Acererak, the Devourer

Acererak, a half-human lich, grasped at godlike power only to lose his grip on reality. As a vestige, he grants abilities that are similar to a lich’s powers.

Legend: Only bards and a few scholars remember Acererak’s name, but many know the legend of his supposed final resting place, the Tomb of Horrors. As rumors of the wealth and magic hidden in this fabled location spread, the tomb became a burial ground for more and more explorers and tomb robbers. In truth, however, the Tomb of Horrors was not Acererak’s sepulcher at all. It was merely part of his plan to gain eternal unlife and command of all undead. Acererak left behind a diary, and the information it contains combined with the actions of a stalwart few have at last brought the full tale of Acererak to light. In his diary, Acererak wrote that he was born of a union between a human woman and a demon. Despite his hideous deformities, his mother kept him and cared for him until, when he was ten years of age, some superstitious villagers burned down their house. Acererak survived the confl agration because of his demonic heritage, but his mother did not. In his diary Acererak recalls that incident as the event that propelled him on the path toward necromancy and revenge against humanity.

Acererak became a powerful wizard. As he grew older and saw the specter of death looming, he sought out and completed the ritual for becoming a lich. After he assumed his undead form, his power continued to grow for centuries more. The diary relates, however, that Acererak eventually felt the forces animating his undead body begin to wane. Knowing that fi nal oblivion was near, he decided to build himself a secret tomb. “Only those of keenest luck and greatest skill will win through to me,” the diary read. “There, they shall receive a magnifi cent reward for their persistence.” The diary, the Tomb of Horrors, and the supposed reward were all parts of an elaborate ruse designed to bring powerful adventurers into the portion of the tomb that Acererak—by then a powerful demilich—called his Fortress of Conclusion In truth, Acererak had devised a ritual that he hoped would merge his consciousness with the Negative Energy Plane through the sacrifice of potent spirits. Had he actually accomplished this goal, he could have assumed control of any undead on any plane and gained godlike powers as well as immortality.

But the infamy of the Tomb of Horrors drew more than wealth-hungry thrill-seekers intent on gaining the reward promised in Acererak’s diary. Supplicants also came. Necromancers questing for knowledge, seekers of eternal life, and lost souls in search of purpose traveled to the tomb to learn what they could of the dark arts. In time, the supplicants became worshipers, and they stayed to dwell near the object of their devotion. Eventually, a settlement called Skull City sprang up around the entrance to Acererak’s Tomb of Horrors.

Some of the heroes Acererak lured to his tomb proved even more powerful and ingenious than he had anticipated. After fighting their way through Skull City and the Tomb of Horrors, they made their way to the demilich’s Fortress of Conclusion. At the last possible moment, they surmised Acererak’s plan and destroyed the artifact that was crucial to his apotheosis. They struck down Acererak and shattered his phylactery. Normally, such an action would have sent Acererak’s spirit to Abyss, but the worship of the Skull City residents lent him a semblance of divinity; his desire to merge with the Negative Energy Plane proved stronger than the pull of the Abyss. Unfortunately for Acererak, souls do not travel to the Negative Energy Plane upon death. Since his spirit had no clear destination, it went nowhere, becoming a vestige divorced from all planes.

Special Requirement: You must place a gem about the size of a human tooth or eye in the center of Acererak’s seal. This gem is not used up in the summoning process, nor does it move from where you placed it, despite the manner in which Acererak manifests (see Manifestation, below).

Manifestation: The gem you placed within the seal appears to float up into the air to the height of your head. Dust swirls in from the surrounding air and up from the ground to coalesce about the gem, forming a yellowed human skull with the jewel as a tooth or an eye. A moment later, other gems wink into being, so that each eye socket and the space of every tooth is occupied by a shining diamond, ruby, emerald, or sapphire. The jewels glow briefl y with an inner light, and then Acererak speaks, his dry voice filled with contempt.

Sign: A gem replaces one of your teeth. If removed, the gem reverts to a normal tooth, and a new gem appears in its place.

Influence: As a vestige, Acererak possesses the immortality he desired but none of the power that should accompany it. If you fall under his influence, you evince a strong hunger for influence and primacy. If you are presented with an opportunity to fill a void in power over a group of creatures, Acererak requires that you attempt to seize that power. You might impersonate a missing city official, take command of a leaderless unit of soldiers, or even grab the reins of runaway horses to establish your supremacy.

Granted Abilities: While bound to Acererak, you gain powers that the great lich held in his legendary unlife.

Detect Undead: You can use detect undead as the spell at will (caster level equals your effective binder level).

Hide from Undead: At will as a standard action, you can become undetectable to undead. This ability functions like the hide from undead spell, except that the DC for intelligent undead to ignore the effect and notice you is 10 + 1/2 your effective binder level + your Cha modifier.

Lich’s Energy Immunities: You gain immunity to cold and electricity damage.

Paralyzing Touch: As a standard action, you can make a touch attack to paralyze a living foe. The touched creature must succeed on a Fortitude save or be paralyzed for a number of rounds equal to one-half your effective binder level. Each round on its turn, the paralyzed creature can attempt a new saving throw as a full-round action, with success ending the effect immediately. Once you have used this ability, you cannot do so again for 5 rounds.

Speak with Dead: You can question the dead at will as though using the speak with dead spell (caster level equals your effective binder level; save DC 10 + 1/2 your effective binder level + your Cha modifier).

Undead Healing: Negative energy (such as that of an inflict spell) heals you rather than damaging you. If you are a living creature, positive energy (such as a cure spell) still heals you as well.