For my fourth class in the Legacy series, I was specifically requested by posters at Realms Beyond to try out the Lich. This is one of the most unusual classes in the game, one that starts out with very low health and mana totals, only to increase them both through farming monster kills within the dungeon. When fully maxed out, the Lich can potentially be a very strong class indeed, and it has the highest Intelligence (magic damage) stat out of any class in the entire game. I had been getting questions about how to build a character that stuck with the Lich class alone, and I thought it would make for a fun challenge to play through and write about. Listed below are the stat modifiers for the Lich class:
Potential Maximum Mana: 200%
Potential Maximum Health: 100%
Starting Mana: 50%
Starting Health: 35%
This rather elaborate listing of different stats highlights both the advantages and disadvantages of the Lich class. The Intelligence stat is outstanding, the highest in the game for any class, and therefore producing the deadliest spells, although the Spellsword deals more damage in practive by using its unique class ability. One of the tradeoffs is slightly reduced Strength for physical damage, the same as the Barbarian at 75% of the Paladin's base number. Then there is the split between starting and maximum health and mana. The Lich has the potential for very high totals in both numbers, especially with regards to max magic points (MP), but is forced to begin with low totals. In fact, the Lich's 35% stat for starting health is the lowest in the entire game, lower than frail weaklings like the Archmage and Miner classes. Instead of beginning the game with 100 health, a Lich will begin the game with a mere 35 health! That ain't much.
Fortunately, there is a way to increase this total. Every monster kill within the dungeon grants a permanent +4 to maximum health, up to an eventual cap. So the Lich that began the game with 35 health would get +4 max health per monster kill until reaching 100 health. An easy shorthand way to remember this is that the health cap is roughly 3x the starting value. (It's officially the inverse of 0.35, or 2.857 times the starting value.) After upgrading the class to the Lich King, characters can use the unique class ability known as "Conversion". This converts half of your maximum health into max mana, which can be done repeatedly until reaching the cap of 200% mana. This is exactly 4x the starting value for magic points, and is therefore easier to calculate. So on the one hand, the Lich can eventually reach a massive mana pool for spellcasting, even higher than the Archmage's 150% mana total. On the other hand, you start with only 50% mana - same as the Barbarian class - and the Lich must use Conversion at least once, if not multiple times, to get anywhere near that final number. Since the use of Conversion cuts your max health in half, a Lich is absolutely risking his or her life in exchange for more max MP. Smart usage of Conversion would be crucial in playing this class effectively.
Liches only have access to three spells: the flame barrier, the conflux, and the class-unique spell of crow storm. I decided that I would experiment a little bit with these spells and decide how to build my character from there. First, however, I had to unlock the class itself!
0) Level 0: 3870g
Unlike the other classes I had used previously in this series, the Lich is not one of the starting four classes (Paladin, Archmage, Barbarian, and Assassin). I would have to unlock it first, and that meant doing a couple of runs to pick up gold. I intended to push straight through to the Lich class without diverting income to anything else, which required a full nine upgrades (!) At least it's not as bad as the Dragon class. With the initial Sir Lee character, I cleared out the full castle and nearly all of the forest, picking up just shy of 4k gold in the process. Most of the damage that I took came from spiked walls and the like, which are tough to avoid with no double jump or dash. The enemies were pretty laughable after playing on NG+5 with my Barbarian. Anyway, thanks to that sweet run, I was able to push all the way over to the Lich class and unlock it (although the Barbarian that I had selected before purchasing those upgrades would have to be ceremoniously slaughtered). Not quite enough to get the upgrade to Lich King, which would have to wait for the next run. I used the remaining ~1000 gold to pick up the Enchantress and the double jump and dash runes. Those are pretty much mandatory to do get through the dungeon. Next up would be grabbing the Lich King upgrade (to be able to use Conversion) and purchashing the Knight equipment in the shop that I had found. All in all, quite an awesome run from Sir Lee!
Unlock: Smithy, Health Up, Upgrade Knight, Equip Up, Architect, Upgrade Barbarian, Unlock Shinobi, Haggle, Unlock Lich, Enchantress, Upgrade Mage, Sprint Rune, Vault Rune
1) Level 11 (Health 1, Equip 1, Miscellaneous 9): 2091g
Gay, no other traits. OK, first actual Lich here. He started with a mere 38 health, yikes! Better not screw up in the early rooms until farming up more max HP. He also only had 50 magic points and no way to get more without Conversion. Didn't take too long to reach 106 HP which was the maximum for the moment, but I could see that this would get much harder in the future as that flat +4 max HP per kill would not scale well. In terms of equipment, I continued to find Squire and Knight gear inside the treasure chests. I'd pick up some of that after this run was over. More significantly, I found the Ranger Helm when I slipped into the tower for a bit, which would be a humongous pickup so early in the game. Instant no helm to Ranger Helm, heh. I lost all my health in a room with two of the tier three flying cloud enemies (Infernites), limped out with minimal HP, got it back to full and went back, then died on the second attempt. Should have just run from that room, sigh. But I can never pass up a fight. Most of the gold from this run went into upgrading to Lich King. There was not enough to get both that and the Ranger Helm.
Unlock: Upgrade Lich, Knight Sword
2) Level 12 (Health 1, Equip 1, Miscellaneous 10): 6947g
ADHD, Ectomorph. I accidentally used Conversion outside the dungeon, which meant that I immediatetly dropped down to 19 health. Umm, not exactly what I wanted there. I actually went ahead and unbound the "special" key from my controller, leaving the Conversion ability only attached to my keyboard. You do not want to be cutting your health in half by accident in the middle of a fight. Managed to get going despite that VERY low starting health total, and eventually maxed HP at 106 and maxed MP at 175 after using Conversion several times. I still had nowhere near enough mana to cast the flame ring very often, since I had no innate siphon. This is why I was coming to the conclusion that the Lich has to be built around physical attack, unless you get really good equipment or something. In any case, the highlights of this run included killing Sallos in the castle for a +1 Strength bonus and killing Botis in the forest for +5 max health. I thought I was doing fine while clearing the forest, only to have a shield monster hit me and apparently deal 50 damage for an instant kill. Sheesh. Need some armor I guess. Fortunately I was able to purchase exactly that, grabbing the Silver Chestplate that I had found on this run and going from 0 armor up to 25 armor instantly. Most of the rest of the money went into using all of the other equipment that I'd found (Ranger Helm, Knight Limbs, Squire Cape) along with seven equipment points to wear them all. Heh. I had just enough to unlock the Miner class and take the first Gold Gain Up point. Finished with 62 gold remaining out of 6900 gold initially. Every little coin counts!
Unlock: Ranger Helm, Silver Chestplate, Knight Limbs, Squire Cape, Equip Up x7, Unlock Miner, Gold Gain Up
3) Level 21 (Health 1, Equip 8, Gold Gain 1, Miscellaneous 11): 5944g
Alektorophobia (fear of chickens) and Ectomorph again, you get knocked way back when hit. This time I started with 59 HP and worked my way up to about 165 HP at maximum, after killing about two dozen enemies. One thing that I discovered was a small way to heal yourself with Conversion; if you are at 80/100 health and then convert down to 50/50 max health, then you'll remain at full life as you build up your max total again. I used this twice to erase a hit while farming monsters in the easy castle portion of the dungeon. Still, the Lich has some major problems, largely based around how weak you are at the beginning of each run. You pretty much have to use Conversion two or three times to be able to cast spells worth a darn, since your starting MP pool is so very tiny. I began with 56 MP on this character, which allowed me to cast the conflux spell exactly one time. And even after that, I had no siphon to restore mana in any kind of decent fashion. All that bonus to the magic damage stat largely ends up going to waste. It doesn't help either that the most common Lich spell is conflux, which isn't very good and drains MP incredibly fast. Anyway, this run failed to achieve anything of note, and I died in a fit of poor play against a skeleton bone thrower in the forest. Could have been a lot better very easily. Unlocks went into another Gold Gain Up, the first Potion Up, and a handful of real stats.
Unlock: Health Up x2, Attack Up, Gold Gain Up, Upgrade Knave, Potion Up
4) Level 27 (Health 3, Attack 1, Equip 8, Gold Gain 2, Potion 1, Miscellaneous 12): 9889g
No traits; I picked this Lich over another one that had the Far Sighted trait. I preferred no traits and the flame barrier to Far Sighted and crow storm. Killed Botis again early on in the castle, but that only resulted in the Blood Helm, blah. This was the first Lich who managed to clear out both the castle and forest completely, and make it a good distance into the tower. I actually played through about four rooms in the tower a single hit away from death, and I was rewarded for that skillful play by finding the Guardian Bracers far up in the heights. That would be a major upgrade from my current Knight Bracers. This Lich finally died when a group of enemies flew INSIDE the ring of flames that I was trying to cast. I hate that aspect of the flame barrier, the little fire graphics aren't tight enough and it's too easy for monsters to slip through. Ah well. Still a pretty sharp run. Afterwards, I grabbed another Gold Gain and Potion upgrade, then unlocked those Guardian Limbs. Need another equipment upgrade next time to be able to wear them though.
Unlock: Gold Gain Up, Potion Up, Guardian Limbs
5) Level 29 (Health 3, Attack 1, Equip 8, Gold Gain 3, Potion 2, Miscellaneous 12): 11,142g
No traits on this fellow either, just the lousy conflux spell again. Lichs really get screwed over in that department too, since their only possible spells are crowstorm, conflux, and flame barrier. I learned something new with this Lich: you have to be careful about when you use the Conversion skill. I wound up with only 150 max MP because when I tried to use Conversion a second time, it would have added 93 MP and that was more than my maximum possible mana. So in order to use this skill in optimal fashion, you need to jot down your starting MP pool and then use Conversion to wind up with four times the starting amount, as close to that as possible without going over. If you don't manage this correctly, you can wind up with a far smaller max mana total than you otherwise deserve to get. I assumed that the game would allow you to overflow the number when you used Conversion and simply truncate down if you had some extra HP, but nope, doesn't work that way. It's a pretty frustrating mechanic.
The run itself went pretty well. I cleared out the castle, forest, and the tower for the first time; I died fighting one of the paintings in the last room of the tower. The highlight for this character was probably facing the dual floating mage minibosses in the castle. They actually appeared twice, and I fought them both times after going back to restore health and mana. I actually got some good use out of the conflux in these battles, as the bouncing spiked balls slipped in some hits while I was dodging spells. I took one hit in the first battle and zero hits in the second, pretty solid work. The reward was the Blood Cape (meh) and a +1 Strength bonus, much better the second time. I also managed to find some more Ranger gear and even the Sky Chestplate, which was a real steal for this early in the game. Nearly all of the money from this run went into the fourth Gold Gain upgrade and that Sky armor, the rest going into more equipment points. I still needed one more upgrade there to put on the Guardian Bracers! At this point, I had 10 levels into equipment weight, 12 levels into miscellaneous stuff... and 3 levels of health, 1 level of attack. Heh.
Unlock: Gold Gain Up, Sky Chestplate, Equip Up x2
6) Level 32 (Health 3, Attack 1, Equip 10, Gold Gain 4, Potion 2, Miscellaneous 12): 12,937g
Alektorophobia, Baldness. Let me give you an example of the whole Conversion situation described above with this new heir. He started with 57 magic points; this is 50% of a value that can increase up to a maximum of 200% with enough use of Conversion. Put another way, I could eventually get up to four times that value, or about 228 MP. I needed to watch my health and use Conversion at the appropriate time to gain about 170 MP in total. This is the kind of tedious math which is unfortunately necessary to get full value out of this class. I ended up using Conversion twice, both times at right around 170 HP, grabbing roughly 85 MP on each one and winding up in the end with totals of 185 HP / 222 MP. You practically need a darned calculator to play this class optimally! Anyway, I dropped down to a mere 11 health at one point in the forest in a difficult room, but managed to build myself all the way back to full again. Close call. When I finished the castle and forest, I had full health, so I went ahead and fought Khidr. The crow storm spell was completely useless here (it sends out one crow per enemy), so I had to do this with melee swing, 30 damage per attack. That got the job done, eventually, but I fought for so long that I took three hits in the process and lost about half my health. Nothing critical, but it could have done better. For winning, I claimed my reward of strength, armor, and health increases - just about perfect there. Nice. I died almost immediately in the tower, because crow storm has a hidden downside: it instantly awakens any paintings in the room. Whoops! This is a serious drawback to the spell that I had not considered previously. Will be more careful about that in the future. The large majority of the gold from this run went into the fifth and final Gold Gain upgrade, already completed after just 6 Liches. The remainder went into two more equipment upgrades (finally I could put on the Guardian Limbs) and two Attack upgrades, since that was the best use of the remaining funds. So far, I had accumulated about 49k total gold, and spent less than 5k of that on actual stat gains. Once I got the last three Potion upgrades, I could start pumping up my Liches for real.
Unlock: Gold Gain Up (maxed), Attack Up x2, Equip Up x2
7) Level 37 (Health 3, Attack 3, Equip 12, Gold Gain 5, Potion 2, Miscellaneous 12): 14,641g
Alektorophobia. What is it with these Liches, why do they all fear chickens so much?! And for the curious, you do indeed get the +4 max health bonus when killing the zombie chickens that appear. Starting numbers were 68 HP / 57 MP; I'll probably jot these down for each character to keep track for my own use while playing. This run went well enough, clearing out the castle and forest, and making good progress in the tower. It came to an extremely abrupt end when one of those charging wolf enemies hit me three times in a row, each one doing 46 damage, and I was instantly dead. I misplayed the situation, but wow, really was not expecting that at all. Gold went into two Potion upgrades and then some real stat bonuses to health and attack. One sad thing about this Lich run so far was a total lack of useful runes. I was still using the default double jump and dash, nothing else. I continued to hope for Vampirism, or even the Haste runes that grant movement speed. Something better than Grace and Retaliation runes.
Unlock: Potion Up x2, Health Up x3, Attack Up x2
8) Level 44 (Health 6, Attack 5, Equip 12, Gold Gain 5, Potion 4, Miscellaneous 12): 9301g
Far Sighted, starting 79 HP / 57 MP. The blurred vision was definitely annoying. Unfortunately, on this playthrough I got caught up in clearing the dungeon and forgot to use Conversion at the optimal time, and wound up with a mere 142 max MP. Argh. Waited too long. This is a really annoying aspect of the Lich class, using Conversion shouldn't be so punitive. This just wasn't that good of a character run, as I only managed to get through the castle and forest, at which point in time I was all out of health and mana, so I died almost immediately in the tower. The highlight was killing the dual skeleton minibosses in a very nice fight, which ended up dropping... the Blood Bracers. Oh come on. I used the money to take the last Potion upgrade, then bought a Bounty rune for the unused Chestplate slot (why not?) There was just enough left over for a point in magic damage, the first one I had taken in that category.
Unlock: Potion Up (maxed), Bounty Rune, Magic Damage Up
9) Level 46 (Health 6, Attack 5, Magic Damage 1, Equip 12, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Miscellaneous 12): 10,931g
PAD (yay!) and another Alektorophobia, sheesh. This Lich also came with the very useful crow storm spell. This was a run that was played out on Livestream, where there was a fair amount of lag which I think impacted performance a bit. I cleared the tower really well, and made it through the castle and forest, but I forgot to use Conversion at the right time, and left myself with only 140 MP instead of 220 MP. This ended up costing me in the boss battle against Alexander, where I came up a few hits short of defeating the big flying skull. I just needed one or two more casts of crow storm to wave clear the little flying enemies (or some Vampirism to life steal health back!) but I ran out of mana and was swarmed by the endless spawning of more monsters. Probably fought Alexander too soon, needed more levels to do it in safety. This was especially sad because I had about six chickens still saved up in the rest of the dungeon that went completely unused. Afterwards, I used the gold to unlock the Silver Sword and a Balance Rune (+1 health / +1 mana per kill) which was better than having nothing in that slot. Then the rest went into a series of real stat upgrades.
Unlock: Balance Rune, Silver Sword, Health Up x4, Attack Up x3, Equip Up x2, Mana Up
10) Level 56 (Health 10, Attack 8, Magic Damage 1, Equip 14, Mana 1, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Miscellaneous 12): 29,697g
IBS trait, your character farts a lot. 93 HP / 62 MP to start out, which meant that I should be aiming for just under 250 max mana, and should use Conversion twice at 185 health. Got that? Four chicken drops in the first three rooms of the castle again, all wasted. Hate it when that happens! This is another problem for the Lich class: since you need to farm up monsters repeatedly to get up to max health and mana, you can't really save the easier castle area for recovery later. I didn't exactly want to go into the tower or basement with only the starting 93 heath! Fortunately, my first Vampire rune dropped in the castle, here on the 10th Lich. I had been waiting for that for some time now. This turned into my best run to date by a wide margin, clearing out all of the castle, forest, and tower, which facing several minibosses along the way. I faced the dual flying mages miniboss twice, once in the castle and once in the forest. Both times their bonus chest produced gold, blah. Total waste. Then I fought the dual skeleton minibosses in the tower, where I prevailed by the slimmest of margins, one hit away from death. I just wasn't dealing enough physical damage, had to hit them so many times to win. They gave me... the completely useless Sage Cape. Totally not worth it.
I inteded to fight Alexander again to get my revenge for the last Lich, and fortunately managed to do exactly that. This battle went much better than before, as I only took two hits in the whole encounter and danced around the flying little skulls without too much trouble. The extra damage from Attack upgrades definitely helped compared to the last Lich, and even the minimal health/mana restoration from having one Balance rune seemed to make a difference. I picked up several useful pieces of equipment on this run: the Ranger Sword in the tower, and two more pieces of Sky gear down in the basement. This was the first Lich to make it down there, even if I wasn't able to get all that far, died before finding the boss door in the basement. I also picked up a ton of runes on this run, about seven or eight in all, with the Vampire Rune obviously being the prize of the set. My gold from this run mostly went into unlocking that gear, then into more stat gains. Several of them went into putting one point into a generally useful skill (Death Defy, Down Strike Up, etc.) that I had no intention of maxing anytime soon, maybe ever. This turned into 20 levels before all was said and done, better than I expected.
Unlock: Vampire Rune, Ranger Sword, Sky Limbs, Health Up x6, Armor Up x5, Attack Up x5, Equip Up, Upgrade Shinobi, Down Strike Up, Death Defy
11) Level 76 (Health 16, Attack 13, Magic Damage 1, Armor 5, Equip 15, Mana 1, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Miscellaneous 15): 27,277g
CIP: no visible health bar. Of all the bad traits to get with a Lich, not being able to see your health bar is a real problem for Conversion! I resolved to track the number of monster kills manually, and use that to know when to use Conversion. Starting values of 115 HP / 65 MP for reference. Convert twice at about 195 max health, assuming I could figure out when the heck that was! I did manage to use Conversion at the correct time, winding up with a little over 250 MP. These characters without health bars are always extremely frustrating to play, especially on a long run, which is exactly what this turned into. I was able to keep manual track of my health gauge up through the end of the tower, when I fought the dual skeleton minibosses again (they gave me gold inside their treasure chest, blargh). After that, I didn't have the faintest idea where my HP total stood. Highlights of the run included winning the axe throwing minigame (I think I've got that down now - we'll see if I can reproduce the success again down the road). Unfortunately the axe throwing minigame also only produced gold in the chest that I opened, oh come on! Seriously. More useful was the equipment that I found along the way, especially the Guardian Chestplate (best armor for a long, long time) and the Imperial Limbs. I found some other stuff, like the Retribution Chestplate, but it wasn't as good as what I already had. Still looking for a Cape upgrade, for that matter, been using the Squire Cape all this time. I turned up another good haul of runes as well, although I had only found just the one Vampire rune to date. I had 28/55 runes by the time this run was done, but only the one Vampire rune. I was using Balance runes as a cheap replacement for lack of better options.
Anyway, this run turned into my first full dungeon clear, with the basement completely explored for the first time. After that, I went ahead and faced off against Ponce de Leon, with no idea how much health I actually had, but nowhere else to venture. I fought perhaps my best Ponce battle ever, hitting him roughly 50 times and only taking a single hit myself... and then when he was redlined, Ponce hit me a second time and that was it. Apparently I went into that battle with under 100 HP, unbeknownst to me. What a shame, I had played that extremely well. Have to clear that boss next time. Afterwards, I bought a second Balance Rune to take me up to 4 health restored per monster kill (pretend Vampirism!) along with the Guardian Chestplate and Imperial Limbs. Then the final 19k gold went into a ton of stats, mostly Strength and Health upgrades as usual. They do the most to help you advance through the dungeon.
Unlock: Balance Rune, Guardian Chestplate, Imperial Limbs, Health Up x5, Attack Up x5, Equip Up x2
12) Level 88 (Health 21, Attack 18, Magic Damage 1, Armor 5, Equip 17, Mana 1, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Miscellaneous 15): 5431g
Muscle Weakness and PAD traits, with starting 133 HP / 65 MP stats. Convert twice at about 195 health, same as the last Lich. I died to Botis in the tower, in a battle where I horribly screwed up while fighting him without having anywhere near full HP. I had about 200 whereas if I had farmed more monsters I could have had a max total of 380 HP. This was embarassingly bad on my part, and there's not much more to be said. Shameful.
Unlock: Attack Up x2
13) Level 90 (Health 21, Attack 20, Magic Damage 1, Armor 5, Equip 17, Mana 1, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Miscellaneous 15): 61,787g
No traits, with the flame barrier for a spell. I realized that due to the way my health and mana totals were currently set up, I could use Conversion one time at max health, and it would come very close to giving me the highest possible mana total as well. That was an easier process than using Conversion twice and going back to low health each time. I ended up using Conversion that one time, turning 188 health into 188 mana. It was really starting to take a long time to farm up all that additional health at +4 HP per kill; clearing the full castle and tower was necessary. Not a good sign. This run became distinguished for the number of chicken drops that appeared. It was completely crazy how many of them kept popping up, literally in the dozens, way more than I would normally find along my way. This made it trivially easy to stay at full health, and I was wasting chicken after chicken because I was already sitting on a full lifebar. Wish that I had this kind of luck more often! Once I did farm up my Lich fully, he wound up at about 380 HP, which was a very nice sum for Normal difficulty. (Each chicken was restoring 59 health, allowing me to erase any mistakes that I might have made.)
Once again, I managed to clear the full dungeon, fighting the plant miniboss along the way in the tower for a +1 Strength upgrade. I also picked up some new equipment along the way: the Imperial Helm down in the basement, and a selection of two Cape upgrades in the Ranger Cape and Guardian Cape. I'd have to decide between more crit chance and crit damage against bonus armor there. I found more runes too, but still no additional Vampire ones. 32/55 runes and still only 1 of the 5 Vampire runes! That meant it was boss run time, starting with Ponce de Leon. My battle with this guy was far inferior to my last attempt, as I couldn't seem to find a safe path through all of the flames for whatever reason. Do the spiked balls in his chamber bounce in different paths each time you try him (?) I honestly don't know. In any case, I did have enough health to win despite a rather sloppy battle overall. Then it was on to Herodotus, where I fought another uneven battle. My tactics were correct, as I targeted the smallest blobs without any issue, but for whatever reason I kept taking hits. I was all the way down to 60 HP when I won, and there was no reason for that other than poor gameplay. Fortunately, I still had all of the chicken/flask items saved up throughout the dungeon, along with a fountain refill, which made it easy to go into the final bosses with full health and mana. (The little entryway to the final boss from the introductory demo, that small area dropped THREE MORE CHICKENS that I didn't need. Good grief!)
Johannes was problematic for this character, and he hit me three times towards the start of the fight. I was able to regroup, and use the flame barrier to push him back a couple of times when he jumped over me. Careful play managed to get me through this battle without dropping into the true critical area, although I would have to do the Fountain encounter without full health. I believe that the Fountain is often easier for characters than Johannes, and that proved to be the case this time as well. I used the flame barrier a lot against the Fountain, enough so that I actually ran out of MP in this battle. It was faster and easier than hitting the boss manually, and it did more damage as well. So I dodged his sword projectiles while keeping the flame circle running, and almost before I knew what had happened, the Fountain was crumbling into a pile of dust. I had tons of health left over, never came close to dying in this part of the battle. One weird thing: after the final boss was dead, the health bar glitched out and showed 238/136 health. In other words, it still showed the current health total, but dropped the "maximum" number back down to the initial starting value. No gameplay effect whatsoever, but kind of interesting to see. I wonder how this is coded?
This last character's run is posted on YouTube with commentary, if anyone wants to watch it in real time. My Lich emerged victorious at only Level 90 (my lowest yet for one of these challenges) and with 61k gold in his pocket, also a record for me on Normal difficulty. What a great run that last character had been! On next to New Game Plus mode, where farming up those stats would be noticeably harder for my Lich heirs.