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I’m playing a level 3 Dragonborn with no magic weapons (I’m not a spell caster) in a D&D 5e campaign. The rest of the party is a High Elf Wizard, Dwarf Paladin, Half Orc Rogue, and a Gnome Cleric.

My team and I are in a cave, trying to fight some liches that a old man asked us to kill for him, and I really don’t know how to defeat them, much less survive. We're dealing with at least three of them at the moment. They keep sneak attacking the party, even though we've all rolled perception and got high enough to be able to see them. I want to fight the liches, not persuade them. I also looked through the Monster Manual and didn’t find any way to defeat them. What do I do against this group of liches, and possibly others in the future?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Is this the same GM as with the last question of yours along similar lines; How can I get the DM to stop sending giants to kill us?? \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    May 10 at 14:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ Please, keep us on track about this. I'm quite curious about what you actually had to face. I'm pretty sure those are not actual liches. \$\endgroup\$ May 11 at 0:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Devils_Spawn So your DM was either inexperienced, incompetent or malicious. The first two he can correct ifhe'll put an effort. Either way, you sound like now ou could use a good game for a change. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    May 11 at 12:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ Am I the only one scratching his head over the notion of a group of liches? They're not just souped-up orcs. \$\endgroup\$
    – chepner
    May 11 at 19:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ For encounter building purposes, 3 liches is 99 times the deadly encounter threshold for 5 level 3 characters \$\endgroup\$
    – user70687
    May 11 at 20:02
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Nothing. You do nothing. A single lich will kill your party and eat their souls for breakfast.

It isn't possible. As a 3rd level character, there is absolutely nothing you can do to defeat a lich, barring your DM intervening with some Deus Ex Machina.

A lich has a challenge rating of 21. Based on my napkin math using the experience guidance in the DMG, three liches is a deadly encounter for ten 20th level characters. A single lich is a deadly encounter for two 20th level characters. A CR 18 demilich, which is a lich whose soul has decayed because of malnourishment, is a deadly encounter for two 20th level characters.

Hopefully, your DM knows something you do not.

Hopefully, your DM doesn't actually intend you to fight three liches, as it would be a total party kill in the first round. It seems quite likely that there is something else at work here. Philipp covers several conceivable possibilities in their answer.

If you aren't having fun, talk to the DM outside of the game.

Maybe your DM really is throwing impossible encounters at your party. This doesn't sound like fun, so if this is the case, talk to your DM about this. Being polite and respectful, just tell them, "I'm not having fun dealing with these impossible encounters. Can we get something more on our level?" And see how it goes. If your DM insists on messing with you, you may have to find a new game.

In universe, at least one of your characters should be able to determine the old man is blowing smoke.

You stated:

My team and I are in a cave, trying to fight some liches that a old man asked us to kill for him

Surely you guys have heard of liches. Surely your characters would be aware that these are significantly powerful creatures. If in my game, we encountered an NPC asking is to dispose of 3 liches, we would chuckle and move on to the next quest giver. Your characters should probably know that this is impossible. You characters should know they shouldn't even attempt this.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Perfect answer, with a little nitpick that instead of "Nothing. You do nothing." I'd write "Die. You die." \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    May 10 at 14:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Devils_Spawn A ring that gives all monsters -4 on every roll is extremely overpowered (especially for a level 3 party), so it sounds like the DM may not be balancing the game/adventure very well. I'd recommend sitting down as a group and reviewing some example encounters and rewards with the help of some online calculators to make sure things are balanced. While it may seem cool, unbalanced stuff like this (or like throwing 3 liches at the party) can quickly lead to an unfun game/total party kill. \$\endgroup\$
    – TylerH
    May 10 at 21:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Devils_Spawn To emphasize further TylerH’s point, an item that is “-4 to all enemy rolls” is probably more powerful than any officially published item, regardless of rarity. \$\endgroup\$ May 10 at 22:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TylerH That ring sounds like the DM comes from 3.5e, where a -4 modifier was a pretty common thing. In 5e it's an abysmal detriment tho. I think, the DM doesn't know how to do the 5e balancing right AND they're not fighting actual Liches. But I'm extremely curious about the reveal. \$\endgroup\$ May 11 at 0:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Molot: "you die... at first" \$\endgroup\$ May 11 at 0:53
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This encounter is basically unwinnable for a Level 3 party.

A single Lich has a challenge rating of 21 which, according to this guide, makes it an appropriate encounter for a whole party at level 17. And we are talking just about one Lich, not three. Three at once would be an encounter no PC party would be expected to win, unless they are specifically min-maxed for such an encounter or get lots of help in form of DM fiat.

Why would your DM have you face such superior enemies? Possible explanations could be:

  • They are inexperienced and don't know what they are doing.
  • They don't expect you to fight those liches. They expect you to flee or look for a way to get past them without fighting.
  • They don't expect you to win the fight. They expect you to lose, and continue their story from there.
  • Those liches are not actually the liches from the Monster Manual. Perhaps they are a homebrewed, much weaker version of Liches which your party can expect to beat on level 3. Or perhaps they are some other creature using some form of disguise (magic or mundane) to look like liches (so the old man is mistaken). Anyway, in neither case would we know what you are actually dealing with, so we can not provide much advise.
  • The encounter is some kind of puzzle. There is some trick your DM expects you to pull off in order to beat those liches. Perhaps they expect you to use some unusual magic item you have or use something from the environment against the liches.

But I don't know your DM. So I can not read their mind.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    May 13 at 21:24

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