Rare NE Medium Undead
Senses Perception +20; darkvision
Languages Abyssal, Aklo, Common, Draconic, Elf, Infernal, Necril, Undercommon
Skills Arcana +28, Crafting +24 (can craft magic items), Deception +17, Diplomacy +19, Religion +22, Stealth +20
Str +0, Dex +4, Con +0, Int +6, Wis +4, Cha +3
Items potion of invisibility, scroll of teleport, greater staff of fire
AC 31; Fort +17, Ref +21, Will +23; +1 status to all saves vs. positive
HP 190, negative Healing, rejuvenation; Immunities death effects, disease, paralyzed, poison, unconscious; Resistances cold 10, physical 10 (except magic bludgeoning)
Frightful Presence (aura, emotion, fear, mental) 60 feet, DC 29
Counterspell Trigger A creature casts a spell the lich has prepared. Effect The lich expends a prepared spell to counter the triggering creature's casting of that same spell. The lich loses its spell slot as if it had cast the triggering spell. The lich then attempts to counteract the triggering spell.
Speed 25 feet
Melee hand +24 (finesse, magical), Damage 4d8 negative plus paralyzing touch
Arcane Prepared Spells DC 36, attack +26; 6th chain lightning, dominate, vampiric exsanguination; 5th cloudkill, cone of cold (×2), wall of ice; 4th dimension door, dispel magic, fire shield, fly; 3rd blindness, locate, magic missile, vampiric touch; 2nd false life, mirror image, resist energy, see invisibility; 1st fleet step, ray of enfeeblement (×2), true strike; Cantrips (6th) detect magic, mage hand, message, ray of frost, shield
Drain Phylactery 6th level
Paralyzing Touch (arcane, curse, incapacitation, necromancy) DC 32
Steady Spellcasting If a reaction would disrupt the lich's spellcasting action, the lich attempts a DC 15 flat check. On a success, the action isn't disrupted.
To gain more time to complete their goals, some desperate spellcasters pursue immortality by embracing undeath. After long years of research and the creation of a special container called a phylactery, a spellcaster takes the final step by imbibing a deadly concoction or casting dreadful incantations that transform them into a lich. While most undertake this drastic plan to continue their work or fulfill some long-term plan, others become liches because they fear death or to fulfill some malevolent purpose, such as long-sworn revenge. Regardless, the result is permanent and carries with it the potential to alter history—both that of those who transform themselves and of the countless mortals that will inevitably suffer as a result of a lich's new power.
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.
For all the protections it arrays around itself, a lich will go to greater lengths to guard its phylactery, as it knows that the destruction of this magical container spells doom for the lich. A lich is notoriously difficult to bargain with, though the threat of damaging its phylactery is a sure way to gain the upper hand in such a negotiation.
The exact ritual, ingredients for deadly concoctions, and magical conditions required to become a lich are unique and different for every living creature. Understanding a spellcaster's path to lichdom can help, but is no guarantee of success for others.
Lich Phylactery Item 12
Rare Arcane Necromancy Negative
Price 1,600 gp; Usage held in 1 hand; Bulk —
This item is crafted by a spellcaster who wishes to become a lich. When a lich is destroyed, its soul flees to the phylactery. The phylactery then rebuilds the lich's undead body over the course of 1d10 days. Afterward, the lich manifests next to the phylactery, fully healed and in a new body (therefore, it lacks any equipment it had on its old body). A lich's phylactery must be destroyed to prevent a lich from returning.
The standard phylactery is a sealed metal box containing strips of parchment inscribed with magical phrases. This box has Hardness 9 and 36 HP, but some liches devise more durable or difficult-to-obtain phylacteries. A phylactery might also come in the form of a ring, an amulet, or a similar item; the specifics are up to the creator.
Liches spend a good deal of their downtime crafting magic items. In particular, a lich will create items that help it defeat and overcome known problems. This fact can prove especially dangerous if the PCs encounter a lich but fail to destroy its phylactery, for the next time they encounter the lich, it will likely have just the right tools to overcome their defenses.
Creating A Lich
A lich can be any type of spellcaster, as long as it has the ability to perform a ritual of undeath as the primary caster (which can usually be performed only by a spellcaster capable of casting 6th-level spells). To create a lich, follow these steps.
Increase the spellcaster's level by 1 and change its statistics as follows.
- Increase spell DCs and spell attack roll by 2.
A lich gains the undead trait and becomes evil. Liches lose all abilities that come from being a living creature.
A lich gains the following abilities.
- Saving Throws +1 status bonus to all saves vs. positive
- Negative Healing Rejuvenation (arcane, necromancy) When a lich is destroyed, its soul immediately transfers to its phylactery. A lich can be permanently destroyed only if its phylactery is found and destroyed.
- Immunities death effects, disease, paralyzed, poison, unconscious
- Resistances cold 20, physical 15 (except magic bludgeoning)
- Frightful Presence (aura, emotion, fear, mental) 60 feet, DC 30
- Hand of the Lich All liches have a hand unarmed attack that deals 1d8 negative damage for every 3 levels and inflicts a paralyzing touch. This attack has the finesse trait.
- Drain Phylactery Frequency once per day; Effect The lich taps into its phylactery's power to cast any arcane spell up to the highest level the lich can cast, even if the spell being cast is not one of the lich's prepared spells. The lich's phylactery doesn't need to be present for the lich to use this ability.
- Paralyzing Touch (arcane, curse, incapacitation, necromancy) A creature damaged by the lich's hand Strike must succeed at a Fortitude save against the lich's spell DC - 4. The creature becomes paralyzed for 1 round on a failure. On a critical failure, the creature is paralyzed permanently, falls prone, and seems dead. A DC 25 Medicine check reveals the victim is alive.
The lair of a lich is usually filled with several magical treasures, particularly items that the undead can use based on its spellcasting abilities. Scrolls, wands, and staves are quite common, as are books of lore and tomes containing entirely new spells.
Alternate Lich Abilities
Although the abilities are standard for a lich, you can create a more unusual lich by substituting any one of the following abilities for frightful presence, hand of the lich, Drain Phylactery, or paralyzing touch.
- Blasphemous Utterances (arcane, aura, enchantment, mental) 10 feet. The lich is accompanied by a constant echo of blasphemous murmurs and tainted whispers. A creature in the aura takes a -2 circumstance penalty to saves against mental effects and can't take actions that have the concentrate trait unless they succeed at a DC 10 flat check. Failing this check wastes the action.
- Cold Beyond Cold The lich's hand Strike deals cold damage instead of negative, and instead of being paralyzed, the target is slowed 2. A successful Fortitude save reduces this to slowed 1 (or negates it on a critical success).
- Dark Deliverance The lich has resistance to Positive equal to its level.
- Siphon Life Trigger The lich deals damage with its hand Strike. Effect The lich regains Hit Points equal to half the damage dealt.
- Void Shroud (aura, death, necromancy) 30 feet. The lich is surrounded by an aura of death, drawing forth souls to be consumed by the lich's constant hunger. Living creatures in the emanation take a -2 status penalty to saves against fear and death effects. In addition, any creature that starts its turn in the area gains the doomed 1 condition unless it succeeds at a Will save against the lich's spell DC - 4.
A wizard whose insatiable desire for arcane power eclipsed their mortal life, the lich is a truly devious and versatile spellcaster.