Bad-El-Kazar was one of the lucky Champions to get a rework of his Lore ahead of the Call of the Arbiter Series – Let’s check it out…
The great city-state of Ireth has existed for nearly all recorded history. Its origins are ancient, going back to the time of the Empire of Dragons, and some suggest it is older still. For most of its millennia of existence, Ireth was known for its legendary mage academy: the finest school for magical study and research in all Teleria. If one wanted the very best magic-wielders, one looked no further than Ireth.
But that Ireth is long gone. In its place is a nightmare filled with monsters and madmen. The city’s walls overflow with blood and violence, with the decay of corruption seeping into its very foundations. The blame for this transformation has been laid at the feet of the legendary grandmaster of Ireth’s mage academy: the powerful necromancer Bad-el-Kazar.
The story of Kazar’s rise to power is mostly lost to history, but there are rumors it was a trail soaked in blood. After becoming Grandmaster, his reign was, by most reports, highly successful. The numbers learning in the academy were growing, the city’s population was rising, and each day new discoveries were made … until Kazar led a fateful expedition. Driven by visions supported by his researching of archaic texts, Kazar orchestrated a grand voyage from Ireth to the furthest north of the Winterlands. His goal was to find a site of ancient power, rumored to predate even the Gray Age. Kazar set sail with a fleet of five ships, all filled with servants, guards, and fellow mages, promising to return by the following winter.
Six years passed, and all were assumed lost. The interim Grandmaster was fully inducted into the role. Funerals were held. Life moved on.
And then, Kazar’s flagship appeared on the horizon, alone. As the vessel drew close, the onlookers gasped: the crew were little more than bone and rotting flesh. Undead. The most arresting sight of all was that of Bad-el-Kazar himself, standing at the prow, cloaked in tattered raiment, his gray and dying flesh seemingly preserved by magic alone. He had revealed himself as a necromancer, and he had apparently become one of his own experiments.
When Kazar disembarked his vessel, there were no inquisitors or templars waiting to arrest or destroy him. Instead, the crowd parted, and the new Grandmaster approached the old with trepidation. Would Bad-el-Kazar choose to punish the hubris of those who had doubted his return? If he did, would any be able to stop him?
But Kazar, it seemed, was magnanimous in his victory. He accepted the Grandmaster’s apology, reassumed the mantle of Grandmaster himself, and presented the mage academy with the fruits of his expedition: the cargo hold of his ship was loaded down with bottle after bottle of a mysterious liquid. It resembled water, but even the least magically sensitive person could sense the power radiating from it. Kazar called it the Water of Life, and claimed that it would change the world. None argued. It certainly changed Ireth.
Kazar maintained strict control over the substance, portioning it out carefully to the most powerful mages in the city. They, in turn, experimented with the ingredient, creating potions of incredible power. Consuming these potions granted the imbiber access to unbelievable abilities, and hugely amplified their strengths. They called the process Ascension, but it had a dark side. It exaggerated personalities. The cautious became paranoid. The ambitious became obsessive. The agitated became furious. The proud became vain. Psychopathy ran rampant, and the mages’ experiments took ever-darker turns. More and more of the leading members of the academy subjected themselves to Ascension, and so there were fewer and fewer voices speaking out against the escalations. Test subjects were captured from their beds. Monsters were left to wander the streets. City guards were replaced with twisted mannequins, and the gates were shut to prevent the population from escaping. Madness gripped the city, and that grip never loosened.
None know precisely what became of those trapped within the city’s walls. Those few who escaped spoke of a nightmarish hellscape, as the city twisted itself to serve the mad designs of Ascended archmagi. Among it all was Bad-el-Kazar. Even as his city went mad around him, his subjects remained loyal. He was the undisputed Grandmaster of Ireth.
That was centuries ago. Since then, Ireth has struck out to expand from time to time, and been beaten back. Bad-El-Kazar, meanwhile, has been sighted beyond the city’s walls, wandering the backroads of Teleria. What his goals are, none know, but they are wise enough to avoid him at any cost. The mages of Ireth had to Ascend to lose their empathy. Bad-El-Kazar never had any.