One of the founders of our hobby and one of the most unsung contributors to Dungeons & Dragons, Len Lakofka has passed away at the age of 76.
Along with the many adventures, classes, spells, and rules he created, Len was also father of the Suel in Greyhawk, designer of their gods, and namesake of the Lendore Isles.
The value of his work goes without saying, but his presence will be sorely missed. The adventures of Leomund go on.
I'd be happy to elaborate. Recently in published history (last 10 years in the timeline) two major evil ploys can be pointed to that nearly end the status quo in the Flanaess. Vecna nearly becomes a full god and would've run rampant on Oerth and Iuz's empire was checked by Good at the height of a continental war. Both are undead-demonic in nature meaning either all life would be turned, devoured or corrupted in the long run.
If you add in Paizohawk, Kyuss nearly ended the Flanaess with a plague of worms that turn everyone into undead, and Demogorgon tried to inflict madness and demonic corruption upon the continent. Again, undead and demonic events.
Now would these privately powerful liches (most being neutral) sit by and watch Good fail and die out? Maybe. But the smart ones who have been around long enough to see the Twin Cataclysms might realize that wholesale destruction is bad for good and Evil business. Their own machinations, be it conquest or just freedom to be left alone to their projects would eventually be affected by a despotic demigod or a deific overlich.
That is why they feel Istus might be not be on Good's side forever so being immortal and farsighted, they have a secret alliance to stop a rising evil that conflicts with their own ambition before it gets too big a threat. So while they might not have Good intentions, their enemy might be common to Good's so that makes them a good alternative benefactor to hire adventuring groups. Do they care about evil cults running around in Greyhawk, no, but if their goal turns out to be freeing Tharizdun on the world, even the liches will care about that.
We played with Dahlvier quite a bit during the last years of Living Greyhawk. We had him actively working against Iuzian interests near the Fellreev Forest; in addition, he was actively trying to help PCs recapture That Which Slept (epic dragon aspect of Tharizdun we created) before it could destroy the Northern Reaches. We had him helping to rebuild the Horned Society so that he could control it, iirc. Below is a partial stat block Britt had for him for a year 5 BK interactive; as Dahlvier wasn't a combat opponent, he may have never finished it:
NOT FINISHED DON’T PRINT Appendix One – All EPLs
Dahlvier: male lich Wiz5/Clr3/Mystic Theurge 10/Archmage 2; CR 22; medium undead (augmented humanoid); HD 20d12; hp 140; Init +2; Spd 30 ft., fly 60 ft. (good); AC 41 (touch 22, flat-footed 39) [+9 armor, +5 deflection, +2 Dex, +1 insight, +10 natural, +4 shield]; BA/G +10/+11; Atk +xx melee (1dx+x, x) or +xx ranged (spell effect, ranged touch spell); Full Att +xx/+xx melee (1dx+x, xxxxx); SA xx; SQ xxx; AL NE.
SV Fort +15, Ref +27, Will +36.
Str 12, Dex 14, Con -, Int 34, Wis 34, Cha 30.
Skills and Feats: Concentration +x, Knowledge (arcana) +x, Knowledge (history) +x, Knowledge (religion) +x, Knowledge (the planes) +x, Listen +x, Spellcraft +x, Spot +x; Craft Wondrous Item, Insightful ReflexesCV, Practiced Spellcaster (2), Sanctify RelicCD, Scribe Scroll, Skill Focus (spellcraft), Spell Focus (divination), Spell Focus (necromancy), True BelieverCD.
Languages: Ancient Flan, Common
Mastery of Counterspelling (Su):
Mastery of Shaping (Su):
Possessions: amulet of natural armor +5, amulet of the planes, belt of magnificence +6MH, boots of the mountain kingAEG, casting glove x2 DMG2, cloak of displacement (minor), Dyrr’s impervious vestmentCA, greater metamagic rod of quicken, greater metamagic rod of maximize, greater metamagic rod of silent spell, greater metamagic rod of still spell, greater metamagic rod of subdual substitution, helm of Dar’kesh Anam, ioun stones (dusty rose, orange, pale green), orb of dragonkind (silver), pearls of power (1st x10, 2nd x7, 3rd x5, 4th x3, 5th x3, 6th x2, 7th x2, 8th, 9th), planar ring gatesPH, portable hole, ring of positive protectionPH, ring of shooting stars, ring of spell-battleCA, rod of reversalCD, stone of good luck, sword of Dar’kesh Anam, talisman of the sphere, tome of ancient loreCD, vest of protection +5CA.
Cleric Spells Prepared [18th level caster] (6/8+1/8+1/7+1/7+1/5+1/4+1/3+1; base DC = 22 + spell level): 0—detect magic, disrupt undead (2), prestidigitation; 1st—alarm, chill touch, detect undead, magic missile, protection from evil; 2nd—glitterdust, resist energy (2), scorching ray, see invisibility; 3rd—dispel magic, fireball, halt undead, lightning bolt, tongues; 4th—dimension door (2), fire shield, ice storm, 5th—cloudkill, cone of cold, wall of force; 6th—chain lightning, eyebite, greater dispel magic; 7th—Mordenkainen’s sword, waves of exhaustion.
Wizard Spells Prepared [21st level caster] (4/7/7/7/7/6/5/4/4/2; base DC = 22 + spell level): 0—xxx, xxx, xxx, xxx; 1st—xxx, xxx, xxx, xxx, xxx, xxx, xxx; 2nd—xxx, xxx, xxx, xxx, xxx, xxx, xxx; 3rd—xxx, xxx, xxx, xxx, xxx, xxx, xxx; 4th—xxx, xxx, xxx, xxx, xxx, xxx, xxx; 5th—xxx, xxx, xxx, xxx, xxx, xxx; 6th—contingency, xxx, greater dispel magic, xxx, xxx; 7th—xxx, xxx, xxx, spell turning; 8th—xxx, xxx, mind blank, moment of prescience; 9th—frostfell, xxx.
This was Britt's take on tying Dar'kesh Anam to Nerull's Bane, the Mage-Priests, etc., for Living Greyhawk. For some reason, Britt and some of the Dyvers people had become interested in Molaho Khem after a short article in the LGJ. If I recall correctly, I believed they had gotten some details conflated or confused.
Background for BDK5i-07 Dawn's End", BKConQueso 2005 Interactive wrote:
Ancient History: Tens of thousands of years ago, the predecessors of the Ur-Flan were expanding their demesne from the Isles of Woe in the Nyr Dyv. The mage-priests built a city in what is now known as the Fellreev forest. This city, Dar’kesh Anam, prospered for several years before tragedy struck.
The mage-priests’ prosperity was due in large part to their skills in magical research. Their discoveries allowed them to defend themselves, defeat their enemies, and greatly increase their standard of living. Unfortunately, the mage-priests did not know when to stop; eventually, their experiments extended into dangerous realms. One of the first of these dangerous experiments was conducted in Dar’kesh Anam, the consequences of which eventually caused the end of the mage-priests’ civilization.
This research was ordered by the mage-priests of the Isles, headed by Tzunk, and conducted by the now-lich Dahlvier. The experiment in Dar’kesh Anam opened a rift to another, unknown plane. This plane was the home to a very hostile race of creatures that soon learned of the opening and moved to take advantage of it. The ensuing war lasted over a dozen years, costing the lives of many of the human defenders. The mage-priests of Dar’kesh Anam, under the leadership of Dahlvier, developed many interesting magical effects to help in their defenses, finding ways to increase the size and strength of their warriors, imbuing the city with a constant, low level of positive energy to help heal their warriors, and placing a permanent gentle repose over the city to aid in raising the deceased, among other magic; however, these effects did not prove to be enough.
The mage-priests eventually realized that they were fighting a losing war of attrition and had to take drastic steps to keep these invaders from spreading throughout the Flaeness. The mage-priests of the Isles worked feverishly to develop a way of stopping the invasion. Dahlvier was blamed by the leadership of the Isles for the tragic mistake and a team of mage-priests, headed by Tzunk, was sent to solve the problem.
Dahlvier had lost many friends and most of his family in the long war. He already felt some guilt over these losses, as he was in charge of the research in Dar’kesh Anam. Being publicly blamed, however, did more than fuel Dahlvier’s guilt; it caused him to become extremely bitter towards the leadership on the Isles, particularly Tzunk. After all, Tzunk was the one who had ordered him to perform the experiments in the first place, and now he was riding in to save the day? To make matters worse, the ‘solution’ proposed by Tzunk was very unorthodox.
The mage-priests, working together and using the help of the Codex of Infinite Planes, would seal Dar’kesh Anam away from the Prime Material Plane. The city would be cast into a demi-plane and placed in a perpetual form of time stop. Casting the city into a demi-plane was intended to sever the connection to both the aliens’ plane and the Prime, while the time stop was intended to cost the problem into the far distant future, assuming anything went wrong with the magic.
One heavily-warded gate to the Prime would be left, allowing Tzunk and his companions to leave the city, Tzunk taking the information about the original experiment back with him to the Isles of Woe. Two surviving defenders of Dar’kesh Anam would stay as living guardians to the city’s secrets. The Watchers, as they were known, allowed themselves to be sealed away with the city, willing prisoners frozen in time.
Dahlvier felt that this solution was a disgrace, that it would be abandoning the city he loved and the bodies of his loved ones. He argued that the combination of magic in the city would create unknown and undesirable effects (and he was right). Finally, he was vehemently opposed to a critical part of the magical ritual. A great amount of magic was needed to perform the ritual, more magic than the mage-priests could summon on their own. Their answer was the draining of the life force of a potent magical creature. A powerful silver dragon, Vorelornir, a native to the area around Dar’kesh Anam, volunteered himself to be sacrificed, reasoning that his life was not as valuable as protecting the entire Oerth from this invasion. Dahlvier thought otherwise.
Dahlvier railed against the mage-priests and their ideas, enticing others to resist their plan and join him in the continued defense of the city. His meddling finally becoming too disruptive, Tzunk banished Dahlvier from the city, placing him in a temporal stasis southwest of Dar’kesh Anam. The ritual was completed, as planned, and Dar’kesh Anam was cast off into its demi-plane.
Within a generation of the fall of Dar’kesh Anam, the mage-priests’ civilization had been destroyed (see the Ether Threat series). The remnants of their civilization scattered, joining other young civilizations and races. The stories of Dar’kesh Anam became folk lore, the secrets to entering the city from the Prime being lost in the mysteries of myths.
Dahlvier was lost and forgotten as well, a statue in middle of a field. A forest eventually grew around him, hiding him further. Many centuries had passed when Dahlvier was finally found by someone that was able to see what he really was. A young Ur-Flan mage freed Dahlvier from his slumber, awakening him to a world completely changed. His city had been cast away, the gate to its prison lost to him. Formerly a good man that had made a few mistakes, Dahlvier’s anger and bitterness got the better of him. He began studying the ways of the Ur-Flan, combining their knowledge with that of the mage-priests of the Isles of Woe.
As the years passed, Dahlvier realized his life would end without a chance to correct anything that had gone wrong in Dar’kesh Anam. Using Ur-Flan magic, Dahlvier found a way to prolong his ‘life’ indefinitely, as a lich. In his new, undead form, Dahlvier setup a home in the forest. He decided to bide his time, researching the magic that bound the city and what went wrong with his original research. He carefully warded his home with powerful magic and kept to himself for many thousands of years. Dahlvier only left his keep to procure powerful artifacts or confer with beings that might be able to help him in his goals. And so, Dahlvier, like Dar’kesh Anam, faded from the picture, becoming a story.
Thousands of years after the fall of Dar’kesh Anam, the ancestors of the Rovers of the Barrens, relying on their folk lore, found the entrance to the city. By this time, the true story of Dar’kesh Anam had been lost; all these tribesmen knew was that they had found the fabled city. After some exploration, the Flan realized that the dead interred in the city seemed to remain preserved. Thinking the city was intended to be an honored home for the dead, a gift from Beory, the goddess they now worshipped, the Flan began interring all their honored dead in Dar’kesh Anam. The Watchers, seeing that the new visitors intended no harm to the city or the magic, allowed the Flan to explore the city unmolested.
The combination of magic cast upon the city created an interesting effect that angered Nerull. When the recently dead were placed in Dar’kesh Anam, the magic of the city pulled the soul of the recently dead partially back to the body. While not bringing the dead back to life, it did keep their soul from passing on to the Reaper. The dead were placed in a sort of Limbo, not dead, not undead, and not alive. This kept Nerull from reaping the souls or from raising the bodies as undead.
Nerull found that the easiest solution was to have his minions on the Prime kill the leaders of the tribe that knew the secrets of Nerull’s Bane, thus causing the city to pass into obscurity once again.
Recent History: Two years ago, Dahlvier located the city through the Ethereal, but could not locate the physical gate in the Prime Material Plane. He began a lengthy campaign to attack the city with his undead minions, utilizing his allies in what is now the Western Reaches. Dahlvier, a former member of the Horned Society, has worked out an elaborate scheme to take over the city. The only piece he lacked was a way to easily get solid bodies into the city to defeat the Watchers.
Four months ago, an expedition, launched in secret by a follower of Nerull, went in search of the lost city, based on ancient texts found in the library of Wormhall. The group, using research discovered by the expedition leader, found the location of the gate, activated it, and entered the city.
Members of the expedition began looting the city, inciting the guardians and the Watcher to wipe out these intruders, but two of the expedition managed to escape; one of them even took a body with him. This strengthened the previously faint connection to the city from the Prime. The city’s guardians were unaware that the gate had been opened, and worse, that it stayed active. Combined with the missing body, it is slowly pulling the demi-plane back to the Prime.
The events of the premiere of BDK5-06 will affect what has happened in the weeks leading up to this interactive.
Current Lore: There remain rumors passed among the Rovers of the Barrens about a lost city within the Fellreev. None among them recall the secrets necessary to locate the city and most believe that it was simply swallowed up by the trees. However, the Old One has heard of the city and is aware of the unique nature of its inhabitants. Although he has not located the means of accessing the city, his servants are searching for the necessary clues to bring forth the mists and enter the city to lay claim to its ancient secrets. The Death Cultists and their allies in the Western Reaches have uncovered some secrets about Nerull’s Bane in the library of Wormhall.
Divinations about Nerull’s Bane: Dar’kesh Anam has been hidden, until recently, with the help of powerful magic that masked all divination spells around it. Now the only divinations that are blocked are those that reveal the location of Nerull’s Bane.
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