Thursday, December 13, 2012

Rise of the Lich Lords: A Campaign Idea

Okay, so I've been reading up on ideas for campaigns where all the characters are evil.  There are various problems with this type of campaign, the main one being that the party will usually implode due to treachery.  So I thought, what if you had a campaign where the party members were all "evil" on the outside, but their usual selves on the inside?  To paraphrase Jessica Rabbit "I'm not Evil, I'm just drawn that way".

My campaign idea (using Pathfinder) would start at high level, let's say 12th.  The party members are trusted heroes of the empire, with some reputation locally and internationally.  The empire currently is enjoying peace, justice, and prosperity due largely to their historic efforts.  One night at the palace the comrades gather in their suite to catch up with each other after reassembling for yet another tedious banquet in their honor.  Suddenly the royal high priest of <fill in appropriate deity of the afterlife, such as Pharasma, Kelemvor, Ilmater, or maybe even Asmodeus> appears and warns that he has had a vision from <appropriate deity> that a doom of immense power is imminent.  The palace and all in it, indeed the entire region will be laid waste by fel negative energies erupting from a gateway which will also bring invaders from another dimension.  They, the mightiest of heroes, are the only hope the world has of combating the invasion.  But their only hope of surviving the doom is to transfer their souls into specially prepared magical phylacteries immediately and then arise as liches after death.

Actually the heroes will gain both the (Pathfinder) Lich and Undead Lord templates, as they are being aided by the <deity of the afterlife>.  The doom does in fact kill almost all living creatures within a couple hundred miles of the palace with a storm of negative energy, mixed in places with fire, lightning, and frost.  About half of the dead rise as undead of one type or another.  In addition, many of the newly arisen undead are possessed by the invading demons (gaining the Demon-Possessed Creature template in addition to being their undead type).  Many of the party's possessions are damaged in the holocaust, but there are others to be found in the wreckage of the huge palace and surrounding temples and fortifications of the sprawling complex.

The nations surrounding the catastrophe gather forces to counter-attack.  Everyone assumes that the heroes are at best dead and at worst one of the possessed undead infesting the devastation.  The party must assess what's happening, battle the high-level undead around the palace (many former friends and even family), stem further spread of the blight pouring from the gate, deal with heroes sent on quests to kill them (once their undeath becomes known), go through the gate to deal with whoever is behind the whole thing, seal the gate, and find out if they can ever return from being liches--perhaps at a price exacted by the gods themselves.

Lich Lord of Righteous Vengeance (CR +4)
Alignment: Varies
Type: undead
Senses: darkvision 60'
Armor Class: +9
Hit Dice: change to d8
Defensive Abilities:
- channel resistance +4
- DR 15/Bludgeoning and magic
-  immunity to cold and electricity
- rejuvenation (via phylactery)

Damage: A lich's touch attack uses negative energy to deal 1d8 points of damage to living creatures + 1 point of damage per 2 Hit Dice possessed by the lich. As negative energy, this damage can be used to heal undead creatures. A lich can take a full-round action to infuse itself with this energy, healing damage as if it had used its touch attack against itself.

Special Attacks:
Fear Aura (Su)
Creatures of less than 5 HD in a 60-foot radius that look at the lich must succeed on a Will save or become frightened. Creatures with 5 HD or more must succeed at a Will save or be shaken for a number of rounds equal to the lich's Hit Dice. A creature that successfully saves cannot be affected again by the same lich's aura for 24 hours. This is a mind-affecting fear effect. [Save DC is 10 + 1/2 lich's HD + lich's Cha modifier]
Paralyzing Touch (Su)
Any living creature a lich hits with its touch attack must succeed on a Fortitude save or be permanently paralyzed. Remove paralysis or any spell that can remove a curse can free the victim (see the bestow curse spell description, with a DC equal to the lich's save DC). The effect cannot be dispelled. Anyone paralyzed by a lich seems dead, though a DC 20 Perception check or a DC 15 Heal check reveals that the victim is still alive. [Save DC is 10 + 1/2 lich's HD + lich's Cha modifier]
Aura of Desecration (Su)
Undead lords constantly project an aura in a 20–foot radius that functions as a permanent desecrate spell. The DC to resist negative channeled energy within this area gains a +3 profane bonus. Undead within the area (including the undead lord) gain a +1 profane bonus to attack rolls, damage rolls, and saves. Summoned or created undead that appear in the area gain +1 hit points per HD.
Command Undead (Su)
Undead lords command or rebuke undead creatures of the same type as itself as a cleric with the Command Undead feat equal to its current Hit Dice. If the base creature can already command or rebuke undead, this ability stacks.
Create Spawn (Su)
A creature slain by an undead lord rises in 1d4 minutes as an undead creature of the same type as the undead lord. Spawn are under control of the undead lord. This replaces any other create spawn ability the base creature possesses.
Summon Undead (Sp)
Once per day, an undead lord can summon a total number of HD worth of undead (of the same type as the undead lord) equal to its HD x 1.5. Undead lords cannot summon an undead creature that has more HD than it does.

Abilities: Str +4, Dex +2 Int +2, Wis +2, Cha +4. Being undead, a lich has no Constitution score.

Skills: Liches have a +8 racial bonus on Perception, Sense Motive, and Stealth checks. A lich always treats Climb, Disguise, Fly, Intimidate, Knowledge (arcana), Knowledge (religion), Perception, Sense Motive, Spellcraft, and Stealth as class skills. Otherwise, skills are the same as the base creature.

Undead Telepathy (Su)
Undead lords can communicate telepathically with any other undead within 100 feet, including mindless undead such as zombies and skeletons.

Undead Traits
Undead are immune to death effects, disease, mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, morale effects, phantasms, and patterns), paralysis, poison, sleep, stun, and any effect that requires a Fortitude save (unless the effect also works on objects or is harmless). Undead are not subject to ability drain, energy drain, or nonlethal damage. Undead are immune to damage or penalties to their physical ability scores (Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution), as well as to fatigue and exhaustion effects. Undead are not at risk of death from massive damage.

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