|Alignment||Lawful Good (mainly)|
Baelnorns are described as elves who sought undeath to serve their families, communities, or other purposes (usually to see a wrong righted or to achieve a certain magical discovery or deed). They are lich-like creatures that appear as impressive-looking elves with shriveled skin and glowing white eyes. Most of their appearances in modules, setting books, games, novels and the like are related to the old lords of Cormanthor/Myth Drannor, a fictional location in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting.
The baelnorn first appeared in the second edition in Ruins of Myth Drannor boxed set (1993), and was reprinted in Monstrous Compendium Annual Volume One (1994), and Cormanthyr: Empire of Elves (1998).
Baelnorns are created through a powerful arcane or divine necromantic ritual. Typically, elven characters choosing to pursue a duty which would extend beyond death voluntarily go through the process. The process is described as similar to that of a lich, but does not result in the fear oriented abilities attributed to liches. The ritual permits the character to retain all of its memories, personality, and abilities. In addition, the process alters a character's abilities, conferring many of the powers seen in other types of undead monsters, including paralyzing touches and summoning other, lesser forms of undead. In the Forgotten Realms setting, Gold, or Sun, elves are the most likely to pursue this goal, but first must find the approval of various groups, sometimes including the Seldarine.
To become a baelnorn (instead of a lich), a character must be of a non-evil alignment (usually Lawful Good). However, a baelnorn may become evil after the ritual, as seen in the character Tordynnar Rhaevaern, detailed in the supplement Lords of Darkness.
Baelnorns in D&D novels
Baelnorn characters usually appear in the role of champions, guardians, and protectors. In the novel Elminster in Hell, Elminster consults with a number of baelnorns beneath the ruins of Myth Drannor. In the Pool of Radiance novel and game, the protector baelnorn Miroden Silverblade is kidnapped by a cult. The Forgotten Realms novels The Siege and The Lost Library of Cormanthyr both include guardian baelnorn characters. The character Tordynnar Rhaevaern is detailed in the supplement Lords of Darkness as a baelnorn archmage who has become evil and shows hatred for humans.
- Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves (zip)
- Realmslore: Safeholds (Part Three)
- Realmslore: Storm Silverhand's Quieter Days, Part Four