The Dark Lich is a major recurring villain from the Mana video game series, who appears in Secret of Mana in as the primary antagonist, and in Trials of Mana as a potential final boss. He is an incredibly powerful demon warlock, who wants to overthrow the Mana Goddess and rule the world of Fa'Diel. To do so, he always sets out to release an ancient power sealed long ago: the Mana Fortress in the first game and the God Beasts in the second.


The Dark Lich is the most mysterious of the series' primary antagonists, for his origins are never explained. Given that plot elements were cut from the hastened release of Secret of Mana (though restored in the remake), and that the series' creator stated that most of the games are set in different continuities, much is left for speculation.

The Dark Lich is a wraith-like, undead demon warlock, and a personification of sort of dark magic, who feeds on hatred and destruction. He is one of the Great Evils of Fa'Diel, second only to the current Archdemon whose rule he openly challenges. He comes from the Underworld of Mavolia (the Mana counterpart of Hell), and always acts through a wizard who sold his soul to it, who appears as the game's main villain while he is but a vessel.

Secret of Mana establishes that he was a warlock from eons before, who sold his soul to Mavolia for eternal life. His spirit manifests by taking over people as his vessels, killing them in the process. The more he body-switches, the more his evil grows. The uncut Japanese dialogue reveals that his evil might is too much for normal vessels, that always end up withering. As such, he seeks a host belonging both to Light and Darkness, who could sustain him forever. However, he cannot manifest for long without a host, and destroying him under his true form would terminate him once and for all.

Viewing Trials of Mana as a prequel to Secret of Mana makes the Masked Mage the aforementioned warlock, whose demise forced Dark Lich to switch bodies during the following millennia. Its own prequel Dawn of Mana features Granz the Masked Guru, and the corruptive Thanatos Spirits, obvious references to his vessels. Dark Lich might be born from the Thanatos Spirits, and have modelled his vessels after them and Granz, but there is only room for speculation.

Dark Lich has incredible Dark Powers and control of Evil, Dark Magic and monsters, being able to curse entire regions, to drain life-force, to grant power to servants, to brainwash and corrupt people, and to see and talk everywhere. He is cold, imposing and callous but formal. Worse, he is cruel, wrathful and power-hungry. He acknowledges his foes' merits, but does not see them as threats, taunts them and is irked by their defiance. He always remains in the shadows and acts through proxies, skilfully manipulating foes and allies alike, only acting in person for important tasks, and only meeting the protagonists when they confront him.

Secret of mana

Thanatos (Secret of Mana)

Original artwork of Thanatos

Every few decades, there is one born in the shadow of Darkness. A human capable of augmenting my power beyond comprehension! Dyluck is one such human! His dark powers were sealed as a child. Now he possesses a foolishly naïve sense of justice. But no matter. With his body I will use the Mana Fortress to rule the world!
~ Thanatos revealing his plan before the final battle.

In Secret of Mana, the hero Randi draws the mythical Sword of Mana from a rock, unknowingly lifting a spell that keeps the monsters from Mavolia at bay.

The evil Emperor Vandole seizes profit of it to take control of the monsters, before sending his four generals break the seal on the eight Seeds of the Mana Tree (earthly avatar of the Mana Goddess), causing destruction on their wake.

By breaking the seal, the Emperor plans to release the Mana Fortress: an ancient flying castle and ultimate warship, which was sealed away inside a sunken island. With the Dark Powers he gained by selling his soul to Mavolia and dominion of the Mana Fortress, Vandole could take over Fa'Diel. Randi learns that only the legendary Mana Knight could have drawn out the sword. As such, he sets out to restore the sword’s power and stop the Empire.


The heroes confront Thanatos.

Randi and his partners, the girl Primm and the sprite Popoi, defend several countries from the Emperor's mighty generals. One of them, the extremely powerful Mystic Knight Thanatos is draining the citizens of Pandora of their life-energy, turning them into zombie-like slaves to topple the kingdom from within.

The protagonists learn about him from the witch Elinee, who captured the royal soldiers sent against her. She teleports their captain, Primm's boyfriend Dyluck, to Thanatos, as he proves too strong for her. They defeat Elinee, in fact Thanatos’ corrupted pawn, but she lost her powers and cannot help them.

Randi and his friends confront the wizard in the Ruins of Pandora. He sends them against the Demon Wall he created with the stolen life-force, but they destroy it, lifting his spell over the kingdom. He recognizes Randi as the Mana Knight, but teleports away with his hostages, unimpressed; leaving the protagonists to wonder what he could be after, acting so different from the Emperor's other generals.

Thanatos (Remake)

Artwork of Thanatos in the remake.

Upon confronting Randi and his friends, the imperial general Geshtar states that Thanatos warned the Imperial Court about them. Uncut original dialogue from the Resistance reveals that Thanatos works apart. It is also said that the Empire used to be peaceful up until fifteen years ago, hinting that something happened…

Thanatos sends a brainwashed Dyluck drain denizens of Northtown, prompting the party to storm the Northern Ruins. There, Dyluck drains Primm’s energy and sends her to Thanatos, who needs her blood for his magic, but Randi temporarily brings him back to his senses.

Randi and Popoi rush to save her, but Thanatos telekinetically knocks them back before paralyzing them. Fortunately, Dyluck transfers power to the party and dispels Thanatos' magic. Irked, the evil wizard sends a powerful vampire after them and teleports away with Dyluck once more.

The Emperor breaks the Seeds' seal, but Thanatos's fellow general and accomplice Fanha kill him right after, as they no longer need him. Thanatos reveals that everything was in fact his doing. He was controlling the monsters while manipulating Vandole as a smoke screen, having likely influenced his deal with Mavolia and corrupted him from the start.

Facing Thanatos (remake)

The heroes confront Thanatos in the remake.

Thanatos seals the magic that could fully revive the Mana Sword, and leaves Fanha deal with the party in her immensely powerful demon form. He later makes them fight Geshtar, whom he turned into an undead cyborg, and reactivates the Mana Fortress.

Thanatos waits for the party to reach the Mana Tree, and destroys it before their eyes with the Mana Fortress, telepathically taunting them. The dying tree reveals that Randi's father Serin was the previous Mana Knight, killed by the Emperor and Thanatos at the start of the war, and uses its last power to restore the Seeds and the Sword.

The protagonists can now storm the Fortress and reach Thanatos, who is about to replace his decaying vessel with Dyluck, the perfect host he needs. Adding Dyluck's sealed power to his own and controlling the Mana Fortress would make him fully unstoppable.

The Dark Lich

The Dark Lich as seen in the game.

Despite Primm wounding him, he possesses Dyluck who bids a tearful farewell and forfeits his life before being assimilated. Without a physical host, the Dark Lich attempts to possess one of his foes, but they end his blight for good. Alas, the Fortress' awoke the Mana Beast, forcing the party to fight it to the death.

The Dark Lich and the Fortress are no more, but so is the Mana Power and with it the sprites, including Popoi. Randi and Primm return to Pandora to usher a new Era of Peace, but Mana will not return until the Mana Tree is restored.

Boss Battle

Ténébro (remake)

Dark Lich in the remake.

Dark Lich is considerably powerful, but easy to defeat if the heroes are strong enough. He has 6666 life-points, he spams very damaging Shadow, Water, Wind and Earth level 8 spells; he causes effects like confuse, shrink, petrify, freeze, paralysis, burn, poison, sleep or change to harmless Moogles; and he dispels magic buffs. Cure and heal as much as needed.

Dark Lich is weak to the Light element, so cast the Light magic on your weapons, and cast the Lucent Beam spell at least at level 6. If you keep attacking him, he will not last long. Weapons only work when he is fully materialized. Do not attack him with Shadow magic or you will heal him.

Dark Lich's victim

Dark Lich's most fearsome move.

When he vanishes and phases his flaming hands through the ground, it can knock out your characters and kill them in seconds so beware. You can attack with spells when his head appears, so do it quickly to make him reappear.

Trials of mana

The game is set millennia before Secret of Mana, but whether it is a prequel or a distinct continuity is left to the appreciation of the player.

Before the game events

Belgar (Circle of Mana)

Belgar before his corruption.

Decades before the game's beginning, Belgar, one of the greatest mages of the Holy City of Wendel, tried everything to save an ill young girl, not to avail. He started studying Dark Magic, but she died too soon. Belgar got eventually corrupted by dark powers and started searching for a necromancy spell that could revive the girl, but people in Wendel began to fear him and to call him the Priest of Darkness.

At first, Belgar remained a benevolent mage, who kept Wendel neutral in conflict. In the game Heroes of Mana, set nineteen years before the start of the story, he fought in the war against the Ancient Kingdom of Pedda, who had started invading the neighbouring nations. In fact, Inath, the boy king of Pedda, was corrupted by Anise: the avatar of the former Archdemon Medusa, using him to return to power. Belgar served as a playable ally to the heroes and helped them fully destroy Anise, who took Pedda down with her.

Alas, he got fully corrupted a few years later, him shortly after the birth of his son. The Priest of Light banished Belgar, and the now evil wizard swore to conceal his face under a mask until Wendel was destroyed. He seized the Mirage Palace in the ruins of Pedda and took it to the Jungle of Illusions, eventually becoming one of the Three Great Evils of Fa'Diel, along with the Dark Prince and the Dragon Emperor. Whether the Dark Lich was born from his corrupted soul or he got possessed remains unknown, but the Masked Mage and the Dark Lich are now one and the same.

In the game

Masked Mage (Circle of Mana)

The Masked Mage

And how I've waited for this day! Underneath this mask is all hatred towards humanity.
~ The Masked Mage

The Masked Mage is the least mentioned of the Three Great Evils, as the protagonists only hear of him when they meet him in person (or when they learn his death if he does not serve as the final boss). Oddly enough, while his rivals could not act directly until the end due to being incapacitated, he remains in the shadows for no discernible reason.

The Masked Mage will be the final boss if the player choses Kevin the beastman prince, or Carlie the cleric girl, as their first character. If not, he will be slain by the game's chosen final boss. (The three final bosses share the same goal and act the same way.)

The Masked Mage plans to unleash the dreaded God Beasts on the world and to use their power for his own gain. To do so, he needs to sacrifice eight souls, to break the seal on the eight Mana Stones that keep the Beasts sealed. He sends the Death Jester to the beast kingdom of Ferolia, in order to manipulate the beastmen's resentment against the human kind to wage war against the Holy City of Wendel.

Later, Death Jester abducts a young priest mage from Wendel named Heath (who happens to be the Masked Mage's son), and brings him to his master. The evil wizard likely recognizes his son and brainwashes him. He then raises Heath's power to its maximum and makes him his right-hand-man and bodyguard.

With all Mana Stones unsealed, the game's heroes reach the Mana Holyland, where the Mana Tree is located, and gain the fabled Sword of Mana from the Mana Goddess. Then, the Masked Mage kills his two rivals' faction, and sends Heath and Death Jester to abduct the characters' Fairy guide in exchange for the Sword.

The villains use the Sword to set the God Beast free, fulfilling the Mage's purpose. The Mage then patiently waits for the heroes to destroy all the God Beasts, channelling their power into the Sword of Mana. After destroying the beasts, the heroes defeat Death Jester in the Jungle of Illusions and confront the evil wizard in the Mirage Palace.


The Masked Mage and Heath.

A very pleased Masked Mage greets the heroes and tells them that the God Beasts' power lies in the Sword, and that he waited for them to absorb it before their very eyes, which would make him mightier than the Goddess herself and would enable him to become the new god of Fa'Diel. Hopefully, the Goddess manages to cancel, or at least to restrain this power increase. Irked, the Masked Mage teleports to the Mana Holyland to settle his score with the exhausted deity.

The protagonists manage to defeat Heath, who returns to normal and tells them the Mage's story before dying. The heroes track down their enemy to the Holyland, but too late; the Mana Tree is destroyed, the Goddess is dead, and a Dark God is about to rise.

The heroes track down their enemy to the Holyland, but too late; the Mana Tree is destroyed, the Goddess is dead, and a Dark God is about to rise. The gloating Masked Mage kills the Fairy and turns into the Dark Lich to deal with the heroes, but the Fairy's spirit encourages them, stating that the Mana Sword still exists through them.

They ultimately destroy the Dark Lich and the Fairy's spirit fuses with the remnants of the Tree to become the Mana Goddess reborn. Yet the power of Mana will need thousand years to rise again, ending for good the era that the characters knew.

Boss Battle

Dark Lich Battle

The boss battle against the Dark Lich.

~ (a seriously irked) Dark Lich.

The Dark Lich is the easiest of the three available final bosses, yet should by no means be taken lightly for at level 50 and with 49846 life-points, he is considerable powerful and has deadly attacks. He can cast Power Up, Defence Up and Speed Up on himself, and Leaf Sabre with which he drains magic-points with his claw swipes.

He casts the mightiest spells and special attacks of the Shadow, Light, Water, Earth and Wood elements; and his attacks can poison your characters or turn them into statues, snowmen or harmless Moogles, which must be cured. His most dreadful attacks are Death Spell (which instantly kills targets of lower levels), Ancient (a devastating rain of meteors on every target) and his most powerful spell Death Ecstasy: an even deadlier variation of Ancient.

In a black background, he uses Shadow and is weak to Light. In water he uses Water/Ice and is weak to Fire. In a desert he uses Light and Earth and has no real weakness. Attacking him with his current element only heals him. Increase your stats and decrease his own as much as possible. If you have Carlie as a Bishop at level 50 or higher, spam her Turn Undead spell without stop as it deals 999 damage on undeads, even the likes of him. Attack relentlessly and heal as much as needed, and he shall perish soon.

Dawn of Mana

Prêtre Masqué

Granz, the Masked Guru.

In this prequel set millennia before Trials of Mana, the Thanatos Spirits spawned by Mavolia to corrupt people into demonic Grimslies and Granz the Masked Guru are references to the Dark Lich.

The evil King Stroud (the future Dark Prince) sets out to open the Door to Mavolia all over Fa'Diel to take over both worlds. The human-looking immortal named Granz was once the lover of Anise, a priestess who became host to the Archdemon Medusa. (Later games retconnect Anise as an alias used by mortals to speak about Medusa without triggering her curse.) He gets turned into a Grimsly by a Thanatos Spirit and is fought and killed by the game's primary protagonist Keldric.

Boss Battle

The battle against the Masked Guru is very long, and takes place in a tower that gets gradually destroyed. Keldric must chase his foe all over the tower and use the Wind Devices to reach the upper floors, while avoiding the falling debris whenever a wall is destroyed. Granz flies around and uses powerful spells: a blast that cause all negative status and a poison mist. When damaged enough, he starts striking at close range with a sword or conjuring devastating meteors.

When Granz surrounds himself with a flaming barrier and casts Fire spells, Keldric must freeze his barrier with an Ice attack and strike to knock him out. When he uses a frozen barrier and casts Ice spells that can turn Keldric into a snowman, use Fire attacks. When Granz conjures Floating Masks that fire dangerous beams, Keldric must destroy them before attacking his foe.

Circle of Mana

Like nearly every character of the Mana series, Thanatos from Secret of Mana and the Masked Mage from Trials of Mana are playable in the card-based role-playing game Circle of Mana, the latter being featured as both his heroic, pre-corruption self from Heroes of Mana, and his demonic, masked persona.

Each character is played as cards, fighting to save the Mana Tree from monsters, and can gain power, equipment and Class Changes.

Final Fantasy Brave Exvius/Final Fantasy Record Keeper

Ténébro (FFBE)

Dark Lich in Final Fantasy Brave Exvius.

The Dark Lich makes a cameo in the spin-off games Final Fantasy Brave Exvius and Final Fantasy Record Keeper, gathering characters from many games to fight iconic monsters.

In the first, Dark Lich is the second-to-last boss of the Mana Mystery mode. He is highly powerful and resists status effect, but easily dispatched by a quick succession of attacks from a team of sufficiently powerful characters. Of course, he resists Dark but is weak to Light. He dispels magic buffs and casts dangerous spells, including Syringe that drains your character's life-points, Evil Gate that deals percent damage, Thunderbolt that strikes the whole party and the self-explanatory Sleeping Gas.

In the second, he is fought during the Mana’s Quests. He is much more resilient and challenging; he can cause Sleep, Confusion and Petrification; he casts powerful spells like Earth Glide (all targets), Thunderbolt, Evil Gate and Syringe. He can disappear and phase his flaming hands through the ground, escaping physical attacks and dealing huge damage and sleep effect with his Hand Crush move, but it is fortunately not as lethal as in Secret of Mana.

Brutal Mario (Hack Game)

Mario contre Ténébro

Mario fighting Dark Lich.

The Dark Lich appears as a boss in the unofficial, hack computer game Super Kitiku World (also known as Brutal Mario) in which Mario has to battle several bosses from other game franchises.

The Dark Lich puts up a long and tough battle, divided into several stages determined by the screen's colour.

  • Dark Lich conjures alternatively bolts of lightning, and four orange energy balls one after another. When two hats fall from the sky, Mario must grab the block inside one to strike Dark Lich's head.
  • The background turns into a desert and Dark Lich summons an angry-faced sun and several flying flames. Dodge until the sun drops the block and strike the boss. Beware for the sun starts blasting fiery rays below and Dark Lich's turns into a skull surrounded by circling rocks to prevent Mario from grabbing the block.
  • In water, Mario must dodge the gigantic beam fired by two dragon-like head on each side on the screen and the ice blocks floating. The block appears in one of the bubbles that pops out of the ground.
  • Falling icicles create pits on the ground, with two lightning bolts travelling along the grounds and fireballs erupting from the pits. Mario must grab the block that erupts periodically from the pits.
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