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The spell Astral Projection has a drawback listed:

While you are on the Astral Plane, your astral body is connected at all times to your physical body by a silvery cord. If the cord is broken, you are killed, astrally and physically. Luckily, very few things can destroy a silver cord. When a second body is formed on a different plane, the incorporeal silvery cord remains invisibly attached to the new body. If the second body or the astral form is slain, the cord simply returns to your body where it rests on the Material Plane, thereby reviving it from its state of suspended animation. Although astral projections are able to function on the Astral Plane, their actions affect only creatures existing on the Astral Plane; a physical body must be materialized on other planes.

This mentions that "very few" things can sever a silver cord, but not which things those are.

The one that I know of is a Githyanki silver sword. Is this the only effect in the game that explicitly allows the severing of silver cords? Are there rules anywhere that would allow a player or DM to determine whether a given attack is capable of affecting silver cords?

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Manual of the Planes (p49) says

Only a few circumstances, such as the psychic wind, an attack from an astral dreadnought, or a blow from a powerful githyanki sword, can sever this cord. Monsters, items, and circumstances cannot sever a silver cord unless this ability is specifically noted.

Planar Handbook: A Player's Guide the the Planes only mentions the ability of a psychic storm to damage a silver cord (p165), and The Eye of Gu’n’ragh magical location's (p174-5) recharge condition mentions damage to the cord for an astral traveler on a failed save.

So anything mentioning the silver cord specifically can damage or sever it, but anything not mentioned cannot. Wish or miracle might do it, but that's in the part of the spells requiring DM fiat.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Both answers here very helpful, thanks! Accepting this one due to the extra two examples from the Planar Handbook. \$\endgroup\$ – A_S00 Apr 15 '17 at 23:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ If either a player or an antagonist Wishes for "the cord to be severed", I pray for their sake that they remember to be more specific, lest they find themselves without a functional spinal cord... \$\endgroup\$ – Hugo Zink Oct 7 at 8:25
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An astral traveler's silver cord is a difficult target

Manual of the Planes on Silver Cord says

Severing the silver cord that connects the form to the main body kills an astral traveler’s normal body. The cord usually appears at the base of an individual’s skull and stretches back 5 feet before merging with the Astral Plane. Only a few circumstances, such as the psychic wind [on page 51], an attack from an astral dreadnought [on page 159-60], or a blow from a powerful githyanki sword [like the question mentions], can sever this cord. Monsters, items, and circumstances cannot sever a silver cord unless this ability is specifically noted. (49)

These are, so far as I'm aware, the only broad means of silver-cord damaging. More specific ways are probably present in other sourcebooks. (I'll keep looking for more.)


"DM, I've a feat to light on fire! How's the weather in the Astral Plane?"

A creature worried about its silver cord being damaged—despite so few things being able to—can take the feat Strengthen Astral Cord (Dragon #306 55) that grants the creature's astral cord a +4 deflection bonus to AC, increases its hardness to 15, and increases its hp to 40. For comparison, the cord's AC normally equals the creature's AC (the feat says that—nope, I don't know what that means either) and has hardness 10 and 20 hp.

If the creature's off its rocker, if it takes the feat Strengthen Astral Cord then it can take the feat Astral Cord Whip (Dragon #306 53-4) so that the creature can use its astral cord like an actual whip, which, if you encounter such a creature, this player recommends you sunder (or disarm!) that astral cord whip posthaste. This is, however, another way for a really dumb creature to get its astral cord severed, though.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Disarming the AC Whip I can see (you drop it..oh noes! Nothing bad happens to you), but sundering it looks impossible for anything but a silver sword or Astral Dreadnaught. \$\endgroup\$ – Chemus Apr 14 '17 at 18:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Chemus The feat says, "The cord functions exactly like a whip as described in Chapter 5: Equipment in the Player’s Handbook, except that it deals normal rather than [nonlethal] damage." And, yes, there is a lot of ambiguity wrapped into that sentence! In fact, my own notes to myself about the feat say, "Ask the DM if the astral cord when used as a whip can be sundered." (N.B. I thought the dude would disarm the creature's astral cord whip and then take it! I dunno what happens then, either. The feat's for loonies anyway.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Apr 14 '17 at 19:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you remember where you checked for info? I have a vague memory that astral cords had stats given in 3.0 (Maybe ELH?), and would have had them carried forward through the update. I think the issue was that you generally couldn't see the cord to target it, but this is all very rough memory. \$\endgroup\$ – fectin Apr 14 '17 at 20:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @fectin Manual of the Planes, which is an unrevised Third Edition source, in its description of the aforementioned astral dreadnought includes identical astral cord statistics to those found the feat Strengthen Astral Cord. And, your memory's correct that, like the answer mentions, it is — fortunately for astral travelers who are not using it as a whip! — really rare when something can even target the astral cord! (I get the feeling, though, that I might've misunderstood your comment. Pardon me if I have, and, if so, please, could you rephrase it for me?) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Apr 15 '17 at 0:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't see how the cord can be taken, as almost nothing interacts with one, and the targeting of it does indeed seem problematic. \$\endgroup\$ – Chemus Apr 15 '17 at 0:31
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The jaws of an astral dragon can sever an astral cord as well and its breath attack brings your intelligence down to 1 so thats another thing to watch out for

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site! This is a cool example, but the answer needs to be backed up. Can you edit your answer to provide a source for this information? Also, check out the tour while you're at it for an intro to how we do things around here. \$\endgroup\$ – A_S00 Jul 11 at 22:59

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