror has a secret compartment? \$\endgroup\$
    – Kyyshak
    Commented Feb 28, 2019 at 9:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ in an esoteric sense, the "universe on the other side of the mirror" could be considered an interior space perhaps \$\endgroup\$
    – Nacht
    Commented Feb 28, 2019 at 10:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kyyshak Ohhh, so it's a medicine cabinet! \$\endgroup\$
    – David K
    Commented Feb 28, 2019 at 13:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Nacht Man! This gives me an idea! The runes are only seen in the reflection of the mirror, and when they look at the mirror they see runes in the room itself, but the room is not the container it's the mirror! Wheeeee :D \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 28, 2019 at 15:40

Any object can be a phylactery, as long as it has an interior space in which arcane sigils can be engraved. This goes for a mirror as well.

Traditionally, mirror does not have such a space, but with a bit of creativity, you can make sure your mirror does. For example:

  • There can be a hidden compartment in the mirror's frame

  • The bezels of the mirror can be raised, basically meaning that the mirror is at the bottom of a shallow "box". If you want, you can add a lid to the box in the form of a door (which can still be there or have been lost) that can close the mirror

  • Extrapolating from that, the mirror could be the back pane of a "cupboard" that is hanging somewhere

  • The mirror could be the "lid" of some object, the inside of which could possibly even be extra-dimensional (for added spookiness, it could be a one-way mirror if you want, allowing someone on the other side to see through it)

  • Extrapolating from that, the mirror could actually be the door of a medicine cabinet as you often see in the real world

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    \$\begingroup\$ I like the idea of the mirror being the lid to an inter-dimensional container. \$\endgroup\$
    – Arluin
    Commented Feb 28, 2019 at 22:41

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