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I am running a 5e campaign where my players may encounter the Xanathar. Being the murdering hobos that they are, they may eventually successfully kill him since he is just a normal beholder stat block. He has a couple magic rings, including a Ring of Mind Shielding.

I was thinking of having his soul go into the Ring of Mind Shielding on death and then have the ring disappear to a place he can be true resurrected/wished to life later on.

Would there be a mechanic/spell that allows me to do such a thing? I try my best to make things within the rules instead of just DM 'it happens because I say so'. In Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Rezmir has a chest on Skyreach Castle that is similar to my question. From Page 79:

In addition, the chest here is locked and magically attuned to Rezmir so that if she dies, its contents are teleported to the Well of Dragons and out of her slayers’ hands.

However, it does not go into what caused this chest to do so.

Thanks in advance! The loss of the Xanathar to the realm would be truly disappointing.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast only 5e for about the last 4 years now. This is only the second campaign I've run, the first was pretty railroad-y \$\endgroup\$ – Fadwen Jan 12 at 3:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ok, thanks, that puts your problem as a DM into context. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jan 12 at 3:49
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Yes (with a LOT of DM Fiat)

Xanathar would have to chain together a number of spells to accomplish it:

First, cast Contingency. The contingency would be along the lines of "Upon death, activate my Glyph of Warding". That Glyph is upcast enough to teleport1 the ring to some secret location.

And here's why it wouldn't actually work without DM help...

  1. Because a ring is not a creature. For the Glyph to activate a spell it must "target a single creature or an area." A ring is neither. If you made it an area, PC's could get caught up in the spell and move with the ring.
  2. Because a ring is not a creature. Teleport "transports you and up to eight willing creatures". A ring is an object, not a "you".
  3. One or more PC's could declare themselves "willing" and get transported right along with the ring. While Teleport says "of your choice", spells like Word Of Recall do not.

So other than "story", why would Xanathar need to die and enter the ring in the first place? Would the PC's even know that X entered the ring before being zapped away? A soul enters the ring, but the carcass with all the loot stays behind.

Most of these problems can be overcome if the process started while he was still alive. But why?

Your best bet is to either (a) have it be a clone or simulacrum, or (b) teleport away BEFORE death.

Either way, the PC's will still feel a little robbed in thinking they took out the Big Bad, but instead it was poofed away. At least with a clone, they would still get the XP.


1 Teleport can be switched out for Plane Shift, Word of Recall, and a few other spells. But it's always the same. "You and X number of willing creatures." A ring is not a "you".

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    \$\begingroup\$ If the ring were (or were to become) sentient, would that matter for the sake of overcoming teleport's creature targeting limitation? \$\endgroup\$ – Rykara Jan 12 at 5:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rykara, more to the DM whim, but the DMG always calls them items--treated like NPCs, but still items. And consider this, some spells have a creature limit, like say Thunder Step. Would you prefer to always consider your sword a creature that needs to be taken into account, or just leave it as an worn item? I think it's less hassle to stay an item for this and other reasons. \$\endgroup\$ – MivaScott Jan 12 at 8:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Having spells able to target anything is pretty common in my experience, so this would barely register as DM fiat at my tables. What you can and cannot target is a strange rule. \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Jan 12 at 9:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MivaScott >>Either way, the PC's will still feel a little robbed in thinking they took out the Big Bad, but instead it was poofed away. At least with a clone, they would still get the XP.<< He is not going to be a big bad, I'm placing him for world building's sake. Considering they met Volo and were talking about capturing him and seeing if he had any magic items, I'm assuming if they may try to fight a beholder such as Xanathar. Also, the campaign is running under milestone not xp rules. \$\endgroup\$ – Fadwen Jan 12 at 14:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you so much! I like this one the best because it doesn't involve too much rule bending. It points to Contingency and Glyph of Warding as the spells/mechanics without too much elaborate deus ex machina. \$\endgroup\$ – Fadwen Jan 12 at 14:49
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I'll try my best to make things within the rules

Normally, your best bet for "if X happens, then I want a spell that does Y" is contingency. Unfortunately for your purposes, in 5e, Contingency can only be cast on Self, and can only trigger spells of 5th level or lower (which eliminates using Teleport or Word of Recall). Further, contingency also triggers only spells that have a casting time of one action, which means we can't use it to try to lower the level of teleport by using a teleportation circle or have it cast and then immediately trigger a glyph of warding with one of the aforementioned spells stored in it.

Without access to Contingency, you're going to need a fair bit of 'creative interpretation' for this, but here goes.

First, you need a really nice Ring of Mind Shielding. In mean, we're going to have to trick that bling out.

The ring of mind shielding needs to be in the form of a tiny replica of an exquisite treasure chest. Something like this will do. [Note to mods: this is for illustrative purposes only and hopefully will be understood as not an advertisement on my part].

Also, the ring of mind shielding has to serve as a ring of spell storing as well. [Note: I don't have a stat block for Xanathar but I am assuming it is both a beholder and not a caster].

Now that you have your three-in-one ring, have a caster with access to the Secret Chest spell store one in the ring.

Xanathar takes the ring and wears it - perhaps as a tongue piercing? While doing so, he casts the secret chest spell while touching the larger version of the chest ("an exquisite chest, 3 feet by 2 feet by 2 feet, constructed from rare materials worth at least 5,000 gp, of which the ring is the replica"), thus fitting the conditions for casting the secret chest spell, "You must touch the chest and the miniature replica that serves as a material component for the spell." Or perhaps not, if using the spell storing function means you don't need material components. In that case I guess you don't need the miniature treasure chest on the ring, but it is still a nice touch.

In casting the spell, Xanathar sends the secret chest into the Ethereal (for at least 60 days risk-free).

Pause for party to arrive.

Your party assaults Xanathar and appears to have killed him, at which point the mind shielding function of the ring activates and his soul enters it. Once he is inside the ring, he calls for the Secret Chest...and here is where we hand-wave a bit.

"While the chest remains on the Ethereal Plane, you can use an action and touch the replica to recall the chest." Can Xanathar's soul within the ring be considered a "you" that is "touching" the replica? Fortunately, there is no game-definition of "you". Xanathar at this point is a soul inside a metal object...so not that different from warforged? Also, Magic Jar? Can a soul inside the ring use an action? Again, magic jar. Fortunately, the secret chest activation doesn't require any V, S, or M - just an action.

The chest appears "in an unoccupied space on the ground within 5 feet of you." - fortunately Xanathar's old body is no longer occupying the space, so have the chest appear just below the (previously floating) body and the body drop into it. Or, if Xanathar's body is too big, his dying act is to bite off his tongue, and spit it through he air, whereupon it falls into the just-appearing chest. That's nice and dramatic and also gives your players a clue that he had a back-up plan and might not be dead-dead.

Now that the tongue with the three-purpose ring is inside the chest, Xanathar just has to "send the chest back to the Ethereal Plane by using an action and touching both the chest and the replica," which he can do from his position inside the ring.

Result: Xanathar is safely hidden on the Ethereal Plane, his soul inside the ring of mind shielding inside the chest. Hopefully he has some sort of beacon for his minions to find him there before his 60 days are up.

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I'm not sure if the plan you describe can be carried out exactly, due to targeting constraints. But this should work, though it's got a bit of Rube Goldberg-like character.

  1. The Xanathar summons, hires, trains, or otherwise gains the loyalty of a tiny creature it is willing to trust. You can skip this step if you're fine with bending the rules a little bit on spell targeting. The creature needs to be strong enough to hold (not necessarily carry) the Ring of Mind Shielding. The creature must be intelligent enough to recognize when the Xanathar dies, but must also specifically not be unwilling to be teleported.

  2. The Xanathar verifies that the Ring of Mind Shielding is not currently holding a soul, and wears it in such a way that the tiny creature from step 1 can be holding it. I'm imagining something like a snake coiled around the ring, but there are lots of creatures in 5e to choose from with body plans that might suggest other options.

  3. The Xanathar prepares, or causes to be prepared, a room (or rooms) with a Glyph of Warding at 9th level. The glyph will be prepared as a spell glyph and store Teleport. The trigger will be the tiny creature from (1) realizing that the Xanathar is dead. The destination of the Teleport spell is somewhere that suits your criteria and that the caster is familiar enough with that the risk of the spell missing its target is minimized.

  4. The Xanathar contrives events so that any combat with adventurers happens in a room which has a glyph prepared.

  5. During the fight, the Xanathar dies. Bad luck! Its soul immediately moves into the Ring of Mind Shielding. The tiny creature from (1) recognizes the death, which triggers the glyph. Because that creature's recognition triggers the glyph, that creature is targeted by the released Teleport spell and it is teleported along with whatever it is carrying.

  6. The tiny creature ends up in its destination with a Ring of Mind Shielding containing the Xanathar's soul

The targeting rules for spells require the tiny creature aspect of this scheme. Relaxing some of the spell targeting rules can remove most of the complexity. I think that there are less complex and more solid strategies that might achieve the same outcome, but if you need all of the elements (the Ring, the apparent death of the Xanathar in front of the adventurers, etc.) in the question this is the best approach I can think of.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Kudos for having multiple glyphs pre-cast and waiting to be triggered all around X's lair. I tried to incorporate glyph but was stuck at casting it upon his death rather than in advance. \$\endgroup\$ – Kirt Jan 12 at 7:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ There are flaws to your plan. The description of the ring says, "if you die while wearing the ring, your soul enters it,". X would not be wearing the ring, it's being held by a tiny creature. Therefore, his soul would not enter the ring and the tiny creature teleports away with an empty ring. Also, by not wearing the ring, X does not gain any of the benefits of the ring. Per the DMG, "A magic item meant to be worn must be donned in the intended fashion:" \$\endgroup\$ – MivaScott Jan 12 at 8:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MivaScott Step 2 is clear that Xanathar is wearing the ring, and gaining all related benefits, while the tiny creature is holding it (I'm imagining something like a thin chain around the ring, held by the creature while Xanathar is wearing it). There might be an issue of the creature holding the ring while it's worn, but upon Xanathar's death I'm not sure that issue still exists. \$\endgroup\$ – Upper_Case Jan 12 at 15:45

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