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Eladrin who choose a path of Prime-bound duty beyond death can be turned into baelnorn liches, sometimes simply called baelnorns, and these undead defenders unswervingly protect their clan and its holdings for centuries. The majority of baelnorn were spellcasters, and they maintain their mental and magical abilities in this state, though exceptions occur.
The method of becoming a baelnorn is a High Magic or divine ritual. In some cases, baelnorns do not need to use phylacteries, as their undeath is gifted to them by the Seldarine, but alas this process is uncommon. Less fortunate baelnorns store their souls in a magical receptacle called a phylactery, like liches. Unlike most other forms of undead creatures, the baelnorn retains all of the memories, personality, and abilities that it possessed in life - but it has a virtual eternity to hone its skills and inevitably becomes very powerful. Like other powerful forms of undead (such as a vampire or mummy), a baelnorn has unnatural powers owing to his state. For example, he can put mortals in a paralyzed state of hibernation with a touch, making them seem dead to others, and can, through their typically powerful magical spells, summon other lesser undead to protect him. Unlike liches, baelnorn do not radiate an aura of horror which can send weak-willed would-be foes to flight. The baelnorn is capable of sustaining tremendous physical damage, and is immune to disease, poison, fatigue and other effects that affect only the living. However, despite all his undead "gifts", a baelnorn (like a lich) counts his vast intellect, his supreme mastery of wizardry and limitless time to research and plan, as his greatest resources.
The Baelnorn's Phylactery Edit
Some baelnorn do not use a phylactery, as their un-death can be also endowed to them by the Seldarine. These baelnorn can use soulless clones of themselves to avoid destruction. The soul wanders to an unharmed mortal shell when killed.
Some baelnorn's soul is mystically tied to its phylactery, in that case destroying its body will not kill it. Rather, its soul will return to the phylactery, and its body will be recreated by the power keeping it immortal. Thus the only way to permanently destroy a baelnorn is to destroy the phylactery as well. Therefore, the baelnorn will generally be extremely protective of the priceless item. The phylactery, which can be of virtually any form (usually appears as a valuable amulet or gemstone), will often be hidden in a secret place and protected by powerful spells, charms, monsters and/or other servants; the phylactery itself is usually of magical nature, meaning its destruction will generally be little easier than attaining it.
The choice to embrace undeath are allowed and considered only on rare occasions, when a clan or settlement has need of lorekeepers or defenders beyond the norm. Even if an eladrin truly wants to become a baelnorn for his clan's benefit, the Coronal, the High Mages, and the elders of the particular clan must all be of one mind to allow this sacrifice to be made. To the surprise of some eladrin, these transformations have occurred a few times in the past five millennia at the will of the Seldarine. Baelnorn, the willing undead eladrin, are the eladrin equivalent of liches, though they are hardly as disturbingly 'wrong' as the corrupt undead and they do not project the fearsome aura of those wicked creatures. Sustained by magic and granted life of a sort beyond nature, baelnorn appear largely as they did in life, though an immediate clue as to baelnorn is the existence of shriveled and wrinkled skin turning slightly translucent over time. Some of the oldest of baelnorn seem little more than the hint of body, hair, and skin around their skeletons. Unlike liches, this is the extent of their degeneration, and they do not fall into loose piles of bones; of course, eladrin unlife is similar to their lifespans, and as human liches live for centuries, no witnesses have ever reported a millennia-old baelnorn...
Some choose to identify baelnorn by their motivations and occupations chosen in undeath.
- Watchnorns (for lurking observers and lesser guardians of public places or family lands, especially Castle Cormanthor)
- Lorenorns (for those choosing to act as tutors, librarians, or merely students of Art beyond their normal span of years)
- Guardnorns or Wardnorns (for powerful guardians of crypts and other secret places or as the sole protector of particularly powerful items).
In truth, the baelnorn are all capable of as much action and activity as a live eladrin, though their personal attitudes and motivations (and the social unease over the continued public presence of baelnorn) limits them to particular activities. In her time as a baelnorn, the Srinshee had acted as Wardnorn of the Vault of Ages and as the Lorenorn for the armathors and Court Magi, a great amount of activity despite her relatively hidden existence.
While the demilich type exists among liches, there is no equivalent type among baelnorn. Though some revolutionary changes are recorded in the history. (See below in the instances at the Srinshee entry.)
A baelnorn can be of any non evil (mainly Lawful Good) alignment, retaining whatever alignment it had in life.
Instances for Baelnorn Edit
- In -800 DR, Synnorha Durothil became a baelnorn in order to guard her ancestral library.
- In the novel Elminster in Hell, Elminster consults with a number of baelnorns beneath the ruins of Myth Drannor.
- In the Pool of Radiance novel and game, the protector baelnorn Miroden Silverblade is kidnapped by a cult.
- The Forgotten Realms novels The Siege and The Lost Library of Cormanthyr both include guardian baelnorn characters.
- Tordynnar Rhaevaern is detailed in the supplement Lords of Darkness as a baelnorn archmage who has become evil and shows hatred for humans.
- The Srinshee (also mentioned above) is no doubt the most famous baelnorn of all time. She was the Senior Cor'Seku'Taar, Wardnorn of the Vault of Ages and as the Lorenorn for the armathors and Court Magi. She helped raise the Mythal over the now lost eladrin capital, Myth Drannor in 261 DR. At that time she has revived herself as an elfmaid of 300 winters.
- In the game Icewind Dale, the player encounter a baelnorn named Larrel at the Severed Hand.
Almost all of the green elf Audark clan was wiped out fighting Venominhandar in -249 DR. 33 years later, when Venom's mate was killed, the twelve remaining Audarks, in their grief, appealed to the high mages of Cormanthor to become baelnorns. There was a lively debate among them since no green elf had ever been made into a baelnorn before. Eventually, the mages acceded and transformed all twelve of them.
Their transformation was not typical however. Their skin turned into petrified wood, their hair to moss and their eyes to amber. They lost all ability to speak but instead of gaining the arcane powers of a typical baelnorn, they instead became prestigious warriors. As the self-appointed guardians of the Vale of Lost Voices, these new creatures found that they could not leave the Vale's boundary but they could travel instantaneously within it and were telepathically aware of all visitors to their territory.
No green elves have ever become baelnorns since that time so it is unknown whether this was a unique occurance or whether all green elves would undergo a similar transformation.
- ↑ Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 40. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
- ↑ Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), p. 103. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
- Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves (zip)
- Realmslore: Safeholds (Part Three)
- Realmslore: Storm Silverhand's Quieter Days, Part Four