Driven from Okoth prior to its fall (circa -34,100 DR), Ghiz'kith fled from his defeat at the hands of the foul albino, Pil'it'ith. Retreating into Mhairshaulk, the powerful sarrukh wizard longed for further arcane knowledge. Ultimately, he sought knowledge that would allow him to outlast his enemy and survive into the future, that he might rise to power once again. He scoured his vast personal library for answers, though none could be found. At long last, in the twilight of his life, it looked as though Pil'it'ith had succeeded in finally destroying Ghiz'kith when Ghiz'kith made a desperate plea to Sseth, praying for the knowledge that had eluded him begging for immortality. Sseth responded to his disciple and bestowed upon him knowledge of a process that would transform him body and soul, turning arcane might into the long sleep from which Ghiz'kith would awaken as a lich. To this day, the reason for Sseth's assistance to Ghiz'kith is unknown. Perhaps he had foreseen his imprisonment by the dark god Set or perhaps he did this to test his chosen, Pil'it'ith. Whatever the reason, Ghiz'kith slumbered in an amber chrysalis and slowly changed.
The yuan-ti of Mhairshaulk displayed Ghiz'kith in his amber prison, hanging the massive amber tomb from the ceiling in the grand temple like some misbegotten crystal chandelier. Ghiz'kith's corpse, contained within, served as a constant reminder of the past and the yuan-tis' slavery to the sarrukh. The Time of Troubles came, and indeed Sseth found himself imprisoned by Set. Shortly after Set began granting spells to his sarrukh worshipers, Sseth began struggling against the bonds of eternal slumber. As a result of these struggles, Ghiz'kith awoke, much to the surprise of the yuan-ti of Mhairshaulk, who, upon opening the proceedings of what was to be a grand sacrifice, entered their place of worship to find the amber prison shattered and its former occupant missing. A great hunt for the body of Ghiz'kith ensued, but for a time, he was nowhere to be found.
Though he ultimately seeks to unseat Set from his current dominion, Ghiz'kith is quite happy to draw what power he can from that dark god, until such a time as he may strike out openly against him, and finally free the slumbering Sseth from his eternal prison. To this end, Ghiz'kith allows the yuan-ti to rule, advising them only. Ghiz'kith emerged from hiding, to offer himself up as a slave for what he described as the 'transgressions of the past.' In this manner, Ghiz'kith manipulates the nobility of this proud people into serving his purpose, even as they believe he serves them in their own. Recently, Ghiz'kith has become aware that his former usurper Pil'it'ith, still lives. Gleefully, he seeks out his adversary, indirectly influencing those who might take offense at Pil'it'ith's activities, and causing them to strike against the aging sarrukh in an attempt to weaken him unto the point of morbidity if possible. Ghiz'kith delights in finding groups of heroes who seek to destroy evil (or mercenaries entertaining the prospect of vast wealth), and sending them against Pil'it'ith.
Ghiz'kith: Male sarrukh lich wizard 10/arcane devotee of Sseth 5; CR 38; Medium undead (augmented monstrous humanoid); HD 14d12 plus 10d12 plus 5d4; hp 225; Init +6; Spd 30 ft.; AC 37, touch 19, flat-footed 35; Base Atk +22; Grp +28; Atk +28 melee (1d4+6, claw) or +28 melee (1d8+5 negative energy [Will DC 22] plus paralysis, touch) or +29 melee (4d4+28/19-20, manyfang dagger) or +30 melee (1d6+11, staff of power); Full Atk +28 melee (1d4+6, 2 claws) and +23 melee (1d4+3 plus poison, bite) or +28 melee (1d8+5 negative energy [Will DC 22] plus paralysis, touch) or +29/+24/+19/+14 melee (4d4+28/19-20, manyfang dagger) and +23 melee (1d4+3 plus poison, bite) or +30/+25/+20/+15 melee (1d6+11, staff of power) and +23 melee (1d4+3 plus poison, bite); SA fear aura (lich), fear aura (sarrukh), manipulate form, paralyzing touch, poison, spell-like abilities; SQ damage reduction 15/bludgeoning and magic, darkvision 60 ft., divine shroud, divine synergy, immunities (cold, electricity, fire, polymorph), reach of the holy, sacred defense +2, spell resistance 20, turn resistance +4, undead traits; AL NE; SV Fort +17, Ref +24, Will +30; Str 23, Dex 15, Con --, Int 41, Wis 20, Cha 20.
Skills and Feats: Appraise +39, Bluff +34, Concentration +37, Decipher Script +42, Diplomacy +36, Disguise +7, Forgery +17, Heal +31, Hide +10, Intimidate +38, Knowledge (arcana) +47, Knowledge (history) +47, Knowledge (religion) +47, Listen +15, Move Silently +34, Search +23, Sense Motive +13, Spellcraft +42, Spot +39; Alertness, Combat Casting, Combat Expertise, Deceitful, Delay Spell, Enlarge Spell, Greater Spell Focus (enchantment), Improved Initiative, Persuasive, Power Attack, Scribe Scroll, Spell Focus (enchantment), Spell Penetration.
Fear Aura (Lich) (Su): Ghiz'kith is shrouded in a dreadful aura of death and evil. Any creature with fewer than 5 HD in a 60-foot radius that looks at Ghiz'kith must succeed on a DC 22 Will save or be affected as though by a fear spell (caster level 29th). A creature that successfully saves cannot be affected again for 24 hours. The save DC is Charisma-based.
Fear Aura (Sarrukh) (Su): As a free action, Ghiz'kith can create an aura of fear in a 10-foot radius. This effect is otherwise identical to the fear spell (caster level 14th; save DC 22). A creature that succeeds on the save cannot be affected again by Ghiz'kith's fear aura for 24 hours. Other sarrukh are immune to this aura. The DC is Charisma-based.
Manipulate Form (Su): At will, Ghiz'kith can modify the form of any Scaled One native to Toril, except for aquatic and undead creatures. With a successful touch attack, he can cause one alteration of his choice in the target creature's body. The target falls unconscious for 2d4 rounds due to the shock of changing form. A successful DC 22 Fortitude save negates both the change and the unconsciousness. Sarrukh are immune to this effect. The save DC is Charisma-based.
Ghiz'kith may use this ability to change a minor aspect of the target creature, such as the shape of its head or the color of its scales. It may also choose to make a much more significant alteration, such as converting limbs into tentacles, changing overall body shape (snake to humanoid, for example), or adding or removing an appendage. Any ability score may be decreased to a minimum of 1 or increased to a maximum equal to Ghiz'kith's corresponding score. Ghiz'kith may also grant the target an extraordinary, supernatural, or spell-like ability or remove one from it. The change bestowed takes effect immediately and is permanent. Furthermore, the alterations are automatically passed on to all the creature's offspring when it breeds with another of its unmodified kind.
See Serpent Kingdoms for the typical physical alterations that sarrukh bestow with this ability.
Paralyzing Touch (Su): Any living creature that Ghiz'kith hits with his touch attack must succeed on a DC 22 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, page 203 of the Player's Handbook). The effect cannot be dispelled. Anyone paralyzed by Ghiz'kith seems dead, though a DC 20 Spot check or a DC 15 Heal check reveals that the victim is still alive.
Poison (Ex): Bite, injury, Fortitude DC 22, initial and secondary damage 1d6 Con.
Spell-Like Abilities: 3/day -- disrupt undead, identify, invisibility, knock, magic missile, misdirection (DC 17), see invisibility, sleep (DC 16); 2/day -- confusion (DC 19), fireball (DC 18), lightning bolt (DC 18), polymorph; 1/day -- teleport (DC 20), wall of force. Caster Level 14th.
Divine Shroud (Sp): Once per day Ghiz'kith may surround himself with a shroud of glowing divine power that protects him against hostile spells. This ability functions like the spell resistance spell (caster level 5th), except that the divine shroud is of a color appropriate to Ghiz'kith's patron.
Divine Synergy (Ex): Ghiz'kith has learned to harmonize his magic with that of Sseth's worshipers. Any time he is the target of a harmless spell cast by a divine spellcaster of Sseth, the spell functions as if affected by the Empower Spell feat, if applicable. The spell must be cast by another character -- even if Ghiz'kith has levels in a divine spellcasting class, he does not gain this benefit for divine spells he casts on himself. A spell that cannot be affected by the Empower Spell feat gains no further benefit from this ability.
Reach of the Holy (Ex): At 1st-level, Ghiz'kith may apply the effects of the Enlarge Spell feat to any spell he casts. He does not need to prepare it as an enlarged spell in advance, and the use of this ability does not increase the casting time or use a higher-spell slot. Ghiz'kith may use this ability six times per day.
Sacred Defense (Ex): Ghiz'kith gains a +2 bonus on saving throws against divine spells, as well as the spell-like and supernatural abilities of outsiders.
Turn Resistance (Ex): Ghiz'kith is treated as a 33-HD undead for the purpose of turn, rebuke, command, or bolster attempt.
Undead Traits: Ghiz'kith is immune to mind-affecting effects, poison, sleep effects, paralysis, stunning, disease, death effects, and any effect that requires a Fortitude save unless it also works on objects or is harmless. He is not subject to critical hits, nonlethal damage, ability damage to his physical ability scores, ability drain, energy drain, fatigue, exhaustion, or death from massive damage. He cannot be raised, and resurrection works only if it is willing. Darkvision 60 ft.
Wizard Spells Prepared (4/8/8/8/7/7/6/5/3; save DC 25 + spell level): 0 -- detect magic, mage hand, read magic, resistance (2); 1st -- charm person (2; DC 28), disguise self, expeditious retreat, feather fall, mage armor, shield (2); 2nd -- detect thoughts (DC 27), false life, levitate, minor image (DC 27), misdirection, scorching ray (+24 ranged touch), shatter (DC 27), touch of idiocy (+28 melee touch); 3rd -- deep slumber (DC 30), displacement, fly, hold person (DC 30), nondetection, protection from energy, sleet storm, vampiric touch (+28 melee touch); 4th -- charm monster (DC 31), dimension door, enervation (2), Evard's black tentacles, solid fog, stoneskin; 5th -- break enchantment, cloudkill (DC 30), dismissal, dominate person (DC 32), hold monster (DC 32), prying eyes, summon monster V; 6th -- chain lightning (DC 31), disintegrate (DC 31), greater dispel magic, Otiluke's freezing sphere (DC 31), summon monster VI, true seeing; 7th -- limited wish, prismatic spray (DC 32), reverse gravity, spell turning, teleport without error; 8th -- mass charm monster (DC 35), horrid wilting (DC 33), power word stun.
Spellbook: 0 -- acid splash (+24 ranged touch), arcane mark, dancing lights, daze (DC 29), detect magic, detect poison, disrupt undead (+24 ranged touch), flare (DC 27), ghost sound, light, mage hand, mending, message, open/close, prestidigitation, ray of frost (+24 ranged touch), read magic, resistance, touch of fatigue (DC 27); 1st -- charm person (DC 28), disguise self, enlarge person (DC 28), expeditious retreat, feather fall, identify, mage armor, shield; 2nd -- detect thoughts (DC 27), false life, knock, levitate, minor image (DC 27), misdirection, scorching ray (+24 ranged touch), shatter, touch of idiocy (+28 melee touch); 3rd -- deep slumber (DC 30), displacement, fly, hold person (DC 30), nondetection, protection from energy, shrink item, sleet storm, tongues, vampiric touch (+28 melee touch); 4th -- animate dead, charm monster (DC 31), dimension door, enervation, Evard's black tentacles, phantasmal killer (DC 29), solid fog, stoneskin; 5th -- break enchantment, cloudkill (DC 30), dismissal, dominate person (DC 32), hold monster (DC 32), prying eyes, summon monster V, teleport, wall of force; 6th -- antimagic field, chain lightning (DC 31), circle of death (DC 31), disintegrate (DC 31), greater dispel magic, Otiluke's freezing sphere (DC 31), summon monster VI, true seeing; 7th -- limited wish, prismatic spray (DC 32), reverse gravity, spell turning, teleport without error, vision; 8th -- mass charm monster (DC 35), horrid wilting (DC 33), polymorph any object, power word stun.
Possessions: Manyfang dagger [SK], staff of power, cloak of resistance +5, ring of evasion, ring of protection +5, tome of clear thought +5 (read). Note: This is not a comprehensive list of Ghiz'kith's possessions, merely what he is likely to have on his person at any given time. His list of spells prepared can be altered as well. You should feel free to adjust these lists based on the needs of your campaign. His total resources should not exceed a value greater than 1,200,000 gp.
[SK] Serpent Kingdoms
About the Author
A new contributor to the website, Chris Lindsay plays at Wizards of the Coast during the day and spends his evenings with his lovely wife and kids in not-so-sunny Renton, Washington. Any free time is devoted to D&D, and he is proud to be a developer for the RPGA's Legacy of the Green Regent campaign.