What are some unusual lich phylactery ideas?


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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Sanityfaerie wrote:

You seem to be insisting the liches must do evil things, or want to do evil things. Why? I mean, for me, even if I had the ability to teleport around the world ganking random villagers, and no particular moral objection to it, that wouldn't make it worth doing. So, lets say that becoming a lich turns you into a psychopath - someone with no moral restraints. Okay. Sure. Current estimates are that between 4% and 12% of current-day CEOs are also psychopaths, and (so far as we can tell) they aren't generally kidnapping and murdering innocent villagers.

The point about being a psychopath is that you're utterly indifferent to whether or not your behavior is "evil". So a lich that wanted to live a nice, long unlife might decide to take projects that were less likely to require antisocial behavior. They might set up their lairs with obvious posted warnings, so that when trespassers do fall into the pits of horrible agonizing deaths they can point to said warnings and say that it wasn't their fault. Often, adjusting things to that you're not so virulently antisocial is actually easier than being just as virulently antisocial but hiding it better.

Indeed, a lich would probably be *better* at this than your standard run-of-the-mill psychopath because they'd have lost many of their glands along with their morality. Many of the emotional drives that might cause them to be pointlessly destructive would be diminished or removed.

Now all of this is predicated on the lich in question having some respect of the ability of local mortal society to end their existence... but a lich that actually respects the usefulness and danger associated with the local populace can actually go as far as a reasonable facsimile of enlightened self-interest most of the time. They're still entirely willing to be an utter monster if the situation calls for it, but that doesn't mean that they arrange their unlives so that the situation calls for it with any frequency. Among other things, having the backing of the locals can come in handy if and when some other lich shows up hungering for the lore in your spellbook... just like the local villagers might appreciate that the local alpha predator monster is one who mostly keeps to themselves and has reason to value their relationship with the town rare books seller.

It's entirely plausible to imagine a lich who has no desire for redemption and yet still is someone you don't want destroyed because (while they are quite evil by the alignment scale) they do not generally have cause to be all that horrible at any given time.

I'm insisting that the process of becoming a lich fundamentally changes a person, in ways that force them to become evil. They have no compunction against doing evil things. They do not seek to protect people (in general) and will absolutely harm them if it beneficial to do so.

My example of taking villagers presumes there is a good reason to do so, not just "for s~@+s and giggles". But something like "the lich needs the 1pt of blood from 100 innocent people to complete this magical ritual they're working on". Stuff that isn't in the game rules but is part of the set dressing.

I believe liches, are by the very nature being composed and forced to evil. And barring something significant, they're not suddenly going to decide to stop being evil. At best you get cold calculated evil that doesn't break any obvious rules and flies under the radar, but is still very evil.

However, your previous post had seemed to imply that liches might be non-evil entities that come through the process and think "yeah I did some evil s~%~ to get here but I'm not going to do that anymore". And that is what I disagree with.

I am okay with liches being smart and taking the long view and rationing their evil to limit the attention of outsiders.

Smart liches are going to create their own private demiplane which they leave only to secure the materials they need to continue their magical research and expand their demiplane (which may require leaving to make the money to get the materials). But not being in a place where outsiders can get to is an easy step smart wizards take to avoid being killed by anyone that doesn't like. Whether they are evil or not.


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I don't think it's quite as cut and dry as liches automatically becoming evil. I'll agree that ripping your own soul out and hiding it away in a box can't be good for your moral outlook, at all, and I wouldn't be surprised if the various blasphemous acts a lich has to perform in order to cast the necessary ritual warp their outlook to the point that it would be nearly impossible to convince them of any other way of doing things, but the Bestiary does have this to say about liches.

Bestiary p. 220 wrote:
After its metamorphosis, a lich often finds some quiet place to dwell, typically protected by a variety of guardians and traps, for two primary purposes. First, a lich requires solitude in order to plan its elaborate schemes, and second, few mortals (if any) deign to interact with these legendarily corrupt necromancers. One reason begets the other, as the self-imposed isolation of a lich often drives the lich insane, further solidifying its separation from civilization. The longer a lich lives, the more meticulous a planner it becomes, secreting itself within a labyrinth of deadly puzzles, misdirection, and monsters. A lich's servants and guardians are absolutely loyal, either due to their nature (such as constructs or other undead) or as a result of compulsion using powerful magic. Many liches go mad, in time, and the nature of a lich's lair is a good indicator of the undead's current mental state.

Emphasis mine. The text suggests that it's about as likely that liches become increasingly evil due to social isolation, and having to bear up under the weight of years, than because of any kind of innate evil on their part.


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Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

A lich with the amnesia background might be fun to play.

Be a good guy (à la Steve Lichman), who slowly learns about their despicable past and has to come to terms with it and ultimately make a decision on which way they want their future to go.


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One of my personal favorite takes on how to handle a liches being generally evil is the inability to care about new people after death. Their loved one that they did this all for, or their close friends from life? Still just as important. But no matter how long they have, they can't form new attachments like that. Other people only matter as relates to how their treatment affects those meaningful carryovers. And as these friends die off, or are brought over to undeath, the lich is eased into having no regard for anyone, and nobody worth justifying their actions to.

It doesn't mean they're always evil, but it makes active good a rare and usually short-lived thing.


How about just a plain-old shoebox? Yes, it would be a lot more fragile than normal (unless magic makes the soul cages tougher), but who would guess a SHOEBOX is a soul cage, especially if it wasn't in his lair but was just in a random store or something? The only way you could tell is if you cast detect magic and found there was a ton of necromancy radiating from it, but they'd have to have a reason to suspect it was magical in the first place.


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One of the first things we have to consider is whether all liches are competent.

The ritual requires a lot of expertise and preparation. At the same time, it is also the hot shot option in the Whispering Way community. So there are going to be people that will run into this when they are really, really not ready for it.

They will mess up, but maybe not bad enough that it 'fails'.

So here is my idea- an oven. They accidentally misfocused the spell and there was a decimal point wrong on the altitude settings, so everything went into the upstairs kitchen instead.

Now, every time they reform, they have to crawl out of the oven. And it is SUPER embarrassing.


SuperBidi wrote:

If I was a Lich, I'd never used the mundane item way of hiding my soul cage, it's far too dangerous and out of control. And the remote place, buried underground seems also a weak protection. There are natural disasters (and in Golarion they are common), and I'll also be exposed to diviners (after all, someone can beat my abjurations without being able to beat me in combat). Also, if a bunch of adventurers manage to destroy my body, they can just cast Locate on me and Interplanetary Teleport and they get to my soul cage. So it doesn't seem like a good protection.

I'll personally use the Ultimate Dungeon of Death strategy. A dungeon I check regularly, that I improve over time, that I expand, who gets deadliest and deadliest centuries after centuries. A place where I can grow a new body without worrying about someone getting to my soul cage.

As for my soul cage, I'll certainly take something with a strong meaning to my living me. My baby doll, the lock of hair of my long dead lover, a wonderful piece of art, the skull of my nemesis, etc... My soul cage can't be soulless, literally.

You're doing it wrong.

You build the Ultimate Dungeon of Death indeed. And then you take the "insert name here" and go to the little village in the side and hide it in your unassuming cupboard right next to the sugar and salt.

Bonus points if you are also the shopkeeper that informs the adventurers about all the wondrous treasures to be found in the "creepy dungeon nearby".


shroudb wrote:

You're doing it wrong.

You build the Ultimate Dungeon of Death indeed. And then you take the "insert name here" and go to the little village in the side and hide it in your unassuming cupboard right next to the sugar and salt.

Bonus points if you are also the shopkeeper that informs the adventurers about all the wondrous treasures to be found in the "creepy dungeon nearby".

Problem with this method is that the soul cage emit a big magical evil/necromantic aura, anyone that can see or sense magic in any way will feel that there's *something wrong* in the cupboard. And on top of that, people could simply use divination to detect where exactly it is. And finally, Even if you manage to hide the magical aura, and protect the cage from being detected by divination, the evil/necromantic magic it emit will slowly corrupt it's surrounding, indicating to people that there's something not right here.

Best solution to me is to stach it away in some demiplane of your creation, and make it so that people can't go into the it from other plane, you can leave it but not enter it. That way, whenever you die, you're recreated inside the plane and can leave as you want, but no one can enter. The only problem would be that even you can't enter the plane without being destroyed first, which mean that if by some b*~+&+*@ way people manage to access it, you won't be able to return to it to defend the cage (or just to grab it and run).


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shroudb wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:

If I was a Lich, I'd never used the mundane item way of hiding my soul cage, it's far too dangerous and out of control. And the remote place, buried underground seems also a weak protection. There are natural disasters (and in Golarion they are common), and I'll also be exposed to diviners (after all, someone can beat my abjurations without being able to beat me in combat). Also, if a bunch of adventurers manage to destroy my body, they can just cast Locate on me and Interplanetary Teleport and they get to my soul cage. So it doesn't seem like a good protection.

I'll personally use the Ultimate Dungeon of Death strategy. A dungeon I check regularly, that I improve over time, that I expand, who gets deadliest and deadliest centuries after centuries. A place where I can grow a new body without worrying about someone getting to my soul cage.

As for my soul cage, I'll certainly take something with a strong meaning to my living me. My baby doll, the lock of hair of my long dead lover, a wonderful piece of art, the skull of my nemesis, etc... My soul cage can't be soulless, literally.

You're doing it wrong.

You build the Ultimate Dungeon of Death indeed. And then you take the "insert name here" and go to the little village in the side and hide it in your unassuming cupboard right next to the sugar and salt.

Bonus points if you are also the shopkeeper that informs the adventurers about all the wondrous treasures to be found in the "creepy dungeon nearby".

When a bunch of adventurer kills a lich, the first thing they do is casting Locate on the lich themselves. They should soon learn that they are far from their Ultimate Dungeon of Death and then destroy the soul cage before the lich fully get back.

You can't "hide" the Soul Cage because you gonna get there every time you die and you can't hide yourself as you will lose all your equipment in the process. So, at that moment, you want the soul cage environment to hold adventurers for the ten days it'll take you to get back. And the only way to do so is through some form of Ultimate Dungeon of Death or Demiplane of Doom.


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Sanityfaerie wrote:
Even better if the lich is only mildly evil. Keeping its phylactery protected is effectively a form of paying rent - making sure that it's always far enough down on the priority list of the "crusading goodguys" as a whole.

Your idea doesn't work, because it supposes that the Lich is mildly evil in the first place.

First, you need to get to lichdom and to do that you need to be massively evil: congratulations, you are at the top of every adventurer's shopping list.
As you are a young (and weak) Lich you'll need to protect yourself as fast as possible. And what is "quicker, easier and more seductive"? The darkside, according to Yoda. So you'll continue to do evil things out of self preservation. As such, you'll never end up in a situation where you can calm down and just be mildly evil because you are always doing a lot of awfully evil things just to get to your goals, including protecting yourself.

Maybe once you get to level 20 you can start to breathe and stop doing all those evil things out of self preservation, but that's also the moment where you can make truly evil things that you've always dreamed of...


Well if we assume that the ritual is similar to the Eternal Apotheosis ritual (1 primary caster and 1+ secondary casters that take damage) then it is perfectly possible for there to be a good lich. The reason? You aren't really doing anything "evil" if you are an 18th level character with the help of a fellow 20th level character that is willing to share your pain (preferably one that can cast atone on you after the ritual).

However, following that same ritual most liches to be would find it earlier. At which point they would see it is much easier to just sacrifice people than to wait 8 levels and somehow convince someone to take damage for the ritual. There is still the whole "ripping your soul out", incredible loneliness from years without meaningful interactions (it really doesn't take long for solitude induced insanity), harsh dislike against the existence of liches due to the many truly evil liches from before, etc. A lich being evil is almost a self fulfilling prophecy between, "liches are evil so this one must be evil" and "they only see me as a monster so I will trully become one".

So best case you have very high level caster getting a very high level friend both taking the time to carry out a very specific version of the ritual that just so happens to require the least amount of evil actions. Only to be treated the same as any other lich.


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SuperBidi wrote:
Sanityfaerie wrote:
Even better if the lich is only mildly evil. Keeping its phylactery protected is effectively a form of paying rent - making sure that it's always far enough down on the priority list of the "crusading goodguys" as a whole.

Your idea doesn't work, because it supposes that the Lich is mildly evil in the first place.

First, you need to get to lichdom and to do that you need to be massively evil: congratulations, you are at the top of every adventurer's shopping list.
As you are a young (and weak) Lich you'll need to protect yourself as fast as possible. And what is "quicker, easier and more seductive"? The darkside, according to Yoda. So you'll continue to do evil things out of self preservation. As such, you'll never end up in a situation where you can calm down and just be mildly evil because you are always doing a lot of awfully evil things just to get to your goals, including protecting yourself.

Maybe once you get to level 20 you can start to breathe and stop doing all those evil things out of self preservation, but that's also the moment where you can make truly evil things that you've always dreamed of...

I'll note here that you're referencing Yoda, talking about the Dark Side of the Force, as an authority on the subject of... useful survival tactics in Golarion? That seems more like "I want my liches to be evil in practice, and here's my thin rationalization for why that Must Be" than anything else. Like, sure, if you want liches in your games to be scenery-chewing mustache-twirling EVIL, complete with kitten-blenders, then you can do that, but that doesn't mean that it's necessarily that way.

Moreover, it's not like you have to become a lich at any particular time. Becoming a lich is something that takes a great deal of preparation anyway. If you're left without a plan and scrambling in response to your own ascenscion, that's on you. As long as you aren't desperately old to begin with, you can afford to set up a viable set of protections first, and *then* become a lich. If turning into a lich is going to leave you too weak to easily survive the backlash for the thigns you had to do to get there, then maybe you need to spend some more time building up resources and personal power before you make the leap. Strengthen your foundations first. The practice in patience and deliberation wills erve you well in the long term.

Here's the thing. There's an important distinction between "willingness to do evil (if it is the best way to achieve my goals)" and "inclination to do evil (more or less for its own sake)". Becoming a lich requires quite a lot of the former, but not any of the latter. By my read, having become a lich causes you to get even more of the former (from desensitization, if nothing else) while still not really adding on any of the latter.

I guess I prefer my lich to be psychological horror, rather than simple easily stabbed villainy. Like, the lich is utterly amoral, and has to have done horrific things in the past. certain deities (Hi, Pharasma!) will want you to destroy them on principle... but that doesn't mean that that achieves the best outcome for the most people. Even if they occasionally do horrible things ("Another kitten into the blender!") as long as those horrible things are within limits ("...but I only ever experiment on unwanted puppies and enemies of the state.") you can still find yourself in a situation where the correct answer is to work with them rather than trying to destroy them... and not because they're blackmailing you or anything, but because destroying them would actually be bad for whichever group of people it is that you actually care about.

Liberty's Edge

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"You devised a unique and incredibly evil ritual to tear your soul from your body."

To become a Lich, you have to become Evil.

Now, any Evil character can have a change of heart and strive to become Neutral, or even Good, even a Fiend and even a Lich. But a new Lich starts incredibly Evil. Not mildly.

And no, doing things for self-interest or self-preservation is definitely not doing Good.

Liberty's Edge

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Now, there is incredibly Evil and Even worse Evil. The difference in the Paladin's eye is that you wait after destroying the latter before turning on the former.


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I believe they have gone out of their way to not specify what the Lich ritual actually entails, but insist that it contains basically the most awful stuff you could possibly imagine. All the "well, what if someone discovered the sugar free diet Lich ritual" lines of thinking sort of go counter to what the whole idea is supposed to be.


As far as I can tell the only known guaranteed things about the ritual to becoming a lich is that: It is expensive, difficult, no two rituals are the same, and it takes a lot of time to research the right ritual for each person. The process is an adventure onto itself.

Nowhere that I know of says the process makes you evil outside the fact that 95% of undead are evil in Pathfinder. The last 5% being made up of exceptions and and edge cases.

Liberty's Edge

Temperans wrote:

As far as I can tell the only known guaranteed things about the ritual to becoming a lich is that: It is expensive, difficult, no two rituals are the same, and it takes a lot of time to research the right ritual for each person. The process is an adventure onto itself.

Nowhere that I know of says the process makes you evil outside the fact that 95% of undead are evil in Pathfinder. The last 5% being made up of exceptions and and edge cases.

"You devised a unique and incredibly evil ritual to tear your soul from your body."

That is from the Lich archetype. For PCs.

I doubt they make it easier on NPCs.


The Raven Black wrote:


"You devised a unique and incredibly evil ritual to tear your soul from your body."

You're conflating the ritual with the person. Nothing in the archetype requires you to be evil nor does it turn you evil. If Evil was required, that would be in the Prerequisites and if it turned you evil, that would be listed with the other things you gained like the undead trait and the basic undead benefits.

Note the difference between this and the lich monster [Bestiary pg. 220]: "A lich gains the undead trait and becomes evil. The archetype lacks this.

Liberty's Edge

graystone wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:


"You devised a unique and incredibly evil ritual to tear your soul from your body."

You're conflating the ritual with the person. Nothing in the archetype requires you to be evil nor does it turn you evil. If Evil was required, that would be in the Prerequisites and if it turned you evil, that would be listed with the other things you gained like the undead trait and the basic undead benefits.

Note the difference between this and the lich monster [Bestiary pg. 220]: "A lich gains the undead trait and becomes evil. The archetype lacks this.

Because you can play a redeemed Lich.

I see no way for any person to enact an incredibly evil ritual without becoming very very Evil themselves.

Maybe a Helm of opposite alignment could do the trick I guess.


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The Raven Black wrote:
Because you can play a redeemed Lich.

Per the archetype, you could be one right after the ritual: it DOES NOT turn you evil.

EDIT: I also want to point out that a character can take this archetype at advancement: this means that there doesn't have to be any appreciable time between pre-lich and post lich. In the same time your fellow rogue takes to become a Assassin or Acrobat.

The Raven Black wrote:
I see no way for any person to enact an incredibly evil ritual without becoming very very Evil themselves.

That's your prerogative. There is no set number or severity of deeds that is required to alter your alignment so it's all judgment calls. Myself, I can see someone that's solidly neutral doing one "incredibly evil" thing and staying neutral much in the same with I wouldn't expect a single incredibly good act to turn them good. To me you need a pattern of acts to change instead of any one act: but again, it's all a judgment call as there aren't alignment rules as such.


There are very few things that make a creature outright evil and nothing about the only known ritual (the ritual of Eternal Apotheosis) says you are always turned evil. It does show that an evil caster has a much easier time carrying out that specific ritual.

It stands to reason that there might be a lich with an easier/harder rituals with less/more sacrifices needed.


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The Raven Black wrote:

"You devised a unique and incredibly evil ritual to tear your soul from your body."

To become a Lich, you have to become Evil.

Now, any Evil character can have a change of heart and strive to become Neutral, or even Good, even a Fiend and even a Lich. But a new Lich starts incredibly Evil. Not mildly.

And no, doing things for self-interest or self-preservation is definitely not doing Good.

Is this one arguing with me? I'm not entirely sure at this point. If it is, then I'd assert that it's a really weird two-way version of the "alignment as straightjacket" issue.

Becoming a lich involves performing incredibly evil acts. Granted. Which incredibly evil acts? Honestly, I don't much care. Go ahead and pick your horrible act of choice. I'll go with "Doing deeply inhumane and only eventually lethal things to a moderate-sized group (20-ish?) of people who did nothing to deserve this." I figure that if that doesn't qualify for "incredibly evil" then either you're not being inhumane enough or you're not drawing it out enough or both.

Now, doing something like this at all clearly requires a certain willingness to Do Horrible Things when you feel like the situation calls for it... and the process isn't going to make you any less willing. Alignment's a bit fuzzy in places, but there's a solid argument to be made that even having that willingness would cause you to register as evil to the appropriate spells, and to take Good damage if the appropriate spells were cast on you. Certainly actually going through with it would cause that to be the case. So now you have a lich, who's willing to do very, very evil things if they feel like the situation calls for it, essentially without limit, and who has done very evil things, and who registers to magical alignment tests as evil (and probably always will). He's not particularly likely to become less willing to commit atrocities.

...but that evil is a reflection of the aforementioned willingness ("willingness" is not the same as "drive") and of specific past acts. There is nothing in there that forces the lich to perform evil acts in the future, if they don't see those acts as being in their own best interests. They'll probably perform some, if only because as they go through their possibly-eternal lifespan they're likely to run into at least a few cases where "do evil things" has enough of a payoff to be worth it, but if they cherish their reputation, it might be on the rare side.

Further, if they *must* do evil? If for some reason undead wizards can only advance through atrocity, while those still living do fine without? There's plenty of things they can do that leverage their willingness to perform horrific evil without poisoning the well as far as interactions with the locals go. If the lich in question has some ritual that they need 50 pairs of elf legs for, then they could go hunt elves for a while... or they could convince the local magistrate to hand over some elf who was convicted (perhaps wrongly) of a capital crime and hook them up with some manacles and a ring of regeneration. If he truly must bathe his ritual athame in the life's blood of twelve children, then slaughtering his way through a smallish orc tribe that has been in a state of low-key war with the locals for a few years will do the trick just fine, and is likely to improve his standing, rather than making it worse.

I'm not saying that they wouldn't be evil... but someone who's doing pragmatic evil right can actually be reasonably easy to get along with, and can often be a better neighbor than someone who is not, strictly speaking, "evil" at all. It's possible to cultivate relationships with people who appreciate you, like you, and even have loyalty to you for legitimate, reasonable reasons, with no mind control or deception required. Admittedly, they're not publicizing what goes on in the secret labs, but....


Scarablob wrote:
Problem with this method is that the soul cage emit a big magical evil/necromantic aura, anyone that can see or sense magic in any way will feel that there's *something wrong* in the cupboard. And on top of that, people could simply use divination to detect where exactly it is. And finally, Even if you manage to hide the magical aura, and protect the cage from being detected by divination, the evil/necromantic magic it emit will slowly corrupt it's surrounding, indicating to people that there's something not right here.

By RAW, soul cages emit neither an evil aura, nor have any kind of corrupting magic that harms their surroundings. That's more a ravener's thing than a lich's. They have an aura of necromancy true, but so do lots of things. Necromancy is also used for healing items now so it's not too uncommon for someone to have necromantic magical items.

Also, don't forget that PCs have access to Enshroud Soul Cage, which lets you remove the detectable aura from your soul cage entirely. (Granted, there is a weird little wrinkle with how Magic Aura works, not hiding 9th-level spells or 19th-level or higher items, but I assume Enshroud Soul Cage is meant to work regardless.)


So... Horrible Dungeon of Doom? Check. We can totally see why you would want a Horrible Dungeon of Doom. Yeah, you could hide your phylactery in an extradimensional space, but why not just put the entire dungeon in that space instead?

The trick is where in that dungeon you put the phylactery.

You don't want it in the beginning. too easy to get to. you don't want it in the very end. Too easy to find. You want it in the second or third to last room, mortared into the walls as a brick that looks just like every other brick in the dungeon

Liberty's Edge

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Why would they describe the ritual as "incredibly evil" if that has no impact ?


I imagine creating your soul cage to be something like philosopher stone creation in Full Metal Alchemist: akin to a war crime. If not that, the sheer hubris of tampering with creation (the soul) could just be evil unto itself.


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The Raven Black wrote:
Why would they describe the ritual as "incredibly evil" if that has no impact ?

It would be helpful if you'd quote the person you're responding to and/or asking questions of.

I mean, if you're asking the room at large without context, then my answer would be that it provides all sorts of rich RP/background hooks to work with, and offers a lot of flavor. Like, it may or may not be enough to make you full-evil by the time you're done, but you're certainly not Good anymore, and if you started out Good you'd have some explaining to do to cover why you thought this was worth doing. If it's possible to make the ritual morality-neutral, then it would be quite possible to have people come out the other end still Good.

That's not really how I'd play my liches, but that's my best answer to your question, taken on the face of it without context.


The Raven Black wrote:
Why would they describe the ritual as "incredibly evil" if that has no impact ?

Let me throw back a question to answer: why would the archetype both not require an evil alignment and not list turn evil in the effects? An archetype is something that you can take from one level to the next so 'you can seek to redeem yourself' doesn't really mean anything as a reason when it can be an afternoon to take it along with the rogue leveling up their rogue... The bottom line is that "incredibly evil" is flavor as there isn't a mechanical impact on character alignment given for the archetype or the ritual. Again, if you feel it should, you are more than welcome to add it but the default doesn't include it and at no point does it require an evil alignment.

Sanityfaerie wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
Why would they describe the ritual as "incredibly evil" if that has no impact ?
It would be helpful if you'd quote the person you're responding to and/or asking questions of.

Agreed. It's a pet peeve of mine where someone just throws out a post and you have no idea who it's to or even what it refers to sometimes.

Liberty's Edge

I did not feel like posting the very same post while quoting each and every poster who feel incredibly evil ritual does not make the lich even one bit Evil.

Paizo had no need to write this down unless they wanted it to actually mean something.


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The Raven Black wrote:
I did not feel like posting the very same post while quoting each and every poster who feel incredibly evil ritual does not make the lich even one bit Evil.

You could at least refer to those people [to those that think it isn't evil for instance] and make 1 quote. At least we know it's in general as opposed to someone specific but unmentioned.

The Raven Black wrote:
Paizo had no need to write this down unless they wanted it to actually mean something.

They don't write ANYTHING down unless it has impact? They have NEVER been known to use flowery speech or write flavor text that didn't impact the rules? And even if they meant it to mean something, it has to be backed by ACTUAL rules. You seem to be arguing what it should read and I'm arguing what it actually says. We can debate all day over what it should be but it seems quite clear to me what's actually printed on the page and that is that it makes no mention of an alignment change an ANY stage of taking the archetype.

My stance is clear: nowhere in the archetype does it require an alignment change. Unless you can find someplace where it does, I can't see how you could change my mind on this. Remember that the lich monsters does just that "A lich gains the undead trait and becomes evil" so if they have wanted it to turn you evil all they had to do is say so but they didn't.

Liberty's Edge

If that was the purpose, I really wish they would not have described the PC's ritual as incredibly evil.


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The Raven Black wrote:
If that was the purpose, I really wish they would not have described the PC's ritual as incredibly evil.

The alignment rules are VERY light. The entirety of "Changing Alignment" is in

Core Rulebook pg. 29: "Alignment can change during play as a character’s beliefs change, or as you realize that your character’s actions reflect a different alignment than the one on your character sheet. In most cases, you can just change their alignment and continue playing. However, if you play a cleric or champion and your character’s alignment changes to one not allowed for their deity (or cause, for champions), your character loses some of their class abilities until they atone (as described in the class)."

This means that it's up to the person in question if they changed alignment. So saying the ritual as incredibly evil has meaning as one person might think that it alone is enough for an alignment change, while another might think it and other actions does, while another may think that they can keep their original alignment without change.

Without this, you end up with lame rules like PF1 where handful of infernal healings changes your alignment. Do you want a shreadsheet over your actions to figure out alignment changes? Like how many Sacred Ki [good] your neutral monk does before the DM forces them to change to NG?


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As a reminder, the alignment-shifting rules used to be more robust. They scaled them back when it was pointed out that some spells had uncomfortable interactions like Graystone just mentioned. The one that comes to my mind is the Hellfire Plume focus spell for sorcerers that would cause your alignment to shift because your class feature had you dealing evil damage which wouldn't usually matter anyway because most creatures people fight are evil, and therefore wouldn't take damage from it.
Not to mention there is still a fairly vocal portion of the playerbase who don't like that classes like champions and clerics have to be tied to their alignment.

So yeah, my guess is that an evil requirement wasn't added because the designers didn't want people to feel straightjacketed in terms of character concept. Besides, PCs are intended to be special exceptions to the norm, so if there was going to be a non-evil lich, or even a good one somehow, it'd probably be a PC. They left the note about the ritual being incredibly evil in though because, well, it is. Whether the character is currently evil or not, they've gotta do some deep, dark stuff to get to that point, and the text wants to make sure people understand that.


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What about a magically concealed brick in a mausoleum where a powerful evil magic item is guarded. That way adventurers kill the lich, "locate" the dungeon in which the soul cage is hidden, destroy the evil magic item, loot and leave.


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Ignis Fatuus wrote:
What about a magically concealed brick in a mausoleum where a powerful evil magic item is guarded. That way adventurers kill the lich, "locate" the dungeon in which the soul cage is hidden, destroy the evil magic item, loot and leave.

I had a similar idea, but a keystone that holds up the entire dungeon and it's destruction will drop tons of rock on your head.

Liberty's Edge

graystone wrote:
Ignis Fatuus wrote:
What about a magically concealed brick in a mausoleum where a powerful evil magic item is guarded. That way adventurers kill the lich, "locate" the dungeon in which the soul cage is hidden, destroy the evil magic item, loot and leave.
I had a similar idea, but a keystone that holds up the entire dungeon and it's destruction will drop tons of rock on your head.

Suicide mission to get rid for good of the hated Lich and end up in Heaven ? My Paladin would sign up in a heartbeat.


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The Raven Black wrote:

I did not feel like posting the very same post while quoting each and every poster who feel incredibly evil ritual does not make the lich even one bit Evil.

Paizo had no need to write this down unless they wanted it to actually mean something.

The problem (for me, anyway) is that I literally can't tell if you're arguing with me personally or not. My position has generally been "Liches might be alignment-evil, but that doesn't mean they're necessarily doing evil things currently, and even if they are, it doesn't mean that they're doing more bad than good to their neighbors. That has implications for how good or evil it is to destroy them, and how the people around them will react if you try." You seemed to be arguing with me on the subject earlier in the thread. The things that you've been saying more recently? I don't think that they're good arguments against my position, but I could see how someone might intend them as such. I literally can't tell if you intend them as such or not.

Basically, there's what your statements mean straight-out, and there's what you imply by context. The statement "You're wrong because X" is asserting more things than just "X". Not indicating what you're responding to makes it very unclear what implied assertions you're making.


Sanityfaerie wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:

I did not feel like posting the very same post while quoting each and every poster who feel incredibly evil ritual does not make the lich even one bit Evil.

Paizo had no need to write this down unless they wanted it to actually mean something.

The problem (for me, anyway) is that I literally can't tell if you're arguing with me personally or not. My position has generally been "Liches might be alignment-evil, but that doesn't mean they're necessarily doing evil things currently, and even if they are, it doesn't mean that they're doing more bad than good to their neighbors. That has implications for how good or evil it is to destroy them, and how the people around them will react if you try." You seemed to be arguing with me on the subject earlier in the thread. The things that you've been saying more recently? I don't think that they're good arguments against my position, but I could see how someone might intend them as such. I literally can't tell if you intend them as such or not.

Basically, there's what your statements mean straight-out, and there's what you imply by context. The statement "You're wrong because X" is asserting more things than just "X". Not indicating what you're responding to makes it very unclear what implied assertions you're making.

Any entity may or may not be engaged in currently executing aligned actions, including evil or good actions. A good character doesn't stop being good (for a short period) of time because they're not currently doing good acts. They don't even become neutral. Now, if over the course of year(s) they stop doing any good acts (but aren't actively doing evil) they would probably gradually drift from good to neutral.

Liches might qualify for that...but as a GM and in my view of the world the lack of committing evil actions isn't necessarily enough to move them towards neutral or good, especially when the primary motivation is to avoid being a target not because they genuinely don't want to be evil. I'm not saying there isn't room for a lich to want to do good or to turn away from evil, but it should be incredibly rare.

The process of becoming a lich turns you evil. It should be a large and deliberate personality change. It shouldn't be watered down to "I only did enough evil so I could be immortal and now I'm going to be neutral".

It can be a story in the world, but I would expect it to be a rare story even among the already rare (in world) existence of liches.


Claxon wrote:
The process of becoming a lich turns you evil.

Only for monster/NPC ones: the archetypes doesn't do that. You can make it that way in your game if you want though.


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Another soul cage idea; turn some ancient relic of the nearby good guy kingdom into your soul cage. Not something with any serious magical oomph, but something like a valuable scepter or crown, or one of the other pieces of royal bric-a-brac.

After all, who is going to look for the evil lich regenerating right in the vaults of the goodly stronghold? Admittedly you'd need to be choosy about your kingdom, avoiding ones that have a habit of cleaning their stuff.


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Claxon wrote:

Any entity may or may not be engaged in currently executing aligned actions, including evil or good actions. A good character doesn't stop being good (for a short period) of time because they're not currently doing good acts. They don't even become neutral. Now, if over the course of year(s) they stop doing any good acts (but aren't actively doing evil) they would probably gradually drift from good to neutral.

Liches might qualify for that...but as a GM and in my view of the world the lack of committing evil actions isn't necessarily enough to move them towards neutral or good, especially when the primary motivation is to avoid being a target not because they genuinely don't want to be evil. I'm not saying there isn't room for a lich to want to do good or to turn away from evil, but it should be incredibly rare.

The process of becoming a lich turns you evil. It should be a large and deliberate personality change. It shouldn't be watered down to "I only did enough evil so I could be immortal and now I'm going to be neutral".

It can be a story in the world, but I would expect it to be a rare story even among the already rare (in world) existence of liches.

...and, see, I'm having a *bit* of difficulty picking the agreement from the argument here, because I never claimed they'd stop being "evil".

Like, whether or not you are "evil" is an objective fact in Golarion. There are spells that can discern it without fail (some of them by whether or not you are seared by holy fire). I'm not proposing that they lose the "evil" tag. Some actions stain the soul in a way that lasts. Sure.

I guess part of what I'm arguing against is the idea that being "evil" in and of itself causes you to *want* to do evil. Like, to me, the combination of "is willing to do horrible things if it comes to that" and "has, in fact, done horrible things under those circumstances" is legitimately enough to make a persn "evil", especially if they were doing it primarily for their own benefit... but that doesn't necessarily make them particularly inclined to do evil in the future. It's not that they have an intrinsic desire to do evil, held back only by their fear of destruction.

My idea, here, is that the lich is presented as a sort of moral quandary. They have done horrible things in the past, for which they have few regrets, and they continue to enjoy the fruits of them. This is indisputable. They register as "evil" to all pertinent detection spells, and they will absolutely take Good damage if good damage is dealt to them. Yes... but all evidence suggests that they aren't doing evil right now, that they haven't done anything particularly evil in some time, that they're not particularly inclined to do evil in the future, and that, on the whole, they are a positive influence on the area around them (for whatever reason) rather than a negative one.

The question for the players, then, is do they destroy this creature, in retribution for the evil that it surely did in the past, or do they leave it be because destroying it would add to the suffering of the world, rather than reduce it? What if they have an entire community around them that values and appreciates them, with good and sufficient reason? What if the horrific atrocities in the past were committed against people that you personally didn't like very much?

Insisting that Liches must be fundamentally evil in order to become what they are (with a few rare exceptions that might seek redemption)? I don't necessarily agree, but I can see the argument. If you then insist that, in being evil, they must be strongly inclined to do evil, then all you're doing is oversimplifying the moral calculus so that the players can murder things in an unconflicted way and feel good about it. I'm not saying that there's anythign wrong with that playstyle (and, indeed, there are plenty of Just Plain Evil liches out there to support it) but insisting that it must be that way?


graystone wrote:
Claxon wrote:
The process of becoming a lich turns you evil.
Only for monster/NPC ones: the archetypes doesn't do that. You can make it that way in your game if you want though.

From what I can find it's true the lich archetype doesn't explicitly say you're evil, but it mentions needing to complete the ritual to become a lich which I can't find detailed.

Even in PF1, it was the process (the ritual) of becoming a lich that made you evil.

Even if not made explicit I would expect it to be the same.

I would actually consider this a huge miss in lore and the rules if Paizo let it stand that liches could transform without becoming evil in the process.


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Claxon wrote:
graystone wrote:
Claxon wrote:
The process of becoming a lich turns you evil.
Only for monster/NPC ones: the archetypes doesn't do that. You can make it that way in your game if you want though.

From what I can find it's true the lich archetype doesn't explicitly say you're evil, but it mentions needing to complete the ritual to become a lich which I can't find detailed.

Even in PF1, it was the process (the ritual) of becoming a lich that made you evil.

Even if not made explicit I would expect it to be the same.

I would actually consider this a huge miss in lore and the rules if Paizo let it stand that liches could transform without becoming evil in the process.

As I noted, only the bestiary forces an alignment change and there aren't rules for how many [or severity of] evil things you do to alter your alignment. As such, the ritual being evil [or even really, really evil], isn't an automatic shift. The alignment rules in fact are written from the perspective of the character deciding if their alignment changes, not the DM forcing a change.

Now could a DM enforce a change? Sure thing, but that'd be a house-rule. As to "a huge miss in lore", it ONLY works for PC liches and how many of those are there? IMO, I don't think that they impact the overall lore in the least. IMO, it's no more a lore miss than a demon/devil that's not evil and those are in the lore.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
SuperBidi wrote:
Perpdepog wrote:
The issue I see with the Dungeon of Death strategy is that word tends to get around in fantasy worlds about said dungeons, and then those dungeons start attracting people to them. It's like narrative magnetism or something. Sooner or later you'd have parties of high-level adventurers beating down your door.

A self-fulfilling prophecy...

If you don't expect high-level adventurers to come beating down your door then you don't care about protecting your soul cage. So you can build your Dungeon of Death and put your soul cage in it only when you think you have attracted some attention, and otherwise put a few treasures in there and look at how adventurers crack it open, so you can improve it afterwards.

Anyway, I'd be too paranoid as a lich to have my soul cage unprotected.

For added fun, make your phylactery a stone in the mosaic welcoming victims to your dungeon of death.

For my personal suggestion, maybe the phylactery is a coin encased in a statue at the center of a kingdom, or a gem that was "traded" to a dragon, for information, so that you have a VERY powerful guardian with no noted relationship to you


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Like the one canonical Lich who is capable of becoming non-evil only becomes this way due to 10,000 years of captivity that lead to him being willing to consider literally anything if that would allow for his freedom.

That's kind of how rare it should be.


Wasn't there also a non-evil lich in The Great Beyond: A Guide to the Multiverse? I'm not arguing that non-evil liches are common, just curious if anyone has the book and can confirm. I apparently lost my copy in one of my PC file migrations.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
graystone wrote:
Claxon wrote:
graystone wrote:
Claxon wrote:
The process of becoming a lich turns you evil.
Only for monster/NPC ones: the archetypes doesn't do that. You can make it that way in your game if you want though.

From what I can find it's true the lich archetype doesn't explicitly say you're evil, but it mentions needing to complete the ritual to become a lich which I can't find detailed.

Even in PF1, it was the process (the ritual) of becoming a lich that made you evil.

Even if not made explicit I would expect it to be the same.

I would actually consider this a huge miss in lore and the rules if Paizo let it stand that liches could transform without becoming evil in the process.

As I noted, only the bestiary forces an alignment change and there aren't rules for how many [or severity of] evil things you do to alter your alignment. As such, the ritual being evil [or even really, really evil], isn't an automatic shift. The alignment rules in fact are written from the perspective of the character deciding if their alignment changes, not the DM forcing a change.

Now could a DM enforce a change? Sure thing, but that'd be a house-rule. As to "a huge miss in lore", it ONLY works for PC liches and how many of those are there? IMO, I don't think that they impact the overall lore in the least. IMO, it's no more a lore miss than a demon/devil that's not evil and those are in the lore.

I don't think you understand just how evil the ritual of lichdom is. The mundane, easy version requires a minimum of 2 murders, maybe three, just for the pursuit of power. You have to kill a pegasus foal, with wyvern venom. Rip the heart out of a humanoid you poisoned, and have a pint of vampire blood (good luck getting that willingly). The main point is that you are doing these evil actions solely to gain power, which is what damns the prospective lich


Val'bryn2 wrote:
I don't think you understand just how evil the ritual of lichdom is.

I don't think you understand how much that doesn't matter. At all. Even a little. It can be super duper uber evil and it just doesn't matter.

Val'bryn2 wrote:
The mundane, easy version requires a minimum of 2 murders, maybe three, just for the pursuit of power. You have to kill a pegasus foal, with wyvern venom. Rip the heart out of a humanoid you poisoned, and have a pint of vampire blood (good luck getting that willingly). The main point is that you are doing these evil actions solely to gain power, which is what damns the prospective lich

And? 1, 2 or 1000 sacrifices don't alter your PC's alignment by RAW. AGAIN, if the DM wants an alignment change they can require it but the game doesn't enforce one: the game allows you to start and end the PC lich ritual as a non-evil alignment: this really isn't ambiguous in the rules. If you feel differently, please provide a rules quote that states what you're saying.


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Val'bryn2 wrote:
I don't think you understand just how evil the ritual of lichdom is. The mundane, easy version requires a minimum of 2 murders, maybe three, just for the pursuit of power. You have to kill a pegasus foal, with wyvern venom. Rip the heart out of a humanoid you poisoned, and have a pint of vampire blood (good luck getting that willingly). The main point is that you are doing these evil actions solely to gain power, which is what damns the prospective lich

- Vampire blood can be acquired without killing the vampire. If you're powerful enough to become a lich, you've got a decent chance of being powerful enough to be able to throw around enough influence/value that a vampire might be willing to open a vein in trade... and that's not counting the fact that killign vampires and taking their stuff is often seen as a morally acceptable act in and of itself.

- There are plenty of evil humanoids out there rightly deserving of death. Admittedly, "poison, then tear out the heart" might be a bit baroque, but it need not necessarily be *evil*, if you pick your targets well.

- Sinister influences that spread through the wilderness can corrupt pegasi, rendering them neutral evil, and much more violent. Might be kind of a pain to track down a herd that had been so corrupted, but it should be possible to wipe them out in a way that would let you capture and then properly dispose of one of their (likewise corrupted) foals.

Given how much people had been talking it up, I had expected something *much* worse. Sure, finding deserving targets is going to make it take longer, but someone who's, say, Lawful Neutral and does not wish to become evil might well be willing to put in the kind of work necessary to ensure that the cost fell on the deserving and/or the already damned.


Sanityfaerie wrote:
- There are plenty of evil humanoids out there rightly deserving of death. Admittedly, "poison, then tear out the heart" might be a bit baroque, but it need not necessarily be *evil*, if you pick your targets well.

The easiest thing is to get criminals that are already condemned to death: slip some money so you can do the execution for the day and do it yourself. Doesn't sound so evil that way. Pint of vampire blood sounds like something you could buy IMO [there are rarer things to find out there and it'd be an easy way to get cash for a poorer vamp].

For amusement: venture bros. quote.

Dr. Orpheus: What the hell is this thing made of?
Dr. Venture: Nothing.
Dr. Orpheus: Come on...
Dr. Venture: All right, fine, I might have used a few unorthodox parts.
Dr. Orpheus: Just tell me one...
Dr. Venture: An...orphan.
Dr. Orpheus: A what?
Dr. Venture: An orphan?
Dr. Orpheus: Did you say, "an orphan?!"
Dr. Venture: Yeah, a little...orphan boy.
Dr. Orpheus: It's powered by a forsaken child?!?
Dr. Venture: Might be, kind of. I didn't use the whole thing!

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