Lich Species in Runetalras | World Anvil
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Lich

‘Lich are mages who have undertaken a foul ritual to transform themselves into an intelligent undead capable of even greater magical potential.’ - Fiona Tansig on Liches

Liches are powerful undead spellcasters who have achieved immortality through a dark ritual that traps their soul within a phylactery. They are driven by an insatiable hunger for knowledge and power, and will stop at nothing to further their own goals. Liches are often depicted as scheming and insane, with plans that can take years or even centuries to come to fruition.

Types of Liches

There are various kinds of liches, but the most common are arcane spellcasters. Other types of liches include hierophant liches, who are infused with the negative energy of deities; eldritch liches, who are infused with the power of the maddening Far Realms; illithiliches, which are illithids who have embraced dark rituals; and baelnorn, who are unlike any other type of lich.

Appearance

A lich appears as a gaunt and skeletal humanoid with withered flesh stretched tight across its bones. Its eyes have long ago succumbed to decay, but points of light burn in its empty sockets. Liches are often garbed in the mouldering remains of fine clothing and jewellery worn and dulled by the passage of time.

Secrets of Undeath

The process of becoming a lich is a well-guarded secret. Those who seek lichdom must make bargains with fiends, evil gods, or other foul entities. Many turn to Orcus, Demon Prince of Undeath, whose power has created countless liches. However, those who control the power of lichdom always demand fealty and service for their knowledge.   A lich is created by a foul ritual that traps the soul within a phylactery. Doing so binds the soul to the mortal world, preventing it from travelling to the Outer Planes after death. A phylactery is traditionally an amulet in the shape of a small box, but it can take the form of any item possessing an interior space into which arcane sigils of naming, binding, immortality, and dark magic are scribed in silver.

Soul Sacrifices

A lich must periodically feed souls to its phylactery to sustain the magic preserving its body and consciousness. It does this using the imprisonment spell. Instead of choosing one of the normal options of the spell, the lich uses the spell to magically trap the target's body and soul inside its phylactery. The phylactery must be on the same plane as the lich for the spell to work. A lich's phylactery can hold only one creature at a time, and a dispel magic cast as a 9th-level spell upon the phylactery releases any creature imprisoned within it. A creature imprisoned in the phylactery for 24 hours is consumed and destroyed utterly, whereupon nothing short of divine intervention can restore it to life.   A lich that fails or forgets to maintain its body with sacrificed souls begins to physically fall apart and might eventually become a demilich.

Death and Restoration

When a lich's body is broken by accident or assault, the will and mind of the lich drains from it, leaving only a lifeless corpse behind. Within days, a new body reforms next to the lich's phylactery, coalescing out of glowing smoke that issues from the device. Because the destruction of its phylactery means the possibility of eternal death, a lich usually keeps its phylactery in a hidden, well-guarded location.   Destroying a lich's phylactery is no easy task and often requires a special ritual, item, or weapon. Every phylactery is unique, and discovering the key to its destruction can be a quest in and of itself.

Lonely Existence

From time to time, a lich might be stirred from its single-minded pursuit of power to take an interest in the world around it, most often when some great event reminds it of the life it once led. It otherwise lives in isolation, engaging only with those creatures whose service helps secure its lair.   Few liches call themselves by their former names, instead adopting monikers such as the Black Hand or the Forgotten King.

Magic Collectors

Liches collect spells and magic items. In addition to its spell repertoire, a lich has ready access to potions, scrolls, libraries of spell books, one or more wands, and perhaps a staff or two. It has no qualms about putting these treasures to use whenever its lair comes under attack.

Noteable Liches

Terraxia - First of the Triarchy, Grand Magi of the Catalyst, Wielder of the Crystalline Catalyst, and Navigator to Salvation, was a lich who came to rule the Crystal Catalyst and in the Wars of Undeath almost dominated Runetalras.   Xhid'Krakzu - Former member of the Triarchy of the Crystal Catalyst deposed by Terraxia, last seen in the ruins of the Black Tower prior to Garthedd's return to the surface of Runetalras.
Origin/Ancestry
Arcane, Eldritch, Divine
Lifespan
Until destroyed

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