It takes 1d10 days to reform next to its phylactery. They're one in a million geniuses that simply have too much of an advantage in terms of time, planning, and resources. Generally the process of obtaining the information necessary to become a lich- specifically the creation of the phylactery- requires the aspiring individual to perform service for the Ossuary Overseers, and a fool will allow themselves to be pressed into service nigh indefinitely by failing to fully negotiate the terms of the agreement.

The way I see it, the soul either moves on and the lich body ceases to function or the soul merges with the body and the lich becomes like a normal intelligent undead; possibly with the body going inanimate for a brief period. Of course, this stops working if he moves it every time. However, the liche in question has a very well hidden phylactery, and I'm not sure where to suggest the party look to find it. Maybe you should follow the lead the NPC gave you. There was a dwarven artisan who was known for making amulets that allowed you to bypass such wards. If a 2nd level commoner picks it up, then proceeds to get eaten by a dragon, and said dragon stomps on your shiny little bauble, well you're having a pretty bad day. When a lich is destroyed, its soul flees to the phylactery. This process takes 1d10 days—if the body is destroyed before that time passes, the phylactery merely starts the process anew. The realm of death is generally quite neutral and there is a place called the Ossuary where dead souls come and they have their old lives flensed from their beings so they might be born again free of their previous lives.

That's about how I would plan to protect a phylactery, with the only real changes being that the chamber would be lined with adamantine to protect from burrowing creatures or other movement, and being warded against divinations/teleportations excepting only a single one-way teleport circle located in a random unrelated location. Then they just have to follow the path back to the phylactery fighting whatever baddies makes sense would be in their way or actually guarding it. My common "Be a dick" move for liches like this is to have them use spells like Earth Glide or anything that lets you go intangible to walk into the heart of a mountain, Disintegrate out a chamber when they're a mile into solid bedrock, and store a bunch of Teleportation scrolls and backup spellbooks in there.

Broken phylactery means the soul attempts to return to the body. Kudos for an 'I, Strahd' mention. Allow these ideas and just make liches essentially invincible? Afterward, the lich manifests next to the phylactery, fully healed and in a new body (therefore, it lacks any equipment it had on its old body). Cookies help us deliver our Services. This was in AD&D where it was a lot easier to hide a curse in an item, but with some hand waiving that the power of the phylactery was beyond the low level players ability to identify your players may start a quest just to figure out what the item is capable of. This incentivizes engagement with the lore, clever player decisions, and attention toward the narrative in general. They might not even have to use a spell, just a bribe of some sort for the help. I love this it is now stolen has inspired a boss in one of my campaigns. This, too. In most cases, this would probably mean destroying the phylactery and the lich.

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