Kuva Liches are powerful Grineer adversaries who can go toe-to-toe with a warframe – and potentially emerge victorious. Created by the Worm Queen via methods arcane, Kuva Liches possess a form of immortality such that defeat only makes them stronger. Only through the use of forgotten Orokin rituals can a Kuva Lich be permanently defeated… although some Tenno may choose to be merciful, and spare their adversary's life. Any Kuva Lich granted such a reprieve becomes a life-long ally to the Tenno in their future battles.
Each Kuva Lich is born from a Kuva Larvling. A Kuva Larvling is a lowly Grineer who has been infused with kuva, on the orders of the Worm Queen. A Kuva Larvling's only task is to provoke a warframe and die by its hand. Upon death, the immortality-granting kuva will combine with the Tenno's mystical energy to reincarnate the Larvling into a Kuva Lich who wields the power of the very warframe that created it (referred to as a Progenitor). Kuva Liches are far more intelligent than most other Grineer and will quickly amass an army, including powerful Thralls. A Kuva Lich will spread their influence across entire planets, subjugating the previous power structure and harvesting the output of its production to bolster their army. When provoked into a direct confrontation, the Kuva Lich has an endurance and constitution comparable to a warframe, and wields a deadly Kuva weapon that represents the very best of Grineer engineering. In addition, Kuva Liches are imbued with the Tenno's own power and can use similar abilities, and are also adept at grappling and hand-to-hand combat. Should a Tenno prevail despite these advantages, they will find that the Lich simply refuses to die. A Lich who suffers a fatal blow will simply cackle with laughter and vanish, only to resurface on a new planet with amplified powers.
Each Kuva Lich has an individual sequence of three Requiems that preserves their Continuity, in a facsimile of the immortality possessed by the ancient Orokin. To permanently sever this Continuity, a Tenno must learn the Requiem sequence by killing the Lich's Thralls and listening to their whispers. An echo of the Lich's nature lives within their servants, and so the Tenno can eventually glean one or more of the Requiems over time. If the Tenno does not have access to the corresponding Requiem mods, they must be harvested from Requiem Relics on the Kuva Fortress itself. The Tenno must then apply the Requiem mods to their Parazon data-blade, and confront the Kuva Lich in personal combat. Upon defeating the Lich, the Tenno will strike down the Lich with their Parazon. If the Requiem sequence was incorrect, the Lich will flee, victorious. However, if the Tenno has correctly aligned their Requiems with the sequence inscribed on the Lich's soul, the Lich's Continuity will be severed, and the nemesis will be mortal once more. At this point the Tenno can choose to either kill the Kuva Lich, this time for good, and take their Kuva weapon; or to spare their life, thus gaining a permanent ally who will arrive to aid them when most needed.
Kuva Liches have one of four distinct personalities, and the vast majority of their dialogue reflects this.
Aftermath when being vanquished
After the Tenno vanquishes a Kuva Lich, they will receive an inbox message from Ordis upon returning to the Orbiter.
Kuva Lich Vanquished: [NAME of Lich]
After your harrowing victory over [NAME of Lich], Ordis recovered this forged weapon blueprint. It has been added to your Foundry. Ordis cannot wait to see it in action.
Your loyal Cephalon,
This inbox message will include the Kuva weapon wielded by the Lich (which can be claimed from the Foundry, fully built) and the ephemera the Lich had (if any).
Aftermath when being converted
After the Tenno converts a Kuva Lich, they will receive an inbox message from the Lich themself upon returning to the Orbiter.
My New Master
You have bested me. Sullied in the eyes of my Queens, I am Grineer no longer. I serve you now.
You will help me reclaim the honour I have lost.
Our work begins,
[NAME of Lich]
This inbox message will include the ephemera the Lich had (if any). The Lich will keep their Kuva weapon. The Lich can periodically appear to assist the Tenno in their missions, and may be assigned to the Railjack as a crew member.
Kuva Lich cutscene
With the release of The Old Blood, a cutscene was shown to all players upon logging in, introducing the concept of Kuva Liches. This cutscene can be replayed in the Kuva Lich section of the Codex.
[In the Kuva throne room, two Kuva Guardians drag a tubeman – an unarmoured Grineer clone – between them. The tubeman is barely conscious, able to raise his head slightly, but his legs and feet drag across the floor as the Kuva Guardians pull him inexorably towards the throne.]
[unnamed Kuva Larvling]: "We maggots live – not long…. We hope. More life. Work. Kill…."
[On the dais, the Worm Queen sits in her throne, with a globule of kuva hovering over her outstretched left hand. Tendrils emanate from the kuva, seeking a target. The Kuva Guardians stop and, together, throw the tubeman onto the base of the throne, where he lies motionless.]
[unnamed Kuva Larvling]: "Maybe Queens notice. Maybe they share… the Old Blood."
[The kuva in the queen's hand begins glowing as the tendrils begin to spin in the air, like ribbons attached to a drill bit. Red energy begins flowing from the kuva like mist as the Worm Queen smiles and holds the kuva out in the direction of her prone subject.]
[unnamed Kuva Larvling]: "We are maggots. But… eventually… even maggots… can fly."
[The Grineer tubeman weakly flops over onto his back and is suffused with the kuva's red energy. His eyes glow with a crimson light and his face contorts into a vicious look of aggression as he roars.]
[unnamed Kuva Larvling]: "YEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSS!"
The Kuva Lich system first shown off during the TennoCon 2019 demo, which featured unique dialogue and mechanics not present in the final gameplay version. Kuva Liches are mentioned by Kuva Guardians, who escort Kuva Larvlings on their way to fight the Tenno. During Kahl's Prison Break mission, Sprag tells Kahl that the Queens might reward his bravery by making him into a Kuva Lich.