The Wraith first appear in the Warholds region just two hundred years ago during the evil Kingdom of Asmorgar. It is said that the King of Asmorgar was a Necromaster who came to the North after the defeat of the armies of the Necrogarchy of Leng in the Nightshade War.
The Necromasters developed some occult agency to both mark their chosen Captains and to make them fearless and nearly indestructible. The side effect of this eldritch gift was that such a soul marked Captain in service to the Necromasters who finally died, usually slain in combat, would rise as a wraith within a week of their death.
Wraiths are powerful undead and usually independent of the control of magicians. Even the Necromasters rarely command these beings and so the dead Captains of the Kingdom of Asmorgar were buried quickly and often deeply in stone lined barrows so that the rising wraith would appear well away from the settlements and business of living men, or their former master.
A barrow is more than a simple stone cairn. It is structured in such a manner and certain talismans and objects owned by the wraith in life are buried there so that the creature is tied to its barrow. Wraiths cannot venture forth from their barrows during the daylight hours and few, except the most powerful can wander more than a few dozen yards from the barrow after darkness falls.
When a wraith kills a mortal, that mortal's spirit returns as a Shadow and is a dull witted and cursed being with no real memories of who they were in life. These shadow creatures sometimes accumulate within a barrow where graverobbers have foolishly come poking around. The shadows are tied to the Wraith and must serve its will, often they cannot exit the barrow within which they were slain.
A soul marked Captain of one of the Necromasters of Leng, slain and left to rot in a field or hang from a gibbet would rise as a powerful and independent from of undead. That wraith would be free to roam and attack at will, whenever it was night and conceal itself in dark places during the day, lest the light of the sun destroy it. Such a being would bring plague and suffering on the world, consuming the spirits of the living and turning them into Shadows which would follow in its train, constantly having the victims of the wraith add to their strength and numbers. A free roaming Wraith like this who has accumulated a dozen Shadows to serve it becomes a Night Gaunt, one of the most dangerous and terrifying forms of undead in the world.
Wraiths as a whole only appeared during the Nightshade War, when the Necrogarchy of Leng invaded the neighboring Kingdoms of Etruria, Daria and Kyrene within the lands known as the Dragonsmarch. It is believed that the Necromasters went about perfecting their ability to soul mark their most loyal Captains as a part of their plot to invade and conquer all of the free Kingdoms in the heartland of the world.
The Rakian Empire is a great and powerful place whose lands are now overtaken by vast stretches of parched desert. The Piper and the Rag Man are some of the dozen or so strange and horrible Immortals long worshipped in temples and shrines throughout the great cities of Rakia.
Rakia is ruled by a class of elite priest kings, each of whom commands absolute power over their particular city state. Over the priest kings is the strongest and most powerful of all of these warlords who bears the title of God Emperor and whose word is law all throughout the Rakian Empire.
The God Emperors of Rakia have long extended their ability to remain in power and rule by the slow and horrifyingly painful process of mortal mummification. Through this process certain organs are removed and sealed in carefully prepared jars and wrappings and packings of bandages bearing powerful spells are used to keep the individual alive even after their mortal organ has been removed. In this fashion the God Emperor passes from mortal life into an immortal, undead state of existence.
Yet even the spells animating the God Emperors of Rakia have their limitations and after a hundred and fifty years of rule, the God Emperors find wakeful action more and more exhausting and they retreat to the cool silence of deeply buried sarcofagi to rest for longer and longer periods. Over the following decades the God Emperor fades from power and becomes one of the sleeping lords of Rakia who only arise when their dreaming is disturbed by the presence of the living, usually grave robbers bent on plundering the tomb complexes which surround them.
This process of slow mummification is one of the most ancient methods whereby a supremely powerful and wealthy ruler may obtain a certain immortality through undeath.
The secrets of mummification were eventually stolen by the Sorcerer Kings of Leng, roughly a thousand years ago. These Sorcerer Kings sought the means to greatly extend their lives and ability to rule over their Kingdom, even beyond that which had been achieved by the God Emperors of Rakia.
It was the most powerful of the Sorcerer Kings who finally came upon the means to transform themselves into a Lich, by securing their spirit within a phylactery and applying some of the spell inscribed wrappings used in the process of slow mummification over their slowly desiccating physical bodies.
Today, a council of five Necromasters rules over the Necrogarchy of Leng. All of these rulers are by design powerful sorcerers and Liches. A Necromaster, by tradition, is allowed to retain their seat on the ruling council for two hundred years. After that time they are supposed to retire from active government to join the Dread Lords who slumber for longer and longer periods in a great and secret chamber below the capital city of the Necrogarchy of Leng.
The current ruling Necromasters sometimes go down into these vaults to seek the guidance of their forerunners or to insure their favor over the current decisions of the council. Occasionally, should the ruling council greatly displease the Dread Lords, they have been known to rise from their stone seats to march up into the city above to level death and horrible suffering upon the population of the city.