Demilich (Dungeons & Dragons)
The demilich first appeared in first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons in the adventure Tomb of Horrors (1978), and later appeared in the adventure The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth (1982), and was reprinted in the first edition Monster Manual II (1983).
The demilich appeared in second edition under the "lich" heading in Monstrous Compendium Volume One (1989), and in the Monstrous Manual (1993). The drow demilich appeared in Ravenloft Monstrous Compendium Appendix III: Creatures of Darkness (1994).
If a lich exists long enough, it may reach a point where it feels it cannot learn any more in its present state and seeks other avenues to attain knowledge. The lich's interest turns away from the physical realm, and its soul voluntarily leaves its undead form and phylactery, using astral projection to travel across other planes of existence. The magics preserving the lich's body against the ravages of time weaken, usually causing the body to gradually deteriorate until only a skull or even a single skeletal hand remains; this advanced form of lich is known as a demilich. Despite its ruined body, a demilich is far from powerless; it is very resistant to most weapons and magic, and if disturbed, the skull will levitate and suck the souls from nearby living creatures.
Don Turnbull of White Dwarf magazine said of the demilich in the Tomb of Horrors: "what is demi- about this creature of enormous powers, apart from the fact that only his skull remains, is arguable: the skull, in combination with the special arrangements which have been made to guard it, exhibits terrifying powers, and the 'rumour' which players will hear at the start, to the effect that this being possesses powers which make him well-nigh undefeatable, is well founded!"
Tyler Linn of Cracked.com identified the demi-lich as one of "15 Idiotic Dungeons and Dragons Monsters" in 2009, stating: "Besides looking like a Pirates of the Caribbean alarm clock, the Demi-lich seems to possess no tactical advantages of any kind. It just kind of floats around, waiting for a party of heroes to smack it out of the air like a pinata. We suppose it could try to bite you, but the illustration above kind of makes it look like the jaw is fused in place. Man, now we just feel sorry for it."
- Gygax, Gary. Tomb of Horrors (TSR, 1978)
- Gygax, Gary. The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth (TSR, 1982)
- Gygax, Gary. Monster Manual II (TSR, 1983)
- Cook, David "Zeb", et al. Monstrous Compendium Volume One (TSR, 1989)
- Stewart, Doug, ed. Monstrous Manual (TSR, 1993)
- Collins, Andy, Bruce R. Cordell, and Thomas M. Reid. Epic Level Handbook (Wizards of the Coast, 2002)
- Turnbull, Don (June–July 1979). "Open Box: Dungeon Module Review". White Dwarf (review). Games Workshop (13): 16–17.
- Bulmahn, Jason (lead designer). Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary 3 (Paizo Publishing, 2011)