From PathfinderWiki
A particularly powerful example of a lich.

A lich is the ultimate expression of a necromancer's1 power, representing their ability to transcend death and achieve immortality by becoming a powerful and intelligent undead creature. At the culmination of the process of becoming a lich, a necromancer transfers their soul into a specially created phylactery; as long as the phylactery remains intact, the lich cannot die.2

Becoming a lich

While most sentient creatures find the idea of becoming a lich abhorrent, certain spellcasters see it as a means of achieving immortality in order to continue their work and ambitions without having to worry about the eventual decay of their mind and body.2 The majority of those choosing a future as a lich are powerful wizards and other arcane spellcasters, while it is practically unheard of that a cleric or a druid does so. Some inquisitive bards are known to have ascended to lichdom through their interest in occult magic, as well as some sorcerers of the undead bloodline. If a witch discovers how to turn their familiar into a soul cage, they may also seek to become a lich.3

The process itself is a quite difficult and lengthy one, as no two liches achieve their undead state by the same method. The spellcaster must first research the construction of a phylactery, and then discover the means by which to transfer their soul into the receptacle. As no two bodies or souls are the same, each of these processes are unique to the individual; what has worked in the past might kill or drive another person insane. What can be predicted is that researching the process is expensive in the extreme, requiring the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of gold pieces, and requires months, years, or even decades of research.2

The phylactery

The prospective lich must invest considerable time researching and building their phylactery, as it will house their soul. Phylacteries often take the shape of sealed metal boxes that house strips of parchment upon which magical phrases are inscribed,2 but are also commonly gems, although any object can serve.4 They are incredibly expensive, costing upwards of 120,000 gp to produce. If a lich is destroyed, but their phylactery is not, the lich will simply reform in one to ten days near their phylactery, most likely with an intense desire to kill the person or people that caused its temporary demise.2 The lich, therefore, makes certain to hide the phylactery very carefully, as their immortality depends upon it.4

A lich's powers

In addition to functional immortality, most liches have a number of other standard powers they acquire upon achieving their new state of being. Like all undead, liches have darkvision and are surrounded by an aura of fear that causes most lesser creatures to flee in panic. Their touch is infused with negative energy, causing damage to living creatures, but they can also use this same energy to heal themselves; their touch is also capable of causing paralysis.2

On Golarion

See also: Category:Lich/Inhabitants

Known liches of Golarion include:

On distant worlds

Liches can be found throughout Golarion's solar system, particularly on the undead-friendly world of Eox, where they scheme and craft gigantic undead monstrosities called tzitzimitls.13


For additional as-yet unincorporated sources about this subject, see the Meta page.

  1. Eric Cagle, et al. Lich” in Undead Revisited, 23. Paizo Inc., Note that the term "necromancer" here is used in the generic sense, and does not refer to the specialist wizard subschool; a lich can draw from either arcane or divine power.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Paizo Inc., et al. “Monsters A to Z” in Bestiary, 188–189. Paizo Inc., 2009
  3. Jason Bulmahn, et al. “3: The Grim Crypt” in Book of the Dead, 121. Paizo Inc.,
  4. 4.0 4.1 Eric Cagle, et al. Lich” in Undead Revisited, 23. Paizo Inc.,
  5. Benjamin Bruck, et al. “Chapter 3: Characters” in Mythic Realms, 50–51. Paizo Inc.,
  6. James Jacobs, et al. The Inner Sea World Guide, 77. Paizo Inc., 2011
  7. Stephen S. Greer & Amber E. Scott. “City of Trade” in Dark Markets, A Guide to Katapesh, 34. Paizo Inc., 2009
  8. Richard Baker, et al. Thornkeep, 31. Goblinworks, Inc., Paizo Inc.,
  9. Eric Cagle, et al. Lich” in Undead Revisited, 26–27. Paizo Inc.,
  10. Sean K Reynolds, et al. Inner Sea Gods, 107. Paizo Inc.,
  11. Benjamin Bruck, et al. “Chapter 3: Characters” in Mythic Realms, 62–63. Paizo Inc.,
  12. James Jacobs. “Lords of the Abyss” in Lords of Chaos, Book of the Damned Volume 2, 28. Paizo Inc.,
  13. James L. Sutter. “Chapter 3: Aliens” in Distant Worlds, 57. Paizo Inc.,