Origins of Liches

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Khedrac
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Origins of Liches

Post by Khedrac » Thu Nov 29, 2018 9:52 am

So, why have I specifically posted this in the 1st Ed AD&D forum? Well, I was answering a question over on the GitP forums and something odd struck me:
Monster Manual wrote:Liches were formerly ultra powerful magic-users or magic-user/clerics of not less than 18th level of magic-use.
And if you are playing AD&D, what races can become an 18th level magic user/cleric?
Unless we are counting a dual-classed human who might be cleric 10/magic user 18 the answer is "none that we know of". (I had a quick check of H4 and it uses the same single / for both the multi-class pregen and the dual class pregen characters.)

I had thought that the Dungeoneer's Survival Guide introduced liches of a forgotten race who could also be just clerics, but checking I see that I am wrong ("The skeletons include those of drow, duergar, svirfneblin, and derro. In fact, other subterranean creatures who left no skeletons-pech, cloakers, and illithids-also fought and died for control of these caverns." and "Each treasure house is guarded by a veritable army of undead, commanded by a lich of 18-27th level (17+ld10). Twenty percent of the liches are magic user/clerics and the other 80% are only magic-users") but with the possible exception of drow, I don't think any of these races could be a 27 mu/cleric either and humans are not listed, so perhaps some unknwon race is the answer.

So, what race(s) gave rise to the magic-user/cleric liches found in AD&D? Any thoughts?
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Re: Origins of Liches

Post by barrataria » Thu Nov 29, 2018 6:53 pm

I think this is one of those "helpful DM hints" of Gary's, because nobody thought/cared if NPCs, particularly monsters, got XP or developed proficiencies or anything else.

Other than the bit about Vecna in the DMG, and there wasn't much, there wasn't much discussion of how-to regarding lichdom. There was a lot of discussion of evil PCs though, and that strongly negative (one of the things OD&D partisans occasionally grouse about). So if PCs are mostly good, they shouldn't be trying to be liches.

Remember though that dual-classing was possible and lots of the NPCs in the GH 1E box are presented as dual or multi classed. Rob (and I think Gary but I forget now) expressly said to take those stats/depictions with many grains of salt, that their characters didn't conform to those descriptions.
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Re: Origins of Liches

Post by ripvanwormer » Fri Nov 30, 2018 5:42 am

This isn't first edition, but the lich Lerrek from Iuz the Evil is a 19th level cleric.

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Re: Origins of Liches

Post by Big Mac » Fri Nov 30, 2018 6:24 am

Khedrac wrote:
Thu Nov 29, 2018 9:52 am
So, what race(s) gave rise to the magic-user/cleric liches found in AD&D? Any thoughts?
I've not really used 1st Edition (except to fill in gaps in 2nd Edition source material) so I'm no expert.

But have you considered the possibility that an NPC that becomes a lich might be able to continue to gain experience levels after death? If that is possible then no spellcaster would need to be a 27th level character at the moment they achieve lichdom.

That wouldn't solve this puzzle - it would only simplify it - as you would still need NPCs to be powerful enough to survive the attempt to become a lich when they carry out the ritual that starts the process.

But if you look at the minimum levels needed to become a magic-user/cleric and assume that the transformation into undead allows for progression, you can have a less complex puzzle to solve.

BTW: Does the Dungeoneer's Survival Guide specifically state that the liches with the drow, duergar, svirfneblin, and derro skeletons were the same race as the skeletons? Or could we be talking of liches of other races that go around looking for mass graveyards (or maybe even liches that commit genocide on a community)?
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Re: Origins of Liches

Post by agathokles » Fri Nov 30, 2018 7:44 am

Khedrac wrote:
Thu Nov 29, 2018 9:52 am
I had thought that the Dungeoneer's Survival Guide introduced liches of a forgotten race who could also be just clerics, but checking I see that I am wrong ("The skeletons include those of drow, duergar, svirfneblin, and derro. In fact, other subterranean creatures who left no skeletons-pech, cloakers, and illithids-also fought and died for control of these caverns." and "Each treasure house is guarded by a veritable army of undead, commanded by a lich of 18-27th level (17+ld10). Twenty percent of the liches are magic user/clerics and the other 80% are only magic-users") but with the possible exception of drow, I don't think any of these races could be a 27 mu/cleric either and humans are not listed, so perhaps some unknwon race is the answer.

So, what race(s) gave rise to the magic-user/cleric liches found in AD&D? Any thoughts?
I don't see a reason why those liches could not have been humans. The fact that skeletons come from subterranean races is reasonable, but the liches can come from aboveground -- they are free-willed and intelligent undead, who could have easily moved into the caverns and raised armies of skeletons from the locally available bones.


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Re: Origins of Liches

Post by Havard » Sat Dec 01, 2018 11:09 am

Coming from a BECMI background, I always assumed this meant they were either magic users or clerics?

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