Assume we have a high level wizard named Recnamorcen.

Recnamorcen casts Clone on himself, then undergoes the process to become a lich before the Clone matures. Now if he dies his soul will not go to the Clone because it is not free, due to it being in his phylactery.

Now some meddling adventurers come along after the Clone matures and destroy Recnamorcen's phylactery and then kill him. Is there anything that would prevent him from being brought back to life in his Clone?


It would work, once. The Lich would come back to unlife.

The Rejuvenation trait of the Lich says the following:

Rejuvenation: If it has a phylactery, a destroyed lich gains a new body in 1d10 days, regaining all its Hit Points and becoming active again. The new body appears within 5 feet of the phylactery.

The destruction of a lich’s phylactery otherwise has no effect on the lich, aside from the eventual degeneration into a demilich if they don’t construct a new one.

The Clone spell says the following:

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. The clone is physically identical to the original and has the same personality, memories, and Abilities, but none of the original's Equipment.

As a result, if a lich who has cast the Clone spell has its phylactery destroyed and is then killed, its clone will come to life, and will possess the same stat block it did before. As a result, it will still be a lich - the clone that animates would remain undead.

Note, however, that a lich can only ever do this once, since it will no longer be a living creature after its transformation into a lich, and it thus cannot benefit from a second casting of the Clone spell.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure the wording supports this. If it works at all, it seems likely the clone would be alive; it was grown as a duplicate of the living creature (albeit at a potentially younger age). Being physically identical to the original could be read as (and by any reasonable RAI should be read as) growing a new living body based on the flesh sacrificed to the spell. Otherwise, you can end up with ludicrous results like a human making a clone, dying before it matures, being Reincarnated as a goblin, then when they die again, transferring to the clone and discovering it had become a goblin. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 23 '19 at 0:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowRanger That the clone would be a goblin when the clone matures would be my reading of the text, yes. I would assume that the clone changes to match the condition of the soul or something, since it seems to exactly match the original at the time of death. \$\endgroup\$
    – nick012000
    Oct 23 '19 at 2:42

It would not work.

From the Monster Manual entry on the Lich (p. 203):

With its phylactery prepared, the future lich drinks a potion of transformation — a vile concoction of poison mixed with the blood of a sentient creature whose soul is sacrificed to the phylactery. The wizard falls dead, then rises as a lich as its soul is drawn into the phylactery, where it forever remains.

Now consider this text from the Clone spell:

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.

The process of becoming a lich kills the person becoming one. The cloned body can only be inhabited when the person dies. Either their soul goes into the clone or it goes into the phylactery. Since they are, presumably, deliberately trying to become a lich then it would be fair to say their soul will not be willing to go into the clone so it will not do so.

If the wizard becomes a lich before their clone matures the same rules apply. Their soul is locked up inside of the phylactery and can't inhabit the clone.

I believe that having their phylactery being destroyed means the lich's soul is destroyed also which means their soul can't return to the cloned body.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I said that Recnamorcen became a lich before his Clone matures. \$\endgroup\$
    – Q Paul
    Oct 22 '19 at 22:55
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I think at the point of drinking the potion there is no longer a question of whether the soul is 'free'. It will at this point be drawn into the phylactery by force of the ritual. The person cannot choose to inhabit the clone. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 23 '19 at 7:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is it true that destroying a phylactery destroys the soul within it? I'd thought destroying the phylactery only made it possible to kill the lich, who could otherwise go on lich-ing. I can't do a full check of sources while I'm at work, but as that question is the linchpin of this answer it would be improved with a reference supporting it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Upper_Case
    Oct 23 '19 at 17:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Upper_Case The monster manual indicates that their soul is drawn into the phylactery where it remains forever. I'm taking that to mean that destroying it means no more lich. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 23 '19 at 19:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AllanMills That's maybe reasonable, but it doesn't seem definitive. Replace phylactery with jar and I'm not sure that reading holds. Further, since one of the requirements of becoming a lich is that the soul remain intact and not pass on to an Outer Plane, and destroying the phylactery doesn't immediately kill the lich, it seems a stretch that the soul must be destroyed along with the phylactery. In any event, the books seem unclear enough that this might be a homebrew conclusion. \$\endgroup\$
    – Upper_Case
    Oct 23 '19 at 19:59

If the phylactery is created before the Clone matures, then the soul should be bound to the Clone after the destruction of the phylactery.

Using this excellent answer: Does destroying a Lich's phylactery destroy the soul within it? it's clear that the Lich's soul is no longer bound to the mortal world when the phylactery is destroyed and the soul itself is not destroyed. Usually, this would then allow the Lich to be permanently killed.

But, the Clone spell clearly makes the mature clone bind the soul to the mortal world in a similar way to the phylactery would for a Lich.

The key limiting factor here is that the soon-to-be Lich has 120 days from casting the Clone spell to become a Lich.

If that can be done, there doesn't appear to be any reason why the effects of the Clone spell should be nullified if the phylactery is destroyed.


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