Legend: Scholars know little of Astaroth before his fall, save that he favored constant interference and assistance when it came to mortals, rather than leaving them to develop on their own. Some tales claim that he was responsible for teaching humanoids such techniques as metalworking and even alchemy.

According to ancient writings, Astaroth himself maintains that this was why he fell, cast from Heaven for the "crime" of aiding the mortal races in their development of civilization. Most theologians, however, remain convinced that the angel was exiled for greater crimes. Legends range from an attempt to usurp the position of some heavenly god, to an effort to raise an entire mortal race to celestial status, to an attempt to turn all mortals away from worship of the gods so that he might be free to influence them as he saw fit. Astaroth admitted to no such defiance, however, and swore to the day of his disappearance that his fall was unjust.

For centuries Astaroth roamed many worlds, mortal and spiritual alike. To the celestials, he was an outcast — another prideful fallen angel who could not even admit to his errors, let alone atone for them. Yet because he refused to embrace damnation, he found no allies among the fiends either. Eventually he settled among mortals. He watched over them as a guardian and mentor to start, but slowly his obsession with "protecting" the mortals grew uncontrollable. Astaroth became a dictator, restricting even the day-to-day behavior of his subjects to keep them "safe." The fallen angel was finally slain by an uprising within the populace, but none of the Outer Planes would grant his soul any respite. Eventually, with no afterlife to call his own, stripped even of his physical existence, Astaroth simply went — elsewhere.

Manifestation: Accompanied by the sound of flapping wings and cawing crows, Astaroth manifests as a hideously ugly angel. His limp wings are filthy gray, his features drawn and gaunt, and his eyes yellowed. He carries a viper in his right hand and wears a tarnished crown upon his brow. A horrific stench accompanies him, almost but not quite enough to sicken everyone nearby.

Sign: Your skin yellows, and you emit a foul, unwashed odor. While this odor is not strong enough to impede or distract an opponent, it does attract attention.

Influence: Astaroth's influence renders you incapable of taking responsibility for your own actions. You cannot admit any fault, acknowledge any mistake, or make reparations or apologies for any wrong, no matter the consequences or the evidence against you.

Granted Abilities: Astaroth guided mortals, and he still grants abilities based in knowledge and education. As a fallen angel, and then a vestige, his magics have grown ever grimmer and more distasteful; he also grants powers based on directly controlling and offending others.

Angelic Lore: Astaroth constantly whispers the secrets of reality in the back of your mind, allowing you to draw on his own nigh-infinite knowledge. This functions as the bardic knowledge ability (PH 28), based on your effective binder level.

Astaroth's Breath: Once every 5 rounds, you can exhale a 60-foot cone of foul-smelling gas. Creatures within the cone must make a Fortitude save or be nauseated for 1 round and sickened for an additional 1d4 rounds. Those who make the save are merely sickened for 1 round. Creatures immune to poison or disease are immune to this effect.

Honeyed Tongue: You gain a +4 competence bonus on Bluff, Diplomacy, and Intimidate checks.

Master Craftsman: While bound to Astaroth, you gain a +4 competence bonus on all Craft checks. In addition, each time you bind with Astaroth, you may select one item creation feat as a temporary bonus feat. So long as you continue to bind with Astaroth, you may use that feat as though you possessed it normally; you must still spend all standard gold and XP for any item you create, and you must still provide all necessary spells for a given item.

If your effective binder level is not at least as high as the necessary caster level to take a specific item creation feat, you cannot choose that feat. For instance, a 4th-level binder could not choose any item creation feat with a prerequisite of caster level 5th or higher.

Word of Astaroth: You may make a suggestion, as the spell, with a caster level equal to your effective binder level. You must wait 5 rounds before attempting another suggestion, and at any given time, you may only have a total number of people under the effects of this ability equal to your Charisma bonus.