Katophrane Curse

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The Katophrane Curse is a magical anomaly born of the desperation of Katophranes of Shadespire and the godly spite of Nagash. The curse denies the peace of oblivion to those afflicted, condemned to rise again after each death, unable to escape.[6a]



When the wizard-lords of Shadespire known as the Katophranes discovered shadeglass, they used its abilities to trap their mortal essences in shadeglass mirrors to evade the clutch of death. Nagash, the ruler of Shyrish could not so easily be denied his due. His revenge on the Katophranes was terrible. Nagash unleashed a curse upon Shadespire that cast it out of reality and into the void beyond. The citizens of Shadespire were damned, condemned to a purgatorial twilight existence in which true death was impossible. Those who fought and died over the city’s ruins were reborn from their splintered soul-echoes, locked for evermore in a cycle of violence. For centuries, the Katophrane curse – though horrific – was at least confined to Shadespire. It afflicted only the tormented denizens of that once-proud city, and those bands of warriors and treasure seekers who had found their way into its ruins.[3a]


When the Shyish Necroquake came, the catastrophic eruption of energies shook the realms themselves, and its shock waves rolled through the void and battered against Shadespire. Vast fractures rent the Faneway at the city’s heart, spreading out from its enchanted mirrors, splitting and corrupting the stuff of reality. Worse, where those spiderweb cracks cut the weave and weft of the real, they spread the Katophrane curse across the realms.[3a] These rips in reality also allowed warbands trapped by the curse to pass seemlessly between underworlds.[6a] These other underworlds include the Beastgrave[3a] and the Harrowdeep.[6a]

Breaking of the Curse

When the Archmage Teclis struck down Nagash at the climax of the War of Light and Death, he reversed the Necroquake’s power and broke the curse. Some of those trapped in its clutches were freed, though the horrors they had endured would never leave them. Lesions in reality scabbed over into shadeglass deposits, though not before hapless warbands had stumbled through a final time. So potent was the curse that it could not be entirely eradicated; the death-energies that fueled the phenomenon called the Arena Mortis, where warriors rose to life mere moments after falling, remained a threat. Yet for many, demise finally offered a reprieve.[6a]

Arena Mortis

With the advent of the Necroquake, the Katophrane Curse had spread across the realms. Reality itself had splintered, and reflections of Shadespire appeared throughout the Mortal Realms. Nagash's cruel affliction had not been diluted by its dispersion - if anything, the curse's effects seemed to have become magnified in certain areas suffused with magic. In those arcane places where recent battles have left a handful of blood-stained survivors facing each other, a peculiar phenomenon took hold. Deathly energies swirl around the combatants, and those that are slain return to life seconds later. Hungry for vengeance, they immediately rush to battle once more, and the cycle of killing continues. This phenomenom is known as the Arena Mortis.[4a]

Although an arena's opening is brief, while it lasts the battlefield becomes a nexus of death. The cursed aura of Shadespire is magnified and reflected, manifesting amethyst beams of Shyishian energy. Where these pillars of dark light intersect, a node of magical power is created. Nagash had anticipated this side-effect of the Katophrane Curse. He challenged his Mortarchs to find a way through which the concentrated energies of the Arena Mortis could be harnessed and trammeled. However, each of his servants' efforts resulted in failure - just as the Great Necromancer had anticipated, none could match his master over the arts of death. The artefacts of the Mortarch's designed were unable to contain the titanic energies harnessed by the Katophrane curse, and and became trapped within the scattered reflections of the Mirrored City.These mortis lenses now appear seemingly at random wherever the Arena Mortis has taken hold. Warriors who see their reflections in these great mirrors are infused with strength or vitality, or protected from the lens's cruel effects on the wider arena. Those that take advantage of this power would do well not to tarry long once the battle is done, however. The mirrors claim the souls of those who stare just a moment too long, trapping them for eternity - or at least until Nagash comes to claim them.[4a]

The breaking of the Katophrane Curse did not stop the phenomenon of the Arena Mortis from disappearing, as indeed the curse itself was too powerful to dispel completely.[6a]