Who's stronger, a lich or a vampire?

RumChicken
RumChicken

I have debated with myself for the past day about who is the stronger Undead Overlord for my fantasy campaign.

Should vampires be underlings of liches, or should liches be underlings of vampires? What do you think?

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Methshot
Methshot

Vampirism typically comes with a set of common knowledge weaknesses. A lich usually has one, or none, and can take nearly infinite steps to hide it. Tell your players (or anyone in a first world country) they're up against a vampire, they'll know what to do. Tell them it's a lich, and an RPG player might roll their eyes and assume the phylactery is a rock in the center of the moon or some shit (or just, the moon itself), and a normie would just give you a blank stare.

hairygrape
hairygrape

Literally whichever you want, it's your world and your story.

In general, "vampire" is more like a race while "lich" is more like a prestige class. Lich has a higher barrier to entry, but there's nothing stopping a vampire from reaching the same or greater level of power. In other words, a level 30 wizard lich and a level 30 vampire wizard are not hugely different, it's being a level 30 wizard that matters. You should think more about which option suits the character you are creating than which is "stronger".

Consider death knights too, those are always cool.

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Gigastrength
Gigastrength

Once you reach the level of full blown Vampire, Lich, Zombie Emperor, or Poltergeist Demon, you don’t really exist in a hierarchy. You don’t have “Equals” or “Lords”; you have Peers.

Beyond that, intelligent undead have a host of different strengths and needs, so they don’t really need to compete with one another. Liches seek knowledge/magic, vampires eat people and act debauched, etc etc and never the two shall meet.

Tl;dr it doesn’t matter since they have no reason to interact except as fellow outcasts teaming up to crush the local adventurers and monster hunters for mutual protection.

Carnalpleasure
Carnalpleasure

Depends on what you want:

Lichs are stronger

Vampires are desperate addicts. Their thirst for blood makes them easy to control. Their way of reaching immortality is easier but inferior. Animalist blood thirst and the sunlight allergy makes them pawns that the Lichs control.

Becoming a Lich takes devotion and enormous magical prowess instead of simply being biten.

Vamps are stronger:

Lichs are desperate death cultists who destroyed their ability to actually live. Sure they exist but they will never taste or feel anything again. They were unworthy of joining the noble aristocracy of the night. Without the "curse" of vampirism they don't have access to the mighty powers of the vampiric bloodlines.

Personally my basis for this decision would be the role of magic.

If magic is very strong and prominent in your setting I would probably choose Lichs as the BBEGs.

If magic is not as prominent and stuff like Magocracies are unheard of I would pick Vamps.

Both monsters boiled down are forbidden insanely powerful knowledge vs. predatory aristocracy

Deadlyinx
Deadlyinx

More or less what has said.
I know in Forgotten Realms liches tend to be written as stronger, and even sometimes controlling vampires, but even there is an exception of a vampire lord who runs an entire nation with beholder generals, and presumably other powerful beings under his control in the far south-east.

Methnerd
Methnerd

FR upgrades the real badasses among vampires to "Vampire Lords" - there was a 3e template for them, I think, but it basically amounted to "no weaknesses and impossible to kill permanently" or something.

Need_TLC
Need_TLC

BBEG

Ugh.

Playboyize
Playboyize

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whereismyname
whereismyname

Do you have the screencap of the Chad Death Knight and the virgin lich?

Spazyfool
Spazyfool

God, imagine if a bunch of liches realized they were taking unlife too seriously and went around recruiting other liches until they had enough to settle down and start a full kingdom.

Literally an entire kingdom of liches, all of them pretending to be normal people. Thousands of powerful undead spellcasters cosplaying farmers and merchants and happily greeting travelers. Why? To fuck with the neighboring kingdoms.

kizzmybutt
kizzmybutt

Liches almost always stronger, but that's mostly because you need to already be a powerful mage to become a lich while any random johnny can get bitten by a vampire.

GoogleCat
GoogleCat

For the sake of the argument let us assume that both the lich and the vampire are mages, and that they are at the same current experience level.

In my view, the lich is immune to many of the vampire's powers for two reasons; firstly, the lich's soul is not actually in its body, which means soul targetting powers don't work on it, and secondly, except in the course of a cosplay illusion, liches don't have circulating blood.

AwesomeTucker
AwesomeTucker

Is an arch lich a real thing or just a meme?

Illusionz
Illusionz

Pitting a bunch of videogame NPCs led by a player who has admitted he's not great at PvP
Against Dracula himself where depending on the point of the manga they use he's either completely immortal or can spawn a litteral army and is still a force to be reckoned with alone
All depends on how you approach it in all honesty.

RavySnake
RavySnake

Depends on if Alucard has eaten Schrodinger at this point or not. If not then TGoALiD kills him, if he has then maybe not unless it can kill all version of him it once.

Emberburn
Emberburn

An entire country of LARPing/ life re-enacting glamoured skellymans
Sounds hilarious, especially for the inevitable
ye better start believin' in ghost stories
moment

Stupidasole
Stupidasole

Vampires CR
vamp spawn CR 5, Vampire CR 13, Vampire warrior or mage CR 15
Lich CR
DemiLich CR 20, Lich (not in lair) CR 21, Lich (in lair) CR 22
The average lich is more powerful than the average vampire (liches are the masters of death and vampires are dead creatures).

BlogWobbles
BlogWobbles

It's probably better to decide what sort of game you want and pick the antagonist on that basis. For example, if I wanted to run a game about the horrors of plague and transformation, the Vampire is probably a better antagonist because it can over-run goodly settlements with its spawn and turn allies into monsters. (Just my feeling, I can understand why someone might choose the Lich for that same role.)

cum2soon
cum2soon

A mummy lord and a ghoul lord have entered the picture.

How do the lich and the vampire react?

The ghoul lord is a level 14 fighter and is around 700 years old. The mummy lord is a level 12 mage and is 1800 years old, casting at effective-level 16 due to age.

MPmaster
MPmaster

if you have a game where Undead get stronger with age both are scary

haveahappyday
haveahappyday

And the king the the only Demilich, a disgruntled old skull who just wants to be left to his books and reluctantly partakes in the charade when the other liches goad him on

lostmypassword
lostmypassword

But who is actually scarrier, ghoul lord, mummy lord, lich, or vampire?

VisualMaster
VisualMaster

If a lich can't use vampiric powers it's a pretty piss poor lich.

StonedTime
StonedTime

imma just steal this real quick

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Stark_Naked
Stark_Naked

You'd never meet a lich unless you were hunting one down. Vampires are sociable and can grant you their gift. Mummies tend to be strictly lawful. Ghouls eat people who are already dead. None of them are particularly scary.

Poker_Star
Poker_Star

That's fair. But I'd wager none of them are things one wants to meet in the middle of rounding a corner in a spooky old castle in a room lit only by a torch that just went out for no reason.

Ignoramus
Ignoramus

Then the lich is the scariest because he has a far greater range of potential bad ends for you than the others do, which could include the absolute and permanent destruction of your very soul, if he's a shitty 5e lich that needs to eat them to subsist.

Methshot
Methshot

Depends on the system/setting/etc.
You can easily have vampires be more powerful in one game and liches more powerful in another.
Vampires generally have more vulnerabilities but their magical powers vary a lot too and can get pretty silly.
Liches generally have just the one vulnerability but their powers are less-defined.

Vampire origin myths range from basically zombies to almost a malevolent force that kills and draws power in vague indirect ways like illness.
While the term lich comes from corpse and was adapted in early fantasy novels to refer to undead the archetypal lich with their soul in an object is obviously based on good ol' koschei who was described as thin going on skeletal but still appearing in good health rather than an undead corpse.

TreeEater
TreeEater

Why, Ur-Gagok, beautiful morning!
Ah yes, Dom'kavon, the surrounding life does look perfect for harvesting.
Aha- I hope you mean harvesting by plow, my friend!
Oh yes, of course, my plow is very fearful! The crops shudder under my undying might!
Ur-Gagok, you seem to have dropped your finger in the corn furrows.
Ah, thank you friend. An occupational hazard: farming is difficult work, after all.
It is indeed, neighbor. Well, you must have been farming for hours already. Care to join me back at my homestead for some fresh pastries?
That sounds excellent Dom'kavon. I will harvest a traveler for the occasion.
Ur-Gagok, I think we need to speak once more about the harvesting...

I would support a worldbuilding thread about this.

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Flameblow
Flameblow

"Welcome traveler, to the Weeping Saints tavern! We have a large selection of distilled spirits and fermented alcohols for imbibing, as well as an assortment of culinary delights crafted to appeal to mortal taste buds. And should you desire to rest your weak and fragile flesh, we have beds for rent, 40,000 gold pieces a night!"
"Dracnus, normal mortals do not have that much gold.."
"Ah! Forgive me, I had forgotten you do not have access to an ancient vault filled with centuries old treasures. Um...two gold a night?"
Yul-Said presents a thumb for approval

whereismyname
whereismyname

There's a demi lich that's more powerful but reduced to a single limb as they stop caring about maintaining their physical presence to focus on magical secrets beyond this world.

But then going by d&d logic wizards beat everything and while they both have an eternity to pursue magic vampires need to invest less in their racial adjustment.
liches are the masters of death and vampires are dead creatures
Meaningless fluff beyond your own setting preference, you could easily have it be the opposite.
also;
demi-lich below lich
This is some new edition revision shit isn't it?

Now that's interesting.
Gouls are almost always ranked low mummies have all sorts of high-associations.
imo a mummy might more directly trump a vampire than a lich would

Methnerd
Methnerd

Liches don't seem like the type to take orders from anybody. Portraying them as any sort of subordinate feels pretty wrong to me.

Stark_Naked
Stark_Naked

"Good King Rul'hastar, we bring before you a motley crew of humble meat ba-I mean adventurers from the neighboring kingdoms, who have come to our lands, hearing of our plight!"
Pan to a Demilich trying to read a large tome, a pile of robes and fake limbs obviously hanging from him
Another lich nudges his robes
"What! I have almost completed deciphering the Black Speech of Amunratul!"
Cue lich pointing a finger at the adventures
Demilich lets out a clearly rehearsed heavy sigh, since skulls can't breath , and heaves his clothes and fake limbs into the air awkwardly with half-assed magic
"What ho good travelers!" He shouts in a forced attempt as joviality
"Ooooh yes! Such troubles do beset mine noble lands! For there are...what was it again, dragons..? Pfft, pathetic...YES dragons! They have nested to the NORTH of this land!" Followed by the Demilichs fake body swinging impossibly around to point to the north, the skull still facing them, clearly half paying attention as it continues to read it's book
"Goooo! Forth travelers, and free mine kingdom from these dangers! And I shall reward you with a king's bounty and a heroe's welcome! Now go! Quickly!"
The Demilich barely lets the adventurers leave the throne room before the fake body falls back into a pile ontop of the throne and he continues reading

King_Martha
King_Martha

It's another lich but larloch has a veritable army of subservient liches, once let them free just to see what they'd do.

DeathDog
DeathDog

What did they do?

King_Martha
King_Martha

where do they store their phylacteries in Lichtown? How do the liches' innate paranoia not get the better of them and start a civil war? What kind of local government do liches have?
And most importantly, does Lichtown have a brothel?

CodeBuns
CodeBuns

does Lichtown have a brothel?
Ah yes, the Bony Boner, where the most beautiful broads of all reside. Blondes, brunettes, take your pick! With a little magic and a lot of makeup even the oldest of ladies will look brand new!

whereismyname
whereismyname

where do they store their phylacteries in Lichtown?
Probably in personal locations, I doubt they have all of them in one place in town.
How do the liches' innate paranoia not get the better of them and start a civil war?
Boredom.
What kind of local government do liches have?
Monarchy on the surface, committee rule in truth.
And most importantly, does Lichtown have a brothel?
Yes, at first it was filled with vampires and zombies, cause the liches forgot what was sexy and thought mortal guests would appreciate it. After too many incidents of visitors being eaten by the brothel workers, they just summoned a bunch of succubi and tossed them in the brothel.

Inmate
Inmate

1. Every Lich is a nearly indestructible mystical power house.

2. The average Vampire is a minion bitch of a Master vampire. Master vampires are powerful and hard to kill, but mostly known for shape shifting and mind control. It's not until/unless you get into ancient vampires with ludicrous abilities like consuming souls or mentally dominating whole cities that you have something which can beat the average Lich.

So, as a general rule Liches are stronger. A Lich is more likely to have a Master Vampire on his payroll than vice versa, but it would be odd for them to work together at all.

lostmypassword
lostmypassword

iirc they took over and fucked up some shit with elminister fighting against them and afterword larloch was like "sorry, my bad"

BlogWobbles
BlogWobbles

where do they store their phylacteries in Lichtown?
Obviously in their safety deposit box at the sentient magical national bank which forms the foundation for their government from the communal stake in it.

Stark_Naked
Stark_Naked

I wish it were easier to define lich powers in non-D&D settings. D&D wizards capable of attaining lichdom are so ubiquitously powerful that they can basically alter reality to their whims. There's no personality in having that level of power, as their fighting styles would just be "all this shit I cumulatively learned how to do over centuries, from a massive pool of spells every caster uses."

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