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Murder of Lord British

As Ultima Online neared the final few hours of its beta period, the game’s creators decided to embark on tour through the game to thank the many players that had helped make the beta period a success. The day-long plan was for Lord British and Lord Blackthorn (aka Richard Garriott and Starr Long) to travel around meeting as many of the individual players of the game as possible. The pair travelled to Lord Blackthorn’s Keep, which would become the final leg of their tour, and as they were speaking to their final group of players, mere minutes away from the end of the beta period, Lord British was assassinated.


The Assassination of Lord British

Lord British and Lord Blackthorn stood on the outer walls of Lord Blackthorn’s Keep as a small crowd had gathered in front of them. The pair had spent the day traveling the game thanking players for their participation in the beta period of the game. Lord Blackthorn and Lord British now stood on the battlements amidst the very last group of game players that they would be speaking to on their tour. [1]

While chatting, mayhem broke out in the crowd with several people calling for the city “guards” to come protect them. Due to a bug though, the guards kept spawning, but none of them were reacting to the events folding in front of them. The guards kept coming until the server finally crashed and were promptly restarted. [2] The restarting of the server process however removed Lord British's invulnerability flag. This made him mortal like any other player in the game, unbeknownst to him.

In the crowd that afternoon watching the celebratory proceedings was a player called Rainz. Rainz was a member of the Ravens of Fate, a guild dedicated to maintaining a healthy balance of power across Britannia. Rainz's in-game character was not a mage, which meant he had no magical prowess or spell conjuring abilities of his own, however he was a cunning pickpocket. As Lord British addressed his subjects, Rainz had been quietly searching the backpacks of the listening players. Eventually he discovered a distracted player with a scroll of Fire Field which he removed from their backpack. [3]

As the pair stood there in conversation with players, Rainz stepped forward and used the Fire Field scroll on the small ramparts where Lord Blackthorn and Lord British were standing. The Fire Field scroll created an instant wall of flames which engulfed both Lord Blackthorn and Lord British. Lord British managed to step away from the flames, but thinking himself to have his invisibility flag turned on, he then stepped back into the flames. Moments later his hit points drained to nothing and he fell to the ground, dead.


The initial death of Lord British came as a huge surprise to the onlookers in the crowd, but also to the OSI team of programmers who were responsible for the game. The explanation, it would turn out, was very simple and down to a combination of simple human error, bad luck and circumstance. The server crash that had happened during the event reset Lord British's invincibility flag rendering him mortal in the game. The event would go on to be blogged about on every major site that featured Ultima Online, rendering Rainz as a legend among the citizens of Britannia. Rainz was officially banned from the game later that afternoon with the official reason being the sheer number of complaints from other players because of his play-style.

P.S. The story summary is loosely based on this [4].