Liches and alignment


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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I've decided to add a paladin lich named Tammy as an NPC in my setting.


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James Jacobs wrote:

Huh. Turns out Tammy the Lich IS evil. Mostly because a dwarf killed her pet dog.

** spoiler omitted **...

I am going to cherish that forever, you really made my day/month/year :-)

That is awesomeness:-D thank you!


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James Jacobs wrote:

Huh. Turns out Tammy the Lich IS evil. Mostly because a dwarf killed her pet dog.

** spoiler omitted **...

Candidate for my unconventional lichs thread! Along side the tapdancing gnome bard lich and the less humorous Kensai Lich pretending to be a nornal.castery lich.


Slightly off topic but while we are all still.here....

HOW THE HELL DOES A BEASTBOUND LICH WORK?

I mean.. technically there is nothing stpping it... but when the witch dies its soul goes to the familiar... so... ho do u get the phylactery


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James Jacobs wrote:

Huh. Turns out Tammy the Lich IS evil. Mostly because a dwarf killed her pet dog.

** spoiler omitted **...

That's adorable.

And now has me contemplating a lich bloodrager, in order to make the most metal lich possible.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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captain yesterday wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:

Huh. Turns out Tammy the Lich IS evil. Mostly because a dwarf killed her pet dog.

** spoiler omitted **...

I am going to cherish that forever, you really made my day/month/year :-)

That is awesomeness:-D thank you!

Ha!

Don't thank me. Thank TAMMY. Unless you're a dwarf. In which case, watch out for TAMMY.


James Jacobs wrote:
Maximilian Gaston wrote:
Are we ever gonna get another take on the Sin Eater? I like the Inquisitor's Archetype fine but I would love a more Shamanistic view of it. One where you devour the negative energies from an undead foe to purify it. Or when you render a foe helpless you can eat their sins and negative emotions to force an alignment shift on them toward neutral or good.
Maybe. It's a concept that is very much "of interest" to lots of folks here. We'll see.

I am concerned that this is the slippery slope to the sin eater eating the evil out of the party's "CE in everything but name" CN rogue and forcing him to be CG. On the other hand, it would make the games go so much smoother if the rogue wasn't such a pain in the.......

Never mind. Carry on.


I do not know why but I love the idea of the Sin Eater, the character that willingly takes the evil into themselves to keep it from the world. Seems like a nice concept for a Hero.

Community Manager

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Removed some posts and their responses. Please be civil, thank you, and keep this thread positive. (Just not with positive channeled energy, I hear most liches don't like that.)

Grand Lodge

What it always comes down to is just how "flavor full" do you want your games?

Is Negative Energy "evil" and Positive Energy "good"? If so, then why is "Too much Positive Energy too much of a Good thing" causing one to explode?

Which is better, ie more good or at least less evil? Killing someone via:

1: Fireball
2: Hacking them to Bits
3: Deadly Poison where they drift off and never come back?

Which is a "better", ie good as it promotes and protects sentient and sapient life:

1: The Cleric organizing the village to face the Orc Horde?
2: The Cleric Creating Skeletons and Zombies to hold back the Orc Horde?

If you're like me where Negative/Positive Energy is just the "Ying/Yang" then you have many more interesting things you can do with a PC party, like enlisting the help of honorable, true to their word, level headed but undead wight rangers against Elves who want them dead for all the wrong reasons and are not about to be talked out of it

Shadow Lodge

Pan wrote:
Milo v3 wrote:
Why would simply being immortal change someone core identity so completely?
I think this is the heart of the issue right here. Some may see becoming a lich as simply gaining an undead template and an evil alignment. Perhaps im too hung up on much of the write ups, but I see it as fundamentally changing the individual on a core level. At the point of becoming a lich there is a transformation, a severing from mortal being. A lich no longer has hunger, fear, or passion. A lich is basically an echo of the person they were and as time goes by less and less of their humanity will remain. Ultimately, a lich will become nothing more than a collector of tangible elements like rudimentary power. Anything that mattered before transformation will become unimportant and inconsequential to a lich. All that drove a lich previously, has been imprisoned with their soul as cost of immortality. Clearly my take on things influenced by gaming material and literature I have read. So no not memory loss or damage, but loss of empathy and emotional destruction.

Yes, the lich template clearly involves something other than "simply being immortal."

There are a number of different ways to achieve immortality, and not all of them require an evil alignment. However the others are not as durable as lichdom and often require even more personal power. A 20th level wizard or alchemist can stop aging but can still be killed normally. Cloning can't help someone who has died of old age (and as an 8th level spell requires a caster of at least 15th level). Reincarnation needs to be repeated each time you die, and can't help you if you are killed by a death effect.

Becoming a lich protects you from death both from old age and violence, and it's achievable by an 11th level caster of any class (albeit with great effort and expense). Is it any surprise that there are some downsides to the process, like a loss of empathy?

It's certainly theoretically possible for someone to improve on the process in a way that prevents alignment corruption, but it hasn't happened yet, and as James Jacobs says it's likely that the result would be something subtly different from a lich.


Well then the 10th level witch is even better. Not only do you jump bodies, but you can jump into more powerful bodies. What can kill a level 10 witch? Whatever it is now is possessed by the witch.


LazarX wrote:
1. Prophecy is garbage... at least in Golarion, Prophecy has a reliable metric for actions went permanently south the day Aroden died. Anyone who studies enough arcane knowledge to research lichdom, will know that fact. There are also many ways of dealing with a far future threat... You're just choosing one method out of expediency... wrapped around a core of narcissism.

*Shrug* As if I care what Golarion has as fluff. I play RPG line, not campaign line.

Quote:
2. You're essentially putting for "The Ends Justify The Means" argument. By the non-subjective standards of Good and Evil which the game runs on... that doesn't fly. You simply can not deliberately walk the path of lichdom without a major lack of empathy for the suffering and murder you cause... or the insane delusion that you're not...(which does not exempt you from being evil, it just certifies your insanity that warps your self-perception.)

I suppose 100% certainty that the end will justify the means that comes from the prophecy might count as delusion if it was golarion. But generally prophecy in fiction isn't faulty.

But it's not even subjective, he IS committing acts towards the greater good according to prophecy. It is absolute that he is stopping a greater evil and committing a greater good. It only works because of the (Admittedly cheating) absolute nature of the prophecy. Without it I'd consider him evil or neutral at best.

Quote:
3. Your argument is much like those players who argue that they'll be neutral by alternating between sinner and saint, as if Good and Evil are simply flip sides of the same coin.

I disagree. He is a good person, who had to commit horrific evil acts for the greater good, knowing it will likely make him evil and damn him to the abyss or hell for all eternity. He is committing a sacrifice, to do what is good.

Shadow Lodge

Dwarf in the Flask wrote:
Well then the 10th level witch is even better. Not only do you jump bodies, but you can jump into more powerful bodies. What can kill a level 10 witch? Whatever it is now is possessed by the witch.

Will negates, SR applies, duration 1 hour / level. The familiar is also somewhat more difficult to safeguard than a phylactery. And though it's not spelled out, I don't think it's intended to work if the witch dies of old age.

Still really powerful but it has downsides compared to lichdom.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Weirdo wrote:


Becoming a lich protects you from death both from old age and violence, and it's achievable by an 11th level caster of any class (albeit with great effort and expense). Is it any surprise that there are some downsides to the process, like a loss of empathy?

To do what you have to do to achieve lichdom, pretty much implies a lack of empathy already.


BB36 wrote:

What it always comes down to is just how "flavor full" do you want your games?

Is Negative Energy "evil" and Positive Energy "good"? If so, then why is "Too much Positive Energy too much of a Good thing" causing one to explode?

My own conception of negative energy is that it's neither good nor evil, and the best analogue for it is radiation. Radiation isn't good or evil, but overall you don't want to pump large quantities of it into the environment, nor do you want to hang out in a place loaded with it.


Sceaduinar and Nightshades are evil tho, so Negative energy might indeed be corrupting

Jiyoti just don't care


But as pointed out before. Which of the two planes can you live on? Negative or Positive Planes?


Dwarf in the Flask wrote:
But as pointed out before. Which of the two planes can you live on? Negative or Positive Planes?

The positive energy plane has livable islands and the residents don't try to kill all the livings on sight. Also you can cut yourself every now and then with a knife if you are worried about blowing up.

The negative energy plain drains you and Nightshades are nasty


Since when does negative energy drain life from you? I thought Energy Drain and Negative Energy where two separate things


Dwarf in the Flask wrote:
Since when does negative energy drain life from you? I thought Energy Drain and Negative Energy where two separate things

I meant drain in the the sense that it sucks out your energy, not in the sense of Negative Levels (although Energy Drain IS a Negative Energy effect)

Checking better, the Negative Energy Plane is Major Negative, that is you indeed get a Negative Level on a failed Fort save each round until death, after than you become a Wraith.
Some areas are Minor Negative, which means that you still receive 1d6 of damage each round, and healing spells are impeded.


Weirdo wrote:
Dwarf in the Flask wrote:
Well then the 10th level witch is even better. Not only do you jump bodies, but you can jump into more powerful bodies. What can kill a level 10 witch? Whatever it is now is possessed by the witch.

Will negates, SR applies, duration 1 hour / level. The familiar is also somewhat more difficult to safeguard than a phylactery. And though it's not spelled out, I don't think it's intended to work if the witch dies of old age.

Still really powerful but it has downsides compared to lichdom.

Lol im picuring an earth gliding elemental that possesses people as it senses them through the floor lol.

Oh and the will save thing is not much an issue. The things you WANT to possess are usually the big but stupid things (since you keep your own mental stats). Things like trolls.


Oh that is a nasty thing to do.. pretty much a insta kill any poor will save class... take them over, CDG yourself, bounce back to your familiar. Repeat.

Having a fairy dragon or an earth elemental familiar maks ot even nastier.


Entryhazard wrote:

Sceaduinar and Nightshades are evil tho, so Negative energy might indeed be corrupting

Jiyoti just don't care

Dhampirs can be any alignment.

Argument invalid lol


Milo v3 wrote:


*Shrug* As if I care what Golarion has as fluff. I play RPG line, not campaign line.

Pish posh, silly Milo, didn't you here? You aren't even allowed to be on this forum unless you conform to every word of Golarion fluff in every book ever. How dare you suggest you could discuss the Pathfinder RPG on the Pathfinder RPG forum? It's not like there's a separate forum for Golarion players, right?

Shadow Lodge

LazarX wrote:
Weirdo wrote:
Becoming a lich protects you from death both from old age and violence, and it's achievable by an 11th level caster of any class (albeit with great effort and expense). Is it any surprise that there are some downsides to the process, like a loss of empathy?
To do what you have to do to achieve lichdom, pretty much implies a lack of empathy already.

I'm coming at this from another angle. There are two ways to justify the Bestiary's listed "evil" alignment for the lich.

There's a lot of discussion on the thread about the process of achieving lichdom and whether it's possible to go through it without being evil.

I'm suggesting that even if the actions required to become a lich are not sufficient to require an evil alignment, it is reasonable to assume that the transformation itself would push you over.


Pixie, the Leng Queen wrote:
Entryhazard wrote:

Sceaduinar and Nightshades are evil tho, so Negative energy might indeed be corrupting

Jiyoti just don't care

Dhampirs can be any alignment.

Argument invalid lol

Damn, you got me!


They can persist in this state indefinitely, or the guest can return to its own body (if available) by touch, transfer into a suitable vessel (such as a clone), or take over another body as if using magic jar (with no receptacle).

^ If there is no soul in the body, why would you ever need to leave the body? And if the soul is extracted without a receptacle it dies and moves on.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Tammy wouldn't go there.


Sarcasm Dragon wrote:
Milo v3 wrote:


*Shrug* As if I care what Golarion has as fluff. I play RPG line, not campaign line.

Pish posh, silly Milo, didn't you here? You aren't even allowed to be on this forum unless you conform to every word of Golarion fluff in every book ever. How dare you suggest you could discuss the Pathfinder RPG on the Pathfinder RPG forum? It's not like there's a separate forum for Golarion players, right?

Questions dealing with alignment, undead, Gods, etc. all require some setting context to answer, because they are very much setting relevant questions. It doesn't have to be Golarion of course, although on the Paizo forums that is probably going to provide the most common ground and is maybe most relevant to the ruleset.

If we are talking about Midgard, Forgotten Realms, or Eberron, than the answers to those questions are going to be different than the answers for Golarion. Obviously You can have good liches in at least the latter two settings, although mechanically I believe most are considered different creatures and not "true" liches


MMCJawa wrote:


Questions dealing with alignment, undead, Gods, etc. all require some setting context to answer, because they are very much setting relevant questions. It doesn't have to be Golarion of course, although on the Paizo forums that is probably going to provide the most common ground and is maybe most relevant to the ruleset.

Not really, since you can just look at the rules.

Can you have good lich? According to the rules, becoming a lich will turn the person evil if they weren't already evil, but a lich can through good acts slowly turn back into a good individual.


Let's face it, being a lich is kind of a curse, much like vampirism or lycanthropy. Necromancers often embrace because they think it will give them power, but they trade away their humanity for it. Like making a deal with the devil.

As a GM I would be inclined to say that a lich that turns good (or maybe just non-evil) would become free of the process that made him a lich, which would then allow him to achieve the rest he deserves. In short, he would die, which, if he was good, was probably something he wanted.


...you mean like how drow should turn back to normal elves if they become good?

Scarab Sages

Icyshadow wrote:
...you mean like how drow should turn back to normal elves if they become good?

Liche isn't a race. It's a template that you acquire (in part) by being evil.


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Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

There once was a brave paladin who traveled the land vanquishing evil and righting wrongs wherever he found them. So heroic were his deeds that his reputation spread across the realm. Then, one day, for no discernible reason, he changed his mind. He fell into darkness and shadow, becoming an antipaladin. For many years the horrors he unleashed upon the world were so great, that none now remember the many good deeds of his youth. These dark days fueled his unholy rituals that would see him become a loathsome servitor of evil: a lich king. Dark days grew ever darker in the many years that followed.

In time, a roaming band of adventurers, hoping to live up to the stories of the heroes of old, tracked the lich down intent upon ending his reign of evil.

A calamitous battle ensued. During the conflagration, a once great hero managed to knock the lich's helm from his head before perishing in the battle. The remaining heroes fought managing to fight the lich to a standstill. The two parties soon withdrew from one another to regroup and recuperate for another attack.

During the brief lull in this great battle, the youngest of the party managed to recover and examine the lost helm. A great discovery was made.

When the saviors of the realm next fought the horrible lich, they called upon their mightiest powers and freed the paladin of old from his ancient curse. The helm of opposite alignment he once found in forgotten dungeons would control him no longer!

The paladin lich would later join the party, a hideous monster that continues its existence for no other purpose than to right the wrongs it has caused.


Ravingdork wrote:

There once was a brave paladin who traveled the land vanquishing evil and righting wrongs wherever he found them. So heroic were his deeds that his reputation spread across the realm. Then, one day, for no discernible reason, he changed his mind. He fell into darkness and shadow, becoming an antipaladin. For many years the horrors he unleashed upon the world were so great, that none now remember the many good deeds of his youth. These dark days fueled his unholy rituals that would see him become a loathsome servitor of evil: a lich king. Dark days grew ever darker in the many years that followed.

In time, a roaming band of adventurers, hoping to live up to the stories of the heroes of old, tracked the lich down intent upon ending his reign of evil.

A calamitous battle ensured. During the conflagration, a once great hero managed to knock the lich's helm from his head before perishing in the battle. The remaining heroes fought managed to fight the lich to a standstill and the two parties soon withdrew from one another to regroup and recuperate for another attack.

During the brief lull in this great battle, the youngest of the party managed to recover and examine the lost helm. A great discovery was made.

When the saviors of the realm next fought the horrible lich, they called upon their mightiest powers and freed the paladin of old from his ancient curse. The helm of opposite alignment he once found in forgotten dungeons would control him no longer!

The paladin lich would later join the party, a hideous monster that continues its existence for no other purpose than to right the wrongs it has caused.

that's really good


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Tammy wasn't wrong, just mad, really, really mad :-)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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captain yesterday wrote:
Actually constitution is what differentiates the living from the dead, I'm guessing they realized that and deleted it, however I pounce like a cat type thingy :-)

That's 1st edition talk. In 2nd edition, undead have constitution. We gave undead constitution scores (and constructs too) because the rules just work better that way. It's easier to say "Constitution measures your overall sturdiness and resistance to physical affliction" and let it work for all creatures than it is to build cludgey and ultimately lacking subsystems for undead and constructs just to get them to where their hit points and fortitude saves need to be to keep them a viable fight.


In 2nd edition, they eventually did provide examples of "good" Liches - elves that took on the curse in order to lead their people for centuries after they would have died. They were called Baelnorn liches.

The thing is, these types of things don't really exist directly in Pathfinder lore. They are purely a Forgotten Realms creation.

If *YOU* want to come up with a way within your world for a good person to become a lich, more power to you. Just be logical. Such an act would likely include:

1. Incredibly powerful magics
2. Sacrificing something (in the name of being a good Lich, probably powerful magical items)
3. Possibly some kind of artifact to quest for that is to large to carry with the players/NPC
4. A lost tome
5. Deal with a good-aligned diety to wander the realms, righting wrongs and such

The concept is that undeath is the antithesis to life. That makes the justification of ANY undead creatures being "good" or really even "neutral" hard to work in and maintain that core concept. It's not IMPOSSIBLE, because your world follows your rules. I would just make sure that you are consistent in that portrayal.

1. Can any intelligent undead be "good"? Can a vampire choose to only drink animal blood or blood from those volunteering to feed them? Can a zombie lord use his minions to build homes for orphans and only eat animal flesh? Etc, etc.
2. If they can, how do they view their evil "undead kin"?

Such concepts can be ripe for storytelling and fun gameplay, but should always make sure you know what you're getting into.


Not sure why this was bumped, but I always got the impression that the ritual to become a lich was considered evil enough to turn the caster evil even if they weren't to start. That said, I guess a lich could reform after becoming a lich. Are there any canon examples of reformed liches?


A helm of opposite alignment could always turn a bad lich to good.


I believe it's canonical that Liches can become non-evil, since Wrath of the Righteous posits that

Spoiler:
Alderpash

is capable of redemption, although it's supposed to be an extremely difficult road.

Which is to say: the stuff you need to do to become Lichy makes you evil. It's easiest to stay that way, but if you're sufficiently motivated it's possible to be otherwise.


Pixie, the Leng Queen wrote:

So the pally thread got slightly derailed by this discussion.

A lich's alignment.

Do liches stay evil or can they shift?

For instance:

The wizard on the verge of a break through discovery but has a failing body.

The kindy witch that guards a small village from the, rather strong, monsters in the wood.

The loyal arcanist that undergoes the transformation so as to watch over his kings tomb and artifacts stored within so they do no fall into wrong hands (what self respecting mage becomes a mummy? Lol).

A passive lorekeeper, that had become a lich since long forgotten to record the going ons of history and maintain all the history in a long forgotten tower library (you know, typical fantasy trope thing?).

Do they all become villainous evil people, or do they bounce back after a time?

Liches in particular seem odd since... they dont have any unnatural drive like other undead (vampire and blood, ghoul and flesh, ect) so they can actually live even more saintly lives than mortals (they can never be discouraged by hunger, they never tire, they have no desires of the flesh hehe... they have, almost, no fear of death, i feel like pain is a very minimal thing to them..)

That last one captures my imagination: Liches don't have any drives. It seems like every Lich I ever encountered is always just some kind of straight-up boss monster motivated to amass political power with armies of undead monsters, but why? They don't need to eat; they don't need to breathe. It seems the best way for them to enjoy personal security is for them to just cast Mind Blank every day and continue doing their research in some airless space underground with no entrances or exits.

Your NPC Lich can have any of a variety of motivations that may or may not have anything to do with the real, current world. I like to think of a Lich as a tenured professor at a university, with all the elven Wizards tittering as he ambles by him, "He hasn't produced any meaningful research in almost a thousand years! Why doesn't he retire?" I imagine a Lich sending the party to deliver long-expired once-magical components to a long-dead colleague or take bloody revenge on another long-dead colleague. They dig up his disintegrating bones and bring him to the Lich whose eyes light up with unnatural fire, and he happily hands over the magic tomb they need and the party leaves to the sound of the lich torturing the crumbling bones with multiple Shocking Grasp Spells...


I don't know why I was surprised to see this thread rise from the grave, but here we are...

What is with the plethora of people who seem so caught up on the lack of descriptive language outlining the exact process of becoming a Lich?

Ever heard of Google, you lazy bums?

Seriously, if you need it written out, do some research and you can find the formula for potions used in past editions.

Past editions aren't official content?

Too bad, looks like you are going to have to use your imagination... how tragic.

The old rituals and potions involved the blood of human infants, the blood of young unicorns, the blood of vampires, a human heart, various poisons, and an assortment of Necromancy spells...

James Jacons even said that the exact process was left vague on purpose, but is also undeniably evil.

He also said that if you become the immortal undead via non-evil processes, you are a completely different creature... not a Lich. At all.

Becoming a Lich is an evil process.

When you first start out as a brand new Lich, you start out as Evil because you literally just went through the evil process of becoming a Lich.

You sacrificed a virgin (or whatever) like two days ago, yep, still evil... nobody cares about your "intentions" or whatever you consider "the greater good"... you are an evil lunatic spellcaster sacrificing virgins in the name of your own immortality.

Nobody gives two hoots about your prophecy and visions of doom 350 years from now when you are butchering 13yo girls today.

You are welcome to dedicate the rest of eternity to the path of redemption, it's a choice any free willed creature can make. Some just have further to go than others. But if demon lords can do it, so can a Lich...

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