Lord British
Lord British, from Ultima Underworld II
Species: Human
Ultima Underworld II
Location: Castle Britannia

Lord Cantabrigian British[1] is a major character in the Ultima series, appearing as the ongoing ruler of the kingdoms of Akalabeth, Sosaria and Britannia. He first appears in Akalabeth, and is originally a native of Earth.

Biography Edit

According to folklore, the young man who would become Lord British was an idealist even during his time on Earth, feeling greatly disappointed with the constant pursuit of wealth and power he saw in those around him. He first crossed over to Sosaria unexpectedly when he discovered a silver amulet in the shape of a serpent during one of his walks in the hills. Upon picking it up, a blue moongate was opened before him, and he stepped through into the Sosarian countryside.

Wandering in his strange new surroundings, the youth came upon Shamino Salle Dacil, who was cutting wood at the time and accidentally struck his own leg with his axe, surprised at the sudden appearance of a stranger. Shamino then healed the wound by means of a simple magical cantrip, inadvertently introducing the young man to the reality of magic. After their initial meeting, the two soon became fast friends. It was Shamino who gave him his name, "British," in reference to the boy's claim that he came from the "British Isles."[2]

The Age of Darkness Edit

After acclimating to the strange new land, British went on to a meteoric rise through the political hierarchy of Sosaria. Initially taking the title of British, Champion of the White Light, the young hero had numerous skirmishes with the growing forces of Mondain. He was eventually able to rout the wizard in his labyrinth of dungeons and drive him from the kingdom of Akalabeth, earning him the kingship of half of that land, and with it, the name Lord British, Protector of Akalabeth.[3]

During the events of Akalabeth, the game, a hero (possibly the Stranger) entered the kingdom of Akalabeth and, at the behest of Lord British, slew a number of monsters who were remnants of Mondain's first incursion. Eventually, upon slaying a Balron, Lord British knighted the hero.

In Ultima I, Lord British was found in his castle in the Lands of Lord British. He was at the very least co-ruler of one of the four major Sosarian continents at this time, if not ruler in full. Still young, he was the only one of the rulers who had a vision of a united Sosaria.[4] The Castle of the Lost King also stood in Lord British's lands had an active court at this time, although it is unclear if its name implied that British's co-ruler was absent or if the title of "Lost King" was simply an eccentric appellation taken by a second monarch. With the land still plagued by Mondain, Lord British held his amulet absent-mindedly, and wished for a champion to appear. Within days the Stranger appeared in Sosaria, seeking to secure Mondain's final defeat. [5] During this quest, Lord British would provide the hero an audience, sending them on an appropriate quest and proffering a reward upon its completion. When the Stranger returned from the past, with the Gem of Immortality destroyed, the surroundings were different and Lord British appeared as a stately youth in violet robes; in gratitude, he ordained the entire realm of Sosaria to be at the champion's service.

In Ultima II, Lord British appeared in the time-warped world of Earth, whose history had been catastrophically altered by Minax's activities. He appeared in both the years 1423 B.C. and 1990 A.D., in a castle located in what would be considered Great Britain by the standards of our current time line. During this strange era, he served as the chair of a committee of various survivors of the eventual cataclysm of 2111 A.D. - a group which attempted to research the totality of Minax's actions and the possibility that the emerging time doors could be used to avert their aftermath.[6] British again sent out the call for a hero,[5] and when the Stranger appeared and approached him in the course of the quest to slay the enchantress, he granted the hero the use of his healing arts in exchange for tributes of gold.

By Ultima III, the landscape of Sosaria had drastically altered, with the Lands of Lord British having been sundered from the other three continents following the destruction of Mondain's gem. Lord British, then sole king of Sosaria, commissioned the Great Work - a series of exploratory travels to provide detailed maps of his newly-transformed realm. During this time, the Isle of Fire rose from the sea, and Exodus began its assault on the kingdom. After Shamino was driven to insanity, attempting to explore the stronghold of the daemon machine[7], Lord British again put out the call for a champion.[5] The Stranger again appeared to fight the evil plaguing Sosaria, and Lord British continued to assist the hero, granting them strength once they obtained the Mark of Kings.

The Age of Enlightenment Edit

After Exodus' defeat, a great celebration was held in honor of the destruction of the triad of evil. At the end of this fête, the land was rechristened Britannia.[8] Lord British's castle was also renamed to Castle Britannia. With the great evils no longer plaguing the land, Lord British helped to foster a renaissance of scholarship, arts and new spiritual pursuits. The three great castles, dedicated to the Principles of Truth, Love and Courage were founded, and British further established Shrines to these abstracts on the Isle of Fire, although the land that housed them later sank into the ocean. Each of the major cities of the new Britannia was dedicated to the study of one of the Eight Virtues which British set out. Hoping to further unite the people in the ways of his new ethical system, the king put forward the Quest of the Avatar, hoping to establish a champion which would embody all of the Virtues at once.

Some, upset at the notion of ethics being thus promoted and enforced by a monarch, banded together in resistance to British's ideology. Many citizens from the cities of Montor, Old Fawn and Moon met in secrecy to discuss a course of action. Eventually, under the leadership of Erstam, they emigrated from Britannia, seeking a new land in which they would be free to conduct their morality as they saw fit - independently of the new Virtues. After a rough journey, their ships eventually crossed through the Serpent Pillars coming at last to a land they christened New Sosaria, which later became known as the Serpent Isle. Here they settled, and over the generations, the stories of Lord British's reign slowly changed in retelling, transforming the king into the daemonic figure of Beast British, a tyrannical despot who called upon infernal forces to oppress the peoples of Old Sosaria.[9]

In Ultima IV, the Stranger appeared once more in Britannia, this time in answer to British's call for a champion of Virtue. The king gave the hero advice on how to best ascend to Avatarhood, and offered the pilgrim and their companions free use of his arts as a healer, even resurrecting the aspirant when they faced death.[10] Eventually, the Stranger completed the quest and became the Avatar.

In this new "Age of the Avatar," Lord British began to work towards transforming Britannia from a totalitarian monarchy into a representative democracy, calling the Great Council into existence. Working jointly with the sovereign, the Council removed the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom from the depths of the Great Stygian Abyss and enshrined it on what became known as the Isle of the Avatar. To signal an end to the past Ages of Darkness, British and the Council also called for the sealing of the eight remaining dungeons, trapping the evils that dwelt there.[8]

However, the unexpected result of this closing off of the depths of the eight dungeons was the seeming formation of a vast and strange Underworld through which the eight dungeons became interconnected. Curious about this strange occurrence, Lord British personally headed an expedition to the Underworld, taking with him the knights Arionis, Geraci, Noin, Roin and Shaana, as well as his scribe, Remoh. After heading on ship though a waterfall in the river Maelstrom, the company ventured in the strange and dark world for but five days before all but three members of the party were slain. The Shadowlords, dark spectres called into existence by the remnant shards of Mondain's gem, struck down British at the end of his sojourn, keeping him prisoner in the bowels of Dungeon Doom. Remoh, at this point sole survivor of the ordeal along with Shaana, recorded a log of this ill-fated journey, which later would prove helpful in retracing British's footsteps - although the scribe and the knight were not heard from again.[11]

After Lord British's disappearance, Lord Blackthorn, the regent who had assumed power during British's voyage, was seduced by the power of the Shadowlords, becoming despotic and tyrannical in his attempts to enforce virtue through penalty of law.

In Ultima V, the Avatar was summoned back to Britannia by the now outlawed companions who had accompanied the hero in the quest to attain Avatarhood. Together they quested in hope of rescuing the vanished ruler and overturning Blackthorn's regime. Although entrapped by the Shadowlord's magic, British still did his best at this time to aid the returned champion, appearing as an apparition by the hero's campfire and offering his advice and blessings. He was, even from his place of exile, still able to restore the Avatar from death through his efforts, and would do so if the hero fell in battle.

Once rescued from Doom, British confronted Blackthorn with the sins of his rule, and offered him the choice between accepting the judgment of the Great Council for his crimes or being exiled to an unknown land through the use of the Orb of the Moons. Blackthorn eventually chose to pass through a red moongate to another world.

In Ultima VI, Britannia came under attack by the gargoyles, angered at the inadvertent theft of the Codex and destruction of their home world through the collapse of the Underworld. Lord British directed the war effort from his castle, and when the Avatar again came to Britannia, he offered the hero shelter and equipment, as well as healing when necessary. Eventually, the hero championed peace between British and Lord Draxinusom of the gargoyles, relocating the codex to the Ethereal Void, and making it accessible to both races.

The Age of Armageddon Edit

During the two centuries that passed before the Avatar's next visit to Britannia, Lord British maintained his rule, seemingly without hindrance. The Great Council, which had been disbanded during Blackthorn's regency, was reestablished, this time with a seat available for the newly emigrated gargoyle populace.

At some point British approved the colonization of the Abyss by Sir Cabirus, who wished to found a settlement dedicated to all eight of the Virtues simultaneously. British ordered the foundation of a colony outside of the Abyss to be headed by Almric, his Master of Hounds, such as that the colonists could maintain contact with the outside world.[12] After the unfortunate collapse of the colony following Cabirus' death, Almric's settlement remained on the isle, until the volcanic eruption following the Avatar's adventures in Ultima Underworld I forced the inhabitants to flee.

There was also allegedly a period of civil strife and minor wars between the nobility of the various cities in this two-hundred year span, although the only records of these conflicts lie with the writings of Batlin, and nothing can be found of Lord British's actions or opinions regarding this period of instability.[13]

Prior to the events of Ultima VII, Lord British officially recognized the creation of the philosophical society known as the Fellowship, after its founder, Batlin, repeatedly petitioned him for his blessing. Thinking the group a benign organization dedicated to the service of his subjects, he did not realize its sinister intentions.[14]

By the age of Ultima VII, Britannia had changed significantly from the early era of enlightenment. Technological and industrial innovations flourished, while the populace's faith in the virtues and traditional modes of life declined, prodded on by the seeming death of magic and the new philosophies espoused by the Fellowship. Subtle societal problems such as over-taxation, classism, racism (particularly against gargoyle immigrants), environmental pollution, and civil corruption began to plague Britannia, and while Lord British was aware of a sentiment of dissatisfaction in this age, it had no immediate and discernible source.

When the Avatar again returned to Britannia, the resurfacing of the Isle of Fire gave the sovereign a more palpable menace to face. It was revealed that the Dark Core which contained Exodus' memories was still viable, and that it was beginning to seek reunification with Exodus' psyche, possibly causing the blight of the hellspawn to reform. Eager to have the matter investigated, Lord British, in addition to offering the returned hero supplies and healing, gifted the Avatar with a ship, the Golden Ankh, and a magic crystal by which the adventurer might navigate to the isle.[15]

Eventually, the hero banished the Dark Core back into the Void and managed to expose the true nature of the Fellowship, which was serving as a front for invasion by a malevolent entity known as the Guardian. After the Avatar barred the Guardian's entry into Britannia, Lord British ordered the Fellowship disbanded, heralding in "The Reconstruction," during which the harm from the organization's activities was to be undone.

In Ultima Underworld II, one year later, Lord British held a festival in celebration of the Reconstruction. The Avatar and several of the hero's companions were present when all within the castle walls were trapped inside of a great Blackrock Dome that the Guardian crafted to imprison the revelers. During this crisis, Lord British was robbed of his magical powers, owing to the magic negating effects of blackrock. While the Avatar ventured to other worlds through a small gem in the basement of the castle, British was taxed with growing tensions among the imprisoned party-goers. He was faced with a protest from the working class servants of the castle demanding more established societal rights (which he eventually granted at the Avatar's behest), a constant shortage of water and supplies, and the eventual betrayal of the company by Britain's mayor, Patterson, who went on to murder guests Lady Tory and Nelson. Eventually, the Avatar, working with the court magician, Nystul, managed to shattered the blackrock gem and free the party-goers.

Six months later, it came to British's attention that a magical scroll had been found amongst Batlin's belongings, in which the Guardian directed the Fellowship head to follow Gwenno, the wife of famed bard Iolo Fitzowen, to the Serpent Isle, where he would outline further plans for Britannia's domination.

Prior to this, Gwenno had contacted Lord British regarding her voyage of exploration through the Serpent Pillars, and had given him instructions such as that Iolo and the Avatar could later pursue her. In Ultima VII Part Two, Lord British sent the Avatar, Iolo, Shamino and Dupre on a voyage to the legendary Serpent Isle.

During the hero's adventures there, the growing Imbalance caused by the kidnap of the Great Earth Serpent so many centuries ago, caused strange Teleport Storms and earthquakes to wreak havoc on Britannia. The Royal Mint of Britain was transposed with the Great Lighthouse of Fawn, the emps and gargoyles fell prey to a strange sleeping sickness, and the foundations of Castle Britannia, itself, began to crack. During a brief encounter with the Avatar in the Dream Realm of Gorlab Swamp, Lord British told the hero of the devastation ongoing in the realm indicating his despair over what it portended.

Eventually, the Avatar returned the Great Earth Serpent to the Void and ended the Imbalance, although Britannia was still plagued by the incursions of the Guardian, who summoned eight columns from the earth to pervert the virtues of the cities of Britannia.

By the time of Ultima IX, Lord British had become aged and weary, feeling helpless to save the peoples from the threat of the Guardian. When the Avatar appeared in Britannia for the last time, Lord British offered the hero what possessions he had, once more giving him advice and instruction during this final quest.

When Lord Blackthorn, now returned as a cohort of the Guardian, challenged the Avatar to duel in the Abyss, it was Lord British who took it upon himself to meet his former regent, slaying him in the course of the battle, and reclaiming the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom for the Avatar. When the hero arrived and saw the results of the melee, British explained that he and Britannia had relied overmuch much on their champion throughout the ages, and the now gray-haired king asked the Avatar's forgiveness for having placed so heavy a burden upon their shoulders.

Eventually, through a feat of magic great enough to change the orbits of Trammel and Felucca themselves, British was able to open the moongate to the Shrine of Spirituality for the Avatar, allowing for the eventual completion of the Avatar's last quest and the ascension of both the hero and the Guardian.[16]

Origin of the Name Edit


Lord British as seen in the manuals

Lord British is the in game counterpart of the Ultima series' designer, Richard Garriott. Garriott, who was born in Britain but raised in the United States, acquired the nickname "Lord British" as a teenager from his friends at computer camp. They claimed that his first greeting to them, 'Hello', was distinct from the American 'Hi', and that he therefore must be British.

Garriott released early games, such as Akalabeth under the name, and occasionally appeared in Ultima Online playing as Lord British. He is still known as Lord British even after his departure from Ultima maker Origin Systems: Garriott retained the trademark rights to the name Lord British with its associated symbols, and the character later appeared in the Korean MMO Lineage. Another alter-ego of Richard Garriott called General British later appeared in his latest game, Tabula Rasa.

Trivia Edit

  • Lord British is invincible in all games, unless the player finds the special ways to kill him. Killing Lord British has become a challenge in itself.
  • The manual of the Ultima I remake mentions Lord British as standing apart from the other rulers of Sosaria, and his castle can be a haven of safety for the champion of the realm. In the actual game, Lord British isn't different than the other rulers; furthermore, he keeps the "princess Julia" captive, for unknown reasons.
  • Lord British has acquired the nicknames LB, his Nibs, and Mr. Nose throughout the Ultima series.
  • Apart from Ultima V, Ultima VI and Ultima IX, he is always found in his castle.
  • In Ultima VII, killing Lord British uncovers the king's will, in which he reveals an affair with his maidservant Nell, and claims fatherhood of her unborn child.
  • The aged appearance of Lord British in Ultima IX was originally meant to be caused by the decaying land and the numerous nightmares sent to him by the Guardian. While the plot of the game was changed, the elder appearance of Lord British was retained for the final game although no explanation was given to this sudden aging.
  • In almost every Ultima game, the Lord British's theme song is a variation of "Rule, Britannia", one of the British National Anthems.

References Edit

  1. Chuckles reveals Lord British's name as "Lord Cantabrigian British" in Ultima V when he welcomes the Avatar at the entrance of Castle Britannia.
  2. Garriott, Richard et al. "Folklore". The Book of Lore (Ultima V). Origin Systems, Inc: 1988. Pages 1-2.
  3. Garriott, Richard. "The Annals of Akalabeth". Akalabeth Manual (Akalabeth). California Pacific Computer Co.: 1980. Pages 1-2.
  4. Albert, Dave. "The Adventure". Ultima I Manual (Ultima I). Origin Systems, Inc: 1986. Pages 2.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Garriott, Richard et al. "Folklore". The Book of Lore (Ultima V). Origin Systems, Inc: 1988. Pages 4.
  6. Rollo, Mary Taylor. "The Story of Minax". Ultima II Manual (Ultima II). Sierra On-Line, Inc.: 1983. Page 23.
  7. Adams, Roe R.. "The Adventure". The Book of Play (Ultima III). Origin Systems, Inc.: 1983. Page 20.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Garriott, Richard et al. "Folklore". The Book of Lore (Ultima V). Origin Systems, Inc: 1988. Page 5.
  9. Morris, Andrew. "Further Ages". Beyond the Serpent Pillars (Ultima VII Part Two). Origin Systems, Inc.: 1993. Page 5.
  10. Lord BritishUnderworld Dragon's Ultima IV TranscriptUltima IV. "heal, help".
  11. Remoh. Journal of Lord British's Journey to the Underworld (Ultima V). Origin Systems, Inc.: 1988. Pages 1-4.
  12. Harrison, Mike et al. Memoirs of Sir Cabirus (Ultima Underworld I). Origin Systems, Inc.: 1992. Page 5.
  13. Herman, Jack. The Book of Fellowship (Ultima VII). Origin Systems, Inc.: 1992. Page 2.
  14. Herman, Jack. The Book of Fellowship (Ultima VII). Origin Systems, Inc.: 1992. Pages 7-8.
  15. Lord BritishUnderworld Dragon's Ultima VII TranscriptUltima VII. "Exodus, island, Isle of Fire, rumble".
  16. Lord BritishQuill Dragon's Ultima IX TranscriptUltima IX.
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