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-   -   Different Liches [Magic/Horror] (http://forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=169190)

Varyon 06-26-2020 01:00 PM

Re: Different Liches [Magic/Horror]
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ericthered (Post 2330448)
I don't know. When I try to explain the concept of "Lich" to folks who aren't part of gaming, I get a lot of comments about Voldemort.

I'm specifically referring to the term "lich," here, not its description. When you describe some sort of undying entity that gains its undying nature by binding (part of) its soul to an object, comparisons to other entities that have done the same will invariably crop up (prior to Harry Potter, the description of a lich may well have brought up comparisons to Dorian Gray, or prior to that comparisons to Koschei or similar myths). Of course, the phylactery is one of the things that doesn't always make the transition from That Other Game to other media, but "skeletal spellcaster" pretty much always does, which is why I stuck to that part of it in my description. Note, of course, that neither of AlexanderHowl's templates have any sort of phylactery.

My point isn't that lich couldn't ever be used to refer to something other than a skeletal spellcaster (apparently it's really just an archaic term for "corpse"), but rather that it typically shouldn't be, as it will lead to needless confusion.

Alden Loveshade 06-26-2020 01:04 PM

Re: Different Liches [Magic/Horror]
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ericthered (Post 2330448)
I don't know. When I try to explain the concept of "Lich" to folks who aren't part of gaming, I get a lot of comments about Voldemort.

I'm certainly not going to disagree with your personal experience. But the term "lich" applied specifically to a corpse decades before the term was adopted by RPGs. A "lichyard" meant a graveyard.

Of course when we're dealing with fantasy, a GM or an author can define things however they choose.

But while some people may call Voldemort a "lich," a quick search yielded no consensus for that.

Anders 06-26-2020 01:15 PM

Re: Different Liches [Magic/Horror]
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Alden Loveshade (Post 2330456)
I'm certainly not going to disagree with your personal experience. But the term "lich" applied specifically to a corpse decades before the term was adopted by RPGs. A "lichyard" meant a graveyard.

It's Old English. Cognate to the Swedish term "lik", which means "corpse." And "similar", because we have homonyms in Swedish.

Plane 06-26-2020 01:32 PM

Re: Different Liches [Magic/Horror]
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ericthered (Post 2330448)
I don't know. When I try to explain the concept of "Lich" to folks who aren't part of gaming, I get a lot of comments about Voldemort.

His gaunt thin snakelike face is probably nearly-skeletal anyway...

plus I'm sure that he's competent enough in either metamorphosis/illusion magic that his true form could be skeletal and he just alters it.

Phantasm 06-26-2020 01:40 PM

Re: Different Liches [Magic/Horror]
 
My own lich is not necessarily skeletal, but a spirit bound to its phylactery and able to possess a corpse for as long as the corpse lasts, with magic to keep the corpse from decaying further. Should the body be destroyed, the lich retreats into the phylactery until it is brought close to a suitable dead body for it to possess. Some liches (lichen? nah) are pickier than others, and some have been known to jump to a better looking corpse at will and whim.

I still need to stat up this lich template, though. The body form will likely be one of the corporeal undead meta-traits from Fantasy, tho.

maximara 06-28-2020 06:27 AM

Re: Different Liches [Magic/Horror]
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Varyon (Post 2330454)
I'm specifically referring to the term "lich," here, not its description. When you describe some sort of undying entity that gains its undying nature by binding (part of) its soul to an object, comparisons to other entities that have done the same will invariably crop up (prior to Harry Potter, the description of a lich may well have brought up comparisons to Dorian Gray, or prior to that comparisons to Koschei or similar myths). Of course, the phylactery is one of the things that doesn't always make the transition from That Other Game to other media, but "skeletal spellcaster" pretty much always does, which is why I stuck to that part of it in my description. Note, of course, that neither of AlexanderHowl's templates have any sort of phylactery.

My point isn't that lich couldn't ever be used to refer to something other than a skeletal spellcaster (apparently it's really just an archaic term for "corpse"), but rather that it typically shouldn't be, as it will lead to needless confusion.

I disagree. Say "vampire" and you have a certain image form in your mind but as GURPS Blood Types shows there is a lot that can fit under the criteria and some of those are not undead. The "Vampire" that forms in a person's mind when the hear the term varies be it the movie Dracula who thanks to Hammer crumbles to dust or the being who sparkle in sunlight as in the Twilight series.

As Our Liches Are Different shows the term has a huge range with Puella Magi Madoka Magica varient about as far from a skeletal mage as one can get but as sfdebris states as one of the girls freaks out and grabbing Kyubey asks him if they have been turned into zombies - "No you're not zombies. You have magic powers and are self aware with your souls in a carrying case. Obviously you are liches of some kind. It's completely different from zombies".

In fact, the Wu of 3x3 eyes checks off all the basic boxes of being a lich:
*uses magic - check
*body isn't really alive - check
* is free willed - check
* soul is stored in an object outside their body (in this case their Sanjiyan Unkara master) - big old check.

The term may have at one time may have been limited to skeletal beings but culture has moved on and the term is now more encompassing then it once was.

Varyon 06-28-2020 12:37 PM

Re: Different Liches [Magic/Horror]
 
"Vampire" has a huge number of variants due to a variety of reasons, ranging from people trying to lump distant and unrelated myths together to just authors trying to be more edgy and the like. "Lich" is much newer (while there are similar entities in older mythology, the term wasn't ever used for them to my knowledge), and is something I've not really seen applied outside of skeletal undead spellcasters. Heck, many of the non-skeletal examples in the tvtropes link appear to never use the word "lich," but rather being just any case where someone is protected from death by storing their soul in an object.

When you use a term to name something, you need to ask yourself why you've used it, why the characters in the world use it, and what your players are going to think of it. Now, if "spellcaster who keeps their soul in a jar" is the way you define "lich," it's probably fine, but it's going to be odd for the characters to be referring to a living spellcaster with a synonym for corpse, and you're going to run into problems if your players are expecting this to mean an animated skeleton if your version is a magical girl. Of course, the latter bits can be worked around, such as having lich not be a synonym for corpse in your setting (or it's stated ironically, or people believe the person is a sort of walking dead like a Nora Death Seeker from Horizon: Zero Dawn, or whatever else works) and explaining to your players before hand "magical girls in my setting bind their souls to phylacteries, so I'm just going to call them liches for short."

David Johnston2 06-28-2020 02:07 PM

Re: Different Liches [Magic/Horror]
 
Ehn. The skeletal magic user being equated with the word "lich" isn't that big an issue with me. I was never a big D&D player. However I want my undead to be undead. Not merely immortal. So features like

Grey skin
Unnatural gauntness
An uncanny aura that makes people and animals uncomfortable and kills plants.
Dependence on proximity to their "heart" or "phylactery" or whatever
Unhealing
Unnatural feature, Room temperature, no reflection, etc.
A need to periodically drain the life out of someone
Personality changes
Nocturnal
Needs to steal bodies

Are things I'm going to want for any ritual to continue onward as an undead "lich".

AlexanderHowl 06-28-2020 02:18 PM

Re: Different Liches [Magic/Horror]
 
Many necromancers would likely qualify, especially if they bothered to learn Soul Jar at 20+. I can imagine a scenario where a necromancer would Soul Jar a 30+ point Powerstone, so that people would take it as loot if they killed them. With Permanent Possession 20+, they could then use the energy from the Powerstone to leap into a nearby body. If they had Exchange Bodies at 15+, they could then form a cult to help them to permanently acquire a new body.

While technically mortal, such an individual would have lived several human lifespans, as they would likely transfer the soul in the Powerstone to another object before dropping it into a nearby river. Of course, they could become undead, but they could then become living again by changing bodies after their undead body is destroyed. Such an enemy would be incredibly difficult to defeat, especially if their enemies did not understand the connection of the Powerstone.

maximara 06-28-2020 04:32 PM

Re: Different Liches [Magic/Horror]
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Varyon (Post 2330576)
"Vampire" has a huge number of variants due to a variety of reasons, ranging from people trying to lump distant and unrelated myths together to just authors trying to be more edgy and the like.

I disagree. As Theresa Bane points out in her very well done Encyclopedia of Vampire Mythology "My next task was perhaps more difficult, for to write an encyclopedia about vampires one has to have a clear definition of what a vampire is. Most interesting, there is not a pre-existing or commonly accepted idea, let alone a singular, all- encompassing definition that clearly says what a vampire is, specifically. That being the case, I would have to create one and apply it even-handedly against all potential entries for the book."

She then goes into the huge (and I mean huge) variety and concludes "Because of this, I used the definition that each unique and diverse culture throughout history used; I let the people who lived with their fears dictate to me what a vampire is."

Quote:

Originally Posted by Varyon (Post 2330576)
"Lich" is much newer (while there are similar entities in older mythology, the term wasn't ever used for them to my knowledge), and is something I've not really seen applied outside of skeletal undead spellcasters. Heck, many of the non-skeletal examples in the tvtropes link appear to never use the word "lich," but rather being just any case where someone is protected from death by storing their soul in an object.

Technically the term "vampire" post dates many of the things classified as vampires. The word itself goes back to the 1700s and, as with any mythology, varied in the details of the culture the creature belonged to.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Varyon (Post 2330576)
When you use a term to name something, you need to ask yourself why you've used it, why the characters in the world use it, and what your players are going to think of it. Now, if "spellcaster who keeps their soul in a jar" is the way you define "lich," it's probably fine, but it's going to be odd for the characters to be referring to a living spellcaster with a synonym for corpse, and you're going to run into problems if your players are expecting this to mean an animated skeleton if your version is a magical girl. Of course, the latter bits can be worked around, such as having lich not be a synonym for corpse in your setting (or it's stated ironically, or people believe the person is a sort of walking dead like a Nora Death Seeker from Horizon: Zero Dawn, or whatever else works) and explaining to your players before hand "magical girls in my setting bind their souls to phylacteries, so I'm just going to call them liches for short."

This all goes into the cultural context Theresa Bane was on about. TVtropes similarly states "The influence of D&D on fantasy literature and on Video Games has spread the term to some degree, although it's still not a standard term and there are plenty of undead sorcerers in media that are never called liches. (Equally, there are cases where the creature is called a lich but is just a walking corpse, if the author thinks that "zombie" sounds anachronistic or inaccurate.)"

Karla of Record of Lodoss War (which is Dungeons & Dragons "replay") is an "old-school lich whose phylactery is a head ornament".and then there is the Dragon #26 (June, 1979) "Blueprint for a Lich" which expressly states that if the body is bashed up enough they become a "Wightish body".

The Fiend Folio (1981) gave us the Death Knight - a paladin lich and yes that is long before Arthus and Warcraft. In fact, Warcraft proves my point as you have both the "traditional" skeletal lich and the Death Knight lich running around and last time I checked even the Forsaken Death Knights are not skeletons. Rotting corpses yes but skeletons no, and they are the only Death Knight that looks that way. All the other races are intact...just like the Death Knight lich of Fiend Folio from nearly 30 years ago. The D&D Death Knight did not formally become skeletal until 2e.


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