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View Full Version : Roleplaying A different sort of Lich backstory



FaradayCage
2017-11-11, 11:46 PM
Lord Tshad is young for a Lich, at 89 years old.

Born as Lord Benly of Frennet, he was the second-youngest son of a respectable Baron. Not quite a black sheep in the family...but an odd sheep.

He enjoyed reading tales of chivalrous knights and dragons, bold paladins and demons - but he was shy in his combat training, and deathly terrified of riding horses. He was much more interested in reading books, painting pictures, and playing with toy soldiers long past the typical age.

And during one banquet, when he was 15 years old, he fell madly in love with a fiery young girl the exact moment he first laid eyes on her. Sapphire eyes and hair like saffron spun with gold, "The Strawberry of Lansbury" they called her, but Lady Ella Castroy is how you should address her. Though she was only a girl of 10 at the banquet, she had already earned a reputation stopping betrothments before they even began.

It was she who would choose who she marries. But despite Lord Benly's persistent offers to cut her meat, pour her wine, hold her goblet, and sing her songs - she would barely give him more than a polite smile.

This continued for years. Lord Benly would see her at jousts and feasts and festivals and always offer his complete and unquestioning subservience. He was entirely oblivious to her eyes that kept wandering to Sir Braleth, a knight of a lower house that was clearly below her station and thus clearly not in competition for her favors.

And at the end of every festivity, Lord Benly would sulk and scream in the privacy of the Frennetwood.

His family were too proud and too busy to notice Lord Benly's growing frustrations.

But it is the Court Wizard's duty to notice the little details.

Magister Pelod turned Benly's dedication toward magic, with the blessing of Baron Frennet. More than once, Benly raised the question of whether he could use magic to make Ella love him. Pelod always replied that no charm could ever turn a person to love.

Benly disbelieved Pelod, so he studied his magicks with a ferocity. It was not rare for him to go a week or more without seeing the sun. For decades he listened to Pelod's lectures and pored over ancient tomes in the family library. Crops were sown and harvested. Lady Ella married Ser Braleth. A pox swept the land and two wars were fought. Cicadas emerged and retreated. And Benly read his tomes.

It was small surprise to House Frennet when Benly one day disappeared. He had withdrawn from his family so much that he had become something of a sore subject they were glad to be rid of.

The cover story was that he had gone off into the East to learn from other great wizards.

The true story is known only to Lord Benly.

Time flowed like a river, and Lord Benly was forgotten. The House of Frennet amassed a debt they could not repay and lost their manor, castle, and dignity. Sir Braleth became Count Braleth. And at 61 years old, Lady Ella became Our Dear Departed Lady Ella.

------------------------------

And now, a bald man with a greasy mustache has been staying at the inn for weeks. He offers you an ale and says he has a proposition he would like to discuss in private. It involves retrieving the body of a certain deceased Lady of high standing from its tomb and delivering it to one Lord Tshad.

And high up in the Shrieking Mountains on the horizon, there is a cave. In that cave Lord Tshad sits on a simple wooden stool. Another bit of grey skin cracks off as he draws his paintbrush across the canvas. He pierces an iron spike into solid granite to hang the portrait of her with all the others in The Gallery.

"Who's to say a Zombie won't love it's master?"

ATHATH
2017-11-12, 12:54 AM
Nice.

Why's he choosing to raise her as a zombie, though? Why not an intelligent undead(,) like a Wight or a Vampire or something?

Isn't there a metamagic feat that lets your Mind-Affecting spells affect undead despite their normal immunity to Mind-Affecting effects? He could use a spell to wipe all memory of Ella's relationship with Count Braeleth from her mind. In D&D 3.5, the Modify Memory and/or Mind Rape spells can probably accomplish that.

SirBellias
2017-11-12, 12:55 AM
Definitely different, and heartwarmingly chilling.

I like it.

Avigor
2017-11-12, 01:13 AM
This villain is a little, shall we say, disturbed. I had been half expecting the story to take a turn where he tried using domination magics on the girl at some point... kinda glad it didn't go there.

Assuming her death was say disease and not strictly old age, other resurrection magics could also work, maybe even a way for the pc's to use her actual soul to convince the lich to let her go?

Oh and while magical true love is impossible to just create, there is a Dragon Magazine #315 Ancestor Feat for Oriental Adventures, Renowned Courtesan, that does specifically allow a normal Diplomacy check to inspire love and devotion as well as the normal effects, causing the subject to seek your affections. Interesting to say the least...

FaradayCage
2017-11-12, 02:03 AM
Nice.

Why's he choosing to raise her as a zombie, though? Why not an intelligent undead(,) like a Wight or a Vampire or something?

Isn't there a metamagic feat that lets your Mind-Affecting spells affect undead despite their normal immunity to Mind-Affecting effects? He could use a spell to wipe all memory of Ella's relationship with Count Braeleth from her mind. In D&D 3.5, the Modify Memory and/or Mind Rape spells can probably accomplish that.

I intentionally left some of the motivations and details a bit ambiguous so that you can fill them in as you see fit.

My personal interpretation is:


If he raised her as any sort of intelligent undead, she would not love him.

He may be able to wipe her memory, but it just resets her to someone who falls in love with Braeleth (I like your spelling better).

He may be able to twist her mind so she thinks he IS Braeleth, but then she is still in love with Braeleth - not him.

This rests on a foundation that an intelligent undead must have some semblance of the original soul. If he couldn't win her over in life, he can't win her over in death.

The kicker is - Benly/Tshad never really LOVED her. He doesn't understand what love is. He just desperately wanted the two of them to be in love. He was merely blinded by her beauty and thought "Well clearly I love a girl this beautiful! I must make her love me back!" Despite the fact that she would barely give him the time of day.

So he decides that the only way to experience his idea of love with her is to raise her corpse as a mindless slave that won't resist what he offers. He can feed her, braid her hair, make her a wig when the hair is gone, rub scented oils on her skin and bones (and if you want to get BoVD with it - anything else that comes to mind).

And she'll be his forever.

FaradayCage
2017-11-12, 02:20 AM
Assuming her death was say disease and not strictly old age, other resurrection magics could also work, maybe even a way for the pc's to use her actual soul to convince the lich to let her go?


Sounds like a good adventure angle to me.

It makes me curious, too: Have any sages ever weighed in on what happens if a zombie corpse gets True Resurrected? Does the zombie corpse still exist alongside the resurrected person? Or does its matter and animating magic get obliterated?

ATHATH
2017-11-12, 04:15 AM
He may be able to wipe her memory, but it just resets her to someone who falls in love with Braeleth (I like your spelling better).

Well, there's an easy solution to that problem: Just kill Braeleth, then reanimate and mind wipe Ella. Then you can keep her in your cave/tower until she eventually succumbs to Stockholm Syndrome and falls in love with you, Beauty and the Beast-style.

This also serves as a plot-hook for the PCs, as they'd presumably try to hunt down the lich for killing Braeleth. Bonus points if Ella has already fallen in love with Benly and will fight against alongside him, but will turn against him if the PCs show her proof that she was once Braeleth's wife and that Benly killed Braeleth to keep her from finding out about her former relationship.

If Benly wanted to, he could probably just wait until Braeleth died of natural causes instead of murdering him, but I have a feeling that he's a bit too impatient for that.

Ooh, additional plot point here: What if Braeleth remarried after Ella died? Even better, what if there's a love-triangle thing going on here, and Braeleth is happier with his new wife than he was with Ella? Then Benly killing Braeleth would be all the more tragic, because if he had just shown Ella that Braeleth had remarried after she died and was happier now, she probably would have been willing to enter a relationship with him (Benly) of her own free will. Now that Benly is a murderer (one that killed someone to try to win her affections, no less!), Ella will probably want to have nothing to do with him (at best).

ATHATH
2017-11-12, 04:19 AM
What if Braeleth was a really [email protected]#$ty guy? In addition to being racist or mean to the peasants or something, what if he had cheated on Ella (while she was still alive) with someone else? Maybe that "someone else" is his current wife?

If Lord Braeleth is still alive, the time difference between the time of Benly's backstory and the present day might have to be tweaked a bit. Maybe Braeleth chugged some potions of longevity? He's probably rich enough to afford some...

RedMage125
2017-11-12, 08:33 AM
It makes me curious, too: Have any sages ever weighed in on what happens if a zombie corpse gets True Resurrected? Does the zombie corpse still exist alongside the resurrected person? Or does its matter and animating magic get obliterated?

True resurrection won't work until the zombie is destroyed, and even then, the corpse of the person is required. True Resurrection will make a new body IF the original has been destroyed. It's all right there in the True Resurrection description.

Mastikator
2017-11-12, 09:35 AM
That is legit creepy and well written. A good villain takes something that is relatable and turns it into something ugly. Well done.

Komatik
2017-11-12, 06:32 PM
Aww, he just wants his own... little piece of heaven ^_^