The party, going up against a lich, finds out the location of its phylactery and how to destroy it. They get to its phylactery without the lich knowing about it and manage to destroy the phylactery.

Would the lich be aware that its phylactery had been destroyed? Is there anything in any official D&D publication that states whether or not a lich would know that its phylactery had been destroyed? I'm playing 5e, but lore from any previous edition is welcome if 5e doesn't have any information on this.


1 Answer 1


Possibly immediately, but at the very least he will figure it out sooner or later, how sooner or later is up to the DM.

The Monster Manual entry for liches says:

A lich must periodically feed souls to its phylactery to sustain the magic preserving its body and consciousness. [...] A lich that fails or forgets to maintain its body with sacrificed souls begins to physically fall apart, and might eventually become a demilich.

So at the very least a lich will begin to notice the degradation of his corporeal form.

There is evidence, however, that a lich may immediately know that its phylactery has been destroyed. In Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage, the party can encounter a lich; we see this statement about it:

If the characters destroyed [the lich's] phylactery on [spoilers], [the lich] attacks them on sight. [The lich] has no beef with them otherwise.

It is not spelled out how the lich might know the party destroyed the phylactery, but the lich seems to know it was destroyed when the party encounters it.

Further details, W:DotMM spoilers ahead.

It seems this lich doesn’t spend much time at home, so there isn’t anything in the context of the adventure that would make the lich aware other than the lich just knowing the phylactery has been destroyed. The “Aftermath” section of the particular dungeon says: “Arcturia returns to her home periodically to peruse her spellbooks, place new polymorph traps throughout the level, and alter the conditions that trigger existing ones, as needed.” The idea is that the party can explore her abode while she is not around (she’s encountered much later in the dungeon) and destroy her phylactery, and she knows it was destroyed, and who destroyed it when it happens.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .