The Lich is probably one of the highest forms of Undead, the type of creature
that all necronmancers aspiring to immortality (which pretty much means all of
them) long to become. Surprising to many, liches were not a creation of
Saminga, but a development of independent sorcerors. Saminga himself is said
to wish to limit the creation of liches, as the considerable advantages they
possess when compared to other undead give them a distressing degree of
independence and autonomy.
Becoming a Lich
The road to becoming a lich is not easy. If it were, there wouldn't be any mummies and vampires around. The rituals for becoming a lich are obscure, not only due to suppression by those who serve Heaven, but also because those who know such secrets are loathe to share them. Why help create potential rivals. So those who seek to become a lich either has to spend a long time retrieving rare and lost tomes, hoping to find the method, or reinvent it for himself. Due to this, lichdom is a very exclusive club.
The method of becoming a Lich is actually a synthesis of two rituals. The first is the creation of a phylactery, which will serve to anchor the lich's soul to the world. A variation of the Create Spirit Anchor ritual, Create Phylactery (Focus/6) has a base time of 1 day for each of the subject's Forces, and an Essene cost of twice the subject's Forces. If one is performing this ritual on another, then the subject as well as the performer may contribute Essence to pay the cost. Once the ritual is successfully completed, a link will have been forged. If the subject dies before the second ritual is performed, he automaticaly becomes a ghost, without having to make a Will roll or lose a Force. The phylactery becomes the ghost's corporeal anchor.
Once the phylactery has been created, the second ritual can be performed. Similar to the Create Mummy ritual, the Create Lich ritual transforms a subject's living body into an undead vessel, while binding it and his Forces to the phylactery. If the ritual is successful, then the subject has become a lich. If something goes wrong, then like in the Create Mummy ritual the subject has a chance to save himself, but instead of becoming a vampire, he successfully manages to bind the stray Force and becmoes a mummy.
The biggest advantage of lichdom compared to other forms of undeath is that the destruction of one's body does not bring about the Final Death of disbandment. Instead, when a lich is physically slain his soul coelesces inside his phylactery, which acts like a Heart except on the coporeal plane. Like a slain celestial, a lich has the chance of suffering Trauma when such an event occurs. The only way to bring Final Death to a lich is to somehow locate and destroy his phylactery. As the knot which holds a lich's soul together, once it is destroyed the lich will dispand, it's Forces scattering to the Symphony.
Once a lich has recovered from any Trauma it might have suffered, it has the opportunity to reassemble it's vessel and walk the world again. Like a celestial in Limbo (see Heaven and Hell), a disembodied lich has the ability to store excess Essence beyond it's normal Force capacity only for the purposes of reassembling its vessel.
Note that key word, reassemble. Unlike a celestial in Limbo, a lich is not free to create any type of vessel it wants, but can only remake its original undead body. That's because the ritual of transformation irrevocably bonded the lich's body as well as Forces to his phylactery. When a lich attempts to regain a corporeal form, it's not creating a new vessel, but merely summoning the components of it's old one back and reassembling it. This limitation does come with one advanage. Depending on the state of the lich's slain body, one might get a discount on the Essence cost to recreate it. A body that has been left mostly intact only takes 50% of what it would normally cost to recreate. One that has been dismembered is discounted to 75%. A body which has been totally incinerated or otherwise scattered to its component molecules costs the normal amount of Essence to reassemble. When the reassembly takes place, the remains of the lich fade from wherever they are, and coelesce in the vicinity of the lich's phylactery. The other main advantage of lichdom to other forms of undeath is that a lich is no longer bound to the limits of its potential Forces. Like Blessed and Damned souls, a Lich has the capacity to grow the maximum number of Forces a human is capable of having. Thus, an extremely ancient lich can be quite powerful. Role in the War
Rare but powerful, Liches tend to be wild cards and loose canons in The War. The fact they tend to be incredibly selfish and have few moral qualms would seem to make their very existence a benefit to Hell. But the advantages they have over other undead make any attempts to work with liches extremely problematic.
Hell's biggest problem is that there's almost no way to force them to obey. Their souls are bound to the Corporeal Plane, so there's no threat of retribution in the afterlife for them. And unlike other undead, slaying them doesn't destroy them permenently, but merely sets them back. One would have a way to coerce them if they could gain possession of his phylactery, but it's a big if. Liches, being the powerful, clever, and ruthless undead sorcerors that they are, tend to hide their phylacteries where none can find them, guarded by the most elaborate security arrangements and most potent wards they can muster. With all the precautions they take, it's a wonder any have been destroyed at all.
With no reliable way to force cooperation from a lich, Hell is forced to deal with them on their own terms. Sometimes it works out for a while. Often, the lich is uppity and follows it's own goals, sometimes to the detriment of many Princes. One of the most famous examples the latter is the Lich King of Anzar, who united numerous factions of the Broken Races, as well as enticing or binding demonlings and even full-fledged demons into his service as part of his bid to conquer the world. This disrupted the plans of many a Prince, who found their resources comandeered by this upstart Dark Lord. If he hadn't happen to have been destroyed by a valiant band of heroes then he might have succeeded, and would still be controlling beings and resources which belonged to Hell. With that kind of record, it's no wonder Hell has ambivalent feelings about liches.
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