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I'm thinking of using the following setup for a long-term villain in a campaign I'm planning:

A Lich, for whatever reason, has a prepared Clone spell hanging around (maybe paranoia, maybe a forgotten remnant of pre-lichdom, doesn't matter why). Assume the Lich is physically destroyed, and the phylactery is found and destroyed before the Lich manages to fully re-corporate nearby. Would the soul of the Lich then transfer to the Clone and become alive again? Do any rules or lore exist to say this combination would or would not function?

Note that I am not interested in answers where the phylactery is destroyed before the Lich is destroyed, and the resulting unsureness of where the soul would go.

Related answer here, related question and answer here. D&D 5e answers preferred, but rules/lore from earlier editions or PF will be given consideration for guidelines if 5e has nothing.

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This wouldn't work

1. It can't happen after becoming a lich

From Clone "This spell grows an inert duplicate of a living creature ..." - the lich is not living and is an invalid target for Clone.

2. It can't happen before becoming a lich

"... if the original creature dies, its soul transfers to the clone, provided that the soul is free and willing to return"; the guy or gal wants to become a lich so their soul isn't "willing to return" - they want to put it in the phylactery.

After that, there is no longer an "original creature" that can use the clone; just the lich - a new creature.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree, however, as a DM I would put the procedure of becoming a lich as dominant over the clone spell effect since you are essentially doing a long, arduous ritual suicide. But that is just a table variation. :) \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Apr 4 at 2:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think i follow. The spell doesn't say it is discharged if the user dies and refuses to come and i an pretty sure the lich who gets destroyed wants to inhabit the body. \$\endgroup\$ – Maiko Chikyu Apr 4 at 8:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you asserting that the clone spell becomes invalid/fails at the point of the lich-becoming ritual? That the transformation potion would somehow override it? I don't follow your argument quite yet, elaboration would be nice. The point is that the clone wouldn't come into play until after both lich and phylactery are destroyed, so there's no phylactery for it to go into... \$\endgroup\$ – MissMisinformation Apr 4 at 13:05
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Liches can't transfer into clones.

A Lich is an undead which means it is not alive, as explained in Type (MM, p6):

Undead are once-living creatures brought to a horrifying state of undeath through the practice of necromantic magic or some unholy curse.

Because a Lich is undead, it can't create a new clone:

This spell grows an inert duplicate of a living, Medium creature as a safeguard against death.

Moreover, even if the Lich has a clone created prior to becoming an undead, the spell will never draw the Lich's soul into that clone, for two reasons:

At any time after the clone matures, if the original creature dies, its soul transfers to the clone, provided that the soul is free and willing to return.

  1. A Lich (like every undead) is not alive and its destruction does not qualify as death. Infact, being a Lich means being already dead:

    With its phylactery prepared, the future lich drinks a potion of transformation [...] The wizard falls dead, then rises as a lich

  2. The Lich's soul is not free, and can only reside in its phylactery:

    its soul is drawn into the phylactery, where it forever remains.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I legitimately appreciate the step-by-step spelling it out, thank you! \$\endgroup\$ – MissMisinformation Apr 4 at 15:48

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