In my games at least, becoming undead (a vampire, a lich, etc) calcifies the brain into the state it was in at the time they turned. While the person can still grow and learn, the core of who they are is forever chained to who they were at death. Ancient vampires and liches are not necissarily insane, they just have a world view that is centuries out of date and they simply aren't capable of changing it.
Not an evil monster, not a hideous half dragon lich, but a sad, scared little girl. Someone who lost her family, her people, and her very way of life. Someone too young to truely understand what happened to her, who doesn't even have the release of death to let her escape her torment. She is wickedly intelligent, and has virtually unlimited power at her command, but at her core she's still the scared little girl that watched her family die. She would do anything to get her old life back, and as any parent can tell you, children can be cruel and horribly insensetive to the needs of others.
Is my Errandis evil? Yes, she is. But not in the classical sense. She simply knows what she wants, even if she knows somewhere deep inside that it is gone forever, and will do *ANYTHING* to get it. Centuries of having no one telling her no, she's become a bit of a spoiled brat on the outside, but inside she still just wants her mommy and daddy back, and the gods help anyone that gets in her way.
Wait - are you saying that in your campaign, Erandis Vol is Batman?
I think it's a good clip for her. Another aspect that resonates for is her childhood experience being one of being a lab rat. Erandis was also the product of a highly focused breeding and arcane experimentation program; she wasn't simply a normal happy child. Which isn't to say that she doesn't love or miss her family. As I play her, it's another source of frustration. To the degree that she knows her parents' love, it's based around their belief that she would accomplish their dreams. Now she's got that dream traced on her dead skin and is powerless to use it.
This is also why I hold to my idea that she doesn't know the location of her phylactery and doesn't regenerate in its presence when her body is destroyed. Because she didn't turn herself into a lich; it was done to her, to ensure that she survived at all costs. I like the idea that she's been killed by the Deathguard and other "heroes" half a dozen times in the past; that it's difficult for her not to see the world as her enemy, because when she has been too trusting, she's been destroyed and had to start again.
I like to play up the angle that her parents really did care for her, and that she wasn't really told what was going on. She was born and raised in secret (I have her physically aged about the same as Ace in that clip), and while she was being trained for something, she didn't really know what. I like having her being surprised, scared, and confused about what was happening when the elves and dragons attacked, and it wasn't until later on she discovered what had really been going on.
I really like having her as a tragic figure, someone that if you ever met and got to know it would completely break your heart at everything she's had happen to her. That even if she did somehow magically restore herself to life, bring back her family, that she still couldn't be happy because of all that has happened to her in the mean time.
A strange melange of innocence and complete corruption at the same time. Sort of a break the cutie that just never stops.
I like having her being surprised, scared, and confused about what was happening when the elves and dragons attacked, and it wasn't until later on she discovered what had really been going on.
Absolutely. Again, that's while I like to emphasize the separate-phylactery thing... because at the time she became a lich, she wasn't a powerful wizard. But she can't be destroyed unless her phylactery is found, and even she doesn't know where it is. And over the course of thousands of years, she's gained power. In part that is due to her lineage and who she is; she is a prodigy even if she can't use her mark. But it's still something she's had to learn over time.
This is another point about "The Blood of Vol" not being named after her. The seeds of the faith were sown when the first Bloodsails settled in Farlnen. They were allies of the line of Vol. But the existence of Erandis herself was a closely guarded secret, and even those who knew of her assumed she had been killed. IMC, it was centuries before she found her way to Farlnen.
This seems a great way of portraying Erandis-... I'd always considered her to be more 'adult' in her mentality, given the thousands of years. The calcification of the brain is an interesting point, another reason why the Undying Court don't make young Elves into Deathless-... I wonder how this could be fit into the story of the Qabalrin . Do you have any other ideas on how this view of Erandis might be played out, if at all different?
I think "Generic Evil Overlord" was a dumb thing to play Erandis D'Vol as. In my own long-standing Eberron campaign, I actually use Erandis D'Vol rather frequently. I take the tact that Eberron NPCs are meant to be interacted with as much as "slain out of hand."
While some may object to it, I went with the idea that Erandis D'Vol suffers from a duality which gives her a distinct personality from most Lich-Wizard Kings. On one hand she's a ancient, older than dirt Lich with a brilliant calculating mind unsurpassed by most modern beings. Erandis D'Vol's plans are byzantine, multi-layered, and extraordinarily detailed. She's also mentally a fourteen year old. I don't play this for laughs, though I could have, but simultaneously tragedy and distaste. I liken her to Claudia from the movie version of "Interview with a Vampire."
Erandis is the girl who will never grow up, have a family, or be loved as a woman. She can't really conceptualize how much she's lost so she focuses on essentially, the petty dream of ruling the world. Erandis doesn't have the emotional maturity to want power over lives like a RL dictator. She wants, essentially, to be loved and adored as the Lich-Princess of the world and to have absolute power. It's the one great weakness of the Emerald Claw in my campaigns that their leader is petulant, angry, and vain with serious flaws in additon to her strengths.
It doesn't make her less dangerous, though, only CAPABLE of being outdone by the PCs on occassion.
(My weakness for the Lords of Dust is the opposite. They HAVE no weaknesses and their strategems are so alien that they never EVER fail - except for the fact that PCs are strange enough to occasionally kill one out of the blue and set centuries of planning out of whack. Yes, the PCs only way of fighting the schemes of the LoD is by being Gilligan).
Erandis successfully conquered Aerenal in my recent games, locking away the Undying Court. Which should prove...interesting as it's her dream.
One thing i thought of while reading this, is that Erandis sees herself as a philanthropist, though her distorted world view makes her kind gestures seem terrifyingly deadly to the rest of the world. After the pain she suffered becoming an orphan she decided that no one should ever be an orphan again. This is why she wants to spread undeath to the rest of the world, to keep everyone's loved ones from dying. She's still like an 8 year old that doesn't realize that natural death is a (necesary) part of life.
Another interpretation could be that if her parents/nannys/caregivers were undead (though something easyer to kill such as vamps, revenants, or litches with more accessable phylacries) she could view undeath as the natural state of being while life being a corrupted existance. She could view the living as terrible monsters because every time she has encountered them, they just attacked her without any chance for negotiation, mercy, or surrender. She sees us simmilar to how most of the (non-Karnathi) living see zombies, something to be feared and exterminated.
Personally I've always chosen to play what some people would call a little more risque with Erandis d'Vol. That means I don't potray her as the rather adult looking lich-bat-whatever-thing image of her that keeps popping up across Eberron artwork (check out the image of her from either Faiths of Eberron or the 4e Eberron Campaign Guide). They way I see her, she was on the cusp of her power, but cut down before she could truly grasp even the smallest thread of it, so that makes her eleven or twelve-tops.
Children are dangerous, children are cruel, but children are also possessed of mercurial empathy and strange flights of fancy. I like that aspect of Erandis. She's an undead twelve-year-old who had her life, literally, stolen from her. Minara could not bear to see her daughter butchered and did the one thing she could to save her, transform her into a lich. A twelve-year-old child turned into one of the most powerful arcane/undead creatures in existence (Lich don't just pop up out of the woodwork, you've gotta actually get out that saw and start cutting around the place to find 'em).
So now you've a twelve-year-old who's lost everything, who's had to flee her home, hide from her now former kinfolk and a whole posse of very peeved off Dragons (and bar the Lords of Dust I think everybody soils their hosery at the thought of an entire wing of Dragons descending from on-high to smite your arse back to the Age of Giants). So of course you go into mourning for what was done.
But you're stuck in the body and mind of a child, one who's emotions, though dampened somewhat by the undead state, still burn brigther than most celestial bodies. You've got an insatiable gnawing in your gut, a craving for love, for attention, for family and it's been taken from you. And it's time to use some of the that genius level intellect to work together the very tenuous threads of some bloodlines. Time to become the arcane prodigy your parents could see you being.
My Erandis wants her family back and nothing from here to Dolurrh will bar her path. She's got the experience of centuries to temper simply charging in, being careful and hiding your actions is important to their long-term survival, Erandis is old enough to appreciate the long-view. But woe befall anyone foolish enough to think they might want to harm what is precious to her.
Also as a side-note, how do you all "see" Erandis? I mean in terms of physical apperance. I'd love to know how various Eberronians have described the Queen of Death.
My view of Errandis is very much colored by Keith's threads on her, taken to the degree that I have made her the ultimate tragic villain in my games. She was a science experiment to bring about the ultimate expression of her Dragonmark. Her birth directly caused the destruction of her entire family line. And she was an adolescent at the time. She was transformed into a lich by her parents, and over the next couple hundred years was killed repeatedly until she gained enough power to protect herself. She went through an emo phase and tried to kill herself, but because she doesn't know where her phylactery is it never works. At this point, I just see her as wanting her story to end. Become a goddess of death? Awesome. Finally destroy her phylactery and end her hellish existence? Not as awesome, but better than the status quo. She just wants something to change, because in the last couple of thousand years, nothing really has for her. And she's willing to do anything to make something happen.
And my Erandis is not pretty. She is an undead half-dragon. She's a desicated 13 year old with scales, wings, claws and a death aura. She can be kind of cute in the way some puppies are so ugly they're cute, and the fact that in my stories she's a broken, sad 13 year old. But then we come back to the claws and death aura. And the teeth. My god the teeth.
Physically, I run with four main ideas on how Erandis looks.
1) Decay stops when a corpse is animated as undead. The negative energy suffusing the body destroys all life within it, including the bacteria that cause decay. The reason most undead look half rotten is simply due to the fact that the necromancers don't exactly have access to the freshest of corpses to begin with, they usually have to resort to grave robbing or whatever they happen to stumble across. So, needless to say, the end result ends up being pretty horrible. However, if you could animate a body that died only moments prior, you wouldn't be able to tell right away that they were actually undead. Even pale skin is the result of the decay of oxygenated blood in the veins, so theoretically if you could animate the body at practically the same instant as death, they wouldn't even lose the color in their cheeks.
2) When a lich reforms in the nearest body, the physical features change to match how the original body looked, but doesn't repair any damage/decay already suffered by the "donor" body. So how she looks will depend a lot on how prepared she is. If given time and resources, Erandis will have set up a fresh "volunteer" body (likely through poison so as to leave no external marks) and would look pretty normal. If she had recently been beaten or lost a major fight and her last body was destroyed and she just woke up in whatever was laying around, then she could very well be the half rotten corpse we all traditionally picture when we think Lich.
3) Erandis was essentially a child on the cusp of womanhood when the attack happened. As far as build and physique go, I peg her as being pretty darn close to Ace up there in the JLU clip.
4) I don't have half-dragons develop most draconic appearances until puberty. From birth until puberty, they appear to be a fairly normal member of whatever non-dragon species the other parent was. They may have tell-tale marks like slit eyes, unnatural hair color, etc, but they don't start growing scales, tails, wings, etc until puberty and their full heritage kicks in. As I already said in #3, my Errandis had basically just hit puberty when she was transformed, so she had only just begun to show her true draconic form. Small green scales around the edges (if you're a trekkie, think the spots on a trill), longer than normal fingernails, start of some cute little fangs, more cute dragon-girl than anything big and scary. She definitely does *NOT* have wings (but I always give her a cape of flying that turns into green dragon wings to make up for it).
So really, I suppose my Errandis looks a whole lot like Ace, overall. Really throws the party off when they break down the door expecting a huge horrible lich, and they find a scared little girl clutching a teddy bear. You know, right before she rips their souls out, but thats not the point.