Thoral is a large humanoid wrapped in layers and layers of black rags. His face is devoid of flesh, and is instead a bloody skeletal face. His eyes are black orbs with a small white dot iris. When speaking, Thoral’s mouth opens, but his jaw does not echo the cadences of his whispered syllables. Instead his jaw just hangs open, closing when his message is conveyed.
When Thoral walks, he has the slow lumbering walk of the undead, but unlike undead his progress is not hampered by a search for prey. Thoral walks purposefully in whatever direction he wishes to travel. While he trods along, each movement causes the cursed lantern to shake and rattle, and the lights flicker.
Underneath Thorals head and shoulder garments, are Thoral’s brown leather armour, hoary with incredibly aged and with innumerable cuts and scraps. His pants are brown leather as well, but with broad armour sheets binded to them with additional boundr straps. This leg armour is rusty and aged. Slung over his left shoulder Thoral has a large blue tome bound with a thick wax spine. This book is incredibly aged, it is Thoral’s journal. On his other shoulder he has many other ancient books, leaflets and artifacts.
Thoral always holds onto his lantern with his skeletal left hand, but in his pale fleshy right hand he clasps a standard broadsword also aged to an incredible degree.
Excerpts from the Jounal of Thoral
“Fought ogres today, an even bakers dozen. Dispatched them handily. I must remember to buy Danker a beer, I owe him as much for his resurrection spells. Nearly was a goner there. Rikosan is oddly quiet today, he leads but says nothing. He used to be jovial. Maybe he is letting the lantern men stay out? He said it hurt him to let them out, but they’ve been out with me all night. Thats got to be the reason. I Haven’t seen a tavern for a while now. Was there one on the way from the battleground to the campsite? Thats odd I don’t remember the jouney.”
“Never a dull moment. As soon as I’d awoke, we we’re attacked by a Hydra. Not even native to these parts. Not sure how we got to his cave though. Back at camp now.”
“Fought a lich. I don’t know how long ago. Our leader Rikosan fell. Danker resurrected him, as I fell. The Lich Fritzarrn tried to make a returned blackguard out of me. He thinks it work, but it didn’t. Don’t know why. I’ve taken Rikosan’s lantern, its all I could find of my companions. Where did they go? And what is happening to my body? Must have been that damnable Lich.”
“Have been wandering for days looking for our campsite. Its like it never existed. Still no sign of my allies. Face is getting worse, it feels cold all the time. Accidently burned it with fire this morning.”
“Strange magic. Ran out of fagots, tried to start campfire with lamp light. The lantern light illuminated my friends but they were ghosts. Danker didn’t know I was missing. Says I was here all the time - He says I’m leader now, no one listens to Rikosan no more. An Rikosan asked me some strange stuff too. He says to me: Where is my town, Ruundel, where is my family? I says to him, ‘ya stopped talking about then after the ogres.’ He said he visited them everyweek since. Then he said that I died that day. No wonder no one listens to Rikosan no more. He is crazy. I closed the lantern, I wanted to talk to Rikosan more, but when the lantern was open my heart felt sore, like it was being pulled.”
“Got ran out of town again today. I think maybe the Lich’s spell did something to my face. I’m getting real ugly.”
“I think I figured it out. This must be the Lich’s doing, some kind of ghost magic. He musta killed my friends and put em in a lantern. I’m going find a way to end this lich curse and kill that Lich. Then my friends will be free.”
The Cursed Latern
The Black blood Latern is the focus of the party. The lantern is thin and tall, nearly 2 feet in height, of black muddy steel, and a wire handle. The glass panes are cloudy brown and grey and rattle as the lantern moves about. Inside the lantern is a tall blood red candle, that burns eternal. The candle isn’t regular, it has large bumps all onlong its length, eacalong their own individual burning wick. The lantern is opened by means of a brass handle, one side of its hexagonal body rotates opens.
The curse of the lantern is that it contains souls (each soul represented by a wick). When it is opened, these souls take physical form and fight alongside Thoral. The souls within the lantern do not realize that they are imprisoned, as far as they know they are just fighting a neverending onslaught of attackers.
The lantern has two ways of aquiring new souls, contact with the lantern will drain its victims soul into the lantern, especially while it is opened.
The alternate, unplanned way (even by the Lich’s who created the device) is to be resurrected by a cleric that came from the lantern, the soul will be channeled through the lantern but become stuck there. Most of its prisoners entered the lantern is this way. A doomed cleric resurrects a fallen comrade, who becomes stuck in the lantern as part of the curse. Even being healed by a doomed cleric will put non-spirits into a temporary dazed state.
The holder of the lantern is seen as the leader of the party to the imprisoned souls. Additionally the lantern holder will see the spirits for what they are, transparent ghosts illuminated by the lantern. People around the lantern holder will see the ghosts as fully opaque warriors.
History of Latern
The lantern was created by necromancer lords in times long forgotten. It was used in conjunction with necromancer magic to contain the souls of slain enemies.
As the necromancer rulers succumbed to rivalries the lantern was lost and it became a forgotten treasure in a Lich’s horde.
With later ages, as the world freed itself from the grasp of the ancient undead lords, the lantern was rescued from the black lands and found its way into the hands of adventurers. Although its mechanisms were unknown, it became widely known , in jest, that the lantern was an “Army in a bottle”. However it still retained some mystery, as it was often found abandoned (In truth, its owner was killed and resurrected by a lamp cleric, thus sucking the owner into the curse).
The most recent finder was by a scout named Rikosan, who recruited a barbarian named Thoral. Rikosan has became quite the hero in his parts by besting the orcs tribes and clearing the swamp of ogres. Rikosan recently acquired the kings written permission to challenge the Lich Fritzarrn. The King prays for his rapid success.
The straight dope
I’ve tried to present the character with enough clues so that his background is quite apparent. However I don’t want to leave anyone guessing. Here is what happened:
- Rikosan finds lantern.
- Rikosan recruits Thoral (still Human)
- Thoral is killed by Ogres, Danker resurrects him
- Thoral is now trapt in the lantern
- Rikosan continues the quest.
- Rikosan defeats the Hydra with the warriors in lamp
- Rikosan encounters the Lich
- Rikosan dies.
- Danker revives Rikosan, Rikosan is trapt in the lamp
- Thoral dies almost the same time Rikosan dies,
- Danker doesn’t have time to revive Thoral.
- With Rikosan being trapt in the lamp, no one is left controlling the lamp. The battle stops.
- The ghosts return to the lamp, except for Thoral, who is dead outside of it.
- The Lich decides to resurrect Thoral as an undead warrior.
- The Lich succeeds in pulling enough of Thoral’s spirit out of the lamp to reanimate him, but not enough to control him.
- Thoral is half undead and half dead. He takes the lamp and leaves.
- He discovers his friends in the lamp, but mistakenly thinks the Lich did it.
Thoral should seek quests that will grant him greater insight into curses, or means to obtain that knowledge. Thoral would work for an aalliegancewith a powerful necromancer (to learn about the curse), he would work for ancient texts, or for large sums of money with which to buy ancient texts.
If a PC dies, and the spirits are out, its quite possible that Danker (or another cleric in the lamp) might try to revive them. If this happens then the PC will also be stuck in the lantern.
Thoral is detested by everyone who sees him. He was never very friendly to begin with, and now that he looks like he got up on the wrong side of the grave, most people absolutely detest him.
Thoral is a barbarian, not by culture, but by his lawlessness and lack of discipline. He is of average intelligence, but can easily tricked. He isn’t much for strategy, preferring to frighten opponents with his grim face and the army of the latern.
Thoral has learned a little bit of magic and lore in his quest to free his friends. Most of this is in the dark arts. So Thoral might have some interesting opinions and facts about evil artifacts and spells.
Additional Ideas (1)
Rikosan just wanted to be a hero. Tales of adventure was the music of his life; but he wasn't impulsive enough to travel and opportunity never beckoned. This all changed when he found that strange lantern. It was a forest of death that day: Orcs, dozens of them lay, drenching the ground with their blood, the bodies all bore marks of terrific violence. Timidly approaching, Rikosan's focus kept returning to the lantern. He recognized it immediately, he had heard the stories sung of it. Rikosan searched the ruined grounds for any being, but finding none Rikosan took the lamp.
And this was how the Magnificent Rikosan came to protect the city of Ruundel. His secret but successful problem solving methods would have been entirely mysterious if not for the loose tongue of his single bodyguard Thoral. An inebriated Thoral once spoke of powerful allies hidden in a lantern, a truth that was not widely believed.
However the time of "Rikosan the magnificent" came to a sudden end. Rikosan boasted that he would take the fight to the Lich Fritzarrn, an ancient but preoccupied evil that dwelled in the northern plains. He was given by the king a letter of passage, and promised a duchy upon his successful return. He rode off on a clear morning and was never heard from again.
In time a ghastly figure wandered south from the mountains. This skeletal beast is rumoured to attack wanderers at night, and carries Rikosan's magic lantern.
"Being the tenth fortnight since the departure of Rikosan,
and his absence being sorely felt.
The king, in his glory and wisdom, declares this day
The Celebration of Rikosan.
Be wary citizen!
In Rikosan's folly a horrible animation has arison
with the stolen property of our late hero.
This beast is to be given no quarter and
permitted no ear. Let us honour our
hero with the death of this antagonist."
Rikosan is in his late thirtys. He is tall but lean, and his crown is bald from age, but he still has wisps of long white hair. He has an excellent speaking voice and can instill courage and hope with his speeches.
His clothes are usually unadorned with trumpery, Rikosan being a pragmatic and comfortable man. He was last seen clothed in his woodsman suit, with a small hatchet and pack of supplies.