Liches

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Liche
Liche
Liche, from Ultima VII manual.
First appearance: Ultima I
Last appearance: Ultima IX

A Liche is the end result of mortal necromancer who, wishing to outlive their natural end, undertakes dark magics to allow themselves to persist in a never-ending state of undeath. Such creatures are extremely formidable opponents, and are not easily defeated. They appear in Ultima I, IV, VII, VII Part Two and IX, as well as in Ultima Underworld II.

Contents

[edit] Description

Liche2.gif
A "floating skull" style liche from the FM-Towns port of Ultima I.

In the early days of Sosaria, after the semi-mythical wizard Unthar first discovered the process by which initiates of the dark arts might attain immortality, liches became a common sight in the far subterranean depths of the realm's dungeons. In these days, such creatures took the form of a disembodied skull, which seemed to float in space. In the Stranger's earliest adventures during the time of Mondain's influence, the hero was commanded to slay one, at the behest of the King of the Black Dragon.

Years later, liches reemerged in the newly rechristened land of Britannia, and could often be found in the company of daemons, balrons or the lesser undead. During the early Age of Enlightenment these fiends began to venture outside of the dungeons which were once their domicile, and could on occasion were known to waylay travelers within the wilderness. With time, even their form changed, with many of them appearing in possession of full skeletal bodies.

Liches have a variety of dark powers, and often attack their foes with hurled bolts of flame and magic. Several have mastered the art of invisibility, allowing them to attack unseen. In many cases, however, the exact powers a liche exhibits will depend on the caliber of mage they were before their transformation. Adventurers ought always be wary when attacking such monsters, as their origins make them by necessity creatures of great intellect and cunning.

[edit] Lore

Liche4.gif

The Lich is an evil spellcaster who, through the necromantic arts, hath entered a state of living death in order to prolong an unholy reign on earth. Woe to the explorer who stumbles upon the lair of a lich, for the undead mage will guard its domain fiercely and attack without hesitation.

- from The First Age of Darkness (Ultima I)

This undead shade of a powerful wizard can still cast very powerful magic spells. The Lich is a most dangerous opponent under even favorable conditions.

- from The History of Britannia (Ultima IV)

This is an extremely rare type of undead creature that is both dangerous and very difficult to destroy.

- from The Book of Fellowship (Ultima VII)

Liche3.gif

Occasionally, an extremely old and powerful wizard will choose not to suffer a natural death, but instead become a liche. In such cases, their bodies die, but their minds live on and animate the rotting corpse. Liches are in nearly all cases solitary, most being scholars who carry out magical research in secret. Anyone capable of becoming a liche must already be highly intelligent and a master of arcane knowledge. In most cases, a liche is also completely insane.

- from A Safe Passage Through Britannia (Ultima Underworld II)

According to myth, Unthar, an ancient mage, became consumed with pride in his magical powers and sought to use them to defy death forever. So was born, the tale goes, the first lich. No one has seen these mythic creatures of the undead and returned to tell it. Yet, the rumors persist of these lords of the deepest catacombs. Should half of the tales prove true, the lich is a horror that one's life should never witness.

- from Journal (Ultima IX)

[edit] Notable Examples

Horance the liche
  • Horance: formerly a peaceable poet and magician in Skara Brae, Horance eventually descended into madness following the Guardians disruption of the ethereal waves and gave over to lichedom, taking control of the dead within the city. He may be found in Ultima VII, still lording over the tortured ghosts of the town even after its destruction.
  • Khelereth is a liche who has made his home in dungeon Covetous, planning for great conquest once amassing his legions of the dead in Ultima IX.

[edit] Trivia

  • The portrayal of liches in early games as consisting of a single floating skull may be based on the demiliches of the popular tabletop role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons. These variations on typical liches have waxed in power such that most of their consciousness travels to the astral plane, while their physical bodies have deteriorated to naught but a skull.[1]
  • The book Artifacts of Darkness in Ultima VII references the Crown of the Liche King as being an item of note. What exactly this crown is and what powers it may have are not known.[2]
  • Liches were to be included in the canceled Ultima X. See Planned Monsters for Ultima X for further details.

[edit] See Also

Ultima I liche

[edit] References

  1.  "Liches (Dungeons & Dragons)". Wikipedia. Retrieved 2010-11-30.
  2. Morgaelin, Mordra. Artifacts of Darkness (Ultima VII - in-game).
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