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The Wish spell is a super powerful spell, that can do many things. But if I say,"I wish that this dragon is dead!" or something like that, does it die? The spell description does not say in favor or otherwise.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Additional tidbit (not 5e): the book Pool of Radiance tried this exact scenario (wishing a dragon to be dead). I won't spoil what the result of the Wish was. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian J Apr 27 '17 at 14:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BrianJ I've not read the book, but if it were my table I'd replace the dragon with a Zombie dragon. \$\endgroup\$ – Paul Jan 2 '18 at 3:06
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Yes, using Wish to wish someone dead is possible and is even presented as an example of a "custom wish" apart from the bulleted suggestions.

However, it is specifically listed as an example where the Wish might not work as the caster intends. Terms of fullfillment of wishes are up to the DM - the spell description states that wishing that a villain was dead might simply time-warp one to future after the villain's passing. The DM can also come up with other ways to make the target dead without effectively killing them, like turning them into a nonliving but equally powerful creature.

So, while the target actually dying is an outcome the DM can give, Wishing something was dead is not a reliable way to kill it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I would add: don't be awful about it. There is a certain cachet in D&D circles about finding the most insidious subversion of a wish, and to be fair, the text does encourage this. I doubt the players in question see the funny side quite as often. \$\endgroup\$ – Neil B Apr 27 '17 at 9:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ "Your wish is granted!" booms a voice that fills your mind as well as the air around you. The dragon's scales begin to crack and peel, it's eyes fill with a blue flame and it roars in agony. It thrashes about, obliterating large boulders in it's death throes. After an agonizing minute of thrashing, the dragon goes completely still..... before it rises to it's feet, filled with fury, hate, and a newfound immortality. "Congratulations adventurers! You are now facing an ancient Draco-Lich. Would you like to know more?" mocks the same voice from before. That taste in your mouth.... is regret. \$\endgroup\$ – Lino Frank Ciaralli Apr 27 '17 at 12:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ It may be worth noting that the use of a Wish spell is in fact the only way to kill certain creatures-- specifically, the Tarrasque, which must be reduced to negative hit points and then Wished dead. \$\endgroup\$ – Passage Apr 27 '17 at 12:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Passage not in 5e- the Tarrasque doesn't have that ability. \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M Apr 27 '17 at 12:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ Normally wishing that they are teleported to the positive or negative energy plane does a better job at killing. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Apr 28 '17 at 11:51
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Probably Not

Normally, a spell in D&D doesn't do something, if there is another spell of same or higher level that explicitly do the same thing. For example, Dispel does not remove curses, but Remove Curse does.

There is Power Word Kill spell that does exactly what are you asking for:

You utter a word of power that can compel one creature you can see within range to die instantly.

Wish description says you can duplicate a spell effect, but it has an important restriction:

The basic use of this spell is to duplicate any other spell of 8th level or lower.

You can't duplicate Power Word Kill since it is 9th level.

The Wish description itself have an example how "I wish this creature were dead" could fail:

This spell might simply fail, the effect you desire might only be partly achieved, or you might suffer some unforeseen consequence as a result of how you worded the wish. For example, wishing that a villain were dead might propel you forward in time to a period when that villain is no longer alive, effectively removing you from the game.

The exact outcome is up to your DM.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The Power Word Kill only works if they have less than one-hundred health. \$\endgroup\$ – The Black Dragon Apr 28 '17 at 15:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TheBlackDragon one more argument why it is impossible to kill a +100hp creature with a 9th level spell. The same way if a curse has "cannot be removed by Remove Curse spell" in the description, that doesn't mean it can be merely dispelled. \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Apr 28 '17 at 16:11
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Being quite broad with your wording like that can be dangerous. "I wish it was dead" can be interpreted many ways. The book example states it might send you to a point the future when the enemy had died. Not recommended.

However, if you made the wording more more specific, I'm sure you could come up with ways to kill it rather effectively.

There's a lot less room for DM-interpretation if you say something like "I wish that dragon had a fatal heart attack" or "I wish that dragon's blood suddenly turned into gold" and lets be honest, if the DM still lets it survive that through the wish adapting it's biology, you still get to kill a dragon and have all of it's blood be liquid gold. You're gonna be rich.

So yes, it is viable to kill someone with the wish spell, just keep in mind the lengths to which your DM may go to bend the interpretation of your wish, depending on how badly you're about to ruin their campaign. I would also note that if instead of casting the wish yourself, you're getting the wish from a sentient creature, like a genie, you also need to worry about how the DM is going to interpret the wording of your wish from the view of said malevolent creature, such as

"...The Halfling, overjoyed, wished for immortality, so the Marid polymorphed him into a fish that flopped around humorously until, finally, it expired. It's a cautionary tale that has survived through the ages, so I suppose the Halfling got his wish." (MM, 146)

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protected by Oblivious Sage Feb 25 '18 at 20:59

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