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Baelnorn liches, sometimes simply called baelnorns, were elves who chose a path of Prime-bound duty beyond death. These undead defenders unswervingly protected their clan and its holdings for centuries. The majority of baelnorn were spellcasters, and they maintained their mental and magical abilities in this state, though exceptions occurred.
The method of becoming a baelnorn was a High Magic or divine ritual. Less fortunate baelnorns stored their souls in a magical receptacle called a phylactery, like liches. In some cases, baelnorns did not need to use phylacteries, as their undeath was gifted to them by the Seldarine, but alas this process was uncommon.
Baelnorn, the willing undead elves, were the elf equivalent of liches, though they were hardly as disturbingly "wrong" as the corrupt undead and they did not project the fearsome aura of those wicked creatures. Sustained by magic and granted life of a sort beyond nature, baelnorn appeared largely as they did in life, though an immediate clue to a baelnorn's nature was the existence of shriveled and wrinkled skin turning slightly translucent over time. Some of the oldest baelnorn seemed to have little more than the hint of body, hair, and skin around their skeletons. Unlike liches, this was the extent of their degeneration, and they did not fall into loose piles of bones. Of course, elven unlife was similar to their lifespans, and as human liches lived for centuries, no witnesses had ever reported a millennia-old baelnorn.
Unlike most other forms of undead creatures, the baelnorn retained all of the memories, personality, and abilities that it possessed in life—but it had a virtual eternity to hone its skills and inevitably became very powerful. Like other powerful forms of undead (such as a vampire or mummy), a baelnorn had unnatural powers owing to his state. For example, it could put mortals in a paralyzed state of hibernation with a touch, making them seem dead to others, and could, through their typically powerful magical spells, summon other lesser undead to protect him. Unlike liches, baelnorn did not radiate an aura of horror that could send weak-willed would-be foes to flight. The baelnorn was capable of sustaining tremendous physical damage, and was immune to disease, poison, fatigue and other effects that affected only the living. However, despite all his undead "gifts", a baelnorn (like a lich) counted its vast intellect, his supreme mastery of wizardry, and limitless time to scheme, research, and plan, as its greatest resources.
The Baelnorn's PhylacteryEdit
Some baelnorn did not use a phylactery, as their undeath could also be endowed on them by the Seldarine. These baelnorn could use soulless clones of themselves to avoid destruction. The soul wandered to an unharmed mortal shell when killed.
Some baelnorns' souls were mystically tied to their phylacteries, in which case destroying its body would not kill it. Rather, its soul would return to the phylactery, and its body would be recreated by the power keeping it immortal. Thus the only way to permanently destroy a baelnorn was to destroy the phylactery as well. Therefore, the baelnorn would generally be extremely protective of the priceless item. The phylactery, which could be of virtually any form (usually appearing as a valuable amulet or gemstone), would often be hidden in a secret place and protected by powerful spells, charms, monsters, and/or other servants. The phylactery itself was usually of a magical nature, meaning its destruction would generally be little easier than attaining it.
The choice to embrace undeath was allowed and considered only on rare occasions, when a clan or settlement had need of lorekeepers or defenders beyond the norm. Even if an elf truly wanted to become a baelnorn for their clan's benefit, the Coronal, the High Mages, and the elders of the particular clan had to all be of one mind to allow this sacrifice to be made. To the surprise of some elves, these transformations occurred only a few times over five millennia at the will of the Seldarine.
Some chose to identify baelnorns by their motivations and occupations chosen in undeath:
- "Watchnorns", lurking observers and lesser guardians of public places or family lands, especially Castle Cormanthor)
- "Lorenorns", those choosing to act as tutors, librarians, or merely students of Art beyond their normal span of years; and
- "Guardnorns" or "Wardnorns", powerful guardians of crypts and other secret places or as the sole protector of particularly powerful items.
In truth, the baelnorn were all capable of as much action and activity as a live elf, though their personal attitudes and motivations (and the social unease over the continued public presence of a baelnorn) limited 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 existed among liches, there was no equivalent type among baelnorn. However, some revolutionary changes are recorded in the history.
The Srinshee was no doubt the most famous baelnorn of all time. She was the Senior Cor'Seku'Taar, Wardnorn of the Vault of Ages and the Lorenorn for the armathors and Court Magi. She helped raise the mythal over Myth Drannor in 261 DR. At that time, she had revived herself as an elfmaid of 300 winters.
Almost all of the green elf Audark clan were wiped out fighting Venominhandar in −249 DR. After Venom's mate was killed, 33 years later, 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 prodigious 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 had ever become baelnorns since that time so it was unknown whether this was a unique occurrence 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.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood (May 2002). Elminster in Hell. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-2746-1.
- ↑ James Ward, Jane Cooper Hong (November 1989). Pool of Radiance. (TSR, Inc). ISBN 0-8803-8735-1.
- ↑ Strategic Simulations, Inc. (1988). Pool of Radiance. Strategic Simulations, Inc..
- ↑ Sean K. Reynolds, Jason Carl (November 2001). Lords of Darkness. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-1989-2.
- ↑ Black Isle Studios (2000). Steve Bokkes, J.E. Sawyer, John Deiley, Reg Arnedo, Matt Norton, et al. Icewind Dale.
- ↑ Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), p. 103. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.