The great and terrible Lich really isn't...


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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How cruel would it be for the supposed big bad of a campaign to be a lich created from a 10th level adept (phylactery is an orange prism ioun stone)?

The pc's have been hearing whispers of this guy all along their adventuring career, of the mighty being who beat death to continue his research. And they come to find he's a 10th level npc.

Silver Crusade

Cruel isn't the word I would use. Anti-Climatic fits better.


It may be anti-climatic, and rather weak compared to the PCs, but it is still very impressive to the common person (who should be roughly 1st-2nd level Commoners), who would definitely see him as mighty.


It could definitely work, but it couldn't be a traditional "beat down the BBEG" confrontation. Abuse the hell out of the lich's traditional ability to survive the destruction of his body. I might even speed it up tremendously - say that, because they don't need to contain the awesome power most liches can bring, he found a way to transfer his essence to pre-prepared vessels for later. Any skeleton in his lair could suddenly be a spellcaster, at their front or even at their back. Any chamber they miss a secret door could mean an ambush lying in wait.

Use scrolls and wands for longevity - he only casts from his own repertoire as a last resort, because he needs to make it last all day and possibly then some. Because he's constantly confronting the party himself, he can lead any minions with far more effective tactics than even a scrying diviner can manage. In the end, they'll have "killed" him many times over in a traditional fight, but that was never the goal. He only needs to get lucky once.

Grand Lodge

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Depends on what level the campaign ends. If your ending your campaign early, like level 6-8 range, it could be kinda a neat sigh of relief on the part of the party after hearing all the rumors.


It depends on how much meta-gaming goes on at your table. How could they know he was an "adept" as opposed to a "wizard"? Would he tell them that? Why would your PCs distinguish between an NPC listed under the "NPC" chapter, and one built from core classes?

Silver Crusade

Gonturan wrote:
It depends on how much meta-gaming goes on at your table. How could they know he was an "adept" as opposed to a "wizard"? Would he tell them that? Why would your PCs distinguish between an NPC listed under the "NPC" chapter, and one built from core classes?

"Hey guys? Has anyone else noticed that the lich has only cast like 4 spells and they've all been 1st and 2nd level spells?"

Silver Crusade

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Oh, I just noticed something. Liches have to have a CL of 11, so you need to make it an 11th level adept.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Elamdri wrote:

Oh, I just noticed something. Liches have to have a CL of 11, so you need to make it an 11th level adept.

Why? The Lich template only calls for CR+2.


"An integral part of becoming a lich is the creation of the phylactery in which the character stores his soul. The only way to get rid of a lich for sure is to destroy its phylactery. Unless its phylactery is located and destroyed, a lich can rejuvenate after it is killed (see Creating a Lich, below).

Each lich must create its own phylactery by using the Craft Wondrous Item feat. The character must be able to cast spells and have a caster level of 11th or higher."


Son of the Veterinarian wrote:
Elamdri wrote:

Oh, I just noticed something. Liches have to have a CL of 11, so you need to make it an 11th level adept.

Why? The Lich template only calls for CR+2.

http://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/monster-listings/templates/lich

SRD wrote:
Each lich must create its own phylactery by using the Craft Wondrous Item feat. The character must be able to cast spells and have a caster level of 11th or higher.


I already accounted for that in the OP with the Orange Prism Ioun Stone. +1 Caster Level.

Also, I like Napalm's idea


You have to be an 11th level caster with create wondrous item to be a lich.

They have standard in the cool kids club.


The replies were for Son of the Veterinarian.

Anyway, hey, that Lich could even Bestow a Curse or two and throw some Lightning Bolts. Not that bad.


Krigare wrote:

You have to be an 11th level caster with create wondrous item to be a lich.

They have standard in the cool kids club.

No. You have to have a caster level of 11. There is a difference. Similar, but different.

Caster level is the level at which you cast your spells. A 10th level adept with an Orange Prism Ioun stone has a caster level of 11.

An 11th level caster is someone with 11 levels in a spellcasting class.


OK...you use an item to boost your caster level. Sunder the item, you no longer qualify, you die?

Its your game, but those sorts of shenanigans getting pulled by a dm are what lead players to doing it.


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Krigare wrote:

OK...you use an item to boost your caster level. Sunder the item, you no longer qualify, you die?

Its your game, but those sorts of shenanigans getting pulled by a dm are what lead players to doing it.

A similar situation is the schtick of the BBEG in the 3rd Kingmaker installment. Without spoiling it much:

Spoiler:
The ruling there with the CL requirment is that if your CL is lower than the requirement needed for being a lich (CL=11+), you cannot return to your phylactery when your physical body is destroyed (this is one of that particular BBEG's weaknesses), so, yes, you do die when that happens (i.e. your physical body is destroyed). But you don't stop being a lich if your CL is lower somehow and your physical body is still intact.

So, I could see in this sense, as a lich and if your body is destroyed, but you are relying on that ioun stone for the +1 CL to have the CL 11+, you would drop to CL 10 (since you cannot access or use the ioun stone's ability), and therefore you would be dead for the reason in the spoiler above. Seems like a weakness and poor idea for becoming a lich. Of course, this might also fit the idea that an adept figures the way to become a lich (a flawed way) and makes an interesting twist if you want a one-shot lich villian.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

The availability of the ioun stone aside, what real difference does it make if it's a 10th or 11th level adept? The 11th level adept will still be a fairly weak caster for a lich (as far as I can tell, the only thing an 11th level adept can do that a 10th level adept can't is cast one more 3rd level spell).

Plus not adding the ioun stone means you don't end up giving your players an orange ioun stone after they kill it (unless of course that is the goal). Plus Krigare has a point... heck with an ioun stone you don't even need to sunder it, you just need to grab or net it out of midair.

Anyway... to what would it do/mean/how would it feel in a campaign... a relatively weak lich has got to be a very smart/wise lich, to have survived to lichdom. Liches attract powerful enemies, both other evil sorts who feel threatened by the power of a lich as well as adventurers with holy causes... and maruts and other things. This 11th level adept lich may not be as powerful as the usual minimum 11th level sorcerer or wizard, but obviously they are exceptionally good at hiding, at intimidating people, or gathering useful allies that have no ambitions that would turn them against the lich. They have probably collected extremely useful artifacts and magic items to support them and make use of good low level tricks like finding ways to summon hordes and hordes of low level creatures. What would be fun would not only be giving it undead allies (that it's created with animate dead, but also living allies (including its familiar) that it can heal with its cure spells (folks don't normally expect liches to cast cure spells). They've probably taken their time amassing wealth and discovering secrets that hold sway over would be enemies. Its caster attribute is Wisdom and it would likely be high, meaning it should be incredibly alert and intuitive and hard to fool. It likely has its phylactery cleverly made and hidden, making it a good possibility to become a recurring villain as it rejuvenates after the party cannot find its phylactery.

I think it would actually be a fun challenge to build not an 11th level adept lich who was amazingly weak--because again, one would wonder how it attained its power and survived--but build one that is surprisingly powerful, if not through its raw spellcasting abilities than through its resources and allies. When the party discovers its actual casting skills were its weakest strength, they ought to be impressed that it still was able to accomplish so much, rather than feel "cheated."

As an aside, this thread has pointed something out to me... I've always assumed liches are arcane casters only, but reading the description, yes, they only need to be any kind of caster. Never noticed that before, and wish I had....


DeathQuaker wrote:

The availability of the ioun stone aside, what real difference does it make if it's a 10th or 11th level adept? The 11th level adept will still be a fairly weak caster for a lich (as far as I can tell, the only thing an 11th level adept can do that a 10th level adept can't is cast one more 3rd level spell).

Plus not adding the ioun stone means you don't end up giving your players an orange ioun stone after they kill it (unless of course that is the goal). Plus Krigare has a point... heck with an ioun stone you don't even need to sunder it, you just need to grab or net it out of midair.

Anyway... to what would it do/mean/how would it feel in a campaign... a relatively weak lich has got to be a very smart/wise lich, to have survived to lichdom. Liches attract powerful enemies, both other evil sorts who feel threatened by the power of a lich as well as adventurers with holy causes... and maruts and other things. This 11th level adept lich may not be as powerful as the usual minimum 11th level sorcerer or wizard, but obviously they are exceptionally good at hiding, at intimidating people, or gathering useful allies that have no ambitions that would turn them against the lich. They have probably collected extremely useful artifacts and magic items to support them and make use of good low level tricks like finding ways to summon hordes and hordes of low level creatures. What would be fun would not only be giving it undead allies (that it's created with animate dead, but also living allies (including its familiar) that it can heal with its cure spells (folks don't normally expect liches to cast cure spells). They've probably taken their time amassing wealth and discovering secrets that hold sway over would be enemies. Its caster attribute is Wisdom and it would likely be high, meaning it should be incredibly alert and intuitive and hard to fool. It likely has its phylactery cleverly made and hidden, making it a good possibility to become a recurring villain as it rejuvenates after the party cannot find its phylactery.

I think it would actually be a fun challenge to build not an 11th level adept lich who was amazingly weak--because again, one would wonder how it attained its power and survived--but build one that is surprisingly powerful, if not through its raw spellcasting abilities than through its resources and allies. When the party discovers its actual casting skills were its weakest strength, they ought to be impressed that it still was able to accomplish so much, rather than feel "cheated."

As an aside, this thread has pointed something out to me... I've always assumed liches are arcane casters only, but reading the description, yes, they only need to be any kind of caster. Never noticed that before, and wish I had....

This is the kind of stuff I was thinking of. This guy is the grand master behind the big whatever, and he's actually kind of a pushover in a straight fight. His allies/minions are the bulk of his power. And since he's a Lich he's had plenty of time to accumulate resources and information.


Darigaaz, that is my point about being 11th level. He just needs to keep his phylactery safe, no items required for prereqs. At that point, he can be an evil genius mastermind who is terrifying not because his personal raw power, but because he is that smart, wise, and capable of planning ahead.

Like a lich version of Hannibal from the A-team...ohhhh....I think I know what I'm doing for my next bbeg.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

If you think that's a clever twist all the power to you. Quite frankly however, I think it takes a strong, wilful, and powerful caster to become a lich. But ifyou want to open it up to any Tom, Dick, or Harriet it's up to you. For most becoming a lich is an extremely involved and difficult processs whith the means employed usually making you quite evil in the end.

It may be a good BBEG for a silly campaign, much less for a serious one.


Krigare wrote:

OK...you use an item to boost your caster level. Sunder the item, you no longer qualify, you die?

Its your game, but those sorts of shenanigans getting pulled by a dm are what lead players to doing it.

You don't need CL 11th to be a Lich, you have to be CL 11th to craft the philactery which is needed to be a Lich. Once crafted, it stays as it is.

Of course, if someone destroys it and you're unable to craft another one due to lowered CL, you're stepping into trouble.

Silver Crusade

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Astral Wanderer wrote:
Krigare wrote:

OK...you use an item to boost your caster level. Sunder the item, you no longer qualify, you die?

Its your game, but those sorts of shenanigans getting pulled by a dm are what lead players to doing it.

You don't need CL 11th to be a Lich, you have to be CL 11th to craft the philactery which is needed to be a Lich. Once crafted, it stays as it is.

Of course, if someone destroys it and you're unable to craft another one due to lowered CL, you're stepping into trouble.

If a Lich's Phylactery is destroyed, they can't craft another one. The Phylactery contains the Lich's soul. Destroying it kills the lich.


RAW, destroying the philactery only prevents the Lich from rejuvenating. The soul is "free" (as is for any other Undead) until bound to a new philactery, but until you physically destroy the Lich, he's up and running.

Silver Crusade

And what Lich lets you destroy his Phylactery before killing him?


Elamdri wrote:
And what Lich lets you destroy his Phylactery before killing him?

Those who are hiding their Phylactery in a safe place, far away?

Grand Lodge

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Better yet have the Lich fool EVERYONE. The powerful vampires and devils guarding the lich in his throne room have no idea about the limited power he wields. The difficulty of the fight would be against the minions with the lich an easy push over, perhaps shocking the whole room into silence as he drops after one hit.

Then the powerful minions either leave in disappointment or one steps forwards to be the new big bad.


To a lot of the folks who are looking at the idea and going "its an npc, meh, it'll be a weak encounter" think about this...

Personal power isn't just a measure of how much but kicking you can do yourself. An 11th level adept, who has learned how to create a phylactery to become a lich, hunted down/researched names of powerful outsiders to bind, gotten undead to serve him (perhaps in trade for political power, safe hunting grounds, any resources he could have at his disposal) is not a pushover. By the time the party gets to face him, personally, they should have been forced to run a gauntlet of horrors and challenges devised by someone that intelligent. They won't be at full strength, it is doubtful they would even have half their resources available if its done well.

At which point...they might not even notice he isn't a PC class.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

Midnight_Angel wrote:
Elamdri wrote:
And what Lich lets you destroy his Phylactery before killing him?
Those who are hiding their Phylactery in a safe place, far away?

This actually happened in a campaign I ran. The idea was the phylactery was stored originally quite safely in a very well warded area underground near the lich's ancestral home.

Problem is the lich and his army got driven away from the area -- but the lich realized everyone expected him to keep his phylactery on him or near him. Would be assassins were always seeking out his phylactery in his new base of operations and none were going anywhere near the actual hiding place, so he decided to leave it there for the time being, and not move it till he could find a way to do so without alerting anyone to its importance.

Problem is eventually the hiding place got compromised due to a magical catastrophe and, an extremely long story short, the phylactery got destroyed before he or his minions could get to it. In the meantime, the party involved in the destruction of the phylactery knew they had destroyed a lich's phylactery but didn't know how to get to the lich himself--and knew they had just made a powerful enemy, even if his phylactery was destroyed.

Silver Crusade

DeathQuaker wrote:
Midnight_Angel wrote:
Elamdri wrote:
And what Lich lets you destroy his Phylactery before killing him?
Those who are hiding their Phylactery in a safe place, far away?

This actually happened in a campaign I ran. The idea was the phylactery was stored originally quite safely in a very well warded area underground near the lich's ancestral home.

Problem is the lich and his army got driven away from the area -- but the lich realized everyone expected him to keep his phylactery on him or near him. Would be assassins were always seeking out his phylactery in his new base of operations and none were going anywhere near the actual hiding place, so he decided to leave it there for the time being, and not move it till he could find a way to do so without alerting anyone to its importance.

Problem is eventually the hiding place got compromised due to a magical catastrophe and, an extremely long story short, the phylactery got destroyed before he or his minions could get to it. In the meantime, the party involved in the destruction of the phylactery knew they had destroyed a lich's phylactery but didn't know how to get to the lich himself--and knew they had just made a powerful enemy, even if his phylactery was destroyed.

/facepalm

Worst. Lich. Ever.

I've always thought it would be funny to have a lich's minion sneak into the party camp one night and hide his phylactery inside the party's bag of holding. That way, once they kill him, he reforms inside the bag, and then one day when they go to get something out "SURPRISE LICH!"

Liberty's Edge

There's been a few artifacts capable of turning one into a lich, so I say take it a step further, and introduce the lich expert! Yes, an evil mastermind with no spellcasting ability (outside of what he can muster with UMD), who makes frequent use of his ability to return of the dead - even going so far as to pose as a mindless zombie in one of his undead hoards (bought wholesale from a necromancer a few kingdoms over).

The biggest dangers he presents are not martial (he has minions for that - a few mind-controlled, but most simply bought and paid for), but economical. He's had centuries to keep a low profile, gather useful magical items, and make connections with every trade guild in the nation. The PCs might slay him, only to find that a bounty has been place on their heads, and the towns that aid them (or even those that they just visit) soon fall into economic ruin.

I also feel like if you were to load up a lich expert with magic items, the party wouldn't feel cheated after beating him. Loot bribe!

Of course, you could take it further and create LICH COMMONER, complete with Wraith Pig, but lets not get cray-cray.


Elamdri wrote:


/facepalm

Worst. Lich. Ever.

I've always thought it would be funny to have a lich's minion sneak into the party camp one night and hide his phylactery inside the party's bag of holding. That way, once they kill him, he reforms inside the bag, and then one day when they go to get something out "SURPRISE LICH!"

Would be kinda dickish, but HILARIOUS.


Harrison wrote:
Elamdri wrote:
I've always thought it would be funny to have a lich's minion sneak into the party camp one night and hide his phylactery inside the party's bag of holding. That way, once they kill him, he reforms inside the bag, and then one day when they go to get something out "SURPRISE LICH!"
Would be kinda dickish, but HILARIOUS.

It would be funny but has a few problems:

- The party has already proven that they can defeat the Lich in the first place
- Even when he has all his minions and magic items
- Which he doesn't have anymore, unless he finds some in the bag of holding (magic items, not minions)
- Now after defeating him again, they know the phylactery has to be in the BoH... If they can't figure out which item it is, well throw the entire bag into a portable hole.


Yay! Astral phylactery!

Sovereign Court

How exactly are the PC's supposed to figure out what a NPC's stats are? Don't just go shouting what kind of class levels a person has, that's not information the PC's should ever have any kind of access to specifically. I mean do your players demand you hand over your notes after the end of every game or something?

If you want a CL 10 Lich, congratulations you have one. No reason to take an ioun stone just for that tiny extra prerequisite (though actually it's a good buy for the lich in general anyway). Just make something up to explain it. Blessed by the dark gods they worship, +1 CL, bam.

Plus Adept has a lot of nice spells for a Lich. Animate Dead, Bestow Curse, Mirror Image, Invisibility, Darkness. Plenty of nasty things it could do. Plus it'd only be a CR 10 encounter, not a CR 11 by itself.

Start invisible in a battle with the big skeletons or zombies that it created earlier, sneak in with its large stealth bonus and then nail whom ever looked to be the most dangerous (after some buffing of course) with the paralyzing touch. Then toss out a darkness and have the invisible familiar go touch someone with a bestow curse or contagion. Yuck.


Does the phylactery not have to be on the same plane as the lich when he's destroyed for it to function? I kind of have the impression it's bad for the lich if he's destroyed when on a separate plane from his phylactery. Having his phylactery in any kind of extradimensional space would be bad.

I like the idea that the lich adept is a push-over but maybe his vampire vizier or another loyal minion, having seen his easy defeat, steps in as the new BigBad and flees the scene to rebuild the forces and face the party another day. I like it as a vampire so he can escape to his coffin as mist or in animal form, and the main villain transfers from the push-over adept poser behind the curtain to the terrifying vampire wizard behind his throne.


I gotta thank all you forumites for helping this discussion flourish.

Silver Crusade

Quatar wrote:
Harrison wrote:
Elamdri wrote:
I've always thought it would be funny to have a lich's minion sneak into the party camp one night and hide his phylactery inside the party's bag of holding. That way, once they kill him, he reforms inside the bag, and then one day when they go to get something out "SURPRISE LICH!"
Would be kinda dickish, but HILARIOUS.

It would be funny but has a few problems:

- The party has already proven that they can defeat the Lich in the first place
- Even when he has all his minions and magic items
- Which he doesn't have anymore, unless he finds some in the bag of holding (magic items, not minions)
- Now after defeating him again, they know the phylactery has to be in the BoH... If they can't figure out which item it is, well throw the entire bag into a portable hole.

I said it would FUNNY, not the world's greatest strategy. Also, figure that most of the time a party bests a lich with preparation and strategy. The last thing you want is a lich sneaking out of your bag of holding in the middle of the night.


If a GM finds a way to make something even half-way fit into the rules, even with a rules decision that could go either way, I won't judge.

That said, I would probably make the ioun stone into the phylactery as well. The party spell-caster would be in for quite a surprise when he woke up in the morning with the lich laying there next to him.


See, my players are always looking for excitement at lower levels. They hate facing goblins for the ten-millionth time.

So I do stuff like this all the time. Dumb the big thing down, so they can face it fairly, and still get a bit of a jolt from it.

Mixes things up, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Grand Lodge

This would make a great villain for a E6/E7/E8 campaign - thanks for the idea!!!


I think the revelation needs to come before the combat. If it happens in combat, it will be too quick.

I like the idea that the lich has fooled his uber minions to serve him, maybe pitching them agaimst each other, and maybe impersonating a powerful now gone lich. (It could be that the phylactery failed, and the lich got reduced to a weak version). Or maybe he is some kind of lich simulacrum, and the real BBEG has moved on.

This could be combined with the minions being way too powerful for the party. The way to deafet the great evil is to find out that the lich is really not so strong as believed, and then convince the demons serving him/her. Watch as they tear the lich apart, then leave for their home planes.


I've always felt that a lich should have a powerful cohort. Kinda like the Vecna-Kas relationship just without the, you know, betrayal and stuff.

Death Knight (or Demon Knight now I guess) and lich make an awesome combo if you can align their goals.


Hmm Demon Knight and Death Knight really aren't the same are they. Cauchemar-mounted DK, plane-hopping his lich master around just gives me the shivers.


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A couple thoughts that came to mind. first one is, when the party buffs up and prepares their massive spells and novas on this litch that they heard so much about, only for it to die in short order. Feel gipped and disappointed till a few minutes later when most of their buffs wear out, they get surprised by the actual litch that is powerful. If they complain, well they were disappointed with the first one, so here is a second better one!

Secondly, you dont have to be powerful or even much of anything really, not even sane to wield tremendous power. Some old guy managed to rule a kingdom with pretty much nothing but bluff... That and... Look at the bouncy ball!! That is my favourite page of the entire comic ^-^

One idea I had that I planned on using some time was to have the phylactery as a ring and enchant it with good abilities and something to cloak its alignment. Then have it drop as loot for the party paladin. The paladin gets a nice high leveled ring and the litch gets a strong protector for his phylactery and can never really be destroyed by the party since they will never be able to find the dang thing.


There was actually a Goblin Adept 11 lich in Libris Mortis by WotC, described as the possibly weakest lich ever. I think her name was Krilla Darkhands or something.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Morgen wrote:
Plus Adept has a lot of nice spells for a Lich. Animate Dead, Bestow Curse, Mirror Image, Invisibility, Darkness. Plenty of nasty things it could do. Plus it'd only be a CR 10 encounter, not a CR 11 by itself.

It'd be more like a CR 9 encounter, the Expert Lich hovering between CR 7 and 8 at best. The problem with these cut down liches is that they pretty much take away the majesty of fighting a lich kind of like the way Voyager watered down the Borg so much the writers had to introduce a new Big Nasty Race to fill in the gap.

Grand Lodge

A CR 11/12 Lich would make a Badass end villain for a E6/E7 campaign and may even be a tight TPK vs. Lich death.

Giving the players clues / counter measures may help some against the high CL difference.


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Rumtum wrote:
Hmm Demon Knight and Death Knight really aren't the same are they. Cauchemar-mounted DK, plane-hopping his lich master around just gives me the shivers.

You'd probably want to use a graveknight. They're pretty much the deathknight equivalent for Pathfinder. They're bound to their armor instead of their weapon though. The insidious thing about a graveknight is that is can regenerate in the armor while someone is wearing the armor, and the person's body eventually becomes part of the graveknight (according to Undead Revisited).

Not sure what a demon knight is. Guessing you meant Hellknight.


Now I feel like making an Orc Adept Lich as a main villain for a side-quest I'm made for my Kingmaker campaign.

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