Dont scratch this lich

Liches are undead spellcasters that have purposefully subjected themselves to undeath in order to gain the immortality and power that comes from their transformation. Unlike more base forms of undead, liches retain their knowledge, intellect and memories of their mortal life. Because of the incredible knowledge and power required to become a lich, most liches are highly intelligent and accomplished wizards, though some are sorcerors and clerics.


Liches are skeletal looking beings, appearing gaunt and with skin stretched tightly across their bones. Appearances can vary greatly between different liches depending on their age and the success of the process they’ve gone through to become a lich. Some will appear as a skeleton in fine, regal clothes while others will appear to be grotesque, decaying corpses. While many do have eyes, they no longer require eyes to see. For liches whose eyes have rotted or been destroyed, red lights will flicker in the empty eye sockets instead.

When liches move, they tend not to walk but rather float through the air. They also lack the organs to produce speech but can magically project their voice and will often even move their jaw to present the illusion of natural speech.

Because liches can live forever (if they’re not killed by some rogue adventurer, though this would take some doing), they tend to be very patient beings, forming plans and machinations that might take decades or even centuries to accomplish, knowing that time is not a barrier like it is for mortal beings. Often, a lich can simply outlive a foe rather than be forced to deal with them.


In order to obtain immortality, a lich will transfer their life force into a phylactery; a magical artefact, often a metal box, inside which, a lich would place magical incantations on pieces of parchment. If a lich is “killed”, then it would be able to use the life essence stored in the phylactery to bring itself back to life. The only way to permanently kill a lich is to destroy both its body, and its phylactery. For this reason, liches keep their phylacteries extremely well protected.

One side-effect of the transformation into a lich is that in order to preserve itself, a lich must feed on the souls of mortals. Even the rare few good-aligned liches need to do this though they might only do so to evil, unworthy souls for instance.

Types of liches

There are several different types of liches that can come into being beyond human liches:


An alhoon is a mind flayer that has gone through the process of becoming a lich.


Although the vast majority of liches are incredibly evil beings, archliches are not. Some individuals that become liches do not do so with evil intent but with goodness in mind. One example is Lady Alathene Moonstar of Waterdeep who became a lich in order to hunt down her brother, Lord Vanrak, who had become a murderous undead being.


Sometimes, the god Bane would transform one of his servants into an undead being. Although not as powerful as most liches at first, a banelich becomes more powerful with age and can eventually become as powerful as other liches


Some elves become archliches, a gift given them by Seldarine allowing them to preserve their life so they can teach and council their families in the ways of magic and act as guardians. Such archliches are known as baelnorns.


A demilich is a lich that travels to other planes of existence in order to gain even more knowledge and power.


A dracolich is a dragon that has been transformed into a lich

Notable liches

  • Larloch
  • Lady Alathene Moonstar
  • Morik Stormhand
  • Szass Tam
  • Valindra Shadowmantle
  • Zrie Prakis

Published by DM Ben

Ben is an experienced dungeon master and player who's been immersed in the D&D universe since he was a teenager over 20 years ago. When he's not writing for Dungeon Mister, Ben loves creating fiendish puzzles and devious dungeons for his players. He's an especially big fan of the Ravenloft and Dragonlance settings.

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