It looks like 3.5e prevented the creation of a new phylactery.

It looks like some people were saying that it was possible in 4e. (as per comment in link above.)

I'm interested to know whether we have any knowledge of such happening in 5e yet?


4 Answers 4


Not while their original one exists and it's doubtful if they could after it is destroyed

There is no 5e Lore or rules covering this question specifically, but there are a number of inferences we can make from what we do have.

Can the Lich create multiple simultaneous phylacteries?

(Monster Manual > Lich > Secrets of Undeath)

A lich is created by an arcane ritual that traps the wizard’s soul within a phylactery. Doing so binds the soul to the mortal world, preventing it from traveling to the Outer Planes after death.

This makes it clear that part and parcel of becoming a Lich is binding their soul into their phylactery.

Since their soul is trapped in their original phylactery it is not possible to trap it in a second phylactery simultaneously.

If adventurers were to destroy the phylactery could the Lich create a replacement?

(Monster Manual > Lich > Secrets of Undeath)

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.

They certainly possess the knowledge to create a new item that could become a phylactery.

Can they re-trap their soul in the new item to make it their phylactery?

This is unclear, but they certainly can't use the original "Become a Lich" ritual!

(Monster Manual > Lich > Secrets of Undeath)

With its phylactery prepared, the future lich drinks a potion of transformation [...]. The wizard falls dead, then rises as a lich as its soul is drawn into the phylactery, where it forever remains.

Part of the ritual of trapping their soul in the phylactery is drinking the potion of transformation to turn them into an undead creature.

They can't undergo this transformation twice, thus they would need to find some other way of trapping their soul in the vessel beyond the method in the ritual they used to become a Lich.

Is the soul even available after the phylactery is destroyed for such a modification?

It's not clear.

(Monster Manual > Lich > Secrets of Undeath)

Doing so binds the soul to the mortal world, preventing it from traveling to the Outer Planes after death.

It's also clear from the text that the only thing preventing their soul from travelling to the Outer Planes is their phylactery.

If we presuppose that they could transfer their soul into the new vessel, there is the issue of where the soul is located. There are two possibilities:

  1. When the original is destroyed, the soul goes to the Outer Planes and is thus unavailable for the ritual unless the Lich Plane Shifts and embarks on a quest to find their soul
  2. The soul returns to the undead Lich's current form and is available

In the first case, the Lich has a relatively short amount of time to find the soul before they would decay into a demilich (since they have no phylactery to feed souls into).

(Monster Manual > Demilich)

The immortality granted to a lich lasts only as long as it feeds mortal souls to its phylactery. If it falters or fails in that task, its bones turn to dust until only its skull remains. This “demilich” contains only a fragment of the lich’s malevolent life force — just enough so that if it is disturbed, these remains rise into the air and assume a wraithlike form.

If they either find their soul on the Outer Planes, or the second case applies, the Lich has the same time pressure to discover a method of forcing their soul back into the new vessel before they become a demilich. This is not expected to be an easy task.


The Lich cannot have multiple phylacteries active simultaneously. They can't use the original ritual to create a new phylactery after their first is destroyed, so must find a different ritual (if it is even possible to do). If it is possible finding this ritual will be difficult (and potentially need to be performed on a clock). Even if they have the ritual available, it is unclear if their soul is available to them for the ritual.

Potential exception to the above

If the Lich could be returned to a living being they would then have the time and knowledge to perform the "Become a Lich" ritual again, complete with a new phylactery. There is of course the question of whether or not the ritual works on the same soul twice... if it doesn't then this transformation back to life simply prevents them from becoming a demilich.

If the Lich is less than 200 years old when their phylactery is destroyed they could have someone perform the True Resurrection spell on them to return them to life.

If they are more than 200 years old, then they cannot be returned to life short of Wish or Divine Intervention.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I was thinking, is there other ways to trap a soul aside from a phylactery? I mean, imagine if the lich put such device near its phylactery in case the heros destroy it in place. It's just food for thought. \$\endgroup\$
    – Chepelink
    Commented Mar 10, 2019 at 14:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ "Since their soul is trapped in their original phylactery it is not possible to trap it in a second phylactery simultaneously." Unless the original phylactery itself could be trapped in the new phylactery along with the soul within. Which would only be possible if the phylactery is turned into a soul-like substance while the soul is still trapped within, plus the same issues as with a backup phylactery, which I will address in a second comment. \$\endgroup\$
    – Egor Hans
    Commented Nov 12, 2019 at 13:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ So now, re needing another ritual for creating a new phylactery once the original one is destroyed: One way I could imagine this to work, is by having the soul possess a dying corpse while it (the soul) is still around, and then the possessed body can perform the standard Become a Lich ritual. In this case, I'm really unsure what happens to the original body. It might just entirely die as soon as the soul has a new body. Or the result are two Liches with a shared mind and a shared phylactery. In the latter case I would assume the Demilich clauses don't apply while possessing. \$\endgroup\$
    – Egor Hans
    Commented Nov 12, 2019 at 13:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @EgorHans Having one phylactery be trapped within another would slightly defeat the point of having a backup in case adventurers destroy your original one, since both would be co-located in space (and thus is one is found and destroyed so is the other). \$\endgroup\$
    – illustro
    Commented Nov 12, 2019 at 13:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @CRDrost 5e caps character levels at 20, even in epic-level play. By player character creation rules, if you have 18 levels in wizard, you can have at most 2 levels in druid. Of course, NPCs are not PCs and don't follow the same creation rules. A druidic lich sounds like a fascinating enemy. See also dracoliches, which are sort-of-liches but have no intrinsic wizard levels (instead relying on other wizards to perform the ritual). \$\endgroup\$
    – BBeast
    Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 10:08

The rules neither explicitly allow nor forbid it

The correct answer is that unlike earlier editions of D&D, there are no rules defining whether a lich can create a second phylactery when their original is destroyed. It's up to the DM.

What do the rules suggest?

Firstly, becoming a lich (Monster Manual p.202-203) requires a wizard to prepare a phylactery, perform an arcane ritual to place their soul inside that phylactery, then drink a potion of transformation to become a lich.

However, if the phylactery is destroyed, this does not destroy the lich. They cannot consume souls to maintain their form over the long term, and will be permanently slain if killed. This opens up the possibility that the lich wants to recreate their phylactery and perform the ritual to place their soul in it again, but whether this is possible relies on certain questions that don't have clear answers in the rules:

  1. Can the lich craft another phylactery? There seems to be no reason why they can't. They made one before, and it is not described as having any special components. Liches are generally described as only using one phylactery at a time, even the powerful Acererak, but I don't see any reason you couldn't craft spares, perhaps as decoys.
  2. Can the lich cast the ritual again? It's not specified whether the ritual to place a soul into a phylactery can be performed a second time, or requires the caster to be alive, and so on.
  3. Where is the lich's soul? The lich can operate normally at a distance from its soul or even on other planes. The soul might equally have passed on to the Outer Planes (DMG p.24), or returned to the lich's body as an undead. Does the lich need their soul in hand to cast the ritual? This is a complex unanswered question, with one of two possible likely answers that themselves have weird repercussions that have never been explored:
    1. Passed on: The phylactery is the only thing the lich's soul from passing on after its initial death upon drinking the potion of transformation. Once the phylactery is destroyed, the soul may simply pass on. A lich's body can operate at any distance from its soul and even from another plane, so then a lich could survive even after its soul passed on to the afterlife.
    2. Returns to the lich: There is precedent for intelligent corporeal undead who retain their souls, such as vampires and revenants, but no particular rule which says the lich's soul reverts to the owner when the phylactery is destroyed. However, per PHB p.197-198 suggests that even an undead is not "dead" until it reaches 0 hit points. Since the lich returned to "life" (admittedly unlife), does it regain its soul, with the phylactery now keeping its soul out of its body for safekeeping?
  4. Does the lich need to drink another potion of transformation? Probably not. The potion simply makes them into a lich, but they're already a lich.

These details make the question really noodly, and the DM would have to answer these questions themself.

My own suggestion might be that a lich who supplicates Orcus for the secrets of undeath finds that upon the inevitable destruction of their phylactery, the soul travels to Orcus, who gets to keep it, and effectively gains the lich as a powerful servant.

An alternate, practical solution might simply be that if the lich has an underling slay him and raise him from the dead, he might be able to return to life as a normal person and begin the path to lichdom all over again.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Assuming that someone accepted to revive the Lich with a resurrection (and assuming it is done in time), would Orcus be able to prevent the Lich's soul from returning to a body? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 10, 2019 at 6:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AlexisWilke For resurrection to work, the soul must be free and willing. If the soul is imprisoned by a deity, it is not free. \$\endgroup\$
    – BBeast
    Commented Mar 10, 2019 at 10:44

Not yet...

Nope, no Voldemorts in 5e just yet.

However, keeping in mind that to become a Lich one must:

make bargains with fiends, evil gods, or other foul entities (5e MM, p. 203)

Perhaps it would be possible for the Lich to Wish for a new phylactery? Or at least Wish for the event that brought about the destruction of the phylactery to be undone.

Then, of course, there's always the Clone spell, which reads:

This spell makes an inert duplicate of a creature. If the original individual has been slain, its soul immediately transfers to the clone, creating a replacement (provided that the soul is free and willing to return).

It could be argued that the clone wouldn't activate until the phylactery, and soul trapped within, were destroyed, meaning that the Lich would simply harvest it's clone/soul again. A potentially interesting option for an exceptionally prepared Lich--and an option the Lich would hate to use up. How many pre-lich clones do you think he's got lying around?

All this is to say, the rules remain silent on whether a phylactery can be replaced.


Yes, there exists (or at one time existed) epic level magic in the D&D multiverse that allows for this. Specifically, Aumvor the undying — ancient Netherese lich — created a spell called Aumvor's fragmented phylactery. I believe it was a 10th or 11th level spell. Now in 5e this wouldn't be possible without permission from Mystra herself, but the spell does (or at least once did) exist.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Hi Matthew, welcome to RPG.SE. Remember to check out the tour and help center some time. This is an interesting bit of historical insight. Could you provide a bit more information/details/context, especially to help those who may not be familiar with epic level magic in the D&D universe (as it does not feature in 5e, as you noted)? Additionally, does this spell allow for creating a new phylactery if the old one is destroyed, or does it only allow for duplicating an existing phylactery? \$\endgroup\$
    – BBeast
    Commented Feb 29, 2020 at 23:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ I tried to salvage your answer with an edit, but honestly since the question asks about D&D 5e, you'll need to address the 5e context. What you are talking about was from previous editions. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 1, 2020 at 0:47

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