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Shaderune, the Lich

by Jesper Andersen

Here is another bad guy - Shaderune the Lich. I have based much of the information on Matthew Levy's text about the City of Tuma.


In the year 558 BC the hamlet of Tuma in the lowlands of the Cruth Mountains begins its rise to power under the rulership of King Arkenas, an Alphatian in exile. In 561 BC Arkenas happened upon the wreck of the FSS Beagle and he had to flee Alphatia with the knowledge of the existence of the Nucleus of the Spheres because of intrigue at the court.

By 555 BC Arkenas begins writing a formal and complete law code for the new city. Unbeknownst to his people, this law code also contains within it a subtly encrypted message which gives the location of the Nucleus.

Arkenas completes the Codex of Tuman Law in 534 BC and dies of old age in 529 BC, leaving his throne to his son, Corus. He allies with elves and Hin to repel humanoid invaders.

Corus was not as powerful a wizard as his father, but he was a competent politician and diplomat. His childhood friend, Histamus [pronounced HAI-sta-mous] was born naturally gifted in the arcane arts, however, and grew up to become almost like a second son to King Arkenas. From boyhood Corus and Histamus always rivalled each other - for the throne and for the love and attention of Arkenas.

Knowing that he could not usurp Corus, Histamus devoted himself to the studies of magic and various relics of ancient Taymora, collected by agents in faraway lands.

By 511 BC, the empire of Nithia has fallen and against the advice and wishes of his allies, King Corus agrees to give shelter to the dethroned God-Emperor of Nithia. In the meantime, Histamus has risen to power as the High Mage of Tuma. In secret, Corus gains access to forbidden magical knowledge from the God-Emperor and with it he hopes to increase his understanding of magic and be able to oust Histamus from Tumaian politics.

Histamus' interest in ruling Tuma has long since vaned, however. His new desire is for the Codex, the old laws of Tuma. Histamus has come to suspect that Arkenas entered a secret code into them - a promise of ultimate power! Unfortunately, the Codex is locked away in the royal palace as the king's property and Histamus is not allowed near them.

In the years that follow, Histamus plots and plans for ways to get access to the Codex. The dissatisfaction of Corus' elven and Hin allies - as well as several powerful humans in Tuma - with the king's hospitality towards the Nithians becomes a key element in a plan to discredit the king. Unfortunately, Corus uses the dark lore of the Nithians to expose Histamus and in the end the two wizards meet in a terrible magical duel resulting in Histamus' imprisonment deep beneath the earth.

In 503 BC the Nithian emperor returns to the east to reclaim his throne. The City of Tuma all but forgets Histamus as his name is erased from books and inscriptions throughout the kingdom.

In 130 BC large armies of chaos attack Tuma and the entire population is transported to another dimension, where they are trapped. [See B8, Journey to the Rock for details].

Meanwhile, Histamus lay imprisoned and kept in a temporal stasis deep within the earth. Until one fair spring morning in 341 AC, when a travelling wizard unknowingly cast a powerful Dispel Magic spell near the spot. His surprise was great to see Histamus rise from the earth in his ancient robes and headgear and even greater when Histamus killed him with a Prismatic Spray.

It took a while for Histamus to gather his bearings but he realised that no matter how long he had been imprisoned in the earth, Tuma was gone. And with it, the Codex.

Histamus spent the next few decades re-establishing himself in a secret stronghold not far from the mouth of the Greyhare River. He reacquired spellbooks by slaying various wizards and soon had a network of agents working for him to produce clues as to what happened to Tuma and ancient Nithia.

Realising that it would take a long time to track down any remains of the Codex, Histamus decided to perform the ghastly transition to undeath to continue his search - and he became the lich Shaderune.

Around 750 AC he moved his base of operations to a secret hideout in the wealthy merchants' quarter of Athenos. From there he ran a series of cover operations to establish a worldwide network of spies acting as merchants and traders, all looking for rumours of Tuma and the Codex. He infiltrated several merchant houses and continues to use their members as go-betweens to potential clients with the knowledge he seeks.

Today, Shaderune's existence is one of the best kept secrets of the Known World. Because he is not interested in world domination, he has kept his anonymity and not forced confrontations with major churches or political figures. He is not blind to the fact that his network could be of political importance to one or more of the Great Houses and has begun to contemplate how to spend the rest of eternity if he never finds the Codex.

[DMing notes]
Shaderune can be used in a number of ways by a DM in a campaign. He could be a sinister shadow haunting the PCs steps through B8: Journey to the Rock and possibly after. His investigations of the disappearance of Tuma could have lead him to the other half of Arkayz's talisman, which means that the old Tuman wizard will find Shaderune waiting, if the PCs manage to bring back the half from the Rock. The PCs might have to save Arkayz, recover the other half of the talisman from Shaderune (steal it, he won't sell it) and perform other heroic deeds to free the people of Tuma.
If the PCs are strong and clever, they might persuade Shaderune to join forces with them. After all, freeing the people of Tuma might give him a clue to what happened to the Codex.
The DM might also decide to avoid the whole Tuma business altogether and use Shaderune as a dark and evil behind-the-scenes character for the PCs to fight in Darokin politics. Because he is based in Athenos, Shaderune might become an ally of House Linton. The PCs could be hired by other houses to investigate or by House Linton to act as messengers between them and the lich.
And finally, Shaderune is an immense source of magic and information. He has living memory of ancient Nithia (somehow him being in a temporal stasis prevented the Immortal curse from erasing his memory of the lost empire) and has reacquired many old tomes and forbidden magics from both Nithia and the Necromancer-Kings of Taymora. Whatever the reason, a confrontation between Shaderune and the PCs is going to be epic and terrible to behold - and it might not even result in the lich's demise. He is old - even for a lich - and has had a long time to plan for any contingency, even his own death.