What class / build makes the best Lich?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


Exactly what it says on the tin.


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

It depends on what your definition of "best" is.

Just take your favorite caster build with the Craft Wondrous Item feat ("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.") and stack the lich template on top of it: arcanist, bard, cleric, inquisitor, magus, medium (i.e., archmage and/or hierophant spirits), mesmerist, occultist, oracle, psychic, shaman, skald, sorcerer, spiritualist, summoner, warpriest, witch, wizard; possibly even antipaladin, bloodrager, druid (depending on archetype, such as blight druid), hunter (depending on archetype, such as divine hunter), or archetypes of other classes that gain spellcasting (child of Acavna and Amaznen fighter, psychic detective investigator, eldritch scoundrel rogue, cabalist/magical child/warlock/zealot vigilante, etc.); with or without multi-classing and/or prestige classes.


Well, if the goal is 'best lich' that means 'best undead that spends all of its time studying the secrets of magic' does it not? Or what else is a Lich?

As such Wizard is the quintessential Lich. No other class focuses so much on studying magic and trying to push the boundries. Some people will argue that Arcanists are just as much researchers as Wizards. They have a fair point. But the archanist seems to focus more on researching methods to use their own spells, not so much on the spells themselves.

Sorcerers and other inherent spell casters don't really seem like the study types. After all, continued study doesn't matter for people that magic just comes to naturally.

Psychics...undead training abilities that they are largely immune to. Undead are famously single-minded and often fall into logical traps where they go around in circles mentally. An entire class that is devoted to training the mind and expanding its awareness...just doesn't fit undeath.

Divine based casters...its about faith isn't it? A few gods should approve of Liches, but the vast majority would be against it. Even the majority of evil deities would be against their most powerful followers becoming undead. If they really cared about a mortal they could do something with their soul after death.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

My best "Oh crud" villain I ever made for Golarion was a Warpriest of Szuriel who embraced Lichdom... not for study, but to be able to eternally wage war.


As Dragonchess Player said it is entirely dependent on your definition of "best". Personally I've thought of creating high level Ranger who entered lichdom reasoning similar to Cole's 'to wage enternal war' against his enemies. Admittedly it also heavily played against the idea of, as Meirril puts it, the quintessential Lich based on a wizard as this Lich would be built to be a melee oriented nightmare.


Normal lich or dread lich? for normal I would probably say sorcerer, for dread however I would say antipaladin with bloodrager multiclass.


Where I come from, 90% of liches are either wizards, arcanists, or sorcerers... and not necessarily specialists in necromancy (or undead heritage, though that helps), they still won't have necromancy as forbidden school.

Religious based liches (clerics, oracles, war priests etc) are a definite rarity, other classes even more so.


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The lich most likely to convince you that they are the best is one with the glibness spell. As such you are most likely looking at a bard, though other possibilities such as a skald, mesmerist or dandy ranger do exist. It's probably a bloodline spell for some variety of sorcerer or bloodrager too.


The wizard who becomes a lich to further study magic is one of the most common reasons to become a lich, but not the only one. Often a spell caster becomes a lich simply because they are afraid of dying.

As an undead a lich uses its CHA for most of its abilities so a CHA based caster will have a big advantage. While sorcerers will do well from this respect I would actually suggest an oracle of bones as a lich. The extra HP from a higher CHA and the boost to AC from using armor and shield will make a much tougher fight. From an offensive stand point the DC on all the lich’s special abilities will also be higher.


^Not to mention you can also use Constitution as a dump stat


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I like my Liches unsettling but with the possibility of character development, (e.g., loneliness/comedy). How about a Witch [Patron:Enchantment or Trickery] (Seducer/Hex Channeler) w/Impundulu Improved Familiar?

Breakdown of gains:
Patron
* Enchantment -> allure/domination Spells.
* Trickery -> misdirection Spells + Time Stop.

Improved Familiar:Impundulu (Agility or Transformation)
* Agility -> speedy/freedom/Polymorph Spells.
* Transformation -> more powerful Polymorph Spells.
N.B.: Normally death would result in the Impundulu eating the Witch's soul - however, in the Lich's case, they can hide their Phylactery from them ...

(Archetype) Seducer
* Uses Cha instead of Int.
* If they maintain/restore their looks or are disguised by a Polymorph Spell, the Lich is great at seducing its enemies, to the point of 1/day Staggering/Stunning them. Otherwise they can use their improved Charm Hex to manipulate foes/get them to come closer for a traditional Lich Touch Attack.
* 1/day it can double its H.P. regained from resting for 8 hours - in leisure, no less. This also benefits others.

(Archetype) Hex Channeler
* Can Channel (Negative) Energy 3+CHA/day, starting at 1d6 and increasing by sacrificing Hex progression.

Breakdown of Archetype Stacking:
Seducer
* Int > Cha -> Alters Spellcasting, Hex+ Features; etc.
* Alters Hex 1.
* Replace Hex 6.
* Replaces Hex 8.

Hex Channeler
* Replaces Hex 2.


This would be quite non-traditional since instead of Undead lackies, it turns its enemies into Charmed "friends" and Dominated "helpers" for a wider variety of abilities at its disposal, whilst buffing its physical abilities via its Improved Familiar. The living are also more likely to be able to provide the Lich with what it craves most - knowledge.

EDIT : If you want to add in Undead you can always take the Command Undead Feat to control those you come across, or put that Craft Wondrous Item Feat to good use for a Death's Head Talisman. Being a minimum of C.L. 11 (to be a Lich) also means they can take the Craft Staff Feat to make a custom Necromancy Staff over its aeons of Unlife.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Bard. Look how well it is working for Keith Richards.


Mysterious Stranger wrote:
Often a spell caster becomes a lich simply because they are afraid of dying.

Or ‘cuz they love living.


Oracles with the Lore mystery can pick the Sidestep Secret revelation to add their Charisma to their AC and their Reflex Saves instead of Dexterity. In addition, they can pick Noble Scion as their first feat and choose the War option to add Charisma to Initiative instead of Dexterity. So that effectively allows you to dump Dex as well as Con.


Becoming a lich means giving up two caster levels. Any lich will be a full spell level behind a living NPC of the same CR. For this reason, the strongest liches are of classes that don't rely overmuch on spells, counteractive as it is. I'd say that the best lich is probably an antipaladin.


Asmodeus' Advocate wrote:
Becoming a lich means giving up two caster levels. Any lich will be a full spell level behind a living NPC of the same CR. For this reason, the strongest liches are of classes that don't rely overmuch on spells, counteractive as it is. I'd say that the best lich is probably an antipaladin.

Becoming a lich costs no levels it costs 110k gold.


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My group fought a Bloodrager lich once. It was fun. You don't really expect a lich to heft a sword and wade into melee, so we were very unprepared for that. Paralyzing touch can be murder in close combat.


I remember making a noble scion vampire ora(anti)din. Fun times.


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doomman47 wrote:
Asmodeus' Advocate wrote:
Becoming a lich means giving up two caster levels. Any lich will be a full spell level behind a living NPC of the same CR. For this reason, the strongest liches are of classes that don't rely overmuch on spells, counteractive as it is. I'd say that the best lich is probably an antipaladin.
Becoming a lich costs no levels it costs 110k gold.

I think he meant in terms of the CR boost to be an appropriate challenge for PCs

The core bestiary example is CR 12, but only has 11 levels of Wizard. This means a standard level 12 party will not only have stronger spellcasting, but also just have action economy on their side. Liches are normally several levels higher to be a challenge, but it still is somewhat of a deficit.

A fighter class on the other hand doesn't need to worry about caster level and sheerly about mechanical damage output. Add in some henchmen and even better.


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Asmodeus' Advocate wrote:
Becoming a lich means giving up two caster levels. Any lich will be a full spell level behind a living NPC of the same CR. For this reason, the strongest liches are of classes that don't rely overmuch on spells, counteractive as it is. I'd say that the best lich is probably an antipaladin.

*counterintuitive

And MageHunter has the right of it. ‘Course, vampire or deathknight would be a straight up stronger +2 CR archetype, and aether elementals are straight up more challenging than air elementals. DMs don’t really need to ask themselves questions what class makes the best lich, or even whether a lich would be stronger than a human, they should rather be asking what class and archetype combination makes the most sense for the world.


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Dragonchess Player wrote:
archetypes of other classes that gain spellcasting (child of Acavna and Amaznen fighter, psychic detective investigator, eldritch scoundrel rogue, cabalist/magical child/warlock/zealot vigilante, etc.); with or without multi-classing and/or prestige classes.

I love the idea of a vigilante lich with guise of life. The kindly tavern owner who is always there to hear your troubles and pour you a cold one is secretly plotting your demise in horrible ways...


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Asmodeus' Advocate wrote:
Becoming a lich means giving up two caster levels. Any lich will be a full spell level behind a living NPC of the same CR. For this reason, the strongest liches are of classes that don't rely overmuch on spells, counteractive as it is. I'd say that the best lich is probably an antipaladin.

A Lich shouldn't be an equal encounter. Generally speaking they should be a CR +4 encounter for most groups because a Lich should be a boss monster, not some scrub encounter the party is suppose to walk on like any other CR +0 encounter.

Lore wise it isn't possible to mass produce Liches because a process needs to be researched for each individual. What works for one person almost certainly won't work for anybody else. Most people that try to use someone else's method without careful experimentation and research die horrible deaths. Yes having access to a Liche's notes is very helpful but you need to understand the thought process behind what they did, not just blindly copy their actions.


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Meirril wrote:
Asmodeus' Advocate wrote:
Becoming a lich means giving up two caster levels. Any lich will be a full spell level behind a living NPC of the same CR. For this reason, the strongest liches are of classes that don't rely overmuch on spells, counteractive as it is. I'd say that the best lich is probably an antipaladin.

A Lich shouldn't be an equal encounter. Generally speaking they should be a CR +4 encounter for most groups because a Lich should be a boss monster, not some scrub encounter the party is suppose to walk on like any other CR +0 encounter.

Lore wise it isn't possible to mass produce Liches because a process needs to be researched for each individual. What works for one person almost certainly won't work for anybody else. Most people that try to use someone else's method without careful experimentation and research die horrible deaths. Yes having access to a Liche's notes is very helpful but you need to understand the thought process behind what they did, not just blindly copy their actions.

IDK I like the idea of the pcs needing to go threw a bunch of equal or slightly lower cr liches to get to an even bigger bad guy who is an unspeakable horror.


Meirril wrote:
Asmodeus' Advocate wrote:
Becoming a lich means giving up two caster levels. Any lich will be a full spell level behind a living NPC of the same CR. For this reason, the strongest liches are of classes that don't rely overmuch on spells, counteractive as it is. I'd say that the best lich is probably an antipaladin.
A Lich shouldn't be an equal encounter. Generally speaking they should be a CR +4 encounter for most groups because a Lich should be a boss monster, not some scrub encounter the party is suppose to walk on like any other CR +0 encounter.

I'll disagree fairly strenuously, on two counts.

Count the first; CR +4 battles have (in theory) a fifty percent chance of success on the part of the party. They shouldn't be thrown about like candy.

Additionally, a single boss monster of CR +4 does not a cinematic battle make. Either the BBEG gets overwhelmed by the party's superior numbers, or they take the party apart by merit of their untouchable AC and unblockable attacks. When that boss monster is a caster? A CR +4 caster is five levels higher than the party, even if you weaken them by taking the lich template they still have three levels on the party. A CR +4 caster is liable to decimate a party with magic attacks that the PCs don't have adequate defenses against, have no way to counter.

And the second count. CR is borked. It really isn't indicative of how challenging a fight will or won't be. If, as a GM, you just rely on CR to tell you what your party can or can't combat, you'll quickly wind up with a party of dead characters or a party that is never challenged by any opponent. When you're building NPCs with PC classes and blasély assigning them CR = level minus one, there's a not small chance that you'll wind up with the former.


I mean... Xykon exists and he literally redefined what my internal thought of what a lich was. So there's some points towards sorcerer.

(Also, it doesn't have to stash spellbooks near it's phylactery. It's a sorc, it just spells).


Highly recommend Worm That Walks Bloodrager as a lich-variant.

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