Athler Ovis the Lord of Bones, Master of Necromancy
"Flesh is imperfect. Weak. Behold, what true perfection looks like!"
A figure regarded with a mixture of awe and fear by the common folk of the continent, the undead wizard known to sages as the Lord of Bones was the cause of the March of the Dead, a conflict so devastating that its effects are still felt, even after more than four centuries. Though his reign of terror was finally ended by the Balance and their allies, his name still evokes fear and dread; the mere mention of his name is regarded as taboo, and speaking it aloud is enough to draw alarmed stares from people.
Some three centuries before the arrival of the members of the Balance on Celestin, the wizard once known as Athler Ovis, a respected member of the Order of Knowledge for his work on developing arcane variants of the spells normally used by priests to alleviate pain, halt the spread of disease, as well as research on the nature of so-called negative energy, harbored a secret fear; that for all his work, his knowledge would be soon be lost, or even worst, misapplied and misinterpreted after his death.
While it was common practice even at that time for arcane spellcasters to extend their lives using magic, most only did so to finish a task that they felt they needed more time for, more often than not a legacy such as a spell or magic item which their names would be remembered by. At the end of their tasks, they simply opted not to renew their longetivity enchantments, and drifted into Ides' embrace as the borrowed time they gained from their spells eventually ran out.
Athler thought that it was all such a waste--he personally thought that there were still so much he had yet to learn of the world, and still so much he could contribute, so wouldn't it be the duty of a scholar such as he not to die? With that thought in mind, he secretly began to look for alternate ways to extend his life aside from the methods his peers used, which were temporary measures at best, as the dweomers frayed and failed with the passage of time. His investigations eventually lead him to the presence of the Sybil, a so-called expert in the darker aspects of magic based in the Savage Coast who seemed to have staved off Ides' Call longer than any known spellcaster at the time.
After some negotiation, the Sybil agreed to share with him the knowledge she had accumulated, but for a price: he would remain under her indentured service for a decade. Figuring it a small price to pay for the chance at immortality, Athler agreed to the arrangement, unaware that he had just entered into a pact with a being who technically wasn't a mere renegade wizard... Because, in truth, the Sybil was merely the shell that the Death Dragon Muhi was forced to inhabit after she and the rest of the deities of Celestin were cast down and trapped in the mortal realm by the Lost One, many eons before.
In those ten years, the Sybil tutored Athler in the forbidden art of Necromancy, at the same time subtlely subverting and corrupting the reason why the wizard began his search for immortality. By the time the term of indenture ended, the Sybil revealed her true identity to her student, but by then it didn't matter anymore; Athler had already fully embraced her dogma, and swore to become her agent in the world of men. Pleased with how events fell according to what she had planned, the Sybil rewarded Athler with the ritual that would grant him the immortality he initially craved.
And so, in that way the Lord of Bones, the first and most powerful of liches, was created.
Believing that he had achieved a state of perfection, Athler set about spreading the 'gift' he had received from the Death Dragon, though he did so in from the shadows, so as not to draw the attention of power groups that might interefere in his Great Work -- namely the Sheltered Conclave of druids, as well as the Emerald Council of the Elves of Velen. He was sure that they would come around to his way of thinking eventually though, but until that time came he wandered in secret from town to town, city to city, quietly spreading his twisted ideology to those willing to listen... And granting access to the ritual of lichdom to those spellcasters that displayed loyalty of his cause.
Three centuries would pass without anyone realizing the threat that the Lord of Bones represented to all things living.
With the defeat of the Guardian of the Shield by the members of the Balance, the deities long trapped on Celestin, including Athler's patroness Muhi, finally were able to regain their full powers and return to their homes on the Outer Planes. Seeing this as a sign, the Lord of Bones began to mobilize his followers, setting into motion the plans he had formulated so long ago...
And so, what initially started as seemingly-random outbreaks of plague across the continent eventually culminated with the March of the Dead, as those who succumbed to the insidious magically-empowered disease rose as shambling abominations that destroyed anything in their path... Monstrosities that were fully under the control of the Lord of Bones and his lieutenants.
It took the cooperation of virtually all existing realms and power groups at the time to check the advance of the horde, but everyone knew that it was only a matter of time before the detente broke under the waves of the unliving, who needed no rest, unlike the soldiers of the Alliance who would tire in time. If there was any hope of victory, the leadership of the March had to be taken out, which meant the Lord of Bones and his followers had to be confronted directly.
Strikes against Athler's lieutenants began in earnest by scores of adventuring companies drafted by the Balance, while the Balance themselves and a few select allies (which included the high priest of Saulle Enderon the Sunlord and the dragon druid Gamaliel) penetrated deep into enemy lines to reach the Lord of Bones' personal stronghold. There they battled through wave after wave of his minions, before finally facing the Lord of Bones himself on top of the stronghold's battlements. After a lengthy encounter that included a chase across the Starry Expanse and a very brief stop at the Festering Pit, the so-called Lord of Bones was struck down permanently, and his phylactery shattered...
At least, that's what everyone fervently hopes.
Even before his defeat at the hands of the Balance, the Lord of Bones' physically form had long succumbed to the ravages of time; his flesh is completely gone, leaving only white bone draped in fine garments. His empty eye sockets glow with decidedly malevolent pinpoints of red light, while a small swarm of ioun stones revolve around his head. He conversed in a confident, though slightly manic tone of voice, and seemed equally liable to converse with living people he encounters as blasting them to death and raising whatever is left of them as one of his minions.
Athler Ovis, male human lich Necromancer 20/Archmage 5/Arcane Devotee 5 of Muhi; CR 32; Medium-sized undead (augmented humanoid); HD 30d12; hp 290; wp NA; Init +6; Spd 30 ft.; AC 35 (touch 22, flat-footed 29); Base Attack +16; Grapple +17; Attack +20 melee (1d6+4/x2 plus negative level, Athler's Bonestaff), or +17 melee touch (1d8+5/x2, paralyzing touch), or +22 ranged touch (by spell); Full Attack +20/+15 melee (1d6+4/x2 plus negative level, Athler's Bonestaff), or +17 melee touch (1d8+5/x2, negative energy), or +22 ranged touch (by spell); SA Arcane spell use; SQ Arcane devotee abilities (divine shroud 1/day, divine synergy, reach of the holy, sacred defense +2), archmage high arcana (arcane fire, arcane reach, mastery of counterspelling, mastery of shaping, spell power +1), damage reduction 15/bludgeoning and magic, enhanced statistics (Charisma, Intelligence, Dexterity), evasion, fear aura, immunity to cold/electricity/mind-effecting/polymorph attacks, paralyzing touch, permanent spells (arcane sight, comprehend languages, read magic, see invisibility), prohibited schools (enchantment, evocation), summon familiar (none currently), turn resistance +4, undead traits; Alignment Neutral Evil; Saves Fort +14, Ref +18, Will +27; Str 13, Dex 23, Con -, Int 37, Wis 17, Cha 24. Height 5 ft. 7 in.
Aging Bonuses and Penalties: As a lich, Athler no longer ages per se, and does not gain any penalties usually connected to aging. However, due to the fact that he has literally existed for hundreds of years, he counts as a human being of venerable age with regards to the Mental bonuses he has gained (a +3 bonus to Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma)
Skills and Feats (with Items and Synergy bonuses included): Bluff +13, Concentration +33, Craft (Alchemy) +20, Craft (Armorsmithing) +17, Craft (Gemcutting) +17, Craft (Weaponsmithing) +17, Decipher Script +40, Diplomacy +16, Intimidate +17, Knowledge (Arcana) +45, Knowledge (History) +29, Knowledge (Nobility and Royalty) +17, Knowledge (Religion) +20, Knowledge (the Planes) +29, Ride +12, Search +28, Sense Motive +23, Spellcraft +47; Combat Casting, Craft Wondrous Item (B), Empower Spell (B), Enlarge Spell, Forge Ring (B), Greater Spell Penetration (B), Maximize Spell, Scribe Scroll (B), Skill Focus (Knowledge: Arcana), Skill Focus (Spellcraft), Spell Focus (Conjuration), Spell Focus (Necromancy), Spell Penetration, Wounding Spell.
Epic Feats: Craft Epic Wondrous Items, Epic Spellcasting, Improved Spell Capacity (10th).
Epic Spells Per Day: 4; Save DC 33.
Epic Spells Known: Dragon Strike, Eclipse, Let Go of Me, Lord of Nightmares, Mummy Dust.
Languages Spoken: Abyssal, Common, Draconic, Elven, Giant, Goblin, Infernal, Orcish.
Commonly Prepared Spells (4/7/7/7/14/5/5/4/6/4/3; DC = 23 + spell level, 24 + spell level for Conjuration and Necromancy spells) 0 - acid splash, mending, message, prestidigitation, touch of fatigue*; 1st - cause fear, color spray, disguise self, grease, obscuring mist, ray of enfeeblement*, reduce person, shield; 2nd - alter self, command undead*, ghoul touch, invisibility, Melf's acid arrow, mirror image, protection from arrows, summon swarm; 3rd - blink, dispel magic, flame arrow, gaseous form, haste, ray of exhaustion, stinking cloud, vampiric touch*; 4th - animate dead, arcane eye, bestow curse, contagion, detect scrying, dimension door, enervation, Evard's black tentacles, fear*, greater invisibility, lesser globe of invulnerability, mass reduce person, phantasmal killer, scrying, stoneskin; 5th - baleful polymorph, break enchantment, magic jar, nightmare, symbol of pain*, waves of fatigue; 6th - acid fog, circle of death*, disintegrate, greater dispel magic, stone to flesh, true seeing; 7th - finger of death, greater teleport, limited wish, reverse gravity, waves of exhaustion*; 8th - horrid wilting, prismatic wall, scintillating pattern, summon monster VIII, symbol of death*, temporal stasis, trap the soul; 9th - gate, Mordenkainen's disjunction, time stop, wail of the banshee*, wish; 10th - empowered inciendary cloud, maximized symbol of weakness, maximized waves of exhaustion. Caster Level 31st. *Additional Necromancy spell per level due to specialization.
Spellbooks: Athler knows all the spells of the Necromancy subschool that are listed in the Player's Handbook, as well as the various Summon Undead spells from the Player's Guide to Faerun. He also has most of the other spells in the PHB listed in his spellbooks, with the exception of those included in Enchantment and Evocation subschools.
Signature Possessions: Athler's Bonestaff (counts as a staff of necromancy and a +3 consumptive burst quarterstaff, with 32 charges remaining), Robe of the Witch-King (counts as black robe of the archmagi and robe of bones), Bone Bracers of Kanchelsis (counts as bracers of armor +8 and allows use of vampiric touch 3/day), Amulet of the Unseen One (counts as an amulet of proof against detection and location and ring of spell turning), Cloak of the Dark Scion (counts as a cloak of major displacement and a cloak of shadow*), Crown of Quah-Moghr (counts as headband of intellect +4 and a ring of minor universal energy resistance), ioun stones (dusty rose prism, lavender and green ellipsoid, pink and green sphere, orange prism), Merith's Gloves (counts as gloves of dexterity +4 and a pair of gloves of holding), Priamor's Winding (counts as a ring of evasion and a ring of wizardry IV), metamagic rod (Maximize Spell, greater), metamagic rod (Quicken Spell, greater), Ring of the Reaver (counts as a ring of protection +5 and a ring of freedom of movement), Veldrinnel's Boots (counts as winged boots and boots of teleportation). *From the Planar Handbook.
Class Abilities and Special Qualities:
Arcane spell use: Athler can cast arcane spells, limited to those listed down on his spellbooks.
Arcane Devotee Abilities: Through his worship of the Death Dragon Muhi, Athler has gained an insight into divine magic that often baffles his less religious peers.
Divine Shroud (Sp): Once per day, Athler can surround himself by a gray and mist-like shroud of divine power that protects him from hostile spells. This functions like the spell resistance spell cast by a 15th level caster.
Divine Synergy (Ex): Any time Athler is the target of a harmless spell cast by a divine spellcaster of Muhi, the spell functions as if affected by the Empower Spell feat, if applicable.
Reach of the Holy (Ex): Athler 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 of the affected spell, nor does it incur the use of a higher-level spell slot. He can use this ability 6 times per day.
Sacred Defense (Ex): Athler has a +2 bonus to saving throws against divine spells, as well as the spells and spell-like abilities of outsiders.
Archmage High Arcana: Athler has learned secret lore unknown to lesser wizards and sorcerers, enabling him to create effects normally inaccessible to his less-focused peers. Among these are the following:
Arcane Fire (Su): Athler can change potential spell energies into arcane fire, manifesting in a bolt of raw magical energy. The bolt, which counts as a ranged touch attack, deals 5d6 damage plus 1d6 additional damage for every spell level of the spell sacrificed for it (for example, if Athler sacrifices a 7th-level spell, the bolt will deal 12d6 damage). It has a range of 600 feet.
Arcane Reach (Su): Athler can use spells with a range of touch on targets up to 30 feet away, making a range touch attack whenever doing so.
Mastery of Counterspelling: Whenever Athler counters a spell, it is turned back upon the caster as if effected by spell turning. A spell not normally affected by spell turning, such as area-effect attacks, is simply countered instead.
Mastery of Shaping: Athler can alter area and effect spells that uses the following shapes -- burst, cone, cylinder, emanation, or spread -- creating spaces within the spell area or effect that are not subject to the spell, usually for allies. The minimum dimension for these spaces is a 5-foot cube, though shapeable spells have a minimum of 10 feet instead of 5 feet.
Spell Power: All of Athler's spells are increased by an effective caster level of +1 for determining level-dependent variables such as damage dice, range, and caster level checks when dispelling or counterspelling.
Enhanced Charisma: Athler read a Tome of Leadership and Influence +5, increasing his Charisma score by 5.
Enhanced Dexterity: Athler read a Manual of Quickness of Action +5, increasing his Dexterity score by 5.
Enhanced Intelligence: Athler read a Tome of Clear Thought +5, increasing his Intelligence score by 5.
Fear Aura (Su): Athler is surrounded by a cloying aura of evil and death. All creatures with less than 5 HD in a 60-foot radius that look at him must succeed a DC 32 Will save or be affected by a fear spell cast by a 30th-level caster. Creatures that successfully save cannot be affected by the aura for 24 hours.
Paralyzing Touch (Su): Any creature Athler hits with his touch attack must succeed on a DC 32 Fortitude save or be permanently paralyzed. A remove paralysis or any spell that can dispel curses can free the victim, but it cannot be dispelled. Anyone paralyzed this way appears dead, but a DC 20 spot check or a DC 15 Heal check reveals the victim to still be living.
Phylactery (Ex): Unless Athler's phylactery is located and destroyed, Athler will reform a mere 1d10 days after being defeated.
Scribe Scroll: Athler gained Scribe Scroll as a bonus feat at 1st level.
Summon Familiar: Athler may choose to obtain a familiar, an animal that is unusually tough and intelligent, as a companion. However, due to the fact that he is currently an undead creature, Athler finds it difficult to summon a familiar of the same persuasion as he is.
Turn Resistance (Ex): As a lich, Athler can be turned by clerics with extreme difficulty. He has a +4 bonus to resist any attempt to turn him by an opposing cleric.
Undead Traits: Athler is immune to mind-affecting effects, poison, sleep, paralysis, stunning, disease, death effects, necromantic effects, and any effect that requires a Fortitude save unless it also works on objects. Is not subject to critical hits, subdual damage, ability damage, ability drain, energy drain, or death from massive damage. He cannot be raised, and can only be resurrected if willing. He has darkvision (60 ft. range).