Tar-Baphon, The Whispering Tyrant

Perhaps the most famous lich in the history of Golarion, Tar-Baphon shattered Avistan with his tyranny, beginning even before his demise and subsequent undead rebirth.

His earliest days of rising power and conquest are obscured by incomplete documents, intentional misdirection, and overblown myths. What is known is that during the 9th century AR he grew to become a powerful wizard-king, one who dealt heavily in necromancy and whose corrupting influence was so great that he eventually attracted the attention of Aroden himself.

As with most everything in his life before rising as the Whispering Tyrant, it is unclear exactly what relationship Tar-Baphon held with the Last Azlanti, or precisely what forces or opposing viewpoints pitted them against each other so violently. Perhaps it was envy and pride that ultimately fueled their mutual distaste: Tar-Baphon dared to challenge the Last Azlanti, and sought a similar level of power for himself, disdaining Aroden’s status and the second-hand transcendence granted by the Starstone. Regardless, the final confrontation between the two occurred in 896AR, when mortal tyrant and living god faced off in a terrible battle on the Isle of Terror in the middle of Lake Encarthan. As could only have been expected, the mortal lost, and Aroden left the field with his enemy broken beyond repair – yet not destroyed.

For thousands of years, Tar-Baphon disappeared, leaving those few who remembered him to presume he had gone the way of so many would-be conquerors. It wasn’t until 3203AR that Tar-Baphon reappeared, this time in the nation of Ustalav, having somehow gained a new existence through lichdom and the secrets of the Whispering Way, and boasting powers far greater than even those he held in life.

Unifying the traditionally fractious orc hordes of Belkzen under his banner, the newly named Whispering Tyrant set about conquering Ustalav and the lands beyond rolling over central Avistan like a dark wave. As his orcs and conscripted soldiers fell, they rose again as undead monstrosities, joining creatures of nightmare in his fell war machine.

For more than 500 years, Tar-Baphon held the continent’s center f irmly in his skeletal grip, brooking no dissension among his ranks. At last, in 3754, Taldor launched the Shining Crusade, gathering the forces of light and goodness beneath its banners and sending them slicing their way into the heart of the dark lord’s territory, earning each foot of ground with the blood of heroes. So total was Tar-Baphon’s control over his subjugated territories that it took almost 50 years of fighting before the crusaders established a beachhead on Ustalav’s southern shores and came within striking distance of the tyrant.

Though Aroden had long since ceased to fight his followers’ battles for them, he did send his herald Arazni, summoned by the Knights of Ozem during the long siege. For half a decade she led his forces, yet it seems that Aroden underestimated his opponent. In a brutal display, the Whispering Tyrant humiliated and slaughtered Arazni, shaking many crusaders’ faiths to the core and extending the conflict another 5 years. In the end, it was a mortal man – a general named Arnisant, bearing an artifact known as the Shield of Aroden – who succeeded in weakening the lich enough to imprison him beneath his tower of Gallowspire, where he resides to this day. Though unable to leave his stronghold, with his minions in hiding and his lands long since returned to the rule of their living inhabitants, the Tyrant still whispers to those willing to hear him, and many fear the day when he will rise for a third and final time.

Tar-Baphon, The Whispering Tyrant

Pathfinder - Carrion Crown IanHoulihan