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I've been thinking of an idea for a campaign where the adventuring party must find pieces of a weapon: a sword that would be used to slay a lich, as it has the power to destroy a persons soul.

When it is completely forged, it reveals itself to be a Githyanki silver sword that they then have to use within a certain amount of time, or face the wrath of an entire race of angry Psychic space people.

Can such Githyanki silver sword be used to kill a lich, or other similar "immortal" being?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Aside from how does that sword work, you have another problem. Your players probably already know how to kill a lich, by destroying phylactery. Why do you expect them to try another, untested method? This is probably a material for another question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Commented Feb 8, 2023 at 8:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Mołot to be fair, if I was a player in a campaign and the group heard of this special weapon to kill the lich, I would probably take the bait and go for this obvious plot element, rather than discard it and go for the usual methods. But it most likely depends on the players themselves, so the point we're discussing is probably just a matter of opinion. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matthieu
    Commented Feb 8, 2023 at 9:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Mołot Not every Lich is that simple. There was a Lich in the Forgotten Realms in a 3.5 book (Something about evil characters in the realm, I forget which) who had developed a spell to let him enchant an item that could be broken into parts as his phylactery...he had cast it on a human skeleton ,then broken it up and hid each bone somewhere different. Gotta destroy em all! \$\endgroup\$
    – Alan
    Commented Feb 8, 2023 at 9:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mołot Obviously, the lich keeps his phylactery on the Astral Plane! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 8, 2023 at 23:37

2 Answers 2

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RAW, no

Githyanki silver swords are known for being able to cut off a creature's astral cord. This allows their wielders to kill a foe which is currently in astral form, such as through the Astral Projection spell. A lich's condition has nothing to do with astral form, so the sword won't do much with its special ability.

But that's just plain boring, so...

If you want it to be so, then so be it

As the DM (or right now, the creator of the campaign), you are entirely free to create new items, and especially so for story reasons. What you're describing right now is one of those kinds of special objects that make the plot move forward, which we often call a MacGuffin.

It does not matter whether or not any such silver sword could kill a lich, because this is The Shattered Silver Sword Of Plot, which is a unique weapon capable of killing a lich. Or you could rule that liches in this campaign interact in such a way with those silver swords, or even that this weakness is specific to this singular lich. Go wild.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The last sentence is important. The DM may rule that all silver swords kill liches (for example). More interesting though, would be to rule that a) a specific sword kills liches, b) only in a specific planar conjunction (time) and place c) only this lich, d) only if wielded by a pure-blooded descendant of the Mad Halfling Emperor of Almochussets who ruled 5,000 years ago. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 8, 2023 at 16:05
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Functionally this comes down to a DM's ruling or interpretation.

A literal or mechanical reading of the rule interaction would be something like:

Only if the target is on the astral plane or has traversed through the astral plane to another realm, so that a cord is present. Only if the entity has a body present on the material plane - And then only if they have a soul - or if separating the soul from the body would "Kill" the creature.

Arguably a lich - by definition of their phylactery - could survive having their soul separated from their body - but what happens to such a soul is unspecified.

But as described in Astral projection - the severing of the cord only separates the connection between the soul and the body, which results in an outright kill. Would an immortal deity or other such being have such a weakness? So again - it comes down to DM's interpretation.


For side-by-side reference:

Stats are in Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes:

MACIC ITEM: GREATER SILVER SWORD

Weapon (greatsword), legendary (requires attunement by a creature that has psionic ability)

This magic weapon grants a +3 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with it. While you hold the sword, you have advantage on Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma saving throws , you are immune to being charmed, and you have resistance to psychic damage. In addition, if you score a critical hit with it against a creature's astral body, you can cut the silvery cord that tethers the target to its material body, instead of dealing damage.

*note that the effect only severs the cord - it does not state an instant death effect.

Astral Projection:

Your astral body resembles your mortal form in almost every way, replicating your game Statistics and possessions. The principal difference is the addition of a silvery cord that extends from between your shoulder blades and trails behind you, fading to Invisibility after 1 foot. This cord is your tether to your material body. As long as the tether remains intact, you can find your way home. If the cord is cut-something that can happen only when an Effect specifically states that it does-your soul and body are separated, killing you instantly.

Note: It is uncertain if the "death" effect of having your cord cut is a property of the cord itself - or a property of the astral projection spell.

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    \$\begingroup\$ To be fair to this answer - if anyone can find "cord" mechanics stated outside of the astral projection spell It could be improved / corrected. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 8, 2023 at 17:57

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