Underworld – Corrupted – Undead
The only reason the deathlords are not the most arrogant species of the Underworld is that they share space with vampires and drow.
Like liches, deathlords choose to become undead by magic, but both are very different beings. While liches give up on everything that could link them to their previous life – meat, blood, voice, memories –, they also receive exceptional power in the exchange.
Liches also have to study necromancy, a very complicated art that deals both with death and life magic. Only a master can then perform the ritual that will kill them momentarily and turn them into an undead.
Deathlords are not like that. They study only death magic and that, only scantly. Instead of turning themselves into a new existence keeping the power they possessed, they corrupt their lives with death magic until they become undead.
Immortality is their only goal, and the corruption strips them of everything they achieved in life, both physically and magically. It's like being born anew, keeping only their bodies and their memories, but losing every drop of power.
The Fallen Gods use such loss as a way of increasing their strength and influence over the world. They seduce the deathlords in their most vulnerable moment, trying to bind them to a mutually beneficial contract. Thus, the bound deathlords are born, giving away some liberty for the promise of easier and faster power to come.
But not all of them are seduced. When grown and powerful men lose everything that holds their ego together, a few of them opt for freedom instead of what they see as slavery. Unbound, they claim themselves to be.
Most of the world doesn't know how to feel about the species: should they be pitied for their fear of death? Rebuked for being undead? They are an enigma, and many fear what they don't understand.
Immortals by choice, bound or unbound, they have known since their transformation that they hold their existence and their future in their hands.
And they stop at nothing to achieve their goals.
-- Excerpt from "Species of Valia", by Amir, a Karr