Becoming a Lich (5e Variant Rule)

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A Lich is a magic user who has harnessed powerful magic to grant themselves immortality through binding magics. The magic sustains both an undead body and a container called a phylactery, an object that binds the Lich's soul to the world. If either the Lich or the phylactery is destroyed, the other can recreate the one that was destroyed, ensuring a Lich is not so easily dispatched. Individuals pursue Lichdom for numerous reasons. Some people assume Lichdom to learn magical secrets and master their schools of magic. Others may assume Lichdom to serve their benefactor for eternity. While the acts involved to become a Lich may be evil, the ultimate morality of the ascension boils down to the Lich's original intentions for pursuing immortality. Prerequisites To begin the path for attaining lichdom, the aspiring lich must be of a spell casting class capable of casting 6th level or higher spells. The knowledge of Lichdom is usually a well-guarded secret, and as such is not readily available in libraries and such. Wizards, Druids, and Bards might bargain for the knowledge from powerful fiends, demons, or gods while Clerics and Warlocks might possibly receive the knowledge from their benefactor after undertaking a perilous journey. Knowledge of the ritual is divided into three parts; the phylactery, the potion, and the invocations of power. All three parts must be known in order to begin the ascension into lichdom. The missing knowledge makes itself known via the existing knowledge, so knowing at least one part of the ritual assures that you know of the two other parts you require. Obtaining all three parts of the ritual at once is possible, but rare. Whether the aspiring Lich creates its phylactery first or brews the potion first, completing either step invokes the ritual's preparation magics. The ritual begins to manifest its power, which is bound to the soul of the user. If the user dies anytime before drinking the potion at the end of the ascension ritual, the magical buildup dissipates, forcing the user to begin again with creating the phylactery or the potion if returned to life.

Creating Your Lich's Phylactery

A Lich's phylactery is the item that holds the Lich's soul, allowing it to age and reform without the looming threat of death. If your physical body is destroyed, the phylactery reforms your body within 5ft of it after 1d10 days from an eerie fog wafting out from the phylactery. Your phylactery must be a non magical item with the choice of item being of your preference. If it is an object that was crafted, it must be of exceptionally high quality. The object must be prepared with marks of binding made of silver, which costs 5,000g to inscribe. Your phylactery has AC10, 30HP, and resistance to all damage. You are mentally linked to your phylactery and see it as if you are using the Scrying spell at will. If your phylactery is destroyed, your soul returns to your body temporarily and you must create a new one using the same methods. If you do not possess a phylactery when your physical body is destroyed, both your body and soul are lost forever. Only divine intervention can restore your form. To prepare an object to receive your soul, you must succeed on a DC 20 Arcana check. Failing this check destroys the item and you may not attempt it again until the next day. Upon a success Arcana check the object is spiritually linked to you, allowing you to detect it at any distance as long as you are on the same plane as it. The object will stay open to you for one week, where it will close off to you forever if the Lich ascension has not occurred yet. You may also use magical items as phylacteries so long as the item does not contain a soul already, you have 20 levels in 1 spellcasting class and you succeed on the Arcana check with disadvantage. The magic item is not destroyed upon failing, but is disspelled for 1d8 + 2 days on a failure instead.

Brewing the Lich Conversion Potion

The Lich Conversion Potion is a vile mixture made of numerous poisons and the blood of various creatures. By drinking this deadly potion, you embrace the ingredients' natures of life and death for the last time before ascending into undeath as a Lich. The potion's ingredients must be consumed within the one week period of your phylactery being in the soul receiving state. Depending on the ingredient used, the potion may or may not being prepared ahead of time, and then consumed when appropriate. Material Components The potion used in the Lich ritual must be brewed from five of nine of the following ingredients:

  • A vial of wyvern's blood
  • A vial of Manticore venom
  • A vial of pure Arsenic
  • Crushed Belladonna
  • A crushed Unicorn horn
  • A pint of Griffon's blood
  • A pint of Vampire's blood
  • A pint of specially prepared ale that has had the spell book or brain of another spell casting creature soaked in it for 24 hours.
  • The heart of a sacrificed humanoid. The humanoid must have been sacrificed within 1 hour of the potion being created and is used as a container for the potion rather than an ingredient. If used as an ingredient, the heart must be consumed immediately after drinking the potion.
The Ascension Ritual

Only when the phylactery is in the soul receiving state and the potion component assembled can the ritual begin. The ritual must occur in an area replete with magical energy, be it a sacred area or a magical tower. The area must be prepared with binding sigils written in your blood, which requires a DC15 Arcana check. Failure to prepare the area prevents the ritual from occurring for one day. Attempting the ritual in the light of a full moon lowers this DC to a DC10. The phylactery does not have to be in the area, but it must be in the soul receiving state. Once the area is prepared, the magical energy of the ritual begins to coalesce, signifying the initiation and the potion assembly. If using a sacrificed humanoid's heart, the potion must be mixed together first before killing the humanoid and pouring it into the heart as a vessel for the potion. The potion is sparkling black ooze that glows with an ominous blue energy. The entire potion must be consumed and within one minute produces an effect determined by a d100 roll. If utilizing a heart, the majority of the heart must also be consumed lest the potion have no further effects.

d100 Effect
01-10 The potion fails immediately. Additionally, the target is physically weakened for 1d6+1 days and suffers as the Poisoned condition for its duration.
11-40 The user falls into a deep coma for 1d6+1 days. The user is incapacitated and cannot be mentally contacted through any means. Upon waking, the potion reveals itself to be a success.
41-70 The potion is a success, but the user's mind is temporarily damaged. A d10 is rolled, with each number corresponding to a spell level. The user cannot cast spells of the rolled level or higher. After 1 day, the number rises by one until it becomes 10, where the restriction is lifted. Attempting to cast a spell of a level within your restricted spell range has a 75% chance of permanently expending the used spell slot. Any attempts to restore the user's strength with restorative magic or a Wish spell has a 35% chance of immediately killing the user.
71-90 The potion is a success, but the user is paralyzed for 2d6+2 days. Restorative magic cannot cure this paralysis. Upon recovery, there is a 25% chance of lingering paralysis, causing a permanent loss of 1d6 Dexterity points.
91-96 The potion is a success, but it permanently handicaps the target. Upon rolling a d4, the target is either:
d4 Effect
1 Deafened
2 Mute
3 Blinded
4 Paralyzed

Only a Wish spell can undo the handicap.

97-100 The potion immediately kills the user.

If you survive, you are considered a Lich immediately after the effects of the d100 roll are determined. Lichdom Benefits:

  • You are considered undead. You do not age and do not require air, food, drink, or sleep, although you can consume food or sleep if you wish to.
  • Your spell casting ability and racial features remain what they were in life.
  • You gain proficiency in Constitution saves if you do not already have it.
  • Your physical appearance changes to that of a skeletal figure with skin and decrepit flesh strung over it with eerie, fiery pupils of burning magical energy. If you choose, you can forego the flesh and skin to simply appear as a skeleton.
  • You emanate a visible aura of power that you can suppress and manifest at will. This aura functions as a constant Detect Magic spell whether or not the visual aura is suppressed or not.
  • You become infused with magical energy and gain resistance to bludgeoning, slashing, and piercing from nonmagical weapons.
  • You are immune to the exhausted and poisoned conditions as well as cold, necrotic, and poison damage.
  • You gain Truesight 120ft.
  • You gain Rejuvenation: If it has a phylactery, a destroyed lich gains a new body in 1d10 days, regaining all its hit points and becoming active again. The new body appears within 5 feet of the phylactery.
  • You gain Turn Resistance: The lich has advantage on saving throws against any effect that turns undead
  • You gain Paralyzing Touch: Melee Spell Attack: reach 5ft, one creature. Hit: 3d6 cold damage. The target must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or be paralyzed for 1 minute. The target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.
  • You learn Soul Bind and can cast it using a 5th level spell slot, so long as you phylactery is the target object to store the soul in (even if your phylactery isn't an appropriate target object for the spell).
Maintaining Your Phylactery

Your phylactery requires the soul of a creature to maintain its magical properties. The length of time a soul reinforces a phylactery is equal to 6 months multiplied by the sacrifice's CR or its level. Upon successfully trapping a creature's soul in your phylactery, the soul must stay trapped for 24 hours, after which the soul deteriorates and reinforces your phylactery. A Dispel Magic spell casted at 9th level can free a creature's soul, allowing it to return to its body if possible. If a soul is not deposited into the phylactery before the time period is up, your phylactery shatters into dust, forcing you to reconstruct a phylactery. You can trap a soul into the phylactery through the use of Soul Bind.

(Credit for this goes to the author of I have made minor modifications)

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