Can a Lich atone?


Rules Questions

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I seem to remember several threads devoted to druid liches, many devoted to non-evil liches, and probably an equal number devoted to both.

I don't think any of them ever ended with any kind of real consensus.

I say, do whatever you GM will allow. If you're the GM... just do whatever you want.

Let's just move on from this.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Am I The Only One? wrote:

I seem to remember several threads devoted to druid liches, many devoted to non-evil liches, and probably an equal number devoted to both.

I don't think any of them ever ended with any kind of real consensus.

If any thread on this board ended with a consensus, I'd call that a Sign of the Apocalypse.


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The question of whether undead can be non-evil is one of those foundational philosophical questions, and as such, it really is table variance. In the epic alignment flamewars on Usenet, we spent a lot of time harassing Sage Advice about things, and the conclusion was that the intent of the rules was that absolutely everything that had sapience at all, including creatures labeled as "always X", could change alignment. But some were extremely unlikely to.

(Digression:)
That said, a very careful reading of Rules As Written, at least in 3.x, concluded that it was entirely possible for a creature to simultaneously detect as both good and evil. An outsider with the evil subtype always detects strongly evil. But an outsider with the evil subtype who changes alignment and becomes a paladin is a paladin, and a high-level paladin detects strongly good. Conclusion: The creature detects as both. There is no rule saying that a creature with an aligned subtype changes subtype or detection if it changes alignment.

Similarly, casting Holy Word in a room full of neutral-aligned infants is simultaneously a good act (because it is a spell with the [good] descriptor) and an evil act (because duh).
(End Digression.)

So the question is: When you see an alignment of "any evil", is that intended to be taken as descriptive or prescriptive? That is to say, is this telling you what has been observed, or imposing requirements on what can possibly happen? The general rule in PF seems to be that alignment listings are descriptive, not prescriptive; they are telling you what to expect, not imposing limits on what the GM can rule. The fact that there's now a specific rule for the aligned outsiders case supports this view; had they meant to say "aligned outsiders and undead", they presumably would have.

Imagine, if you will, a monster book slightly more like the old 1E/2E ones, which listed native habitats, and imagine a template like "Desert Creature", which gives minor fire resistance, and a few other flavor items, and says "Terrain: Any desert."

It seems to me that treating "any evil" as a mandate for an alignment change is like saying that when you apply the desert creature template, either the character is teleported to a desert or the environment around them is instantly transformed to one.


Seems to me if you want to prolong your life become a wizard and take the Immortality Feat/Wizard ability at 20th level from Ultimate Magic


As a DM, I disdain and dismiss the "Undead are always Evil" thing.

Evil undead are a majority, however. That doesn't mean that neutral or good ones cannot exist.


Undead a can be non-evil. How.much variance therr is depends on the particular undead and how much the GM prescribes to Pathfinder or Golarion lore.

If you want to go by Pathfinder fluff a lich can BECOME nonevil but that would be rare.

However the path to lichdom requires you to be evil or at the least be willing to commit evil acts. I think the book is very clear on the intent of the flavor.

In short a player trying to be a lich and then say "I am not evil" would likely not go over if he is just trying to.ditch the evil tag.

Silver Crusade

Serenrae says yes.


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Icyshadow wrote:

As a DM, I disdain and dismiss the "Undead are always Evil" thing.

Evil undead are a majority, however. That doesn't mean that neutral or good ones cannot exist.

This is usually how I operate. I feel somewhat differently about liches than I do about, say, vampires or ghosts, though, because a lich only ever exists through the intentional, planned, and long-term actions of the spellcaster. The rituals that require it are unspecified, but are described to be heinous, sacrilegious, or otherwise inescapably evil.

The point being, someone who is so utterly self-devoted that they will cause harm to other people to extend their own life is someone who isn't big on feeling guilty over their actions.

This is not to say that it is impossible. But it's more comparable to a convicted serial killer repenting on death row, in a sense. It's very unlikely that anyone will believe they are sincere (the lich) but even if they are, there will still be any number of people who want their blood for their evil actions in the past, no matter whether they claim to have reformed. Without the protection of a penal system, the lich will be under attack by any number of adventurers - either they allow themselves to be destroyed, or continue to defend themselves and destroy people. This vicious cycle of paranoia is explicitly spelled out in the lich's entry in the Bestiary.

tl;dr - being a lich requires a commitment to evil that becoming another kind of undead does not. Even if they want to repent, circumstances are likely to drive them to madness and a return to evil.


I would argue that in most cases, a person is "locked in" when they die. In other words, your life is your one chance to determine, define, and refine who you are. Once Pharasma looks over your resume, that's it. No changing, no repenting, no anything but dealing with your choices.

Even if that wouldn't be so for all who have died, I would say that it absolutely applies to liches (lichii?), who intentionally chose to become undead for the sole purpose of gaining power that couldn't be contained in life.


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Quote:
liches (lichii?)

"Lich" is not rooted in Latin, so the standard English "liches" is about as accurate as it gets.


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In my experience, the plural of "lich" is "run".

Lantern Lodge

Maybe a group of liches is an "unkindness".


Just adding my comments, sorry if this has been over addressed already, but the premise of

Spoiler:
Carrion Crown AP...someone can be turned into a lich against their will, Arazni was not willing to be turned into a lich...sorry I'm her biggest fangirl

Kind of sideways to the topic. If the character in question was willing to become a lich, that takes some pretty evil acts, atonement would be a hard and lengthy journey involving many acts of good and as many reparations as possible to the evil that was done in the process of becoming a lich in the first place.


A summary of points:

  • Helm of Opposite Alignment has no effect on undead because it's a mind-affecting effect.
  • By RAW, non-living creatures can't be Atoned.
  • Yes, there are non-evil liches in Faerun. Faerun is not Golarion.
  • Even on Faerun, archliches are epic destinies (level 21+) and baelnorns require Elven High Magic to create. The regular lich rules are shortcuts which require the intervention of evil patrons.
  • I don't have an exact quote to this effect, but the dev's have explicitly stated that all undead except for ghosts are always evil in Pathfinder.
  • The rule of lichdom being irrevocably evil is, at least, clearly laid out in Undead Revisited.
  • Just because an undead is evil doesn't mean that they have to be a jerk. They could be very polite and chill with any living folk they come across, but wouldn't feel bad at all about flaying babies alive if it meant correcting a slight inconvenience in their day. Evil comes in many flavors and not all flavors are not worth living with (at least temporarily).

That said... I'm not going to get up in anyone's face about non-evil undead being badwrongfun. It's just not Pathfinder RAW and it's definitely not Golarion-friendly. If your GM feels differently, then houserule away! It's just clearly not RAW and I don't see why anyone would need to, basically, ask other people to validate their houserules by saying it is. I've played in these games before and loved them (back in 3.5). I'd certainly have fun playing Pathfinder with houserules like this, but I'd recognize the campaign as homebrew.

I consider myself a pretty lenient GM, but the only way in standard rules that I'd let a player turn their character into an intelligent undead is if they spent several levels "researching" and then made the transformation when the added CR (including the extra +1CR from having PC treasure) equals the rest of the party. Maybe I might be kind and take a copy of their character sheet and let them level in the meantime, then rewind to that level at lichdom time. Then they'd have to RP being evil.

I'd warn far ahead of time that, if they weren't comfortable with that, I'd make their character an NPC. Same as on full moons if they got turned into a werewolf. And, though my friends and I BS with each other a lot, if a player told me to "suck it" when I made a ruling and then insisted on not playing by it (rather than, say, making a reasoned and friendly argument and going by my final decision which I'd bend in their favor as much as I'd feel comfortable), I'd just not invite them to the next game. Because I'm more comfortable with Chaotic Evil characters than I am with Chaotic Immature players.

I know I'm being a little harsh, but the RAW is pretty clear here and Rule 0 beats RAW if you don't like it. End of story.


Annika L wrote:

Just adding my comments, sorry if this has been over addressed already, but the premise of

** spoiler omitted **

Kind of sideways to the topic. If the character in question was willing to become a lich, that takes some pretty evil acts, atonement would be a hard and lengthy journey involving many acts of good and as many reparations as possible to the evil that was done in the process of becoming a lich in the first place.

Stories break rules for the purpose of the story. For story purposes almost no rule is sacred, but PC's don't get access to plot devices and rule breaking like NPC's do.


"I don't have an exact quote to this effect, but the dev's have explicitly stated that all undead except for ghosts are always evil in Pathfinder. "

Not true. They said the alignments are not absolute, but they are the high majority +99%. In other words don't expect for Paizo to publish any non-evil vampires.

I don't think you were harsh. Everyone just GM's differently. If they don't like it they can find a new GM.


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"So 99% of all liches are evil.. sooo it's been done before, I can totally become one and not do anything bad-like... because you know.. I am special."

The arrogance and stupidity of that is enough to fail, it seems if you are willing to take a chance like that with your morality and soul you can not possibly hope to end up on the 'good side'.


wraithstrike wrote:
In other words don't expect for Paizo to publish any non-evil vampires.

Which is a real shame.

They have published a vampire Druid though.

Shadow Lodge

wraithstrike wrote:

"I don't have an exact quote to this effect, but the dev's have explicitly stated that all undead except for ghosts are always evil in Pathfinder. "

Not true. They said the alignments are not absolute, but they are the high majority +99%. In other words don't expect for Paizo to publish any non-evil vampires.

They haven't published a non-evil vampire, but they have stated that vampires can be non-evil (in addition to the general statement that alignment is not absolute).

Blood of the Night wrote:

Most vampires are evil, but like any race that doesn’t have the evil subtype, there is always a slim chance for redemption.

Neutral vampires are rare, but not unheard of. Most commonly they are freed spawn, creatures now balking in horror at acts they perpetrated while dominated by their masters, with living memories fresh in their minds. Some vampires shift alignment to neutral over many hundreds of years as they tire of hunting and being hunted, moderating their evil by curtailing their behavior rather than making a philosophical choice.

A good vampire is so rare as to be almost nonexistent. Its very nature draws it to feast on living intelligent creatures. The impossibly rare good vampire is trusted by no one and persecuted by all—mortal and vampire alike.

So definitely not "all undead are always evil."

I'd consider a lich to be more evil than a vampire since they are more generally the result of intense willful study and evil rituals rather than spawn, but they still aren't made of evil. (And I think even evil outsiders have been said to be capable of extremely rare redemption.) Redemption should be possible for a lich, especially if the lich is new to undeath or there was some element of coercion in their lichdom. But it will be very difficult.


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Shiney wrote:
Buri wrote:
If you want to be a technical, rules-miser a phylactery is only part of the process and is described as such. There is inherent fluff required to complete the process. To dismiss the fluff presented and to claim the phylactery is all you need it simply inaccurate.

I'm sorry. I see the point you're making, I do, and I disagree. To say that fluff is required is to make it crunch, and thereby, not fluff.

It's just like RAW vs RAI. Our group feels one way, yours may feel another, and any number of people can be anywhere else, or in-between. Do we really have anything else to throw at this zombie-horse?

It doesn't sound like your group feels that way, It sounds like YOU feel that way and have browbeat the GM until he just gave up and let you have your way.


My bf reminded me that under PS rules, we can't actually craft magic items. So no craft item = no phylactery. Also, even if it was only for 10 minutes, evil aligned player characters are not allowed. Also, if they were to allow such a special entity, you'd probably need a chronicle sheet, which I doubt they'd ever make.

They *might* allow an npc to do something like this though.


I think a Druid who becomes a lich ceases being a druid. Undeath is abhorrent to the natural cycle of life.

Shiney, the problem I have with your transformation into a lich is that your description is largely mechanical. If the DM had more input into the process, he/she might have included your character engaging in tasks that are actually evil in order to perfect the means of transformation. Allowing you to complete the transformation by only considering the mechanics of the process, I think does a bit of a disservice to the roleplaying that comes with something as dramatic as becoming a lich.

Second, being undead is by its nature corrupting; it's drawing on negative energy, it's taking you out of the natural life cycle and so on. Over time, I think turning evil is inevitable, it's part of the price of undeath.

Edit: Yes, for story purposes, there might be a non-evil undead, a vampire fighting against its nature and tendencies. Feeding only from willing donors or animals, etc. It intended to be the exception and not the rule- and it should be hard to do; an eternal struggle.


Gwaithador wrote:
I think a Druid who becomes a lich ceases being a druid. Undeath is abhorrent to the natural cycle of life.

There's a feat to give druids the power to raise undead actually.

Gwaithador wrote:
it should be hard to do; an eternal struggle.

One true way! You do it this way, or its wrong! [/notserious]

It should be up to the gaming group imo. I'm fine with someone that wants to play it as a struggle and another who gets along fine. All about fun and characterization in the end, and sometimes people have fun in a different way, and that isn't really a bad thing.


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Mr. Sin,

That feat requires the druid to be neutral evil and worship an evil god, which is different from the original poster's question about "atonement" presumably because the druid in question is not one of those druids tied to the "dark heart of the forest."

Yes, there are druids that commit "blasphemy" but I think other druids would not look kindly upon them. Death is a part of the cycle of life. But undeath is something else entirely.

Come on now, taking part of my sentence takes it out of context! That should be a penalty call or something! :)

It's a given that most decisions are "up to the group" or the DM. Never mind the mechanics of things for a moment, I'm talking about the flavor. If you have one PC who's a good vampire, and he/she roleplays it well, I think that can be good stuff. But if the player is like "I'm good" and there's no drama to it, no struggle against the cravings of living blood, the urges to kill, and all that fun stuff that comes with vampirism in the game, it just turns being a vampire into another collection of powers. Being a good vampire should come with some good story to it- its a plotline that shouldn't just be a mechanism for the player making an OOC decision.

If some group doesn't care, and everybody is running around being Lawful Good vampires, never worrying about drinking blood and all that. Well, that's their business but I think it loses something.


Gwaithador wrote:
I think it loses something.

Yeah, they lost all that angst they didn't want to deal with and had fun.

Its one thing to say "its okay to do it your way" but its another to add that last bit about how you think they're losing out. Would probably come across more nicely if it more personal and phrase it like its how you like it, making it a positive, rather than making it look like their doing it wrong by saying their losing out, a negative.

Anyways, there's nothing in the rules against a lich atoning, but this thread is pretty old so that's probably not so much an issue anymore. Like I said earlier, its really up to the group and there's probably no wrong answer, which is nice. The right answer is its what makes it fun, imo.


The whole issue is a complex one that really comes down to story elements. The methods for becoming s Mitch have never been clearly defined but have been implied to be aweful.

Additionally the normal story mode for lichdom is that unlike vamprism its usually implied to be voluntary. This means homesly that in the time frame most games take place in an "oops my bad I really shouldn't have had those hundred babies sacraficed to make a newborn heart smoothlyvfor my unread rebirth. I feel just awedul about it." Really doesn't work in terms of pc.

Ultimately it comes down to the narrative the dm wants. There is no rules against unread druid. Sadly though no more wild shape.

In golarion there is a group of unread druids inside the world wound.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Mojorat wrote:

The whole issue is a complex one that really comes down to story elements. The methods for becoming s Mitch have never been clearly defined but have been implied to be aweful.

Additionally the normal story mode for lichdom is that unlike vamprism its usually implied to be voluntary. This means homesly that in the time frame most games take place in an "oops my bad I really shouldn't have had those hundred babies sacraficed to make a newborn heart smoothlyvfor my unread rebirth. I feel just awedul about it." Really doesn't work in terms of pc.

Ultimately it comes down to the narrative the dm wants. There is no rules against unread druid. Sadly though no more wild shape.

In golarion there is a group of unread druids inside the world wound.

Unread druids? What happens if they're exposed to literacy?


LazarX wrote:
Unread druids? What happens if they're exposed to literacy?

They become read druids and may progress in the librarian NPC class? Truly something to be feared! Knowledge is power after all. How else do you find out how to become a lich?


If they were literate, then used ancient and forbidden magicks of unimaginable evil to obtain an unread state, can THEY atone?*

*atone in the general sense of redemption, not the spell.


4e has an actual explanation for why liches are usually evil. The idea is that becoming a lich (in 4e, anyways) is really hard, and so most characters, even those a high enough level to be a lich, cannot do it on their own. Hence, most people in 4e who become liches get help...from Orcus. Orcus is powerful enough to turn any sufficiently strong mortal into a lich, for the cost of being partially controlled by Orcus.
Rarely, an extremely powerful (i.e., high level) individual is capable of turning themselves into a lich without getting help from Orcus. They can become ArchLiches, without Orcus' help, and have no alignment tendencies.

...which I guess just reinforces the idea that what determines the alignment tendencies of liches is just a matter of the process to become a lich.

The Exchange

Mojorat wrote:
...The methods for becoming s Mitch have never been clearly defined ... In golarion there is a group of unread druids inside the world wound.

Congratulations, Mojorat! I award you the Autocorrect Critical Miss of the Week award! A rare and delightful double substitution. (Seriously. After this week I needed a laugh. Sorry if I sounded sarcastic. I love the way autocorrect programs are constantly trying to betray us.)

Mitch: At last my wizardly skills have led me to a dark zenith! I have transcended my feeble mortality! I shall now live forever as... Mitch!?
Unread Druid: Books is hard.


I think atonement is still just barely possible for a lich, but it would necessarily involve rejecting their unlife and entering the afterlife, so resurrection, raise dead, or any other means of bringing them back would be impossible.

That said, however, if a player character managed to deliberately become undead in my campaign I would reward them by allowing their now non-player character to be the main villain in the next campaign. I can't even imagine allowing a lich to remain a PC.


Turn Undead!


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I blame Twilight. First Vampires sparkle and now, we have happy hippie liches of groovy good alignment, plane traveling to listen to the latest Phish show.

Up next, leashed werewolves trained to sit and eat Scooby snacks.


Sigh I have fat fingers. But unread druid was kind of funny. I guess it just overshadowed the baby heart smoothly :p.

The Exchange

Don't feel bad. I've seen AutoIncorrect commit all sorts of felonies against innocent, unsuspecting users. ;)

Scarab Sages

WotR:

The PC's are given the opportunity to help the original Runelord of Wrath, now a lich, atone.


Artanthos wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

question:
Is he using the atone spell or just possibly changing his ways?

Quote:
So yea...a mummified hound archon, who gave his life to his Goddess to keep her most powerful enemy under lock and key... Not all undead HAS to be evil, it's your world... enjoy it.

Archon or not, if you put undead human zombies to guard the grave of an arch-demon, they are just doing their job, not being undead paladins.

Most intelligent undead actually believe they are doing good, specially mummies.

@Topic
Its cool and all that players want to be different and play funny builds, like werewolves that love elves, vampires that sparkle, or good liches.
But the world isnt that simple, a lich will start evil because of the nature of things that create them (negative energy), and even if a lich goes around saving people, his visual and Fear Aura will not help him making friends, he cant even touch living creatures without them being paralized.
Now think about it, you saved a town and the mayor tries to shake your hand, he will drop on the ground aparently dead, and you will have the entire town after your head (the ones that dont run away in fear, that is).

This aura has a 60 feet radius and will frighen any living creature of 5 HD or less that fails a will save, meaning that once in a while someone will be running away from you, screaming. Try walking around a metropolis like that.

Back in 3.5, a lich's touch was pure negative energy (1d8+5), but in pathfinder it doesnt mention the damage type. But back in the day, anything you touched, would wither or die.

I like that you want to roleplay a lich, but if you walk into towns, i will roleplay people running away in terror.


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In reference to the litch wotr atonement thing above that sounds like the "lots of time to think it over and a desire for redemption. This sounds like a good story element.

The general thing implied is liches have to voluntarily do a lot of awedul things to get their state. Fixing that is probably outside of atonement spell.


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'tis much easier now than when this thread was created. Just cast three spells with the [Good] descriptor and poof! You're Good! I'm not sure if you become neutral after one or two castings, though.

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