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Why do mages always turn lich when looking for eternal life/unlife?

2

Comments

  • kcwisekcwise Member Posts: 2,287
    I suppose it makes even more sense for immortality to be evil in a fantasy setting like the Realms since the gods are a tangible thing, as are spirits and an afterlife. Less reason to fear death if you are going on to a reward or another life. Even evil folks have a chance at something beyond oblivion in their afterlives, although a lot of it is pretty dreary and dark. I suppose the Faithless are the ones who would really have to consider pursuing immortality since being slowly dissolved in a wall of other faithless souls does not sound like a fun afterlife.

    DJKajuruSmilingSwordNonnahswriter
  • DJKajuruDJKajuru Member Posts: 3,279
    edited July 2015
    By the way, here's the coolest Lich you'll ever meet:
    image

    Vallmyrkcwise
  • VallmyrVallmyr Member, Mobile Tester Posts: 2,417
    DJKajuru said:

    By the way, here's the coolest Lich you'll ever meet:
    image

    MMMMMM THAT'S A COOL PICTURE!

    DJKajurukcwise
  • ArchaosArchaos Member Posts: 1,421

    This reminds me, how did mages like Karsus extend their lifespan to hundreds of years? Pretty sure he was not a lich (though of course other Netherese were).

    Back then, mages (especially Netherese arcanists) were unbound by any rules of the Weave.
    They could create, research and cast whatever they wanted if they got powerful enough.

    It's why Mystra put those rules that such obscenely powerful spells would never be able to be cast again.

    kcwise
  • VallmyrVallmyr Member, Mobile Tester Posts: 2,417
    edited July 2015
    Blech. I thought the entire point of perusing arcane magic was to avoid being limited by deities. I guess this is what using the Shadow Weave is for, though.

    kcwiseSmilingSwordEmpyrial
  • VallmyrVallmyr Member, Mobile Tester Posts: 2,417
    gangler said:

    Isn't The Shadow Weave the domain of Shar?

    Yeahhhh but I imagine she could care less on restricting mortal's powers.

    Unless I'm totally wrong >_>

    kcwiseSmilingSword
  • GrumGrum Member, Mobile Tester Posts: 2,100
    kcwise said:

    It is interesting that so much of our fantasy and mythology attributes a desire to live longer as evil. I suppose the idea that it is unnatural or an affront to deities is behind it, but it seems a perfectly logical pursuit for a good person, as long as they don't employ some truly evil means to accomplish it.

    In D&D the Gods, afterlife, and a divine system of punishment/reward is proven to be real. If you lived a good life, why fear death? You know that you will have a good eternity. Neutral and especially evil mages won't want to face that...

    kcwise
  • CandramelekhCandramelekh Member Posts: 109
    Why everyone think liches are evil? Immortal (or almost immortal (undead)) creatures have different morale compass. Becoming a lich makes much more sense for a mage because mage lose their morale and feelings, only logic and life targets prevail, if you become vampire you are still "living" creature even if you are undead

    kcwise
  • BeelzebubBeelzebub Member Posts: 4
    kcwise said:

    It is interesting that so much of our fantasy and mythology attributes a desire to live longer as evil. I suppose the idea that it is unnatural or an affront to deities is behind it, but it seems a perfectly logical pursuit for a good person, as long as they don't employ some truly evil means to accomplish it.

    Interestingly, the reverse is true in Mahayana Buddhism, where a person is seen as more virtuous for indefinitely postponing their enlightenment and remaining in the suffering of samsara to help others achieve their own enlightenment. This is known as the Bodhisattva ideal.

    BelgarathMTHkcwiseDJKajuruNonnahswriter
  • Lord_TansheronLord_Tansheron Member Posts: 4,198
    It is my understanding that while prolonging your life isn't inherently evil, the process of becoming a lich in particular requires certain acts that are quite, um, distasteful to say the least. Probably a lot of sacrificing of the virgins or some such.

    As a result, the overwhelming majority of liches are evil, as good people would not stoop to doing what it takes to become a lich. However, there are neutral and good liches, albeit rarely; how exactly that happened I cannot say.

    I also seem to remember the elven version of a lich (baelnorn), which is usually good-aligned. These elves usually take the burden of lichdom upon themselves for some higher purpose, some are even granted (quasi-)lichdom by the Seldarine and do not require a ritual.

    kcwiseGrum
  • JarrakulJarrakul Member Posts: 2,029
    It seems very odd that this discussion has become preoccupied with things like reward, punishment, and fear. There are a million reasons someone might not want to die that have nothing to do with those things. Speaking for myself, I want to live forever because I don't want to stop learning things. I'm not especially afraid of death, and I certainly don't fear punishment afterwards, but I would very much like to live forever because there is a whole wondrous, crazy, mysterious universe out there and one lifetime is not nearly enough to see it all. I'm not claiming that's a "good" reason to want immortality, but it's certainly not an evil one either.

    Other non-evil reasons someone might want to be immortal include:
    A desire to keep helping people.
    A duty that cannot be forsaken (we see this a lot in fantasy, actually).
    A desire to meet your great-grandchildren.
    Just plain enjoying life for what it is and not wanting to leave yet.

    And of course, on the subject of reward/punishment, it's also worth noting that in the Forgotten Realms, it's not as simple as "good people go to rewards, bad people get punished." It's actually more like "people who serve their gods go to rewards, people who don't grovel to their divine overlords go to the Wall of the Faithless to have their souls ground to mortar for all eternity." Given that this is a system that every god but one has endorsed, and that last god maintains (however unwillingly), I can see how a person might decide those gods aren't worth serving. And of course in not serving them, no matter how moral they are, that person is now doomed to the Wall. So let's add another reason to the list:

    Taking a stand against an oppressive system of infinite brutality that has gods like Illmater acting like Bane.

    But you know, that's just my opinion on the subject.

    kcwiseNonnahswriterspacejaws
  • PKMN12PKMN12 Member Posts: 7



    I also seem to remember the elven version of a lich (baelnorn), which is usually good-aligned. These elves usually take the burden of lichdom upon themselves for some higher purpose, some are even granted (quasi-)lichdom by the Seldarine and do not require a ritual.

    While we are talking about Forgotten realms mostly, i think anyway. In Eberron, many elves worship the undying court.

    For those who do not know, the Undying court are the venerated ancestors to the elves given eternal life as lich-like beings through a strange process that can ONLY be done on the island that uses what is essentially White necromancy. They look like liches in nearly everyway, but are good aigned beings healed and helped by positive energy.

    as a side note, they are the ONLY things that scare the dragons of Xen'drik, because they are the only ones who can and do play the long game in terms of plans better then the dragons.

    Grum
  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,600
    edited July 2015
    @kcwise 's post got me to thinking. There is lots of precedent in the fantasy literature for mages to become immortal by means of being chosen by a god. My screename Belgarath and his daughter Polgara, for example, were both chosen of Aldur, and had lived for 2,000 and 1,000 years respectively when the story starts, with no sign of either ever dying.

    There was also a similar character in Terry Brook's "Shannara" series named Allanon, who actually was very tired of the responsibility of immortality and wanted to "hibernate" or "sleep", but events wouldn't allow him. And I believe Gandalf is also at least semi-immortal in the "Lord of the Rings" series.

    In the Forgotten Realms setting, as has been mentioned, we have Elminster as the archetype.

    So, ir really does look like the only way for a good mage to become immortal is to be chosen for it by a god.

    Mages who don't get chosen only have the evil lich option. For reasons that have been discussed, vampirism doesn't cut it because of all the vulnerabilities, but especially the danger of being charmed or completely dominated by a stronger, older vampire, which is the whole thing the evil mage wants to avoid by circumventing the will of the gods.

    And most of the other forms of undead are either mindless automations, or else under extreme limitations and/or vulnerabilities.

    Just looking at it as an intellectual problem, if I wanted to live forever with my near all-powerful magic growing ever stronger, and I couldn't get a god to give it to me, lichdom would be the most obvious solution to the problem, and the most obtainable. If I had no morals and was evil, that would be the way to go.

    Shoutout to my favorite lich ever depicted in literature - Xykon and his Team Evil from Order of the Stick. Now that guy knows how to be a lich!

    kcwiseNonnahswriterSethDavisJuliusBorisov
  • JarrakulJarrakul Member Posts: 2,029

    And I believe Gandalf is also at least semi-immortal in the "Lord of the Rings" series.

    Yes and no. As I understand it, Gandalf and the other LOTR wizards are immortal, but they're not what we usually mean by "wizards". Which is to say, they're not ordinary people who happened to learn or be born with magic. They're more like minor angels, who just happen to take the forms of old men in robes (probably as a shout-out to Odin's favorite disguise). So yes, they're immortal, and it is kind of because they're servants of their god, but they aren't mortals raised to immortality by a god or any other means. They were never mortal to begin with.
    Shoutout to my favorite lich ever depicted in literature - Xykon and his Team Evil from Order of the Stick. Now that guy knows how to be a lich!
    Indeed he does. I still go back and reread his monologue on the nature of power every so often. In fact, I think I'll go do that now.

    BelgarathMTHSethDavis
  • KamigoroshiKamigoroshi Member Posts: 5,823
    ... Why do I get the feeling that people always forget about the mainly Lawful Good aligned Baelnorn liches, I wonder? They even make an appearance in the novel Elminster in Hell!
    Even those raisin elves need some love from time to time. :(

    Come to think of it, mages could also aquire immortality through an endless reincarnation circle created through soul embedded magic. Downside of course is that said mage in question has no control over in what kind of body he/she will be reincarnated into. But well, at least the soul remains the same.

    kcwiseNonnahswriter
  • Lord_TansheronLord_Tansheron Member Posts: 4,198

    ... Why do I get the feeling that people always forget about the mainly Lawful Good aligned Baelnorn liches, I wonder?

    Because you didn't read my post mentioning baelnorns? :P

    But it's true, baelnorns do seem to play a prominent role - and not just in the books. You actually meet a baelnorn in IWD, who is sort of important to the story, too.

    Another thing to add to my super duper custom party plan! A baelnorn CHARNAME? Hmmmm probably better as a companion, they are after all so very old...

    kcwiseKamigoroshiSmilingSwordNonnahswriter
  • kcwisekcwise Member Posts: 2,287
    Jarrakul said:

    And of course, on the subject of reward/punishment, it's also worth noting that in the Forgotten Realms, it's not as simple as "good people go to rewards, bad people get punished." It's actually more like "people who serve their gods go to rewards, people who don't grovel to their divine overlords go to the Wall of the Faithless to have their souls ground to mortar for all eternity." Given that this is a system that every god but one has endorsed, and that last god maintains (however unwillingly), I can see how a person might decide those gods aren't worth serving. And of course in not serving them, no matter how moral they are, that person is now doomed to the Wall. So let's add another reason to the list:

    Taking a stand against an oppressive system of infinite brutality that has gods like Illmater acting like Bane.

    But you know, that's just my opinion on the subject.

    It's my understanding that the Wall of the Faithless is only for those souls who either refuse to acknowledge the existence of the gods entirely, or never worship any gods in their lives. It's not required that a person devote their life to a particular god, only that they acknowledge their existence during their lives. In fact, most citizens of the Realms offer praise to a variety of gods during their daily labors. It is a pantheon. So, the faithless would be deniers or those who actively refuse to offer prayers to a deity.

    Ed Greenwood posted a bit about this on the Candlekeep Forums and also wrote about it in Ed Greenwood's Forgotten Realms.
    'Only those who repudiate the gods (or who as a result of their actions are renounced by their gods), despoil altars and frustrate clerical aims (of any deity, not just "foe" deities), or never pray or engage in any form of deliberate worship will qualify as either faithless or false.'
    Given that never praying to a god would be rather unusual in a world where children are raised with the knowledge that gods exist (in much the same way that in many parts of our world children are raised with the knowledge that science is fact), it's not a pitfall that most would ever have to worry about.

    But, hey, if you do end up in the wall you can always hope a demon comes along and steals you away to one of the lower planes. You might crawl your way up to power eventually.

    I'm told that in the Planescape cosmology those who are truly athiest and believe in no afterlife at all simply cease to exist upon death, their soul energy extinguished before any god or devil can lay claim. This is because the afterlife is heavily dependent on belief. If you don't believe in gods or life after death, it doesn't exist for you.

    SmilingSwordNonnahswriterJuliusBorisov
  • kcwisekcwise Member Posts: 2,287
    No, it's more like as a normal citizen of the realms the gods are a part of your life. When you plant your crops you might say a prayer to Chauntea, when you take a sailing trip you might pray to Umberlee or offer a sacrifice in hopes of appeasing her, etc. It's not 'pay casual lip service once in your life,' it's acknowledging the influence of the gods as you live your life. But that doesn't mean you would not be free to live the life you chose. From what I've read (and it's all interpretation on the part of the designers, novel writers, DMs, players, etc.) average citizens are likely to go to the god their lives most "fit" or their individual race demands. That said, it's left rather vague because it's one of those things which is unlikely to come up in most PnP sessions. So, I can't say definitely that there is one right way to interpret the wall. Maybe it is more difficult to avoid than I surmise, and the majority of souls end up rotting for eternity in the wall.

    This reminds me of the old Hercules television show with Kevin Sorbo. "The ancient gods were petty and cruel, and they plagued mankind with suffering." :)

    In NWN 2 the player has the option to have an impact on the Wall of the Faithless I've heard. I haven't played the game yet though, so I don't know, and I wouldn't want to spoil it for anyone.

    JuliusBorisov
  • Lord_TansheronLord_Tansheron Member Posts: 4,198
    The real question to me is, why would you NOT worship a deity. I mean actually, truly, whole-heartedly. Remember, this is a world where faith is actually more like devotion - you have actual tangible proof gods exist, the afterlife exists, all that. It is a VERY different situation from this world, and many people discuss the issue without keeping in mind how radical a shift in paradigm it really is.

    To be faithless in a world like that takes some truly strange personality imo. Switching faiths, well, that doesn't seem to be that uncommon. But of course doing it willy-nilly is not something most people would do, simply because they know what's at stake. KNOW.

    semiticgodkcwiseGallowglassNonnahswriter
  • kcwisekcwise Member Posts: 2,287
    In the case you describe Lloth would likely torture the offender if she got the chance to get ahold of his soul. Of course, Lloth also is likely to torture those who were faithful to her as well because "fun" and the Spider Queen don't really go well together. Now, because he was brave enough to reject Lloth, Ellistrae (spellings are probably off with these crazy god names) might very well intervene on his behalf to spit in Lloth's eye if nothing else. Perhaps his faithlessness would be enough to convince Kelemvor to put him in the wall, at which point one of Lloth's demons would probably come along and try to steal him.

    You seem to be getting the idea that I'm saying a person would simply say "Sure, gods are real and they're neat!" and then go off and live a life free of ever acknowledging gods at all. That's not what I'm saying. I'm saying that a person doesn't have to make worship the entire focus of their lives, but simply have worship be a part of their lives. To casually hedge your bets by acknowledging the gods once wouldn't likely work, because your intent is to not have to worship them at all.

    But, it's just my interpretation based on what I've read. Being the childishly cruel beings they are, the gods might very well make it harder to avoid the Wall.

    WowoscriverJuliusBorisov
  • VallmyrVallmyr Member, Mobile Tester Posts: 2,417
    Hm. . . I wonder how the Fey "gods" work. To my knowledge the Seelie and Unseelie court aren't gods at all but just REALLY powerful Fey that can bestow their followers powers just like gods can. If you have faith in them do they intervene on your death?

    In fact, is there a book on Fey deities for the Forgotten Realms? Pathfinder has info on them in the Inner Sea World Guide but for Faerun the only deity that involves Fey and has a lot of info seems to only be Auril.

    kcwise
  • semiticgodsemiticgod Member Posts: 14,383
    @Lord_Tansheron: Pretty much. Atheism doesn't make much sense in Faerun when Helm has a demon locked up in a gigantic cage, Talos will actually zap you if you say you're faithful to him and lie, Amaunator's avatar can appear and speak to you personally, every cleric in the world can perform miracles, and the gods quite literally walked on the face of the earth for years during the Time of Troubles.

    I worry about Valygar's soul.

    kcwiseBelgarathMTH
  • DJKajuruDJKajuru Member Posts: 3,279
    Jarrakul said:


    A desire to keep helping people.
    A duty that cannot be forsaken (we see this a lot in fantasy, actually).
    A desire to meet your great-grandchildren.
    Just plain enjoying life for what it is and not wanting to leave yet.


    But you know, that's just my opinion on the subject.

    I respect your opinion, however, I must say that these reasons are closer to a Ghost's unfinished business, rather than a mage who would cheat death through magical means.

    kcwise
  • JarrakulJarrakul Member Posts: 2,029

    The real question to me is, why would you NOT worship a deity. I mean actually, truly, whole-heartedly. Remember, this is a world where faith is actually more like devotion - you have actual tangible proof gods exist, the afterlife exists, all that. It is a VERY different situation from this world, and many people discuss the issue without keeping in mind how radical a shift in paradigm it really is.

    To be faithless in a world like that takes some truly strange personality imo. Switching faiths, well, that doesn't seem to be that uncommon. But of course doing it willy-nilly is not something most people would do, simply because they know what's at stake. KNOW.

    It's not so much about not believing in gods as it is about not following them because they think grinding people's souls into mortar is a reasonable response to not worshiping them. However weird it may be, that's just a ridiculous punishment for a non-crime, and I have a lot of trouble imaging everyone just being cool with it.

    Imagine gods as governments. They definitely exist, and they're very powerful, but they're not necessarily nice or even really that wise. Now, I don't know about you, but I don't worship my government, even though I know how it's affecting my life and I appreciate a lot of it, and I definitely don't worship any other governments. A lot of people wouldn't even go that far. When your god is demonstrably present in the world, and makes decisions that affect people's lives, I think the natural result would be anything but worship. I think you'd more likely see farmers saying "thanks, Chauntea" in the same tones people in the US say "thanks, Obama" (well, before that phrase can hijacked by extreme sarcasm). See, gods have historically had the advantage of being stories (or abstract enough that they might as well be, if you prefer). They can be what you need them to be. In the Realms, gods have to be people, and while the average farmer isn't ever gonna meet a god, they know the gods are people, in the same way I know Obama's the president of the US. That turns gods into just the guys at the top of the chain, and since when have humans been inclined to like the folks above them?

    Also, canonically, when Kelemvor tried to get rid of the Wall and everything it represents, one of the things that happened was a lot of people stopped worshiping the gods. So yeah. The threat of punishment is apparently very important for worship in the Realms.

    kcwiseSmilingSwordDJKajuruJuliusBorisov
  • KamigoroshiKamigoroshi Member Posts: 5,823
    Vallmyr said:

    Hm. . . I wonder how the Fey "gods" work. To my knowledge the Seelie and Unseelie court aren't gods at all but just REALLY powerful Fey that can bestow their followers powers just like gods can. If you have faith in them do they intervene on your death?

    In fact, is there a book on Fey deities for the Forgotten Realms? Pathfinder has info on them in the Inner Sea World Guide but for Faerun the only deity that involves Fey and has a lot of info seems to only be Auril.

    Fey are one of the creator races, which waged war with the gods in the Days of Thunder. A time long, long past. As such, fey don't worship any deity and can't even stand the various practices of doing so. So, no, no deities for them I'm afraid. That is of course in AD&D and D&D 3.0/3.5. It's very likey that newer editions botched another unique aspect of Forgotten Realms theology yet again by making fey worship some sort of divine power. Not that I would know, as I don't bother reading the 4th or 5th edition fluff or crunch.

    kcwiseSmilingSword
  • VallmyrVallmyr Member, Mobile Tester Posts: 2,417
    edited July 2015

    Vallmyr said:

    Hm. . . I wonder how the Fey "gods" work. To my knowledge the Seelie and Unseelie court aren't gods at all but just REALLY powerful Fey that can bestow their followers powers just like gods can. If you have faith in them do they intervene on your death?

    In fact, is there a book on Fey deities for the Forgotten Realms? Pathfinder has info on them in the Inner Sea World Guide but for Faerun the only deity that involves Fey and has a lot of info seems to only be Auril.

    Fey are one of the creator races, which waged war with the gods in the Days of Thunder. A time long, long past. As such, fey don't worship any deity and can't even stand the various practices of doing so. So, no, no deities for them I'm afraid. That is of course in AD&D and D&D 3.0/3.5. It's very likey that newer editions botched another unique aspect of Forgotten Realms theology yet again by making fey worship some sort of divine power. Not that I would know, as I don't bother reading the 4th or 5th edition fluff or crunch.
    To my knowledge Fey still despise the gods, I'm more wondering if a mortal pays homage to the Fey Courts are they sent to the wall of the faithless since the Fey Courts (Other than Auril) aren't true gods. Like a Druid/Priest of Titania. He worships her, praises her ideals and spreads her teachings. He dies. He didn't worship an actual god but would Titania intervene and take his soul upon death?

    kcwise
  • KamigoroshiKamigoroshi Member Posts: 5,823
    edited July 2015
    Vallmyr said:

    Vallmyr said:

    Hm. . . I wonder how the Fey "gods" work. To my knowledge the Seelie and Unseelie court aren't gods at all but just REALLY powerful Fey that can bestow their followers powers just like gods can. If you have faith in them do they intervene on your death?

    In fact, is there a book on Fey deities for the Forgotten Realms? Pathfinder has info on them in the Inner Sea World Guide but for Faerun the only deity that involves Fey and has a lot of info seems to only be Auril.

    Fey are one of the creator races, which waged war with the gods in the Days of Thunder. A time long, long past. As such, fey don't worship any deity and can't even stand the various practices of doing so. So, no, no deities for them I'm afraid. That is of course in AD&D and D&D 3.0/3.5. It's very likey that newer editions botched another unique aspect of Forgotten Realms theology yet again by making fey worship some sort of divine power. Not that I would know, as I don't bother reading the 4th or 5th edition fluff or crunch.
    To my knowledge Fey still despise the gods, I'm more wondering if a mortal pays homage to the Fey Courts are they sent to the wall of the faithless since the Fey Courts (Other than Auril) aren't true gods. Like a Druid/Priest of Titania. He worships her, praises her ideals and spreads her teachings. He dies. He didn't worship an actual god but would Titania intervene and take his soul upon death?
    Titania? As far as I remember she was a full fledged goddess in the Greyhawk AD&D campaign setting. Not sure whenever she had any interest in non-feys to the point of granting spells though. In any case, if Titania exists in the Forgotten Realms as a fey and not a god, then it would be downright impossible to become a druid/cleric/some other class which wields divine magic. Just like demon lords can't bestow divine spells. The self proclaimed believer could however made a pact with said fey. Which would made his or her soul "property" of Titania in the afterlife. Whenever that is a good thing or not is up for debate.

    Vallmyrkcwise
  • JarrakulJarrakul Member Posts: 2,029
    @kcwise, that's an awesome idea. Unfortunately, given what happened with Kelemvor, I cannot see it ending well for that new god. I think he/she/it would end up with one greater god on their side, and every other one against, and that does not generally end well.

    @Lord_Tansheron, I don't really disagree that you have to view things differently, but that's kind of why I made the analogy to governments. With the exception of Ao, these aren't really gods in the way we understand them. They're very powerful people, and it's human nature that people in power don't get the same leeway as gods. At best you might see something like what North Korea is doing, where people worship their leader until the moment they get any other perspective whatsoever, at which point most of them defect quite quickly.

    kcwise
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