Becoming a Lich (3.5e Other)

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Author: Surgo (talk)
Date Created: 11/18/2021
Status: Needs ritual details
Editing: Feel free to add
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Becoming a Lich[edit]

Liches are the classic way for arcane spellcasters to become immortal, but the rules are extremely lacking. The template itself has a +4 level adjustment, which effectively renders it useless. A prestige class in Sandstorm lets you become a lich variant when you hit level 13, but that requires you to be pretty dedicated to sand and heat. It's not a good general-purpose solution. This document outlines such a general-purpose solution.

The sample Lich from the Monster Manual is a level 11 wizard, so a level 11 spellcaster should be capable of obtaining this template. The CR of the template is +2, so we need some way to drain resources from the character to dial their power back a bit. The most obvious way to do that is to drain the character wealth somehow. A phylactery, according to the Monster Manual, costs 120,000 gp to make. This is almost double an 11th level character's wealth by level (66,000 gp) which is quite excessive. We'll go in that direction, but dial it back a bit.

The Process[edit]

The earliest a character can become a Lich is level 11. A character that wants to become a Lich needs to declare their intentions three levels ahead of time so, at the earliest, they may begin at level 8. They must have a permanent item creation feat like Craft Wondrous Item or Forge Ring. Over the course of the next three levels they will proceed with the rituals and create their phylactery. The rituals and phylactery require expensive components that sum up to 60,000 gp. The phylactery itself must be an object no smaller than three size categories less than the character. The character must be able to cast 4th level necromancy spells at the start of the process, and 6th level necromancy spells by the end of the process.

The process is Evil with a capital E. No nonsensical good-aligned liches here. If the character isn't evil at the start, they will be by the end. It should involve sufficiently evil things like sacrificing your closest family and loved ones, or draining an entire town of its citizens' souls.

Once they complete the ritual at level 11, they gain the Lich template. They do not gain any level adjustment or additional CR for this. Given the lack of wealth-based power the character will have at this point, they might even be somewhat underpowered for their level. Plus they had to waste a feat choice on an item creation feat.

Alternate Lich Templates[edit]

This same process should work fine for the Dry Lich (from Sandstorm) or the Frostlich. The differences between the templates aren't enough to write home about, this should be fine. Though since the Dry Lich is theoretically slightly more powerful by CR or LA, consider requiring them to be level 12 instead of 11. The Walker in the Wastes prestige class is also a perfectly good way to gain the Dry Lich template, and should be encouraged.

What About Demiliches?[edit]

Just don't do it. The Epic Level Handbook is already the nadir of design when it comes to 3rd edition Dungeons and Dragons, and the Demilich displays virtually every element of bad design the book is known for. Plus, the whole point of the Demilich in the first place, going back to the Tomb of Horrors, was that it was actually a construct. It's the mostly-decayed body (just a skull left over) of the lich who had spent so long wandering the planes via Astral Projection that its body crumbled to dust. Presumably, if the lich itself was to somehow die, they'd regenerate a new body like normal. Nothing about the 3rd edition version of the Demilich makes any sense. If you want to add some additional spice and flavor to your Lich, do it by tailored prestige classes.

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AuthorSurgo +
Identifier3.5e Other +
RatingUndiscussed +
SummaryEnumerates a process to become a lich without the level adjustment. +
TitleBecoming a Lich +