"The road to Hell is paved with good intentions."A Lich is one of the most feared and dangerous creatures in the world. The pinnacle of the necromantic art, the Lich is a creature that has chosen to shed their soul as a method to cheat death, becoming undead. The process involves forcefully tearing their soul and storing into a specially prepared phylactery. As long as the phylactery remains intact, the Lich can operate forever with no fear of death.
The word Lich is derived from the Old english word lic, meaning "corpse". The town of Lichfield in Great Britain was even named for the corpse of a Roman martyr that was buried there. It seems fitting, then, that the first known Lich was Saxon.
Koschei the Deathless is the first known human to hide their soul away in a phylactery. A sorcerer, he was banished from his native Scandinavia for "witchcraft", an attempted coup and crimes against his people. He traveled for many years before settling down in a small village in what would later be Siberia.
There, he witnessed vampires descend upon the village, slaughtering most of the inhabitats (Koschei himself only escaped, it is said, because of his great magic). He fled the village and traveled into Russia, where he met and seduced a young witch who was in the service of a Vampire Lord. He tried to get her to tell him the secrets of the vampires and he spent years trying to deduce the secrets to their power.
He eventually discovered the spell that created the first vampire and twisted it. Using power from his witch and a bound demon, Koschei managed to store his soul away into needle that he hid on an island in the Mediterranean sea, killing his witch in the process. Now immortal, Koschei began a dark descent into madness, cruelty and oppression.
Centuries passed and Koschei the Deathless (also known as the Mad King) became a target of the Knights Templar. They waged a war with him that lasted for decades and they managed to slay him several times. But alas, each time Koschei fell, he would rise again, more powerful than before. A journal from one of the knights was discovered that bore cryptic writing on the final page, describing an encounter with the Mad King. Roughly translated, it reads:
"We confronted the Mad King in his lair and held up the ancient Jewel of Life, a powerful diamond that we had spent ten months hunting for, and we triumphantly declared that we would rid the world of his evil. He only laughed. 'With that paltry thing?' I think not,'. Then he stretched out his hand and the gem crumbled to dust in our fingers. 'Now do your best to destroy this body,' he hissed, 'Make it amusing this time.' We rained down fire and acid, sword and holy power and he eventually fell before out assault. But with his last breath, he laughed and said, 'Come back next month with something better.' We've been killing him for years now and we are running out of ideas."--Journal of an unknown Knight of Templar, appox. 1307
It took nearly two decades before the secret to his power: the needle; his phylactery. The Templars set out for the island, where they encountered the undead in Koschei's service. It was an eight-month long, bloody campaign that cost the lives of many templars, but they eventually found Koschei's needle spread out among the grass. It is thought the term "finding a needle in a haystack" originated in part from this event.
The templars used a witch to destroy it with a spell that ended her own life and then launched a final assault against the Mad King, eventually killing Koschei the Deathless. After his death, his palace was burned down and his papers and research--including the means to create a lich--were also destroyed completely in order to keep another from taking the same path.
But they were deceived as one of the templars saved a copy of the research and took it with him to Edinburgh, Scotland when the Templars eventually were forced to flee mainland Eurpoe. He thought that preserving it would be a means to combat another lich should the need arise. It remained lost in the tunnels beneath the city for several centuries more and the legend of Koschei the Deathless faded into myth and was all but forgotten.
A Lich can be found anywhere on Earth, as weather and other factors are no longer a concern.
A Lich has no material or physical need to eat. While they can eat and drink, and their bodies process them naturally, a lich does not usually consume food. When they do, they tend to eat whatever they are in life.
Transformation & Breeding Edit
A Lich cannot mate with humans and does not "spread" its affliction to others like a vampire. A Lich can only become a lich through the use of a perverse, lengthy process that culminates in an evil ritual, a corrupt spell and the ultimate act of evil--murder. Only then can the soul be removed from the person and hidden elsewhere.
One does not become a lich by accident or stumble into it through misadventure. A lich is not a puppet, a blood-mad monster or an accident of rage and despair. The Lich is instead a creature of design and ultimate will, carefully and rationally planning its transition from life into undead immortality.
Of all the undead, a Lich is perhaps the most terrifying precisely because it chooses its own fate. The Lich is a dangerous opponent: cagey, prepared, ambitious enough to want to tear its soul from its own body and intelligent enough to figure out how to do it.
A Lich appears much as it did in life. The color of its skin is a little pale (as blood no longer flows) and its skin is cool to the touch. All Liches have dead-man's eye, which is the effect of the iris losing all pigmentation and turning a pale white. Their hair becomes thin and often turns white over centuries. They often have a gaunt appearance, especially right after resurrection.
A Lich is mad and cruel, a monster without remorse or empathy. The loss of their soul has resulted in the loss of everything good about them. All that remains is an evil husk. Anything good about them has been perverted and corrupted; love turns into obsession and good humor turns to rage.
But it also magnifies everything bad about the person, as jealousy turns to paranoia and minor prejudice turns to genocide. Megalomania drives the Lich to transform its surroundings into a "more perfect" world that they envision.
Powers & Abilities Edit
Liches are beings of supreme evil, almost equal to in power to some demons. Listed below are the common traits all Liches share:
- Corruption: A Lich's lair is a place of death and death follows the lich wherever it goes. Plant life cannot survive in the presence of a lich and entire sections of forest will whither and die in weeks if a Lich is holed up nearby.
- Enhances Physical Abilities: A lich's natural strength, durability and speed are dramatically increased. A lich is strong enough to outclass a vampire with little effort.
- Enhanced Powers: Whatever supernatural abilities a lich possessed in life are exponentially more powerful.
- Immortality: A lich is immortal and cannot be killed with conventional weapons, disease or poisons.
- Resurrection: A lich that is killed with its phylactery intact will rise again, between 1 and 10 days later (usually depending on the severity of the wound that killed it). Only its skin can be dissolved; its bones will remain until the phylactery is destroyed. Once resurrected, the lich will look exactly as it did in life, with no visible wounds. It then becomes resistent or altogether immune to whatever killed it before, so one cannot kill a Lich the same way twice.
- Phylactery: A Lich has an item of great importance to them known as a Phylactery that contains a piece of their soul. As long as this item is intact, the Lich will resurrect every time it is killed. If damaged but not destroyed, it will repair itself.
- Prestidigitation: A Lich can make minor charms to affect the minds of humans; such as bringing flowers to life, darken the color of an area or create faint noises.
- Undead Control: A Lich can compel and command other undead much in the same way a Vampire can compel a human. They can also raise those they kill as pseudo-intelligent zombies.
- See Invisibility: A Lich can see through glamers and invisibility spells, as well as displacements.
- Spell Resistance: A Lich is has a natural resistance to magic spells of any variety, making it difficult to affect a lich with magic.
- Telepathy: A lich is capable of mental communication and domination of human minds.
- Consecrated Iron: Knives or bullets made of consecrated iron tend to work and are somehow able to override the resistance that develops when a Lich reanimates.
- Phylactery: If the phylactery is destroyed, the lich is weakened and can be permanently destroyed. The spell to destroy a phylactery requires pheonix ash, holy water and the entire lifeforce of a witch or warlock.
- Sacred Weapons: Sacred Weapons, such as the Spear of Destiny, are the only means to truly slay a Lich.