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The Art of Being a Monster: Lich


At long last, your work has culminated in this final form. Your last living breath has faded from your lips. All of time lays bare before you, and yet that act was but a stepping stone. This was only the first inch forward on a grand campaign that will change the face of reality. Limitless power is at your fingers, you need only the will the seize it.

The same magic that invigorates you and brought you outside of death’s reach will be your greatest tool on the battlefield. However, do not neglect basic tactics and forward planning to rely entirely on your spellcraft. Utilize armed minions, spells, and devious terrain features to layer the battlefield with a maze of defenses. Keep your enemies back and leave yourself free to wield your magical might unhindered.

F: These disruptive bucket-heads will be distracted with your dangerous minions. Space them just close enough to prevent passage but far enough apart to make it difficult to engage them all. A wide offensive front will force the fighter to choose between protecting their allies and defeating your minions. Punish them for either choice. Attack their weaker comrades where they leave defensive gaps and burn them with area of effect magics when they stand to fight your underlings. Your minions must be able to defend themselves, slowing down the fighter, while your focus is elsewhere.

T: Backstabbing thieves will pilfer your magic and become meddlesome when they get close. Keep a handy bodyguard, or three, close at hand. If these protectors are ineffectual, a quick death spell should easily overpower a thief’s weak will. If you can separate the thief from their group, your minions should make quick work of them.

R: The ranger will be your second most troublesome opponent. Keep thick walls, minions, and barriers between yourself and their bow. Unopposed, they’ll disrupt your magic and pick off your goons before you put them down. Stalk them with magical effects and nasty minions to keep them engaged with threats. Deny them any good shooting positions.

W: A fellow magic user will prove to be a dangerous foe to you and your allies alike. With clever positioning of magic and minion, send them running for cover. Force them to waste time and magic cancelling your layered battlefield efforts. Mesh these effects such that multiple spells are necessary to cancel any single effect of yours. Stay patient, spread out your minions, and wait for an opportunity to launch a direct bolt at the wizard. Any battle with a wizard in it will be a match of wits and attrition.

The Lich’s Eternal Grimoire

Time. It stands as the greatest foe you have ever and will ever defeat. Now, it is your greatest strength. While it is unlimited, it is a mistake to waste this precious resource. Master the rest of creation as you have mastered death, heed not the whispered desires of the mortal mind and ensure that you have not stepped out of time into your enemies blades. Only your own efforts can lead to your demise, whether it is hubris or by losing your sense of self. Deep study of the truths below will cement your power everlasting.

  • There will never be a moment in which the whereabouts of my phylactery are unknown to me. I will never give this information out.
  • My phylactery will not be kept on my person. It defeats the purpose of having a fallback if that fallback can be destroyed in the same instance as my own form.
  • If my continued immortality requires the sacrifice of one or more of the reasons I pursued immortality, I will not make that sacrifice.
  • I will always assume that my plans are imperfect.

  • During my eternal life, I will maintain a regular schedule and keep the mental habit of tracking time in mortal terms. Mortals will be my primary foes, so it behooves me to stay grounded to what motivates them.
  • I will put worthwhile efforts into the research of other methods of immortality. This will inform me of new sources of power and can be a bargaining chip with my foes.
  • Many organized groups hunt down the undead and those who defeat immortals. I will learn the scriptures, codes, and conventions of all organized groups, religions, and governments that hate the undead. With this information, I will avoid detection and escape their ‘punishments’.
  • Legal knowledge will help me in my appeal to local rulers for full, legal recognition of rights the same as any living person. I will not expect this to stop my enemies; however, it will stall opportunists and state-sanctioned plunder.
  • My proclamations will be regular, weird, vague, and oddly wise. My hobby will be to cultivate benign and boring mysteries to discourage deeper investigation.

  • I will engage in fake plots, both openly and secretly, for secretly trivial purposes with the same efforts as for my true goals. It shall be impossible to tell which machinations are for my hobby and which are related to my true motives.
  • I will regularly exchange research notes with other magic users. Every additional mind is valuable to my accumulation of knowledge. Those with unique perspectives are especially valuable.
  • Cultivating hidden lairs will be a mainstay of my defensive efforts. I will have the ability to return at a moment’s notice to one of these spaces. They shall be totally inhospitable to the living and I will modify these lairs on a regular basis.
  • My minions will not be the undead. This encourages my enemies to be prepared with undead defeating tools. I will choose minions that are strong against the things against which I am weak.
  • If there are rare artifacts that I must keep, I will seed rumors and pay for information as to their whereabouts even after I have obtained them. I will ensure many diverging accounts of the item’s provenance exist amongst the relevant scholars.
  • I will never explain my plans or elaborate on my ‘genius’. Those too feeble to intuit them on their own are undeserving of my time. Any who are worthy of my time are not to be belittled and underestimated in this manner.
  • My phylactery will have innumerable copies scattered to secure locations. These will be cleverly built to be destructible in very specific manners and doing so will alert me to the destroyer and allow me to pretend to be destroyed.
  • I will ignore all prophecies.
  • I will not harness dangerous energies or forbidden magics. Even a small chance of true death for a grand boon is a risky proposition: it risks an eternity of time on finite power.

  • Living creatures are useful and helpful. I will disguise myself as a living creature. This subterfuge will deflect investigation and encourage me to maintain my original sense of purpose.
  • I will not allow myself to fall behind modern society. I will cherish the extended life I have obtained by not wasting it locked away seeking ever more obscure motes of power. This has the dual purpose of keeping me informed of the nature of any threats my opponents may be able to muster.

The sands of time are dust beneath your feet. Transcend the mortal coil and take what is rightfully yours. Weather everything your enemies can muster against you, sweep them aside, and claim what drove your pursuit of immortality.

2 thoughts on “The Art of Being a Monster: Lich

  1. Nice article! I love the first image. It is am amazing lich art piece. In fact, I think it has inspired me, along with your article, to make one of the new monsters of the month for a lich. Now the question is… what pieces of this awesome monster should I assemble to make one mean epic boss? Thanks for the inspiration!


    1. Glad you liked it! I’d say the minions are an integral part of making Lich’s a force to contend with. Make sure your monster of the month has a good minion selection process.


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