Last Rise of the Lichlord
by Rich Staats
This episode will take the reader from the end of the first MIT Campaign, "The Last Rise of the Lichlord,"
to the beginning of the second MIT Campaign, "The Demise of Moloch and Things left undone."
Many of the prime characters in the PBeM Campaign started in "The Last Rise of the Lichlord."
Descriptions of the salient characters are contained at the end of this write up.
I'll finish off the zine with a topical piece on "Do's and Do Not's" for players and GMs.
The article this month will heavily use concepts, names and places from:
TSR(TM), Chaosium(TM), Palladium(TM), GDW(TM), GW(TM), Judges Guild(TM), Avalon Hill(TM), etc.
As always, my use of these names and concepts in no way or form constitutes a challenge to the
proprietary use of those names and concepts by the companies, authors or legitimate heirs.
Significant Historical Items from 5094 to 5623 Y.O.L.
The years from the fall of the Arch-lich Nigilranthrib until the great Wolfen Unification of 5622 Y.O.L.
can be divided into two periods. The first period from 5094 until the destruction of the Vampire Lord Istalome
in 5411. King Phineas of Nerria, Duke Tremir, Cardinal Rose and Arch-Psionisist Branham were primarily responsible
for the imprisonment of the Arch-lich Nigilranthrib and the destruction of the Necromancer. Peace seemed all evasive
as the close of 5094 approached and Phineas, Tremir, Rose and Olivares began the process of rebuilding the war
ravaged Kingdom of Nerria. Unfortunately, the Vampire Lord Istalome was released during an ill fated voyage by
the Guardians of Nerria. These same guardians also unwittingly recovered the Ring of True Power which
Istalome was able to recover. For a time, all was peaceful.
Phineas perfected his legions of internal Nerrian enforcers, the Guardians. Nerria worked heartily
in the areas of selective breeding of plants and animals. Soon, the kingdom prospered far above the level
of its neighbors. Only one dark spot remains. King Phineas was known to the halflings of his realm as
"Phineas the Black." Phineas despised halflings, and he did all within his rights as a good and merciful
ruler to drive these "shameless slacckards" from his realm. Many halflings fled Nerria in these days.
Trouble began to brew outside Nerria's borders.
By 5133 Istalome controlled nearly all of the eastern half of the Thousand Isles. King Phineas,
bearer of the Ring of Good, devoted a large fraction of his kingdom's resources to opposing Istalome's
expansion onto the mainland. Istalome might have been crushed if it were not for his mysterious voyage
to Palmalta in 5134. Together, the combined fleets of Nerria, Tanarsa and the Timerian Empire swept
through the Thousand Isles from 5134 to 5136. By 510, the name of Istalome was but a memory, and
Phineas and Emperor Spatenrok the Sixth declared a year of celebration in a joint ceremony on the Isle
Peace reigned for 283 years. Trade prospered, and the bonds between the Lands of the Overlord,
the Thousand Isles and the Timerian Empire grew strong. In 5323 the Emporer of Xanduru, Al Alfredo, was
disturbed during the annual meeting of his monarchs by the legendary Carrastinian. Carrastinian informed
the gathered assemblage that "Istalome walks again, and now he has behind him powers from the mortal dawnings!"
Historians did not record what transpired that evening, but two seasons later, there was a momentous
gathering in Lhormar. The council of mages was joined by: Cragspider, Carrastinian, the Tien, the Grand Mistress
Troll, a Lord of the Dragon-Newts, and the Great Dryad of the Tree of Life. The council debated long and hard,
and in the end, the assemblage agreed to outfit a band led by Cragspider and the Tien to head south to Palmalta
and cut off Istalome at his source. As the Tien and Cragspider departed, Carrastinian, the Grand Mistress Troll,
and the Great Dryad wove a spell to keep the mainland safe from the deprecations of the Vampire Lord.
The exalted council did not over react!
Istalome was terrible to behold! His followers were imbibed with supermortal abilities.
Fire did not harm his vampire legions. His mortal follwers laughed off blows which would fell dragons.
Istalome himself sang Runes and destroyed whole cities with one casting. Istalome was not alone; the dread
slavers of Palmalta, the Illian Fane, flew to his cause like a flies to a carcass. Now, the two empires were isolated.
While the Overlord's forces faced Istalome directly, the Timerian Empire faced the navies of the Illian Fane.
The Thousand Isles were held again under the black heel of Istalome. It was on Godsday, Death Week of
Dark Season in 5411 that the forces of Law received help from an unexpected source.
The last holdout in the Thousand Isles was the Isle of Carrastinian. This was the seat of power from which
Carrastinian had held Istalome from a massive and prolonged invasion of the mainland. Istalome gathered all his
legions to assault this magical fortress. Carrastinian had the best of the forces of Nerria on his Isle including the
venerable King Phineas.
Istalome sang Runes.
The sky was rent!
Portals poured forth the blasted spawn of the Nine Hells.
The seas boiled.
Carrastinian battled back! He sang counter-Runes, cast mighty magics, but in the end, weakened by his
defense of the mainland, Carrastinian fell back before the onslaught.
As Carrastinian fell, Istalome strode boldly forward from the sea onto Carrastinian's Isle walking on a
carpet of molten lava and screaming souls.
All the mortals fell back save Phineas!
It seemed that Carrastinian was defeated, but just then...
A terrible wind blew from the southeast. Dark clouds covered the sun, and a lone figure rose from a pool of inky mist
to walk onto the shore of the isle.
Resplendent in his burnished silver armor, the Immortal Vampire of the Fess called out to Istalome
"Young One, I cannot allow you to destroy these forces. I care nothing for these mortals, but mortal blood will not alone slake your thirsts!
My vital fluids will someday flow in your corrupted veins if you triumph here today. You have bargained with powers whom
none should have intercourse. Prepare to face me!"
With that, the Lord of Fess pulled forth a single splinter of hallowed wood --- the Spike of Saint Acheron!
Istalome ceased his advance toward Carrastinian and turned on his heel toward the Lord of Fess.
With a snarl, Istalome marched boldly toward the Immortal Vampire. Istalome's face became a mask of malevolent triumph.
Although none can say with certainty, it is held as legend that far to the south at that precise moment
a certain Tien and Cragspider, along with the remnants of the Thaliban Society of Light, levered shut an ancient tomb
never meant to be opened. Phineas too was moved by something beyond his mortal understanding and ran forward to engage Istalome.
Phineas glowed with the runic magic of Humakt. His beloved silver sword dazzled blindingly through the gloom
as it clanged into Istalome's armor. The battle between the two lasted only seconds, but to those poor mortals watching,
it seemed to last an eternity. In the end, Carrastinian said "Phineas! Use my gift to you! There could be no more fitting end!"
With that, Phineas threw down his cherished sword and raised his right hand to grasp Istalome's sinister counterpart.
As the Ring of Good touched the Ring of True Mastery, a terrific explosion rocked the island and slagged the area where Istalome
and the King of Nerria had so recently battled.
When the dazzle wore off and the smoke cleared, Phineas and Istalome were no more. The Lord of Fess was gone,
and the sun had returned.
Carrastinian spoke a phrase, and the seas boiled and consumed the horde of Istalome. So ended Istalome's reign of terror.
The Illian Fane quickly sued for piece, and the two empires of man began the task of rebuilding. Most of the empires'
magical strength had been consumed in fighting Istalome's alliance. Since the seas were sealed, only the most important missions
could afford mages to open the seas for sailing. The Tien and Cragspider returned from Palmalta with the brave band which had
accompanied them, but none of the mortal members of the party could recall where they had gone once they returned to their homelands.
After Phineas' death, Rhyu, Duke of Gebnik, son of Tremir, ascended to the throne of Nerria. Rhyu had enjoyed an unusual
life to this point. Not withstanding his father was one of the greatest heroes know in Zhalindor, Rhyu brought attention to himself
when he whisked himself away to the lands of the Alfar as a lad. He returned strangely tattooed and wise beyond his years.
In 5413 King Rhyu set sail for the Timerian Empire with the Overlord's blessing to sign a treaty of perpetual peace between
the empires. Emporer Aco the tenth greeted Rhyu with open arms and immediately began a tour of the Timerian Empire.
Everywhere Aco and Rhyu went, they were greeted by throngs of adoring subjects and onlookers. Rhyu, whose tattoos attracted
attention amongst the mages he met during the tour, created the biggest surprise when he reached Credia.
Aco showed Rhyu all the wonders of this ancient of cities. The last stop in Credia was the "Star Plaza."
Now, students of the arcane arts had long traveled the world to study the symbols adorning the four pointed star at the center of Credia.
It is rumored that in the Star was hidden a portion of the secret of forgotten Rune magic. When Rhyu looked at the star,
his skin glowed with red and blue lines.
Rhyu called forth a WORD.
The air around him was filled with the scent of ten thousand blossoms, and for forty miles around Credia,
rose petals rained n the country side. Before the crowd could gasp, another more shocking event occurred.
Standing before Rhyu was none other than the Dragon Lord and Carrastinian. They spoke as one and said
"Oh children of the Man Rune, the time has come when you will need this world's ancient legacy. We bring back the magic of the Runes!"
The Dragon Lord vanished, but Carrasitinian, who was holding a strange red, glowing orb said "the time has also come
to end restrictions of old on the sea!"
Carrastinian gestured with the orb and the sea moaned with a voice like none had ever heard. The seas were no longer sealed!
Carrastinian went to the Place of Magic, and for ten years and two seasons taught the secrets of the Runes.
Some learned but little, and some learned well. The Way of the Runes is dangerous and unsure for mortals.
The Mages' Guild of Basst became the center of the White Order, an organization charged by Carrastinian to use
the power of the Runes only for good. One day Carrastinian went away from the Place of Magic. Neither the Tien nor Carrastinian
have been seen since the day he left the Place of Magic.
Aco was greatly pleased with Rhyu and offered him the hand of Princess Boldheach in marriage.
Rhyu accepted and lived on as the heir apparent to the throne of Timeria. Phineas' descendent, Hewey the VIIth,
took the throne of Nerria. When Aco died many, many years later, Rhyu abdicated in favor of his son, Rhyu II, because
the people of Timeria are ever mistrustful of magic and sorcerers.
For these many years, Rhyu II has been a fair and just ruler, and none can truly speak ill of either him or
the Timerian Empire under his reign. A period of peace followed the ascension of Rhyu II to the throne, but all things come to an end.
Trade thrived everywhere between the pockets of humanity. The Illian Fane of Palmalta attempted to trade,
but were continually rejected by the kingdoms who remembered their perfidy in the alliance with Istalome.
Eventually, the Illian Fane chose the purple sails of piracy once again and became the scourge of the Southern Sea.
By and large, the powers of the Runes were used for good. The White Order remained true to its course to use
the powers of the Runes for good. The only disturbing note is that over the centuries several Runic arch-mages have "answered"
a mysterious calling; all journeyed, but none returned.
In 5622 Y.O.L., the Wolfen declared all previous grievances between the members of the race to be null and void.
The Wolfen declared themselves to be the rightful rulers of the world, and they viewed the destruction of the Timerian Empire
to be the first rightful step toward that goal.
Next time, I'll relay the story of "The Demise of Moloch and Things left undone" which will take you to the first turn of
the PBeM Campaign.
Characters of Note
Arch-lich Nigilranthrib: Main antagonist in the first MIT Campaign. Ran an organization called the Society of the Iron Ring.
It took the party nearly two years of weekly sessions to defeat Nigilranthrib.
the Vampire Lord Istalome: Evil Vampire Lord released accidentally by: King Phineas' three nephews, Hewey, Dewey and Looey,
Duke Olivares of Nerria, and Miriya. Immensely powerful and old, Istalome proved a nearly unstoppable foe.
King Phineas of Nerria : Humakti Deathlord and regent of Nerria. Leader of the party which imprisoned Nigilranthrib.
Ultimately ended Istalome's reign of terror.
Duke Tremir: An elf, King Phineas' best friend, and a member of the party which imprisoned Nigilranthrib.
The best living, mortal archer during his years on Zhalindor.
Cardinal Rose: Human woman, cardinal of the Church of Kemer-Lexi, the god of justice.
Rose was and a member of the party which imprisoned Nigilranthrib.
Arch-Psionisist Branham: Human male who returned with King Phineas from an inter-dimensional journey.
A skilled mindmage, Branham was not one to be trifled with. Founded a college for psionicists in Zhalindor.
A member of the party which imprisoned Nigilranthrib.
Olivares, Duke of Nerria: Human male and companion of Tremir and Phineas. A deadly aim with missile weapons.
Perhaps the most noble of the party. An excellent ally and good governor.
Al Alfredo, Regent of Eldenvaan, Oligarch of Xanduru, Emporer of the Lands of the Overlord : His titles say it all!
The perhaps immortal emperor of Zhalindor, largest of the human settled regions.
Cragspider, the Tien and Carrastinian: Legendary figures whose origins are more mythological than based in fact.
See Base Page for more details.
The remainder of the characters are explained in the story.
Recommended "Do's and Do Not's" for Gamemasters and Players
- Honor your players and PCs.
- Be consistent in gaming decisions; don't have favorites.
- Never become too attached to NPCs or monsters.
- Don't become too attached to a particular plotline.
- Reward your PCs in proportion to the difficulty they experienced in reaching the goal.
- Never bring personal conflicts into the gaming environment or vice versa.
(If you don't get along with the players, find another campaign; life is too short.)
- Never let your players force you to play out a scenario you are not morally comfortable with.
- Ask the players for both positive and negative feedback after a session,
and be honestly receptive to the players' suggestions. It is their campaign too!
If you are not willing to modify items in the campaign for the players then maybe you best play solitaire!
- Be willing to ask continually disruptive and rude players to leave the group.
(Although rare, these individuals can ruin the fun for everyone else in the group.)
- Arrange a comfortable location for the gaming session.
- Attempt to establish a regular time and place for your sessions.
- Time sessions to be reasonable for all active participants.
- Practice good hygiene before sessions.
- Be willing to chip in on munchies!
- Encourage group activities not directly related to gaming like visits to museums or movies.
- Be tolerant of player children and friends.
- Encourage new members to join your group.
- Do not allow your children or friends attending sessions to disrupt the game.
- Ensure the playing area is just as clean after the session as it was before you started playing.
- Spend time on session preparation; go the extra mile and make some handouts. The players will love it.
- Include multiple senses in descriptions; think of: sight, sound, smell, feel, and taste.
Try to use three in every scene.
- Know the rules, but be willing to bend them once in awhile for the sake of player fun.
- Spend some time on character development.
- Never bring player conflicts into the gaming world or vice versa.
- Try to learn all you can about the gamemaster's world.
- Work together with the other party members and try to make every gaming situation
a "win-win" for all concerned.
- Give your gamemaster feedback on the items you liked in sessions as well as those things you disliked.
(If you can't think of anything you enjoyed, find another gamemaster.)
- Honor your gamemaster and hold rules discussions till after the session.
Once the gamemaster makes up his or her mind, let it rest. (If you know so much more about the system
than the gamemaster does that you find yourself constantly bickering then go start your own gaming group.
Be warned, you might have trouble finding and retaining players!)
- Never use mob tactics to force the gamemaster into decisions he or she is uncomfortable with.
- Practice good hygiene before sessions.
- Be willing to chip in on munchies!
- Be receptive to activities outside of the gaming sessions.
- Try to consistently make sessions.
- Be tolerant of the gamemaster's and other players' children and friends.
- Do not allow your children or friends attending sessions to disrupt the game.
- Encourage new people to join the campaign.
- Help the gamemaster clean up after a session.
- Spend time between sessions discussing the campaign with the other players.
- Pay attention to the gamemaster during sessions, and try to picture the scenes in your mind
as they are described to you.
- Be courteous to other players.
You can reach me by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org