LICH RACE GROUP
Liches are part of the Undead group. Copy and past to join in-world:
See the Undead group for any leadership information. You are free to make your own unofficial group, according to the unofficial grouping rules.
It was said once, long ago, that the only sure things in life are death and taxes. That was before the world learned of supernaturals. Now, not even death is so certain. All manner of beasts walk the Earth that will never die of natural causes, lifespans stretching over history's horizon, making a simple mockery of humanity's greatest goal. But some folk aren't content to sit back and let the vampires and demons have their centuries of existence. Some folk are willing to go to great lengths to achieve immortality on their own terms. Others simply see no greater challenge than that of conquering death itself.
Liches are an ill-understood lot, often antagonistic or at the least unpleasant to be around, with few people knowing anything about them that hasn't been presented in popular culture. Not many are willing to risk their lives to find out more. The truth is, liches are people who feel a drive so intense it is barely comprehensible: They are willing to dedicate their lives to death. When one is willing to give up breathing, eating, sleeping, friends, family, love and ultimately their lives, so as to focus further on the attainment of knowledge and power, what is truly left of the person they once were?
Arcane scholars, utterly morbid, commonly obsessed, one is not born a lich as they are a demon, nor is one turned into a lich by the whims of another as they are a vampire. All liches achieved their status through a deep-rooted fascination with, and comprehension of, the nature of mortality, earning their eternal life and power, and most of them feel deeply superior to others as a result. Dismissive of the living and of the supernaturals who were born with their power, many plunge headlong into further research, or dedicate themselves to death gods and spawn cults. They are, as a general rule, not nice people. And as the years roll on, they only get worse...
RACES AND LICHDOM
Liches are not truly a race unto themselves, they are the results of a magic-using being of another race completing the Ritual of Undying to achieve a special form of immortality and power.
- They lose any racial powers & abilities they would have.
- They typically lose any required racial weaknesses they would have, though they may optionally be taken as liches.
- Any race that has multiple forms will lose the ability to change after becoming a lich, remaining permanently in the form they're in when the ritual is completed. They do not get ANY benefits from the form, it is purely superficial.
- Races no longer feed on whatever they did before, instead feeding off lifeforce as described below.
Humanoid liches are the standard. Many are humans questing for immortality by their own means without giving themselves over to vampires, or grasping for ultimate power in a world filled with dangerous supernatural beings. Gypsies do not usually give themselves over to lichdom because of their societal morals, though it's theoretically possible. Mutants who turn lich will find physical mutations quickly rotting away to the point of being useless and purely aesthetic.
Human witches or mages may choose only ONE of the human mage/witch skills exclusive to them (eg: Prescience, Sense Magic, etc), instead of three.
Rare beings, there are very few demons who feel the need to achieve lichdom as they are already immortal. The reasons for doing so are almost inevitably as simple as a lust for ever greater power. Those who turn whilst in their true form often become truly horrific as their demonic body begins to rot.
Demons may no longer take thralls as a lich or make pacts, and any existing pacts made are broken.
Another rare group, Djinn who turn lich may only do so by following the Dry Ritual. The few who do turn lich usually do so to escape forced servitude after the capture of their reliquary, as a Dry Lich may choose a new item to serve as their phylactery. Eternal life being soulbound to a magical vessel is, after all, nothing new to the Djinn.
Very, very few Blessed have ever chosen to go lich. It is much more common (relatively, for liches in general are rare) for Cursed to turn, their hateful ways extending to all life, making a pathway into death highly appealing. Those that do are known as Bonewalkers, with eerie, emaciated appearances and near-translucent skin, often rotting down to skeletal form faster than other races.
Merfolk (usually Nightmer) turning lich are a horrific sight, often choosing to retain their aquatic forms when they complete the ritual. To do so leaves them waterbound, as they can no longer transform legs to aid them on land. Known as maelstroms, they are thankfully rare, often moving to the deepest reaches of the ocean floor for solitude, practicing their undead arts on drowning victims, returning to the surface only to cause shipwrecks to provide new corpses.
Atlanteans (Priest Class only)
It is uncommon, but not unheard of, for Atlanteans to give up their worship of Neptune. It is rarer still that they turn to worship of darker gods of death that lead to the path of lichdom, but there are a few out there. Usually turning to worship of Pluto, Nyx or Mors, they are known as Nihils, and mercifully few stray to land, often remaining to torment their fellow Atlanteans. Their appearance, as piscine flesh rots, is often utterly nightmarish.
Very few goblins practice shamanism. Almost none follow down the path of lichdom. The tiny handful that have done so seem to have done following dark pathways in their practices that lead to a common belief that they, gifted with powers over death, have a duty to help others cross over into death. Whereas many liches are coldly calm and steadily grow antagonistic towards the living throughout unlife, Psychopomps from day one would wilfully kill under the belief that it is in service to the spirits and their totemic gods. Some remain within their goblin tribes, calling for regular sacrifices in exchange for their services, before inevitably outstaying their welcome as they demand more and more deaths.
The use of Moon Magic is already extremely rare amongst lycans, and the rare few who practice it find the source of their magic does not allow them to tap into the domain of the necromancer. Because of this it is impossible for a Lycan to turn Lich.
RITUAL OF UNDYING
The Ritual of Undying is, without exception, fatal. Many minor variants exist, but all are rooted in one main aim: for the practitioner to kill him or herself and trap the fleeting soul in a readily-prepared vessel. The precise preparation is not common knowledge, and will require months, if not years of research simply to uncover (liches are very unlikely to pass on the information to others, or help another through the ritual, and few aspiring liches would accept such an offer anyway). Even though the details of the Ritual are personalised to the aspiring lich, the following key steps must be present in any version:
-The mage must fast for three days and three nights, purging their body. Human mages will be in a very weak state by this point.
-The mage must prepare an item for use as a phylactery. This in itself will take a day (usually during the fasting period), cleaning it to perfection, and imbuing it with a highly specialised spell designed to trap their own soul upon activation.
-The mage must prepare their body for death with ritualistic cleansing.
-The mage finally commits suicide using an appropriate weapon, eg a demon using a silver dagger. With their dying words, they activate the spell to trap their soul. Failure to utter the activation spell will simply lead to an unfortunate death (be careful not to cut too deeply if slitting the throat, legend abounds of a talented necromancer who slit his own vocal chords doing this and thus died a pointless death).
-The mage's soul reforms in the phylactery and raises its corpse after 6 days of adjustment.
To complete the ritual requires a magic-user of the Magus or Grand Magus rank to be involved. If an apprentice is so driven that they have learned the ritual, they lack the actual magic skill to carry out the soul trapping, or properly prepare the philactery.
THE DRY RITUAL
The Dry Ritual is the only commonly known alternative to the Ritual of Undying, and has been practiced in the Middle East for centuries. It is in fact claimed by some to be the original form of the Ritual before falling out of favour. Anyone undergoing the Dry Ritual will become a Dry Lich. It is more time-consuming but has less chance of failure:
-As with the Ritual of Undying, the mage prepares a phylactery.
-The mage prepares their body for death by inscribing a single length of cloth. In ancient times, bandage-like papyrus was used, nowadays bandages may be used, or a length of silk, or even a strip of leather. The full length of the fabric is inscribed with the words of the soul-trapping spell using carefully-prepared inks mixed with the mage's own blood.
-The mage is bound head to toe in the strip.
-The mage commits suicide, the soul trap activating automatically. They reform after 6 days the same as any other lich.
Dry Liches are functionally the same as regular liches, but tend to remain wrapped in their bandages, appearing as mummified corpses. If they do, they have the option to take the Curse of the Undying power.
APPEARANCE & PHYSIOLOGY
Liches can appear almost anywhere on the spectrum from their born race to completely skeletal, however they always look unmistakably dead. They rarely care in the least about human fashion, but when out and about, will often make at least a cursory attempt to blend in. Those who have rotted down to skeletal levels don't have much choice, however, and will usually wrap themselves in black cloaks if they're forced to venture into the outside world at all.
The lich's body is anatomically deceased. Both a blessing and a curse, this makes a few changes from the basic race. First, they no longer require food or oxygen. Indeed, many no longer have lungs or stomachs. Their nerves also deaden, eventually completely numbing the lich's sense of physical pain, leaving them with only a basic sense of touch. It takes around a hundred years for their nerves to completely die this way, younger liches should play it by degrees.
Over time, this begins to affect them emotionally, liches inevitably growing ever more sullen and distasteful of the living, often turning them antagonistic towards all forms of life. It's uncommon to find a lich more than 200 years old who would be happy to associate with the living.
Note that they gain no resistance to supernatural abilities that would cause them to feel simulated pain, and any direct contact with a holy item (as per their weakness) will burn them as though being touched by a red-hot iron.
Liches are steadily decomposing. If they feed well and often, it will be at a slow rate, but it is an inevitability. A freshly-risen lich may look like an unnaturally pale human, but they will rot, until by the age of around 250 years, everything will have decomposed off their skeleton. Their bodies are completely dead, the lich in effect being an animating force of magic that inhabits their own corpse.
Liches are functionally immortal, until killed. Once they have completed the Ritual of Undying, they will no longer age, though their body will rot slowly through the centuries until it is nothing but a skeleton.
Liches feed on various forms of life force. They can sustain themselves via blood or fresh flesh when they are younger, or more directly from the very life essence of the living. As they age, and find their internal organs rotted away, they no longer have any choice but the latter. Laying hands upon a victim, they draw out some of their life force to devour, leaving their prey feeling a little weaker and a little more sickly. This requires concentration, so the target must either be willing or subdued, it cannot be used in full combat. The act of being fed on by a lich is a huge rush best described as a near-death experience, leading to some particular adrenaline junkies to actually seek out the act.
Feeding causes the lich to heal, and is their only means of doing so. It will only heal damage incurred, it will never undo their rot. Please use this fairly, it will take more than one human fed on to bring a heavily-wounded lich back to full fitness.
Liches must feed like this once per fortnight minimum. The stronger the life force they feed from, the longer they can go without. An extremely healthy, upbeat and vigorous human would provide them a fortnight's food. Feeding from a pig would give a few days. Prolongued bouts of magic will require them to feed sooner than usual, and failure to feed will half the lich's powers whilst causing them to rot at an extremely accelerated pace.
"Life essence" has no hard and fast rules, only is NOT soul-eating, and that feasting requires prolonged contact.
Perhaps the most well-known attribute of liches is the nature of their phylactery. Pop culture knows that killing a lich will only cause it to reform later unless its phylactery is destroyed, much like it knows silver kills werewolves and sunlight kills vampires. A phylactery can take almost any shape up to that of the size of the lich itself. Urns and jars are the most common forms used, but knives, goblets, rings, ivory lockboxes, skulls and gems may also be chosen. Whilst they are not obviously phylacteries, it will be apparent to anyone that they are arcane items of some kind, covered in magical inscriptions.
When a lich is killed, its physical form will rapidly crumble to dust, the presence being drawn back to its phylactery. Over the course of six days, the lich will reform, rebuilding its physical body within a few feet of its phylactery, before reanimating within it (think Hellraiser if you need some inspiration). If the lich is slain with some manner of holy weapon, this is extended to nine days. During this time, the lich's presence is trapped in the phylactery, aware of its surroundings but unable to affect them. On the sixth day, they walk the earth again. It is a horrific experience, even for a lich, to be killed and trapped in their phylactery for this time. Many grow obsessed with revenge on their killer for subjecting them to it.
If the phylactery is stored somewhere with no room for the lich's body to reform, they will be unable to do so. This means it has to be kept somewhere the lich can get out of... and thus somewhere others can theoretically get into. A lich cannot bury their phylactery under ten feet of concrete and expect no consequences. A phylactery stored in some kind of anti-magic field will also trap the lich from reforming until it is removed.
Destroying the phylactery will unchain the lich from this world, causing them a great deal of pain. If the lich is killed once the phylactery is destroyed, then they are permanently dead. Phylacteries are much harder to destroy than they appear, as they are magic items. A magic ritual around the phylactery by someone knowledgable in Necromancy may destroy it, as will intense heat that could melt metal, or extreme strength such as a lycan or minotaur could physically destroy it.
Capturing the phylactery will give the holder power over the lich. Whilst physically holding it, any command they give to the lich may not be disobeyed. The lich can do anything else they so wish, retaining their minds and personalities, but they cannot disobey any direct order given. Any attempt to disobey weakens their link to the phylactery, causing them extreme pain and rapidly accelerated decaying.
The phylactery must remain within a mile of the lich at all times. If the lich goes further, his power is halved and he may not reform on death. This is not a commonly known weakness though, and few would know to exploit it. It ensures the phylactery must be kept somewhere within the boundaries of Ascension, however.
All liches get the following abilities:
By their very nature, all liches already must be a MAGIC USER, specialised in the school of NECROMANCY (if arcane). They are most commonly Arcane, with a few Warlocks, and only a small number finding their way to the ritual via Divine path, usually through worship of some manner of death god. Starting characters may only play a Magus (or equivalent for witches and warlocks) rank.
The lich has truly given themselves over to death and to the forces of magic, their affinity for necromancy growing beyond compare.
The lich gains 2 extra low level spells, and 1 extra high level spell, above and beyond their specialization. These extra spells must be taken from the School of Necromancy.
With a touch, the lich attempts to paralyse their foe. For three turns, the target's limbs/body feel heavy and difficult to move, and weaker beings may be rendered completely paralysed for the duration.
Consent based as the result depends on supernatural ability. Requires physical contact to initiate, though not for all three turns. Has no effect upon undead.
MASK OF LIFE
After feeding, a lich with this power may choose to use that life essence to return their appearance to that they had in life. They continue to have a chilling, unnatural aura of death but at a glance simply look like a sickly individual of their previous race and will pass for living by anyone who doesn't hang around long enough to feel their aura. It is a purely superficial change, lasts one day or until the lich chooses to drop the facade, and supernaturals with Piercing The Veil will see through this.
AURA OF THE IN-BETWEEN
Liches are unquestionably dead things kept moving via foul magics, and give off a cold, unsettling aura. Animals will be very quick to grow restless around them, flowers may wilt in vases if they linger nearby, and the living in general will usually shun them given the chance. Other undead races will still feel the aura but be much less perturbed by it. Even if their physical appearance is completely masked, it's easy to tell they're in some way supernatural.
A lich's senses are magical and not innately tied to their body. They can speak without lungs or lips, and can see without eyes, etc, though they may still be magically blinded or gagged.
Note this does not enhance their senses directly, the senses of a lich are only as developed as those of a human.
A lich's nerves deaden, eventually completely numbing the lich's sense of physical pain, leaving them with only a basic sense of touch. This enables the lich to ignore pain, but also stops them knowing when they are being harmed, when they are pushing themselves too far, and dulls their physical sense of touch overall. It takes around a hundred years for their nerves to completely die this way, younger liches should play it by degrees.
The lich's corpse is slightly tougher than usual. Glancing blows will fail to harm the lich, wounds will superficially heal themselves over the course of days, and the lich will rot at a far slower rate.
(Take this power if you don't want your lich to be utterly hideous if it's more than a few years old. It'll still look unmistakably dead though.)
The lich exhibits a supreme power over life and death by returning the briefest spark of life to other undead with a touch. For two rounds, a semblance of life will return to them. This is not to be taken lightly; a zombie decades dead feeling his own heart beat, or a ghost knowing the touch of living flesh one last time, may consider it their most profound experience in many years.
CLOAK OF SHADOWS
Draw nearby shadows around the lich, obscuring the from sight. It requires dense shadows to already exist nearby, so it's not very useful in the daylight. If the lich moves at all, the illusion is broken, so it cannot be used for quick escapes. Physically draining.
Available to Fel Lords only
The Fel Lord reaches back into their infernal origins, twisting corrupt energies around one of their hands, igniting it with an ice-cold blaze. Their hand burns with a cold blue flame for up to five seconds, freezing anything they grip, and inflicting frostbite on any living flesh they simply touch. This is extremely draining to do, and cannot be used more than once per scene.
CURSE OF THE UNDYING
Available to Dry Lich only
A Dry Lich will commonly be wrapped within the inscribed bandages of their ritual. By removing a small length of bandage, and tying it to an individual or objects within a location, the dry lich may place a curse (with consent). It's often used as an aggressive form of bargaining. This curse when placed on a person causes severe confusion to indviduals and may make the person very open to suggestion. They are unable to properly recognise the tied bandage for what it is, and cannot remove it themselves, even arguing with and resisting others who would try to remove it for them. It only lasts for a maximum of one scene by default, but can be longer if both parties agree. When used on a location, the property will begin to give off an uneasy aura, developing over the course of an hour into wholesale feelings of dread. After one hour of being in place, people will attempt to flee at all costs, and refuse to enter the location. Pets and plantlife may begin to die.
If you wish to place it on a location, speak with the property's owner OOC to develop a story, as it is consent-based.
Available to Bonewalkers only
The Bonewalkers are an eerie bunch at the best of times, with their unnaturally thin bodies and boney appearances, but they are go far over the edge when they reach into their own body to snap their own ribs. Using this power, a Bonewalker always has a weapon to hand: They are able to pull out one of their own bones to use as a makeshift weapon, without harming themselves. Usually this would be a rib, forcing their fingers in through the flesh of their stomach and pulling out an unnaturally sharp shard of bone that can be used as a dagger. The broken-off bone will reform the next time the lich feeds.
Note that there is no kind of "spring action" to this, the bone must be physically pulled out. No popping a set of Wolverine claws.
There is no specific damage penalty if using the ribs, but if forced to use other bones, use your common sense. If you pull out both of the major bones in your forearm, your hand is going to be completely useless.
Available to Maelstroms only
Most Maelstroms end up waterbound, where no life essence is as strong as the humans found on the surface. With this art, they like to bring them down. Taking three turns to cast, and lasting three turns after, the Maelstrom whips up strong winds that churn the tide heavily, capsizing small vessels and damaging larger ones. When used on the shore, vicious stormwinds will whip the coast, damaging buildings and possibly pulling people into the waters.
Available to Nihils only
With a touch, the Nihil brings the churning depths of their dark ocean gods to their victim. For one turn, they will experience nausea and dizzyness, their head feeling like they're being swirled around by the sea. After that turn, their mouth, lungs and stomach will begin to clog, and they will be forced to spend the turn wretching up black seawater and seaweed from their insides in order to avoid drowning. Undead and other such races that don't require breath will not *need* to spend a turn wretching, but they won't be able to speak or bite until they do so.
Available to Psychopomps only
The goblin draws upon their percieved role as gatekeepers between life and death, and with a touch they give their victim visions of their own mortality. Filling their mind for a few moments, it is distracting and affecting, showing the victim their own potential death in graphic detail, usually filling them with tremendous fear and sorrow.
Lasts one post, or up to three with consent, and requires contact. Note that it's not true premonition, it only shows the current most likely way the victim will die, based on their activities and current plans for the future.
This takes BOTH your optional power choices.
The lich decides to walk a more martial path, developing direct combat skills at the cost of their magical ability.
They gain potence, providing them twice the strength of an ordinary human, along with the benefits of Dead Flesh (see power above). They also gain the ability to imbue a weapon with undeath. It takes three rounds to cast, and will remain imbued for one day, or until it has left the lich's person for more than one minute. A weapon so imbued has two effects on striking: It steals life essence from the victim on damage, allowing the death knight to "feed" through it once per fight, and can attempt to apply Paralysing Touch once per fight. The weapon must actually cause harm to do this. If disarmed, anyone else weilding it will be unable to use its unique attributes.
The downsides are strong, though, as they must carry their phylactery with them at all times, the link between them reduced to a maximum of five feet before their power is halved and they become truly killable. Many create gemstone phylacteries to carry inside their torsos. They also lose the advantage of natural mage, and may never advance their magic rank above magus. If a grand magus chooses to do this, he is reduced to magus level.
Special note: Don't try and use a weapon for your phylactery. As weapons tend to be damaged during combat, combat would damage the Lich directly. It's not unknown for a Lich to use a pommel gem or other decorative part of the weapon for their phylactery though.
All liches have the following two universal weaknesses:
Destruction of a phylactery causes vast harm to the lich and renders them killable. Capturing the phylactery gives one power over the lich. If the lich goes more than a mile from the phylactery, their power is halved and they may not revive after death, being truly killed instead.
This is not just a physical weakness, but players should be prepared to act obsessive over keeping its location and nature a secret, to the point of killing anyone who they suspect knows it.
Holy items will cause a lich to feel extreme pain. The touch of a crucifix will feel like a burning iron pressed to their skin, holy water sprinkled on a sword will cripple them with agony. It does some additional physical damage as well as the pain, burning away at their flesh a little.
Any religious icon that that has significant faith in a higher power invested into it can be considered a holy item, and need not be Christian, though they are the most commonly found around Ascension.
Additionally, a lich MUST pick a third weakness, you can use the weaknesses below or make one of your own. Note that personality flaws are not the same as racial weaknesses.
The lich had some problems when completing the Ritual of Undying. Whatever they were, the end result is a body that isn't holding together as well as it should. They will both need to feed twice as often, and will take extra damage from any kind of blunt impact. Broken bones are a common problem. Particularly bad if the lich is skeletal or a Bonewalker.
Much like a vampire, the lich is harmed by direct sunlight. Their flesh rots quicker in the light of day, reducing them to a skeleton if they stay outside for prolonged periods. In broad daylight their powers are weaker as well.