AKA: Richard Garriott
As seen in: Ultima III: Exodus
Also in: Ultima Online
Distinguishing feature: Crown; Serpent Amulet; awesome beard
Strengths: Command of all peoples of Britannia; invincibility tag; aforementioned beard.
Weaknesses: Beta testers; ship cannons; rat poison.
Lord British comes from an earlier time in video gaming -- a time when adding a self-insert character with a flakey BBS-era handle was considered well within the realm of good form and taste. Lord British is the immortal super king of the land of Britannia, central location of the Ultima? series. He also happens to be fictionalized persona of Ultima's creator, Richard Garriott.
Can you imagine the outcry if a designer that had risen to prominence in the modern era of games created an invincible uber-mage/warrior emperor to rule over their game world? This man has a grandfather clause to act immature in a way that would cause even the most hardcore fanfic writer to blush. Garriott also went to space, paying his way with money earned by hocking the equivalent of your cousin's seventh grade D&D game. Did you get that? He went to space. To the International Space Station. With the money you gave him.
Eventually, Ultima fans caught on to what a tool Lord British was and began spending countless hours trying to find ways around his lauded invincibility. Spurred on with tales of Garriott's displeasure at the notion of his precious character dying, a weakness was found in nearly every Ultima game. In Ultima III?, the trick was to bombard the bearded regent with ship cannons. Another game required the discreet swapping of the man's bread with a loaf envenomed with rat poison. Perhaps the most infamous example involves an incident during the beta test of Ultima Online?, the seminal MMO installment of the series. In UO, Garriott was able to actually step into the Lord British character and participate like a player in the online game world, albeit with his usual invincibility tag. On one fateful day, that cheat was never activated and a player character managed to off British while he was giving a speech. Internet legend has it that the player was subsequently banned from Ultima Online.
Even after leaving Origin Systems, publisher of Ultima, Garriott retained the rights to his character and has proven more than willing to slap him in whatever game he cranks out next. Already we've seen Lord British appear in space in Tabula Rasa, a mirror of Garriott's own infuriating space trip. What could be next for the duo?
Perhaps Garriott will create Lord British's Kart Spectacular, where players race furiously for second place, never able to pass Lord British's clearly surperior kart. The Olympics are never far away -- maybe we'll see Lord British at the Olympic Games. The title would only need to include the Britannia national anthem, as Lord British would easily claim the gold in all events. My money is on Left 4 Lord British, which would feature a motley group of four Lord Britishes fighting off wave after wave of undead Lord Britishes, each more perfect and immortal than the last. As the game progressed, the horde would grow, spewing from every doorway until the whole of the screen is covered in a writhing mass of beards and crowns. The player would lose control as their own Lord British is lost in the frenzied milieu. Upon this grim scene the game's camera would focus briefly, the unsettling denouement sinking into the player's mind in a dead silence that is broken only by the sickly grinding of bodies. A deep drum rhythm would begin slowly, but gain speed as the camera is panned back to reveal an entire continent, nay, an entire world covered with Lord Britishes, more arriving every second. Even further still the camera would rush backward, revealing that our world is but one of many in this condition, the rhythm line growing still. The beats would build to a frantic rush, each note indistinguishable from the last until planets, stars and galaxies are all revealed to be but infinitesimal micro-particles of a giant, all encompassing Lord British that stares distantly at the camera. All noise is stopped. A coy smile dances across his face. End scene.