Thursday, April 29, 2010

Liches in Classic Unisystem

“I want to tell you a story.”

That was how she began our conversation so many years ago. I was annoyed, I wasn’t looking for a story, I was looking for answers. For years I had been searching obscure occult tomes for a shred of proof that there was something else out there; something no longer human and unbelievably ancient.

“Do you know of Immortals?” she asked, knowing full well I did. I would not have spent 10 years and travelled to length and breadth of the Earth if I had not heard of something. I would not now be sitting here in this small cottage in France if I had not actually seen some proof.

She was old, that was certain, but how old I could not begin to fathom. I had learned of her just few months ago. I attempted many times to contact her, but she had no phone, let alone email, and her address was not even known by the local post. So I travelled here and searched this pastoral countryside till I found her. She would not receive me and sent me away many times. Finally, after weeks, she allowed me a visit. My French was halting, but I was surprised (though I don’t know why) to discover she spoke English. She invited me to her home. Again I was surprised, no, I was dumfounded. In her possession were occult tomes and texts that many scholars search a life-time for only to discover one such artefact and consider themselves successful. Here tomes of unbelievable worth and antiquity were lying about as if they were a copy of the morning news or some tacky romance novel. There was a nervousness in the air, like I walked into a surreal alien world. Everything looked normal; normal that is, if this were a hundred years ago. Several clues were apparent to me then, but in my haste to learn what she knew I ignored them, or simply did not recognize them for what they were.

“Essence” she continued “is not just the key to life, but life itself. Do you agree?” I nodded affirmative. My throat was dry from my journey here and she had not offered me a drink. Unheading, or just uncaring for my discomfort she carried on. “Then is it any surprise that there are those whose lives are unnaturally long due to essence?” Again I indicated I agreed. I began to re-evaluate how old she really was.

“Essence then extends life.” She said and as a means of illustrating she drew out a long thread. She was treating me as if I were a child, but yet something held my tongue back. “It can lengthen life, but at cost. Most agree, the Wicce in particular, that the cost is too high. Others begin to feel that inventible pull towards Geburah, a wariness of the soul that no mortal sleep can cure, they slip away quietly, hardly a whisper.” She paused.

“There are others. Very, very few. Who never hear the call, never feel the wariness of the soul and they continue.” She turned and handed me an old tome, our fingertips briefly brushed and I felt a cold so profound, so aching, that I feared I would never be warm again.

“You may have this. But I doubt you will like what you read.”

I practically ran back to the hotel room. I was drained, exhausted beyond anything I could remember. I wanted to read that book, but when I got back I fell to bed.

I read that horrible tome, the ancient German difficult, but I struggled on. After a couple hundred or so pages sleep conquered me.

I awoke two days later to the hotel manager banging on my door, swearing at me in French. The book was gone. I went back to that small home but found nothing and no sign of life. As quickly as I could I began copy what I could remember from memory. Some images were blurry, on the edge of consciousness, others had burned themselves so deeply into my psyche that I doubt I will ever be the same.

Along with the nightmares I had been given the answers I sought.

I had spoken to a lich.

15-point Supernatural Quality

Prerequisites: The Gift, Intelligence or Will of 6 or greater, construction of a phylactery and potion. Must be a living human (no bast, vampyres, ghost, etc.)

There are those that are born immortal or gain unnaturally long lives due to Essence. There are those that covet this, or fear death so much that they seek out fell arcane means to extend their lives. These rare creatures are known as Liches.

Lich comes from the old middle English word Lyche, which means corpse. Indeed the lich is often very corpse like. A mere husk of a human form, the lich is most often a skeleton with dried leather like flesh drawn tightly over the bones. Its eyes are gone, replaced by pin points of malevolent red light. Some hair remains, in thin wispy strands and its hands have curved into talons with long yellowed fingernails. Liches can also appear as human, they are still powerful magicians and can alter their appearance.

The path to lichdom is fraught with peril. To begin the prospective lich must have a strong will or intellect to pursue this path. A strong constitution is favorable, but not required. Only Human Gifted may become liches. Other undead cannot transform into a lich; though it should be noted that there has been a rumor of vampyric liches. There is also some debate on whether other supernatural creatures, such as Bast or Ferals, or immortals can become liches.

The first step is to locate a book or tome with the knowledge. This book includes the rituals and incantations needed, the ingredients of the potion and directions for making the phylactery or soul object to house the lich’s soul. One such tome is known to exist, Das Buch des Leiche. Written in the early 14th century in a crude form of old High German, it is difficult to read and understand. A more common translation, The Book of Liches, is full of errors and will more likely kill the user outright. There are other tomes certainly, but they are only rumored to contain the necessary ritual, potions or materials. Once the proper tome is discovered most occult scholars agree it contains three important pieces of knowledge; construction and empowerment of the lich’s phylactery, the brewing of the poisonous draught, and the ritual of transformation.

The Phylactery
The Soul Cage or Phylactery is a small box or otherwise hollow object about the size of a fist. All reported cases have been made of lead. Lead is used for it’s dark, energy absorbing color and most likely for its malleability.
The would be lich needs to construct this himself or have one made for this purpose.
The Phylactery requires a Consecration Invocation to create the vessel and restrict it only to that caster. The magician must then atune the phylactery by the use of the Soul Projection Invocation and project his soul into the phylactery. This ritual is a perversion of Atlantean Arcana for empowering and energy crystal.
The would be lich must pour all of his Essence (except for 1-5 points) into the Phylactery. He must then regain all of this lost Essence normally before proceeding.

The Potion
On the lunar month before transformation the would be lich needs to brew the poison that will actually kill him. The poison consists of arsenic, belladonna, the venom of a poisonous snake or spider, the blood of a vampyre and the blood of a human whose life has been extended due to essence, or a true immortal or manifested demonic creature. Rendered down in this vile alchemical concoction are the silks of 13 Death’s Head moths (sp. Acherontia styx styx; Acherontia atropos styx). The potion then must ferment for 27 days in an air-tight container and never be exposed to light. Even the light of a single candle will be enough to render it useless. It is still quite toxic, just not suitable for use in the ritual.

The Ritual
The ritual of transformation is what binds the would be lich’s body to this world and his soul to the Phylactery hereafter.
The ritual though is largely unknown. One must discover it in one of the few books known to contain the proper ritual, and not one one of the many books that contain the false ritual. There are many faulty copies and some outright forgeries.
An Occultism check with 10 Success Levels is enough to determine if the ritual is legitimate, but not enough to determine why it might be wrong.
The ritual itself requires at least level 5 in one of the Necromancies listed in the WitchCraft core, but Death Mastery is the most common.
The ritual takes 24 hours to cast and the would be Lich looses 5 points of Essences permanently. If they are interrupted at any point they must start over anew. This includes brew a new potion and loosing another 5 points of Essence.
At the end of the casting the prospective lich drinks the potion and dies. If everything was performed correctly then they will rise as a Lich in three days. If not then they are dead.

Once the new Lich awakens they have the following:

Immortal, Nerves of steel, Photographic Memmory, Acute Senses (hearing and vision), Chill of the Grave (GoA)* (3), Ghostly Fear (GoA)*, Enhanced Vision Darkvision, Hard to Kill (3)
Intelligence +1, Will +2, Occultism/Occult Knowledge skill +2

Disabled senses (taste and smell), Delusions of Granduer, Obsessions (accumulate more knowledge), Unattractive, Inhuman form, Essence Dependence

*These qualities are found in the Ghosts of Albion Roleplaying Game. They are Cinematic but can be used in a Classic Unisystem game with no issues. They cost the listed Quality Points in either Quality or Metaphysics. Either costs 1 Essence point to use.

Like a Vampyre a Lich cannot replace their own Essence. They must spend an Essence point each day to retain their ability to mimic life and any Metaphysics they perform also deplete their Essense. Unlike Vampyres a Lich can absorb ambient Essence, but no more than 5 points per day. This is often why a Lich can be found in Essence rich areas. As long as they are pursuing more mundane research a Lich can persist unchanged and never requiring Essence for years.

Liches then can be played as sort of intelligent Zombies, taking any Quality or Drawback that a Zombie can including those regarding feeding. Liches normally do not feed on flesh but rare conditions (or badly translated rituals) do happen. Liches may also take appropriate Qualities, Drawbacks and Powers that are open to Vampyres or Ghosts.

Like Ghosts, Liches can “see” emotional states. Due to their gifted background they can also see magic and lines of magical force.

Reducing a Lich to 0 Life Points does not kill it, but it does force it’s life force back into their Phylactery. Reducing the Lich to zero Essence Points forces it back to it’s Phylactery as well, but then it must slowly rebuild their Essence at the rate of 1 per day till they reach their maximum. A lich can then re-enter their body and re-animate it. If their body has been destroyed then they enter any corpse within 100 yards of their Phylactery.

If a Lich is somehow reduced all the way to -10 Life Points then their body must make a Survival Test. Failure results in the body being destroyed.

To destroy a Lich one must reduce it to zero Life or Essence points, find and destroy their Phylactery and destroy the body. For this reason Liches often keep a false Phylactery while their real one is safely hidden and surrounded by corpses and animated dead to guard it.

A Lich may regenerate 1 Life Point per Con score per day. This costs the Lich 1 extra Essence Point.

For Classic Unisystem.  WitchCraft RPG, All Flesh Must Be Eaten, or Armageddon. 


Unknown said...

This was posted years ago but I did want to leave a comment of appreciation. I like the Classic Unisystem and use it and plan to continue doing so, so this helped with a more difficult prospect ^^


Unknown said...

I use the Classic Witchcraft system and plan to continue doing so extensively. This was very helpful so thank you ^^

Larry Potts said...

Violence, discrimination. The desecration of our graves and places of worship are problems that need to be addressed. A table top game using the gentile(and inaccurate) word for a tiffilin is a distraction and a waste of time