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Liches are an almost universally evil form of undead spellcaster of great power, usually wizards, but they can also be sorcerers or clerics. They are feared by mortal beings for their malign magic, their intelligence and their willingness to embrace undeath for a chance to live forever (or rather, exist forever).[1]Because liches have eternal longevity they often use this time to form schemes that take decades to develop, sometimes preferring to outlive a foe instead of confronting it, and as such most liches live in secluded areas of Toril where they are content with furthering whatever research or plots they have in motion.[2]

Physical descriptionEdit

Liches are generally gaunt and skeletal with withered flesh stretched tight across horribly visible bones, but can vary greatly in appearance depending on their age (some appear as skeletons dressed in regal finery, yet others may appear to be nothing more than lepers). Bright pinpoints of crimson light burn in the empty sockets of those whose eyes have been destroyed or otherwise lost or are so old they have simply rotted away.[1] They are often clad in dark, tattered robes.[3] When moving, they seem to glide as if floating on water.[4]

Liches often do not have lips or the necessary organs to produce natural speech, but they have the ability to project speech from their mouths magically, moving the jaw (if present) to aid the illusion.[5]

The Lich's PhylacteryEdit

The process of achieving lichdom requires that the spellcaster constructs a powerful magical artifact, a phylactery, in which the lich will store its life essence; as long as this phylactery is unharmed, the lich is immortal and will attempt to reassemble if it is ever vanquished (this happens within 10 days after its apparent destruction). It does not, however, grant any of the normal benefits of a phylactery until it is fully completed. For these reasons, liches take great care in protecting their phylactery from harm, employing decoys, traps and other means.[6]

The most common physical form for a phylactery is a sealed metal box containing strips of parchment on which magical phrases have been transcribed. Other forms of phylacteries exist, often a small or tiny sized trinkets such as rings, amulets, or similar items. It can also take other shapes if the lich expends more gold and experience to make such alterations.[6]

When the phylactery is created, the wizard transfers a bit of life force into the creation. While crafting the phylactery taxes the physical strength of the caster, the materials and components can easily exceed 120,000 gp. Overall, creating a phylactery is very daunting task for anyone of arcane power.[6]

Types of LichesEdit


A Banelich and an alhoon

An alhoon is an illithid lich.
While the overwhelming majority of liches are evil, an archlich is not. One such good lich is Lady Alathene Moonstar of Waterdeep. Lady Alathene is devoted to hunting down her brother Lord Vanrak who has become a murderous undead champion of evil. Archliches are able to memorize spells through intuitive nature and do not need spellbooks; they also remain in their form for eternity. An elven archlich is called a baelnorn. They do not use phylacteries as their undeath is gifted to them by the Seldarine.
Clerics of Bane transformed into undead servants by the God of Tyranny. As baneliches grow older, their powers increase as well, until they are as powerful as any other lich.
Elven liches who become undead to become backbones of their family. They are sources of magic, wise council and guardianship.
This advanced form is achieved when a lich feels it cannot learn any more in its present state and seeks other avenues to attain knowledge. It might do so by using astral projection to travel to other planes of existence.
Dracolich - Fred Hooper

A dracolich

A dracolich is a dragon who has achieved lichdom. The process required to do this was discovered by Sammaster, former chosen of Mystra.
Lich vestige[citation needed]
Thicket dryad lich[citation needed]
Void lich 
When a spellcaster performs the ritual to become a lich, there are multiple variables that can take place. One such variable is that a being from the Far Realm, Plane of Insanity, will be attracted to the magic being used, to become a lich.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Skip Williams, Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook (July 2003). Monster Manual 3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 166. ISBN 0-7869-2893-X.
  2. Ed Greenwood et al. (1989). Lords of Darkness. (TSR, Inc), p. 73. ISBN 0-88038-622-3.
  3. Warning: edition not specified for Promise of the Witch-King
  4. Warning: edition not specified for Promise of the Witch-King
  5. Steven E. Schend (July 2006). Blackstaff. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 107. ISBN 978-0786940165.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Skip Williams, Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook (July 2003). Monster Manual 3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 168. ISBN 0-7869-2893-X.


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