Review [5E] [Pathfinder] [3rd Party] Liches: Dance Macabre review


I just finished reading this supplement and wanted to actually talk about it. So, if you don't want to hear me discuss a third party supplement about Voldemorts, Azalins, Vecnas, and Saurons then this is probably not the thread for you.

First of all, I've never really thought much about Liches in games. For whatever reason, I've never had much call for them and that might be because I tended to do lower level games. By the time the player characters were to the point they might be engaging with Liches, I was usually plotting my next new campaign with lower stakes. I think part of the issue was that Liches all seemed sort of the same. They were a bunch of skeletal wizards with more power than the vast majority of adventuring parties and came in two varieties: 1. The Sorcerous Overlord out to conquer the world with an army of the dead. 2. The guy just minding his business in his dungeon/tower who the PCs tried to murder for being "evil."

I remember the original VAN RITCHEN'S GUIDE TO LICHES (I'm that old of a gamer) that usually brought vast amounts of character to monster types but couldn't make the Liches more interesting. So, I was willing to give this one a shot but didn't expect much. I was very pleasantly surprised as Texas in August Stuido's have successfully brought the horror to Liches and made them something that is both scary and roleplayable in fantasy.

This book contains a lot of templates, psychological details, and ideas about how Liches warp the very fabric of reality to them. If a Lich sets up shop around a local village, it will start looking like Innsmouth and everyone either start becoming mutated fanatical cultists or die slowly out due to the presence of such a horrifying abomination. We get a variety of Lich from those who attempt to preserve their human-like appearance to those who fully do embrace the whole "Skeletor" thing and also various media incarnations of the Liches that you can look to other than Dungeons and Dragons. They're also smart, like modern day D&D, to rename a Liches' power object from its original culturally appropriated term.

There's plenty of crunch in here too with new spells, minions, an entire sample Liches' lair, and other stuff for both PATHFINDER as well as FIFTH EDITION. It's inspired me to try my first Ravenloft game in decades. I heartily recommend this and give kudos for the awesome art as well as layout too. It looks definitely on the high end of indie works, which is a bit snobby of me but what can I say.

You can pick up a copy here: Liches: Dance Macabre - Texas in August Studio |

* I did not help produce the book and bought my own copy.

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Tyler Do'Urden

Soap Maker
I really liked Van Richten's Guide to the Lich and found that it shed quite a bit of light on them in a way that made them more disturbing and terrifying, and helped "diversify" them a bit. Koschei the Deathless, Dorian Gray, Sauron and Voldemort are all different "liches" of sorts.

This does sound like fun, though, and I might have to raid it for my own Worlds Without Number game. WWN's version of the Lich are creatures called "The Unending", who have performed a ritual that has severed them from The Legacy (the techno-magical basis of magic and existence in the Vancian setting of the Latter Earth) and thus rendered themselves immortal and outside of the programming of the Legacy, becoming demigod-like entities. The sort of action that can do this, however, is monstrously evil - think genocidal sacrifices of entire nations.

(I also recall a Kobold magazine ecology of the Lich and Demilich article that suggested a lot of interesting ideas - one of which was a demilich that, rather than a jeweled skull, consisted of a spinal column. I can imagine a gilded spine, stiffened and rendered into a sort of wand, that contains the soul of an ancient lich - granting it's wielder earthshaking power, but gradually consuming them... Acererak meets The One Ring meets Stormbringer... ooh... yeah, I think that's going in the campaign too...)

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