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Karitamen

Karitamen the Death Scarab, the Liche Lord

Karitamen is not an ordinary Liche, nor really an ordinary anything. He was a soldier and warrior but discovered a love for research. He was a sorcerer who enjoyed combat and who had reasons other than personal gain behind his studies. He was a king who was willing to sacrifice his popularity in exchange for his people’s long-term survival. All his life, Karitamen was more complicated than the people around him realised. Death and unlife have not changed that.[1a]

When he first awakened, Karitamen did not know the how or why of his restoration. Since his recent resuscitation, however, he has pieced together what happened. He knows of Nagash’s curse and its affects. He also knows Alcadizaar the Conqueror finally killed Nagash. Yet, the Necromancer’s spell continues to animate him, leading Karitamen to wonder if the evil usurper was truly destroyed. Would not such a powerful Necromancer have found some way to ensure his own survival, even past death itself? Karitamen has vowed to make sure Nagash is dead and to kill the madman himself if necessary.[1a]

Now, as a Liche, Karitamen has time to consider his next move, time to plan, and time to manipulate. He can take a century or two to study a situation and devise a solution. He’s not in any hurry. If anything, his powers are growing with time, and so is the number of his minions. He can afford to wait.[1a]

In undeath, Karitamen is still interested in gaining more knowledge but concentrates less on scrolls than on people now, determined to learn the ways of the modern world and its inhabitants. He is careful, even cautious, in his strategies, and he takes an even longer view now that he is undying, yet he also recognises people’s primal needs and considers immediate concerns and desires. He still intends to protect his people and his kingdom, but now, Karitamen realises that people often do not know what is best for them. Consulting someone who has lived only a few decades on how to run a kingdom is pointless. Centuries of experience and wisdom are required to make such weighty decisions.[1e]

Appearance

In his prime, Karitamen was a tall, moderately handsome man with a dark complexion, dark hair pulled back in a warrior’s braid, intelligent eyes, strong features, and a hooked nose. All those characteristics are gone, of course. Now he is a tall, decayed creature, his wasted, shrivelled body still wrapped in rotting rune-covered bandages. Little of his face remains, and a deep, almost blood-red glow shines from within his deep eye sockets. He still moves gracefully despite being little more than bones, and his Undead form has a physical strength far beyond what he possessed in his youth.[1e]

Karitamen wears his awe-inspiring armour and helm over his bandages, with a rich purple cloth edged in gold around his waist and over his loins. In accord with Nehekharan tradition, he has a gold death mask, a perfect replica of his features as they were in his prime, and sometimes he wears this to conceal the wreck of his face. Karitamen carries the crook and flail of his office, but at his side are the twin curved swords with which he forged his career and carved out his kingdom. On his right ring finger is a massive gold ring set with a single large ruby. Other jewellery adorns his hands, throat, waist, arms, and legs.[1e]

The helmet has a peaked top and wings that sweep down on either side to protect the cheeks and jaw. Protective runes are carved around the edges, which are gold and have small ruby studs. The rest of the helm is gromril enamelled to a metallic blue sheen. A sun pattern radiates from the central point, which has a small golden spike. Set above the brow is a large black onyx scarab. The helm’s interior is leather covered with a layer of red silk.[1e]

Karitamen’s distinctive gromril armour is layered with silk, leather, and bronze. The bronze has been enamelled a deep metallic blue with gold relief. The sun, moon, stars, and sacred river ring the breastplate, proclaiming its owner a master of the elements and a significant figure in Nehekharan culture. An ankh, symbol of eternal life, covers the abdomen, a ruby set at its crossbars. A blue-banded hawk with golden eyes perches on the left shoulder, its wings stretching across chest and back—this is the God Phakth, God of Justice, protecting the wearer as long as his cause is righteous. The vambraces and greaves have a matching feather pattern to extend the God’s protection to the limbs. Leather straps with gold buckles fasten the armour.[1e][1f]

Personality

Karitamen also enjoys scholarship, particularly arcane research. Though his principle reason for studying magic was first to perfect his martial conquests and then to protect his kingdom, he developed a love for studying and learning new magic and a desire to master more of the arcane arts. Now he has the time to study freely, and with his increased powers, he can observe Wizards, Witches, Warlocks, and many other spellcasters. He can learn from a thousand different teachers, and it does not matter if it takes him a hundred years to master a single spell. The one goal many spellcasters desperately hope to meet, a way to stave off death indefinitely, is something Karitamen already possesses.[1a]

Not everything in the Liche Lord’s heart is peace and contemplation, however. He also feels the darker emotions and feeds them with memories of past injustice. He still has the dagger that killed him, and he still wants revenge against those who murdered and imprisoned him. All descendants of the original cabal are long since dead, of course, killed by Karitamen’s magic shortly after he regained consciousness. But he considers the current princes spiritual descendants of those traitorous nobles, since they too have usurped his lands. Thus he wants more than to just remove the princes—he wants to kill them. And, after all these years of torment, he wants them to suffer.[1a][1b]

The other beings Karitamen hates are the spawns of Chaos. He encountered several Chaos creatures during his tenure as king and considers them truly evil in a way nothing Human could ever approach. Orcs and Goblins are monstrous, yes, but at least they are mortal and of this world—they are unpleasant, ugly, and nasty but natural. Chaos creatures have no such redeeming feature. They are from beyond this world and should never exist here. Their very presence warps the world around them. Karitamen hated those of Chaos from the first moment he encountered them, and though he never made an official vow, he has done his utmost to rid the world of Chaos wherever he found it. That conviction has not wavered—if anything, becoming Undead has strengthened his resolve to block Chaos from the world. The Undead are bad enough, but they were at least once normal living beings. Karitamen does not wish to see anything worse in the world.[1b]

Goals

But what is it Karitamen wants? He has several goals, many of them held over from his life and reign.[1b]

First and foremost, he wants to restore his kingdom to its former glory. He wants to wipe these petty princes off his lands, erase their very memory from the dirt and stone, and recreate his kingdom. The first decade or two as king, Karitamen did a good job. His people were happy and multiplied. Their farms prospered, their towns expanded, their reputation spread. His obsession with eternal life rose from those years and from his desire to preserve them forever. He lost his people because he wanted to save them. Now he is more determined than ever to help them. And now that he has achieved eternal life, albeit not the variety he had sought, he will not have to worry about leaving them with an inferior successor. He can rule his kingdom for all eternity, making sure his people are happy, prosperous, and protected. It does not matter that few of the people living in the region today have any Nehekharan blood in them. They are on his lands and are, therefore, his people. They just don’t know it yet.[1b]

Of course, his former domain is only a beginning. Karitamen is Nehekharan to the core, and he still bears a powerful loyalty to his native land. He knows his empire has perished and nought remains of gloried Khemri but hollow, ruined halls and a few ghost stories. But he still exists, a Nehekharan king related to the line of Khemri, to Settra himself. He, Karitamen, is still of royal blood. If no one else steps forth to restore Nehekhara to her former glory, he will take up the task. After his kingdom is restored, he will reclaim all the lands of Amenemhetum the Great. Then he will sweep back across the seas and over the mountains, conquering as he marches, until Nehekhara rises once more! And he will sit upon its golden throne and look out upon the land and know his ancestors smile down upon him.[1b]

Developments

The fact that two Chaos artefacts have been placed within his tomb, without his knowledge and against his will, makes Karitamen furious. He would happily remove the items except he cannot touch the one and knows the havoc that could be caused by the other. So the great Death Scarab is forced to play guardian for an object he would gladly destroy. The man who brought at least one of those Chaos relics into his tomb died almost immediately and now serves as one of Karitamen’s warriors, but of course he was merely a pawn. Karitamen knows there was another behind the intrusion, and he suspects it was a Daemon, perhaps even one of the Chaos Gods. He is still trying to find out who was ultimately responsible. Once he does, Karitamen intends to make that someone pay, no matter who he is.[1b]

His desire to thwart Chaos whenever possible and his intention to protect his lands combine over the town of Vitrolle. Karitamen has seen behind those fortified walls and into those caverns and knows what horrors lurk there. He intends to raze that town and wipe every trace of its inhabitants and their atrocities from the land.[1b]

But not everything about the town and its Cult has to go. Karitamen has also seen their rituals in the cavern and the statue around which their worship revolves. He recognises the Warpstone in the jade sceptre. Karitamen knows the stone is dangerous and filled with Chaos, but it is also a source of immense power. With that Warpstone, he could destroy the wards on his burial chamber and be free once more to enter the outside world. Taking the stone would also be a heavy blow against Chaos and would provide Karitamen with a mighty tool toward reclaiming his old domain and extending his borders.[1c]

Even if he cannot get that Warpstone, there are other ways to escape or break the wards. Karitamen is constantly seeking out explorers and tomb robbers who might prove useful. These he manipulates into finding and entering his tomb. Thus far, none have survived long enough to reach his burial chamber. But Karitamen is patient and keeps trying. Someday, someone will destroy the door with its mystic guardian and destroy, or at least remove, that accursed amulet. Then Karitamen the Death Scarab will leave his tomb and begin his conquest of the modern world.[1c]

Karitamen has been awake again for the past three or four years. And he has not been idle during that time.[1c]

At first, he was content to watch and observe. He studied the surrounding mountains with his magic, and then he turned his mystic sight upon the lands below. Karitamen mapped out the Border Princes, marking the presence of each village and town, and he watched each place in turn, learning its hierarchies and its assets—and its weaknesses.[1c]

In particular, he watched the princes. Only three ruled within the heart of his former lands: Levrellian, Haflok, and Fatandira. Of them, Haflok was the noblest and the strongest combatant, but the Sigmarite knight is also extremely narrow-minded, traditional, and almost laughably naive. Levrellian is the cleverest, particularly at bargaining, binding, confusing, and circumventing. He has the least morals of the three princes and yet may understand leadership, particularly governance, better than either of his neighbours. Fatandira is honourable but not inflexible, strong but not overwhelming, intelligent but not too haughty. She is willing to fight when she must but takes other options if they lead to a better outcome. Though fiercely proud, she will set her own pride aside to help her people. Karitamen finds her the most likeable of the three and wishes she were not a usurper on his lands, for otherwise he would offer her a place in his service. But she claims part of his domain and therefore must pay the penalty.[1c]

After thinking carefully, Karitamen decided Haflok was the easiest prince to manipulate. The Liche Lord’s powers let him read surface thoughts but also enabled him to project thoughts and images. Using these skills, Karitamen appeared in Haflok’s dream in the guise of another former king: Sigmar. He gave Haflok orders, and the zealous prince eagerly accepted them.[1c]

Since that time, Karitamen has been careful not to appear too many times or demand too much. He knows even Haflok might get suspicious if his God told him to kill the other princes, for example. But ridding the land of Greenskins is something the knight would do anyway, and Karitamen-as-Sigmar encourages that mission. Better to have Haflok handle such vermin than to send his own Skeleton Soldiers to handle the problem.[1c]

Karitamen has another mission for Haflok, though it also follows the Sigmarite’s own preferences. The Liche Lord has decided he has suffered a host of Chaos Cultists on his lands for long enough. He has appeared in Haflok’s dreams and charged the knight with destroying the town of Vitrolle and killing the crazed Cultists inside. He has also warned Haflok about the caverns below, and right before the final assault, Karitamen plans to tell Haflok to take the stone from the jade sceptre and send it high into the mountains. From there one of Karitamen’s warriors can retrieve it for him.[1c]

Of course, just because Haflok is the most easily swayed does not mean he is the only prince Karitamen is influencing. The Liche Lord has appeared in both Levrellian and Fatandira’s dreams, though he is more subtle with them because they have sharper minds and are more likely to realise they have been manipulated. To avoid this, Karitamen has also used outside sources. He sent a dream to one of Fatandira’s soldiers, showing the town of Vitrolle and the cavern beneath, focusing upon the golden statue and its massive jade sceptre. The soldier awoke with the details still fresh in his mind and ran to tell his leader at once. Fatandira was intrigued by the story and became even more interested a few days later after her own dreams began showing her the same images. Now she has decided to attack the unholy town and both rid herself of one nearby danger and claim some handsome treasure as a reward. She is particularly interested in this sceptre, which keeps appearing in her dreams, but her mental image of it shows the gleaming sceptre without an ugly piece of rock at the top.[1c]

Levrellian has proven harder to influence, directly and indirectly. At first, Karitamen was able to insert a few vague ideas into the prince’s mind, particularly when he slept. Now, however, it feels as if someone or something is blocking him from making contact. He cannot touch Levrellian’s mind at all. Karitamen has taken to inserting notions into the heads of Levrellian’s lieutenants, hoping these men will then champion those ideas to their prince. It has not worked very well so far, however, because Levrellian’s new advisor Strykssen has become the prince’s only real confidante and dismisses the other lieutenants’ ideas before Levrellian can consider them at all. The only two notions Strykssen has allowed past are the idea of attacking and destroying Vitrolle and the rumour of a hidden tomb in the mountain containing vast treasure. The advisor has actually encouraged pursuing both of these ideas, which pleases Karitamen but worries him at the same time.[1c]

The other place Karitamen has no sway is Vitrolle. He can see into the town, though not easily and only for a few seconds at a time. The Cultists’ minds are completely closed to him, shielded by their willing submission to Chaos and the warping touch of their God. The Liche Lord has ridden the senses of travellers and got a better look at the town in that way, though those who are allowed into Vitrolle are usually tortured and killed soon after, so even those visitations have been brief.[1c]

Of course, Karitamen also keeps a close eye on Mad Dog Pass, Tomb Valley, and the surrounding cliffs and peaks of the Worlds Edge Mountains. His Skeleton Soldiers patrol the heights regularly, killing any living creature that roams too close to the valley and the tomb entrance. Most of their victims are left to rot among the stones, but if close enough (and intact enough), the Skeletons may drag the bodies back for reanimation. When Karitamen spies a particularly interesting group of explorers, he will actually call off his warriors, deliberately allowing the tomb raiders to approach and even enter his tomb. He does not deactivate any of the tomb’s defences, however, because he wants to see if the explorers can handle themselves without coddling. Anyone allowed into the tomb is certainly eligible for reanimation after their demise.[1c][1d]

Karitamen watches the southern border as best he can, though it is a large expanse and at the far edge of his viewing range. He knows the Greenskins are still out there in force, and he has spied on the occasional raiding party that wanders into his domain, but he cannot focus enough to make out anything significant. Still, protecting his rightful realm against incursion is a top priority, and Karitamen is glad Haflok needs no urging to maintain vigilance in that direction.[1d]

Powers

Karitamen was a powerful sorcerer when alive and is even more powerful now. This may be because most of his magic was necromantic in nature, so becoming Undead allowed him greater contact and more intimate familiarity with death and the energies surrounding death and revival. He also has total control over his Undead followers and over the tomb and its structures.[1f]

Physically, Karitamen has become more powerful as well. He was a skilled warrior and has lost none of that prowess, but his strength is vastly superior to that of a mortal man. His speed has also increased, and though little more than a walking skeleton, his body is capable of withstanding considerable punishment. In fact, most mundane weapons can no longer harm Karitamen, though enchanted weapons still wound him.[1f]

Before his reawakening, Karitamen had learned to look upon others, seeing them from a distance through a mirror or a pool of water. Now his control and range have increased, and he does not need props or reflective surfaces. Karitamen can partially read a subject’s mind, at least picking out surface thoughts and reading mood. Because he was always a shrewd judge of character, the Liche Lord can use his mind reading to understand and anticipate anyone he faces.[1g]

Karitamen does not care for spectacle and can set aside his pride in favour of tactics. Thus, he is difficult to deceive but often easy to predict. Karitamen has no compunction about summoning minions to handle foes, and he will call forth as many Undead fighters as possible. Preferring to slaughter intruders with honest steel (or bronze), he wades into combat in a flurry of attacks from his khopesh or flail. Though a talented Necromancer, he refrains from using magic unless he’s outmatched. He favours hand of dust, destroying the closest foes and using face of death to scatter the rest. Once the balance is restored, he returns to hand-to-hand combat.[1g]

One of the powers Karitamen uses frequently is his ability to raise the dead. Thanks to his mastery of the Lore of Necromancy, he possesses the means and knowledge to animate the corpses of those who dare intrude his lair. He can choose whether to raise someone as a mere Zombie. He can even raise someone with all thoughts, memories, and personality traits intact, so that the newly reanimated individual looks and sounds as if he were still alive (though they are still a Zombie). This is particularly useful with someone who has died recently, as the body will still look normal except for pallor, eye colour, and any visible wounds.[1g]

Karitamen’s power is not limited to restoring life to the dead. He can reverse the process, taking away the power that animates his servants and returning them to the natural order. He can “kill” his Undead soldiers at any time, and he can target which Undead to release, from one to all of his followers. Proximity is not a concern—Karitamen’s own energies are tied to each of his servants, and he can sense their presence and control their activities no matter where they are. This means Karitamen can raise a recently dead intruder, send him (or her) to do his bidding, and then have the individual collapse again after completing a particular mission, preventing anyone from realising what happened.[1g]

Because of his link to his servants, Karitamen can also see through their eyes and hear through their ears merely by concentrating on the Undead in question. With more concentration, he can speak through that servant’s mouth, though the words may be garbled slightly. He can also control their actions, though the farther away the servant is and the more complex the action the more difficult it becomes for him to maintain control. Fortunately, most of Karitamen’s servants are utterly obedient because they were reanimated without enough intelligence and willpower to resist his aura of command. Only Tetrahon questions him and acts independently, though when Karitamen raises recent dead and allows them much of their former selves, he has to be very careful lest he give them too much awareness and make them difficult to control.[1g]

Limitations

Karitamen is powerful, both physically and magically. He has unlimited time and extensive resources, both in wealth and in manpower. Why, then, has he not taken back his kingdom yet?[1d]

Several things have prevented him from fulfilling his plans already. The first is his desire to get everything right. Karitamen is a tactician and sees no reason to sweep the princes with brute force when a more elegant solution could provide the same outcome but with less violence, fewer deaths, and more subtlety. The fact that these other solutions take considerably longer is not a concern, since he is in no hurry.[1d]

The second element slowing Karitamen is his antiquity. His life was millennia ago, and though people have not changed much in their base natures, the surface details have certainly been altered over the years. As a war leader and a king, Karitamen knows the importance of studying your foes and being able to anticipate them. He did not recognize the local leaders’ language, clothing, weaponry, or fighting styles when he first regained consciousness, and so the Liche Lord has spent the past few years watching and learning. Now he feels he has a better grasp on the situation and the players involved, and though he would not mind additional time, he is comfortable enough to set several of his plans in motion.[1d]

The third stumbling block is magical interference, particularly from Chaos. Karitamen can sense the power settled over Vitrolle, as well as a more concentrated power close to Levrellian. He knows these forces could block his own magic, and thus, he needs to be cautious. So far, Chaos has not shown much interest in his plans and has not actively opposed him, but that could change once Karitamen reveals himself and exerts his full power. He has to be ready to defend against any opposition and prepared to crush any magical opponents quickly.[1d]

The greatest problem for Karitamen, however, is his current imprisonment. It is difficult to direct a battle from the sidelines, even if you can clearly see the field. Karitamen needs to be free of his tomb, free to lead his warriors into battle, free to confront foes and pawns directly and cloud their minds at close range. He cannot do any of that while he is trapped within his own burial chamber.[1d]

Several things hold Karitamen in place. The first is psychological. Karitamen was not a vain man, but he did appreciate the value of a strong face and a fit body. He had counted on being reborn into a perfect body, or at least having his own perfectly preserved, so that he would be able to walk among his people and inspire them with his presence. That did not occur. Instead he is hideous, a rotted corpse that walks and talks. His appearance would rouse horror in people, not reverence, not awe. Even with his death mask in place, Karitamen knows the living can tell something is amiss. He is hesitant about leaving his refuge, even once he can, simply because he fears the living’s reaction to him and the impact their terror might have upon his plans.[1d]

Right now, however, the question of whether to leave the tomb is out of Karitamen’s hands. He is trapped within his burial chamber by two powerful forces. The first is the Nehekharan wards that were placed upon the chamber doors, focused through the image and symbol of Asaph, Goddess of Magic. These wards specifically prevent Karitamen from passing those barriers. When he first saw them, he thought they might bar the doors against all Undead, but felt it was not worth the risk to test that theory. Later, however, he ordered one of his skeletal servants to enter the burial chamber, reasoning losing a near-mindless minion was worth the risk. The servant was able to enter and exit without difficulty, revealing the barrier was meant for Karitamen alone. And because it was empowered by the same Nehekharan magic Karitamen himself uses, he has been unable to counter the wards, nor have any of his servants been able to deface or remove the wards or images.[1d]

In recent years, however, a second powerful barrier was erected, and this barrier is proof against all Undead. It is a Chaos barrier, centred on the Amulet of Shesh placed above the burial chamber’s outer door. This mystic barrier prevents any Undead from passing through or even close to the door. The Amulet’s field only extends to the one door, meaning other Undead can still enter and exit the burial chamber through other routes. Karitamen, however, is doubly trapped. He would need someone to remove the amulet first and then deface, or simply remove, one or both doors before he could enter the other rooms of the tomb, much less exit the tomb altogether. Karitamen’s influence over both travellers and the Border Princes has grown, however. He has lured several adventurers into the tomb already, though none of them were skilled enough to reach his burial chamber and thus were unable to help him shatter the boundaries of his prison. It is only a matter of time, however, before Karitamen finds a band of explorers hardy enough to reach him and strong enough to breach the wards on his behalf. Or perhaps he will finally discover a spell that can shield one of his servants long enough to remove the amulet, or a way to deface the doors and rid them of their protective glyphs. Either way, it cannot be long before the Liche Lord finds a way to tear down the forces holding him at bay. Then the Death Scarab will once again be free to roam the land and rain death and destruction down upon his foes.[1d]

Possessions

Everything in the tomb belongs to Karitamen, of course, including the servants and warriors and, through them, all of their possessions. Most of those items and furnishings (and individuals) he is content to leave in their previously selected locations. He does carry his own personal items, however, specifically those that were placed on his person during the burial ritual.[1g]

Undead vs. Evil

Karitamen is a Liche, an Undead creature. His body and mind have been preserved past their natural end, his spirit forced to remain within a rotted shell. He draws strength from misery, from pain, and especially from blood. The deaths of others make him stronger, and he reanimates the recently dead to serve him.[1b]

But is he truly evil? Certainly he is a menace, especially to those in his way. Karitamen was always ruthless, and being dead has only made him less concerned for others’ lives. He will slaughter a dozen people without remorse if it will further any of his goals. But so would many others. Are they evil too?[1b]

Karitamen’s existence is cursed by definition—he was brought to unlife by a powerful necromantic curse. But he was restored with his full intellect and personality. If his consciousness had been transferred into a beautiful golden statue, would he still be considered an abomination?[1b]

The Death Scarab does hunger for revenge, certainly. And he plots to kill the region’s current rulers and take their place. But those are normal Human emotions, and many men have had the same goals. And Karitamen’s larger goals are not necessarily evil. They are not malevolent, certainly. He is not eager to cause pain (except to those he feels wronged him). He does not want to kill everyone. He wants to rule them, to unite them, to protect them, and make them happy. How is that evil?[1b]

Most people assume Undead are mindless, soulless creatures who want nothing more than to destroy all life around them and who attack savagely, fuelled by rage and dark magic. Except for dark magic and the rage, none of that describes Karitamen. He does not fit the standard image, and he should not be treated as if he did. Adventurers may find themselves agreeing with Karitamen’s goals, even liking him if they meet under civil terms. What could be more surprising, and in its own quiet way more chilling, than to encounter a Liche and discover he is the sympathetic one in the situation?[1b]

Source

  • 1: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Lure of the Liche Lord
    • 1a: pg. 25
    • 1b: pg. 26
    • 1c: pg. 27
    • 1d: pg. 28
    • 1e: pg. 91
    • 1f: pg. 92
    • 1g: pg. 93

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