Phylactery ideas and questions

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In my current campaign the BBEG is going to end up being a lich.

I am looking for some intresting ideas for a phylactery.

He was a former king/wizard who went mad and had to have a Silver Dragon and several dozen Elves "take him out".

I was thinking of maybe his crown, but that seems kinda lame. The PC are already going after another crown in the campaign. Although I might if I do use the crown idea I could always have them get the phylactery and think it is the crown they are looking for. Knowing my party they would sell it, would could be fun for them to deal with.

And does a phylactery have any marking or anything on it so you know that it is a phylactery? Would it say have an aura if dectect magic was casted on it? Or is it just considered to be a mundane object?

I believe it's generally accepted that a lich's phylactery would set off all sorts of alarms. At the same time, a lich would know this and if it wasn't so arrogant as not to care, it would take steps to make its phylactery something that only it would recognize the significance of.

Collaborate with your players on this, and I bet they'll come up with an idea that will have you gobsmacked in its brilliance, and also have the advantage of being something they're all bought into.

Personally, I'd like to see a phylactery that's a person.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

I wouldn't do the 'crown' thing again, especially if you're already having the PCs hunt for one. My suggestion is to make it original. For example, a phylactery I used once was another creature's heart; specifically, the heart of an NPC close to the PCs. Now, the NPC didn't know, as the whole thing was done via a ritual, and their memory of the event was erased. The NPC in question began experiencing increasing nightmares when the BBEG Lich 'died' several times, and a cryptic scrap of the ritual scroll eventually led to the PCs discovering the horrible truth- the had to either kill their friend and take their heart, or find a way to remove/replace it without killing them, and then destroy it...needless to say it was a very crazy adventure. My players loved it.
RIP George! 4-21-11 RIP Abie! 1-2-13
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[quote author=82733368 post=532127449]
58115148 wrote:
"You notice a large piece of mold clinging to your toothbrush. What do you do?" "I cast Fireball." "I run like hell!
63797881 wrote:
The standard d4 is somewhat (SOMEWHAT) rounded on the top, the older models are even flat. The Lego is shaped in such a way that in an emergency, you can use one as a makeshift surgical knife.
147742801 wrote:
57457938 wrote:
My wife asked me if her pants made her look fat. What do you think I said?
Wife: Do these pants make me look fat? RedSiegfried: I just killed a bunch of orc women and children.
63797881 wrote:
82733368 wrote:
28.) Making a "Drunken Master" style character (Monk or otherwise) does not require my character to be completely shitfaced, no matter what the name (and fun interpretation) implies.
29.) Making a "Drunken Master" style character does not require ME to be completely tanked, no matter how "in-character" I want to be..
Or maybe a construct made specifically to be the mage's phylactery? If the wizard has a lot of constructs before and after becoming an undead, then just the one that happens to be the strongest (a lich wouldn't want to use one of the weaker ones, right?) won't stand out as much. Not quite as crazy as what Tech-Priest did (BTW, awesome), but could be interesting

Founder - but not owner - of Just Say Yes!

Member of LGBT Gamers

Odds are, if 4-6 people can't figure out an answer you thought was obvious, you screwed up, not them. - JeffGroves
Which is why a DM should present problems to solve, not solutions to find. -FlatFoot
Why there should be the option to use alignment systems:
Show
If some people are heavily benefiting from the inclusion of alignment, then it would behoove those that AREN'T to listen up and pay attention to how those benefits are being created and enjoyed, no? -YagamiFire
But equally important would be for those who do enjoy those benefits to entertain the possibility that other people do not value those benefits equally or, possibly, do not see them as benefits in the first place. -wrecan (RIP)
That makes sense. However, it is not fair to continually attack those that benefit for being, somehow, deviant for deriving enjoyment from something that you cannot. Instead, alignment is continually attacked...it is demonized...and those that use it are lumped in with it.

 

I think there is more merit in a situation where someone says "This doesn't work! It's broken!" and the reply is "Actually it works fine for me. Have you considered your approach might be causing it?"

 

than a situation where someone says "I use this system and the way I use it works really well!" and the back and forth is "No! It is a broken bad system!" -YagamiFire

(a lich wouldn't want to use one of the weaker ones, right?)

Why not? If the location and identity of the phylactery is know, the battle's basically lost. This lich might do well to have a special construct designed to evade detection and location until a loyal servant can retrieve it.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

You wanna be sneaky?  Have the phylactery be a useful, valuable magic item, like an Amulet of Protection or Belt of Giant Strength or somesuch, and put it in the Lich's treasure horde.  The PCs will put it on and walk around for the rest of their careers protecting the Lich's backside without even knowing it.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Salla's approach could be VERY sneaky and incredibly fun to play through. 

Have you ever heard of Koschei the Deathless?  It's an old Russian Folk tale, but it applies to a lich and phylactery.
Koschei hid his heart to keep him from dying.  Look it up on Wikipedia, but what's interesting about it is that he hid his heart in a very common object- a needle or an egg.  You could have the Phylactery be any trinket type macguffin, one the players will see and likely sell.  Which eventually makes it way back to your BBEG.  You could even have the players come across it again, such that they loot the same macguffin, and you describe it exactly the same, but without pointing out that it IS the same trinket. 

Another idea is to follow the Horcruxes from Harry Potter. 

If you have the phylactery as something carefully guarded, it's too obvious what it is.  If you want to plant the obvious loaded gun, go for it.  If you'd rather lead them on for a while, tell them there is a phylactery and let them try to figure out what it is. 
Salla's idea of giving it to the Players as a very useful magic item is genius.  Maybe it's a Diamond Cincture that has an additional onyx gemstone.  Your player cna use the Diamond Cincture as is, but the extra gemstone is the lich's phylactery.  When he dies, the extra gem cracks and release his spirit.  Could really freak out the players during that encounter.
You wanna be sneaky?  Have the phylactery be a useful, valuable magic item, like an Amulet of Protection or Belt of Giant Strength or somesuch, and put it in the Lich's treasure horde.  The PCs will put it on and walk around for the rest of their careers protecting the Lich's backside without even knowing it.



So when he resurrects, he would be right next to them? That is brilliant.

Founder - but not owner - of Just Say Yes!

Member of LGBT Gamers

Odds are, if 4-6 people can't figure out an answer you thought was obvious, you screwed up, not them. - JeffGroves
Which is why a DM should present problems to solve, not solutions to find. -FlatFoot
Why there should be the option to use alignment systems:
Show
If some people are heavily benefiting from the inclusion of alignment, then it would behoove those that AREN'T to listen up and pay attention to how those benefits are being created and enjoyed, no? -YagamiFire
But equally important would be for those who do enjoy those benefits to entertain the possibility that other people do not value those benefits equally or, possibly, do not see them as benefits in the first place. -wrecan (RIP)
That makes sense. However, it is not fair to continually attack those that benefit for being, somehow, deviant for deriving enjoyment from something that you cannot. Instead, alignment is continually attacked...it is demonized...and those that use it are lumped in with it.

 

I think there is more merit in a situation where someone says "This doesn't work! It's broken!" and the reply is "Actually it works fine for me. Have you considered your approach might be causing it?"

 

than a situation where someone says "I use this system and the way I use it works really well!" and the back and forth is "No! It is a broken bad system!" -YagamiFire

There's a lich in my setting who made a phylactery out of a special artifact called the Chalice of Time. This particular chalice is the only source of time-magic in the entire setting, and it has no beginning and no end, tending to hop around in time. An objective observer would note that the chalice actually exists in all points in time, and has been created and destroyed several times throughout history.

And a lich has tied his immortality to it. 

Standard Answer to all 5E rules questions: "Ask your DM."

There's a lich in my setting who made a phylactery out of a special artifact called the Chalice of Time. This particular chalice is the only source of time-magic in the entire setting, and it has no beginning and no end, tending to hop around in time. An objective observer would note that the chalice actually exists in all points in time, and has been created and destroyed several times throughout history.

And a lich has tied his immortality to it. 



I did something similar for a one-shot, where a Lich stashed his phylactory at the end of time, long after any sentient life still exists, so there's no real way to reach it, so it's effectively indestructible. On the other hand, since he ressurects there every time, he needed a time portal ritual in order to actually get back.
If he is arrogant, try a simple copper piece. The players will either leave it or spend it, and he will almost always know where it is right? Since it is a art of him? 
Actually, now that you mention it, wouldn't a silver piece be less likely to be left on the ground where it could be damaged?

Phylacteries are really hard to damage, so if the adventureres find a copper piece lying on the ground in near-mint condition, but which should be damaged from exposure to the elements because no one bothered to pick it up, wouldn't that be more suspicious than a silver piece that people are more likely to pick up when they see it, and thus if the adventurers found it first than it has obviously not been on the ground long enough to sustain any kind of damage?

Founder - but not owner - of Just Say Yes!

Member of LGBT Gamers

Odds are, if 4-6 people can't figure out an answer you thought was obvious, you screwed up, not them. - JeffGroves
Which is why a DM should present problems to solve, not solutions to find. -FlatFoot
Why there should be the option to use alignment systems:
Show
If some people are heavily benefiting from the inclusion of alignment, then it would behoove those that AREN'T to listen up and pay attention to how those benefits are being created and enjoyed, no? -YagamiFire
But equally important would be for those who do enjoy those benefits to entertain the possibility that other people do not value those benefits equally or, possibly, do not see them as benefits in the first place. -wrecan (RIP)
That makes sense. However, it is not fair to continually attack those that benefit for being, somehow, deviant for deriving enjoyment from something that you cannot. Instead, alignment is continually attacked...it is demonized...and those that use it are lumped in with it.

 

I think there is more merit in a situation where someone says "This doesn't work! It's broken!" and the reply is "Actually it works fine for me. Have you considered your approach might be causing it?"

 

than a situation where someone says "I use this system and the way I use it works really well!" and the back and forth is "No! It is a broken bad system!" -YagamiFire

I'm  not running a lich game anytime soon, but I always thought it would be cool to have a lich's phylactery be something more abstract, like a concept or political philosophy, and it can only be destroyed in the way that ideas are--a very long process where a nation or culture moves away from them and they become irrelevant. Think of how long and how many battles it took to end the idea of legal American slavery, or once-fashionable ideas like Theosophy or eclipsed religions like Hanifism (not Hanafism). That may be beyond the scope of a campaign and more like a novel, I guess.
Actually, now that you mention it, wouldn't a silver piece be less likely to be left on the ground where it could be damaged?

Phylacteries are really hard to damage, so if the adventureres find a copper piece lying on the ground in near-mint condition, but which should be damaged from exposure to the elements because no one bothered to pick it up, wouldn't that be more suspicious than a silver piece that people are more likely to pick up when they see it, and thus if the adventurers found it first than it has obviously not been on the ground long enough to sustain any kind of damage?

I've never heard anyone ask if the coinage they come across is damaged in any way.

But, make the phylactery a "damaged" copper piece, one calculated not to arouse suspicion.

I'm  not running a lich game anytime soon, but I always thought it would be cool to have a lich's phylactery be something more abstract, like a concept or political philosophy, and it can only be destroyed in the way that ideas are--a very long process where a nation or culture moves away from them and they become irrelevant. Think of how long and how many battles it took to end the idea of legal American slavery, or once-fashionable ideas like Theosophy or eclipsed religions like Hanifism (not Hanafism). That may be beyond the scope of a campaign and more like a novel, I guess.

I like that idea.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Or maybe a construct made specifically to be the mage's phylactery? If the wizard has a lot of constructs before and after becoming an undead, then just the one that happens to be the strongest (a lich wouldn't want to use one of the weaker ones, right?) won't stand out as much. Not quite as crazy as what Tech-Priest did (BTW, awesome), but could be interesting



Glad you liked the idea; I've also done a similar one, except it was our one PC's eye. He would see disturbing visions and things, triggered more and more as the Lich died and was reborn, slowly going mad until the rest of the group figured it out- needless to say, he ended up in an eye-patch and carried a hatred for undead.
RIP George! 4-21-11 RIP Abie! 1-2-13
Funny Forum Quotes
[quote author=82733368 post=532127449]
58115148 wrote:
"You notice a large piece of mold clinging to your toothbrush. What do you do?" "I cast Fireball." "I run like hell!
63797881 wrote:
The standard d4 is somewhat (SOMEWHAT) rounded on the top, the older models are even flat. The Lego is shaped in such a way that in an emergency, you can use one as a makeshift surgical knife.
147742801 wrote:
57457938 wrote:
My wife asked me if her pants made her look fat. What do you think I said?
Wife: Do these pants make me look fat? RedSiegfried: I just killed a bunch of orc women and children.
63797881 wrote:
82733368 wrote:
28.) Making a "Drunken Master" style character (Monk or otherwise) does not require my character to be completely shitfaced, no matter what the name (and fun interpretation) implies.
29.) Making a "Drunken Master" style character does not require ME to be completely tanked, no matter how "in-character" I want to be..
I really like salla and techpriest's ideas, and I don't think I can top them.  I only thing I could add is that I like the idea of phylacteries being stored on another plane.  It puts the PCs in a position to explore new and dangerous terrain while being on a clock.  You can always combine ideas so that the PCs have a tough decision to make after fighting against time to even figure out what/where the phylactery is.
A phylactery that is a single small block of granite, built deep into the foundation of a castle/keep with the lich's puppet warlord and army housed in it. Nobody knows where or which one it is, so you would literally have to pull down and crush every block in the castle even if you knew what it was (which would take years).

A phylactery that is the iron setting to a ring or brooch. A delicate pearl or gem is set into this setting and enchanted with magic to make it glow. Someone who finds the phylactery and crushes it or throws it in a fire will just crush the gem and not the setting and think he's killed the lich. I guess throwing it into the Crack Of Doom will destroy both things, though.

A phylactery stored deep in the memory of an elderly man. To retrieve it, the players have to jog his memory with events, items, etc. that make him remember the time he saw the phylactery (which then makes it real). I guess they could just murder the old man so you'd have to think a way around that, though.  
A phylactery that is a single small block of granite, built deep into the foundation of a castle/keep with the lich's puppet warlord and army housed in it. Nobody knows where or which one it is, so you would literally have to pull down and crush every block in the castle even if you knew what it was (which would take years).



Or just borrow an idea from Order of the Stick. The phylactory is a jewel that's built into the throne of a puppet kingdom's throne room. No one would question the extra security since it's right where their king is.
Ohh the phylactery... The great mystery item that keeps the PCs from winning the day... I guess I'll tally up a list of what I've done.



  • A single grain of sand in the desert.

  • The mountain that was used as the home for a great Dwarven kingdom.

  • An ocean (This one in particular was a hoot to see the PCs circumvent XD)

  • The lich itself (time paradoxes were abound)

  • The memory of the Lich



Fun times XD
Look at the Harry Potter books and movies. Voldemort used everyday items to hide fragments of his soul, including a book, a locket, and even a big snake. I imagine a Lich would do likewise.
Awesome ideas all around !
"Non nobis Domine Sed nomini tuo da gloriam" "I wish for death not because I want to die, but because I seek the war eternal"

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/19.jpg)


 You could pull a Mystra and have the phylactery be a handful of people imbued with pieces of the lich's power - maybe they're all wizards, sorcerers or warlocks, or maybe it's a DaVinci Code thing where the phylactery hosts are regular people and don't know it.

 One that's really nasty is to have the lich's phylactery be its living descendants or the Royal Family or something - so that its phylactery continues as long as its physical legacy. After six or seven generations, there could be dozens of "pieces" of the phylactery out there that need to be taken out in order to finally kill the thing. If it's the Royal Family, who knows how many illegitimate progeny may be out there that nobody knows about.

 (And wouldn't that just suck if one or more of them had ended up becoming liches themselves? lol)

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I am the Magic Man.

(Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.)

 

I am the Lawnmower Man.

(I AM GOD HERE!)

 

I am the Skull God.

(Koo Koo Ka Choo)

 

There are reasons they call me Mad...

A secret sect; when you are "ordained", you recieve a tattoo diluted with the ancient lich's blood. You become a living carrier. When you die, you agree to leave your blood(body) to the order. The sect scours the lands to retrieve fallen brethren, to keep replenishing the bloodline. No need to hide the lich's philactery... The adventurers may never know if they have vanquished them all.
A secret sect; when you are "ordained", you recieve a tattoo diluted with the ancient lich's blood. You become a living carrier. When you die, you agree to leave your blood(body) to the order. The sect scours the lands to retrieve fallen brethren, to keep replenishing the bloodline. No need to hide the lich's philactery... The adventurers may never know if they have vanquished them all.




I've done one like this as well, it led to all sorts of fun!
RIP George! 4-21-11 RIP Abie! 1-2-13
Funny Forum Quotes
[quote author=82733368 post=532127449]
58115148 wrote:
"You notice a large piece of mold clinging to your toothbrush. What do you do?" "I cast Fireball." "I run like hell!
63797881 wrote:
The standard d4 is somewhat (SOMEWHAT) rounded on the top, the older models are even flat. The Lego is shaped in such a way that in an emergency, you can use one as a makeshift surgical knife.
147742801 wrote:
57457938 wrote:
My wife asked me if her pants made her look fat. What do you think I said?
Wife: Do these pants make me look fat? RedSiegfried: I just killed a bunch of orc women and children.
63797881 wrote:
82733368 wrote:
28.) Making a "Drunken Master" style character (Monk or otherwise) does not require my character to be completely shitfaced, no matter what the name (and fun interpretation) implies.
29.) Making a "Drunken Master" style character does not require ME to be completely tanked, no matter how "in-character" I want to be..