Liches and alignment


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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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..)


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Mmm. Alignment debates. Let's take a swing.

The ritual to become a lich varries from but of fluff to fluff, but the core idea is that it is a personalized one which requires horrific acts to be performed. This fairly guarantees a starting lich to be evil. But with enough time can a lich learn to live, to laugh, dare I say, to love?

I'd say no. Not really. A lich is animated by negative energy which while not expressly evil can be perhaps closely described as "Anti-life". The very nature of his being puts him at odds with the living and life itself. He is a walking abomination, but as we've seen, negative energy is voracious. About as voracious as life itself. Both are forms of energy at infinite odds, but similar in that they seem to naturally drive towards propagation.

Good on the other hand is decidedly life bias. In many, though not all, the good decision is the one which improves, saves or provides for the most lives with sentient lives taking a bias over pseudo sentient or non sentient.

So, could a creature who is fueled by the very essence of anti-life, after embracing the concept and sacrificing morality entirely, move back on the path to a pro life state and morality? I'd say no. The hurdles go against his very nature and at some point as a gm I would argue his pro life stance would become incompatible with his anti life nature and one or the other would give. He would die, or he would go evil.


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Ironically enough, it is the PALADIN that says contrary though.

A paladin with this oath vows to restore the natural state of death to any animate corpse she encounters, and destroy the undead energy in the process. While a few paladins who take this oath recognize that not all undead are evil, others are quite willing to purge neutral and good undead along with all the evil ones.

And if ANY undead would be N/G, it would be liches since they have no drive for something evil like vampires, wraiths, or ghouls.


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The idea of life=good and death/undead=evil is kind of dumb. So if a party member died do you change their alignment to evil? After all they are no longer alive. Death does not equal evil its part of life. Undeath is a step outside the natural order but does not require it to be evil

Google search good lich I think it's in a faerun book but it talks about things like the OP wrote specifically. I say it depends on what was done to become a lich and the motivation behind becoming a lich.

By the negative energy example Dhampires would be required to be evil alignment even more then demon descended folk.

Dark Archive

There are good aligned liches in Faerun, but I also can't remember the book.

However, there's also the Deathless from Eberron. They're a positive-energy powered undead, who are overall Good-aligned.


In Faerun they are called Archliches and references appear in a number of publications. They are non-evil liches.


Pixie, the vow you quoted still states that the paladin would destroy undead. Regardless of alignment. Even if they are good or neutral he would still destroy them as he sees undeath as an unholy affront to the natural order. Just because it's good does not mean he won't destroy it. He just does it with empathy instead of malice for evil.


Alric Rahl wrote:
Pixie, the vow you quoted still states that the paladin would destroy undead. Regardless of alignment. Even if they are good or neutral he would still destroy them as he sees undeath as an unholy affront to the natural order. Just because it's good does not mean he won't destroy it. He just does it with empathy instead of malice for evil.

Read it again.


HowFortuitous wrote:

Mmm. Alignment debates. Let's take a swing.

The ritual to become a lich varries from but of fluff to fluff, but the core idea is that it is a personalized one which requires horrific acts to be performed. This fairly guarantees a starting lich to be evil. But with enough time can a lich learn to live, to laugh, dare I say, to love?

I'd say no. Not really. A lich is animated by negative energy which while not expressly evil can be perhaps closely described as "Anti-life". The very nature of his being puts him at odds with the living and life itself. He is a walking abomination, but as we've seen, negative energy is voracious. About as voracious as life itself. Both are forms of energy at infinite odds, but similar in that they seem to naturally drive towards propagation.

Good on the other hand is decidedly life bias. In many, though not all, the good decision is the one which improves, saves or provides for the most lives with sentient lives taking a bias over pseudo sentient or non sentient.

So, could a creature who is fueled by the very essence of anti-life, after embracing the concept and sacrificing morality entirely, move back on the path to a pro life state and morality? I'd say no. The hurdles go against his very nature and at some point as a gm I would argue his pro life stance would become incompatible with his anti life nature and one or the other would give. He would die, or he would go evil.

The numerous good ghosts would like a word. I mean hell, there's a copper dragon ghost off the coast of Rahadoum who, while he does play pranks on people (he's copper after all) also goes out of his way to free slaves from passing slaver ships.

More on topic, I see no reason a lich couldn't become good over time, rare as it might be. There is nothing canonical anywhere that says a lich has anything external forcing their alignment to be evil, only the internal choice to make the phylactery. They are just like any other person, and just any other mortal that committed a heinous crime or sin, they can repent and redeem themselves.

Most just choose not too because evil is more pragmatic and less likely to interfere with their studies, as most liches simply want more time to study magic.


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Any free-willed individual can choose its own moral and ethical path in life.


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Zhayne wrote:
Any free-willed individual can choose its own moral and ethical path in life.

Key word being life? :p Liches aren't alive.


Yes absolutely. It doesn't even really make sense to me for vampires and such to be evil by necessity, much less liches. The TEMPLATE says evil, just because most vampires would be weak willed and give in to the desire to drain people. The template for a lich assumes the basic average of a power hungry psychopath. But more so than other undead, this is just a correlation, not even really fueled by anything inherent to being a lich.

Templates are templates. Individual paragons of the undead can choose to humanely sip blood, or a lich can choose to have become a lich or continue to be one to bring good to the world. It's just not written down like that as the standard example, because... well, it's not the standard example.

I don't see the fluff text or average stats as being ANY different than a grizzly bear's stat block listing 42 hitpoints, even though individuals would roll their hitdice and vary around that. Or the fact that it says "the grizzly is nonetheless fiercely territorial, and will chase off—or, failing that, kill and eat—any intruders it views as competition."

Well yeah, that's a TYPICAL wild grizzly bear. One that was raised by humans in the circus won't act like that. Doesn't make it impossible or not a grizzly bear. The stats just list the typicals.


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I allowed a player character in my Kingmaker campaign to become a Lich and keep his Lawful Neutral alignment.

Unless I remember incorrectly, at least one Pathfinder book mentioned a non-Evil Lich living in one of the Outer Planes.

And no, letting him become a Lich did NOT destroy the campaign, even if one or two encounters became a tad easier for the party.


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Honestly, this question just really comes down to how undead are treated in any one setting. For instance, one group's setting might have sentient undead being frozen in whatever mindset they had when they turned, making any change in attitude near to impossible.
Either way, assuming you're following the idea that creating a phylactery requires committing heinous acts, good liches should probably be incredibly rare, partly cause of the acts themselves, and partly due to the whole immortality plus isolation package most liches get likely making them very stuck in their ways at best.


If a GM declares undead to be able to be good, then they can be.

Considering you can't apply templates without GM consent, it is moot.

I've always contended that NOTHING is locked into it's listed alignment.

So yes, a lich can be good. It's up to the GM though.


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In my personal campaigns negative energy isnt evil and positive energy isnt good. Ergo, undead are not automatically evil. That said, positive energy is the driving force of life, with negative energy being the driving force of unlife and the two are opposing elements that hate each other as can be seen from the Xag-Ya and the Xeg-Yi who will rush at and destroy each other on sight. Therefore a mindless undead will still try to destroy all sources of positive energy he sees due to his negative energy nature, which tends to turn them into mindless killers. Also, both Undead and the Living will feel uncomfortable around each other as the core of their being hates each other, but their higher minds can choose to keep it in check.

With that interpretation, Liches would be distasteful at a core level to the living, as the person effectively traded in all his positive energy for negative energy, but not necessarily evil. There would be a lot of deep seated prejudice against them, and many who would choose this path would be evil since most good people wouldnt consider it as an option, but it would be a completely legitimate choice one could make, the equivalent of a fire element creature somehow changing into a water element creature.

All that said, by a hardline reading of the default rules good is biased towards life and considers unlife evil, so if youre undead the gods and the cosmos see you as evil. Neutral at best.


Baval wrote:

In my personal campaigns negative energy isnt evil and positive energy isnt good. Ergo, undead are not automatically evil. That said, positive energy is the driving force of life, with negative energy being the driving force of unlife and the two are opposing elements that hate each other as can be seen from the Xag-Ya and the Xeg-Yi who will rush at and destroy each other on sight. Therefore a mindless undead will still try to destroy all sources of positive energy he sees due to his negative energy nature, which tends to turn them into mindless killers. Also, both Undead and the Living will feel uncomfortable around each other as the core of their being hates each other, but their higher minds can choose to keep it in check.

With that interpretation, Liches would be distasteful at a core level to the living, as the person effectively traded in all his positive energy for negative energy, but not necessarily evil. There would be a lot of deep seated prejudice against them, and many who would choose this path would be evil since most good people wouldnt consider it as an option, but it would be a completely legitimate choice one could make, the equivalent of a fire element creature somehow changing into a water element creature.

All that said, by a hardline reading of the default rules good is biased towards life and considers unlife evil, so if youre undead the gods and the cosmos see you as evil. Neutral at best.

My argument is simply that alignment is chosen by the entity itself, not determined by an outside force.

Free will and all that.

Whether or not another person CONSIDERS you evil isn't relevant. It would be no surprise to see a Paladin charge a Lich, but if said Lich was known in the area as a benevolent caster who went to great lengths to protect and aid the community...

Things would get muddy, alignment wise... :D


alexd1976 wrote:
Baval wrote:

In my personal campaigns negative energy isnt evil and positive energy isnt good. Ergo, undead are not automatically evil. That said, positive energy is the driving force of life, with negative energy being the driving force of unlife and the two are opposing elements that hate each other as can be seen from the Xag-Ya and the Xeg-Yi who will rush at and destroy each other on sight. Therefore a mindless undead will still try to destroy all sources of positive energy he sees due to his negative energy nature, which tends to turn them into mindless killers. Also, both Undead and the Living will feel uncomfortable around each other as the core of their being hates each other, but their higher minds can choose to keep it in check.

With that interpretation, Liches would be distasteful at a core level to the living, as the person effectively traded in all his positive energy for negative energy, but not necessarily evil. There would be a lot of deep seated prejudice against them, and many who would choose this path would be evil since most good people wouldnt consider it as an option, but it would be a completely legitimate choice one could make, the equivalent of a fire element creature somehow changing into a water element creature.

All that said, by a hardline reading of the default rules good is biased towards life and considers unlife evil, so if youre undead the gods and the cosmos see you as evil. Neutral at best.

My argument is simply that alignment is chosen by the entity itself, not determined by an outside force.

Free will and all that.

Whether or not another person CONSIDERS you evil isn't relevant. It would be no surprise to see a Paladin charge a Lich, but if said Lich was known in the area as a benevolent caster who went to great lengths to protect and aid the community...

Things would get muddy, alignment wise... :D

I get what youre saying, and i think most people go that way and its certainly the most logical sense and also i cannot speak for pathfinder with what im about to say.

However in the Book of Exalted Deeds it makes it clear that morality is not subjective. The cosmos decides who is good and how good they are, and it doesnt matter if the person thinks they are wrong because morality IS objective.

Its not realistic to our world, but few things in RPGs are.


Ahh, I can already see the tainted mud of heated alignment debates getting ready to forever tarnish this thread.

Do note, the Book of Exalted Deeds applies to Dungeons and Dragons, not to Pathfinder. It's not "canon", so to speak.


Sotiria Spiros wrote:

Ahh, I can already see the tainted mud of heated alignment debates getting ready to forever tarnish this thread.

Do note, the Book of Exalted Deeds applies to Dungeons and Dragons, not to Pathfinder. It's not "canon", so to speak.

I mentioned that.


Then why use it as an example? It's as valid as a claim that Tieflings can never be Good due to the blood of an Evil Outsider in their veins, or Aasimar never being Evil due to the blood of a Good Outsider in theirs.


Chrysanthe Spiros wrote:
Then why use it as an example? It's as valid as a claim that Tieflings can never be Good due to the blood of an Evil Outsider in their veins, or Aasimar never being Evil due to the blood of a Good Outsider in theirs.

Because many people do take a lot of inspiration from 3.5 for how things should work still. Pathfinder for the records only comment on whether Liches/Undead can ever be good is the "always evil/any evil" comments in their bestiaries/templates.

In fact, in some ways Pathfinder is more hardline about the "can never be good" stance. Redeemed creatures in BoED lose the evil subtype, while Pathfinder redeemed creatures dont if its even possible.


The bestiary states that only creatures with alignment subtypes can't change alignment, so lich can change alignment.


Milo v3 wrote:
The bestiary states that only creatures with alignment subtypes can't change alignment, so lich can change alignment.

There is more to it than that... I don't have my books with me (damn work!), but I did find something essentially saying that there are no absolutes at all, even beings with an alignment subtype.

Again, unable to cite actual text, but 100% certain it is there.

Will find after work and post.


If a fiend can choose the path of righteousness (and their is at least one example of this happening in the Pathfinder universe) then I certainly think that a lich can.


alexd1976 wrote:

There is more to it than that... I don't have my books with me (damn work!), but I did find something essentially saying that there are no absolutes at all, even beings with an alignment subtype.

Again, unable to cite actual text, but 100% certain it is there.

Will find after work and post.

Here is the text:

Quote:
While a monster’s size and type remain constant (unless changed by the application of templates or other unusual modifiers), alignment is far more fluid. The alignments listed for each monster in this book represent the norm for those monsters—they can vary as you require them to in order to serve the needs of your campaign. Only in the case of relatively unintelligent monsters (creatures with an Intelligence of 2 or lower are almost never anything other than neutral) and planar monsters (outsiders with alignments other than those listed are unusual and typically outcasts from their kind) is the listed alignment relatively unchangeable.

So yeah, outsiders are the only sentient beings that can't change their alignment... and even they can change their alignment.


Milo v3 wrote:
alexd1976 wrote:

There is more to it than that... I don't have my books with me (damn work!), but I did find something essentially saying that there are no absolutes at all, even beings with an alignment subtype.

Again, unable to cite actual text, but 100% certain it is there.

Will find after work and post.

Here is the text:

Quote:
While a monster’s size and type remain constant (unless changed by the application of templates or other unusual modifiers), alignment is far more fluid. The alignments listed for each monster in this book represent the norm for those monsters—they can vary as you require them to in order to serve the needs of your campaign. Only in the case of relatively unintelligent monsters (creatures with an Intelligence of 2 or lower are almost never anything other than neutral) and planar monsters (outsiders with alignments other than those listed are unusual and typically outcasts from their kind) is the listed alignment relatively unchangeable.

There we go, thanks. So you can have an evil angel, but they will be "outcasts from their kind".

So yeah, undead can be good. It's weird, but right there in text. :D


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There is an issue of free will and choosing Good or Evil, which in my opinion only makes it more likely that your Lich is going to be evil.

Going by Golarion canon, the ritual to become a lich requires extensive research and the commitment of horrible depraved acts, unique to each ritual. Thus anyone going for Lichdom and suceeding at the task is going to have been okay with who knows what sort of depravity. Even if they were good...the very act of researching Lichdom ensures they won't be by the end.

I mean at least vampires and ghouls can be turned against their will. Liches only come into being by an individual choosing to be evil.


alexd1976 wrote:
So yeah, undead can be good. It's weird, but right there in text. :D

Not that weird, they might have been evil in becoming a lich, but alignment is descriptive not perscriptive, if the lich does good acts his or her alignment will eventually change to good.


MMCJawa wrote:

There is an issue of free will and choosing Good or Evil, which in my opinion only makes it more likely that your Lich is going to be evil.

Going by Golarion canon, the ritual to become a lich requires extensive research and the commitment of horrible depraved acts, unique to each ritual. Thus anyone going for Lichdom and suceeding at the task is going to have been okay with who knows what sort of depravity. Even if they were good...the very act of researching Lichdom ensures they won't be by the end.

I mean at least vampires and ghouls can be turned against their will. Liches only come into being by an individual choosing to be evil.

I personally rule that becoming a lich isn't an evil act, as I haven't read anything beyond the bestiary entry about them (the actual process itself it not discussed in great detail).

Even if we assumed they were evil to start, there is nothing forcing them to stay that way, as the quoted text showed.

Are they generally evil? Absolutely. Do that have to be? No.


Rules wise, there is nothing inherently evil about becoming a lich. Fluff wise it would depend on what the DM decided the character had to do to discover the secrets to becoming a lich.

Since bestiary says becoming a lich is a personal act and different from lich to lich, I see no reason why a spellcaster couldn't become a good aligned lich.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

If being created by negative energy in your campaign is not enough to be evil, consider this:

Mindless undead would be neutral, they even think off what they are doing, they just do what they are told, like constructs. Zombies and Skeletons don't need nothing to exist, they just do.

Mummies are created to protect. Most are created to protect their on tombs, what would make them neutral. Mummies created to protect evil places might be evil, and the ones reated to protect good places might be good. Like skeletons, mummies don't need any kind of nourishment and don't have any cravings.

Ghosts, like stated above, can have all alignments. The one who have any craving are less likely to be good, but they can control or battle them.

Liches: It depends how the ritual to become a lich works and how "horrific" it is. The ritual can be so horrific that it's a point of no return to evil (like sacrifice everything you love for power, or sacrifice love for power, good for power, etc).

Undeads with cravings, like vampires, ghouls and wraiths can try to control and battle their cravings, making special diets and/or only feeding from willing or dead creatures (easy for vampires and ghouls).


Golarion canon more or less states (in one of the Carrion Crown books) that becoming a Lich requires repeated Evil actions to be taken.

However, not all people have to follow Golarion canon in their games. And people should ask themselves; can enough Good wash away the sins of the past?


Sotiria Spiros wrote:

Golarion canon more or less states (in one of the Carrion Crown books) that becoming a Lich requires repeated Evil actions to be taken.

However, not all people have to follow Golarion canon in their games. And people should ask themselves; can enough Good wash away the sins of the past?

I believe that it is best to say that anything can be turned to good, as it has resulted in some VERY interesting conversion attempts in my games (the party had dealings with a group of devils, and wound up trying to convert an Erinyes... she instead turned them to evil, hilarious!).


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I think the most common road to good-aligned is compassion. Compassion makes you feel others' suffering and pleasure, giving you a reason to help them fight the suffering and boost their pleasure. Unless you are really twisted by negative events in your life, then your compassion makes you enjoy their suffering and despise their pleasure.

Now imagine you are a lich. The longer you exist, the further away are mortal issues. They can die of hunger, thirst, disease, old age etc.? With each year it will be more difficult to understand their suffering, they turn from experiences into abstract concepts, then into just words - and finally into nothing. This failing to understand others' issues happens in real life too - 'normal' people don't understand a nerd rage in a forum either. And nerds don't understand why the delayed delivery of the Justin Bieber CD is such a problem. Both groups are technically capable of compassion, though.

From this point of view, lichs are likely to become neutral. Without feeling compassion for mortals' weird problems they won't help them but they also have no reason to let them suffer. Mortals are like ants then - alien and unimportant.

Of course, being empowered by negative energy might have a bigger impact than alienation. Also being undead might result in envy - you lose several mortal pleasures. And envy is one of the most powerful motivations to become evil.


A lich is just the magic version of a snapshot of a person's Facebook profile that happens to think it is the person. The lich can no more change its moral alignment than the snapshot of the Facebook profile can. If there was a way to become a lich while doing good things, the lich would be good. Since most liches are created after doing horrible things, most liches are evil.


Mechagamera wrote:
A lich is just the magic version of a snapshot of a person's Facebook profile that happens to think it is the person. The lich can no more change its moral alignment than the snapshot of the Facebook profile can. If there was a way to become a lich while doing good things, the lich would be good. Since most liches are created after doing horrible things, most liches are evil.

Interesting opinion, but the written text does not support that idea.

Milo v3 found the quote for me (thanks again!) in the Bestiary.


I'd say that the standard path to lichdom was through unspeakable evil, but that a sufficiently patient person could figure out another way to power it. I'd make it a challenge if a PC wanted to do it.

Also, we have differing definitions of evil. In some games alignment is based on what you do, in others it's based on what you'd be willing to do. Imagine somebody that wants to protect his family. If needed, he'd go all Liam Neeson on anybody who threatened his family. He'd hunt and torture somebody to find out what they did with his children. But he wouldn't do anything unless provoked. I've seen some games where that would be evil and other games where that would be good.

"Oh, I consumed the soul of a mortal for this, but I'm working to save the world from the elder gods. And he was a real jerk anyway."


Philo Pharynx wrote:

I'd say that the standard path to lichdom was through unspeakable evil, but that a sufficiently patient person could figure out another way to power it. I'd make it a challenge if a PC wanted to do it.

Also, we have differing definitions of evil. In some games alignment is based on what you do, in others it's based on what you'd be willing to do. Imagine somebody that wants to protect his family. If needed, he'd go all Liam Neeson on anybody who threatened his family. He'd hunt and torture somebody to find out what they did with his children. But he wouldn't do anything unless provoked. I've seen some games where that would be evil and other games where that would be good.

"Oh, I consumed the soul of a mortal for this, but I'm working to save the world from the elder gods. And he was a real jerk anyway."

Agreed 100%

I just like to occasionally have a LG Red Dragon show up, or a Neutral Lich or whatever...

Not often, but frequently enough that my PCs now actually USE abilities like Detect Evil instead of just mindlessly attacking the poor poor princess that has been made to look undead with illusion magic...


Under Golarion rules, there is something about the unnatural forces of undeath that drives almost all undead beings, even mindless ones, to become Evil.

Exactly what this force is isn't clear, but we can see this is the case: otherwise, there'd be no default evil alignment for undead creatures, and undeath would be a valid medical procedure for anyone who wasn't ready to rest. Paladins would want to become liches so they could keep on doing their good deeds indefinitely.


Sotiria Spiros wrote:

Golarion canon more or less states (in one of the Carrion Crown books) that becoming a Lich requires repeated Evil actions to be taken.

However, not all people have to follow Golarion canon in their games. And people should ask themselves; can enough Good wash away the sins of the past?

And demons are literally made of evil after being mortals who's lives were consumed in sin.

Yet strangely, there's a CG worshipper succubus of Desna. She spent decades on her path to redemption and needed help, but the demon accomplished it.

A lich should actually have a much much easier time of changing their alignment to good than that same succubus. Rare, very rare, yes, but still entirely possible.


Matthew Downie wrote:

Under Golarion rules, there is something about the unnatural forces of undeath that drives almost all undead beings, even mindless ones, to become Evil.

Exactly what this force is isn't clear, but we can see this is the case: otherwise, there'd be no default evil alignment for undead creatures, and undeath would be a valid medical procedure for anyone who wasn't ready to rest. Paladins would want to become liches so they could keep on doing their good deeds indefinitely.

In no way do I disagree with the idea that undead should intrinsically be evil, but again, I don't think the actual RULES enforce this.


If a Demon can change alignment (its canon), who are quiet literally made out of Evil given Form, then a free-willed Human can change.


For those pointing out the "negative energy is evil" thing, technically it is incorrect. Negative and positive energy are actually neutral forces, no more "good" or evil than fire.

In fact, saying negative energy is "evil" because it opposes positive energy is like saying Anti-matter is "evil" because it opposes traditional matter.

On a side note, thw Neg E plane is actually more hospitable than the Pos E plane. For the Neg E plane, so long as you are not harmed by Neg E, ypur good to go.

The Pos E plane will kill EVERYTHING in it. Even living things.


Oh and Dhampirs are powered by Neg E, not Pos E and they can be any alignment... and they are not corpses so yeah... there is that

Shadow Lodge

Matthew Downie wrote:

Under Golarion rules, there is something about the unnatural forces of undeath that drives almost all undead beings, even mindless ones, to become Evil.

Exactly what this force is isn't clear...

I call it "Author Intent".

Scarab Sages

The answer depends on whether the GM rules that a Liche is a person or a monster.

In my campaign a Liche would be a person. However, in order to truly shift alignment to Good, they would have to atone for the unspeakable horrors they committed in attaining lichedom, which would require them to give up their ill-gotten immortality and die.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Huh. I wrote a post for this thread but it vanished... let's try again!

A lich CAN become non-evil, but that's a super super rare event because the process of becoming a lich requires you to undertake numerous evil actions of your own free will. In the equally rare event of someone being transformed into a lich against their will, I suppose they've a much greater chance of throwing off the evil and becoming another alignment.

We avoid doing to much in print with non-evil undead because each one we do dilutes the "cool" factor and uniqueness of an additional non-evil undead, and as such we really do try to cleave to an "undead are almost always evil" result in print. When we do lift this rule, it tends to be for ghosts, but we've done the same for at least one mummy that I know of. In time, we might dive in and do a non-evil lich, but such a lich would need to be a significant character in the storyline and not just a random throwaway NPC on the periphery of a campaign. It'd also have to be one written by one of our best authors—it's easy enough to build a non-evil lich (it's no harder to do so than a normal bad guy lich), but making the flavor and personality and actual writing live up to the idea is not something I'd entrust to just any author.

Of course, for a homebrew game, all of this is academic. For a homebrew setting/game, older resources like the Book of Exalted Deeds or the baelnorn from Forgotten Realms are excellent places to go to get inspiration for how a non-evil lich might operate.


Thanks James! Yeah I was speaking about primarily PF lore since home games can be anything. And this i figure is kinda your field of expertise


Where is everyone getting this idea that making a lich requires "unspeakable horrible acts"? I do not see any such mention of this in the lich description, or the "becoming a lich" text. It just says it's difficult and expensive, not necessarily evil. I'm looking here in particular:

http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/monsters/lich.html

yes I know the alignment says evil, but I'm referring to the creation of the lich:

Quote:
a prospective lich must also learn the secrets of transferring his soul into the receptacle and of preparing his body for the transformation into undeath, neither of which are simple tasks.
Quote:
The exact methods ... should involve expenditures of hundreds of thousands of gold pieces, numerous deadly adventures, and a large number of difficult skill checks over the course of months, years, or decades.
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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. The phylactery costs 120,000 gp to create and has a caster level equal to that of its creator at the time of creation.

The most common form of phylactery is a sealed metal box containing strips of parchment on which magical phrases have been transcribed. The box is Tiny and has 40 hit points, hardness 20, and a break DC of 40.

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