Inspired by this post. I wanted this to be a small post but I got inspired so fuck it.
Avrendus the Black-robe, Great Necromancer, Goldenhair, The Tall Man, Markhands
Terror of the days around the raising of the Ward, whose name is synonymous with necromancy. The image of the black hooded robe with the voluminous sleeves, the evil-wizard-classic, is his. Whatever method of lichdom he used, it was one with a lot of staying power. The Church of the Maker records killing him nine times, each more drastic and less effective than the last. He used to have fun by deliberately allowing “heroes” to arise, in order to end his reign of terror - for a weekend’s light sport. Vanished in the general conflagration of the Wizards’ War.
Domain - Wherever he went, truthfully, but people associate him closely with the Kingdom of Cantos (whose necromantic ways he fostered) and the dismal, heretic-filled port of Cilano (where he resided quite openly for a few decades, in a well-lit house on Candle Street).
Army - Across the western reaches of the continent of Corelia, massive caches of silent, armed, loyal undead sit buried in sepulchres in remote locations. They are waiting for an order from the Tall Man - as an aside, he didn’t kill a single one of them. Mostly, they were war dead. Avrendus was a bad man who lived in worse times.
Castle - The Tower of Healing, a many-floored ruin of pristine white stone in western Cantos, surrounded by an elaborate topiary garden and hidden away inside a steep-sided valley. Streams and waterfalls cascade down into its grounds. It’s rumoured Avrendus’ final experiments into divinity itself took place here.
Monster - Dancing Dead, Spectres, Crawling Claws
Spell - Horrid Wilting, Danse Macabre, Ambulate Piecemeal (body parts detach but retain animation and function), Runaway Mutation.
Uithrunn, Empress of Heaven and Earth, Chosen Daughter of the Great Tree
One of the curl-horned vadhelar (or “fire”) giants, known as violent magocratic imperialists who once ruled a sizable chunk of the world. She was the last empress of their ancient line. Once, she sat upon a high throne of orthoclase and human bones in Adh Emrhos. Famous for covering western Braan in dangerous gravity-fuckups only bypassable with a document bearing a lock of her royal hair. These are now called the Gates of Uithrunn - the most notorious is the Waterrise in Darra, which throws the Klerd River straight upwards, to explode into mist. She is said to have attempted apotheosis, the step beyond the lich - what vadhelar remain assert that she succeeded, while the Church of the Maker strenuously deny it.
Domain - The Vadhelar Empire, which once covered the entirety of central Braan. Statues of her imperious form can be seen from just south of the City of Ghosts all the way round the coast to Karus. The least are about seven feet in height, but the greatest, in the hills east of Ablantyr, towers to four hundred.
Army - The Vadhelonas Remnants, who differentiate themselves from the other vadhelar people by refusing to accept that their empire has fallen, living in aristocratic cruelty in imitation of the old ways across inner Vadhela and Akenteir. Their warriors wear plate armour with the thickness to dissuade anything shy of artillery and carry two-ton hammers even they must train to use.
Castle - Adh Emhros, a city built for giants, in the distant hinterlands of what people insistently call Darra, because “Vadhela” is a term associated with slaver-giants and being crushed to death. Emrhos’s stones are red as blood, and they say the Three-Sided Palace in the centre of the city is supported by two fallen branches of Riondari, the great Spirit Tree the Vadhelar worshipped.
Monster - Skrydurs (hairy ogre-like fellers), Malicious Boulders, Coedeni (undead giants with cursed gravity-manipulating trees growing from their heads).
Spell - Levitate, Reverse Gravity, Crush
Arkelaus, the Sermonist, Prince of Rot, the Masquerader
An elf from the doomed kingdom of Carvelia down in the Deep. He fled that place as diabolism consumed it, and travelled to the distant town of Leviathan, on the absolute edge of the Deep (already itself a place ill-travelled and full of unknowns). Whatever he found there, it changed him, and he returned with a terrible power that manifested in silvery light. He built an army of ragged mutants and poisoned undead, and ascended the Helix to the surface of the earth, killing and reanimating as he went. The first town he found, Belos, he declared his domain, then settled in to begin a long career of Reddest Necromancy. Famously, surprisingly convivial in person - almost avuncular. The people of his little town were said to have a fairly-heretical fondness for him (after a few generations, anyway), and he sometimes still appears positively in folk-songs and theatre in the area.
Domain - The little vineyard town of Belos at the western end of the Suram Marches. He shrouded the place in a sphere of permanent darkness - since blood spilled in the dark conjures hungry grues, it functioned to deter his foes’ armies from attacking him. In the bad old days of lich-kings, he was neighbours with Avrendus, and sometimes worked with him to oppose the Church.
Army - The Masques, a group of willing servants infected with carnifexes, vile, magical parasites that casually warp and reshape their host’s biology as they desire. By the spell Command Worm, the Masques keep their carnifexes dormant until the need to kill people with body-horror arises.
Castle - His Crypt - Arkelaus was both a child of the Deep and a classicist - to wit, he believed necromancers have crypts and other wizards have towers. This tomb of black stone, “kill-gates” and screaming watch-corpses was never really cleared out by the Church, despite their confident assertion of victory over Arkelaus.
Monster - Massacre Worms, Carnifexes (not his invention, but he’s responsible for propagating the parasite).
Spell - Rust, Rot Spores, Command Worm
Yvaine the Great, Deadqueen of Karus, Evoker Paramount, Red Hat
Yvaine was nineteenth in line for her throne when she attended the College of Spires in Nethelos. When she returned, as a master wizard of the School of Evocation, her ascension to the throne was sudden, violent, and very fiery. It involved the casual employment of a Fireball and a Chain Lightning at a crowded palace ball, apparently on the spur of the moment, and it saw her on the throne, and any possible rival claimant charred to a skeleton.
Yvaine’s reign saw her banishing the Church of the Maker from the land and encouraging her own Serpentist faith, breaking up the old knightly orders, shattering the power of Karus’ guild system, and legitimising many former criminals to serve as her “Midnight Government”. Yvaine was very famous for thinking on her feet. She was so good at improvisation some people accused her of prognostication. Her reign over Karus lasted until 1405, all told, a reign of nearly eight hundred years. None of her successors have paralleled her longevity - or her brutality.
Domain - Karus, a cold, rainswept kingdom noted for, these days, Serpentism, chemical study, criminal gangs, and a very aggressive and watchful branch of the Church of the Maker.
Army - Yvaine has genuine loyalists left in the hard slate hinterlands of Karus. Loyalists is an understatement - cultists might be more appropriate. Roadside shrines to the memory of Yvaine the Great are very common.
Castle - Cauldron Keep, which looms above the capital of Port Cauldron to this day. Shelled heavily by the post-Yvaine Karusian governments, the inexplicable adamant endoskeleton of the castle has kept it mostly in one piece - and still, it’s rumoured, with some treasures remaining.
Monster - The Karusian Revenue Service (ha, hah).
Spell - Scorching Rays, Incendiary Cloud, Wall of Bolts
Azhuzuur of the Shivering Ziggurat, Son of the Feast, Poisoned Lily, Tigereater
Academics argue whether Azhurzuur was technically a ghast or a lich, but tend to settle on “lichghast”. Ghasts are advanced stage ghouls, and ghouls are advanced stage cannibals, and it’s said Azhuzuur (pallidly beautiful even after his grimmest transformations) ate a subject of his kingdom every night for dinner. Hunted them for sport, too, whistling from his malformed, screaming horses with his masked and sickly lords. Nobody was particularly upset when the Church of the Maker burned the Shivering Ziggurat to the ground and executed the entire Rokanshan nobility.
Most ignore the folk-tale about Azhuzuur escaping, rising silently into the darkness of the night sky atop a chariot of flesh.
Domain - Rokansha, a distant land long-consumed by the Wilds. A land of deep jungle, blood-red swamps, bioluminescent pollen-clouds and uncomfortably intelligent and fearful tigers.
Army - The Whistling Hunt, those abmortal Rokanshan nobles who escaped the purge when Azhuzuur fell (rose?). Being ghouls, they could theoretically survive forever with enough victims to feed on, and their poison-spitting “horses” were bound to their life forces - so, worry not: the horrors are not without their blades and mounts.
Castle - The Shivering Ziggurat, the blood-stained edifice from which he conducted his rule. Called such, so legend says, due to the terror approaching it inspired, and the field of unseasonal frost that surrounded it - to preserve the meat.
Monster - Ghoultigers, Dart Snakes, Mouthless Men
Spell - Black Bow, Hunger, Fear
Xanthon of Peramar, Xanthon the Blue, Octopus, Cupbearer to the King
The most famous conjurer in recent history. Said to have come closest of every recent generation to recreating Teleport. The scion of a minor noble family, he arose in a time of great glory and success for his homeland in Hevashim. One trait he possessed, that few other wizards do, was this: he was an excellent politician. All of his evils were at least one of: legal, church sanctioned, or very, very subtle. Even his downfall is shrouded in significant mystery (and likewise probably had nothing to do with the Church). He considered himself the rival of Avrendus - though it’s unclear if Avrendus returned the sentiment (or knew who he was).
Domain - He was never officially the king of Hevashim or Orvain (indeed, only the cupbearer), but in those places his word was law. The Many-Coloured City of Iridac (now sunken) and Gleaming Peramar herself were held tightly in his grasp - til he disappeared alongside the latter in a screaming roar, leaving behind only a perfectly spherical crater.
Army - The Prismatic Knights, only a hundred strong, but all powerful wizard-swordmasters. Every so often, they reappear, out of place and time, attacking some town or city. From behind corners they charge, screaming in archaic languages - their flesh frostburned and eyes bloodshot. Then, as quick as they appeared, they vanish back into thin air.
Castle - The Citadel Infinitesimal, an entire fortress folded down into an adamant cube about the width of the palm of your hand …supposedly. It’s been missing for decades, and the exact details of its actual creation are extremely hazy in the first place!
Monster - Half-Seen Men, Star Eyes, Spheres of Distortion
Spell - Dimension Door, Ghost Room (inserts a new room into a structure, defying geometry).
Sebastan, the Witch-King, The Cruel Half, Black Bird
A diabolist, enchanter and spear-master with incredibly quiet footsteps. Either he coined the phrase “the road to Hell is paved with good intentions”, or it was coined in reference to him. The archetypal fallen knight, in black armour and a bronze mask. He and his brother were supposedly the origin of the myth of evil twins. He inflicted punishing geases on those he met on the road, and bound his servants and foes into contracts where the stakes were their souls. The Witching Wars were fought against him in the centuries before the creation of the Ward, and ended in a draw when he was killed on the battlefield and returned to life in captivity, apparently confused about who and where he was. Soon after his kingdom was taken by the Wilds, and the man himself vanished.
Domain - Venvala, a land in the frozen north long-taken by the Wilds. Harsh and beautiful mountains, flower-meadow valleys with babbling streams, quiet, perfect villages. Happy, well-fed people who stare at you with an expression of pure hatred as you pass by.
Army - The Unwilling Foes, former opponents of the Witch-King twisted to serve him by his enchantments. They were a ragtag lot - former kings and heroes, even other wizards. Even until his execution, he claimed they weren’t ensorcelled, he was just likeable - and right. Even afterwards, it was extremely hard to tell.
Castle - Hexenmass, the storybook castle of evil. Black stone and white snow - and red rose gardens. A sprawling edifice of centuries of architectural nonsense. Not a soul lived there, it was said (for the Witch-King supposedly went without, and all his servants were Unseen).
Monster - Bag-Men (towering boogeyman motherfuckers who kidnapped people in burlap sacks).
Spell - Soul Contract, Geas, Hellhound Pack
The symbol that haunted him all his days. He called it the Beginning.
Hiram Daask, Hiram the Grey, Deadking of Belca
Perhaps the least impressive wizard-king on this list. He seized control of Belca, one of the duchies created when the kingdom of Elcaia collapsed (which happened after the Icon, saviour of the world, killed their king by turning him into a living marble tree. Long story.)
Daask was always a small-minded prick even as a living wizard - his transformation into one of the dead only intensified his stultifying paranoia and pettiness. He survived for a very long time by operating as Yvaine’s junior partner in the Deadcrown Pact, but when the Church got her, his days were very numbered.
Domain - Belca, a rainy, forest-covered island whose people are only just now recovering from the long dark age of Hiram Daask.
Army - The House of Daask has long outlived their progenitor, and, despite definitely being guilty-by-association, enjoy extreme social and political influence in Belca to this day. You can tell them apart because they always go around with Protection from Rain cast on them, and they act like old money Iskorians because they think it makes ‘em classy.
Castle - For all his faults, Daask was an inspired abjurer - Belcannon Vault on the northern shore of the isle, his gold-store and panic-room, still hasn’t been breached - the Church literally dropped a meteor on it, which they only do when they’ve really run out of other options, and it didn’t even dent the ugly little block.
Monster - The House of Daask (ha, hah).
Spell - Arcane Lock, Sequester, Sheathe (jams guns, unstrings bows and, of course, sheathes swords)
Harukha, The Phoenix Queen, Sailor’s Bane, The Peacock
She began life as an ordinary Kāwan peasant, who, like many others, was mistreated and beaten by the Council of Elders that ran the island previously. Now, she keeps the animated skulls of the Council of Elders on her throne, demanding that they bicker to amuse her. Perhaps the most famous “living” evoker, once she ruled the so-called “Piratocracy” that operated from Kāwo’s shores for about a hundred-and-fifty-years - extracting money from shipping lanes by threat of Disintegrate. She was never killed, but her monopoly on the spell was broken and her fleets sunk in a number of massive battles - upon which she keenly sued for peace and retired comfortably on the funds.
No dour wizard is she, appearing every day in a new glorious, extravagant outfit of vibrant colours and woven glamours. She insults directly to the face, and loves crude and juvenile humour. Every 10 or 15 years, her entire physical appearance and apparent age suddenly and spontaneously changes - this is the source of her moniker, the Phoenix Queen.
Domain - The tropical isle of Kāwo - an extremely popular resort destination for the super-rich of Corelia. Her domain used to be more extensive (much more) during the years of her Thalassocracy
Army - The Bright Sail Fleet, beautifully dressed pirates at the height of Kāwan fashion and old-fashioned brutality. Best known for their flamboyant captains, who employ magnetic katanas to disarm opponents and each wield a personalised wand containing a highly destructive spell.
Castle - The Palace of Rejuvenating Joy, built in the style of the palaces of the ancient Kāwan monarchy, this sprawling complex of reed mats, feasting halls, plush bedrooms, cannabis vapours, hidden docks, red sliding doors and beautiful secret coves is home to a veritable army of evokers, assassins, bodyguards and pirates enjoying the Queen’s hospitality.
Monster - Sea Mines (as in, sea mines. The first ones were necromantic horrors, before engineers invented the metal-and-volatile copies deployed by modern navies).
Spell - Disintegrate, Delayed Blast Fireball
He would resent the terms “wizard” and “king”. He’s an engineer, and a guildmaster. He just happens to be the guildmaster of the one and only producer of the modern fuel - Vis. He is comically, derangedly rich. His company makes enough money to constitute a significant portion of the Iskorian economy. He is one of the Daedali, or built-folk, a made man of steel and brass who talks with a crackling radio tone and a distinctive, halting manner. He’s an ideas man. He wants to recreate the lost Teleport - he sold tickets to watch the attempted teleporting of a train (with explosive results). He wants many things. His past is a total mystery.
He’s not like the rest of these wizards - because he’s at the height of his power.
Domain - Officially, the inside of Vis Guild buildings and properties. In practice, anywhere that Vis reaches.
Army - A veritable nation of yellow-jumpsuited engineers and thugs (and engineer-thugs), a fleet of personal airships, and as many war-constructs, tanks, trains and armoured vehicles as money can buy (literally).
Castle - The Central Office of the Vis Guild, a towering art-deco monolith in downtown Thane, full to bursting with all kinds of fancy new technology - tannoys, electric lights, plastic, mass-produced magic - the Dampen Fire cast on every room makes it very challenging to engage in Vec’s pet hates: smoking, and burning documents.
Spell - No new spells, but developed the “New Curriculum”, a brand new paradigm for teaching magic - he hopes to end the days of master-apprentice chains, and begin the days of mass lecture-hall education in useful magic.
And this doesn’t even broach the subjects of Rakh Nua, Khessan, Shān-gē, The Triune, Zithutu Godblood or Mirembe of the Tiled Palace.
(And at least one of these ones is the same guy as one of the ones up above. Can you believe that?)
I felt a lot of joy reading Cosmic’s original post because, speaking truthfully, it describes Aclas fairly well already. Or, well, that post - plus additional maniac Thief-Kings and Fighter-Kings and Cleric-Kings.