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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    Default Lich Shapechange into Human

    Can a Lich Wizard/Sorcerer or any undead spellcaster really, use Shapechange or a similar spell to become Human again?
    That way they can get back all the good stuff about being alive such as eating, drinking and having sex.

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    Default Re: Lich Shapechange into Human

    That would depend on which game system you are playing. From the question I suspect a variant of D&D, but there are 4 different sub-forums for the different versions so you really need to be more specific.

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    Default Re: Lich Shapechange into Human

    Probably up to the DM of the game. I don't think any edition specify an answer to this question. If it were up to me then I'd rule that they can gain all the physical characteristics of a human but gain no joy in carnal activities. Also if they started out as a human I wouldn't call them not-human once they become a lich.
    Black text is for sarcasm, also sincerity. You'll just have to read between the lines and infer from context like an animal

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    Default Re: Lich Shapechange into Human

    As I recall, Shapechange provides you with the full range of capabilities of the transformed state, so I don't see why not. They might go about it a bit oddly, having forgotten what it all felt like ("oh, right, hunger. That. What did you do to...fix...that? I've been in my lab for the past 74 years, it's all a bit blurry..."), but yes, it should work fine. Other spells that physically transform you into another creature (not disguise you, but actually alter your biology...or necrology) should do similarly, I would say.

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    Default Re: Lich Shapechange into Human

    Quote Originally Posted by Khedrac View Post
    That would depend on which game system you are playing. From the question I suspect a variant of D&D, but there are 4 different sub-forums for the different versions so you really need to be more specific.
    D&D. Any variant will do. I am most familiar with 3.5 though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mastikator View Post
    Probably up to the DM of the game. I don't think any edition specify an answer to this question. If it were up to me then I'd rule that they can gain all the physical characteristics of a human but gain no joy in carnal activities. Also if they started out as a human I wouldn't call them not-human once they become a lich.
    Why would this be upto DM interpretation? The description of Shapechange is pretty clear to me. The lich still being considered human part is debatable but even in that case, the Lich can just opt to change into an elf instead.

    Quote Originally Posted by Reathin View Post
    As I recall, Shapechange provides you with the full range of capabilities of the transformed state, so I don't see why not. They might go about it a bit oddly, having forgotten what it all felt like ("oh, right, hunger. That. What did you do to...fix...that? I've been in my lab for the past 74 years, it's all a bit blurry..."), but yes, it should work fine. Other spells that physically transform you into another creature (not disguise you, but actually alter your biology...or necrology) should do similarly, I would say.
    Yeah, this is what I was thinking. An undead wizard/sorcerer with Shapechange or another spell like it can use it to side-step all the downsides of being an undead right? That way, the person can partake in the pleasures of the living even when he/she is an undead. That's pretty amazing.

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    Default Re: Lich Shapechange into Human

    Interesting. Shapechange will make you something else - like, a cat or a fish or even a human. But will it make the dead living again? Doubtful. So ... if I were the GM, I'd say sure, you can be another dead human. Or a dead fish. But nothing short of Resurrection will return you to life - sorry.

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    Default Re: Lich Shapechange into Human

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    Interesting. Shapechange will make you something else - like, a cat or a fish or even a human. But will it make the dead living again? Doubtful. So ... if I were the GM, I'd say sure, you can be another dead human. Or a dead fish. But nothing short of Resurrection will return you to life - sorry.
    Raise dead is a 5th level spell, whereas shapechange is a 9th level spell. It seems perfectly reasonable to me to let shapechange temporarily bring you back to life.
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    Default Re: Lich Shapechange into Human

    Actually that brings up a good point, if a lich shape changes into a living human will they become susceptible to harm from spells like Finger Of Death, or poison, or drowning? Can they starve to death? How does all of that interact with their phylactery? If you shape change into a human and you're currently not a lich does that mean that it's not immortal while the spell is in effect?
    Last edited by Mastikator; 2020-08-29 at 04:38 PM.
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    Default Re: Lich Shapechange into Human

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    Interesting. Shapechange will make you something else - like, a cat or a fish or even a human. But will it make the dead living again? Doubtful. So ... if I were the GM, I'd say sure, you can be another dead human. Or a dead fish. But nothing short of Resurrection will return you to life - sorry.
    Liches are not dead. The Undead are literally not dead. It is more like a Illithid shape changing into an balor.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kruploy View Post
    D&D. Any variant will do. I am most familiar with 3.5 though.



    Why would this be upto DM interpretation? The description of Shapechange is pretty clear to me. The lich still being considered human part is debatable but even in that case, the Lich can just opt to change into an elf instead.



    Yeah, this is what I was thinking. An undead wizard/sorcerer with Shapechange or another spell like it can use it to side-step all the downsides of being an undead right? That way, the person can partake in the pleasures of the living even when he/she is an undead. That's pretty amazing.
    Yes an Elf Lich can use Shapechange to temporarily turn into a Human and have the Humanoid(Human) type instead of the Undead(Elf) type. If they used Polymorph instead they would be a Human by still have the Undead(Elf) type.

    This is not about coming back to life. The Lich is not dead. Undead means not dead. The undead are alive, just in a different way than you are used to.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mastikator View Post
    Actually that brings up a good point, if a lich shape changes into a living human will they become susceptible to harm from spells like Finger Of Death, or poison, or drowning? Can they starve to death? How does all of that interact with their phylactery? If you shape change into a human and you're currently not a lich does that mean that it's not immortal while the spell is in effect?
    If an Elf Lich Shapechanges into a Human, they are vulnerable to Finger of Death because Shapechange removes the Undead type. However, like Polymorph, upon death Shapechange reverts the Lich back to their original form. So while the Lich died, its Phylactery will catch the soul and eventually the Lich will return.

    Quote Originally Posted by D&D 3.5E Shapechange
    This spell functions like polymorph, except that it enables you to assume the form of any single nonunique creature (of any type) from Fine to Colossal size. The assumed form cannot have more than your caster level in Hit Dice (to a maximum of 25 HD). Unlike polymorph, this spell allows incorporeal or gaseous forms to be assumed.

    You gain all extraordinary and supernatural abilities (both attacks and qualities) of the assumed form, but you lose your own supernatural abilities. You also gain the type of the new form in place of your own. The new form does not disorient you. Parts of your body or pieces of equipment that are separated from you do not revert to their original forms.
    Quote Originally Posted by D&D 3.5E Polymorph
    This spell functions like alter self, except that you change the willing subject into another form of living creature. The new form may be of the same type as the subject or any of the following types: aberration, animal, dragon, fey, giant, humanoid, magical beast, monstrous humanoid, ooze, plant, or vermin.

    -snip-

    If slain, the subject reverts to its original form, though it remains dead.
    Quote Originally Posted by D&D 3.5E Alter Self
    You assume the form of a creature of the same type as your normal form. The new form must be within one size category of your normal size. The maximum HD of an assumed form is equal to your caster level, to a maximum of 5 HD at 5th level. You can change into a member of your own kind or even into yourself.

    -snip-

    You do not gain any supernatural special attacks, special qualities, or spell-like abilities of the new form. Your creature type and subtype (if any) remain the same regardless of your new form. You cannot take the form of any creature with a template, even if that template doesn’t change the creature type or subtype.
    Sidenote: In D&D 3.5E, Liches are immune to Shapechange, Polymorph, and other forms of polymorphing unless they cast it on themselves.
    Last edited by OldTrees1; 2020-08-29 at 06:16 PM.

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    Default Re: Lich Shapechange into Human

    I wonder what undead would even feel like if polymorphed. You can technically affect one with Polymorph Any Object as their immunity stipulates it doesn't apply when the spell can target objects. So you can turn a skeleton into a human.

    Would the skeleton immediately think "Oh thank you heroes! I have never felt so good! Please, take all my treasure and pass through the lair I was guarding. There's a hidden trap 10 feet past the archway" and provide the party with a free NPC reaction adjustment?

    Or would it think "OMG! What are these ... feelings?! It's horrible!! Someone please kill me!" and beg for death/attack you out of rage?

    Perhaps even a Lich wouldn't wish to be in human form having been infused with the essence of unlife. All living beings are infused with positive energy but undead are powered by negative energy. It may feel wholly unnatural for them to be in such a form. They might try clawing out their own eyes and tearing off their hair and skin.
    Trolls will be blocked. Petrification works far better than fire and acid.

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    Default Re: Lich Shapechange into Human

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyutaru View Post
    I wonder what undead would even feel like if polymorphed. You can technically affect one with Polymorph Any Object as their immunity stipulates it doesn't apply when the spell can target objects. So you can turn a skeleton into a human.

    Would the skeleton immediately think "Oh thank you heroes! I have never felt so good! Please, take all my treasure and pass through the lair I was guarding. There's a hidden trap 10 feet past the archway" and provide the party with a free NPC reaction adjustment?

    Or would it think "OMG! What are these ... feelings?! It's horrible!! Someone please kill me!" and beg for death/attack you out of rage?

    Perhaps even a Lich wouldn't wish to be in human form having been infused with the essence of unlife. All living beings are infused with positive energy but undead are powered by negative energy. It may feel wholly unnatural for them to be in such a form. They might try clawing out their own eyes and tearing off their hair and skin.
    It would vary by target. A lich would still be the same person, just as anybody turned into another form is. A former skeleton would Be a new being, most likely, like an object changed into a person, due to the mindless nature.

    In 5e, where they’re not mindless, they’d be the same mind present. And again it would vary by individual.

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    Default Re: Lich Shapechange into Human

    Quote Originally Posted by Mastikator View Post
    Actually that brings up a good point, if a lich shape changes into a living human will they become susceptible to harm from spells like Finger Of Death, or poison, or drowning? Can they starve to death? How does all of that interact with their phylactery? If you shape change into a human and you're currently not a lich does that mean that it's not immortal while the spell is in effect?
    Under the effects of Shapechange, you become the new creature, losing your old traits, so you'd be vulnerable to Death Effects, Poison, Drowning, Starvation etc. if the new form is (and in the case of humans, that's a definite yes).

    The phylactery part is interesting. Do you change back if you die? If yes, I would assume the Phylactery would do its job and bring you back as normal. If you "stay" in the changed state, it's not as clear. On the one hand, the phylactery is an independent magical construct that's supposed to draw your soul to it instead of the afterlife, but is its ability to do so dependent on whatever magic animates a lich's skeletal body, or is it just that the lichdom ritual ALSO designed to give you a functional, powerful body separate from the soul beacon effect, so that your immortality is practical, and not "stuck in a phylactery forever". My gut leans toward "it would still work if you stayed transformed after death, because you have a separate magical thing drawing your soul, which isn't affected by the shapechange, to it", but I could see it argued other ways.

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    Default Re: Lich Shapechange into Human

    Quote Originally Posted by OldTrees1 View Post
    Liches are not dead. The Undead are literally not dead. It is more like a Illithid shape changing into an balor.
    Being an actual, literal skeleton is - apart from still moving around - quite positively as dead as you can humanly be. Resurrect does not make illithids into balors, but it really, really does make skeletons into humans.

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    Default Re: Lich Shapechange into Human

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    Being an actual, literal skeleton is - apart from still moving around - quite positively as dead as you can humanly be. Resurrect does not make illithids into balors, but it really, really does make skeletons into humans.
    The undead are not dead. A lich is not dead. A corpse is dead. There is a difference. The word undead has a meaning. I can understand if you consider the undead to be as dead as possible without literally being dead. However the undead are not dead.

    Also resurrection does not turn zombies into humans, it turns corpses into humans. The zombie dies before the human is resurrected. I swapped over from "skeleton" becauses in D&D "skeleton" conflates the creature with the corpse.

    Polymorph (in 3.5E) will not change the creature type. The Lich remains an Undead even in Human form. Shapechange (the 9th level spell in 3.5E) will change the creature type. This is not resurrection because the Lich is not dead. Also this is not permanent, Shapechange has a finite duration.

    Quote Originally Posted by Reathin View Post
    Under the effects of Shapechange, you become the new creature, losing your old traits, so you'd be vulnerable to Death Effects, Poison, Drowning, Starvation etc. if the new form is (and in the case of humans, that's a definite yes).

    The phylactery part is interesting. Do you change back if you die? If yes, I would assume the Phylactery would do its job and bring you back as normal. If you "stay" in the changed state, it's not as clear. On the one hand, the phylactery is an independent magical construct that's supposed to draw your soul to it instead of the afterlife, but is its ability to do so dependent on whatever magic animates a lich's skeletal body, or is it just that the lichdom ritual ALSO designed to give you a functional, powerful body separate from the soul beacon effect, so that your immortality is practical, and not "stuck in a phylactery forever". My gut leans toward "it would still work if you stayed transformed after death, because you have a separate magical thing drawing your soul, which isn't affected by the shapechange, to it", but I could see it argued other ways.
    Quote Originally Posted by OldTrees1 View Post
    If an Elf Lich Shapechanges into a Human, they are vulnerable to Finger of Death because Shapechange removes the Undead type. However, like Polymorph, upon death Shapechange reverts the Lich back to their original form. So while the Lich died, its Phylactery will catch the soul and eventually the Lich will return.

    Sidenote: In D&D 3.5E, Liches are immune to Shapechange, Polymorph, and other forms of polymorphing unless they cast it on themselves.
    Shapechange in 3.5E (as an example) does change back at death. Your logic makes sense in both cases.
    Last edited by OldTrees1; 2020-08-31 at 08:07 AM.

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    Default Re: Lich Shapechange into Human

    Quote Originally Posted by InvisibleBison View Post
    Raise dead is a 5th level spell, whereas shapechange is a 9th level spell. It seems perfectly reasonable to me to let shapechange temporarily bring you back to life.
    I agree, especially since in D&D 3.5 the duration of a shapechange spell is 10min/lvl. So that's 3 hours at 18th lvl. I don't think that's going to be very game unbalancing compared to other stuff a lich can throw around. You can extend that only with epic spell slots and given the crazy stuff you can do on epic levels, this wouldn't be all that much of a problem I think.

    And it would be a lot of fun if in the middle of town the lich suddenly transformed back to his old undead self. Panic all over the place.
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    Default Re: Lich Shapechange into Human

    Quote Originally Posted by OldTrees1 View Post
    There is a difference.
    No. Undead literally means dead but animated. Dead. The processes of life have been discontinued, and replaced by other processes of a supernatural nature. For that reason, living tissues have broken down, become food for other life forms, and all that remains are bones.

    But ... let's just give it a rest. I don't agree with you - you don't agree with me - and thankfully, we don't have to.

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    Default Re: Lich Shapechange into Human

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    No. Undead literally means dead but animated. Dead.
    Undead literally means not-dead.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    But ... let's just give it a rest. I don't agree with you - you don't agree with me - and thankfully, we don't have to.
    Agreed. I believe that topic is settled.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Berenger View Post
    Undead literally means not-dead.
    Actually its defined as "technically dead but still animate" by the Oxford University language.

    While you may see it as "not dead" using very rudimentary language parsing, the use of Un- as a prefix can also mean something has been recursed. What was dead has been spun backwards into being not quite dead but also not something living either. It's animated, a quality of living things, but lacks other qualities that necessitate life -- so it can't be called living and hasn't recursed the full way to its opposite.

    The word stems from how necromancers attempt to reverse the process of death, creating undeath. Yet as we know from the monstrous results it isn't quite successful at restoring life. What is forged is an abomination of the two with dead cells moving on their own due to magical energy.

    Were the term accurate to the opposite of dead then it would mean living, which the undead are certainly not.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kyutaru View Post
    Actually its defined as "technically dead but still animate" by the Oxford University language.

    While you may see it as "not dead" using very rudimentary language parsing, the use of Un- as a prefix can also mean something has been recursed. What was dead has been spun backwards into being not quite dead but also not something living either. It's animated, a quality of living things, but lacks other qualities that necessitate life -- so it can't be called living and hasn't recursed the full way to its opposite.

    The word stems from how necromancers attempt to reverse the process of death, creating undeath. Yet as we know from the monstrous results it isn't quite successful at restoring life. What is forged is an abomination of the two with dead cells moving on their own due to magical energy.

    Were the term accurate to the opposite of dead then it would mean living, which the undead are certainly not.
    This is why I usually describe undeath as "not-dead" rather than as "alive". It is a 3rd state which breaks up the binary of life and death. This is especially relevant in games, like D&D 3.5E (the OP's default) where alive =/= undead =/= dead.

    https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/undead
    (of a fictional being, especially a vampire) technically dead but still animate.
    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/undead
    : not dead : returned from or as if from death
    https://www.dictionary.com/browse/undead
    no longer alive but animated by a supernatural force, as a vampire or zombie.
    Last edited by OldTrees1; 2020-08-31 at 12:18 PM.

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    Default Re: Lich Shapechange into Human

    @Kyutaru: I specifically referred to the literal meaning. I am aware that the literal and the actual meaning of words can differ.

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    Default Re: Lich Shapechange into Human

    Quote Originally Posted by Kruploy View Post
    That way, the person can partake in the pleasures of the living even when he/she is an undead. That's pretty amazing.
    But why would a lich want to?


    On the undead debate, put me in the 'it means death has been rescinded' camp. Surely the alive would be indead, not undead?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Default Re: Lich Shapechange into Human

    Incidentally, it's not being undead that stops Liches from being able to eat, but not having the appropriate organs (since vampires, ghouls, and some zombies hunger in various ways, and vamps at least are shown to enjoy the act of feeding and other pleasures of the flesh). I'd rule in favour of Polymorph also giving access to the pleasures of the flesh, effect ending when the spell does or on death.

    EDIT: On reflection, no I wouldn't rule in favour of Polymorph. If it doesn't grant access to extraordinary abilities like Low Light Vision etc that expand the senses, then it shouldn't grant these abilities to expand the senses either. Whereas Shapechange explicitly does grant such abilities.
    Last edited by paddyfool; 2020-09-01 at 10:23 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    But why would a lich want to?
    Well wouldn't you want to enjoy a nice meal once in a while if you ended up being a lich?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kruploy View Post
    Well wouldn't you want to enjoy a nice meal once in a while if you ended up being a lich?
    Maybe the kind of person who becomes a lich isn't bothered? I know people who would be fine with never eating again.

    I mean, I like the pleasures of the flesh, but that's why I plan on using Clone cheese instead(works in 5e, bit more questionable in 3.5).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    I mean, I like the pleasures of the flesh, but that's why I plan on using Clone cheese instead(works in 5e, bit more questionable in 3.5).
    How does it work exactly?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kruploy View Post
    How does it work exactly?
    Use a pound of flesh to grow a YA Clone (5e specifically allows it), keep it in stasis, commit suicide before death of old age. Congratulations, post-2e Clone gives a free contingency resurrect at death, and congrats you now have a new YA body (and depending on your edition's penalties, can clone yourself a new replacement body in a few months with a thousand or two gp and a small piece of flesh).

    Not quite as neat as a contingency reincarnate, but should still work. (Honestly, in most games I'd just have most wizards spend time on youth potions.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    Use a pound of flesh to grow a YA Clone (5e specifically allows it), keep it in stasis, commit suicide before death of old age. Congratulations, post-2e Clone gives a free contingency resurrect at death, and congrats you now have a new YA body (and depending on your edition's penalties, can clone yourself a new replacement body in a few months with a thousand or two gp and a small piece of flesh).

    Not quite as neat as a contingency reincarnate, but should still work. (Honestly, in most games I'd just have most wizards spend time on youth potions.)
    You can also just make a couple dozen clones over a few years. Then an accident causes them to all wake up a the same time believing they are you. https://forgottenrealms.fandom.com/wiki/Manshoon

  29. - Top - End - #29
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    SamuraiGuy

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    Default Re: Lich Shapechange into Human

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    Use a pound of flesh to grow a YA Clone (5e specifically allows it), keep it in stasis, commit suicide before death of old age. Congratulations, post-2e Clone gives a free contingency resurrect at death, and congrats you now have a new YA body (and depending on your edition's penalties, can clone yourself a new replacement body in a few months with a thousand or two gp and a small piece of flesh).

    Not quite as neat as a contingency reincarnate, but should still work. (Honestly, in most games I'd just have most wizards spend time on youth potions.)
    Nice. Sounds like living forever as a wizard is actually a trivial thing.

  30. - Top - End - #30
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    Default Re: Lich Shapechange into Human

    Quote Originally Posted by Kruploy View Post
    Nice. Sounds like living forever as a wizard is actually a trivial thing.
    RAW relatively treivial if you reach world changing levels, otherwise hard but possible.
    Snazzy avatar (now back! ) by Honest Tiefling.

    RIP Laser-Snail, may you live on in our hearts forever.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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