Why show converting the Lich when it shows up as a lens in GURPS Fantasy? Well first because the D&D version is significantly different from the GURPS Fantasy version. Second, it is a good exercise in doing a convention and comparing the result to the way GURPS did it (Temperature Tolerance? Never thought of that.) And finally, to see if more depth could be added to the concept. Note this is using just the Basic Set and Magery. GURPS Thaumatology is optional which allows options that can make a lich even more dangerous.

Going for the common ground[edit | edit source]

First, we forget about things like AC HD and HP and look at the basic concept of the monster. At its core the Lich is simply a Wizard who has cheated death by binding his soul to an object so that he can keep "going" after death. Now step back and look at that idea for a moment, certainly there will be vain wizards who will want to keep their looks after death. Looking at the spell list in GURPS Magic we see that there are several spells that inhibit decay. There is also the tried and true method of mummification. From this one concept the Lich has gained three aspects: Body preserved via magic, body preserved via mummification, and the original skeleton concept.

Building the Corporeal Undead meta-trait template[edit | edit source]

Now we go back to the common aspects the three lenses will have. The first thing to address is the fact the Lich is a corpse animated by magic (ie a member of the corporeal undead) and will share advantages and disadvantages common to all of this kind of undead. Not being alive immediately suggests Doesn’t Breathe [20], Doesn't Sleep (20), No Body Heat [-5], Unaging [15], and Unhealing (Partial) [-20]. Since the being is already dead diseases and poisons do not effect it which gives us Resistant (Immunity to Metabalic Hazards) [30]. Dead tissue means dead nerves which can be dealt with via High Pain Threshhold [10], and Injury Tolerance (Unliving) [20]. Anything else we can think of seems to be limited to a particular subgroup rather than common to all corporeal undead so we establish our corporeal undead meta-trait template:

Corporeal Undead[edit | edit source]

(meta-trait template) [100]

Advantages Doesn’t Breathe [20]; Doesn't Eat or Drink [10]; Doesn't Sleep [20]; Resistant (Immunity to Metabalic Hazards) [30]; High Pain Threshold [10]; Injury Tolerance (Unliving) [20]; Unaging [15]; Supernatural Features (No Body Heat) [-5]; Unhealing (Partial) [-20] [100]

Compare to Corporeal Undead Meta-Traits

The basic Lich[edit | edit source]

Now that we have a meta-trait that describes all corporeal undead we can progress to figuring out what which separates Liches as a group from the rest of the corporeal undead. Since any powerful Wizard can become a Lich that means these beings are lenses as opposed to a racial template. This eliminates including Magery, Power Investiture, and spell related skills but we still need something making a lich more fearsome than a living wizard. So we give them 20 more FP for for spells only (-10%) to play with for [54]. Looking at the D&D stats for a lich we see that these things are tough; going back over the advantages we looked at for the Corporeal Undead we come across Unkillable and decide to toughen up the lich a little and give them Unkillable 2 for [100].

So far we have looked at the upside of being a Lich but now it is time to look at their own particular disadvantages. Being magical creatures Liches obviously would have a Dependency on Mana or Sanctity. In the average D&D world these are common things so we need to decide to make this a constant dependency for [-25]. Second, looking over our proto-lich lens we decide to make what heals liches a Dependency as well. Doing some research finds mention of a GURPS elixir (Tiresias) that creates a lich and an even older Dragon #26 article “Blueprint for a Lich” has the same idea. We decide to heal and prevent from deteriorating into a demi-lich a lich must consume an elixir. For practical reasons we decide that this ’lich elixir‘ can be made in a week’s time and must be consumed once a year [-3]. This finishes our Lich lens:

Basic Lich (meta-trait)[edit | edit source]

Cost: 228 {54+200-29) points

Secondary Characteristics FP+20 (spells only -10%) [54] [54]
Advantages Corporeal Undead (meta-trait template) [100]; Unkillable 2 [100] [200]
Disadvantages Dependency - Mana [common, constantly, lose 1 HT/min] [-25]; Dependency - Lich “elixir” (rare, yearly, lose 1 HT/2 weeks, Aging +30%) [-4] [-29]

GURPS Thaumatology allows an enhancement called Stable Casting (+40) to be added to Magery/Power Power Investiture. The ability to make a second roll to change a critical failure into a normal one makes a moral mage more powerful but with a lich it is far worse.

Specific Lich Lenses[edit | edit source]

“Intact” Lich[edit | edit source]

With the Lich Race Package set we can go back to the three lenses we came up with originally. Looking over the first lens (An “Intact” Lich) we theorize that this form of Lichdom would be popular with those mages or priests who need a continued contact with living beings. The body may be so well preserved that it appears to be alive as in the case with the magical girls of Madoka Magica.

Because the whole purpose of this type of lichdom is to allow continued contact with living beings these liches tend to be the most ‘human’ and have the least mental disadvantages.

Since the base lich template can be used as is there are no changes.

“Intact” Lich Lens [+0]

Mummy Lich[edit | edit source]

Our second lens promises to be far more interesting as it actually combines two undead lenses together. So we need to decide what being a mummy adds to being a lich and we have no shortage of material to choose from with Boris Karlof in The Mummy (1932) and the 1959 (with Lee and Cushing) and 1999 remakes being the best of the bunch.

Sorting through the material we get the wrinkled appearance of the face (Unattractive Appearance [-5]), great strength rivaling that of a vampire(ST+5 [50]) and Vulnerability (fire x2) [-40]. We see the Universal and Hammer mummies getting shot and hit in the head with not much effect and decide that something more than High Pain Threshhold is needed. Looking through the advantages again we come on Supernatural Durability [150] which includes High Pain Threshhold along with a limitation aspect that works well with the Vulnerability (fire x2). We now do our concept write up to see if we come up with anything else.

The Mummy Lich is popular in dry climates and tend to be either clad in bandages and robes or have wrinkled bronzish skin. Boris Karlof in The Mummy is how this type of lich would appear. This can be a punishment or the result of a quest for power but in any case the body is always mummified after death. In the case of punishment the lich can either looking for someone to end the curse, trying to finish the act that caused it to be cursed, or on a revenge spree. In the second case it is felt that the increase in power, strength, and durability outways the decline in appearance and extra vulnerability to fire both of which can be fixed by magic. Since the body is dried out it can take lots of damage; it is not uncommon for Mummy liches to take a shotgun blast to the chest and keep on coming as if nothing had happened. The Lich “elixir” has the extra ingredient of tana leaves but this does not make the elixir harder or more expensive to create though is is required if the lich is ‘killed’.

The write up didn’t give us anything other than different behavior for the elixir which can be addressed as a trigger limitation on Unkillable:

Mummy Lich Lens [Cost +90]

Advantages Supernatural Durability (killing item - fire) [150] [150]
Disadvantages Unkillable 2 (Trigger: Tana leaves elixir, rare -5%) [-5]; Vulnerability (fire x2) [-40]; Unattractive Appearance [-5]; No High Pain Threshold [-10] [-60]
Feature (Lich “elixir” must contain Tana leaves) [0] [0]

Classic Lich Lens[edit | edit source]

Ok now we are back to the traditional lich - a rotting skeletal being with magical power out the wazoo. The decrease in weight and absence of flesh makes these liches faster than one would expect so we give them Basic Speed +1 [20]. The phylanctery concept fits well with Unkillable 3 with some sort of limitation; Reincarnation is the best quick fit with the old Dragon #26 article[1] making the advantage worth [120] but since this is replacing the existing Unkillable 2 [100] this is only a net [20]. Their ability to see in total darkness gives us Dark Vision [25] and anything that has been around this long will in all likelihood have Danger Sense [15].

Now we look on the downside and there is no shortage of things that fit this form of lich. Obsession (long term) [-20] is obvious, and while we could have done the fear aura as an advantage we decide to take Appearance (monstrous, universal +25%) [-25] as it is easier to model in GURPS as GURPS does not have hit dice and throw in Frightens Animals [-10] in as well. Since the lich itself and its clothes are rotting Bad Smell [-10] and No Sense of Smell/Taste [-5] are obvious choices. Since eventually this form of lich decays to a demi-lich we figure that after a while Absent-mindedness [-15] sets in and they start forgetting about taking their elixir. With no real vocal cords their voice has to be magical produced so Disturbing Voice [-10] makes sense. Since we have provided alternative liches for social liches we have Callous, Low Empathy, and Oblivious as the results of this type of lich’s isolation; Low Empathy seem to bet fit so we go with it for [-20] points. We dispense with the cold touch and this finishes our Classic Lich lens:

Classic Lich lens [-25]

Secondary Characteristics Basic Speed+1 [20] [20]
Advantages Danger Sense [15]; Dark Vision [25]; Unkillable 3 (Reincarnation -20%) replaces Unkillable 2 [20] [60]
Disadvantages Appearance (monstrous, universal +25%) [-25]; Absent-Mindedness [-15]; Bad Smell [-10]; Disturbing Voice [-10]; Frightens Animals [-10]; Low Empathy [-20]; No Sense of Smell/Taste [-5]; Obsession (long term) [-20] [-115]

Demi-Lich[edit | edit source]

For the Demi lich our work has already been done for us in the form of the Spirit meta-trait; we simply take the relevant spirit advantages Insubstantially (affect substantial +100%, Usually on -40%) [128], Invisibility (Substantial Only -10%, Usually on +5%) [38] and add them to our Classic Lich Lens. We then discard Basic Speed 4 and Bad Smell add Lifebane [-10] and Incurious (6 or less) [-10] which means we get rid of Danger Sense as well because it conflicts. Dependency Lich elixir is also gone. To show that the Lich’s hold on the material plane has weakened Unkillable goes down to level 1 [50]: Also since it is just a skull Legless [-30] and No Manipulators [-50] applies.

The capture the soul aspect of the Demi-Lich is modeled using the Soul Jar Spell. Simulating the effects on the body after the Soul Jar is a little more problematic; Affliction only applies to nondamaging effects and so is off the table. Based on the body is disintegrated Corrosion Attack with a 100% Malediction enhancement seems the best fit. Total bodily destruction is a staggering -10xHP which means for an average person one is talking about 110 HP of damage. To make things easier on both the GM (and the players) rather then have this happen instantly we say it takes time which gives the Extended Duration (Permanent, cannot be stopped) enhancement for 300%. All that is left is how fast does the attack dissolve the body. The base is Corrosion Attack 1 (Malediction 100%; Extended Duration, Permanent, cannot be stopped, 300%) for [50] per 1d6 of damage per round.

Demi-Lich lens [+50] (191-255+114)

Advantages Dark Vision [25]; Insubstantiality (affect substantial +100%, Usually on -40%) [128]; Invisibility (Substantial Only -10%, Usually on +5%) [38] [191]
Disadvantages Absent-Mindedness [-15]; Appearance (monstrous, universal +25%) [-25]; Disturbing Voice [-10]; Frightens Animals [-10]; Incurious (6 or less) [-10]; Legless [-30]; Lifebane [-10]; Low Empathy [-20]; No Manipulators [-50]; No Sense of Smell/Taste [-5]; Obsession (long term) [-20]; Unkillable 1 replaces Unkillable 2 [-50] [-255]
Innate Magic Soul Jar, variant (VH)-25 (cost assumes Magery 1; IQ 10) [64]

Corrosion Attack 1 (Malediction 100%; Extended Duration, Permanent, cannot be stopped, 300%) [50]


References and Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. The way a lich worked in the article is in a weird place between Unkillable 2 and 3 as it can possess a body other then its own per Unkillable 3 but was limited in terms of spell power and does not become unconscious as is true of Unkillable 2 though to regain its full power it must possess its original body. Unkillable 3 (Reincarnation -20%) is a quick and dirty way to model this behavior. By contrast Possession states "However, you cannot survive outside a living host. Should your current body die, you will die!" (sic)
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