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d20 - The Complete Guide to Liches 07.09.2007
Saving Throw's review of The Complete Guide to Liches.

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The Complete Guide to Liches
published by Goodman Games reviewed by Martin Drury
64 pages, 2005, $14.99
Content 16
Organization 15
Consistency 15
Intelligibility 16
Solid Hit
Review Scoring

   With a name like The Complete Guide to Liches one might expect a book with a large number of pages, but the reality is at a scant 64 pages, it would seem incomplete. But, just like you should never judge a book by its cover, sometimes you should never judge it by the number of pages contained within either. The book contains five chapters and three appendices; although the appendices are each longer than the longest of the chapters, so perhaps appendix is a misnomer.

Chapter one, as to be expected, describes the origins of Liches. At only four pages it is, surprisingly, not the shortest chapter in the book. Also somewhat surprising is the amount of information that can be crammed into four pages, providing not only an interesting reading of not only how to create a lich, but what might drive one to seek out such a horrible way of extending ones life. For the Game Master, the chapter also provides Phylactery Enhancements and for sample rituals that can be incorporated into a campaign of Lich backstory.

Chapter two starts the nitty-gritty, by describing ways a Lich lives and interacts with the living once he or she achieves lichdom. Lich profiles, lich servants, and lich artifacts all help to flesh out just what the Lich is doing, and how he or she is going about doing it. Lich artifacts also provide players with interesting abilities, if they're brave (or perhaps foolish) enough. The chapter finishes up by providing a glimpse of what can happen when a Lich turns from his evil ways.

Chapter three covers lich combat tactics and lairs. This chapter is for the Game Master who wants to make sure the players' encounter with a lich is one they will not soon forget, and preferably one they will fear. From sample puzzles and poisons to when and how to use a lich's powers and abilities to the best effect, to either derail, misguide, or simply outright kill those meddlesome adventurers.

Chapter four provides ten all new spells for use by liches and players alike as well as 12 Feats that are primarily for liches or other undead, but some of which can be used by players as well. These spells and Feats provide a means of making that boring lich from yesteryear into a terrifying new presence, capable of stealing abilities from players, and converting his negative energy touch attack into a fearsome burst, damaging everyone around it.

Chapter five covers just how to add a lich to your campaign, and provides samples from urban, jungle, desert, arctic, underwater, and even modern settings. Also included in this chapter is a set of motivations for reasons players would take up the hunt for a Lich in the first place, besides the tried and true "evil lich bent on taking over the world" scheme.

The first of the appendices, "Lich Variants and Monsters" is perhaps one of the most helpful when it comes to creating the non-standard lich. In this appendix, Game Masters will find tips for modifying liches and six new lich types to use as well as two new lich-like monsters.

Appendix two presents five sample liches to drop into a campaign, while Appendix three finishes up the book by offering seven prestige classes for liches, just in case they were not evil enough to begin with.

Despite the short number of pages in The Complete Guide to Liches, the author does a good job of being complete by offering histories, backgrounds, new spells and feats, and all the filler material someone who was interested in expanding liches in their campaign could ask for.

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