From time to time, we will be publishing stat blocks. Some will be original. Others, like this one, are tweaks of existing stat blocks. What you do with them is up to you. Note: All of the monster stats and descriptions in this article are designated as Open Game Content. (Click here for license.)
Origins of the Lich Remnant
Anytime a lich’s body is destroyed while its phylactery remains, it forms a new body near its phylactery within 1d10 days. Its old body remains where it fell, apparently inert. But that isn’t necessarily the end of the story.
The abandoned corpse, which once channeled sinister and necrotic energies through its tissues, continues to seethe quietly with residual dark energies as long as its phylactery still exists. Should the mangled corpse or any part of it ever make contact with an intact dead body (or a full skeleton of another humanoid), it cannibalizes the other body’s parts in an attempt to rebuild its former self and — if the contact lasts long enough — rises as a lich remnant within 24 hours. Elsewhere, the full and reconstituted lich has no idea that it now has a weak double.
The lich remnant is a pale imitation of the full lich, animated by trace energies and a lingering, tentative contact with its phylactery. The conditions and time frame determine how strong the newly risen remnant will be. If its body was mostly intact or the period of time that passed before it rose again was short, it might rise as a Temporal Lich Remnant, the toughest of those variants described below. If the lich body had been shattered into itty bitty pieces and then scattered across a desert for 10,000 years before any of those pieces encountered a suitably intact human corpse and hijacked it, then it might rise as a Lacrimal Lich Remnant, the weakest of the versions presented below.
The lich remnant has most of its memories, though it can only recall, prepare, and cast one spell. Depending on how powerful it is, it may retain most of its other abilities. And it remembers its goals from before it was destroyed.
However, in addition to pursuing those goals, it now has some new ones. Revenge on its destroyers, obviously. But less obviously, it may start to scheme against the more powerful version of itself — against the more powerful, full lich. For the lich remnants are not telepathically linked, not to each other, and neither are they linked to the full lich. They do not automatically obey the full lich. Moreover, each remnant thinks of itself as the original (because each one is a more original body than the full-but-remade lich).
And whoever has last attuned to the phylactery can command all other versions of the lich on sight.
So a lich remnant often aspires to take back its phylactery and command the more powerful version of itself. The more powerful version (the full lich) knows this is a possibility. Immediately upon reforming by its phylactery, a full lich will often move and re-secure it, knowing that its former body may come knocking. (Note: If you read my thoughts on Ancillary Justice and fantasy role-playing games, you can see where some of these ideas came from.)
If the phylactery is ever destroyed, all lich remnants collapse immediately and never stir again. The full lich, of course, may need to be destroyed in person.
[Read more…] about Stat Blocks: Lich Remnants If you take on a lich, be thorough