Lich – the Ultimate Villain

Liches – great undead sorcerers bearing inconceavable power at their bony fingertips. Everything about this creature just screams “villain.” These are the creatures that you would rarely meet at random, and much less without a backstory. So what makes these rotten wizards to attractive as main antagonists? Four words: power, reoccurrence, story and philosophy.

Power and Reoccurrence

Liches are powerful. The very fact they achieved a twisted for of immortality speaks of this. A typical stage magician is not up to this task. A mighty warrior will hardly obtain such feat without divine intervention. A lich is a self-made monster. This can easily justify every spell this thing casts or any magic item it possesses (regardless how powerful those spells and items might be). They have been in existence for centuries, they had the time to plot and scheme and research.

Liches are difficult to put down. They have an extremely plausible explanation why they don’t stay put in shallow graves – their souls are bound to phylacteries, objects that serve as anchors to material world. Having a lich as the main villain usually turns the story into a grandiose quest of destroying a lich phylactery, and some of the most well known fiction revolves around this concept (Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, to name the most famous).

Story and Philosophy

Liches are story based creatures. A lich is not born that way; it isn’t an accidental being. Their power can easily explain why it doesn’t assault the players (considering them insignificant or as playthings) or why it does (general dislike for what it once was). Why it wants to conquer everything can simply be attributed to its evil nature; it staying passive can just as easily be explained by its dedication to magical research.

Tied with the story aspect is the philosophical one. Just what makes one renounce life and become one of the living dead? All men fear death, but what makes one become a parody of life itself? Is it worth it to sacrifice all of the life’s pleasures the be cursed not to feel any for all eternity? These are all questions that can make a compelling image of your villainous lich.

The great thing about liches is that they don’t necessarily have to be evil; they may be victims of circumstance, an old wizard capable to prevent a great doom but having insufficient time to do it; the questions of post-mortem redemption and regret. The sky is the limit. Liches, unlike the majority of the undead, do not lose their free

will after their transformation (though their mind are extremely evil in the first place). This leaves a lot of room for improvisation.


Liches can be easily corny if not played right. Don’t turn them into Skeletor – a poweful wizard in a Halloween costume. Give them a good story, give them a reason for being where they are. A lich can be a tragic villain, one that has no place in this world, but who may be there for some higher (if misplaced) purpose. A living person here can do so much more for himself, but that is for everyone to decide.


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