Nerukath (3.5e NPC)
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|Male lich wizard 13|
|LE Medium undead|
|Init/Senses||+3/darkvision 60 ft.; Listen +12, Spot +12|
|Languages||Common, Elven, Sylvan, Undercommon, Draconic, Abyssal, Infernal, Celestial; tongues|
|AC||27, touch 17, flat-footed 24|
(+3 Dex, +4 deflection, +5 armor, +5 natural)
|hp||84 (13 HD)|
|Speed||30 ft. (6 squares)|
|Melee||paralyzing touch +10 touch (1d8+5 negative energy plus paralysis)|
|Atk Options||+2 DC to enchantment spells, Dampen SpellPHB2|
|Special Actions||spells, fear aura, paralyzing touch|
|Spells Prepared||(CL 13th):|
5th—dominate person (DC 24), feeblemind (DC 24), mind fog (DC 24), persistent image (DC 22), waves of fatigue (DC 22)
4th—quickened charm person ×2 (DC 20), confusion (DC 23), crushing despair (DC 23), greater invisibility, rainbow pattern (DC 21)
3rd—heroism, hold person ×2 (DC 22), suggestion (DC 22), displacement, invisibility sphere, ray of exhaustion (DC 20)
2nd—resist energy ×2, hideous laughter ×2 (DC 21), touch of idiocy (DC 21), invisibility, blindness/deafness (DC 19)
1st—true strike, charm person ×3 (DC 20), color spray (DC 18), disguise self, ray of enfeeblement (DC 18)
|Abilities||Str 12, Dex 16, Con —, Int 25, Wis 18, Cha 17|
|SQ||elf traits, school specialization (enchantment), damage reduction 15/bludgeoning and magic, immunity to cold, electricity, polymorph and mind-affecting effects, spell resistance 18, +4 turn resistance|
|Feats||Arcane ThesisPHB2 (charm person), Dampen SpellPHB2, Greater Spell Focus (enchantment), Improved Counterspell, Quicken Spell, Scribe Scroll, Spell Focus (enchantment), Vatic GazePHB2|
|Skills||Bluff +19, Concentration +16, Knowledge (arcana) +23, Knowledge (torture) +23, Profession (torturer) +20, Spellcraft +23|
|Possessions||staff of abjuration, black robe of the archmagi, ring of freedom of movement, ring of protection +4, brooch of shielding|
|Fear Aura (Su)||Nerukath is shrouded in a dreadful aura of death and evil. Creatures of less than 5 HD in a 60-foot radius that look at Nerukath must succeed on a DC 19 Will save or be affected as though by a fear spell from a 13th-level sorcerer. A creature that successfully saves cannot be affected again by Nerukath's aura for 24 hours.|
|Paralyzing Touch (Su)||Any living creature Nerukath hits with his touch attack must succeed on a DC 19 Fortitude save or be permanently paralyzed. Remove paralysis or any spell that can remove a curse can free the victim (see the bestow curse spell description). The effect cannot be dispelled. Anyone paralyzed by Nerukath seems dead, though a DC 20 Spot check or a DC 15 Heal check reveals that the victim is still alive.|
|Skills||Nerukath has a +8 racial bonus on Hide, Listen, Move Silently, Search, Sense Motive, and Spot checks.|
Nerukath has made the following effects permanent on himself: arcane sight, read magic, see invisibility, tongues, greater magic fang (+3 bonus), resistance and telepathic bond (between himself and Ysabella).
Nerukath began his wizardly career humbly, as an apprentice to a minor vermin-mage called Immanuel Bock. The vermin-mage lived in the sewers of a grand metropolis - the seedy masses that live in a sewer of a city of that size constitute a district all their own - where he dwelt among dire rats and giant bugs. He and Nerukath worked as enforcers for minor criminals and gangs, the vermin-mage using his insect plague to torture people into submission and Nerukath keeping them safe with abjurations and negotiating better prices with enchantments. One memorable time, their target immediately gave up the money he owed, without Immanuel needing to summon even a grasshopper. Nerukath asked him why.
"Because it'd hurt," he said.
And Nerukath was hooked. Pain was power, pain was influence! The more he experimented with it, the more he came to admire it, to fetishize it: pain was art, pain was pleasure, pain was god. He tormented their paid-for targets with such gusto and such wicked inventiveness that Immanuel came to fear and loathe him, and cast him away. But Nerukath could not be stopped: he searched for more arcane lore to gain access to ever-greater implements of torture. Knives were all well and good, as were choke pears, ropes, thumbscrews and water, but spells were more sophisticated by far. Nerukath especially loved to magically charm someone only to betray them, and to paralyze them so he could operate freely as their bulging eyes stared mutely.
When Nerukath was forty, he was the nightmare of that city, a horror living beneath it who tortured people so horribly that the people who happened upon the bodies would tear out their eyes. Many attempts were made to catch him, but he evaded most such attempts with magic and stealth, and his charmed and terrified cronies would take care of the rest. It was in his forties that he discovered a gray strand of hair on his pillow. I am going to die, he thought, and ever the industrious soul, began to seek for a way to extend his life indefinitely.
The answer came from his past. Nerukath came in contact with Surma, an another, later apprentice of Immanuel Bock, who had become a vampire to achieve the very same goal. Surma had considered lichdom before choosing the vampiric route, but was happy to give up his previous research for a few minor trinkets and a few major threats. Nerukath lived in Surma's court for a while, and fell in love with Surma's vampire "sister", Ysabella. The feeling was mutual. Nerukath enjoyed power over others as a means of torture, and Ysabella enjoyed torture as a means of power over others - it was a match made in heaven. With the help of Surma, Ysabella and years of careful study, he mastered the secrets of becoming a lich and turned him into an undead monstrosity.
Living in Surma's court with his beloved Ysabella was fine, but Nerukath dreamed of a greater dwelling: a fortress devoted to torture, the thing Nerukath still worshiped above everything else. A palace where torturers and painmakers and artificers and necromancers could gather and trade stories and techniques of the foulest art. Such a horrible place would have to be hidden away, so as to not attract the hostile attention of good-hearted folk, and Nerukath chose the Far Fanes as the location. The Far Fanes is a pocket dimension between the Negative Energy and Shadow planes. Quickly, a twisting fortress of iron, almost like a metallic cancer-growth, sprung up from the soiled earth of that place, and Nerukath was finally home.
Appearance and personality
|The Lord of Keepsake.|
It's been a long, long time since Nerukath looked much like anything. He never cared about his appearance in the least bit while he was alive, and he was equally indifferent about his visage after he became a lich. This lead into his skin rotting off of his bones in quick order. He is now a grotesque skeletal fiend, his movements twitching and sudden, his voice a dusty rasp. The only reason there's even a little bit of majesty to his form is that he wears powerful magical artifacts, which have been created to look elegant, and the fact that his wife Ysabella demands he at least wear royal clothing and jewelry.
While his physical form is decrepit and unassuming, Nerukath's power has always been his twisted mind. Nerukath is a quick talker and a seemingly pleasant conversationalist, and the fact that his voice has become like the grating of tombstones has done little to lessen his charm. Nerukath is also intelligent almost to a ridiculous extent: he prides himself on his eidetic memory (he remembers every bit of pain he's ever caused) and his sharp sense of character (he has often figured out whoever he's talking to before he's had a chance to open his mouth). Nerukath's behavior seems jovial, humble, and always confident - and he really is all these things.
Torture is Nerukath's first love, although followed quickly by Ysabella, who delights in it almost as much as he does. And in a near-endless universe, torture is an equally endless subject of study. Every race feels pain differently, every plane has its own materials and forces to manipulate to painful ends, every person is unique when it comes to suffering. Nerukath enjoys talking about torture, and always discusses the matter with a contained excitement entirely unfitting to the subject. Just don't mistake his kindly words and courteous behavior for affection: even as he talks pleasantries with someone, Nerukath mentally flays them with his eyes.
Followers and allies
Nerukath commands the full arsenal of Keepsake, his beloved fortress-slash-confluence. This includes numerous vampire servants who Ysabella brought with her from her brother's court as well as her night hag handmaidens. They serve as the eyes and ears of the fortress; the hags especially use their etherealness to patrol the nearby Far Fanes and to torment the nightmares of the foes of the Lord and Lady. Nerukath also employs a large number of both demons and devils: some seek him out for the opportunity to work for such an infamous character, others he conjures up himself, and they are kept from infighting (most of the time) due to the threat of Nerukath's art: in the long years he's tortured creatures far stranger than tanar'ri.
Nerukath's Head Artificer, Carmichael, makes sure that Nerukath has no lack of powerful flesh and iron golem servants. These include Ketka, Nerukath's pet flesh golem of immense size. On the other front, Sister Cheryll, his Head Alchemist, provides him with potions both for practical and for recreational uses. Nerukath can also call upon a vast network of allies - not friends, mind you - who can help him out. These include his brother-in-law Surma, as well as Bar'mini, a rakshasa noble who shares Nerukath's interest in torture, and would perhaps try to seduce the lich if it weren't for his vengeful wife.
Recent activity and plans
While Nerukath's greatest dream, Keepsake, is completed, the complicated nuances of torture means that there's always more to achieve and more goals to reach. While Nerukath is not an active villain, preferring to hole himself away in his fortress altar to torture, he patrons, finances and otherwise supports vast amounts of other villains who are more proactive in their evil. Nerukath might have no long-term plans, but he is irrevocably tied to thousands of plans of others, almost invariably concerning pain.
Nerukath also makes sure to hone his art, not being content on letting his talents rust. This means he partakes in acts of horrid torture every now and again in what he would call a recreational activity. For example, he might seek to trap a demigod to experiment on the kinds of pains you can inflict on a divinity, or to seek scholarly help in extracting the very essence of pain from the wounds of a dying man. In the vast scheme of things these little plans are not important, but they cement Nerukath as a vile character.
|And soon you dance|
to his tune.
Unlike many arcane casters and scheming villains, Nerukath welcomes combat. He sees the violence of the fray as just another kind of torture, albeit a very rough kind: the flashes of red pain as the weapon hits home, the moments of hesitation in taking a life, the terror of a dying man. This doesn't mean he rushes into fights as often as he can, but unlike most wizards, he takes a proactive role in fights, especially since his powerful entourage can more than keep him alive. If he knows of a coming fight beforehand (as he often does, thanks to his servants), he'll have protective magic up (globe of invulnerability and displacement from his own roster, and resist energy and shield from his staff).
Nerukath knows his strengths and uses them. He's an enchanter first and foremost, and he'll always attempt to sway over and/or incapacitate as many of his foes as possible. If he has the time, the very first spell he casts is mind fog, for obvious reasons. Then he casts his high-level enchantments, usually starting with mass hold person and mass suggestion. Only when multiple foes are turned against their friends or rendered helpless does he directly attack with finger of death and the like. Nerukath casts quickened charm person as soon and as often as possible to maximize the number of foes that fall under his influence.
Nerukath likes nothing more than to toy with those he manages to charm or dominate. If possible, he tries to force them or manipulate them to attack their friends: the pain of understanding what you've done is a torture Nerukath finds intoxicating. He also likes to make his minions attack paralyzed and helpless foes, which include dominated targets that he's told to discard their weaponry and lie on the ground.
If forced on the defensive, Nerukath quickly uses greater invisibility to regain the advantage. He might also have the spell up if he knows the fight's going to be dire. Nerukath's also a gifted illusionist, so he uses spells like persistent image and the confusion his charmed enemies cause to complicate the fight. Death holds no great fear for Nerukath thanks to his phylactery, so he has a tendency to fight to the last, but he will flee a combat to be with his wife, who doesn't benefit from such insurance. The teleportation circle-enhanced thrones of their chambers are a good escape route.
From his research Nerukath knows that a common mistake liches do is to make their phylactery an obvious artifact: a family heirloom, a fabled belonging, or other similar sentimental trinket. The best way to hide a phylactery is in plain sight, Nerukath reasons, and thus made his an innocuous lead ball no bigger than an eyeball. On the outside the ball is markless and could easily be mistaken for a sling bullet; the only significant feature is the ball's considerable weight, even considering the material it's made of. The ball is actually hollow, and the inside is covered with microscopic writing that contains the powerful magics that store Nerukath's life power.
Nerukath also knows better than to keep his phylactery in an obvious location. The lead ball is stored alongside the many treasures of Nerukath's considerable hoard, where it could easily be mistaken for a worthless trinket or the aforementioned sling bullet. Nerukath likes to change the phylactery's exact location constantly: currently, it lies in the stomach cavity of the desiccated corpse of a child Nerukath locked up in one of his treasure chests, but only after putting a cursed ring of sustenance on her to prolong the horror.