Lich (Arcane)

Creatures that are banned from entering the afterlife but wander at its gates, stuck between life and death. They are living, immortal creatures with close ties to the occult and the powers of death through a mystical spirit that serves as their guide, an emissary of the other side and powerful ally. While liches are natural necromancers, these creatures are not inherently evil and often fight against undead and other beings that subvert the natural order of life and death.

Physical Description

Much like mummies, liches are born looking perfectly human, sharing the great diversity that humans have between one another. As their powers grow, so does their link with the afterlife, making their bodies gradually wilt, at first turning gaunt and skeletal, and ultimately becoming just skeletons, animated by their soul and guardian spirit. As they gain this deathly appearance, some liches start wearing masks, breastplates and thick gloves to keep the semblance of a normal appearance even as their body is losing it, though many older liches no longer care about their appearance and make no attempt at hiding it.

Racial Traits

  • Hit Die: A lich uses a d8 as Hit Die at every lich HD he or she gains.
  • Ability Score Modifiers: A lich has little strength in her bony limbs, but has great mental capabilities. They gain –2 Strength, +2 Intelligence, and +2 Charisma.
  • Size: Liches are Medium creatures and gain no bonuses or penalties because of their size.
  • Type: Liches are monstrous humanoids.
  • Base Speed: Liches have a base land speed of 30 feet.
  • Languages: Liches begin play speaking Common. Liches with high Intelligence scores can choose any language they want (except secret languages, such as Druidic). See the Linguistics skill page for more information about these languages.
  • Terrain: Underground.
  • Saving ThrowsIntelligence-based.
  • Starting Wealth: 2d6 × 10 gp (average 70gp.) In addition, each character begins play with an outfit worth 10 gp or less.

Defense Racial Traits

  • Deathless Spirit: Liches gain resistance 5 against negative energy damage. They do not lose hit points when they gain a negative level, and they gain a +2 racial bonus on saving throws against death effects, energy drain, negative energy, and spells or spell-like abilities of the necromancy
  • Eternal Hope: Liches gain a +2 racial bonus on saving throws against fear and despair effects. Also, once per day, after a natural roll of 1 on a d20 roll, members of this race may reroll and use the second result.
  • Two Souls: Liches gain a +2 bonus on all Will saving throws.
  • Wandering Soul: Liches are expert in dealing with eldritch and unusual creatures. They gain a +2 bonus to saves against the extraordinary, supernatural and spell-like abilities of aberrations, outsiders, and undead

Feat and Skill Racial Traits

  • Cave Dweller: Liches gain a +1 bonus on Knowledge (dungeoneering) and Survival checks made underground.
  • Focused Study: At 1st, 9th, and 16th level, liches gain Skill Focus in a skill of their choice as a bonus feat.

Magic Racial Traits

  • Arcane Focus: Liches gain a +2 racial bonus on concentration checks to cast arcane spells defensively.
  • Soul Seer: Liches gain the following spell-like ability:

Senses Racial Traits

  • Darkvision: Liches can see in the dark up to 60 feet.

Other Racial Traits

  • Light and Dark (Su): Once per day, as an immediate action, a lich can treat positive and negative energies as if it were an undead creature, taking damage from positive energy and healing damage from negative energy. This ability lasts for 1 minute once activated.

Class Skills

A lich’s class skills are: Craft (Int), Fly (Dex), Heal (Wis), Knowledge (all) (Int), Linguistics (Int), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Spellcraft (Int), and Use Magic Device (Cha).

Skill Ranks per Level: 2+ Int Modifier

Table: Lich
Level Hit Die BAB Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Special Spells Per Day
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th
1st 1 +0 +0 +0 +2 [Feat], From beyond I, guardian spirit, life link 1
2nd 2 +1 +0 +0 +3 Bond senses 2
3rd 3 +2 +1 +1 +3 [Feat], From beyond II 3
4th 4 +3 +1 +1 +4 [Ability Score Increase], Soul guard 3 1
5th 5 +3 +1 +1 +4 [Feat], From beyond III 4 2
6th 6 +4 +2 +2 +5 Skeletal shift 4 3
7th 7 +5 +2 +2 +5 [Feat], From beyond IV 4 3 1
8th 8 +6/+1 +2 +2 +6 [Ability score increase], Command undead 4 4 2
9th 9 +6/+1 +3 +3 +6 [Feat], From beyond V 5 4 2
10th 10 +7/+2 +3 +3 +7 Great beyond, resilient eidolon 5 4 3
11th 11 +8/+3 +3 +3 +7 [Feat], From beyond VI 5 4 4 2
12th 12 +9/+4 +4 +4 +8 [Ability score increase], Greater soul guard, Skeletal shift 5 5 4 3
13th 13 +9/+4 +4 +4 +8 [Feat], From beyond VII 5 5 4 3 1
14th 14 +10/+5 +4 +4 +9 Life bond, spirit magic 5 5 4 4 2
15th 15 +11/+6/+1 +5 +5 +9 [Feat], From beyond VIII 5 5 5 4 3
16th 16 +12/+7/+2 +5 +5 +10 [Ability score increase], Merge forms 5 5 5 4 3 1
17th 17 +12/+7/+2 +5 +5 +10 [Feat], From beyond IX 5 5 5 4 4 2
18th 18 +13/+8/+3 +6 +6 +11 Life store, Skeletal shift 5 5 5 5 4 3
19th 19 +14/+9/+4 +6 +6 +11 [Feat], Grand beyond 5 5 5 5 5 4
20th 20 +15/+10/+5 +6 +6 +12 [Ability score increase], Twin soul 5 5 5 5 5 5

Class Features

All of the following are class features of the lich.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency

Liches are proficient with all simple weapons. Liches are also proficient with light armor. A Lich can cast lich spells while wearing light armor without incurring in the normal arcane spell failure chance. Like any other arcane spellcaster, a lich wearing medium or heavy armor, or using a shield, incurs a chance of arcane spell failure if the spell in question has a somatic component. A multiclass lich still incurs the normal arcane spell failure chance for arcane spells received from other classes.


A lich casts arcane spells drawn from the lich spell list. A lich must choose and prepare her spells ahead of time.

To learn or cast a spell, a lich must have an Intelligence score equal to at least 10 + the spell level. The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against a lich’s spell is 10 + the spell level + the lich’s Intelligence modifier.

A lich can cast only a certain number of spells of each spell level per day. Her base daily spell allotment is given on the table above. In addition, she receives bonus spells per day if she has a high Intelligence score.

A lich may know any number of spells. She must choose and prepare her spells ahead of time by getting 8 hours of sleep and spending 1 hour communing with her guardian spirit. While communing, the lich decides which spells to prepare.

Guardian spirit

A lich begins play linked with a spiritual creature that serves as a bridge between the lich’s physical body and the afterlife. This spirit, while normally able to do little more than commune with the lich, can be made to take a physical appearance through a special ritual. A guardian spirit, while technically an undead, functions exactly like an outsider, except for the fact that it is healed by negative energy and damaged by positive energy.  A guardian spirit has the same alignment as the lich that calls it and can speak all of her languages. Guardian spirits are treated as summoned creatures, except that they are not sent back to their home plane until reduced to negative hit points equal to or greater than their Constitution score. In addition, due to its tie to its lich, a guardian spirit can touch and attack creatures warded by protection from evil and similar effects that prevent contact with summoned creatures.

A lich can make her guardian spirit manifest with a ritual that takes 1 minute to perform. When summoned this way, the guardian spirit’s hit points are unchanged from the last time it was dismissed or banished. The only exception to this is if the guardian spirit was slain, in which case it returns with half its normal hit points. The guardian spirit does not heal naturally. The guardian spirit remains materialized until dismissed by the lich (a standard action). If the guardian spirit’s body dissolves due to death, it cannot be materialized again until the following day. The guardian spirit cannot be forced to dissolve by means of dispel magic, but spells such as dismissal and banishment work normally. If the lich is unconscious, asleep, or killed, her guardian spirit immediately dissolves. The guardian spirit takes a form shaped by the lich’s desires. The guardian spirit’s Hit Dice, saving throws, skills, feats, and abilities are tied to the lich’s class level and increase as the lich gains levels. In addition, each guardian spirit receives a pool of evolution points, based on the lich’s class level, that can be used to give the guardian spirit different abilities and powers. Whenever the lich gains a level, she must decide how these points are spent, and they are set until she gains another level of lich.

Whenever the guardian spirit is dismissed, slain, or otherwise forced to dissolve, only the physical shell of the spirit is affected, but the guardian spirit itself never leaves the lich.

The guardian spirit’s physical appearance is up to the lich, but it always appears as some sort of fantastical creature, and has a ghastly, macabre feel to it that expresses its ties to the afterlife. This control is not fine enough to make the guardian spirit appear like a specific creature. The guardian spirit also bears a glowing rune that is identical to a rune that appears on the lich’s forehead as long as the guardian spirit is materialized. While this rune can be hidden through mundane means, it cannot be concealed through magic that changes appearance, such as alter self or polymorph (although invisibility does conceal it as long as the spell lasts).

Full details on how a guardian spirit works while materialized can be found on the eidolon‘s page.

Though the most evident power of the guardian spirit lies in its material form, the guardian spirit is always watching over the lich and providing her with support, even when not materialized.

Whenever the guardian spirit is not materialized, the lich gains the bonus of the Alertness feat.

A guardian spirit teaches the lich her magic and helps to guide her along her path. The guardian spirit stores all of the spells that a lich knows, and a lich cannot prepare a spell that is not stored by her guardian spirit. A lich’s guardian spirit begins play knowing three 1st-level spells of the lich’s choice. The lich also selects a number of additional 1st-level spells equal to her Intelligence modifier to store in her guardian spirit. At each new lich level, she adds two new spells of any spell level or levels that she can cast (based on her new lich level) to her guardian spirit. A lich can also add additional spells to her guardian spirit through a special ritual. [SummonerEidolon ; WitchWitch’s Familiar]

Life link (Su)

Starting at 1st level, a lich forms a close bond with her guardian spirit. Whenever the guardian spirit takes enough damage to make her physical body dissolve, the lich can sacrifice any number of hit points. Each hit point sacrificed in this way prevents 1 point of damage done to the guardian spirit. This can prevent the guardian spirit from dissolving.

In addition, the guardian spirit and the lich must remain within 100 feet of one another for the guardian spirit to remain at full strength. If the guardian spirit is beyond 100 feet but closer than 1,000 feet, its current and maximum hit points totals are reduced by 50%. If the guardian spirit is more than 1,000 feet away but closer than 10,000 feet, its current and maximum hit point totals are reduced by 75%. If the guardian spirit is more than 10,000 feet away, it immediately dissolves. Current hit points lost in this way are not restored when the guardian spirit gets closer to its lich, but its maximum hit point total does return to normal. [SummonerLife Link]

From beyond (Sp)

The lich can use the link to the afterlife granted by her guardian spirit to temporary condense spiritual matter into a quasi-real creature. Starting at 1st level, a lich can cast summon monster I as a spell-like ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + her Intelligence modifier. Using this ability requires much of the guardian spirit’s concentration, therefore the lich can only use this ability when the guardian spirit is not materialized. The lich can cast this spell as a standard action and the creatures remain for 1 minute per level (instead of 1 round per level). At 3rd level, and every 2 levels thereafter, the power of this ability increases by one spell level, allowing her to summon more powerful creatures (to a maximum of summon monster IX at 17th level). [SummonerSummon Monster]

Bond senses (Su)

Starting at 2nd level a lich can, as a standard action, share the senses of her guardian spirit, hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, and touching everything the guardian spirit does. She can use this ability a number of rounds per day equal to her lich level. There is no range to this effect, but the guardian spirit and the lich must be on the same plane, and the guardian spirit must be materialized. The lich can end this effect as a free action. [SummonerBond Senses]

Soul guard (Ex)

At 4th level, whenever a lich is within her guardian spirit’s reach, the lich receives a +2 shield bonus to her Armor Class and a +2 circumstance bonus on her saving throws. This bonus does not apply if the guardian spirit is grappled, helpless, paralyzed, stunned, or unconscious.

If the guardian spirit is not materialized, the lich instead gains a +2 insight bonus to Perception checks and initiative checks. [SummonerShield Ally]

Skeletal shift (Ex)

Beginning at 6th level, the lich starts to unfetter herself from the frailties of flesh, letting the energies of the afterlife flow through her.

At 6th level, the lich gains a bonus equal to half her level on saving throws against diseases and poisons, and becomes immune to fatigue.

At 12th level, she gains damage reduction 5/bludgeoning and magic, and becomes immune to sickness and exhaustion.

At 18th level, she gains damage reduction 10/bludgeoning and magic, and becomes immune to diseases and poisons.

Command undead (Su)

At 8th level, a lich gains Command Undead as a bonus feat.

She also gains the ability to channel negative energy a number of times per day equal to 3 + her Charisma modifier, but she may channel energy only to use Command Undead.

The lich can take other feats to add to this ability, such as Improved Channel, but not feats that alter this ability, such as Alignment Channel.

Great beyond

A lich of 10th level can make any creature summoned from the spirit matter of the afterlife manifest an aspect of death.

When using her from beyond ability, the lich can call a creature from any summon monster list at one spell level higher than normal (for example a creature from summon monster III using summon monster IV); if she does, she can apply the mummified creature, skeletal champion, wight, or juju zombie template to that creature.

The creature’s alignment doesn’t change even if the template is applied, and summoning creatures in this way is not an evil action, as the creatures are quasi-real and only gain the traits of those undead creatures, but are not animated corpses. 

Resilient eidolon

At 10th level, the lich gains Resilient Eidolon as a bonus feat, even if she doesn’t meet the requirements; it applies to her guardian spirit.

Greater soul guard (Ex)

At 12th level, whenever an ally is within the guardian spirit’s reach, the ally receives a +2 shield bonus to its Armor Class and a +2 circumstance bonus o its saving throws. If this ally is the lich, these bonuses increase to +4.

This bonus does not apply if the guardian spirit is grappled, helpless, paralyzed, stunned, or unconscious.

Whenever the guardian spirit is not materialized, the lich gains a +4 bonus to Perception checks and initiative checks, and can always roll initiative twice, and take the better result. [SummonerGreater Shield Ally]

Life bond (Su)

At 14th level, a lich’s life becomes linked to its guardian spirit’s. As long as the guardian spirit has 1 or more hit points, the lich is protected from harm. Damage in excess of that which would reduce the lich to fewer than 0 hit points is instead transferred to the guardian spirit. This damage is transferred 1 point at a time, meaning that as soon as the guardian spirit is reduced to a number of negative hit points equal to its Constitution score, all excess damage remains with the lich.

Effects that cause death but not damage are unaffected by this ability. This ability does not affect spells like baleful polymorph, flesh to stone, imprisonment, or other spells that do not cause actual damage. [SummonerLife Bond]

Spirit magic (Su)

At 14th level, the guardian spirit becomes able to assist the lich in her spellcasting.

Whenever the guardian spirit is not materialized, the lich gains a +4 competence bonus to concentration checks. Furthermore, the guardian spirit can concentrate on a single spell instead of the lich, allowing the lich to maintain the concentration on a spell as a free action.

If the lich has more than one spell that requires concentration active at the same time, the guardian spirit can only concentrate on one, and the lich must decide which one. The guardian spirit can concentrate on a single spell for a maximum of one round per level, after which the concentration is broken. The lich cannot resume to concentrate on a spell by herself after having directed the concentration to her guardian spirit.

Merge forms (Su)

At 16th level, as a full-round action, a lich can touch her materialized guardian spirit and the two can merge forms. This transformation includes all of the lich’s gear. While merged in this way, the lich is protected from harm and cannot be the target of spells and effects. All effects and spells currently targeting the lich are suspended until the lich emerges from the guardian spirit (although durations continue to expire).

The lich can cast spells while inside the guardian spirit by taking control of the guardian spirit for the duration of the casting. Any material components used for these spells are taken from the lich’s gear, even though they are otherwise inaccessible. The lich can direct all of the guardian spirit’s actions while merged, can perceive through its senses, and can speak through its voice.

The lich can use this ability for a number of rounds per day equal to her lich level. She can end this effect at any time as a swift action. The lich emerges in a square adjacent to the guardian spirit if able. If the guardian spirit is dissolved while the lich is merged with it, the lich is immediately ejected, taking 4d6 points of damage, and is stunned for 1 round. [SummonerMerge Forms]

Life store (Su)

At 18th level, a lich learns how to return from death by exploiting the link with her guardian spirit.

If the lich dies while the guardian spirit is materialized and within 100 feet of her, the lich’s soul leaves her body to merge with the guardian spirit’s physical shell. The guardian spirit no longer dissolves when the lich dies.

After 1d10 days, the guardian spirit will finish the rejuvenation process and the lich will emerge again, alive and fully healed, from the guardian spirit’s body. If the guardian spirit is forced to dissolve before this process is completed, the lich will remain dead.

While the guardian spirit holds the lich’s soul, she cannot be brought back to life unless the guardian spirit is touching the lich’s corpse but, if the two are touching, resurrection spells only need half the material components to take effect.

Grand beyond

At 19th level a lich can make any creature summoned from the spirit matter of the afterlife manifest an aspect of death.

When using her from beyond ability, the lich can call a creature from any summon monster list at one spell level higher than normal (for example a creature from summon monster III using summon monster IV); if she does, she can apply the forsaken lich, ghost, dread ghoul, graveknight, nosferatu, or vampire template to that creature.

The creature’s alignment doesn’t change even if the template is applied, and summoning creatures in this way is not an evil action, as the creatures are quasi-real and only gain the traits of those undead creatures, but are not animated corpses.

Twin soul (Su)

At 20th level, the combined powers of the lich and her guardian spirit become even stronger. When it is manifested, the guardian spirit gains the benefits of the shield guardian template.

When the guardian spirit is not manifested, a total number of times per day equal to the lich’s Charisma modifier (minimum 1), the lich can cast any spell she has prepared as a swift action, as if modified by Quicken Spell, even if she doesn’t have the feat, without changing the spell’s level or having to prepare it modified by the metamagic feat.

Lich Spell List

1st Level: alarm, ant haul, cause fear, chill touch, compel hostility, corrosive touch, daze monster, decompose corpse, endure elements, enlarge person, expeditious retreat, feather fall, icicle dagger, identify, infernal healing, inflict light wounds, jump, jury-rig, life conduit, lighten object, mage armor, magic fang, magic mouth, mount, protection from chaos/evil/good/law, ray of enfeeblement, ray of sickening, reduce person, restore corpse, sculpt corpse, shield, summon minor monster, summon monster I, unfetter, unseen servant, ventriloquism.

2nd Level: ablative barrier, alter self, barkskin, bear’s endurance, blindness/deafness, blur, bull’s strength, cat’s grace, command undead, communal ant haul, communal mount, communal protection from chaos/evil/good/law, death knell, defending bone, detect thoughts, eagle’s splendor, false life, fox’s cunning, ghoul touch, glide, haste, inflict moderate wounds, invisibility, lesser evolution surge, lesser restore eidolon, levitate, misdirection, owl’s wisdom, phantom steed, protection from arrows, resist energy, scare, see invisibility, slow, spectral hand, spider climb, summon eidolon, summon monster II, summon swarm, unshakable chill, warding weapon, web shelter, wind wall.

3rd Level: accursed glare, aqueous orb, black tentacles, charm monster, communal phantom steed, communal protection from arrows, communal resist energy, communal spider climb, control summoned creature, deathwine, devolution, dimensional anchor, dispel magic, displacement, evolution surge, fire shield, fly, gentle repose, greater invisibility, greater magic fang, halt undead, heroism, howling agony, hydrophobia, improved life conduit, inflict serious wounds, lesser animate dead, locate creature, magic circle against chaos/evil/good/law, marionette possession, mass enlarge person, mass reduce person, nondetection, phantom chariot, protection from energy, rage, ray of exhaustion, restore eidolon, sands of time, seek thoughts, stoneskin, summon monster IV, tongues, vampiric touch, wall of fire, wall of ice, water breathing.

4th Level: animate dead, baleful polymorph, bestow curse, boneshatter, communal protection from energy, communal stoneskin, communal tongues, dimension door, dismissal, enervation, greater evolution surge, greater false life, greater infernal healing, hold monster, inflict critical wounds, lesser astral projection, mage’s faithful hound, magic jar, mass bear’s endurance, mass bull’s strength, mass cat’s grace, mass daze, mass eagle’s splendor, mass fox’s cunning, mass owl’s wisdom, overland flight, purified calling, sending, shadow projection, skeleton crew, summon monster V, summon stampede, summoner conduit, transmogrify, vitriolic mist, wall of stone.

5th Level: banishment, blight, blood boil, eaglesoul, energy siege shot, ethereal jaunt, geniekind, ghoul army, greater dispel magic, greater heroism, greater life conduit, mass inflict light wounds, mass invisibility, mass lighten object, plane shift, possess object, repulsion, sequester, simulacrum, spell turning, suffocation, summon monster VII, symbol of pain, teleport, unseen crew, wall of iron, waves of fatigue, wreath of blades.

6th Level: antipathy, astral projection, binding, circle of death, control undead, create undead, dimensional lock, discern location, dominate monster, eyebite, greater energy siege shot, harm, incendiary cloud, major curse, mass charm monster, protection from spells, summon monster VIII, symbol of fear, sympathy, temporary resurrection, undeath to death, unwilling shield, walk through space, waves of exhaustion.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

Of Stranger Bonds, © 2019, Alessandro Passera

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