Reign: 200 YE to 209 YE

Called: the Mad

Early life and Election

The Urizen draughir who would grow up to be one of the most infamous figures in the history of the Empire was born in Ankarien, a great library in Spiral. For much of his early career Nicovar was a dedicated Urizen philosopher, as well as a skilful mage and a clever speaker. He served with distinction as an archmage of the Conclave, and was an acknowledged expert in the use of the rituals of the realm of Day.

Following the external focus of the rule of Emperor Barabbas, the Senate was actively looking for someone more internally focused to take the the Throne. Nicovar was a strong candidate and was elected with the notable support of a number of his fellow magicians from other nations (along, obviously, with many others). In retrospect, there were accusations that some magical conspiracy had been responsible for his appointment, but there was never any hint of inappropriate behaviour.


In the early years of his reign it was clear that Nicovar was a brilliant administrator. He expanded the role of the civil service in support of the Empire, founding several academies for the training of aides and secretaries to help run the day-to-day business of the Empire. His court was hailed as a place of learning, and he surrounded himself with experts in dozens of subjects from all across the Empire. He spent three years working with the civil service and the generals of the Empire in overhauling and improving the efficiency and scope of the logistical support received by Imperial armies, and he instituted dozens of well-planned and well-thought-out programs to improve the life of people from all walks of life.

Optimists believed he would usher in a new golden age of reason and expansion for the Empire.

Unfortunately, as every school child learns, it was not to be. A decade of attempting to micromanage every element of the Empire, as well as a reliance on the magic of Day to gather and interpret ever greater amounts of information, eventually led to him being overwhelmed by the power of the Winter realm. The early signs were generally dismissed as overwork; it was only when some of his advisers began to compare notes that they spotted a dreadful pattern. He began to demand extreme amounts of record keeping and it became increasingly clear that he was not in his right mind.

The genius Emperor had begun to see patterns in events that appeared increasingly paranoid. He began to put into operation controlling policies that divided the Senate and the Synod. The priests of the Assembly of Vigilance were encouraged to actively pursue internal and external threats, while those of Loyalty were given a wide remit by Nicovar to ensure and bind those closest to the Emperor with blessings to encourage their dutiful nature.

Nicovar himself demanded increasingly large amounts of crystal mana and the performance of increasingly esoteric divinations in pursuit of some conspiracy that made sense only to the draughir emperor's mind.

Things came to a head in 209 when without warning the Emperor began to send out loyal troops to burn down the Empire's libraries. There was a revolt, which culminated in the destruction of the central repository of records in Highguard and several key spires in Urizen - even his home spire of Ankarien was not spared. Thousands of volumes of history, philosophy, magic and science were burned - in many cases along with the scholars who fought desperately to protect them. Civil war threatened.

It was while the emperor was overseeing the siege of the School of Epistemology in Tassato that he was executed by the captain of his own guard, the Navarr Thorn Isaella. Despite appeals for clemency from the Synod, Isaella took full responsibility, and was convicted as a traitor, while simultaneously being lauded as an Exemplar of Courage and duty and a hero of the Empire.

Death and Legacy

Despite his destructive acts, Nicovar was still Emperor. His body was entombed in a small three-sided pyramid in the Necropolis, without ceremony. A trio of Urizen sentinels stand guard outside the pyramid to this day; it is an honour to be chosen to join the guard. The Urizen are quick to point out that they do not do so for fear of Nicovar's return - they are quite confident he is gone, and his spirit moved along the great wheel - but as a penance for not having spotted his instability earlier. Several of the Highborn stewards of the dead have put forward a theory that the vigil is actually concerned with ensuring that the Emperor never reincarnates; the mages of Urizen deny this suggestion. Privately more than a few priests have suggested it might not be a bad thing if Nicovar is never reborn.

Nicovar is gone, but his legacy endures to this day. The destruction of the libraries left a big hole in the history of the Empire - centuries of wisdom lost to the flames. The history of the Empire prior to this point had been almost fatally damaged; when people speak of Empress Richilde or the founding of Highguard, there are holes in their knowledge that may never be filled. Even the truth about Nicovar himself has been obscured; playwrights of the League particularly have spared no effort to paint him as a hateful, vicious, spiteful caricature of a draughir plagued by unwholesome appetites and dreadful desires. The truth is more likely that he was a clever man undone by his own ambition, by his inability to leave the details alone.

Still... there are rumours. The most common concerns a series of journals kept by the Emperor both before and after his ascension to the Throne. Allegedly the later volumes are so infused with his dangerous insights into the imaginary conspiracy he was convinced threatened the Empire that they will eventually overwhelm any scholar who studies them. If they exist their whereabouts are unknown.

Perhaps more worryingly, Nicovar's Staff of the Magi has never been accounted for. He almost certainly had it with him when he met his death at the end of Isaella's spear-point... but what happened to it afterwards, only the thorn herself is likely to have known, and she never spoke of it.

Further Reading

  • Fall of Solokha - Historical research document about the destruction of the Citadel of Solokha in Axos, for which the Axou blame Nicovar.
  • Mareave and Urizen - Historical research document that touches on the history of the Broken Shore and the reign of Nicovar