Specifics of a Lich's (un)life.


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So the lich: an awesome display of the ultimate price for knowledge, the scourge of nations, being with the franchise from pretty much the beginning you'd think that we'd have a better idea of what exactly happens when a lich is created, but most of the text I can find on the matter doesn't go much farther than "unspeakable evils required". I'd like to start an open discussion on several matters involving the specifics of the lich to figure out what might happen in the new campaign I'm developing.

1. First of all, where would the knowledge on Phylacteries be found? I assume it's forbidden, but does that mean that each lich stumbles upon the idea for themselves and invents the whole process, or does it come from ancient books/communion with devils?

2. What kind of 'unspeakable horrors' go into creating a phylactery? Murder is an obvious option, but that seems too 'run of the mill' to count as unspeakable, any suggestions on what specific kinds of material components might be required, like destroying the souls of others in the creation process? I'm looking at a character possibly becoming a lich to research the cure for a horrible disease, fighting for the greater good. How horrible would the crimes have to be to turn someone away from this option?

3. What kind of spells should be required for the process of phylactery creation? Could you create one through alchemy?

4. What process might one go through to transfer their soul to a phylactery? How as a GM would I describe that experience?

5. After creation of and transfer to a phylactery, what happens to the body and how quickly? Most official liches are described as already decayed skeletons, but they are assumed to have been undead for hundreds if not thousands of years. How quickly does the body of a lich start to decay? Are there any preventative measures (such as gentle repose/restore corpse) which could delay or even counter this decaying process for months or years? I'm looking at a leader of a small isolated town who just recently (last five years) became a lich, how long could she theoretically keep this up before becoming noticeably, well, dead, or at least unwell?

6. When a phylactery is destroyed, does the lich instantly die? It seems like it would be a Dorian Grey situation unless the body was well kept, but could they potentially return from lichdom if the phylactery is destroyed?

7. Is it possible to transfer someone else's life force into a phylactery you created, thus potentially creating a "good" lich? Furthermore can liches repent and become good again after their creation? I'm looking at a character possibly becoming a lich to research the cure for a horrible disease, so basically serving the greater good, could they atone for the things discussed in question 2?

I know most of the time the book says it's "up to GM discretion", but I'd love to hear from multiple GMs and actually get down some parameters on the oft avoided subject. Feel free to respond to any or all of the topics as you please, and thanks for the help.


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1. while one can certainly turn towards devils, I would imagine it would be a relatively poor choice in patron. The whole 'I get your soul when you die' thing is usually not in line with the desire for eternal existince as an undead abomination. So one of the sides gets screwed- the evil either doesn't get a souls, or (much more likely) the devil engineers the lich's demise so he gets his payment.

So overall, you should probably look towards different places for help. Demonss seem like the type that can be bribed with a bit of the old ultraviolence.

2. No idea on what officially goes in, but I do remember recently seeing story where a man used his own hand to create an antenna of bones and blood. Doing that with the various bits of a ritual sacrifice (perhaps keeping them alive/unalive so they feel everything, using their suffering to boost the signal?). Overall, that sounds metal enough to be thrown in.

Generally though, it is described less like a set procedure, since the exact differences of bodies and souls makes each creation a unique processs. So make it whatever fits

5. Arazni is a lich created from a dead god. You can easily find pictures of her online, possibly connected with a wiki or something. She should serve as a good example of a well preserved lich.

6. Yep. If not, then the lich would just run and make a new phyactery. Which would make them even harder to get rid of. It is the lynch pin to their existence.

7. Again, I am going to note Arazni. She was a LG goddess who started as the herald of Aroden (predecessor to iomadae), then served as the patron saint of the knights that fought against the whispering tyrant (who killed her). She was then brought back as a lich by Geb...and now she is REALLY evil, and serves as the overseer of his nation. While there may be extenuating circumstances there... it seems like you are affected enough that even gods can't stay 'good'.

Grand Lodge

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lemeres wrote:


7. Again, I am going to note Arazni. She was a LG goddess who started as the herald of Aroden (predecessor to iomadae), then served as the patron saint of the knights that fought against the whispering tyrant (who killed her). She was then brought back as a lich by Geb...and now she is REALLY evil, and serves as the overseer of his nation. While there may be extenuating circumstances there... it seems like you are affected enough that even gods can't stay 'good'.

Keep in mind that Geb is himself a twisted evil being, and he wasn't looking to make a nice "magical girl" lich.


LazarX wrote:
lemeres wrote:


7. Again, I am going to note Arazni. She was a LG goddess who started as the herald of Aroden (predecessor to iomadae), then served as the patron saint of the knights that fought against the whispering tyrant (who killed her). She was then brought back as a lich by Geb...and now she is REALLY evil, and serves as the overseer of his nation. While there may be extenuating circumstances there... it seems like you are affected enough that even gods can't stay 'good'.

Keep in mind that Geb is himself a twisted evil being, and he wasn't looking to make a nice "magical girl" lich.

Would anyone willing to do the things that create a lich be looking to make a magical girl? Geb's excuse is pretty normal for the kind of circumstances associated with #7.

With raise spells at a MUCH lower price, you can't even get the 'I will not allow my daughter/sister/childhood friend stay dead' excuse really. Buying resurrections are still cheaper, and it generally covers a century or two of death.

Grand Lodge

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lemeres wrote:
LazarX wrote:
lemeres wrote:


7. Again, I am going to note Arazni. She was a LG goddess who started as the herald of Aroden (predecessor to iomadae), then served as the patron saint of the knights that fought against the whispering tyrant (who killed her). She was then brought back as a lich by Geb...and now she is REALLY evil, and serves as the overseer of his nation. While there may be extenuating circumstances there... it seems like you are affected enough that even gods can't stay 'good'.

Keep in mind that Geb is himself a twisted evil being, and he wasn't looking to make a nice "magical girl" lich.

Would anyone willing to do the things that create a lich be looking to make a magical girl? Geb's excuse is pretty normal for the kind of circumstances associated with #7.

With raise spells at a MUCH lower price, you can't even get the 'I will not allow my daughter/sister/childhood friend stay dead' excuse really. Buying resurrections are still cheaper, and it generally covers a century or two of death.

Geb wasn't using an excuse. he did what he did specifically for spiteful revenge against the Knights of Ozem.


LazarX wrote:
lemeres wrote:

Would anyone willing to do the things that create a lich be looking to make a magical girl? Geb's excuse is pretty normal for the kind of circumstances associated with #7.

With raise spells at a MUCH lower price, you can't even get the 'I will not allow my daughter/sister/childhood friend stay dead' excuse really. Buying resurrections are still cheaper, and it generally covers a century or two of death.

Geb wasn't using an excuse. he did what he did specifically for spiteful revenge against the Knights of Ozem.

ok...so what motivations would there be for someone to raise a lich which would not involve something evil?

Remember- lichdom is much, much more evil than msot alternatives to bringing back the dead.

There might be a few immortality concerns...but generally, I am sure there is some other form of undead you could make the poor fool into rather than a lich.

Purposefully making a so called 'good' lich requires so much time and effort, and it requires so many evil acts along the way.... about the only justification I can imagine is a wizard making a bet that he could make the so called 'magical girl lich'. It is just too convoluted.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

The process and specifics of becoming a lich vary as each soul differs and subject to GM discretion. Even liches varies. The Whispering Tyrant and Runelord Zutha both achieved lichdom in very different ways and resulted in very different transformations.

For #7, it's worth mentioning that undeath has negative psychological effects on a person. They lose their connection to the living and eventually their empathy. Even if a good person becomes a lich, they will eventually become evil.

Grand Lodge

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lemeres wrote:


ok...so what motivations would there be for someone to raise a lich which would not involve something evil?

None.. there are frequently self-rationalizations that people do to convince themselves that what they do isn't evil, but that does not change the nature of the process itself.

Shadow Lodge

1. The general idea would be available in old books, particularly those on malevolent magic, or through conversing with fiends or other powerful evil spellcasters. The specifics do need to be invented by each lich.

2. Yes, destruction of souls would be a reasonable component. So would mass murder and torture. I believe the one reference to the process in official material involved starting a plague as step 1. I've also seen some require that the lich's victims include at least one person whom the lich-to-be genuninely loves, who trusts the lich, and who is not a willing sacrifice.

3. I don't know that it would require spells so much as complex ritual magic. RAW alchemy doesn't cut it since you need actual spellcasting, but I know a lot of people fudge that rule.

4. I would expect it to be painful, dizzying, and to leave them feeling physically and emotionally cold and numb.

5. Unguent of Timelessness reduces the rate of decomposition to one day's worth per actual year passed. Generally that means a lich would look fairly normal for 1-2 years, but by year 5 would be well into to bloating stage (tongue, eyes, and abdomen protruding, skin discoloured) and some tissues would start to decay. The lich might be able to hide under illusion magic, but otherwise would look pretty dead.

6. The lich can make a new phylactery if the original is destroyed. Destroying the phylactery simply makes them vulnerable to normal destruction. Thematically, I think it returns the soul to the lich's body, though as it doesn't reverse the whole process making a replacement phylactery is not as harrowing.

7. The strict rules for lichdom require the lich to craft its own phylactery, but you can fudge this as well - my group's first Pathfinder campaign featured one lich who was converted by an admiring demigod of necromancy. Liches certainly could repent, though I would expect this to be only marginally more likely than a powerful fiend being redeemed.


LazarX wrote:
lemeres wrote:


ok...so what motivations would there be for someone to raise a lich which would not involve something evil?

None.. there are frequently self-rationalizations that people do to convince themselves that what they do isn't evil, but that does not change the nature of the process itself.

Yeah...but if you are devoting this much time, resources, and reasearch, you are most likely not going to leave this person to their own devices.

Again...if you aren't doing as Geb did (turning someone into your loyal servant, which would eventually end up having a similar effect on that person's alignment)...what are you doing this for?

Lichdom is just so frightfully specific, difficult, and pricy. Even as a revenge thing....it would just be easier to make them some lesser undead with one of the regular spells if you wanted the "haha, you are a monster now" moment.


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Regarding Nr.5
In Undead Revisited then stated that as long as the lich remebers to eat and drink, the body stays pysically the same, no rotting or anything, if denied nourishment the body starts to whither untill the flesh clings to the bones. Dries out is the words they used.

I am however uncertain whether that is still 100% offcial.

Nr.6
As i have read it, if the pylactery is destroyed the soul returns to the lich, it is not stated wheather or not this kills/destroys the lich.

Silver Crusade

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Quote:
Unless its phylactery is located and destroyed, a lich can rejuvenate after it is killed.

The way this is worded indicates to me that destroying the phylactery does not actually destroy the lich, it just prevents the lich from rejuvanating after you destroy it the old fashioned way.

Quote:
6. Yep. If not, then the lich would just run and make a new phyactery. Which would make them even harder to get rid of. It is the lynch pin to their existence.

Assuming that's even possible.

Quote:
As i have read it, if the pylactery is destroyed the soul returns to the lich

I don't recall seeing this anywhere.


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About 7: You should check out the anime/webnovel Overlord. The main character, an average man, becomes a lich and he realises that he is no longer distrubed by death and murder and that he has no emphathy for humans anymore. Creepy sets in the moment he freaks out over this and his undead state forcibly calms him down. Now imagine hundreds of years of such an existence.


One could argue the apathy is not evil.though.

If apathy toward the death of another being is evil, would not everyone be evil?

After all, do you think about the bug you squashed? Do you feel remorse about killing the rodent in your pantry? Or the cow that feeds you?

I am going to assume most peoples characters are not disturbed and empathetic toward their hamburger.

So by the same token, the lich is the same way regarding living creatures. You see it as evil because you are baised (being a living creature and all), but from the Lichs perspective, we are no different than the tiny ant we squish with no thought.

Just playing devils advocate lol.

Oh and as for the unspeakable evil?

You have to Jaywalk, while listening to I will survive and naked....


Google Dicefreaks Lich template.

Grand Lodge

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Pixie, the Leng Queen wrote:

One could argue the apathy is not evil.though.

And another might argue that apathy, or more correctly, the lack of empathy is the root of all evil.


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Tammy doesn't care, not since that Dwarf kicked her puppy.


what's Tammy ?

Imho lich is evil not cuz bad,bad ritual to create it(ok this toooo)
But from fact that magic used in ritual warp/taint your soul ! (something like Chaos in warhammer40k universe)


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Tammy is a ranger lich who became a lich after someone killed her dog xD.

I belive Mark made it up for funzies.


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Knowledge of Phylacteries is found in the same place as other forbidden lore: ruined monasteries, black tomes, the whispers of Evil outsiders, or after long personal experimentation.

Since each phylactery is unique, you probably need to do a bunch of experiments. And since you need to be able to muck about with your own soul, this research probably requires killing a bunch of people. Probably in fairly gruesome ways. Think Discovery Requires Experimentation. I don't think that the research or rituals can destroy any souls, or even detain them for a long time. Trap the Soul is a level 8 spell while Lichdom only requires caster level 11 after all.

As to the actual crafting process, you can go as far down the evil rabbit hole as you want. Maybe you need the tears of good outsiders, shed when they are betrayed by one they trusted. Maybe you need to twist a good king into a psychopathic dictator so that when the people rebel and brother fights brother the final battle will lead to ten thousand dying with bitterness in their hearts. etc..

I think that the lich's body would decay quickly, unless they use magic to preserve it. It is driven by negative energy, and that stuff is terrible for your complexion.

I imagine that redeeming a lich is hard. Assuming that to become a lich, it has probobly committed some terrible acts implying that it did not really care about others, and now it has no empathy to help it care about petty mortals. That being said, I could see someone with an iron will and a powerful drive staying good throughout the process. That person might find a way to make a phylactery ethically, and would have the mental discipline to remain moral through intellectual reasoning alone.


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1) Buy a copy of "Becoming a Lich for Dummies".
2) Ordering your copy of "Becoming a lich for Dummies" from Amazon.com istead of supporting your local bookstore is in itself unspeakable Evil enough to become a Lich.

Grand Lodge

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Knight Magenta wrote:
I don't think that the research or rituals can destroy any souls, or even detain them for a long time.

They can redirect them. Sacrificing a person on an altar dedicated to your deity basically sends the soul to them bypassing Pharasma's judgement. There's even a Lissalan golem that does this as it's top is essentially a sacrificial altar.

The only way to raise someone killed in either manner is through a cleric of said diety or wish magic.


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lemeres wrote:
LazarX wrote:
lemeres wrote:

Would anyone willing to do the things that create a lich be looking to make a magical girl? Geb's excuse is pretty normal for the kind of circumstances associated with #7.

With raise spells at a MUCH lower price, you can't even get the 'I will not allow my daughter/sister/childhood friend stay dead' excuse really. Buying resurrections are still cheaper, and it generally covers a century or two of death.

Geb wasn't using an excuse. he did what he did specifically for spiteful revenge against the Knights of Ozem.
ok...so what motivations would there be for someone to raise a lich which would not involve something evil?

To keep a soul from falling into the hands of something that would do terrible, terrible evil with it. There are certain scenarios where this might make sense. For example: Girl X is the last of her kind. Prophecy foretells that only when the X's are all gone may a great evil arise/the gate to Gdyr'xax be opened/coke turn into pepsi/etc. Making Girl X into a lich might end up being a desperate and amusing way of "fighting evil". I mean...imagine the scenario: you have to keep the bloody thing "alive" while it is busy plotting your eternal damnation. Good times.


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And the standard result of that would be Lich Girl X is the one that triggers that apocalypse. Ugh... imagine all that Pepsi.


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LazarX wrote:
Knight Magenta wrote:
I don't think that the research or rituals can destroy any souls, or even detain them for a long time.

They can redirect them. Sacrificing a person on an altar dedicated to your deity basically sends the soul to them bypassing Pharasma's judgement. There's even a Lissalan golem that does this as it's top is essentially a sacrificial altar.

The only way to raise someone killed in either manner is through a cleric of said diety or wish magic.

Trap the Soul


What monsters revisited book are Liches in?


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Undead Revisited.


captain yesterday wrote:
Undead Revisited.

Thank you.


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By the way: we're discussing evil. Please be aware that it's awful in every way. This may, then, be triggering discussions.

Sorry.

There are some great answers, but I'm going to throw my own hat in the ring and add some ideas, if I may.

Some is going to be subjective, some is going to be rules-y, and some is going to be a bit of both. I might not always be aware of the difference. (In other words, I might think something is clear, but it may not be to all people, and that might be valid, too.)

The Great and Powerful Zorchev wrote:
So the lich: an awesome display of the ultimate price for knowledge, the scourge of nations, being with the franchise from pretty much the beginning you'd think that we'd have a better idea of what exactly happens when a lich is created, but most of the text I can find on the matter doesn't go much farther than "unspeakable evils required". I'd like to start an open discussion on several matters involving the specifics of the lich to figure out what might happen in the new campaign I'm developing.

Cool!

The Great and Powerful Zorchev wrote:
1. First of all, where would the knowledge on Phylacteries be found? I assume it's forbidden, but does that mean that each lich stumbles upon the idea for themselves and invents the whole process, or does it come from ancient books/communion with devils?

The answer is "yes".

One of the interesting things about lichdom, as it's currently described, is that it's pretty terrible, not just "highly" but extremely inconvenient, and, frankly, impossible under normal circumstances for most creatures, purely from the financial aspect.

The knowledge-bit is no different.

I would suggest that the information on how to make phylacteries must come first from the self: possibly from learning that other liches exist, possibly from reading ancient forbidden tomes, or possibly from just talking to a fiend who happens to let slip, conversationally, that one old guy who was working on an immortality project ("and oh, you're interested, that's cool, by the way, would you like me to be an information go-between, since I'm going to be there anyway? Free of charge, naturally..."), or any other thing... but the idea has to come from the character themselves to allow their body to continue without having their soul in it.

Perhaps it starts out as an attempt to make a device that raises them repeatedly, but that attempt fails*.

Perhaps it starts out as an attempt to find a means of immortality, as a person ages.***

Whatever it is, either by reading about it, or suggesting it, a person comes to the conclusion - "on their own", figuratively speaking - that this is a thing they need to do. And, after all, solid materials are much hardier, and much easier to hide than, say, their body, so why not let their body continue, and their soul be kept safe?

In 4E, at least, it spells out that all liches and their phylacteries are effectively (knowingly or not) "contracts" of a sort with Orcus (who could, in theory, destroy any phylactery at any time). There are hints that this has been true in other times of the game, though I don't know if it's ever been spelled out as clearly.

* This is the most narratively... dependent... on GM interpretation. Technically, speaking, any given 11th level caster (except for a bard, magus, sorcerer, or wizard)** should be able to create a "phylactery, only better" for far, far less expense using the Craft Wondrous Item rules: use one of the class's built-in forms of raising the dead upon death, and greater restorative abilities as a contingency-thing, with it whisking itself away to a "safe place" to do so. As to why they don't... well, that's why the GM has to explain it away...
** Technically, even a bard, magus, sorcerer, or wizard would be able to do so as well, presuming a solid Spellcraft skill... at least half of which would have exactly that anyway. So they probably could do it, too.
*** This, again, requires an amount of GM fiat. A phylactery is expensive enough, that it has to be started pretty far in advance of "old age comes to claim me", otherwise, the wizard isn't likely to survive that long...

The Great and Powerful Zorchev wrote:
2. What kind of 'unspeakable horrors' go into creating a phylactery? Murder is an obvious option, but that seems too 'run of the mill' to count as unspeakable, any suggestions on what specific kinds of material components might be required, like destroying the souls of others in the creation process? I'm looking at a character possibly becoming a lich to research the cure for a horrible disease, fighting for the greater good. How horrible would the crimes have to be to turn someone away from this option?

This is... kind of goofy.

By nature, "unspeakable horrors" are either unpronounceable gibberish, or are unspeakable only because someone lacks the mental fortitude to do so*... or the reference is poetic, rather than literal.

If it's merely poetic hyperbole (almost a certainty), murder is, then, "back in", so to speak.

However, there are "more" evil things possible**.

So, just to be clear, don't act these out at your table. They're awful. I mean that.

Evil, Potential Trigger Warnings:
Experimentation. Sometimes with bodies. Sometimes with souls. Sometimes with minds. Sometimes with some combination of the three. Below are a few possible examples of how:
- Rape; possibly rape-and-murder, with a possibility of re-animation afterwords.
- Engaging in the various criminal 'philias.
- Corruption of (relative) "innocents" in some form of debauchery, cruelty, malevolence, violence, or other evils. Sometimes through mental domination. Sometimes through slick talking. Sometimes through "force" - either blackmail, or holding hostages, or something.
- Torture. Sometimes leading to murder.
- Using summoned cacodaemons to turn imprisoned creatures into soul gems for research on the nature of the soul and how it relates.

So in other words: evil. Make no mistake: these are horrible, horrible things. I highly recommend not playing this out, or discussing it in detail at your table - and, depending on your players' sensitivities, perhaps not even lightly touching it, just leaving it at "unspeakable evils"*.

But those are a few methods of playing with souls, holding onto power, and destroying people, physically, mentally, or spiritually... and any may well be part of the "experimentation" to become a lich.

As for why they're not more spelled out... well... Paizo doesn't want to squick anyone out, cause trigger episodes, or ramp up the rating of their game system... or cause trouble with strong conservative groups (several of whom demonized D&D back in the day for being Satanic or similar for similar reasons).

* Believe it or not, this is not a knock against someone. It's me just kind of running out of words. The reasons a person might not have the mental fortitude are legion, and most of them are legitimate and not a sign of weakness of character. Perhaps they knew those involved. Perhaps, they witnessed the horrors, and the violence and terror prevents them from speaking. There are lots of valid reasons. Perhaps they just simply lack the vocabulary for the specifics. But it falls to the person attempting to communicate to do so, one way or the other. So it's either poetic hyperbole, describing literal unpronounceable gibberish, or describing someone who is too "personally" affected to clinically describe the events.

** Whether they are "more evil" than murder, or simply "more" evil as in "other evil things, like murder" is open to interpretation.

The Great and Powerful Zorchev wrote:
3. What kind of spells should be required for the process of phylactery creation? Could you create one through alchemy?

Lich

Phylactery wrote:

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.

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.

First of all, at 120k, you're going to be looking at 120 days just to make a phylactery. Second, given how much a creature typically possesses, there is no 11th level entity that remotely has that much cash on them. Generally speaking, it's almost 10 times the basic wealth of an 11th level creature, 7 times a "heroic" creature's wealth, and 1.4 times what an actual PC could expect. The earliest any creature could expect to have that kind of relative wealth (in-sum) is somewhere between 12th and 13th level (with 13th being the minimum "rough" guarantee)... and only if they were a PC. "Heroic" NPCs have to wait to 19th level, while "basic" NPCs have to wait to 20th. And even at those levels, you're basically sinking everything into a "sealed metal box containing strips of parchment on which magical phrases have been transcribed" - not exactly high on the "that's a good idea" list, it seems.

But really... how... precisely... does a creature get something that valuable?

The only readily-available method I can find at that level, is via the humble cacodaemon (by use of it's soul-lock ability), and utilizing soul trade as a "get rich quick" scheme.

The basic idea is to buy a slave at 50 gold each (a household slave), then murder/soul-lock the creature, and "sell" it for 100 gold. Instant 50g profit, and you're well on your way to inexorable evil.

As for the spells in specific, since none are listed, I don't think it matters much. However: consider that the only prerequisite is that the character has an 11th caster level. This means that bards, clerics, druids, rangers, sorcerers, and wizards are viable. (Paladins are only excluded because they must be evil, which strips them of their paladin-stuff, including caster levels...)
((Other classes could be included, but I'm going with the "core" classes for purposes of this, at present.))

At 11th level, you get access to 6th level spells for most classes, 5th for spontaneous full casters, 5th for partial casters (like bards), and 4th for limited casters (like rangers, though they have to be 14th level).

Clerics and wizards get access to create undead at that level. This is a great one for them.

Similarly, for clerics, antilife shell, harm, and word of recall could have thematic ties. Lower level spells on their list could provide more options.

Similarly, for wizards, globe of invulernability, guards and wards, planar binding, geas/quest, mislead, major curse, age resistance, and undead anatomy III all have valid "thematic" elements that could be part of the construction process. Again, their lower level spells might be insightful, too.

Speaking of, sorcerers would be limited to 5th level and below, presuming they were forced to cast it themselves: thus, limiting them to thematic, but "stretching it" elements like cloud kill, damnation stride, hungry pit, lesser planar binding, telepathic bond, sending, most any of the necromancy spells (though especially magic jar, possess object, mass repair undead, and soul switch), master's mutation, planar adaptation, and undead anatomy II; as well as the lower-level spells, like a wizard.

For druids, you've got good-'ol age resistance and antilife shell, as well as weird combinations like ironwood plus barkskin plus whatever the highest level inflict spells a druid can muster or something like that mixed with share skin or something.

Rangers don't really have good options. Grove of respite, raise animal companion, and terrain bond, I suppose.

Bard's have weird things, like, envious urge, feast on fear, ghostbane dirge, shadow conjuration, utter contempt, and virtuoso performance, but they work "okay" for such purposes. Maybe things like path of glory, communal phantom steed, primal scream, shadow step, one of the summons, or wandering star motes. Bear in mind, these are all "thematic" rather than "directly applicable" - in other words, they might not be as "on target" but they could, at least, be vaguely taken to be "on theme" or something.

These are just a few and are explicitly based on the class lists of those who have spells to cast - in order to better fit with the theme that "every lich is different". You could, instead, just make it that everyone requires specific <X> spells (most likely create undead and undead anatomy) and just require non-clerics and non-wizards find a way to access those spells (which, truth be told, isn't that hard).

The Great and Powerful Zorchev wrote:
4. What process might one go through to transfer their soul to a phylactery? How as a GM would I describe that experience?

I would describe it as if you felt a vital portion of yourself being twisted and wrenched way in extreme pain and torture, then having that feeling replaced by (simultaneously) having a) an "outer layer" of cold, unyielding, un-altering, loneliness and hardness and b) an "inner cold" that fills and floods you, a sense of dread that is sent running through your veins with chills and numbness. This is the sense of the soul and the body at the same time.

(It's also based, partially, on when I had my wisdom teeth taken out. That was... surreal.)

The Great and Powerful Zorchev wrote:
5. After creation of and transfer to a phylactery, what happens to the body and how quickly? Most official liches are described as already decayed skeletons, but they are assumed to have been undead for hundreds if not thousands of years. How quickly does the body of a lich start to decay? Are there any preventative measures (such as gentle repose/restore corpse) which could delay or even counter this decaying process for months or years? I'm looking at a leader of a small isolated town who just recently (last five years) became a lich, how long could she theoretically keep this up before becoming noticeably, well, dead, or at least unwell?

I'd allow gentle repose (a favored tactic in older edtions) to function well enough. Otherwise, research decay rates and go with those, possibly accelerated due to negative energy.

In FR, at least, one of the more famous liches, Szass Tamm, kept his "human" appearance for many years, before it withered (and even then, use of veil or similar kept him "looking" decent).

The Great and Powerful Zorchev wrote:
6. When a phylactery is destroyed, does the lich instantly die? It seems like it would be a Dorian Grey situation unless the body was well kept, but could they potentially return from lichdom if the phylactery is destroyed?

I would say "no" - it's not how we've ever played it, or read it.

The relevant bits are:

Rejuvenation wrote:
When a lich is destroyed, its phylactery (which is generally hidden by the lich in a safe place far from where it chooses to dwell) immediately begins to rebuild the undead spellcaster's body nearby. This process takes 1d10 days—if the body is destroyed before that time passes, the phylactery merely starts the process anew. After this time passes, the lich wakens fully healed (albeit without any gear it left behind on its old body), usually with a burning need for revenge against those who previously destroyed it.

and

Phylactery wrote:
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.

While the latter could be taken to be "destroy the phylactery, destroy the lich", I think it is not for the following reason: there is no "weakness" line under the lich's abilities, unlike the vampire or haunted one templates, or the headman's scythe.

It seems like such a vulnerability would be listed there, to me.

The Great and Powerful Zorchev wrote:
7. Is it possible to transfer someone else's life force into a phylactery you created, thus potentially creating a "good" lich? Furthermore can liches repent and become good again after their creation? I'm looking at a character possibly becoming a lich to research the cure for a horrible disease, so basically serving the greater good, could they atone for the things discussed in question 2?

Yes... -ish. Geb did so with Arazni, though she was turned evil. The trick with this, though, is that she was twisted to evil, over-time, by Geb: she didn't start out that way.

Thus it seems it could be done, however it also seems that the maker would still have to be evil. This could make for a fascinating and compelling story, someone willing to hand out "super-powers" for "the greater good" to someone who would not abuse them, despite the depths of villainy the initial person had to sink to in order to grant those powers in the first place.

Biiiiiiiiiiiig movie spoiler, for Unbreakable:
This is very similar to the plot twist in Unbreakable, where Mr. Glass reveals to David that David is, unbeknownst to himself, a superhero... which he does by killing hundreds of people, knowing that David would survive the process. (Mr. Glass does not know that David is a superhero at first, only that there is one: he's attempting to find him by engineering terrible events in the city to find out who it is.)

(As an aside: Arazni was a lawful neutral demigod herald to a lawful neutral deity, though she supported various orders of paladins, 'cause she and her patron - Aroden - rolled that way.)

The Great and Powerful Zorchev wrote:
I know most of the time the book says it's "up to GM discretion", but I'd love to hear from multiple GMs and actually get down some parameters on the oft avoided subject. Feel free to respond to any or all of the topics as you please, and thanks for the help.

For me, I just drop the whole "you must be evil" thing altogether, and allow multiple ways of researching the subject. Becoming a lich sucks enough without being extra punative on top of that.


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Tammy's bad, bad to the bone!

Tammy also wishes she learned Gentle Repose.


Regarding #5: While there may be ways to conceal or prevent physical signs (on one's own body) of being a lich, a lich's very existence will slowly sap the life from the world around them. Sure, the village leader may still look alive, but the villagers would probably start getting suspicious at how fast things rot around her.


Vutava wrote:
Regarding #5: While there may be ways to conceal or prevent physical signs (on one's own body) of being a lich, a lich's very existence will slowly sap the life from the world around them. Sure, the village leader may still look alive, but the villagers would probably start getting suspicious at how fast things rot around her.

Where is this stated?


Tacticslion wrote:
[the trigger stuff, only referenced to save time/space/need for editing/good taste]

I am not sure whether that list seems very representative. Only the torture and cacaodaemons seem like they might be typical. The rest...only seems like it would come up when you use demons for help (mostly as 'amusement' used as payment in return for advice and resources).

No, the invasiveness seems like it would be at a different level- tampering with their souls and mortal coils. Attempting to use people as 'test runs', leaving them as unliving flesh...and then you take them apart to see where the process went wrong, all while they can still feel you dissecting them, prodding them to see how they react.

Maybe you even used failed material as tool in future experiments, converting them into 'objects' of bone and blood that are still aware of what they have become.

In essense... I would much more readily look towards the arts of Kytons than demons for this. They seem experienced with the art of working flesh as they please without allowing the soul to escape. They are excellent models for this, bringing this from mere corruption into an art where the lives and suffering of others are mere resources for your goals.


Tacticslion wrote:
[the trigger stuff, only referenced to save time/space/need for editing/good taste]

Good call, editing.

lemeres wrote:
I am not sure whether that list seems very representative. Only the torture and cacaodaemons seem like they might be typical. The rest...only seems like it would come up when you use demons for help (mostly as 'amusement' used as payment in return for advice and resources).

None of it is necessarily, well... necessary.

All of them can be "thematic" - it entirely depends on what kind of a creature is ultimately becoming the lich.

The big factor here is that "liches be evil, yo", and those are methods of "experimentation" with the mind, body, and soul which could ultimately yield information that leads to the understanding necessary to transfer the soul of a creature while simultaneously imbuing unlife and enhancing the mind (all of which is what the lich template does).

All of it is pushing the flesh, the mind, and the body into service of power; all of it is placing oneself above another; and all of it has to do with the ultimate expression of one's own mastery over the life and fortunes of another creature. All of it is about power and experimentation.

And that's what makes (or what could make, if you like) a "lich" (who engages in any such practices) terrible: they engage in terrible things, but do so for clinical purposes.

So... no: none of the things in the spoiler are necessary. They're not meant to be. Paizo hasn't spelled out what is.

lemeres wrote:

No, the invasiveness seems like it would be at a different level- tampering with their souls and mortal coils. Attempting to use people as 'test runs', leaving them as unliving flesh...and then you take them apart to see where the process went wrong, all while they can still feel you dissecting them, prodding them to see how they react.

Maybe you even used failed material as tool in future experiments, converting them into 'objects' of bone and blood that are still aware of what they have become.

In essense... I would much more readily look towards the arts of Kytons than demons for this. They seem experienced with the art of working flesh as they please without allowing the soul to escape. They are excellent models for this, bringing this from mere corruption into an art where the lives and suffering of others are mere resources for your goals.

The only things that are necessary, are "unspeakable evil" (which, as I noted, is only "unspeakable" if it's gibberish or the mental fortitude/clinical detachment* of the person in question cannot handle saying it; otherwise, it's poetic hyperbole), and I listed several "unspeakable evils" because these are examples of potential things that, depending on what you mean, could be necessary for even getting a creature into the mindset of becoming a lich in the first place.

They are not, literally, unspeakable. They are, however, censored for good taste, and because they're evil and disgusting and no one in good conscious or of sound mind actually likes them.

The ultimate point of liches, as presented, is that they have engaged in uniquely (to them) corrupting practices for the purpose of having a little box give them substandard immortality and a few minor (not terribly unique, rare, or useful) immunities and resistances and attacks.

Not all liches will engage in the things I listed. Some will, in some of them (and all will be used at some point or another) however, because that is what "properly" would "prepare their (unique) soul" in the proper way.

... at least as implied and intimated in PF's rules.

In other systems, this is not so.

As noted, in 4E, it's a ritual that binds the lich to orcus' thrall (or an epic destiny that... kinda sucks).

In Blue Roes, you just have to be evil (or "Shadow aligned") and a "sorcerer" (i.e. someone that uses more-or-less "evil" magic) with a corruption score of 16 or higher, and then, when you die, you just poof into a lich automatically three days later**. (Otherwise you poof into a vampire or lesser undead, if you're not that powerful.)

In 3.5, it was similar to PF, but required XP expenditure to make the phylactery, and were just as evil... unless you're in Faerun which introduced two kinds of non-evil liches (baelnorn, and arch liches).

In Harry Potter, it was caused by a "significant" murder of a person fracturing the caster's soul, then ripping that piece off and shoving into a phyla- horacrux. There was no other particular requirement, and it was pretty awful (as noted), though it seemed to come with some side effects.

The point is only that I don't ascribe to the "liches are always evil" but, when attempting to engage the topic as it's presented, I mentioned several of the possibilities.

The reason for mentioning them is exclusively to point out: directly "tied" thematic elements are not the only "thematic" elements... if you're a lich associated with certain sins or vices, you might follow a very different path than a lich associated with very different ones. The willingness to engage in any evil, no matter how low, or how vile, is more or less what seems to be the required "action". But, as it notes, the ritual is unique to each lich: if lich A had to do things 1, 2, and 3; that may or may not work for lich B (and, in fact, could just destroy lich B or turn them insane).

In fact, because of that variance, it's quite possible that a lich could follow lichdom "innocently" - in fact, it's hinted at in a few places that some non-evil casters succeed at becoming liches, but are corrupted over time by a lack of empathy and compassion. I could easily see someone who creates an elaborate ritual where none other than themselves are killed, rises as a lich, and then slowly falls away into evil themselves... it's kind of a classic tragedy of hero-turned-villain, even if it's not a story I enjoy (or enforce).

Lichdom sucks, as written, and has many more and better alternatives. My note above is exclusively an attempt to engage it as-presented in the spirit it's mentioned as well as to expand the view of what rituals might open up the paths to evil necessary to become a lich.

* To expand on this, from my previous post, now that I have more words: I can talk all about my barbarian, and how they take their axe and mince an orc into bits. Were I suddenly given the stats of my Barbarian, high levels, proficiency with an axe, and an army of orcs to mow down, I'd probably do it... and then spend years regretting the loss of life I'd taken part of, even if I wholeheartedly believe it was necessary, because violence is awful and unpleasant in every way. Violence may well be necessary. It's not evil. But it is awful, and leaves scars. I can talk about such things with clinical detachment, or even excitement in my current life, not because I'm a psycho with an axe fetish, but because it's literally detached from who I am. My "mental fortitude" is able to overcome the revulsion to the subject, because it's impersonal - someone to whom such things are closer are naturally going to be more sensitive. Some are more sensitive anyway. "Mental fortitude" is a bad word... I should have said "clinical detachment" and compared it to "sensitivity". I hope that helps clarify.

** There is a bit of a contradiction in this. In the Arcana chapter, it's noted as automatically happening. In the monster section, it notes that a phylactery must be created. I take the contradiction to be that the phylactery must be created in order to gain the rejuvination ability... but that's just me.

EDIT: for clarity and better discourse, I hope


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Tacticslion wrote:
Lichdom sucks, as written, and has many more and better alternatives. My note above is exclusively an attempt to engage it as-presented in the spirit it's mentioned as well as to expand the view of what rituals might open up the paths to evil necessary to become a lich.

You can say that again.

I like The Daily Bestiary's examination of the lich while comparing it to worms that walk- lichdom is for those that barely made it to level 11...and then realize 'darn, I'm 70 years old, and I am never going to get to level 20 before I die. I need to look for another way to be eternal'.

It is settling for second best because you don't have the talents for proper immortality. And you are not only willing to compromise on the path to magical power- you are willing to compromise your status as a living being, as well as all of your morals.

Anyway, I was not saying that it was the only way to play a lich, I just thought inhumane experimentation is more thematic than most of the other listed acts of cruelty.

Although if you are using good outsiders...then yeah, a lot of that could probably apply. Angel blood, sweat, and tears, tinged with suffering and eventual corruption... that sounds about right.


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

Tammy's evil, but you would be too if a dwarf killed your puppy.


Problem with becoming a Worm that walk is although What comes alive has your memories but your essence is split into many different worms so you are not you in a sense.
A Lich is idea for those who don't want to be bothered after they become undead. A Vampire require blood to drink and a Grave Knight seeks out battle and bloodshed, but a Lich can spend centuries reading ancient tomes in a hidden cave complex.


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Degoon Squad wrote:

Problem with becoming a Worm that walk is although What comes alive has your memories but your essence is split into many different worms so you are not you in a sense.

A Lich is idea for those who don't want to be bothered after they become undead. A Vampire require blood to drink and a Grave Knight seeks out battle and bloodshed, but a Lich can spend centuries reading ancient tomes in a hidden cave complex.

Yeah, vampires are the cheapest cop out- they look pretty and all, but it is all shallow and filled with weaknesses (sunlight, in a world where it is daylight most of the time; mirrors; holy symbols; DOORS). It is the one that just needs you to be level 5 (otherwise, you just become 'vampire spawn'). No knowledge, little power- just that someone else GAVE you immortality. Dirt cheap..and you get what you pay for.

I wouldn't list worm that walks as much of a method either...but since it is usually accidental... it is better than the alternatives... Worms that walk typically aren't planned, they jsut happen when you are so evil and powerful, you just tell death to bug off and then you start walking around with the various bits of things that ate you. It is for the kind of guy that...really does things that DESERVE getting shanked and left to rot in a field.

They are characterized by...well the simple fact that they lived fast, died young, and that did not stop them at all, so they might as well keep going. Much, much more likely to go with the whole 'end of the world' thing than liches.

Which tends to be the easiet way to get a lich on your side- he would rather not have to move to some other plane (cause a lot of the creatures there are much worse than level 1 commoners) just because of one idiot deciding to blow up the world.


I am pretty sure if you destroy a lich's phylactary, they can make a new one. The main problem is having enough money to make one, they are pretty expensive


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CWheezy wrote:
I am pretty sure if you destroy a lich's phylactary, they can make a new one. The main problem is having enough money to make one, they are pretty expensive

But what about all the money he gets from his chain of restaurants: "All-Bones-Jones' Finger Licking Ribs*"

*ABJFLB, its employees, and its associates do not take any responsibility if the ribs actually lick your fingers.

Anyway...yeah...hard to see a lich with a day job.


why not a paladin Lich? you become evil after the ritual and just fall afterwards if I'm understanding the requirements right... that would also make for decently underpowered liches.


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Tammy doesn't need a day job.


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M1k31 wrote:
why not a paladin Lich? you become evil after the ritual and just fall afterwards if I'm understanding the requirements right... that would also make for decently underpowered liches.

...unless they turn antipaladin, in which case they are even more impossible to kill.


I think graveknights are actually better than lich overall. You get a ton of feats, are just as hard to kill and get a ton of sweet powers and stat boosts


captain yesterday wrote:
Tammy doesn't need a day job.

Now I want to laugh as Tammy takes Profession: Dog walker

Though even more hilarity would ensue if they were hell hounds or some kind of devilish creatures dogs that attack/destroy anything...leaving Tammy no choice but to destroy the level one peasants trying to defend themselves....


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

Well Tammy is a Ranger, but she's Chaotic Evil so I'm pretty sure she'd get darker with it.

James Jacobs might know.

But as I said, Tammy doesn't need a day job.


CWheezy wrote:
I think graveknights are actually better than lich overall. You get a ton of feats, are just as hard to kill and get a ton of sweet powers and stat boosts

Stat wise the Grave Knight is better.. But they come with an addiction to battle and bloodshed. The Lich can plot and lay low when needed and is a better thinking villain.


Tiny Coffee Golem wrote:
Vutava wrote:
Regarding #5: While there may be ways to conceal or prevent physical signs (on one's own body) of being a lich, a lich's very existence will slowly sap the life from the world around them. Sure, the village leader may still look alive, but the villagers would probably start getting suspicious at how fast things rot around her.
Where is this stated?

Technically, this is just Keith Baker's opinion on how liches work on Eberron. Think about it, though. Other undead need to feed on the living to maintain their existence, but liches don't. Where do they get the power to keep functioning? Simple, they suck it out of their environment.


Vutava wrote:
Tiny Coffee Golem wrote:
Vutava wrote:
Regarding #5: While there may be ways to conceal or prevent physical signs (on one's own body) of being a lich, a lich's very existence will slowly sap the life from the world around them. Sure, the village leader may still look alive, but the villagers would probably start getting suspicious at how fast things rot around her.
Where is this stated?
Technically, this is just Keith Baker's opinion on how liches work on Eberron. Think about it, though. Other undead need to feed on the living to maintain their existence, but liches don't. Where do they get the power to keep functioning? Simple, they suck it out of their environment.

Careful with how much logic one applies to a fantasy setting. That's a long windy road.

Anyway, it "makes sense" as much as anything can, however, it's not stated anywhere except for one specific opinion about one specific setting. As such I don't think it really applies here.

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