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Thread: Vile Phylactery

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    Default Vile Phylactery

    En via to becoming to a lich, I wish to make - like any well minded lich - my phylactery confusing an near impossible to destroy. Of which, I have two ideas - Are there any pitfalls that I'm missing for these?
    The first is to kidnap a young child, preferably an infant, adorn it with many expensive items that are plain in look (a +5 speed, impact, shadowstrike, knockback, prismatic burst baby rattler?) to make it as close to worthy of 120,000 gp as I can and then turn the child into stone. Afterwards, carve a hall into the statue's head, and put in a sword that is also worth 120,000 that is made to give off a similar magical aura or as much as phylactery would. Then enchant the child statue into my phylactery. Afterwards, kidnap many other children, turn them all into stone, and put them into a crypt, all with a simple (+1?) magical sword into each of their heads. Making it seam like the 'object' is to find which sword is the phylactery.

    My other idea is to take a precious gem ore, one of great size, with the stone build up still around it, that is worth 120,000 gp and turn that into my phylactery. Then build it into a random wall in my tower or keep. Preferably with other random magically enchanted stones around to make it 'not-obvious'.

    Is there a fault I'm missing?

    ---This was supposed to go to Gaming. Not homebrew. Oops
    Last edited by Reinboom; 2007-07-31 at 10:06 AM.
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    Default Re: Vile Phylactery

    Your second idea is probably better, but neither is ideal.

    You thought to hide the thing in your lair, hidden amongst similarly charged items. This is flawed, because adventurers always find their way to a lich's lair. They're drawn to it like they are to mysterious strangers in taverns. Once they are there (& they will one day get there), they will search. And search. And search. Every room will be ransacked, & no amount of traps, monsters, cursed items, or portal to the Abyss will stop them forever. Eventually, they will find your charged statue/bricks. And your attampts at misdirection will not stop them for long. They will likely destroy the first object that they think is your phylactery, & they will probably find some way of verifying that they have done so. Once they figure it out, their hunt will continue until they have confirmed your demise.

    In my mind, the best place to put a phylactery is someplace your lich never, ever, EVAR goes. The bottom of the ocean. Buried beneath a random sand dune in the middle of the most remote desert in the world. In a sealed pocket of Pandemoneum. Under a mound of dirt, as far from the Spire of Sigil as one can travel in a random direction of the Outlands.

    Use greater teleport to take yourself some obscure, remote, forgotten (& safe) place that your would never go. Travel alone. Disguise yourself as a local, & travel as far from civilization as you can. And when nobody is looking, bury your phylactery. Bury it far, & bury it deep. Cover it with earth, & stone, & more earth. Then make sure that it looks like the ground has never been disturbed. Then go back to your lair, & never go near your phylactery again. Keep no records that you have even heard of the country in which you have hidden your phylactery; no diary, no journal, no travel log. Tell no one of what you've done or where you've been, not even your most trusted servant or summoned minion.

    That is the only real way to keep your phylactery safe. Now you can start filling your lair with fake phylacteries.

    P.S.: I once had a lich who did all of this, after hearing tales of liches in ages past who failed time & again (kept records, told lackeys, etc). My PCs went nearly mad searching for it; it was an entire campaign devoted to just that, really. Loads of fun, had by all. They eventually concluded that I had cheated & made a lich that had no phylactery. It was only when they got a greater diety on their side to unmake the uber-lich that I let the cat out of the bag, as it were. The sounds of foreheads being slapped were deafening.
    Last edited by Zeta Kai; 2007-07-31 at 11:33 AM.

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    Default Re: Vile Phylactery

    Righto - I was trying to be more evil than wise then.

    This did provoke a different idea then; though, is a 'cog' of Mechanus worth, say, 120,000 gp?
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    Quote Originally Posted by SweetRein View Post
    Righto - I was trying to be more evil than wise then.

    This did provoke a different idea then; though, is a 'cog' of Mechanus worth, say, 120,000 gp?
    Phylacteries have to be tiny.

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    Default Re: Vile Phylactery

    Is mechanus not similar to a giant machine? I didn't think all of the cogs have to be colossal.
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    Default Re: Vile Phylactery

    A Cog of Mechanus is NOT a good idea. There live Inevitables there, beings that live for nothing but to smash Phylacterys all day long. And they will kill everything on their home plane if it means killing 1 more Lich. So, ummmm ya, bad idea.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheLogman View Post
    A Cog of Mechanus is NOT a good idea. There live Inevitables there, beings that live for nothing but to smash Phylacterys all day long. And they will kill everything on their home plane if it means killing 1 more Lich. So, ummmm ya, bad idea.
    I knew there was a reason why that was a bad idea.

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    Default Re: Vile Phylactery

    As a smart lich, hide the phylactery first. Evil stuff after.

    For evilness, try anything you please. Soul bind something, and make the gem your phylactery. But the best bet is to hide the thing very, very carefully.

    Like in a swiss bank. Or on the moon. Or a randomly selected planet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arbitrarity View Post
    As a smart lich, hide the phylactery first. Evil stuff after.

    For evilness, try anything you please. Soul bind something, and make the gem your phylactery. But the best bet is to hide the thing very, very carefully.

    Like in a swiss bank. Or on the moon. Or a randomly selected planet.
    Hmm... i wonder if Asmodeus has a bank?

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    Default Re: Vile Phylactery

    The problem with relying on hiding the phylactery is that it's still subject to Legend Lore and other divinations. Even if all that tells the players is that it's burried beneath the shifting dunes of the Desert of Bleached Bones, that's enough of a start that they'll eventually find it. Plus, until you're re-formed, your soul is in the phylactery, so a Scrying spell focussed on you would presumably show it. OK, so that just shows you a nondescript sand dune... But now, the players build some big, smokey fires in various places around the Desert of Bleached Bones, see which plumes they can see through the scrying, and triangulate. Repeat a few times to narrow down the position, and then use Detect Magic or Arcane Sight to pinpoint it.

    Of course, you can hide it and also somehow guard the hiding spot. But then, you run the risk of your guards giving away the location (or at least, giving away that there's something valuable there).

    And then, even if the players can't find or reach your phylactery, a sufficiently-resourceful party could still figure out ways to finish you. For instance, what happens if a lich is killed inside of an antimagic field? It's not stated explicitly, but the lich's re-form ability is presumably supernatural. Or they could cast Trap the Soul on you, and just leave the gem on their mantlepiece (while possibly taking their time to find the phylactery). Or Imprisonment.

    What I find especially amusing, though, is that according to the books, many liches make their phylactery into an amulet or headband or something of the sort, so they can wear it. Why on Earth would any lich even consider doing that!?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
    The problem with relying on hiding the phylactery is that it's still subject to Legend Lore and other divinations. Even if all that tells the players is that it's burried beneath the shifting dunes of the Desert of Bleached Bones, that's enough of a start that they'll eventually find it. Plus, until you're re-formed, your soul is in the phylactery, so a Scrying spell focussed on you would presumably show it. OK, so that just shows you a nondescript sand dune... But now, the players build some big, smokey fires in various places around the Desert of Bleached Bones, see which plumes they can see through the scrying, and triangulate. Repeat a few times to narrow down the position, and then use Detect Magic or Arcane Sight to pinpoint it.

    Of course, you can hide it and also somehow guard the hiding spot. But then, you run the risk of your guards giving away the location (or at least, giving away that there's something valuable there).

    And then, even if the players can't find or reach your phylactery, a sufficiently-resourceful party could still figure out ways to finish you. For instance, what happens if a lich is killed inside of an antimagic field? It's not stated explicitly, but the lich's re-form ability is presumably supernatural. Or they could cast Trap the Soul on you, and just leave the gem on their mantlepiece (while possibly taking their time to find the phylactery). Or Imprisonment.

    What I find especially amusing, though, is that according to the books, many liches make their phylactery into an amulet or headband or something of the sort, so they can wear it. Why on Earth would any lich even consider doing that!?
    1. Liches ability to reform is based on where there soul/phylactery is.
    2. Soul is in phylactery.
    3. I have no idea what idiot would do that.

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    Default Re: Vile Phylactery

    Quote Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
    What I find especially amusing, though, is that according to the books, many liches make their phylactery into an amulet or headband or something of the sort, so they can wear it. Why on Earth would any lich even consider doing that!?
    You're forgetting that the primary death that a lich is trying to avoid, usually, is not random adventurers: it is old age and/or natural causes.

    Most liches are powerful enough that they may feel pretty confident about their ability to defend their phylacteries against all comers, and don't want to leave it lying around buried in a desert where a passing sand dragon might accidentally eat it. That IS a real risk of just leaving your phylactery in a random, hidden location: in a world filled with monsters that cover every type of terrain and busy people who like to mine and farm and build, there's a real risk that someone who isn't even out to hurt you could destroy the thing.

    If they weren't afraid of someone randomly finding it, a lich would just put it in a Secret Chest and deliberately lose it in the Astral Plane or something.

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    Default Re: Vile Phylactery

    Someone said it as a joke, but is there any reason you couldn't you drop it on the dark side of the moon? You're immune to cold damage, and you don't need to breathe? Just set some protective magics to protect it from stray asteroids and you'd be fine.

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    Default Re: Vile Phylactery

    well...they could make it into an amulet of some sort, disguised as say an amulet of natural armor +1...and sell it, so it probably won't get destroyed, and then who knows where it is? This is a risky move as then you trust the world not to screw you over unintentionally...though this would make a horribly silly fight: "As the lich is about to finish the party off with the powerful spell he has he shreiks and begins to crumble!" (and all the players go "WTF?" as the liches phylactery is destroyed randomly)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobbis View Post
    Someone said it as a joke, but is there any reason you couldn't you drop it on the dark side of the moon? You're immune to cold damage, and you don't need to breathe? Just set some protective magics to protect it from stray asteroids and you'd be fine.
    The DM may say there is no moon.

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    Default Re: Vile Phylactery

    Use the Trojan Horse maneuver: Before you become all lichy and evil and stuff, give the phylactery, among a bunch of other really expensive presents, to some horribly wonderful king. Heck, maybe even make it under his big ol' throne! Here's the deal: the players kill you, hooray, hooray, they look for the phylactery, they can't find it, they go back and tell the king, he says boo-hoo go back and look again, you reform under him and make it look like you just popped in to kill him and stuff, maybe even have another epic battle with the players. And afterwards, what do they do? Go back and figure out where you reformed and how you got in. The one thing players won't expect: It's not just that you keep reforming in a very opportune spot, but they can't very well search there, can they? And if you disguise the rest of the chair with enough magic so as to cloud your phylactery, then how on earth are they going to know? And so you're hiding under there while the heroes are there with the king. Who's going to cast detect evil around him, hm? That would never occur to a player. He's good! He's the king!

    Messing with their perceptions is the way to go, definitely.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vadin View Post
    Use the Trojan Horse maneuver: Before you become all lichy and evil and stuff, give the phylactery, among a bunch of other really expensive presents, to some horribly wonderful king. Heck, maybe even make it under his big ol' throne! Here's the deal: the players kill you, hooray, hooray, they look for the phylactery, they can't find it, they go back and tell the king, he says boo-hoo go back and look again, you reform under him and make it look like you just popped in to kill him and stuff, maybe even have another epic battle with the players. And afterwards, what do they do? Go back and figure out where you reformed and how you got in. The one thing players won't expect: It's not just that you keep reforming in a very opportune spot, but they can't very well search there, can they? And if you disguise the rest of the chair with enough magic so as to cloud your phylactery, then how on earth are they going to know? And so you're hiding under there while the heroes are there with the king. Who's going to cast detect evil around him, hm? That would never occur to a player. He's good! He's the king!

    Messing with their perceptions is the way to go, definitely.
    Players will request a search as part of the protect the king deal.

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    Default Re: Vile Phylactery

    If only there was a way to, say, Seal the soul of a PC into your lich-thingy. Only instead of freeing the PC from the gem when destroyed, it kills the soul. Make this very obvious. Hard on players, instant plot. Hostage situations are fun.

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    I had a vastly different approach to a lich in one of my games.

    Vorta wasn't the most evil lich ever to unlive. He was, when you got right down to it, a pretty nice guy as these things go. In fact, Vorta wasn't even his original name. In life, he was a kindly researcher named Gaston of Markos. He loved learning things about magic of all kinds, especially divination. All he wanted to do was to survive in some form or another long enough to keep his research alive. As age began to creep up on him, he started to weigh his options. He considered vampirism, but there were just too many ways that could go wrong. Other paths had similar pitfalls.

    It took him decades to come to the conclusion that lichdom was the way to go. He used his vast wealth to commission twelve magnificent items that he then enchanted with various necromantic energies. He scattered the cursed items across the realm, each in special lairs he constructed as "Vacation spots." In a place hidden from prying eyes, He created the true phylactery. His deceased wife's wedding ring. His most priceless possession. When Gaston's son came of age to wed, it was that ring he placed on his bride's finger. After they were safely wed, Gaston faked his own demise, then retreated to his lair to continue his "Great Work" under the assumed name of Vorta.

    As for what happened to the ring? Gaston's granddaughter became a powerful sorceress. She rode the length and breadth of the land, eventually marrying another young adventurer who would one day come to rule a tiny peaceful kingdom. That simple wedding band is still worn by the current queen as part of the Crown Jewels. Just as Gaston saw it in his divinations so long ago.

    Adventurers are invariably taken aback by his urbane and kindly demeanor. They'll face deathtraps and wade through the walking dead to get to him, only to find him dressed in the latest fashion, seated with fez and a water pipe.

    "Evening fellows" he says with an incongruous twinkle of humor in his burning eyes "Care for a cup of tea?"
    Last edited by mabriss lethe; 2007-07-31 at 07:26 PM.

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    Default Re: Vile Phylactery

    Quote Originally Posted by jindra34 View Post
    Players will request a search as part of the protect the king deal.
    So you assume. But of course, with all our modern magic, how can we not conceal a chamber beneath the throne as well as keep it sealed to unwanteds?

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    Default Re: Vile Phylactery

    If you're really serious about hiding it, You can always nail it to the sky -- let them try and find it in orbit.

    Permanently sequester it for good measure.
    Last edited by Kamakazee_Gnome; 2007-08-01 at 12:55 AM.
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    Default Re: Vile Phylactery

    Quote Originally Posted by TheLogman View Post
    A Cog of Mechanus is NOT a good idea. There live Inevitables there, beings that live for nothing but to smash Phylacterys all day long. And they will kill everything on their home plane if it means killing 1 more Lich. So, ummmm ya, bad idea.
    Emphasis mine.

    As an evil lich, I've got to say, that actually sounds like a smashing good idea.
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    Default Re: Vile Phylactery

    Quote Originally Posted by mabriss lethe View Post
    I had a vastly different approach to a lich in one of my games.

    Vorta wasn't the most evil lich ever to unlive. He was, when you got right down to it, a pretty nice guy as these things go. In fact, Vorta wasn't even his original name. In life, he was a kindly researcher named Gaston of Markos. He loved learning things about magic of all kinds, especially divination. All he wanted to do was to survive in some form or another long enough to keep his research alive. As age began to creep up on him, he started to weigh his options. He considered vampirism, but there were just too many ways that could go wrong. Other paths had similar pitfalls.

    It took him decades to come to the conclusion that lichdom was the way to go. He used his vast wealth to commission twelve magnificent items that he then enchanted with various necromantic energies. He scattered the cursed items across the realm, each in special lairs he constructed as "Vacation spots." In a place hidden from prying eyes, He created the true phylactery. His deceased wife's wedding ring. His most priceless possession. When Gaston's son came of age to wed, it was that ring he placed on his bride's finger. After they were safely wed, Gaston faked his own demise, then retreated to his lair to continue his "Great Work" under the assumed name of Vorta.

    As for what happened to the ring? Gaston's granddaughter became a powerful sorceress. She rode the length and breadth of the land, eventually marrying another young adventurer who would one day come to rule a tiny peaceful kingdom. That simple wedding band is still worn by the current queen as part of the Crown Jewels. Just as Gaston saw it in his divinations so long ago.

    Adventurers are invariably taken aback by his urbane and kindly demeanor. They'll face deathtraps and wade through the walking dead to get to him, only to find him dressed in the latest fashion, seated with fez and a water pipe.

    "Evening fellows" he says with an incongruous twinkle of humor in his burning eyes "Care for a cup of tea?"
    I've also been thinking about a non-evil lich or two. One of these two arch-liches was a powerful necromancer and paladin king named Artakhshathra who ruled over a kingdom roughly the size and culture of ancient Persia. It had, and still has, lush green gardens and farmlands. The people of this country frequently used White or Benign Necromancy to mend wounds and aid in agriculture. Sadly, certain necromantically inclined fiends took offence and tried to lay waste to this kingdom. Livestock rotted from the inside out, plant life withered and died and humans and humanoids alike slowly bled to death from horrific viruses and bacteria.

    Realizing that their was no other course of action left Artakhshathra brought all survivors in his capital, including his family and guests Doctor Jonathan Ellington and Barthold Dehmer into the throne room. The king directed their attention towards an alabaster basin in the room's center. Here king Artakhshathra explained that he had discovered a way to save the lives of all of the people inside his country. But he said that the one who performs this ritual would have his soul bound to the stone and would rise as a desiccated corpse. King Artakhshathra then stated that it would require the willing sacrifice of an honest man. A man who can be blamed for no malice or cruelty.

    He then turned towards his wife Minu, and publicly dissolved their marriage of sixteen years, granting her permission to remarry. Artakhshathra then passed the throne onto his eldest and wisest child, his 15-year-old daughter. He then conducted the ritual of attaining lichdom he developed, which caused his blood to burn and his flesh to melt. The poisons he ingested accelerated the process. By doing this he cured his people, their livestock and re grew their plants. So now, Artakhshathra, both aspirant and sacrifice, walks as a benevolent undead while his flesh, life and blood heals and protects the living. If his phylactery (the alabaster basin) is destroyed his people would be left defenseless against the diseases he cured, should such plagues return and all farmland and gardens would become a barren waste land. If you add his years as a living man to his years as a lich Artakhshathra is only 46 years-old.

    This doesn't help the original poster of course.
    Last edited by Duke Malagigi; 2007-08-01 at 02:55 AM. Reason: Added a note about age.
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    Default Re: Vile Phylactery

    The (ImO) smart thing to do with false phylacteries.

    Make them explode (maximized, empowered fireball might suffice) and unleash a phantasmal killer effect when destroyed. This will kill several party members and convince the survivors that they have destroyed the phylactery.

    For the real phylactery.

    Bigger explosion and Wierd (the spell) effect. Leave none who destroy the phylactery alive to tell others about it.

    On a similar note, perhaps the best phylactery in existance would be a stone of weight (though it is cursed), a phylactery that returns whenever it is destroyed sounds good to me.
    Last edited by Realms of Chaos; 2007-08-01 at 11:17 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Realms of Chaos View Post
    The (ImO) smart thing to do with false phylacteries.

    Make them explode (maximized, empowered fireball might suffice) and unleash a phantasmal killer effect when destroyed. This will kill several party members and convince the survivors that they have destroyed the phylactery.

    For the real phylactery.

    Bigger explosion and Wierd (the spell) effect. Leave none who destroy the phylactery alive to tell others about it.

    On a similar note, perhaps the best phylactery in existance would be a stone of weight (though it is cursed), a phylactery that returns whenever it is destroyed sounds good to me.
    And have either give you a sending effect to tell you they have been destroyed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Duke Malagigi View Post
    This doesn't help the original poster of course.

    Aye, what I'm trying to do is from a player's standpoint of a spellcaster who is already hunted before becoming a Lich. Someone who is already rolling with vileness.
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    Default Re: Vile Phylactery

    Oooh, yeah. Trapping the phylacteries (both real & decoys) is a really good idea.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SweetRein View Post
    Aye, what I'm trying to do is from a player's standpoint of a spellcaster who is already hunted before becoming a Lich. Someone who is already rolling with vileness.
    Well, Artakhshathra could make an interesting antagonist in an evil campaign. The party's goal could be the conquest and subjugation of this country, requiring them to destroy this arch-lich and his phylactery. This would of course turn his kingdom into a barren wasteland, but the party's evil, right? The party could just sell the survivors into slavery after they're done conquering them. Of course that's a rather sick twist on an old campaign idea. Namely slaying an evil lich to free an oppressed country side.
    Last edited by Duke Malagigi; 2007-08-01 at 12:10 PM.
    On the issue of killer or sadistic DMs.
    Spoiler
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    Quote Originally Posted by Col_Pladoh
    That sort of person is not worthy of being a Game Master of any sort. The GM is there to entertain and bring enjoyment to the player group, thus being entertained and enjoying himself likewise. Soneone that finds pleasure in making others unhappy is a sad case indeed. That kind of GM should be left alone to lurk in online MMP games to ambush newbies' characters as they enter the setting :]

    Cheers,
    Gary

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    Collin152's Avatar

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    Default Re: Vile Phylactery

    Quote Originally Posted by Realms of Chaos View Post
    The (ImO) smart thing to do with false phylacteries.

    Make them explode (maximized, empowered fireball might suffice) and unleash a phantasmal killer effect when destroyed. This will kill several party members and convince the survivors that they have destroyed the phylactery.

    For the real phylactery.

    Bigger explosion and Wierd (the spell) effect. Leave none who destroy the phylactery alive to tell others about it.

    On a similar note, perhaps the best phylactery in existance would be a stone of weight (though it is cursed), a phylactery that returns whenever it is destroyed sounds good to me.
    Killing people who kill your soul isn't punishment enough. Make it so the trap goes off when they even touch it.

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    Default Re: Vile Phylactery

    Quote Originally Posted by Collin152 View Post
    Killing people who kill your soul isn't punishment enough. Make it so the trap goes off when they even touch it.
    But if you do that, the (surviving) characters will know automatically if they have found a (possibly fake) phylactery.

    Ideally, it should be awhile before players even realize that a fake phylactery is amongst them. The longer it takes them to discover the fake phylactery, the longer before they discover that it is indeed a fake.

    While I'd admit that there's a certain logic to killing the players when their already weary from fighting the lich, the party will probably destroy the first item of unspeakable evil that they find anyway, leading to the same results. Also, there is a (small) chance that the players will take the evil object and try to destroy it on their terms. This somewhat lowers the fatality rate and gives the DM a chance to bestow the phylactery with an enchantment effect (either a major obsession with the phylactery, an alignment change, a suggestion, or domination). Actually, if you want to make a touch-activated trap, an enchantment is best (ImO) for the mere theatrics of a lich's soul corrupting a good heart.

    For a demilich, however, by all means, trap their souls whenever the phylactery is touched, which the living vault (see ELH) is, of course, immune to.

    Another idea for false phylacteries is to simply infect anyone touching/destroying it with a necrotic cyst (LM). In this way, the lich will have an advantage when they rise back from the dead.

    Side Note: Once the real phylactery is gone, you can really freak out your party through use of astral projection, for when the "lich" dies, he/she seems to come back from the dead without any phylactery needed.
    Last edited by Realms of Chaos; 2007-08-03 at 01:58 PM.

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