Immortality is not for everyone. Immortal is not the same as indestructable. The immortal still die, since they can still be destroyed. However, immortality does stay the looming hand of death by removing the clock of aging from the equation. This removes the time limit from life, but doesn’t change the fact that life will eventually come to a stop. There is nothing in the material realm that lasts forever. Even stars die.
The very act of leaving the folds of the living only to preserve one’s existance in the material realm after physical death is considered in some cultures to be an atrocity, all the worse when it transforms one into an undead that must take the lives of others to survive. What’s more, it’s considered a sin in some cultures, where in others it’s not believed in at all. This last group of course know that immortal creatures, not subject to aging exist, but believe that it’s not truely possible for a mortal creature to become such a thing. Instead, they claim the immortal created is simply printed with the memories of the origional body, and that the real essence and consiousness of the being was lost.
In life, the living material of the body somehow acts as a sort of pin or glue, that keeps the soul pinned in contact with the material world. The soul is thought to be the actual essence of a being, and it connects to the magical energy realm, realm of intellect, divine energy realm, and material realm to function. When the body is killed, the pin comes unstuck, and the soul detaches from the material world.
Lichdom is a general term for connecting the soul to something other than the living flesh of the body.
There are four commonly known kinds of lich. These are the natural lich, the induced arcane lich, the technolich, and the divine lich.
Some beings are potently magical, and exist more in the realm of arcane energy than in the physical realm. These are usually powerful and high level mages. When such a being dies, there comes a brief moment when the soul comes unstuck, but has not yet retreated from the physical world. In this moment, a being with the proper presence of mind and magical strength can attach the soul back to the dead material of the body. Typically the physical body acts like a cork and prevents the arcane portion of a being from acting directly in the physical world, and the being must instead channel magic through their physical bodies. With the body out of the way and the soul unbound, the arcane portion of the being can reach through the soul and grab onto the dead bones and flesh of the corpse, then attach it perminantly.
The transformation into a natural lich can be attempted by any creature with levels in a class using arcane magic at the time of their death. It must be declared immediately upon the character falling below -10 hp or otherwise dying, but shouldn’t be declared lightly. Once a character has become a natural lich, they can never be resurrected or otherwise rejoin the living again. What’s more, the procedure is quite likely to fail under the wrong conditions, or if the character wasn’t powerful enough.
When the declaration is made, the character must roll a D20. If, after modifiers are allied, the roll is 19 or less, the character dies normally. If the roll ends up 20 or above then the character enters the initial stages of becoming a natural lich. The modifiers to this roll are as follows and only as follows: +3/level in an acrcane energy using class, +5 if those they love are in serious danger of dying too at the time of rolling, -10 if the character intentionally killed themselves or through inaction allowed themselves to be killed with the intention of becoming a natural lich or other undead, -30 if the character has no corpse with an intact skeleton onto which they can graft their souls.
If the roll succeeds, the character becomes a lich.
Induced Arcane Lich
It is possible for a high level mage to induce the creation of a lich from an otherwise healthy living being. This is done by magically grasping the soul of a willing creature, killing the living body, then attaching the soul to a suitable object, such as the being own corpse, or a phylactery. A phylactery is an object specially prepared and created to bind a soul, and offers a sort of invulnerability because it channels the souls will into an undead puppet, while retaining the soul itself, meaning if the lich’s body is destroyed, the soul is retained and can simply animate a new puppet.
A phylactery in which to keep the soul costs 150,000gp to create and has a caster level equal to that of the wizard who’s making it at the time it’s created, which must not be less than 11th level and must have the craft wondrous item feat. If the caster is creating their own phylactery, it costs only 120,000gp but requires 4,800XP. The phylactery can take on almost any apperance, but is usually something small and inconspicuous.
This happens when the soul of a living being is fixed into a complex machine after death, instead of being used to animate an undead body. The resulting beings are known as warforged. Their memories are held in crystal banks within their heads, and their souls are bound into a phylactery within the chest. These are easier and more moral to create than an induced arcane lich, because they don’t become an undead and they don’t require as complex or difficult to produce a mechanism in the phylactery.
Those without the means to pay for the transformation occasionally arrange to for the procedure in exchange for a term of indentured servitude.
A divine lich is a being who dies, but whos soul is pressed back to their bodies by a divine force. The products are in some sense living beings, but don’t age and sometimes have strange properties. Some move into an odd state known as deathless, while others appear alive but no longer age. This only happens to those of sufficient divine power, and is often accompanied with a divine mission or servitude to a divine being.
- When a natural lich or induced arcane lich is first transformed, the first thing that happens is that they immediately regain consiousness and are restored to full health. They’re now at the initiate stage. The next four times the character would gain a level, the level progresses them another stage into lich instead. This is involuntary. No further class levels or level boosting templates can be gained until all stages of lichdom have been passed through.