The Lich’s Phylactery
Every lich has a phylactery that stores its life force. Creation of this phylactery is a prerequisite for becoming a lich. A phylactery is extraordinarily expensive in terms of gp cost, XP cost, and time to create. Do not count a phylactery as part of an NPC lich’s
treasure—possession of the phylactery is considered as part of the lich’s normal Challenge Rating (though a PC lich, if you allow such, must pay for its phylactery as normal).
A lich can construct only a single phylactery. A lich whose phylactery is destroyed suffers no harm, but cannot construct a new one. If a lich without a phylactery is slain, the lich is forever destroyed. A phylactery in an antimagic field cannot recreate a destroyed lich, though the lich returns to life 1d10 days after the phylactery is removed from the area.
The phylactery of a lich usually takes the form of a sealed metal box containing strips of parchment bearing magical phrases. The phylactery can exist in other forms as well, though it must either contain or bear an arcane inscription. Regardless of the phylactery’s form, its game statistics remain the same:
Tiny, wonderous item
As a magic item, it receives saving throws against magical effects that can affect objects.
Its saving throw bonuses are equal to 2 + 1/2 the creator’s caster level at the time of creation (or, if the phylactery is held or worn, equal to the wearing creature’s save bonuses, if higher).
Liches rarely carry their phylacteries with them, since this would result in the easy discovery of the item by would-be slayers. Most liches keep their phylacteries well-hidden (either somewhere in their lair or in some other distant location, possibly even on another plane). Most liches also disguise their phylacteries with obscure object, nondetection, Nystul’s magic aura, sequester, or similar effects to prevent easy location by enemies. Some employ guardians as well, preferring guardians that can keep a secret (such as golems) or those willing to work without asking too many questions. Under no circumstances does a lich
tell the guardian the true nature of what it guards!
An identify or analyze dweomer spell, or a DC 25 Knowledge (arcana) check, can identify an item as a phylactery, though illusions or other trickery can potentially prevent such identifi
cation. A phylactery cannot be part of another magic item, nor may additional magical properties be built into it.
10 Sample Phylacteries
1. A hollow silver sphere hanging from a silver chain and containing strips of inscribed parchment
2. A gold ring bearing arcane inscriptions on the inside of the band
3. A hollow gold sphere containing strips of inscribed parchment, set atop a darkwood staff
4. An ivory box bearing arcane sigils across all six sides
5. A sealed clay jar containing strips of inscribed parchment
6. A crystal cube with magical phrases carved on all six sides
7. A hollow platinum circlet containing tiny strips of inscribed parchment rolled tightly inside
8. A gold-plated skull with magical phrases engraved upon the teeth
9. An iron flask containing strips of inscribed parchment
10. A flawless diamond bearing tiny magical inscriptions, set into a golden crown
Each description includes roleplaying tips and information on the lich’s phylactery.
All liches share the following special abilities:
Fear Aura: Liches are shrouded in a dreadful aura of death and evil. Creatures of fewer than 5 HD in a 60-foot radius that look at the lich must succeed on a Will save or be affected
as though by a fear spell from a sorcerer of the lich’s level. A creature that successfully saves cannot be affected by that same lich’s aura for 24 hours; Will save DC given by creature.
Paralyzing Touch: Any living creature a lich hits with its touch attack must succeed on a Fortitude save or be permanently paralyzed. Remove paralysis or any spell that can remove a curse can free the victim (see the bestow curse spell description, page
203 of the Player’s Handbook). The effect cannot be dispelled. Anyone paralyzed by a lich seems dead, though a DC 20 Spot check or a DC 15 Heal check reveals that the victim is still alive; Fortitude save DC listed by creature.
Immunities: Liches have immunity to cold, electricity, polymorph (though they can use polymorph effects on themselves), and mind-affecting spells and abilities.
Dallia Thistledown, Concealed Evil
Female halfling lich bard (LV 12; CR 14) Small undead (augmented humanoid)
Speed: 20 ft.
STR: 10 (3) CON:
- INT: 15 (0) CHA: 20 (+5)
Skills: Deception +5, Intimidate +7, Perception +13, Stealth +20, Perform (sing) +20, Search +10, Sense Motive +8
Senses: darkvision 60 ft.
Languages: Common, Undercommon
Immunities: immunity to cold, electricity, polymorph, and mind-affecting spells and abilities, turn resistance
Traits: undead traits
Touch. Melee Unarmed Attack: reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: (1d8 + 5 negative energy + paralysis). Parallysis lasts for three rounds.
Bardic Music. 12/day (countersong, fascinate, inspire competence, inspire courage +2, inspire greatness, song of freedom, suggestion), damaging touch, fear aura,
Dallia Thistledown is the nicest little halfling you’d ever want to meet. She’s kind and friendly, always greeting friends and strangers alike with a beaming smile and freshly baked cinnamon rolls or tea cakes. She’s nice to animals and great with children. In fact, in the two years she’s worked in the castle kitchens, she’s never uttered a cross word to anyone. Her songs brighten the mood of anyone hearing them. The halfling who was Dallia Thistledown actually died three years ago when she completed the process that transformed her into a lich. Now she steals royal secrets for the kingdom’s enemies while posing as a humble cook. Of course, she’s only doing that to gain enough wealth and power to take over a
kingdom for her own.
Dallia is best introduced to the PCs at low levels, when her magic is easily potent enough to guard against accidental discovery. As the characters gain levels, they become privy to rumors that someone has been selling secret information to enemies of the kingdom. Of course, she’s smart enough to plant red herrings, placing the blame on any of a number of others (including perhaps the PCs themselves). She’ll try to escape rather than face a stand-up fight, and might eventually turn up in the service of another powerful enemy of the PCs.
Dallia’s phylactery is typical for liches: a small metal box containing strips of parchment. She has hidden it deep in an unused part of the castle’s dungeon, with its magical power
concealed by Nystul’s magic aura. Her hoard of coins and gems is hidden in the same place—she only carries a few silver and copper pieces in her disguise, along with her magic items (also protected by Nystul’s magic aura).
Countersong: Use music or poetics to counter magical effects that depend on sound.
Fascinate: Use music or poetics to cause one or more
creatures to become fascinated with her.
Inspire Competence: Use music or poetics to help an ally succeed at a task.
Inspire Courage: Use music or poetics to bolster her allies against fear and improve their combat abilities.
Inspire Greatness: Use music or poetics to inspire greatness in herself or an ally, granting her target extra fighting capability.
Song of Freedom: Use music or poetics to create an effect equivalent to the break enchantment spell.
Suggestion: Use music or poetics to make a suggestion (as the spell) to a creature that she has already fascinated.
Fear Aura: Will DC 21 negates.
Paralyzing Touch: Fortitude DC 21 negates.
Bard Spells Known (3/5/4/4/3 per day; caster level 12th);
0—daze (DC 15), detect magic, lullaby (DC 15), mage hand, message,
1st—disguise self, expeditious retreat, Nystul’s magic
aura, undetectable alignment;
2nd—detect thoughts (DC 17), mirror
image, suggestion (DC 17), tongues;
3rd—charm monster (DC 18),
dispel magic, glibness, scrying (DC 18);
dimension door, modify memory (DC 19).
Possessions: ring of mind shielding, wand of gaseous form (30
charges; shaped like a wooden spoon), silver mirror (1,000 gp;
focus for scrying spell), 14 gems (average value 350 gp each),
Durak the Eternal
A lifelong worshiper of Vecna, God of Secrets, Durak knew from an early age that he wanted to achieve eternal existence as an undead being. He would have preferred vampirism, but he didn’t trust in his ability to escape the control of any vampire that spawned him. He amassed power and knowledge quickly, enabling him to achieve lichdom at the age of only 28.
Durak is now a relatively young lich, having experienced the transformation mere months ago. He appears mostly human, if a bit pale and sunken-eyed. He still venerates Vecna, and is busy amassing an army of undead minions (his Leadership score for the purpose of attracting followers is 18).
Durak’s phylactery is an ornate unholy symbol, which he wears in his lair but leaves behind (guarded by undead minions) when he goes out in the field. He uses a standard, plainer one
for spellcasting and rebuking undead.
Durak makes a great archvillain for an arc of the campaign. The PCs could run into his minions at lower levels or otherwise hear stories of the evil cleric building a skeleton army. After working their way through his defenses, they might meet Durak either in his lair or on the battlefield itself.
Durak the Eternal: Male human lich cleric 11; CR 13;
Medium undead (augmented humanoid); HD 11d12; hp 71;
Init 5 negative energy
plus paralysis, touch); SA damaging touch, fear aura, paralyzing
touch, rebuke undead 6/day (14, 11th), spells; SQ
damage reduction 15/bludgeoning and magic, darkvision 60 ft.,
immunity to cold, electricity, polymorph, and mind-affecting
spells and abilities, 17 casting defensively),
Diplomacy +13, Hide +2, Knowledge (religion) +4, Listen +12,
Move Silently +2, Search +8, Sense Motive +18, Spot +12; Combat
Casting, Craft Wondrous Item, Quicken Turning†, Scribe Scroll,
Fear Aura (Su): Will DC 18 negates.
Paralyzing Touch (Su): Fortitude DC 18 negates.
Cleric Spells Prepared (caster level 11th); 0—detect magic (2),
guidance, light, mending, read magic; 1st—bane (DC 15), cause fear
(DC 15), detect good, divine favor, entropic shield, protection from
goodDE, sanctuary; 2nd—death knellE (DC 16), desecrateDE, enthrall
(DC 16), owl’s wisdom, resist energy, shatter; 3rd—bestow curse (DC
17), deeper darkness, dispel magicD, invisibility purge, prayer, wind
wall; 4th—dismissal (DC 18), divine power, poison (5 negative energy
plus paralysis, touch); SA damaging touch, fear aura, paralyzing
touch, rebuke undead 4/day (4, 3rd), spells; SQ damage
reduction 15/bludgeoning and magic, darkvision 60 ft., elf traits,
familiar, immunity to cold, electricity, polymorph, and mindaffecting
spells and abilities, low-light vision, 20 against enchantments);
AL LE; Str 8, Dex 14, Con —, Int 24, Wis 16, Cha 12.
Skills and Feats: Concentration 9 ranged touch), divine power, order’s
wrathDL (DC 18), poison (6 melee touch; DC 19), spell
resistance; 6th—hold monsterD (DC 20), word of recall.
D: Domain spell. Domains: Death (death touch 1/day, damage
3d6), Law (cast law spells [L
] at 6 melee touch; DC
18); 1st—alarm, mage armor, magic missile, ray of enfeeblement (2)
(9 ranged touch; DC 21), sleet storm,
slow (DC 20); 4th—confusion (DC 22), Evard’s black tentacles, ice
storm, wall of ice (DC 22); 5th—feeblemind (DC 23), teleport,waves
of fatigue; 6th—acid fog, disintegrate (6 melee touch); 3rd—blink, explosive runes,
fi reball, fl y, nondetection, suggestion; 4th—animate dead, arcane eye,
enervation, greater invisibility, lesser globe of invulnerability, solid
fog; 5th—Mordenkainen’s faithful hound, Mordenkainen’s private
sanctum, mind fog, nightmare; 6th—chain lightning, contingency,
guards and wards, wall of iron.
Possessions: cloak of resistance +3, staff of fi re (25 charges), headband
of intellect +4, arcane scroll of chain lightning, divine scroll of harm,
1,270 pp, 40 assorted gems (average 250 gp each), ivory statuette
of himself (1,500 gp; focus for contingency), spell component
pouch, spellbooks, phylactery.
The remorseless Krilla Darkhand may well be the weakest lich
in existence. As an adept, she doesn’t have anywhere near the
magical power possessed by a typical lich. However, she makes
up for that with her tenaciousness, as well as a proactive attitude
about destroying that which is good and pure in the world.
Uninterested in hiding in a dark cave somewhere, waiting for
adventurers to come knocking on her door, Krilla instead works
as an assassin and bounty hunter. She has no allegiances—she
killed her entire tribe as a mass sacrifi ce to the powers of
death—and looks out only for herself. She uses her small size
to make foes think she lacks power, then unleashes her most
potent spells to ensure they don’t make the same mistake (or
any other mistake) again.
155CAMPAIGNS CHAPTER 7
Krilla’s phylactery is a tiny metal bauble that dangles from
her familiar’s collar. If Krilla fears death and can’t escape, she
sends her familiar running (possibly using obscuring mist to hide
its retreat), so that she can return another day.
Krilla works best as a tough challenge for mid-level characters,
using stealth and surprise to give her an advantage. She isn’t
powerful enough for a stand-up, fair fi ght, and she knows that
Krilla Darkhand: Female goblin lich adept 11; CR 12;
Small undead (augmented humanoid); HD 11d12; hp 71; Init
5 negative energy plus
paralysis, touch) or 1 nonlethal damage plus
sleep, masterwork light crossbow); SA damaging touch, fear aura,
paralyzing touch, spells; SQ damage reduction 15/bludgeoning
and magic, darkvision 60 ft., familiar, immunity to cold, electricity,
polymorph, and mind-affecting spells and abilities, 3 melee touch; DC 14); 1st—burning hands
(DC 15), cause fear (2) (DC 15), obscuring mist; 2nd—invisibility,
mirror image, see invisibility, web (DC 16); 3rd—deeper darkness,
lightning bolt (2) (DC 17).
Possessions: +1 chain shirt, boots of elvenkind, potion of owl’s wisdom,
potion of displacement, 10 sleep bolts, masterwork light crossbow,
22 pp, 7 gems (average value 200 gp), spell component pouch,
Familiar: Tiny animal; HD 11d8; hp 37; Init +2; Spd 20 ft.,
climb 20 ft.; AC 20, touch 14, fl at-footed 18; Base Atk +5; Grp –7;
Atk or Full Atk +7 melee (1d3–4, bite); SA deliver touch spells;
SQ empathic link, improved evasion, share spells, speak with
master, speak with animals; SV Fort +3, Ref +5, Will +8; AL NE;
Str 3, Dex 15, Con 10, Int 11, Wis 12, Cha 5.
Skills and Feats: Balance +10, Concentration +14, Hide +11,
Knowledge (arcana) +7, Knowledge (religion) +7, Move Silently
+8, Spot +10, Survival +15; Weapon Finesse.
Kur’latt, Githzerai Lich
Kur’latt was once an up-and-coming member of a very successful
rrakkma (mind fl ayer hunting party). A brush with death on
an otherwise routine mission forced him to reevaluate his priorities.
His own mortality—something that had rarely entered
his thinking before then—suddenly seemed extraordinarily
fragile. Quietly, he began to research methods of extending
one’s lifespan beyond the normal limits. Eventually, he stumbled
upon the secrets of lichdom—a process much hated by most
githzerai, since the githyanki’s ruler for many centuries has
been a dreaded lich-queen—and realized that this was what
he wanted. After mastering the necessary arcane arts, Kur’latt
completed his phylactery and ended his life, only to rise soon
afterward as a lich.
Kur’latt favors stealth and defense to overt attacks. He relies
on sneak attacks (using spells such as ray of frost, scorching ray, and
disintegrate) to dispatch his enemies. He also enjoys counterspelling
opponents’ magical attacks. His phylactery is a plain iron
circlet that he keeps hidden on the Astral Plane (ironically, not
far from a githyanki outpost).
Kur’latt: Male githzerai lich sorcerer 12/rogue 3; CR 18;
Medium undead (augmented humanoid, extraplanar); HD
15d12+3; hp 100; Init 5
plus paralysis, touch); SA damaging touch, fear aura, paralyzing
touch, sneak attack 9 acting), Hide 12 ranged touch), read magic, resistance,
touch of fatigue (12 melee touch), true strike; 2nd—blur, cat’s
grace, resist energy, scorching ray (12 ranged touch; DC 20),
slow (DC 20), suggestion (DC 20); 4th—enervation (12 ranged touch; DC 23).
Possessions: ring of protection +2, cloak of Charisma +4, dust of
disappearance (1 pinch), scroll of Tenser’s transformation, 3,219 gp,
11 pearls (100 gp each), 9 assorted art objects (700 gp each), spell
component pouch, phylactery.
Tevangia Zail, Archmage of Lichdom
The lich known as Tevangia Zail is an ancient creature of dire
evil. In life a powerful wizard who often sold her services to
kings and emperors, in undeath she has mastered the path of
the archmage. Lately, she has begun to experience something
resembling boredom. She lacks a challenge in her unlife, and
isn’t sure how to rectify that. So few creatures can provide a
challenge to her magical prowess, after all.
Tevangia’s phylactery is a traditional metal container,
protected by nondetection (DC 21 caster level check to fi nd by
Tevangia Zail typically has the following spells active upon
herself at all times, and their effects are included in the statistics
below as appropriate: detect scrying, false life (4 AC), and moment of prescience (3;
hp 171; Init 5 negative
energy plus paralysis, touch); SA damaging touch, fear aura,
paralyzing touch, spells; SQ damage reduction 15/bludgeoning
and magic, darkvision 60 ft., half-elf traits, immunity to cold,
electricity, polymorph, and mind-affecting spells and abilities,
low-light vision, 19 vs. enchantments); AL LE; Str 8, Dex 14,
Con —, Int 30, Wis 15, Cha 12.
Skills and Feats: Concentration 2
other planes, following tracks); Alertness, Craft Wondrous
Item, Great Fortitude, Heighten Spell, Quicken Spell, Scribe
ScrollB, Skill Focus (Spellcraft), Spell Focus (evocation), Spell
Focus (transmutation), Spell Penetration, Toughness.
Half-Elf Traits: Half-elves have immunity to magic sleep
effects. For all effects related to race, a half-elf is considered an
High Arcana: Mastery of elements, mastery of shaping, spell
power (10 ranged touch; DC 29]).
Fear Aura (Su): Will DC 20 negates.
Paralyzing Touch (Su): Fortitude DC 20 negates.
Wizard Spells Prepared (caster level 20th; prohibited schools
enchantment and illusion): 0—arcane mark, detect magic, fl are
(DC 20), mage hand, ray of frost (10 ranged touch), resist energy, shatter (DC 23), web (DC 22),
whispering wind; 3rd—dispel magic, fi reball (DC 24), fl y, lightning
bolt (DC 24), nondetection†, ray of exhaustion (10 ranged touch), fear (DC 24), fi re shield, solid fog, wall of ice
(DC 25); 5th—cone of cold (DC 26), dismissal (DC 25), quickened
magic missile, teleport, wall of force; 6th—chain lightning (DC 27),
disintegrate (10 ranged touch),
quickened see invisibility; 7th—delayed blast fi reball (DC 28),
ethereal jaunt, heightened slow (DC 28), prismatic spray (DC 28),
reverse gravity (DC 28); 8th—greater shout (DC 29), horrid wilting
(DC 28), moment of prescience†, quickened enervation (10 ranged touch;
DC 29 to remove), time stop.
Spellbook: as above plus 0—all except enchantment and illusion;
1st—expeditious retreat, feather fall, identify, protection from
good, ray of enfeeblement; 2nd—alter self, bull’s strength, command
undead, knock, rope trick, scorching ray; 3rd—blink, explosive runes,
haste, stinking cloud; 4th—arcane eye, polymorph, stoneskin, wall
of fi re; 5th—overland fl ight, prying eyes, sending, wall of stone;
6th—analyze dweomer, antimagic fi eld, globe of invulnerability,
create undead; 7th—control undead, greater teleport; 8th—iron
body, prismatic wall; 9th—etherealness, wish.
Familiar: Tevangia has in the past had a rat familiar, but
she chooses not to summon a new familiar, seeing a potential
familiar as more of a vulnerability than an asset.
Possessions: cloak of resistance +3, ring of protection +3, headband
of intellect +6, rod of metamagic (empower), brooch of shielding (101),
arcane scroll of greater teleport, 18,000 gp, 25 gems (average value
300 gp), 20 art objects (average value 1,100 gp), spellbook, spell
Liches are as varied as player characters themselves. Here are
two more variants for your campaign.
Though conceptually an oxymoron, the idea of a good-aligned
creature who chooses undead immortality over a normal lifespan
is a compelling one. Such creatures typically dedicate themselves
to some noble cause—protection of a sacred location, the tending
of knowledge or learning, and so forth.
Special Attacks: Turn Undead (Su): A good lich can turn
or destroy undead as a cleric of a level equal to its HD. (If the
good lich already has the ability to turn undead, treat it as if its
effective cleric level for turning was two higher than normal.)
Special Qualities: Turning Immunity (Ex): Good liches cannot
be turned or destroyed by good clerics, nor by neutral clerics who
turn undead. When neutral or evil clerics attempt to rebuke or
command a good lich, the lich is turned or destroyed instead.
A good lich retains the normal lich’s fear aura, though it can
drop or raise the aura as a free action.
CR Adjustment: +1.
The lichfiend is an evil outsider (usually a demon or devil) that
achieves lichdom. A lichfi end must have at least five at-will spell-
like abilities, the Craft Wondrous Item feat, and a caster level of
11 or higher to construct its phylactery. Eligible creatures from
the Monster Manual include the barghest (minimum 11 HD),
balor, glabrezu, marilith, nalfeshnee, succubus, bone devil,
horned devil, ice devil, and pit fi end. The lichfi end retains all
the special abilities it had in life, and gains the typical abilities
of a lich except as noted below.
Special Qualities: A lichfi end’s damage reduction is 15/good
CR Adjustment: +0