True Lich (5e Class)

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Author's Notes[edit]

Throughout the page, you will see notes in Italic (like this). These notes are just extra bits of information.

The Lich[edit]

Whether you became a Lich via forbidden arcane secrets, you became an eternal servant of a Deity (or other equally powerful being), or an experiment that hard truly unexpected results, whatever the cause or reason, you are now a member of the Undead. Liches are by far the most powerful kind of Undead in the world. Some seek it for immortality, to get vengeance on a foe they couldn't see defeating as a mortal, they sought to preserve their knowledge while unlocking new knowledge later on, or it was the lure of being an overlord of mass undead armies and conquering the world. But, your new existence bears new challenges, many things you took for granted are no longer accessible to you, while other seemingly impossible goals are now fully possible given that you have all the time in the world. As a Lich, you have many advantages at the cost of many disadvantages.

Ways a person could become a Lich:

  • Dark Secrets hidden in the world and beyond.
  • You joined a religion and your deity turned you into one.
  • You read The Book of Vile Darkness.
  • An experiment that had vastly unexpected results.
  • Transformed into a Lich by a Cursed Artifact.

These are merely examples, any DM/GM can make up their own methods of how one can become a Lich.

Creating a Lich[edit]

Why play a lich?

  • You're sick of playing the Paragon of Good and want to see what being a Paragon of Evil is like.
  • You want to make an undead army, conquer the world, and/or wanna become the Big Bad Evil Guy (BBEG).
  • You want to see what it's like to be a rotting corpse that wields magic and is typically feared by all as abominations.
  • You're sick of fighting goblins, kobolds, orcs, etc. and you want your DM to give you an equal challenge to what you are.
  • You want to see if you can play good as something that is normally seen as the most vile undead.

It is fully possible to be a good Lich, just as it is possible to be a good Vampire, just take note that the world will assume the worst, not the best.

Pros of being a Lich[edit]

  • As long as your Phylactery is safe & intact, you are immortal and can come back as many times as you want.
  • You can create a literal army of undead, you can dominate lesser undead, and given enough time, you can make your own undead.
  • Begone with the mundane! You do not need to eat, drink, sleep, and given your body is essentially dead, you have no need of warmth.
  • Naturally, you are immune to Poison & the condition of Poison, and you cannot be Charmed by anything, later you'll gain resistances to Fear & Paralyze.
  • You are no longer bound by the rules & laws of the civilized world as they do not consider you to be "one of them", you are just a monster to them.
  • You have all the time in the world to pursue any goal/interest and take as long as you want, the world may die, and if you are smart, you will not die.

Cons of being a Lich[edit]

  • The World is fully aware of what Liches are, what they can do, and what you should do if you see one; run or die.
  • Most Liches are typically evil and heartless, as such even if you intend to play good, the world will automatically assume you are here to end lives rather than save them, even if you swear you mean them no harm, most will not believe you.
  • You look like a rotting corpse with literal burning eyes. The eyes of a Lich is a key identifier, none of the other undead creatures have that feature.
  • As a Lich, all the luxuries that other classes & living races experience in civilized society, such as buying things, getting jobs/quests, making new friends & allies, starting a family, casually talking to just anyone, getting assistance from strangers, the law on your side against criminals, even something like joining a bandit group/gang, you can't do that anymore as most people will flee in terror, while other people like Heroes, Adventurers, Army, Religious organizations, etc will try to destroy you.
  • Being a Lich is not as easy as many would believe, while you do have abilities that most classes & races wouldn't have access to, your new existence is typically going to be solitary and hidden as one simple mistake could cost you dearly.
  • Your Phylactery is both your greatest strength and your ultimate downfall. While you may feel unbeatable or indestructible, your Phylactery is very fragile no matter what it was made from. A simple tap of a hammer or someone's foot smashing it will instantly end you. Your soul is destroyed with it, as such you should treat it with just as much care as Voldemort did with his Horcruxes.
  • While you do gain boons for being a Lich, you also gain disadvantages of being Undead as well. Healing spells such as Lay on Hands will hurt you. You are subject to the Turn Undead spells. Most Deities (Gods), except for Death Gods, will more than likely smite you before you step foot in a Church or Shrine.
  • Finally, if you wish to avoid most of the negatives, then your only other option is to swear fealty to a Deity before becoming a Lich, most will still fear you, but since you're working for a Deity, people are more willing to trust you. However, your Deity/God has absolute authority over you now as he/she literally holds your soul in the palm of their hand. If you disobey or anger your Deity, poof, you're dead. And even more scary, if your Deity has no more need of you; sees you as unnecessary for whatever reason, poof, you're dead.

Everything has a challenge, not just in playing against, but also playing as. Yes, you are incredibly powerful, and the world is aware of this, thus will treat you as though you are at your peak. You are immortal, powerful, and seen as a threat to all life, but you are not unbeatable. Keep this in mind before going on a rampage.

Using this Class
  • You may use it as a New Character, pretend as if you were previously a powerful high level mage.
  • If you are using this for a Character that recently achieved Lichdom, you forfeit your current Class (features, abilities, spells), Character level, and Feats. Your character would keep all equipment, wealth, Background, and you will adjust your Hit Dice to match this one, and skip what you would gain for equipment except your Phylactery. Erase your spellbook of the spells your character has had thus far, and replace them with your new ones from this Class.

Mostly suggestions, however the DM/GM has full authority to accept/deny this, and can change aspects of it if they wish.

Quick Build

You can make a Lich quickly by following these suggestions. First, Intelligence should be your highest ability score, followed by Constitution, then Dexterity for your armor class. This is a Spell Caster primarily, and while it is powerful, it is not unbeatable - Nothing in D&D is unbeatable.

Class Features

As a Lich you gain the following class features.

Hit Points

Hit Dice: 1d8 per Lich level
Hit Points at 1st Level: 8 + Constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d8 (or 5) + Constitution modifier per Lich level after 1st


Armor: Light Armor & Medium Armor
Weapons: One Weapon of your choice
Tools: None
Saving Throws: Wisdom and Intelligence
Skills: Choose any four from Arcana, Deception, Investigation, History, Medicine, Nature, Perception, Persuasion, or Religion


You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:

  • (a) Scholar's Pack or (b) Diplomat's Pack
  • (a) Ring (your Phylactery) or (b) Amulet (your Phylactery) or (c) Orb (your Phylactery)
  • Leather Armor & One Weapon of your choice
  • a Spellbook

Table: The Lich

Level Proficiency
Features Cantrips —Spell Slots per Spell Level—
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
1st +2 Path of the Lich, Phylactery, Lich Perks 3 2
2nd +2 Drain Touch & Mercy 3 3
3rd +2 Undead Dominion 3 4 2
4th +2 Ability Score Improvement 4 4 3
5th +3 Path of the Lich Feature 4 4 3 2
6th +3 4 4 3 3
7th +3 4 4 3 3 1
8th +3 Ability Score Improvement 4 4 3 3 2
9th +4 Mask of Unlife 4 4 3 3 3 1
10th +4 5 4 3 3 3 2
11th +4 11th Unnamed 5 4 3 3 3 2 1
12th +4 Ability Score Improvement 5 4 3 3 3 2 1
13th +5 Path of the Lich Feature 5 4 3 3 3 2 1 1
14th +5 5 4 3 3 3 2 1 1
15th +5 5 4 3 3 3 2 1 1 1
16th +5 Ability Score Improvement, 16th Unnamed 5 4 3 3 3 2 1 1 1
17th +6 5 4 3 3 3 2 1 1 1 1
18th +6 Path of the Lich Feature 5 4 3 3 3 3 1 1 1 1
19th +6 Ability Score Improvement 5 4 3 3 3 3 2 1 1 1
20th +6 20th Unnamed 5 4 3 3 3 3 2 2 1 1

Standard D&D Liches are at minimum level of 17-18 if we go by the books. To address something that should be obvious, you start at Level 1 as a Lich because it is a consequence of the Transformation to Lichdom. If you are looking for a PC Lich that starts at level 17-18 with access to 9th levels spells, I can guarantee you that no DM anywhere will allow that. There is a MUCH WEAKER version of Lich I made, so if you believe this one (which is designed to be as close to Monster Manual Lich as possible) is too powerful, then refer to "Lich 4th Variant (5e Class)" for a version that is weaker than standard liches.


Given that you are Undead, which means you require no food, liquid, or sleep anymore, to compensate, Short & Long Rests are replaced with Meditations. As a Lore explanation, you sit with your legs crossed, and focus your power & will. They are necessary to regain your abilities, your spell uses, as well as repair your phylactery. A Short Meditation (SM) will take at least 1 hr to 5 hrs. Whereas a Long Meditation (LM) is at minimum 8 hrs to at most a full day. Additionally, you'll find "Undisturbed", this means you cannot be interrupted or disturbed, otherwise you will have to start over as if you just started.


As a Lich, your knack for magic and casting spells, combined with your new powers, allows you to cast your spells without needing a spell book. Although, you can keep a book if you wish. You can copy spells down for the same cost as you would in a Wizard’s spell book, although to learn the spell you will need to study it and memorize it during a long meditation. You gain all expended spell slots when you finish a long meditation.

Preparing and Casting Spells

You prepare the list of Lich spells that are available for you to cast. To do so, choose a number of Lich spells equal to your Intelligence modifier + your Lich level (minimum of one spell) at the end of each long meditation. You may cast those spells until the end of your next long meditation, when you choose new spells to prepare.


Your spellbook is the repository of the spells you know.

Your known Cantrips is based on the Lich Table (same rules apply), not counting cantrips gained from Dark Lord.

Spells At first level and higher

At 1st level , your spellbook contains six 1st-level Lich spells of your choice from the Wizard Spell list. Every level after that, you learn two more spells.

Spellcasting Ability

Intelligence is your main spellcasting ability for your Lich spells, as you have spent your time practicing spells and learning as much as you could before the rituals. You use your Intelligence modifier whenever a spell refers to your spellcasting ability. In addition, you use your Intelligence modifier when setting the saving throw DC for a Lich spell you cast and when making an attack roll with one.

Spell save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier

Spell attack modifier = your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier

Ritual Casting

You can cast a Lich spell as a ritual if that spell has the ritual tag and you have the spell in your book. You don’t need to have the spell prepared.

Path of the Lich[edit]

At 1st level, you can choose one of two Paths of the Lich, as a Subclass; The Dark Lord or The Death Knight. Your choice grants you features at 1st level and again at 5th, 13th, and 18th level.


Your Phylactery is where your essence is stored, it can be any small object like a ring or an amulet. If it is destroyed, you are permanently dead. Your Phylactery has it's own HP, but is much weaker than you by far. It has 2 HP at the beginning of your Lich career, as you gain levels, it will increase by your Constitution modifier, but it's AC will forever remain at 12. It is resistant to physical damage, but vulnerable to magical damage. Furthermore, you have a constant psychic link with it, so if it is ever damaged, you will know.

  • When an attack would reduce you to 0 HP, you may make a Constitution save with a DC of 8 + 1 per damage taken. If you succeed, you fall to 1 HP instead. You cannot use this ability again until you have completed an undisturbed Short Meditation.
  • If you fail the Constitution save, then your body is destroyed, excluding anything you are wearing. At that point, your phylactery will require 1d6+2 days to create a new undead body for you. You will reform within 10 ft of it without the equipment your previous body had.
  • Your phylactery can't bring you back infinitely, after your 5th "revival", you must spend 24 hours meditating (LM) with your phylactery in hand, afterwards your phylactery will regain it's uses. If you don't do this, then the next time your body is destroyed, the strain will shatter your phylactery, ending your existence.
  • Your phylactery functions as an Arcane Focus for spells if you wish, but you aren't restricted to using your Phylactery as your only Arcane Focus.
  • You do not need to carry your Phylactery on you to survive, you only need to ensure that it remains undamaged & safe.

Standard Liches as far as I'm aware, require souls to be fed into the phylactery. I didn't include this cause it would encourage "Murderhobo" behavior.

Lich Perks[edit]

Because of your Lich status, your eyes have been replaced by small ethereal flames that give you a natural ability of Darkvision and they act as a source of dim light. Additionally, your body regenerates 1d4 + your Constitution modifier every hour while NOT in combat. Furthermore, as you grow in power, you will gain resistances and immunities:

  • Starting at 1st level, you gain immunity to Poison damage as well as the condition and you cannot be Charmed by any spell or other means.
  • At 3rd, you gain advantage on saving throws against any effect that turns undead.
  • At 5th, you gain immunity to any effect that causes Exhaustion & Frightened.
  • At 7th, you gain resistance to Cold, Lightning, and Necrotic Damage.
  • At 9th, you gain immunity to any effect that causes Paralyzed.
  • At 12th, you gain immunity to Bludgeoning, Piercing, and Slashing From Nonmagical Attacks (+1 or higher weapons can harm you).
  • And at 14th, your Darkvision becomes Truesight with a range of 120ft.

Originally divided between multiple milestone abilities, but severely limited, figured best to have the resistances an immunities to gradually emerge rather than all at once. Standard Liches have all these resistances an immunities. The only real additions is going from dark-vision to truesight, and the natural healing while not in combat. The eyes though are part of the Standard Lich, it works as a dead giveaway for any undead/living creature that they are looking at a Lich. The only bits I didn't include was the Auras that Liches typically generate, frankly cause not really needed.

Drain Touch & Mercy[edit]

At 2nd level, you gain the ability to siphon health from living creatures. At the cost of one spell slot, you may make a melee spell attack. On a successful hit, you deal 1d4 Necrotic damage plus your Constitution modifier and heal for the same amount of damage dealt. Any excess healing is added to Temporary Hit Points. Furthermore, assuming you are feeling merciful, you may touch a creature (Any type) and use your Temporary Hit Points to heal another, this action will also use one spell slot. If however you have no temporary hit points, then this action will damage you. You may use this ability as many times equal to your Intelligence modifier, after which you will need to perform a Short Meditation to regain it's uses.

Standard Liches have Paralyzing Touch and earlier Editions have it as Cold Touch. This Lich doesn't have those abilities, unless cast as a spell. Note that you CAN inadvertently heal an enemy if they absorb Necrotic Damage, thus you won't heal if that happens.

Undead Dominion[edit]

Your natural mastery of undeath grants you control over various Undead. You are granted a Sphere of Influence (SOI) which is tied to your level. All Undead, excluding OTHER Liches (Humanoid Lich, Draco-Lich, Death Tyrant, Lich Ilithid, etc), who are within 500 feet x your level (Max 10,000 feet) must make a Wisdom Saving Throw against your Spell Save DC. You will not be able to dominate all types of undead at first, but over time as your grow in power, you will be able to. If the dead fails, you gain complete control til they are outside your SOI, you release them, or they are destroyed. If they succeed, then you can try again 2 more times or until they are outside your SOI or til they are destroyed. Your control however is NOT infinite, you may control as many undead equal to 3 times your Intelligence score, with each Hit Die + modifier is subtracted from the raw total. This feature also applies to ANY undead you animate or create yourself. Example - 1st level is 1 hit die, 2nd level is 2 hit die, an so on. Say your Intelligence score is 16, now triple it to 48, an you dominate a Skeleton with 2 Hit Die, now you have 46 left over. Once it becomes 0, you cannot control more. Keep a record how many you currently control, as you'll undoubtedly find better undead to dominate and lesser undead to discard.

"+# HD" modifier depends on the type of undead, the mod is per individual undead. "+# Saving Throw" modifier when you are attempting to dominate them.

  • At 3rd level, you are granted the animate dead Spell and can Dominate Skeleton Undead - No mod.
  • At 4th level, you can take control of Zombies - Add +1 HD to the raw total, note that if the meat is removed, then it becomes a Skeleton.
  • At 5th level, you can take control of Wraiths - Add +2 HD to the raw total.
  • At 6th level, you can take control of Specters/Ghosts - Add +3 HD to the raw total.
  • At 7th level, you can take control of Ghouls - Add +4 HD to raw total.
  • At 8th level, you can take control of Wights - They gain +2 Saving Throw, Add +5 HD to raw total.
  • At 9th level, you can take control of Mummies - They gain +3 Saving Throw, Add +6 HD to raw total.
  • At 10th level, you can take control of Vampires - They gain +4 Saving Throw, Add +7 HD to raw total.
  • Vampire Masters, Mummy Lords, and other stronger undead are immune to this ability.

If another Lich or anything else that can dominate Undead attempts to dominate your Undead, your undead are subjected to the same saving throw vs Spell DC. If you encounter small animal undead like squirrels, rats, rabbits, etc, you may take immediate control with no spell saves. All other undead such as Medium to Large sized creatures are up to the discretion of the DM/GM, as listing ALL possible undead would take up too much unnecessary space.

5th Edition Liches in the Monster Manual unfortunately do not have this. So I adopted a similar rule from 2nd Edition (Van Richten's Guide to Lichdom). The +HD & +ST mods however are mine, just to make the domination of lesser undead more challenging. Originally, the SOI for Liches is 2,000 feet x level (40,000 at max level), which in my opinion is pretty ridiculous.

Ability Score Increases[edit]

When you reach 4th level, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, you can't increase an ability score above 20 using this feature. You gain further increases at 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level.

If your DM allows the use of feats, you may instead take a feat.

Mask of Unlife[edit]

At 9th level, you gain the disguise self spell & are able to use it as an enhanced ability to disguise yourself as the living. This feature allows you to temporarily walk among the living without causing them to flee in terror at the mere sight of your undead appearance. You will gain the appearance of a Living being for the duration of the ability. You may use this feature once every Long Meditation and the effect lasts 5 hours + your Intelligence modifier.

11th Level Unnamed[edit]

At 11th level

16th Level Unnamed[edit]

At 16th level

20th Level Unnamed[edit]

At 20th level

Dark Lord[edit]

The Dark Lord is a powerful spell-caster, utilizing and maximizing the use of all their spells. Those who follow this Path are often recognized as some of the most powerful and fearsome Liches, able to tear their enemies apart with a simple hand motion.

I'm sure people can guess where I got this idea from (Voldemort and Sith Lords). Dark Lord felt appropriate personally. Treat this one as specifically Caster based.

Dark Arts

At 1st level, your attachment to necrotic energy allows you to control it easily. When you cast a spell from the school of necromancy that deals necrotic damage, you add your spellcasting ability modifier to damage rolls.

Arcane Awakening

At 5th level, you gain six Cantrips of your choice and may use Undead Domination to enhance a single Undead. This Undead minion will become your eternal servant and will reform with you if your Lich body is destroyed. However, using this powerful ability has cost, you sacrifice a 3rd spell slot for the duration of the Eternal Servant's existence. You may choose to dismiss the servant and regain the spell slot, but the servant will be destroyed. This ability only affects undead you have taken control of via Undead Dominion OR the animate dead spell. Upon reacquiring the spell slot, you must meditate for a undisturbed short meditation to use this ability again. You cannot use this on more than one Undead at a time.

Necrotic Potency

At 13th level, when you cast a damaging spell, you can choose to change its damage type to necrotic, making it deal two extra dice of damage and you can treat any 1 on the damage dice as a 2. You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Intelligence modifier, you regain all expended uses of this feature when you've finished a long meditation.

18th Level unnamed

At 18th level

Death Knight[edit]

The unholy strength coursing through your body invigorates you. Instead of focusing solely on building your spell casting abilities, you take up a weapon and physically hone your undead body as well. Combining your magical prowess and physical strength makes you a deadly foe on the battlefield, especially with an undead horde at your beck and call.

I know "Death Knight" is used for Fallen Paladins who were cursed by their deity, but honestly it felt the most appropriate, plus 5e has the "Oathbreaker" which is a "Fallen Paladin". Death Knights as far as I'm aware have basically the same presence & terrifying appearance as a Lich. Overall, treat this Archetype as a Fighter-Mage build of Lich.

Warrior's Armaments

At 1st level, you gain proficiency in heavy armor and shields. Additionally, When you attack with a weapon you are proficient with, you can use your Intelligence modifier instead of your Strength modifier, for the attack and damage rolls.

Extra Attack

At 5th level, At level 5, you can attack twice, instead of once, whenever you take the full Attack action on your turn.

Call of the Master

At 13th level, when casting animate dead you can choose to consume a spell slot to increase the power of your undead, increasing its AC, Hit Points, attack and damage modifiers by a number equal to the level of the spell slot used, to a maximum of a 6th level spell slot. You can apply this benefit to any undead you summon or take control of. When an undead is affected by this feature, you can use your action to drain it of its life, healing you for it's total or remaining Hit Points.

18th Level unnamed

At 18th level

The Lich Spell List[edit]

Each time you gain a Lich level past 1st, you can add two spells of your choice from the Wizard list to your spellbook. Each of these spells must be of a level for which you have spell slots, as shown on the Lich table. On your adventures, you might find other spells that you can add to your spellbook, in this case, you may add a maximum of 5 spells per Lich Level (not per spell level, but total per class level). You can learn all spells from the Wizard spell list.


Because of how powerful Liches are, this class and it's subclasses CANNOT be Multiclassed by anyone.

I know that this is a "turn off", but seriously, you're using a PC LICH. The reason to not multiclass should be deathly obvious by now.

Losing Your Lichdom[edit]

It is entirely possible to lose your status as an undead without being killed. If someone were to cast Resurrection on you, you would regain your living body as if you had never transformed into a Lich. However, in this state, you can regain your Lichdom if your Phylactery remains intact. All you would need to do is die, then wait the usual 1d6+2 days, and you'll reform in your Lich body again. If Resurrection is cast on you, and later your Phylactery is destroyed, then there is only one way, you have to repeat the process that made you a Lich to begin with. And once you complete all the usual steps to re-achieving Lichdom, then roll a 1d100 to determine if you regain your old Lichdom status or if you have to start over. DM decides if you need to roll higher/lower than 50 to determine this.

If you had a character that did achieve Lichdom and chose this class as your choice of Lich, please note that losing your lichdom will NOT return you to your former class, levels, abilities, spells, etc before you took this class, your character's former life is gone forever.

This is 100% made up. According to the source books, there is no way for a Lich to lose their Lich status, except via destruction of their phylactery. As DM/GM, you may choose to disregard this, if you wish. I mostly added this to give any DM/GM the possibility of taking it away without resorting to Bad DM/GM tactics. Plus, with the possibility of PCs getting the chance to regain it, it does open doors to longer campaigns. If you wish, treat it as an extra "spicy" challenge.

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