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This is a PathfinderWiki Featured Article. This article contains spoilers for the following products: The Shattered Shield, Runeplague, Tyrant's Grasp Adventure Path
Tar-Baphon, the Whispering Tyrant.
Titles The Whispering Tyrant
Alignment Neutral evil
Race/Species Human (Kellid) mythic lich
Class Necromancer 20
Gender Male
Homeland Isle of Terror (formerly Virlych, Ustalav)
Organization Whispering Way
Born 837 AR
Died 896 AR (aged 59)
Destroyed Imprisoned in 3827 AR
Images of Tar-Baphon

Source: Mythic Realms, pg(s). 62–63

Tar-Baphon was a powerful wizard-king who ruled central Avistan at the end of the 9th century AR. Killed by the god Aroden himself in 896 AR, he rose as the lich known as the Whispering Tyrant in 3203 AR, and ruled the country of Ustalav for centuries. He was finally defeated by the Shining Crusade in 3827 AR and imprisoned within his capital of Gallowspire.[1]


Rise of Tar-Baphon

Tar-Baphon was born in 837 AR, in the land that would be part of Ustalav. Much of his early life is shrouded in myth and mystery. What is certain is that he grew up on the shores of Lake Encarthan and studied necromancy there. In 861 AR, he conquered the city of Kestrillon on Inteper Isle at the centre of Lake Encarthan from the Golden Solidarity, renaming them Xin-Grafar and the Isle of Terror respectively. In 872 AR, he discovered a strange thinness between planes in the Isle of Terror. As his ambition grew with his power, he sought the Cenotaph, resting place of Runelord Zutha, and unlocked its power in 880 AR, and claimed whole the Isle of Terror for himself from the black dragon Karamorros in 881 AR.[2][3][4]

Deciding that he'd need to bring the world under his heels, he recruited orcs and undead to undertake a conquest that engulfed most of central Avistan. He eventually attracted the attention of the god Aroden himself: Tar-Baphon sought immortality and possibly looked down upon the Last Azlanti for not having ascended to godhood on his own, but for having relied on the power of the Starstone, while Aroden had seen firsthand the brutal reign of the runelords and refused to see the world under another such tyrant. Their conflict ended when Aroden killed the wizard-king on the Isle of Terror in a mighty battle in 896 AR. Aroden buried Tar-Baphon's corpse in the Isle of Terror, believing him dead, but this was Tar-Baphon's plan all along: to die at the hands of a god so he would become an incomparable lich.[5][6][2] His corpse was retrieved by his followers and reburied in his birthplace of Ustalav.[3]

Return of the Whispering Tyrant

In 3203 AR,[7] Tar-Baphon used the power of the Whispering Way to return to undead life as a lich. An ancient tome, the Whispers of the Immortal, purportedly written by a disciple of Tar-Baphon, documents his transition into undeath. There are, however, significant doubts about its authenticity.[8] The newly risen lich sought Aroden's attention in order to gain his revenge, but for unknown reasons the deity did not take up the challenge.[9] Having renamed himself the Whispering Tyrant, Tar-Baphon instead united the orcs of Belkzen under his rule and used them to conquer Ustalav, taking the city of Adorak as his capital.[7] When his troops, or those of the enemy, fell in battle, he simply brought them back to unlife, greatly bolstering the strength of his armies. He continued this for over five centuries, holding much of central Avistan in his skeletal grasp, and tolerating no threat to his rule.[6]

Shining Crusade

Centuries later, in 3754 AR, Taldor sought to oust the Whispering Tyrant, giving rise to the drawn-out conflict that became known as the Shining Crusade. The forces of Taldor were aided by the dwarven kingdom of Kraggodan (in the modern day Five Kings Mountains), and the Knights of Ozem.[10] In 3801 AR,[7] the crusaders finally established a beachhead in the (then) Ustalavic town of Vellumis, and began the slow and brutal process of advancing to the Tyrant's capital of Gallowspire.[10] In 3818 AR, the Knights of Ozem summoned Arazni, the herald of Aroden, to aid them in the war. However, in 3823 AR, the Tyrant killed Arazni.[7] In 3827 AR, the crusaders at last reached Gallowspire in ruined Adorak. The Taldan general, Arnisant, fought the Tyrant and, using the artifact known as the Shield of Aroden, was able to withstand the lich's magic. When the shield eventually shattered, it burned the lich with holy fire, weakening the Tyrant, forcing him to flee to Gallowspire. The crusaders, unable to find Tar-Baphon's phylactery (which was allegedly hidden by Urgathoa so no one, not even the gods, could locate or find a way to destroy it) or to spare more resources to invade Gallowspire, imprisoned him, using a powerful magic ward known as the Great Seal. Each branch of the alliance responsible for defeating him was tasked with guarding one of the three lesser seals across Golarion that would keep the Great Seal intact. The province of Lastwall (now an independent country of the same name) was then established forever to watch over the Tyrant's prison.[11][2][12]

Recent events

Initially, the Tyrant tried to get rid of the burning shard of the Shattered Shield of Arnisant (as the Shield of Aroden became known after it was shattered) still lodged within himself, while delving deeper into necromancy to seek a way to break the Great Seal. Later, however, after his winterwight seneschal Jomah Gildais escaped, he realised that he could only shatter the Great Seal with positive energy, which he, ironically, could do with the piece of the Shattered Shield within himself. Tar-Baphon named his new superweapon the Radiant Fire.[13]

In 4717 AR, Tar-Baphon telepathically commanded Gildais to travel to Vigil and hire a crew of thieves to steal all but one of the shards of the Shattered Shield and replace them with fakes. The mission was successful, but one of the thieves took one of the shards for himself, after having coerced the smith responsible for crafting the fakes to create an extra one, which fell into the hands of the Whispering Way.[14]

In 4708 AR, the necromancer Drazmorg destroyed the first seal that was keeping Tar-Baphon imprisoned.[15] In 4718 AR, the second seal was discovered to be located in Kaer Maga by agents of the Whispering Way. After an assault into the Shrine of the Seal, the seal was disabled by Erigantus with the help of Runelord Zutha's Bone Grimoire.[16]

In 4719 AR, the Tyrant finished the development of the Radiant Fire. After testing it on the unfortunate town of Roslar's Coffer, he turned it on Vigil, triggering it with the shard of the Shattered Shield still remaining in Castle Overwatch, killing more than eight thousand people and, more importantly, destroying the final seal maintaining his prison. With the Great Seal vulnerable, he fired the Radiant Fire at Gallowspire, shattering the Great Seal and freeing himself.[17][18]

Having broken Lastwall, the Whispering Tyrant then gathered an army to take over Absalom, enter the Starstone Cathedral, and turn himself into a deity with the Starstone, in the process desecrating the legacy of his old enemy Aroden.[19] On the Cairnlands outside of Absalom, he was confronted by a group of especially tenacious adventurers. He quickly lost his patience and activated the Radiant Fire to get rid of them, unaware that their souls were lodged with shards of the Shattered Shield since he first used the Radiant Fire on Roslar's Coffer. These shards unleashed a magical feedback against the Tyrant, destroying his body, foiling his plan for godhood, and depriving him of his right hand, and with it, his piece of the Shattered Shield and his ability to use the Radiant Fire.[20][21]

After Tar-Baphon's body reformed in the wake of his defeat, he relocated from Virlych to his old headquarters on the Isle of Terror. His second attempt to recruit the orcs of Belkzen was refused, as the orcs remembered the fate of their ancestors 15 centuries ago, refused to fight for him for a second time, and turned back his undead army when Tar-Baphon tried to subjugate them by force.[22]


For additional resources, see the Meta page.

  1. Colin McComb. (2010). Inner Sea Primer, p. 3. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-277-7
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Benjamin Bruck, Jason Bulmahn, Amanda Hamon, et al. (2013). Mythic Realms, p. 63. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-567-9
  3. 3.0 3.1 Crystal Frasier. (2019). To Exceed Their Grasp. The Dead Roads, p. 79. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-64078-111-5
  4. John Compton and Thurston Hillman. (2019). Druma, Profit and Prophecy, p. 8. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-64078-141-2
  5. Erik Mona et al. (2008). Campaign Setting, p. 201. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-112-1
  6. 6.0 6.1 Adam Daigle. (2011). Liches of Golarion. Shadows of Gallowspire, p. 69–70. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-313-2
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Erik Mona et al. (2008). Campaign Setting, p. 202. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-112-1
  8. Tim Hitchcock. (2008). Hungry Are the Dead, p. 3. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-120-6
  9. Erik Mona et al. (2008). Campaign Setting, p. 177. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-112-1
  10. 10.0 10.1 Erik Mona et al. (2008). Campaign Setting, p. 90. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-112-1
  11. Erik Mona et al. (2008). Campaign Setting, p. 90–91. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-112-1
  12. Benjamin Bruck, Jason Bulmahn, Amanda Hamon, et al. (2013). Mythic Realms, p. 45. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-567-9
  13. Crystal Frasier. (2019). To Exceed Their Grasp. The Dead Roads, p. 75. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-64078-111-5
  14. Leo Glass. (2018). The Shattered Shield, p. 3. Paizo Inc.
  15. Greg A. Vaughan. (2019). Seal-Breakers. Last Watch, p. 76. Paizo Inc.. ISBN 978-1-64078-126-9
  16. Richard Pett. (2018). NPC Gallery. Runeplague, p. 65. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-64078-079-8
  17. Larry Wilhelm. (2019). Last Watch. Last Watch, p. 38. Paizo Inc.. ISBN 978-1-64078-126-9
  18. Crystal Frasier. (2019). Gardens of Gallowspire. Gardens of Gallowspire, p. 4. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-64078-134-4
  19. John Compton. (2019). Midwives to Death. Midwives to Death, p. 3. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-64078-144-3
  20. John Compton. (2019). Midwives to Death. Midwives to Death, p. 56–57. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-64078-144-3
  21. Tanya DePass, James Jacobs, Lyz Liddell, Ron Lundeen, Liane Merciel, Erik Mona, Mark Seifter, and James L. Sutter. (2019). Lost Omens World Guide, p. 21. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-64078-172-6
  22. Tanya DePass, James Jacobs, Lyz Liddell, Ron Lundeen, Liane Merciel, Erik Mona, Mark Seifter, and James L. Sutter. (2019). Lost Omens World Guide, p. 39. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-64078-172-6