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Thread: Vampire v. Lich

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    Default Vampire v. Lich

    Why are vampires so much better than the lich?

    If there were two casters of equal level, the one who was a vampire would be a far more dangerous foe than the lich.

    Or is it because a vampire has a handful of weakness (that don't really matter when you're a caster)?

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    Default Re: Vampire v. Lich

    Vampires are more dangerous than liches if they're at the same ECL with full caster levels. This is true.

    It is also true that a human is more dangerous than an ancient wyrm dragon... if they have the same ECL in full caster levels.

    The point here is the broken-ness of the LA/ECL system, not the relative power of vampires/liches...
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    Default Re: Vampire v. Lich

    accually, the lich would have the upper hand, because of the LA difference; the lich would have a castor level that was 4 higher than the Vampires.
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    Default Re: Vampire v. Lich

    Actually, I'm looking at CR, not LA. LA's for player characters; liches and vampires aren't really meant to be player characters.


    If you're a level 10 party, facing a level 10 vampire sorcerer would be a far deadlier encounter than facing a level 10 lich sorcerer, yet both have identical CR.

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    Default Re: Vampire v. Lich

    This sounds like an awfully messy court case.

    While the Vampire does have more weaknesses, it also has viability as a gish and certain useful abilities (gaseous form, anyone?).

    I'd say the Lich is the "undead caster lite" version that actually has the useful features associated with it and Vampirism has a little more flavor. Liches also get half the LA, but that's not all that consequential when you're the DM, I think.

    Another thing to consider as a PC: the DM may opt to require the four-level prestige class as a requirement to become a Lich. I could see how a PC inflicted with Vampirism would already be in enough trouble, and thus wouldn't be forced to bother with things like that. It would be a little exciting to try and stay alive as a Vampire rather than being slain. But with an aspiring Lich, you're just like, "yeah, I want to be immortal."

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    Default Re: Vampire v. Lich

    Everything a lich has, a vampire also has, the vamp tends to have it so much better. Higher ability scores (including the critical casting stats), a better slam attack (2 automatic negative levels vs. a fort save to be paralyzed), 5 free feats, and a ton of cool abilities that can be used to devastating effect vs. the players. Gaseous form, spider climb, a weaker version of polymorph, dominate at will, fast healing, con damage, and create spawn can all mimic typical lich spells, while leaving the vampire free to put different spells in its spell slots.

    Far more powerful.

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    Default Re: Vampire v. Lich

    I believe the vampire has more abilities because it has a lot more lore to account for. Liches don't have a hundreds of years of stories claiming they have twenty different (and sometimes contradictory) abilities; the vampire template, if it's going to try and be mythologically accurate, has to include as many of the most popular vampiric talents as it can. Mechanically, it should probably have a higher CR adjustment than the Lich template; the benefits of the vampire template are better than those of the lich and greatly outweigh its drawbacks until characters can start nuking the vampire out of existence with Sunbeams (or hosing it down with decanters of endless holy water.)

    Your typical vampire isn't necessarily more dangerous than your typical lich, however. Vampire doesn't presume the base creature is a spellcaster, lich does. While a vampiric spellcaster is more dangerous than the same spellcaster as a lich, there is no guarantee that any particular vampire is going to throw spells at you. Every lich will, which makes 'there's a lich at the bottom of the tomb' a more dangerous proposition than 'there's a vampire at the bottom of the tomb', at least until you can find out more about the vampire.
    Last edited by tyckspoon; 2007-12-09 at 08:06 PM.

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    Lich is better, I'd say, with his phylacraty. Suppose that you encounter a vampire. You kill the vampire, game over. Tough fight, but you'll probably still beat it (especially if you have casters). Now if you fight a lich, you'll beat it eaisier, but it'll come back and use the ambush/suprise attack and its caster abilites to own you. Suprise/preparation and spellcasting may be on par in power, actually.

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    I believe this means very little considering the PCs will win either way. If the PCs die, the game is over, and it doesn't matter anyway. They HAVE to win.

    This is why CR is more a guideline for the DM than a rule. The DM isn't trying to create the strongest monster for a given CR, because that's pointless, because they can do anything. The CR is just there to say "hey, don't use this, because it'll mercilessly kill your 2nd level party; it's more for 7th or 8th levels".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xefas View Post
    I believe this means very little considering the PCs will win either way. If the PCs die, the game is over, and it doesn't matter anyway. They HAVE to win.
    You kids and your 3.x D&D
    There's no rule that PCs must win. In fact, I frequently kill PCs, because their players metagame. Things like "that's only a goblin; skeletons can't have class levels; I've got like 60 HP!," and other forms of "the DM would never kill me" are pretty good ways to lose a character in my campaigns.

    This is why CR is more a guideline for the DM than a rule. The DM isn't trying to create the strongest monster for a given CR, because that's pointless, because they can do anything. The CR is just there to say "hey, don't use this, because it'll mercilessly kill your 2nd level party; it's more for 7th or 8th levels".
    But it's an obviously bad guideline. If I want to have a vampire BBEG, rather than a lich, I couldn't just look at the CRs and assume that a lich sorcerer is the same challenge as a vampire sorcerer. I'd have to realize that the only reason liches are considered more powerful than vampires, is that liches are assumed to have more (caster) levels than vampires.

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    Default Re: Vampire v. Lich

    Lich is obviously stronger than Vampire. After all, Lich is on the fifth level of the Earth Cave guarding an Orb; the Vampire is only on level three, and he's just guarding a stupid Ruby .

    While a vampiric spellcaster is more dangerous than the same spellcaster as a lich, there is no guarantee that any particular vampire is going to throw spells at you. Every lich will, which makes 'there's a lich at the bottom of the tomb' a more dangerous proposition than 'there's a vampire at the bottom of the tomb', at least until you can find out more about the vampire.
    There's also the fact that the vampire template can be applied at lower level than the lich: Any fifth-level character can become a vampire, and depending on how you read the rules, a lower-level character might be able to, too. But every lich is at least 11th level. So not only will your average lich be from a more powerful class than the average vampire, but the average lich will have more levels in that class, too.
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    Default Re: Vampire v. Lich

    The only thing I'd have to say, is that eventually, Vampires get old. After a bunch of time, the BBEG Vampire, is just "oh... ya, sunbeam...". Once the players get to higher levels, the Vampire will be no sweat. The Lich, however, has the ability to, over time, become a demilich. And then the PC's show up, "Oh, the lich... wait... OH DAMN"
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    Quote Originally Posted by sikyon View Post
    Lich is better, I'd say, with his phylacraty. Suppose that you encounter a vampire. You kill the vampire, game over. Tough fight, but you'll probably still beat it (especially if you have casters). Now if you fight a lich, you'll beat it eaisier, but it'll come back and use the ambush/suprise attack and its caster abilites to own you. Suprise/preparation and spellcasting may be on par in power, actually.
    No, its that you wound the vampire and it goes away with gaseous form to heal, leaving behind a crippled party that it will finish off a couple rounds later.
    I apologize for the quality of the above post.

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    Default Re: Vampire v. Lich

    Don't knock the ability to fight at any time of day outside. The Sunlight issue may not be a huge deal in a dungeon, but in dungeon light game, being able to be a viable opponent from sunup to sun down is important.
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    Default Re: Vampire v. Lich

    I believe vampires have more crippling weaknesses than liches. Firstly, unable to enter a building without permission means no sneaking in for assassination. Also, since it only takes the cleric's holy symbol to keep it at bay (and it doesn't have to be the cleric who's holding the symbol), the only way that a vampire can attack a party (assuming at least one of the party members has a mirror and/or a holy symbol) is by getting them by surprise.

    Their dire weakness to sunlight also poses a significant drawback, limiting the encounters to some kind of dark places or at night.

    A lich however, does not have those weaknesses. It can also return from death in 1d10 days as long as the phylactery isn't destroyed. As the only way to repel a lich is to fight it to death (only to be returned after 1d10 days) or to destroy its phylactery (which would be much harder than locating a vampire's coffin, which would actually be a coffin not some obscure object).

    So in conclusion:
    1. A vampire is much more powerful than a lich with the same CR, yet much easier to keep it at bay as long as the party is aware of the vampire's presence
    2. A lich may be less powerful than a vampire, yet it is much harder to repel and destroy for good.


    Also, the organisation entry of Lich shows that a lich sometimes leads a band of vampires (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/lich.htm). I'm surprised that no-one mentioned it yet.
    Last edited by Bag_of_Holding; 2007-12-09 at 08:36 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Balkash View Post
    The only thing I'd have to say, is that eventually, Vampires get old. After a bunch of time, the BBEG Vampire, is just "oh... ya, sunbeam...". Once the players get to higher levels, the Vampire will be no sweat. The Lich, however, has the ability to, over time, become a demilich. And then the PC's show up, "Oh, the lich... wait... OH DAMN"
    Obviously you have never meet the horror that is Strahd.

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    Default Re: Vampire v. Lich

    I've always liked Liches more than Vampires, but I think that's partly an innate rebelion because so @#@$ many people like vampires, and there's so many bad shows/movies about them. The other part is the idea that becoming a Lich is difficult and dangerous, something a wizard devotes many years to researching and preparing, while becoming a vampire is more blind luck. You get bit and they decide not to 'kill' you completely. In the world I'm designing, I've always wanted to do vampires more uniquely than mainstream, definitely give them some obvious drawbacks so players won't be falling over themselves to get bitten. It's supposed to be a CURSE, dammit!

    EDIT:
    Quote Originally Posted by Bag_of_Holding View Post
    Also, the organisation entry of Lich shows that a lich sometimes leads a band of vampires (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/lich.htm). I'm surprised that no-one mentioned it yet.
    This is because a Lich must be a caster, and is almost always at least a part-time Necromancer, thus he controls undead. Vampires are very powerful undead, so why wouldn't they want a few guarding their keep/tower/lair?
    Last edited by Prophaniti; 2007-12-09 at 09:04 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bag_of_Holding View Post
    I believe vampires have more crippling weaknesses than liches. Firstly, unable to enter a building without permission means no sneaking in for assassination.
    Except for being able to dominate at will, and having spawn to do your bidding, as well as being able to turn into an animal and getting invited in.

    Not to mention a level or two of any arcane caster gives you disguise self. And note that we are comparing casters here.

    Also, since it only takes the cleric's holy symbol to keep it at bay (and it doesn't have to be the cleric who's holding the symbol), the only way that a vampire can attack a party (assuming at least one of the party members has a mirror and/or a holy symbol) is by getting them by surprise.
    Actually, it just can't come within 5 feet. That doesn't mean he can't dominate the rogue, and lay down some serious magical hurt on the rest of the party, or summon a swarm of creatures to distract the party member with the garlic.

    Their dire weakness to sunlight also poses a significant drawback, limiting the encounters to some kind of dark places or at night.
    I'm fairly certain there's magic out there to take care of that sort of thing. Not 100% on that, though. Probably items, too.

    A lich however, does not have those weaknesses. It can also return from death in 1d10 days as long as the phylactery isn't destroyed. As the only way to repel a lich is to fight it to death (only to be returned after 1d10 days) or to destroy its phylactery (which would be much harder than locating a vampire's coffin, which would actually be a coffin not some obscure object).
    When a vampire hits 0 hp, he turns into gas, seeps through the floorboards, and heads back to his coffin. If he has a way to cast spells silently and stilled, he can buff himself with temp hp. Alternatively, he could hit himself with one of those spells that does negative energy damage (metamagic'd or otherwise), putting himself up to 1hp, and the fast healing begins.

    And smart vampires cleverly disguise their coffins, and a caster vampire would certainly trap the crap out of one.

    I mean, anything a caster lich is doing, a caster vampire will just as likely be doing; except more so, as the vampire will be smarter and wiser than the lich.

    So in conclusion:
    1. A vampire is much more powerful than a lich with the same CR, yet much easier to keep it at bay as long as the party is aware of the vampire's presence
    Except neither a lich nor a casting vampire's real strength is in melee- it's just that it's not weak to being melee'd.

    Also, the organisation entry of Lich shows that a lich sometimes leads a band of vampires (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/lich.htm). I'm surprised that no-one mentioned it yet.
    Which is surprising, given that a vampire is superior in virtually every way.
    Last edited by Cuddly; 2007-12-09 at 09:20 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cuddly View Post
    You kids and your 3.x D&D
    There's no rule that PCs must win. In fact, I frequently kill PCs, because their players metagame. Things like "that's only a goblin; skeletons can't have class levels; I've got like 60 HP!," and other forms of "the DM would never kill me" are pretty good ways to lose a character in my campaigns.
    Actually, I've only started 3.5 recently. My brother got me into 2nd edition when I was in the 5th grade, and towards the end of high school, I started 3.5... not that it makes a different.

    Say you kill a PC. That doesn't mean the PCs have lost. The ones still alive can continue fighting until they win. The dead PC just makes a new character, and continues on. His death meant absolutely nothing.

    Now, say they don't win. Say you've made something so strong, that it kills them all.

    The game is over. The campaign has ended, because everyone is dead. Everyone goes home, and the game meant nothing. The PCs MUST win, or the game ends and it doesn't matter what happened at all. This is true no matter what P&P game or edition there is.

    Yes, it's a bad guideline, but it's still just a guideline, no matter how condescending you are about it. Vampires are more powerful than Liches- you know this, so just take that into account while playing. What Wizards gives as a guideline means nothing to your individual game.

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    Default Re: Vampire v. Lich

    there is a spell to help vampires against the sun. 5th level cleric spell in the forgotten realsms book lords of darkness. It's called Night's Mantle, it lasts 10 minutes per level, and the material component is rubies worth 1000 gp

    Edit: the lich could just walk through a river, or into the sea. vampire loses
    Last edited by Feralgeist; 2007-12-09 at 10:24 PM.

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    Default Re: Vampire v. Lich

    Well... you could always drive a wooden stake through the vampire!

    AND!! The rule doesn't really deal with how to drive that bloody (or soon to be) stake through a vampire, does it?

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    Default Re: Vampire v. Lich

    The problem with being a lich is that you have to be a caster to become one. You lose two caster levels to gain some special melee abilities. Oh yeah, and a +2 increase to your casting attribute. While a vampire doesn't have to be a caster, gets better melee abilities, extra feats, skill bonuses, dominate and polymorph as spell-like abilities, fast healing, and more ability increases than the lich.
    I apologize for the quality of the above post.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cuddly View Post
    Except for being able to dominate at will, and having spawn to do your bidding, as well as being able to turn into an animal and getting invited in.

    Not to mention a level or two of any arcane caster gives you disguise self. And note that we are comparing casters here.
    The problem is, what if their is a reclusive mage (or lich) that spends all his time in the tower, and has golems/mindless undead do all his little things for him. He never needs to invite anyone in, as such he is completely immune to vampires. Not so to liches. (I'm not saying this makes liches better, or even equal to vampires, just saying that it is still a disadvantage.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Cuddly View Post
    And smart vampires cleverly disguise their coffins, and a caster vampire would certainly trap the crap out of one.

    I mean, anything a caster lich is doing, a caster vampire will just as likely be doing; except more so, as the vampire will be smarter and wiser than the lich.
    The problem with Coffins versus Phylacteries is that the Coffin has to be within X distance (and technically the rules state that the only action a vampire can perform is heading towards his coffin, so their 0HP ability is different then a regular gaseous form where you could cast spells, though I would allow it.) and while that distance can be a long way, 1) The PCs can follow your trail. 2) It isn't really really far.

    Sometimes it's nice to know that your phylactery is in another city, and there is exactly zero way the PCs will find it, because there is no evidence at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cuddly View Post
    Which is surprising, given that a vampire is superior in virtually every way.
    No, it was already explained. All Liches are casters, not all vampires are. That Goblin HD 5 vampire isn't anywhere near as powerful as even the weakest Lich.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaelik View Post
    No, it was already explained. All Liches are casters, not all vampires are. That Goblin HD 5 vampire isn't anywhere near as powerful as even the weakest Lich.
    A vampire caster in general, is considerably more dangerous than the lich caster, yet they have the same CRs.

    Of course a level 5 warrior goblin vampire is less powerful than a level 15 human lich wizard- you're comparing apples and oranges.

    But if anyone took any time to read what my first post said, they'd realize that their generalizations are pretty meaningless.

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    It is one heck of a lot easier to finish off a vampire than it is to finish off a lich. Consider:

    #1. The vampire's coffin must be within 9 miles of its location when it "dies." The lich's phylactery can be on another continent, or another plane of existence. Because of this, the lich can set up all kinds of fixed defenses around its phylactery; a vampire that does the same thing with its coffin has effectively trapped itself in a 9-mile-radius area. And when the PCs kill the vampire, they know they don't have far to go to find its coffin.
    #2. The vampire assumes gaseous form when "killed" and has to fly back to its coffin at the less-than-spectacular speed of 20. It's not even incorporeal, so while it can seep through cracks and small holes, it can't just dive into the ground. Enterprising PCs can trap it (forcecage, anyone?). Or, if they have incorporeal allies or a way to become gaseous/incorporeal themselves, they can follow it. The lich is safe from such tricks.
    #3. The vampire's special power only protects it from death by damage. If it's destroyed by a save-or-lose effect (e.g., disrupting weapon, sunbeam, sunburst, et cetera), or any other non-damage means, it dies permanently. A lich's phylactery doesn't care what you do to the lich.
    #4. The vampire's weaknesses can sometimes be used against it. If you can get it into a sunlit area, it's screwed--it gets either a move action or an attack action, neither of which will let it cast a spell. Likewise, if we assume a coup de grace is sufficient to stake a vampire, all you need is a way to immobilize it for a round (be sure to have the staker delay her action until after the immobilizer's action, so that the vampire doesn't get a chance to turn gaseous). Liches have no such special weaknesses.

    As far as which is deadlier in combat, if both are casters? I think it's a wash. The vampire has that handy dominate person gaze, but it's not much better than simply casting a dominate person spell, which all liches are high enough level to do. Their respective touch attacks are pretty decent; the lich's attack is a fairly vicious save-or-lose, the vampire's grants no save but only inflicts two negative levels. But they're both melee attacks, and we're talking about casters, who usually have better things to do with their standard actions. The vampire's blood drain is only usable in a grapple, and a caster who's grappling is a fool, even with the vampire's Strength bonus. The vampire's AC is three points better (+2 from Dex and it gets +6 natural versus the lich's +5), but, once again--caster. AC is not a major priority.

    Liches have the edge against energy attacks, since they get total immunity to cold and electricity where the vampire only gets resistance 10. It's hard to say who's got the better DR type (bludgeoning and magic versus silver and magic), but the lich's DR is 15 where the vampire's is only 10. Children of the Night isn't going to do much at these levels.

    The vampire's one real advantage is fast healing, which the lich doesn't get. But 5 hit points a round isn't that big an edge at these levels.

    Ultimately, I think the lich wins because it's so much harder to put the lich down for good. The vampire's advantages simply don't synergize well with caster classes. They work much better as melee warriors or sneaky types; there's a reason why the "elite vampire" is a high-level monk. A vampire swordsage would be a scary, scary thing.

    (Also note that the vampire can't drop a 1-point inflict minor wounds on itself and pop back up, nor can it have someone else do so. When the vampire returns to its coffin, it is helpless. It remains so for 1 hour, at the end of which it regains 1 hit point, ceases to be helpless, and resumes its usual rate of healing. Healing it before then will not negate its helplessness. Moreover, if we're supposing a vampire caster, it plays by the same rules as any other caster--it has to rest for 8 hours to get its spells back no matter how fast it recovers from "death.")
    Last edited by Dausuul; 2007-12-09 at 11:48 PM.

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    Default Re: Vampire v. Lich

    Quote Originally Posted by Bag_of_Holding View Post
    Well... you could always drive a wooden stake through the vampire!

    AND!! The rule doesn't really deal with how to drive that bloody (or soon to be) stake through a vampire, does it?
    Yep. If your DM's willing, you could probably take the metal head off the end of a crossbow bolt or an arrow. Of course I'd probably rule that you'll have to take a penalty to aim carefully. A heart, after all, is a much smaller target than a vampire.

    Quote Originally Posted by SRD
    Driving a wooden stake through a vampire’s heart instantly slays the monster. However, it returns to life if the stake is removed, unless the body is destroyed.
    It would be really funny to have a vampire caster cast heart of stone on himself, though.

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    Default Re: Vampire v. Lich

    Vampires are easier to permanently destroy, but that shouldn't be factored into CR. The CR is meant to represent the challenge a creature poses in a single encounter. A single encounter with either a vampire or a lich is not the task of hunting it down and keeping it dead: It's the task of defeating it in a single fight so you can get on with whatever you were doing before. Permanently ending an enemy is a good strategy that should probably net bonus xp, but it's not strictly covered by CR.
    Quote Originally Posted by Winterwind View Post
    Mewtarthio, you have scared my brain into hiding, a trembling, broken shadow of a thing, cowering somewhere in the soothing darkness and singing nursery rhymes in the hope of obscuring the Lovecraftian facts you so boldly brought into daylight.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Vampire v. Lich

    Quote Originally Posted by Mewtarthio View Post
    Vampires are easier to permanently destroy, but that shouldn't be factored into CR. The CR is meant to represent the challenge a creature poses in a single encounter. A single encounter with either a vampire or a lich is not the task of hunting it down and keeping it dead: It's the task of defeating it in a single fight so you can get on with whatever you were doing before. Permanently ending an enemy is a good strategy that should probably net bonus xp, but it's not strictly covered by CR.
    And it's not factored in. Vampires and liches both have a CR adjustment of +2; and neither is substantially more impressive in combat.
    Last edited by Dausuul; 2007-12-10 at 12:09 AM.

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    Dwarf in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Vampire v. Lich

    Quote Originally Posted by Balkash View Post
    The only thing I'd have to say, is that eventually, Vampires get old. After a bunch of time, the BBEG Vampire, is just "oh... ya, sunbeam...". Once the players get to higher levels, the Vampire will be no sweat. The Lich, however, has the ability to, over time, become a demilich. And then the PC's show up, "Oh, the lich... wait... OH DAMN"
    Have you seen the monstrosity that is the Vampire Lord? Basically, all the sweet bonuses you apply to the Vampire's ability scores are reapplied, they get bonus HP, effectively get Divine Grace, pick up way better abilities and some useful feats (Leadership), get Wild Shape as an 11th level Druid, and overcome a majority of their major weaknesses. They also can't freaking die unless you do this overly complicated ritual involving pinning it, decapitating it, buring it, burying the ashes in consecrated ground, and the like. It can still come back to life anyway if it is removed from the consecrated ground though.
    I personally believe that (barring epic levels aside-I'm looking at you Demilich) the vampire template is more versatile, as it can be applied to any class, while the lich is caster exclusive. All in all, the abilities the vampire gets are superior, such as the stat boosts and, namely, energy drain. The lich has a nifty touch attack, but a spellcaster (without extra HP from Con) shouldn't be making those touch attacks anyway. The rejuvination thing is nice, but I still think that a vampire has the lich beat in survivability. The main strength of the lich is that no matter where or when you find it, be prepared to fight a full caster (unless you meet the rare psudo-caster bard (unless its a Sublime Chord, but that's going into too many tangents )). But, I still stand by my statement that the vampire (and pre-epic vampire lord) beats down the lich, until the epic demilich is brought in. Then, there's no contest.

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Vampire v. Lich

    Quote Originally Posted by Dausuul View Post
    And it's not factored in. Vampires and liches both have a CR adjustment of +2; and neither is substantially more impressive in combat.
    Yes. I'm arguing that the argument about how easy it is to kill a vampire is irrelevant.
    Quote Originally Posted by Winterwind View Post
    Mewtarthio, you have scared my brain into hiding, a trembling, broken shadow of a thing, cowering somewhere in the soothing darkness and singing nursery rhymes in the hope of obscuring the Lovecraftian facts you so boldly brought into daylight.

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