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Gentle repose has three key bits of information that interact with a lich's rejuvenation. Relevant text follows.

Gentle Repose...

Duration: 10 days

You touch a corpse or other remains. For the duration, the target is protected from decay and can't become undead.

Lich's Rejuvenation...

If it has a phylactery, a destroyed lich gains a new body in 1d10 days,

There are no special rules about a lich's remains vanishing or turning to dust/powder on its destruction (wherein I would make an argument that dust qualifies as remains just like cremation would, plain-english), unlike the demilich- it still has a physical form and leaves behind remains when you destroy it. It doesn't gain a new body until its phylactery rejuvenation kicks in 1d10 days later.

A dead creature is a dead creature, not an undead one, until/unless it reanimates again, thus becoming "undead."

If you slay the lich, it rolls 1d10. In 1d10 days, its phylactery effect will trigger, reanimating it with a new body. If you wait six seconds after slaying the lich for it to roll 1d10, then cast gentle repose, by my reading, in 1d10 days the phylactery attempts to trigger, turning the dead creature back into an undead lich- but Gentle Repose denies the trigger.

The lich has not been slain a second time- the Rejuvenation trigger should not fire again. Rest in Peace?

It occurs to me that this is a very subtle, niche interaction, and probably wasn't RAI, but am I reading it correctly RAW?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This seems to assume that the body produced by Rejuvenation involves the remains of the destroyed lich. If that is the case, what is leading to this assumption? \$\endgroup\$
    – GcL
    Mar 19 at 16:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GcL It's more an attempt to take the RAW rules cohesively with the narrative of the event. Presumably, when the lich's body is destroyed, the soul flees to the phylactery until it has a new body to occupy. -> However, the soul being gone from any other body doesn't stop it from being targeted by gentle repose; you target a creature's corpse, and it can't become a ghost, nor wight, nor a zombie, nor a lich, regardless of where its soul is. Why should a lich/phylactery be an exception, narratively or RAW? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 19 at 16:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TheFallenOne By casting gentle repose on the destroyed remains of a lich, those remains cannot become a zombie, etc. The lich description makes it clear that the destroyed remains are not the lich: "When a lich’s body is broken by accident or assault, the will and mind of the lich drains from it, leaving only a lifeless corpse behind. Within days, a new body reforms next to the lich’s phylactery, coalescing out of glowing smoke that issues from the device." \$\endgroup\$
    – GcL
    Mar 19 at 17:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ The weak part here seems to be in the big para near the bottom with "... turning the dead creature back into ...". The obvious response is the Phylactery isn't turning that dead creature into a lich. I think, in your comments under Thomas Markov's answer you try to establish that the corpse of the lich and the "currently immaterial lich soon to get a new body" are the same thing. I think. I feel like your comments there might help if compiled into your Q. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 19 at 20:13

2 Answers 2

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Gentle Repose Does Not Prevent Lich's Rejuvenation

Gentle repose prevents it's target, the destroyed remains of a lich, from becoming undead. This does not prevent the Rejuvenation feature of the lich from working for a a few reasons:

  • The destroyed remains are not the lich.
  • The destroyed remains do not become the lich's new body.
  • The lich is already undead.

The destroyed remains are not the lich

The description of the lich in the Monster Manual (MM) make it clear that the lich and the corpse are distinctly different. Gentle repose is not targeting the lich, but only the "lifeless corpse" left behind.

(MM p.203):

Death and Restoration. When a lich’s body is broken by accident or assault, the will and mind of the lich drains from it, leaving only a lifeless corpse behind...

The destroyed remains are not involved in the lich's new body

While the stat block of the lich might leave some room for interpretation of where the new body comes from, the subsequent description of the lich makes it clear that the new body is not even derived from the corpse, but from glowing smoke.

The stat block of the lich (MM p.202):

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.

(MM p.203):

... Within days, a new body reforms next to the lich’s phylactery, coalescing out of glowing smoke that issues from the device.

Conclusion

Gentle repose does not affect the lich, because the lich is not the target of the spell. Gentle repose does not affect Rejuvenation, because the target of the spell (corpse) is not involved in generating the new body of the lich. Lastly, as a lich is already undead, the effect of gentle repose to prevents target from becoming undead is preempted.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I upvoted the other answer as well, but I accepted this one because it compiled the extra information I managed to miss in my initial question, and step-by-stepped the failure points that my incomplete research led to. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 19 at 19:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ I may also be worth pointing out that gentle repose keeps the remains of the lich from being raised as some other sort of undead. The lich ain't coming back, but that doesn't mean the lich's old body couldn't be used as a zombie or whatever. Gentle repose stops that. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Mar 19 at 20:15
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The lich is getting a new body.

Rejuvenation states:

If it has a phylactery, a destroyed lich gains a new body

It doesn’t matter what you do to the old remains. The Lich is getting a new body, not the old remains. The old remains are not becoming anything, so gentle repose isn’t preventing them from becoming anything.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Edited my initial language just before your post to acknowledge it's getting a new body- uncertain that bypasses the fact that you targeted the remains of the destroyed creature with gentle repose, though, since it's still the same creature becoming an undead regardless of the new body or not. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 19 at 15:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TheFallen0ne A lich is already an undead. It does not need to become an undead. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage
    Mar 19 at 15:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TheFallen0ne You haven't slain the lich, because it still has its phylactery. You have merely temporarily inconvenienced it; casting spells on its destroyed body does nothing because the body is not the lich. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage
    Mar 19 at 16:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TheFallen0ne That still doesn't get you past the problem that you're casting the spell on destroyed remains, and the spell prevents those remains from animating as undead, not the lich. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage
    Mar 19 at 17:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TheFallen0ne: Huh, interesting fact about zombies and resurrection. So you don't need True Resurrection after all; so that effect of Finger of Death isn't quite as nasty as I'd thought for a PC. But it seems only distantly related to the Lich question since it's the phylactery that creates the new body; the old one is no more relevant than their toenails or hair clippings. (Which I guess you now realize since you've accepted an answer which explains this well.) \$\endgroup\$ Mar 20 at 9:18

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