Content of the article: "Liches being fragile"
Ok Im probably missing something here which is why Im posting this.
Why do liches seem too weak to survive until their 2nd turn?
CR21 means it should be challange for 20th level characters, something like ancient dragons or uncheesed tarrasque. However, a lvl20 fighter with a +1 greatsword(mind you a lvl20 fighter would be using far stronger equipment) deals 2d6+6 damage per hit with +12 to hit. Which means with lich's 17 AC, it will hit 3/4 times.
This means on average fighter is expected to deal 6d6+18 damage to the lich in a single attack action. Action surge doubles that and before any subclass abilities fighter can deal on average 78 damage. Lich has 135 hp, figter has 2 action surges. 2×78 is 156. So a single fighter can kill the lich within 2 turns.
Before the "lich has spells" argument, yes, lich has some powerful spells at his disposal, however they do not help it survive. It needs to save its reaction so it can counterspell a power word kill that would probably kill the lich even before lich gets its first turn(not to mention possibility of 2 casters mean it cant avoid power word kill). And its entire arsenal boils down to "an 18th level wizard without a subclass".
I wouldnt expect the lich to win against 2 lvl18 wizards or sorcerers, let alone a party of 4.
Lich CAN plan ahead, but the problem is… planning isnt its super power. Anything the lich can plan, the party can plan too, and swarming the field with undead sounds good and might buy the lich time until a cleric uses "Channel Divinity:Hate crime against necromancers".
A cr 21 creature shouldnt need to prepare for ages or need to rely on backup. Because by that logic Nobles should be cr 20 since a smart noble is just as dangerous as the lich, if not more dangerous due to having more connections. The noble can plan for 2 years and hire mercs that counter the party specifically and manages to trap the party into a 10V4 cage match they cant win. But that doesnt mean the noble deserves any significant CR, because the noble cant fight alone and would die if an ogre looked his way.
So, what exactly makes the lich, CR 21? It feels much closer to a CR 16-15 creature. Archmage is an 18th level caster too just like the lich but archmage is only cr 12.
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