Savage Progressions 12/12/2003

Lich and Weretiger Template Classes

In last month's installment, we converted the fiendish creature and the werebear templates to template classes. This month, we tackle the lich and the weretiger -- a 4-level and a 3-level template class, respectively.

The Lich Template Class

Feared by mortal beings for their malign magic, their intelligence, and their willingness to embrace undeath for a chance to live forever, liches are evil beings of great power. Though the lich template can be applied to a character all at once to achieve an instantaneous transformation from living to undead, allowing an enemy spellcaster to progress slowly as a lich can be even more useful to a DM. In that way, the NPC can return to foil the PCs time and again before achieving her full potential as a lich. Likewise, an evil character pursuing lichdom can experience the process in slow steps while continuing to adventure with her allies, rather than gaining all the template's powers at once and immediately surpassing her comrades in terms of sheer power.

The lich template class has two special requirements. First, the base character must have the Craft Wondrous Item feat so that she can make a phylactery to hold her life force. The would-be lich must craft her phylactery over time, as described below. Second, she must be able to cast spells at a caster level of 11th or higher. It is this power, coupled with the knowledge of the process required, that allows the transformation to occur.

Table SP-12: The Lich Template Class

Class Level
CR Special
1st +0 Int +2, natural armor +2, lich skills +2, damaging touch 1d6+5, paralyzing touch (1d4 rounds), resistances (cold 5, electricity 5)
2nd +1 Natural armor +3, lich skills +4, damage reduction 5/bludgeoning and magic, damaging touch (1d8+5), fear aura (10-ft. radius), fortification (light), paralyzing touch (1d4 minutes), phylactery (1st stage), resistances (cold 10, electricity 10)
3rd +2 Wis +2, natural armor +4, lich skills +6, damage reduction 10/bludgeoning and magic, fear aura (30-ft. radius), fortification (moderate), paralyzing touch (1d4 hours), phylactery (2nd stage), resistances (cold 20, electricity 20)
4th +2 Cha +2, natural armor +5, lich skills +8, damage reduction 15/bludgeoning and magic, fear aura (60-ft. radius), immunities (cold, electricity, polymorph), paralyzing touch (permanent), phylactery (3rd stage), turn resistance +4, undeath

Lich Template Class Features

All of the following are class features of the lich template class.

Ability Score Changes: The indicated ability score increases or decreases by the amount noted. These changes are cumulative. At first, a would-be lich gains an intellectual understanding of the process necessary to become a lich (represented by the Intelligence increase at 1st level). Then she gains the intuitive understanding of what the process entails (represented by the Wisdom increase at 3rd level). Finally, she gains a surge of confidence as the process is completed (represented by the Charisma increase at 4th level).

Natural Armor Replacement: At each level of the lich template class, the character uses either her existing natural armor bonus or the value given in Table SP-12, whichever is greater. A character that does not normally have a natural armor bonus (such as a human) is considered to have an initial natural armor bonus of +0 for the purpose of this ability. Thus, a human's natural armor bonus would become +2 at 1st level, +3 at 2nd level, +4 at 3rd level, and +5 at 4th level.

For example, a bugbear normally has a +3 natural armor bonus. Thus, a bugbear wizard 11 who chose to become a lich would gain no benefit from this ability until she attained 3rd level in the template class, since only then does the natural armor bonus granted by the template surpass that granted by her race.

Any item or effect that provides an enhancement bonus to natural armor functions normally for a lich -- that is, its bonus is added to the lich's base natural armor bonus. Thus, an amulet of natural armor +2 would give a bugbear wizard 11/lich 1 a total natural armor bonus of +5 (+3 base for bugbear, +2 from the amulet). That same bugbear as a wizard 11/lich 4 would have a natural armor bonus of +7 (+5 from the template class and +2 from the amulet).

Lich Skills: At 1st level, a lich gains a +2 racial bonus on Hide, Listen, Move Silently, Search, Sense Motive, and Spot checks. This bonus increases to +4 at 2nd level, to +6 at 3rd level, and to +8 at 4th level.

Damaging Touch (Su): At 1st level, a lich's touch deals 1d6+5 points of negative energy damage to any living target. A Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 lich's HD + lich's Cha modifier) halves this damage. A lich who attacks with a natural weapon may deal this damage in addition to the normal damage for that attack. When the lich reaches 2nd level, the damage for her touch increases to 1d8+5 points.

Paralyzing Touch (Su): Any living creature hit by a lich's touch attack must succeed on a Fortitude save (DC 10 + 1/2 lich's HD + lich's Cha modifier) or be paralyzed for 1d4 rounds. A lich who attacks with a natural weapon may deal this damage in addition to the normal damage for that attack. Remove paralysis or any effect that can remove a curse frees the victim, but the effect cannot be dispelled. Anyone paralyzed by a lich seems dead, though a successful DC 20 Spot check or DC 15 Heal check reveals that the victim is still alive.

At 2nd level, the duration of this effect increases to 1d4 minutes. At 3rd level, the duration increases to 1d4 hours. At 4th level, the effect is permanent until removed.

Resistances (Ex): At 1st level, a lich gains resistance to cold 5 and electricity 5. Each of these resistances increases to 10 at 2nd level and to 20 at 3rd level.

Damage Reduction (Su): At 2nd level, a lich gains damage reduction 5/bludgeoning and magic. Her natural weapons are treated as magic weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction. Her damage reduction increases to 10/bludgeoning and magic at 3rd level and to 15/bludgeoning and magic at 4th level.

Fear Aura (Su): Beginning at 2nd level, a lich is shrouded in a dreadful aura of death and evil. Any creature in a 10-foot radius that looks at her must make a Will save if it is within 10 feet of her and has fewer than 5 HD. Failure means the creature is affected as though by a fear spell (caster level equals lich's character level). A creature that successfully saves cannot be affected again by the same lich's aura for 24 hours. The lich can negate the effect of her aura by concealing all of her withered flesh and hiding her glowing eyes, usually by means of clothing that covers her entire body coupled with some sort of deep cowled cloak or visored helmet.

The radius of this effect expands to 30 feet at 3rd level and to 60 feet at 4th level.

Fortification (Ex): When a lich attains 2nd level, her internal organs begin to shut down as she continues her metamorphosis into an undead creature and starts to transfer her life energy into her phylactery. Thus, she is treated as if she had the light fortification armor property (25% chance for any critical hit or sneak attack against her to become a normal attack). If she has any version of the fortification special ability from another source (such as a spell or magic item), use the better value. At 3rd level, she is treated as if she had moderate fortification (50% chance for any critical hit or sneak attack against her to become a normal attack).

Phylactery: To complete her transformation to a lich, the character must create a phylactery using the Craft Wondrous Item feat. The phylactery is crafted in three stages, and the lich transfers a bit more of her life force to it at each stage. It does not, however, grant her any of the normal benefits of a phylactery until it is fully completed.

Paying the cost of each stage of its construction is a prerequisite for the corresponding level in the lich template class. Thus, to take the 2nd level in this class, the lich must invest 40,000 gp and 1,600 XP in her phylactery. She must spend the same amount again to take the 3rd level, and once again to take the 4th level (for a total investment of 120,000 gp and 4,800 XP). She can complete the phylactery early if she wishes, though doing so does not grant her any additional abilities until she takes the appropriate levels in the template class.

For the purpose of determining item saving throws, the phylactery has a caster level equal to that of the lich at the time she completed the most recent stage of work. For example, if a human wizard 11/lich 1 crafts the first stage of her phylactery, it is caster level 11th. She gains three more wizard levels before finishing the second stage of construction, giving it caster level 14th. At that point, she takes the 2nd level of the template class. She then takes one more level of wizard and completes the phylactery, which is thereafter caster level 15th.

The most common physical form for a phylactery is a sealed metal box containing strips of parchment on which magical phrases have been transcribed. The box is a Tiny object with 40 hit points, hardness 20, and a break DC of 40. Other kinds of phylacteries can also exist, such as rings, amulets, or similar items.

Once the phylactery has been completed, the lich can avoid permanent destruction as long as her phylactery survives. If she dies or is destroyed, she reappears 1d10 days after her old body's death. She gains her new physical form by grafting her undead spirit to a humanoid corpse, mindless undead, or some weak-minded creature within a few miles of her phylactery. The new body has all the abilities and powers of her old one, though any items she used to carry are lost (probably taken by those who slew her old body). Likewise, any spells or effects bound to her old body with permanency do not spontaneously appear on her new one. Most liches who recover from death spend a year or more tracking down their items and learning more about their attackers, and it is not unusual for a lich to wait decades before exacting her revenge.

If the phylactery is destroyed while the lich is still active in a body, her undead life force automatically joins that body. She takes no penalties of any kind for that joining, but without a phylactery, she cannot recover if her body is subsequently destroyed. She may create a new phylactery to replace a lost one if she has the time and resources to do so.

Turn Resistance (Ex): At 4th level, a lich gains +4 turn resistance. She is treated as an undead with 4 more Hit Dice than she actually has for the purpose of turn, rebuke, command, or bolster attempts.

Immunities (Ex): A 4th-level lich is immune to cold, electricity, and polymorph, though she can still use polymorph effects on herself.

Undeath: Upon reaching 4th level, the lich becomes fully undead. Her type changes to undead, and she gains all the normal benefits and drawbacks that go with that type. She no longer has a Constitution score, so she loses any Constitution bonus or penalty to hit points, saving throws, and skills. She also becomes immune to many attacks (including critical hits and sneak attacks, rendering her fortification ability redundant), but she is subject to turn and rebuke attempts and is immediately destroyed if brought to 0 or fewer hit points (though her phylactery prevents "permanent" destruction). All of her Hit Dice (current and future) increase to d12s. (Rather than rerolling all her Hit Dice, just add 4 hit points for every d4 she previously had, 3 hp for every d6, 2 hp for every d8, and 1 hp for every d10.) In addition, her alignment immediately changes to evil if it was not already.

A lich cleric becomes an ex-cleric at this time if her deity does not allow evil clerics. However, she can remedy this situation either by offering her allegiance to a god that does accept evil clerics or by devoting herself to an evil cause or a source of evil divine power (selecting new domains if appropriate). A lich cleric who could previously turn undead loses that ability but gains the ability to rebuke undead. Likewise, a lich cleric who could previously spontaneously cast cure spells can now do so with inflict spells.

Upon gaining the undead template, a lich sorcerer or wizard is shunned by her familiar unless it is a bat or rat, but she can acquire a bat or rat familiar to replace her previous one in the usual way.

The Weretiger

Weretigers are powerful but secretive creatures that prefer to remain hidden from humanoid civilization. But unlike wererats (who usually seek solitude for criminal purposes), weretigers simply enjoy working and hunting alone.

Affliction with this form of lycanthropy only rarely occurs by accident, since weretigers normally attack only for food and choose easy prey. Now and then, however, a weretiger is driven away from its intended kill after only wounding it, and the victim survives with the lycanthropic curse. Occasionally, a pride of natural weretigers deliberately infects another creature with lycanthropy in order to strengthen the numbers of the group.

A character who chooses to keep his lycanthropic curse can progress in the weretiger template class to gain weretiger abilities. This template class can also be used by natural weretigers who wish to start play at lower levels and develop their powers, or for characters who somehow acquire this form of lycanthropy from another source.

This template class can be taken only by a lycanthrope who is aware of his condition, whether because he was born a weretiger or because he realizes that he is afflicted with lycanthropy. Any ability noted as applying to all forms is available to the weretiger in his natural, hybrid, and animal forms, but not forms acquired via polymorph or other means.

Each lycanthrope template class has three levels, but only natural lycanthropes can take all the levels it offers. An afflicted lycanthrope can take only 1st and 2nd levels in the class, since his level adjustment is +2 instead of +3.

Lycanthrope template classes also follow special rules relating to the benefits such characters acquire from their animal natures. The template allows for a level adjustment of +3 (or +2 for afflicted lycanthropes), but that value does not include the Hit Dice from the lycanthrope's animal form. So while a 1st-level human natural weretiger warrior (as presented in the Monster Manual) has a level adjustment of +3, his ECL is actually 7 -- 1 from his warrior Hit Die, +3 from the template, +6 for his tiger Hit Dice.

Thus, in addition to the levels offered via the appropriate lycanthrope template class, each kind of lycanthrope also has a separate (optional) class progression for his animal abilities. Essentially, a character progressing as a lycanthrope multiclasses into the template class and can also multiclass into the appropriate animal class if desired.

The animal class is entirely optional. No would-be lycanthrope is required to take it, but doing so is an advantage, since a character without it is weaker than other lycanthropes of the same type. Taking levels in the appropriate animal template class gives the character the animal's Hit Dice and hit points (in all forms), saving throw bonuses (in all forms), skill points (in all forms), racial skill bonuses (in all forms), conditional skill modifiers (in animal form), ability score modifiers (in hybrid or animal form), natural armor bonus, and special attacks (such as the tiger's rake). Levels in the animal class may be taken at any point after the character takes one level in the lycanthrope template class. He is also free to take levels in other classes between levels of the template class and the animal class, as desired. The animal class, like the template class, does not count when determining whether a character takes an XP penalty for multiclassing.

An afflicted weretiger that is cured of lycanthropy (as described in the Monster Manual on page 178) immediately loses all weretiger template class levels and tiger class levels (if any). These levels cannot be restored with restoration or similar magic; they are simply gone. Most lycanthropes that do not wish to lose their lycanthropy in this way deliberately fail their saving throws against the spell in order to prevent this traumatic change.

Table SP-13: The Weretiger Template Class

Level CR Special
1st +1 Wis +2, natural armor +2, alternate form (tiger), low-light vision, shapechanger subtype, weretiger feat (Alertness)
2nd +1 Alternate form (hybrid), tiger empathy, damage reduction 5/silver, weretiger feats (Improved Natural Attack [bite], Improved Natural Attack [claw])
3rd +2 Curse of lycanthropy, damage reduction 10/silver

Weretiger Template Class Features

All of the following are class features of the weretiger template class.

Ability Score Changes: The indicated ability score increases or decreases by the amount noted. These changes are cumulative.

Natural Armor Improvements: At 1st level, the weretiger's natural armor bonus increases by +2. A character that does not normally have a natural armor bonus (such as a human) is considered to have an initial natural armor bonus of +0 for the purpose of this ability. Thus, a human's natural armor bonus would increase to +2 at 1st level. These changes are cumulative. The weretiger also gains additional natural armor increases in hybrid or animal form from the animal class.

Alternate Form (Su): At 1st level, the weretiger can take the form of a tiger, and he undergoes this change involuntarily on the nights of the full moon or in times of stress, as described in the Monster Manual. Unless the weretiger is a natural lycanthrope, he does not automatically have control over this ability and must attempt a Control Shape check to intentionally change form or to resist an involuntary change. For an afflicted lycanthrope, Control Shape is a class skill for all classes as well as racial Hit Dice, if any. Natural lycanthropes have full control over when they change shape and do not need to take ranks in this skill. Changing form is a standard action that can be attempted once per round.

A weretiger character who is aware of his condition retains his identity and does not lose control of his actions when he changes. Each time he involuntarily changes to his animal form, however, he must make a Will save (DC 15 + number of times he has been in animal form) or permanently assume the alignment of his lycanthrope kind (neutral for weretigers) in all forms. Any voluntary change to tiger or hybrid form immediately and permanently changes the character's alignment to neutral.

Until the character has taken one or more levels in the optional tiger animal class (see Tiger Abilities, below), changing shape to tiger form does not give him the abilities of a tiger -- he simply is able to take that creature's shape, as if he had a perfect disguise. Since this ability is of limited use, most characters taking levels in the weretiger template class choose to take levels of the tiger class as well in order to gain the full abilities of their animal forms.

At 2nd level, the weretiger can assume a hybrid form -- a shape between his humanoid and his tiger forms. As with the tiger form, this change is purely cosmetic unless the character has taken the tiger class to gain the appropriate abilities.

Low-Light Vision (Ex): A 1st-level weretiger gains low-light vision.

Shapechanger Subtype (Ex): At 1st level, the weretiger gains the shapechanger subtype.

Weretiger Bonus Feats: At 1st and 2nd level, the weretiger gains the feats indicated on Table SP-13 as bonus feats, assuming that he doesn't already have them. If the weretiger doesn't meet the prerequisites (if any) for a bonus feat, he gains the feat but cannot use it until he does meet the prerequisites. The Improved Natural Attack feats have no effect until the weretiger gains a bite or claw attack from the tiger animal class or another source (see Monster Manual, page 304, for the effects of this feat).

Tiger Empathy (Ex): Starting at 2nd level, a weretiger in any form can communicate and empathize with normal or dire tigers. This ability gives him a +4 racial bonus on checks made to influence the attitude of such creatures. It also allows the communication of simple concepts and (if the animal is friendly) commands, such as "friend," "foe," "flee," and "attack."

Damage Reduction (Ex): At 2nd level, the weretiger gains damage reduction 5/silver. At 3rd level, a natural lycanthrope gains damage reduction 10/silver. An afflicted lycanthrope's damage reduction does not improve beyond 5/silver.

Curse of Lycanthropy (Su): At 3rd level, a natural weretiger can infect other creatures with lycanthropy. Any humanoid or giant hit by the bite attack of a weretiger in animal or hybrid form must succeed on a DC 15 Fortitude save or contract lycanthropy. Afflicted lycanthropes do not transmit lycanthropy.

Table SP-14: The Tiger (Lycanthrope) Class

1st 1d8 +0 +2 +2 +0 2 + Int mod. Str +2, natural armor +2, tiger abilities, bite
2nd 2d8 +1 +3 +3 +0 2 + Int mod. Str +2, Dex +2, scent
3rd 3d8 +2 +3 +3 +1 2 + Int mod. Str +2, Con +2, natural armor +1, 2 claws
4th 4d8 +3 +4 +4 +1 2 + Int mod. Str +2, Con +2, improved grab, Large
5th 5d8 +3 +4 +4 +1 2 + Int mod. Str +2, Dex +2, natural armor +1, pounce
6th 6d8 +4 +5 +5 +2 2 + Int mod. Str +2, Con +2, rake

Tiger Animal Class Features

All of the following are class features of the tiger class.Ability Score Changes: The indicated ability score increases or decreases by the amount noted. These changes are cumulative.Natural Armor Improvements: At 1st level, the character's natural armor bonus increases by +2. A character that does not normally have a natural armor bonus (such as a human) is considered to have an initial natural armor bonus of +0 for the purpose of this ability. Thus, a human's natural armor bonus would increase to +2 at 1st level. These changes are cumulative.Tiger Abilities (Ex): Upon taking a level in the tiger animal class, the character gains the animal's Hit Dice (in all forms), base attack bonus (in all forms), base saving throw bonuses (in all forms), ability score modifiers (in hybrid and animal forms), skill points (in all forms), and natural armor bonus (in hybrid and animal forms), as well as the special abilities indicated on Table SP-14. When the weretiger is in tiger form, his speed changes to 40 feet. In all forms, he gains a +4 racial bonus on Balance, Hide, and Move Silently checks. When in tiger form and in areas of tall grass or heavy undergrowth, his Hide bonus improves to +8. Class skills for the tiger racial Hit Dice are Balance, Control Shape, Hide, Listen, Move Silently, Spot, and Swim. Bite: The tiger animal class gives the weretiger a bite attack in his animal and hybrid forms. The bite is a natural weapon that deals 1d6 points of damage.When he attains 2nd level in the weretiger template class and gains the Improved Natural Attack (bite) feat, his base bite damage improves to 1d8.

Scent (Ex): As a 1st-level tiger, a weretiger in any form gains the scent ability.Claws: Upon reaching 3rd level in the tiger class, a weretiger gains two claw attacks in his animal and hybrid forms. His claws are natural weapons, each dealing 1d4 points of damage. When the weretiger attains 2nd level in the weretiger template class and gains the Improved Natural Attack (claw) feat, his base claw damage improves to 1d6.

Improved Grab (Ex): At 4th level in the tiger class, the weretiger gains the improved grab ability. To use it, he must hit a creature at least one size category smaller than himself with a claw attack. He can then attempt to start a grapple as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity. If he wins the grapple check, he establishes a hold. If he has the rake ability, he can make two rake attacks at the start of each round against a foe that he is grappling. He can use this ability only on creatures at least one size category smaller than himself.

Large (Ex): When a weretiger reaches 4th level in the tiger class, his animal and hybrid forms become Large size. In either of those forms, he takes a -1 penalty to AC and attack rolls because of his size, and his Space/Reach changes to 10 ft./5 ft. His bite and claw damage each increase by one step (see Monster Manual, page 296. His ability scores change as indicated on Table SP-14.Pounce (Ex): If a weretiger who is 5th level or higher in the tiger class charges an opponent while in tiger form, he can make a full attack even though he has moved. If he has the rake ability, he can include two rake attacks as part of his full attack.

Rake (Ex): At 6th level in the tiger class, the weretiger gains extra attacks with his rear claws in certain circumstances. When he makes a pounce attack or starts a turn grappling with his claws while in animal form, he can make two additional claw attacks against the target for normal claw damage. The weretiger cannot begin a grapple and rake in the same turn. Rake attacks are not subject to the usual -4 penalty for attacking with a natural weapon in a grapple.

About the Author

Sean K Reynolds spends a remarkable amount of time on trains, where he defeats bandits, solves complex mathematical equations, and shushes noisy children. Then he wakes up. Check out his website.

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