Finnsson wrote:
> I don't think the Cold Rider is Azrai. The Shadow World was (and I quote from the rulebook): "poisoned by the rise of the Unsurper, a gathering evil that corrupted their homelands, and they fled to the dalight world to escape his power. A small number of halflings arrived in Cerilia in time to witness the battle of Mount Deismaar."
> So the Unsurper (=the Cold Rider?) existed before the battle of Mount
> Deismaar.<

I think Azrai *is* The Cold Rider because of the following reasons:

1) Finnsson didn't finish that quote; he missed the last sentence. It
should read " ... in time to witness the battle of Mount Deismaar. In
the early years of the ANUIREAN EMPIRE, the halflings left their homes
one family at a time, virtually trickling into the human lands."
[emphasis mine].

To me, this says that the corruption from the Faerie Land into the
Shadow World didn't happen overnight, but slowly over centuries.
Halflings were still leaving This Place centuries before AND after the
Battle of Deismaar. That, whoever is corrupting this idyllic plane is
a) not a native, and (b) weak and/or very subtle at making change occur
on a planar scale. Given both, its likely that its not a new (native)
deity, since this god would be too much in tune with this plane not to
have influenced it and the native halflings long ago. This just has
Azrai's fingerprints all over it, considering His nature and history.
He is a defeated god, and can't wield the same influence as before.

2) Birthright is about LESS, not more. Less magic, less Powers, less
levels. I, for one, don't want a plethora of new BR powers sprucing up
this playing field. So why *not* make The Cold Rider the fallen
Azrai?!? The story potential here is just too sweet to pass up
friends!!! The Shadow is a mere 'shadow' of his former self!!! How can
it get any better than this? It conjures up images of Darth Vader for
me ... (And everyone knows that Darth Vader is the COOLEST bad boy that
has ever been created in human literature. bar none). ;D

3) Azrai went (and still goes) by many names. The Serpent, The Shadow,
not to mention probably dozens of other variations on those names from
every different culture of Aebrynis. I'm sure the title Usurper is
simply the halfing's title for Azrai, because (well) a) they knew no
evil before He came (I'm betting) and, (b) what was this entity doing to
them but stealing their utopic land away from them!

4) The quote "... a gathering evil ..." is just too coincidental not
refer to Azrai's usurpation of power, total enslavement, and threat of
force which culminated in the Battle of Deismaar. Azrai was planning
and plotting ***long*** before the Battle of Deismaar came around, and
I'm sure Azrai searched every possible area and avenue for little minds
to corrupt and enslave. This title, Usurper, fits Azrai too well to be
any other entity. So too, now, does Cold Rider - a empty husk of a god,
wandering aimlessly around on a dead plane, (which HE created, and now
curses himself for, since he can't garner godhood from the dead ...),
searching for that elusive mistress - Supreme Power. Again, story
factor here.

And 5) (as has been said before) Azrai had enough divine essense in him
to challenge 7 Ultimate Gods, and win. And He only *just barely* lost.
I think Azrai, if any of the gods could possibly find out, knew how to
survive any possible challenge to his Deific Dictatorship. Azrai was
also the god of knowledge (I believe, right? Knowledge and Pride?), so
if anyone knew this, Azrai would. I have always envisioned Azrai to be
*smart*. Smarter than all the other gods put together. In fact, too
smart for his own good! He wasn't stupid, and I'd bet my grandmother He
even made a contigency plan in case of the off chance that he suffered
'a minor setback' to his rightful place as Supreme Entity.
Unfortunately, his ingenuity and cunning did not prepare him for
something so obvious. In other words, Azrai lacks *wisdom*. So, while
he survived the Battle of Deismaar, he didn't consider that the plane
that he cast his 'magic jar spell' on would be influenced (and
ultimately corrupted) by his own essense, and moreover, than his own
evil essense never creates, only destroys. The Cold Rider is now cursed
by his very self - He is Evil Incarnate, and now has to live with that
fact and all it entails.