Athcana Lich (5e Class)
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NOTE: This Lich is specifically designed for a setting that uses 5th Edition, but additional mechanics & rules.
Whether you became a Lich via forbidden arcane secrets, you became an eternal servant of a Deity (or other equally powerful being), or an experiment that hard truly unexpected results, whatever the cause or reason, you are now a member of the Undead. Liches are by far the most powerful kind of Undead in the world. Some seek it for immortality, to get vengeance on a foe they couldn't see defeating as a mortal, they sought to preserve their knowledge while unlocking new knowledge later on, or it was the lure of being an overlord of mass undead armies and conquering the world. But, your new existence bears new challenges, many things you took for granted are no longer accessible to you, while other seemingly impossible goals are now fully possible given that you have all the time in the world. As a Lich, you have many advantages at the cost of many disadvantages.
Ways a person could become a Lich:
- Dark Secrets hidden in the world and beyond.
- You read The Book of Vile Darkness.
- An experiment that had vastly unexpected results.
- Transformed into a Lich by a Cursed Artifact.
Creating a Lich
Why play a Lich?
- You're sick of playing the Paragon of Good and want to see what being a Paragon of Evil is like.
- You want to make an undead army, conquer the world, and/or wanna become the Big Bad Evil Guy (BBEG).
- You want to see what it's like to be a rotting corpse that wields magic and is typically feared by all as abominations.
- You're sick of fighting goblins, kobolds, orcs, etc. and you want your DM to give you an equal challenge to what you are.
- You want to see if you can play good as something that is normally seen as the most vile undead.
- Pros of being a Lich
- As long as your Phylactery is safe & intact, you are immortal and can come back as many times as you want.
- You can create a literal army of undead, you can dominate lesser undead, and given enough time, you can make your own undead.
- Begone with the mundane! You do not need to eat, drink, sleep, and given your body is essentially dead, you have no need of warmth.
- Naturally, you are immune to Poison & the condition of Poison, and you cannot be Charmed by anything, later you'll gain resistances to Fear & Paralyze.
- You are no longer bound by the rules & laws of the civilized world as they do not consider you to be "one of them", you are just a monster to them.
- You have all the time in the world to pursue any goal/interest and take as long as you want, the world may die, and if you are smart, you will not die.
- Cons of being a Lich
- The World is fully aware of what Liches are, what they can do, and what you should do if you see one; run or die.
- Most Liches are typically evil and heartless, as such even if you intend to play good, the world will automatically assume you are here to end lives rather than save them, even if you swear you mean them no harm, most will not believe you.
- You look like a rotting corpse with literal burning eyes. The eyes of a Lich is a key identifier, none of the other undead creatures have that feature.
- As a Lich, all the luxuries that other classes & living races experience in civilized society, such as buying things, getting jobs/quests, making new friends & allies, starting a family, casually talking to just anyone, getting assistance from strangers, the law on your side against criminals, even something like joining a bandit group/gang, you can't do that anymore as most people will flee in terror, while other people like Heroes, Adventurers, Army, Religious organizations, etc will try to destroy you.
- Being a Lich is not as easy as many would believe, while you do have abilities that most classes & races wouldn't have access to, your new existence is typically going to be solitary and hidden as one simple mistake could cost you dearly.
- Your Phylactery is both your greatest strength and your ultimate downfall. While you may feel unbeatable or indestructible, your Phylactery is very fragile no matter what it was made from. A simple tap of a hammer or someone's foot smashing it will instantly end you. Your soul is destroyed with it, as such you should treat it with just as much care as Voldemort did with his Horcruxes.
- Finally, if you wish to avoid most of the negatives, then your only other option is to swear fealty to a Deity before becoming a Lich, most will still fear you, but since you're working for a Deity, people are more willing to trust you. However, your Deity/God has absolute authority over you now as he/she literally holds your soul in the palm of their hand. If you disobey or anger your Deity, poof, you're dead. And even more scary, if your Deity has no more need of you; sees you as unnecessary for whatever reason, poof, you're dead.
- Using this Class
- You may use it as a New Character, pretend as if you were previously a powerful high level mage.
- If you are using this for a Character that recently achieved Lichdom, you forfeit your current Class (features, abilities, spells), Character level, and Feats. Your character would keep all equipment, wealth, Background, and you will adjust your Hit Dice to match this one, and skip what you would gain for equipment except your Phylactery. Erase your spellbook of the spells your character has had thus far, and replace them with your new ones from this Class.
- Quick Build
As a Lich you gain the following class features.
- Hit Points
Armor: Light Armor & Medium Armor
Weapons: Daggers, darts, slings, quarterstaffs, light crossbows, and one of your choice.
Saving Throws: Constitution and Intelligence
Skills: Choose any three from Arcana, Deception, Investigation, History, Medicine, Nature, Perception, Persuasion, or Religion
You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:
- (a) Scholar's Pack or (b) Diplomat's Pack
- (a) a Ring (your Phylactery) or (b) an Amulet (your Phylactery)
- (a) Leather Armor & a Long Sword or (b) Leather Armor & a Warhammer
- a Spellbook
- If you are using starting wealth, you have 5d4x10 gp in funds.
|Cantrips w/o DL||Features||Cantrips with DL||—Spell Slots per Spell Level—|
|1st||+2||3||Path of the Lich, Phylactery, Lich Perks||5||2||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|2nd||+2||3||Drain Touch & Mercy||5||3||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|4th||+2||4||Ability Score Improvement||7||4||3||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|6th||+3||4||Traits of the Undead, Path of the Lich Feature||7||4||3||3||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|8th||+3||4||Ability Score Improvement||7||4||3||3||2||—||—||—||—||—|
|10th||+4||5||Mask of Unlife, Short Teleport||8||4||3||3||3||2||—||—||—||—|
|12th||+4||5||Ability Score Improvement||8||4||3||3||3||2||1||—||—||—|
|14th||+5||5||Path of the Lich Feature||8||4||3||3||3||2||1||1||—||—|
|16th||+5||5||Ability Score Improvement, Disrupt Life||8||4||3||3||3||2||1||1||1||—|
|18th||+6||5||Path of the Lich Feature||8||4||3||3||3||3||1||1||1||1|
|19th||+6||5||Ability Score Improvement||8||4||3||3||3||3||2||1||1||1|
Key Note: Treat each "rest" as Meditation rather than Sleep SR - Short Rest (1 hour) LR - Long Rest (8 hours)
As a Lich, your knack for magic and casting spells, combined with your new powers, allows you to cast your spells without needing a spell book. Although, you can keep a book if you wish. You can copy spells down for the same cost as you would in a Wizard’s spell book, although to learn the spell you will need to study it and memorize it during a SR. You gain all expended spell slots when you finish a SR.
- Preparing and Casting Spells
You prepare the list of Lich spells that are available for you to cast. To do so, choose a number of spells based on your Lich Level as shown in the table plus your spellcasting modifier (this being your Intelligence). You can swap 1 prepared spell for a different spell of equal level after you finish a short rest. You can swap all your spells after finishing a long rest.
At 1st level , your spellbook contains six 1st-level Lich spells of your choice from Warlock & School of Necromancy. Your spellbook is the repository of the spells you know.
Your known Cantrips is based on the Lich Table (same rules apply), not counting cantrips gained from Dark Lord.
- Spellcasting Ability
Intelligence is your main spellcasting ability for your Lich spells, as you have spent your time practicing spells and learning as much as you could before the rituals. You use your Intelligence modifier whenever a spell refers to your spellcasting ability. In addition, you use your Intelligence modifier when setting the saving throw DC for a Lich spell you cast and when making an attack roll with one.
Spell save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier
Spell attack modifier = your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier
- Ritual Casting
You can cast a Lich spell as a ritual if that spell has the ritual tag and you have the spell in your book. You don’t need to have the spell prepared.
Path of the Lich
Your Phylactery is where your essence is stored, it can be any small object like a ring or an amulet. If it is destroyed, you are permanently dead.
- When an attack would reduce you to 0 HP, you may make a Constitution save with a DC of 8 + 1 per damage taken. If you succeed, you fall to 1 HP instead. You cannot use this ability again until you meditate short rest.
- If you fail the Constitution save, then your body is destroyed, excluding anything you are wearing. At that point, your phylactery will require 1d6+2 days to create a new undead body for you. You will reform within 10 ft of it without the equipment your previous body had.
- Your phylactery can't bring you back infinitely, after your 5th "revival", you must spend long rest meditating with your phylactery in hand, if you are disturbed for any reason, you must restart the meditation from the beginning, afterwards your phylactery will regain it's uses. If you don't do this, then the next time your body is destroyed, the strain will shatter your phylactery, ending your existence.
- Your phylactery functions as an Arcane Focus for spells, but you aren't restricted to using your Phylactery as your only Arcane Focus.
- You do not need to carry your Phylactery on you to survive, you only need to ensure that it remains undamaged & safe.
As a Lich, you gain the following features:
- You conserve all the ability score increases, proficiencies, resistances and feats that aren’t affected by your new condition (like the elven accuracy or prodigy) but you lose all those affected by it (like infernal constitution or dragon hide) and all other characteristics that are affected by your new undead state (like the breath weapon of dragonborns).
- You gain immunity to Poison damage as well as the poisoned condition.
- You are immune to disease.
- You don’t need to eat, drink, or breathe.
- You don't need to sleep and don't suffer the effects of exhaustion due to lack of rest, and magic can’t put you to sleep.
- You are immune to the charmed condition.
- Additionally, because of your Lich status, your body regenerates 1d4 + your Constitution modifier every hour while NOT in combat.
- Your eyes have been replaced by small ethereal flames that give you darkvision up to 60 feet if you don't already have and they act as a source of dim light of up to 5 feet. However, your Lich eyes are a dead giveaway of what you are. Any creature that sees your burning eyes will be able to tell immediately that you are a Lich.
Drain Touch & Mercy
Starting at 2nd level, you gain the ability to siphon health from living creatures. At the cost of one spell slot, you may make a melee spell attack. On a successful hit, you deal xd4 Necrotic damage plus your Constitution modifier and heal for the same amount of damage dealt. Any excess healing is added to temporary hit points. X is equal to the level of the spell slot. Furthermore, assuming you are feeling merciful, you may touch a creature and use your temporary hit points to heal another, this action will also use one spell slot. If however you have no temporary hit points, then this action will damage you.
Your natural mastery of undeath grants you control over various Undead.
- At 3rd level, you can make a Skeleton Undead that you can see within 30 feet of you roll a Wisdom saving throw against your Spell Save DC or fall under your complete control until they are destroyed. Other Undead such as Zombies, Wraiths, Specters/Ghosts, and other more powerful Undead are immune to this effect at this level.
- At 6th level, you can take control of Zombies.
- At 9th level, you can take control of Wraiths.
- At 12th level, you can take control of Specters/Ghosts. All other more powerful Undead are immune to this effect.
If another Lich or anything else that can dominate Undead attempts to dominate your Undead, your undead are subjected to the same saving throw vs Spell DC. If you encounter small animal undead like squirrels, rats, rabbits, etc. within 60 feet of you, you may take immediate control without a Spell Save DC check.
Ability Score Increases
When you reach 4th level, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, you can't increase an ability score above 20 using this feature. You gain further increases at 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level.
If your DM allows the use of feats, you may instead take a feat.
Traits of the Undead
At 6th level, you gain immunity to Turn Undead, as you’re above the ranks of the lesser undead.
Mask of Unlife
At 9th level, you gain the ability to temporarily disguise yourself as the living. This feature allows you to temporarily walk among the living without causing them to flee in terror at the mere sight of your undead appearance. You may use this feature once, regaining usage upon finishing a long rest and the effect lasts an amount of hours equal to 3 + your Intelligence modifier.
At 11th level, you gain the effects of dimension door with extra bonuses. You may use this ability a number of times equal to your Intelligence modifier, and regain all uses once you finish a short rest.
At 16th level, you can force any non-undead creature within 20 feet of you to make a Constitution saving throw against your DC, taking 8d6 necrotic damage on a failed save and half as much on a success, you heal for half the amount rolled. You can use this ability again after finishing a short rest.
You have now reached the peak of Lichdom, becoming a true master of life and death. At 20th level you become the embodiment of death and power, your Intelligence knows no bounds and increases by 4 to a maximum of 24, your senses are infused with magic, giving you truesight up to 120 feet. Any creature that dies within 60 feet of you is risen as undead of a Zombie/Skeleton under your control. All hostile creatures within 10 feet of you take 1d8 necrotic damage at the start of their turn. This damage is increased to 2d6 if the creature is below half health and is a living creature.
The Dark Lord is a powerful spell-caster, utilizing and maximizing the use of all their spells. Those who follow this Path are often recognized as some of the most powerful and fearsome Liches, able to tear their enemies apart with a simple hand motion.
- Dark Arts
At 1st level, your attachment to necrotic energy allows you to control it easily. When you cast a spell from the school of necromancy that deals necrotic damage, you add your spellcasting ability modifier to damage rolls. Furthermore, you now gain more cantrips per level.
- Arcane Awakening
At 6th level, you may use Undead Domination to enhance a single Undead. This Undead minion will become your eternal servant and will reform with you if your Lich body is destroyed. However, using this powerful ability has cost, you sacrifice a 3rd spell slot for the duration of the Eternal Servant's existence. You may choose to dismiss the servant and regain the spell slot, but the servant will be destroyed. This ability only affects undead you have taken control of via Undead Domination OR the Animate Dead spell if you have it. Upon reacquiring the spell slot, you must meditate for SR to use this ability again. You cannot use this on more than one Undead at a time.
- Necrotic Potency
At 14th level, when you cast a damaging spell, you can choose to change its damage type to necrotic, making it deal two extra dice of damage and you can treat any 1 on the damage dice as a 2. You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Intelligence modifier, you regain all expended uses of this feature when you finish a SR.
- Master of the Arcane
At 18th level, knowledge of the dark arts flow through your mind like a river, at the end of a SR you can choose two spells from any class's spell list. Until the end of your next SR these are Lich spells for you and you can cast it like any other spell, these spells does not count towards your total amount of spells known. All previous spells learned with this feature are forgotten once new ones are learned.
The unholy strength coursing through your body invigorates you. Instead of focusing solely on building your spell casting abilities, you take up a weapon and physically hone your undead body as well. Combining your magical prowess and physical strength makes you a deadly foe on the battlefield, especially with an undead horde at your beck and call.
- Warrior's Armaments
At 1st level, you gain proficiency in heavy armor and shields. Additionally, When you attack with a weapon you are proficient with, you can use your Intelligence modifier + your Strength modifier, for the attack and damage rolls.
- Extra Attack
At 6th level, you can attack twice, instead of once, whenever you take the full Attack action on your turn.
- Call of the Master
Once you reach 14th level you learn the create undead spell if you do not know it already and can cast it without needing material components. When casting this spell you can choose to also consume a spell slot to increase the power of your undead, increasing its AC, Hit Points, attack and damage modifiers by a number equal to the level of the spell slot used, to a maximum of a 9th level spell slot. You can apply this benefit to any undead you summon or take control of. When an undead is affected by this feature, you can use your action to drain it of its life, healing you for 1d8 + your Constitution modifier.
- Army of the Dead
Starting at 18th level, you lead legions of undead, as an action you can cast a spell which creates up to 30 Zombies or Skeletons being your choice or the DM's based on your surroundings. This feature lasts up to 2 hours as a bonus action, Undead you created with this spell are destroyed afterwards. You can use a spell slot to give all of these summons the benefit from Call of the Master. You regain the use of this feature after LR.
The Lich Spell List
Each time you gain a Lich level past 1st, you can add a total of two spells of your choice from the Warlock spell list and/or a spell belonging to the school of necromancy to your spellbook. Each of these spells must be of a level for which you have spell slots, as shown on the Lich table. On your adventures, you might find other spells that you can add to your spellbook, in this case, you may add a maximum of 5 spells per Lich Level (not per spell level, but total per class level). You can learn all spells from Warlock and Necromancy from Wizard spell lists.
Because of how powerful Liches are, this class and it's subclasses CANNOT be Multiclassed by anyone.
Losing Your Lichdom
It is entirely possible to lose your status as an undead without being killed. If someone were to cast Resurrection on you, you would regain your living body as if you had never transformed into a Lich. However, in this state, you can regain your Lichdom if your Phylactery remains intact. All you would need to do is die, then wait the usual 1d6+2 days, and you'll reform in your Lich body again. If Resurrection is cast on you, and later your Phylactery is destroyed, then there is only one way, you have to repeat the process that made you a Lich to begin with. And once you complete all the usual steps to re-achieving Lichdom, then roll a 1d100 to determine if you regain your old Lichdom status or if you have to start over. DM decides if you need to roll higher/lower than 50 to determine this.
If you had a character that did achieve Lichdom and chose this class as your choice of Lich, please note that losing your lichdom will NOT return you to your former class, levels, abilities, spells, etc before you took this class, your character's former life is gone forever.