Sesyphus is a lich. When in Lich form, he looks like a lich with some rotting flesh still covering his skeleton.
More often, however, he appears in Halfling form. No one has ever investigated to determine if he assumes this form through simple illusion magics, or if it’s more powerful polymorph magics. One way or the other, his Halfling visage is small, attractive and inviting.
Sesyphus was a significant, if often unseen, character in the Helm Campaign. He was one of many powerful creatures who acted as though they were helping the PCs, but were in fact trying to manipulate the young adventurers.
Sesyphus is also intricately linked to the history of islands, so before describing his role in the first campaign, let’s pause a moment and recognize his personality and his historical significance.
Sesyphus generally seemed calm and intellectual. He also seemed sincere, though his later actions might well have proved otherwise.
Before turning into a lich, Sesyphus Lanson, by all accounts, appears to have been an idealistic, hopeful spellcaster with the best of intentions. Some six plus centuries ago, he founded the ICS along with Dole Vanson and his brother, Yekve Lanson. Long before Kelvin Fesselhoff turned the Helm of Sesyphus over to the Unlikely Darkotians, Sesyphus complained to Copper and Slattern that his organization had long since abandoned its original purpose. That purpose was simple: it aimed to help arcane and psionic spellcasters find internal balance, so that they could use their power to help those less fortunate.
It is potentially less surprising that Sesyphus wound up partnering with Fesselhoff, given the knowledge that he was disenfranchised with the directions the organization took after his undeath.
In the Helm Campaign
To start, Sesyphus was widely discussed by Dole and others as being the true mastermind behind the Helm’s creation. This was fiction, of course, as the PCs later confirmed by reading Dole’s Journals, but it was how Sesyphus’ name came up, beyond simply being attached to the infamous Helm the PCs spent an entire campaign trying to destroy.
As the game progressed, the PCs learned that Sesyphus was Lisuania Longmeadow’s greatest friend and she was trying to help him die. He claimed that he had been involuntarily turned into a lich after he and Dole dueled over the need to destroy the Helm. He suggested that in this duel, he was killed, only to be reborn in this vile, undead form. Sesyphus guessed that the Helm was his unwanted phylactery, so he very much wanted to destroy it so that he could finally kill himself.
Of course, the PCs didn’t believe him.
Even so, over the course of the campaign Sesyphus repeatedly tracked the Unlikely Darkotians so that he could both impede and assist their progress. He often accompanied Lisuania when she would give the PCs information.
To the end the game, it was clearly that Sesyphus was helping to lead the Army of Undeath, along with his ghostly brother, Yekve and the armies’ other leaders. Exactly how he came to become one of the undead armies’ infamous generals is as yet unclear. If she’s still alive, Lisuania might know, but first she’d need to be found and then she’d need to be asked. It’s also probable she’d be reluctant to talk about it.
At this point, as far as anyone knows, he is still alive. It is a reasonable assumption to conclude that he’s probably still with Fesselhoff and Yekve, wherever they went after leading their army into the ocean.