Like normal liches, dread liches are powerful undead spellcasters who used vile magic and dreadful ceremonies to prolong their time in the living world. However, the process of becoming a dread lich is a greater secret than the evil ceremonies required to become a normal lich. Although powerful spellcasters sometimes discover this secret while preparing for lichdom, most dread liches were once normal liches who spent centuries researching arcane lore in search of the secret.
“Dread Lich” is an acquired template that can be added to any living creature capable of creating the required phylactery, or to any standard lich (referred to hereafter as the base creature). A dread lich uses all the base creature’s statistics and special abilities except as noted here.
Challenge Rating: If base creature is a lich +1; otherwise +3.
Alignment: Any evil.
Senses: A dread lich gains darkvision 120 ft.
Aura: A dread lich gains the following aura:
Creatures of less than 5 HD in a 60-foot radius that looks upon a dread lich must succeed on a Will save or become panicked. Creatures with 5 HD or more must succeed at a Will save or be frightened for a number of rounds equal to the dread lich’s total Hit Dice. A creature that successfully saves cannot be affected again by the same dread lich’s aura for 24 hours. This is a mind-affecting fear effect. The save DC is Charisma-based.
Armor Class: Natural armor class increases by +5.
Hit Dice: Change all of the base creature’s racial HD to d8s.
A dread lich is immune to all polymorph effects except those it casts on itself.
When a dread lich is destroyed, its phylactery (which is typically hidden by the lich in a safe place far from where it chooses to dwell) immediately begins to rebuild the dread lich’s body nearby. The process takes 1d10 days—if the body is destroyed before that time passes, the phylactery merely starts the process anew. After this time passes the lich wakens fully healed (albeit without any gear it left behind on its old body), usually with a burning need for revenge against those who previously destroyed it.
Speed: A dread lich can fly with perfect maneuverability at a speed equal to the base creature’s highest speed. If the base creature already has a fly speed, its maneuverability becomes perfect. If the base creature gains flight, it is a supernatural ability.
If the base creature is not a lich, a dread lich gains a touch attack that it can use once per round. A lich fights without weapons uses its natural weapons (if it has any) in addition to its touch attack (which is treated as a primary natural weapon that replaces one claw or slam attack, if the creature has any). A lich armed with a weapon uses its weapons normally and can use its touch attack as a secondary natural weapon.
A dread lich’s touch attack uses negative energy to deal 1d10 points of damage to living creatures + 1 point of damage per 2 Hit Dice possessed by the dread lich. As negative energy, this damage can be used to heal undead creatures. A dread lich can take a full-round action to infuse itself with this energy, healing damage as if it had used its touch attack against itself.
Special Attacks: If the base creature is a normal lich, the dread lich loses all the special attacks it gained from that template and gains the ones below. Otherwise, the dread lich retains all the base creature’s special attacks and gains those described here.
All of a dread lich’s spells from the necromancy school, spells with the evil descriptor, and spell-like abilities are automatically affected as if by the Empower Spell feat. Such spells do not require higher-level spell slots or increased casting times. The Empower Spell feat cannot be used to further augment these spells.
The curse must be removed before any attempt to remove the paralysis can occur. Further, the curse slowly drains away the target’s Constitution at the rate of one point of Con drain a day. A creature’s Con cannot be restored until the curse is removed. If the creature’s Con is reduced to 0, it immediately disintegrates into a pile of ash and bones. Only powerful magic, such as true resurrection, miracle or wish, can bring them back to life.
After the curse is removed, remove paralysis can free the victim. If either attempt to remove the curse or the paralysis fails, the creature’s Con immediately goes to 0 and it dies as above. Both the paralysis and the curse cannot otherwise be dispelled. Anyone under the effect of the cursed touch seems dead, though a DC 20 Perception check or a DC 15 Heal check reveals that the victim is still alive.
Creatures immune to paralysis, except for other dread liches, can still be inflicted by the curse of the dread lich’s touch. The save DC and the DC to remove the curse are both based on the dread lich’s Charisma.
A -4 penalty applies to any dispel check made to dispel a spell cast by a dread lich.
Spellcasting: The dread lich can cast spells as it did in life.
Feats: The dread lich gains Combat Casting, Command Undead, Greater Spell Penetration, Spell Focus (necromancy), and Spell Penetration as bonus feats. The dread lich’s caster level for the Command Undead feat is either 15 or 2 + its divine caster level, whichever is greater.
An integral part of becoming a dread lich is creating a magic phylactery in which to store its life force. Unless the phylactery is located and destroyed, the dread lich reforms next to its phylactery 1d4 days after its apparent death. It does not matter how far away the dread lich is from its phylactery, but the two must be on the same plane. If the phylactery is on a different plane, the dread lich reforms 1d4 days after the phylactery is brought to the plane on which the dread lich was destroyed.
Each dread lich must make its own phylactery—a task that requires the Craft Wondrous Item feat. The base creature must be able to cast spells or use spell-like abilities, and its caster level must be at least 15th. The phylactery costs 200,000 gp to create and has a caster level equal to that of its creator at the time of creation.
The most common kind of phylactery is a Tiny mithral box that has hardness 20, 40 hit points, and a break DC of 40. Other types of phylacteries, such as rings, amulets, or similar items, can also exist.
Advanced Bestiary, Copyright 2014, Green Ronin Publishing, LLC; Author Jeff Hersh, Developer Owen K.C. Stephens