Imagine a Lich. Are you picturing a terrifying creature with an exposed skull in long robes, stretching out its bony figures towards you and beckoning you to its cold, deathly embrace? Yeah, us too.
That’s all thanks to modern popular culture (we’re looking at you, certain dark fantasy-themed video games) because we’re afraid the original meaning of the word is a little more straightforward. Lich is literally just an old English word for a corpse. Not a risen from the dead version or one that wants to drag you to the underworld or swallow your soul. Just a regular, old corpse. In fact, in some very old graveyards, you might still see a Lichgate, which is a gate where the funeral procession entered.
However, the pop culture version is much cooler and has actually been lurking in our collective nightmares since 1920s pulp sword and sorcery stories where a Lich was often a sorcerer who had lengthened their life through unnatural means and were rooted to this plain of existence through some kind of magical item. Their bodies rotted away as they defied the natural order of things…
Much scarier than just a plain, boring corpse, right?