Happy New Year everyone! The ascended tanar’ri lord Sess’innek, long ago tiring of the Blood War, turned to followers on the Prime Material Plane as another path to power. Seeing the general complacency of Semuanya, he has been slowly usurping that power’s authority over the lizard men with the creation and leadership of his chosen followers, the Lizard Kings.
Sess’innek (PDF Version)
(The Emperor Lizard, Demon Lord of Reptiles, the Corrupter, Semuanya’s Bane)
Demipower of the Abyss, CE
Portfolio: “Civilization,” dominion, Lizard Kings, corruption, reptiles
Domain Name: 7th Layer/Phantom Plane
Symbol: Clawed green reptilian hand
Wor. Align.: LN, N, CN, LE, NE, CE
The self-styled Emperor Lizard is Sess’innek (SESS-in-neck), a fiendish lord of the Abyss, is responsible for the appearance of the powerful and evil Lizard Kings. He claims to be a noble civilizing force to the comparatively primitive lizard men, although these are nothing more than honeyed lies to deceive them into submitting to his domination. Prior to his divine apotheosis, he was known as the Demon Lord of Reptiles, a title still occasionally applied to him in the present.
The history of Sess’innek is not well known to most scholars, but the archives of the yugoloths indicate he was born a tanar’ri, rather than a deceased mortal who transitioned through the ranks from a larva. It is said he was the offspring of a marilith and a powerful reptilian mortal, and chose a similar form after moving beyond the ranks of the true tanar’ri. These same archives describe him as one of the best and most brutal generals of the Blood War, but after millennia of service, he grew disillusioned with the endless and seemingly unwinnable conflict, and withdrew to the layer he controlled and sealed all known portals into his domain. This layer, known once as Kearackinin, soon came to be called the Phantom Plane as memory of it faded, leaving only inactive portal entrances. In his isolation, Sess’innek began exploring ways to move beyond being just a tanar’ri lord, and discovered the stagnant and primitive society of the lizard men, with their disinterested and aloof deity. Seeing an opportunity to gain true godhood, the Emperor Lizard began converting tribes by promising them power and civilization to face the growing power of humans and demihumans. As his influence grew, a new kind of lizard man began to appear among those tribes that followed him. Being stronger and more intelligent than their kin, they became known as the Lizard Kings. As yet, his influence over lizard man society appears to encompass no more than a quarter of all tribes, but it is steadily growing, facing little pushback from Semuanya.
The origin of Sess’innek’s favored servants, the Lizard Kings, is open to much debate. Many scholars claim they are tiefling-like descendants from tanar’ri servants of the Emperor Lizard and normal lizard men. Others point to the consistent form and abilities of the Lizard Kings to dispute those scholars, claiming they are crossbreeds of the planar khaasta and Prime Material lizard men, or still yet normal lizard men corrupted by the demonic influence of Sess’innek. The relatively recent rediscovery of Sess’innek’s closed layer of the Abyss now dubbed the Phantom Plane due to the defunct gates in Sigil and the Plane of Portals, has shed light on the situation according to other scholars. The wizard who breached the plane, one Mordenkainen of Greyhawk, reported a large number of Lizard Kings on the plane, leading some sages to speculate Sess’innek brought normal lizard men to his domain and began corrupting them and breeding a new race, which he then sends to the Prime Material to further dominate the common lizard men. The recent rumor of a lizard king-dominated tribe apparently native to a dying, godless desert world has added a new dimension to the debate, without edifying the situation.
The Emperor Lizard avoids direct contact with other powers, carefully cultivating his power while ensuring he doesn’t unduly anger most other deities. Nominally, most foes of the tanar’ri would consider him a foe, but his long isolation and focus on lizard men and their kin has made such opposition little more than theoretical for now. Similarly, he has not yet established any alliances, as he is worried such entanglements could drag him into conflicts that would only serve to draw off resources from his current plans. In time he will need to establish such alliances, and pursuant to that he has been carefully analyzing his options. Only Semuanya truly rates special consideration; technically a foe, neither has directly moved against the other. Instead, Sess’innek seeks to undermine Semuanya, stealing his worshipers simply because they are a means to expand his power. He does not hate the creator of the lizard men; instead, Sess’innek sees him as weak and lazy. In his eyes, any power unwilling to fight to maintain dominance over his followers deserves nothing but divine death, floating as a corpse on the Astral Plane.
Extremely active despite his isolation, Sess’innek makes frequent forays onto the Prime Material Plane to directly convert tribes of lizard men to his worship. Normally not possible for a demipower, Sess’innek achieves this feat through the plane-shifting powers of his prized magical blade. While aggressive, he will never engage in combat or risk an appearance if it could lead to the loss of this blade; this is not cowardice, but simply pragmatism on his part. Finally, he invests much of his divine power in the expansion of his faith, weakening his avatar compared to most other demipowers.
Sess’innek’s Avatar (18-HD Lizard King, Mage 14, Cleric 14)
Sess’innek appears as an enormous, six-armed Lizard King with eyes that glow yellow. Folded along his back is a pair of leathery, vestigial, green-brown wings. His scales are small and round, primarily deep green with brown striping. He draws his spells from all schools save abjuration, alteration, and illusion/phantasm, and from the spheres of all, chaos, charm, combat, elemental water, necromantic, summoning, sun, and war. He favors the reversed versions of spells where possible.
AC 0; MV 15; HP 180; THAC0 5; #AT 5 or 6 (claws)
Dmg 1d10+9 (two-handed sword +4, +5 Str), 1d8+7 ×4 (long sword +2, +5 Str)
MR 20%; SZ H (16 feet)
Str 18/91, Dex 16, Con 18, Int 18, Wis 15, Cha 19
Spells P: 8/7/6/5/3/2/1, W: 5/5/5/4/4/2/1
Saves PPDM 3; RSW 5; PP 4; BW 4; Sp 6
Special Att/Def: Sess’innek’s primary weapon is Portal Cutter, an ancient two-handed sword +4 that can plane shift the wielder once per month; returning to the wielder’s home plane does not count as a use of this ability. Three times per day the blade can dispel magic in a 30-ft. radius with a range of 120 feet. He typically also wields four nondescript long swords +2, named Alep, Bet, Gamm, and Delt. He sometimes exchanges two of these blades for a great trident +1 called the Emperor’s Fork; this weapon deals 3d6+2 points of damage in his hands, and if his attack roll succeeds by 5 or more, it skewers an opponent for double damage (6d6+4, minimum of 20 points). If forced to use his claws, they deal 1d6+5 points of damage each.
The Corrupter can cast darkness 15′ radius at will, has infravision to 90 feet breathes water at will, and can gate 1 marilith (50%) or 1-4 hezrou (50%) once per day while in the Abyss. Three times per day he can cast putrefy food and drink (as the reverse or purify food and drink), destroy water (as the reverse of create water), and charm reptile (as charm person or mammal, but affects any reptile or mostly-reptilian creature). Once per day he can cast cloudkill, stinking cloud, and mass charm.
Sess’innek is struck only by magical weapons of +2 or better enchantment, and takes half damage from silver weapons. He is immune to poisons, electrical attacks, illusions, and mind-affecting spells, and takes only half damage from gases and cold- and fire-based attacks.
Sess’innek is unable to manifest his power very often in the Prime Material Plane. When he does so, it is usually in subtle ways, such as granting a loyal follower a double-strength aid spell or creating a hovering swamp light visible only to his followers for a short time, which will guide them towards a tribe of lizard men who worship Semuanya. These manifestations never happen more than once per decade on any given world. He rarely sends omens in the form of waking dreams that takes hold of a follower for but a moment. These visions contain short instructions that are clear and concise, but often involve difficult tasks with no advice on how to complete them.
The Demon Lord of Reptiles is served primarily by khaasta and least and lesser tanar’ri, as well as basilisks, black dragons, bonesnappers, crocodiles, dracolisks, dragonnels, hezrou tanar’ri, hydras, ingundi, laerti, lizards of all sorts, mariliths, muckdwellers, normal snakes, pteramen, quasits, tren, and varkha. As yet, he has not been known to express his favor or displeasure through any particular objects or discoveries.
Clergy: Specialty priests, shamans
Clergy’s Align.: N, CE
Turn Undead: SP: No, Sha: No
Cmnd. Undead: SP: No, Sha: No
All clerics, specialty priests, and shamans of Sess’innek receive religion (lizard man) as a bonus nonweapon proficiency.
The followers of Sess’innek are not particularly well known by other clergies, but their actions have widely colored opinions of lizard men as a whole. Not content to live and breed and avoid others, they desire slaves, plunder, and dominion over their neighboring lands. They especially seek to aggressively convert or slay the followers of Semuanya, and eradicate other divine influences on lizard man society. They claim they desire to bring civilization to the lizard men, but what they truly want is sole tyrannical rule over the entire race. Typically, only the clergy of local nature deities are fully aware of the differences between tribes that follow Semuanya and Sess’innek, although the Corrupter’s clergy may make short-term alliances with the clergy of human deities interested in tyranny and domination on occasion.
Temples dedicated to the Demon Lord of Reptiles are even rarer than those of Semuanya, although they are very similar in structure and design, typically only replacing iconography and religious markings. This has the advantage of making it easy to convert captured temples from other lizard man communities with little effort. The central blood-stained altar of the temple is dominated by a large statue of a four- or six-armed lizard man-like creature; it holds torches or open flames in two hands, while the others hold various weapons, usually swords or tridents. Shrines honoring the Corrupter are decorated with the bones and skulls of slain reptilian creatures, often hydras, crocodiles, or large serpents; humanoid skulls are sometimes prominently displayed if the community has a ready source for sacrifices. These shrines always have a small recessed fire pit in which the hearts or livers of slain creatures are sacrificed.
The clergy of Sess’innek are collectively known as Archlizards. Specialty priests of the Demon Lord of Reptiles are called saurix (which is both singular and plural). Titles are adopted haphazardly, and usually self-declared. Shamans make up the bulk of the Corrupter’s priesthood (80%), with the remainder specialty priests (20%). The clergy of Sess’innek is overwhelmingly dominated by males (92%). Lizard men (52%) and lizard kings (40%) make up the bulk of the priesthood of the Corrupter, with small numbers of khaasta (6%) and other reptilian races (laerti, tren, varkha, etc.; 2%) filling out the remainder.
Dogma: Lizard kings are the superiors of common lizard men; they represent the ideal and the future of the race. They are the rightful rulers, and will properly organize lizard man society, so all can achieve their destined duties. With lizard kings in charge, lizard men will take their rightful place as masters of all nations and all lands. Convert other lizard men to the worship of the Demon Lord of Reptiles; those who refuse deserve death. Destroy priests of Semuanya wherever they are found; show his followers that Sess’innek is more powerful and worthy of worship.
Day-to-Day Activities: The priesthood of Sess’innek is violent and aggressive. They seek to dominate their tribes, unless a Lizard King leads, in which case they are subservient to him, and second to him in power. Tribeless Lizard King priests often seek out lizard man tribes in order to replace their current leadership with their own rule. Priests of the Corrupter work to expand the territory of their tribe by absorbing, subjugating, or destroying neighboring lizard man tribes. They lead frequent raids and war parties against civilized creatures that they border, and they preach the superiority of lizard men over all other creatures, and the superiority of Lizard Kings over lizard men. They attack the clergy of Semuanya on sight, even if the odds aren’t in their favor, although they will use local rules and customs to their advantage if possible, such as challenging the priests to single combat.
Important Ceremonies/Holy Days: Ceremonies dedicated to the Demon Lord of Reptiles are held at frequent but irregular intervals, but never less often than twice per month. These ceremonies start with lengthy liturgical declarations about the superiority of Sess’innek, lizard kings, and lizard men. The details of these declarations vary from tribe to tribe, with some using stories, poems, or simple speeches. After these services, a captive intelligent creature is brought out and ritually sacrificed on the community altar, with the creature’s heart, liver, or both burned in a sacred flame. Intelligent creatures are a must for these ceremonies; if the tribe has not been successful in attacks on other tribes or races, they will sacrifice the weakest member of the tribe. These ceremonies are often used to call upon the power of the Corrupter, as a request for his aide against enemies or to take action against some natural element or disaster.
Major Centers of Worship: Followers of Sess’innek are typically too isolated and independent to form large holy sites that would attract travelers to seek them out. Most tribes worshiping the Emperor Lizard do build holy sites, and these can be the focus of efforts to convert or dominate unaffiliated lizard man tribes. One of the most recent such sites can be found in the south west quadrant of the Mistmarsh, near the free city of Greyhawk on Oerth. Sess’innek appeared there sometime within the last few decades, and conquered a tribe of lizard men, leaving a couple of Lizard Kings to lead them. They have been waging a war of conversion against the tribes that follow Semuanya, but only recently have outside humans really noticed the difference. This force has begun building a large sacrificial site around a skillfully carved statue representing the Emperor Lizard himself. Of particular note is that one of Sess’innek’s Lizard King priests has found an amulet that allows him to control ghouls, and has been using it quite effectively against the remaining lizard men tribes.
Affiliated Orders: Sess’innek’s clergy sponsors no martial or monastic orders.
Priestly Vestments: The Corrupter’s priesthood wears robes of black cloth with a leather apron-like covering over their torso and legs. This covering is designed to protect the robes from the worst of the blood splatter from sacrifices, and is replaced after every sacrificial ceremony. Their heads are adorned with winged caps as well; typically the wings are bat-like in nature, but some favor black feathered bird wings. Jewelry is also common, although not specifically part of their raiment. The holy symbol used by the clergy is a dried reptile claw; it is especially prestigious if the claw of a priest of Semuanya is used.
Adventuring Garb: There is little to distinguish Sess’innek’s clergy from other members of the tribe, except they will have better quality equipment and jewelry.
Specialty Priests (Saurix)
Requirements: Strength 14, Wisdom 9
Prime Req.: Strength, Wisdom
Major Spheres: All, chaos, combat, elemental water, necromantic (reversed), summoning, sun (reversed)
Minor Spheres: Charm, war
Magical Items: Same as clerics
Req. Profs: Trident
Bonus Profs: Intimidation (Strength)
- Saurix may be any humanoid reptilian race capable of becoming priests, but most are lizard kings, lizard men, or khaasta.
- Saurix may not be multi-classed.
- For all interactions with non-serpentine reptilian humanoids, saurix are considered to have a Charisma score of at least 16.
- Once per day, saurix can cast aid (as the 2nd-level priest spell) on themselves.
- At 3rd level, saurix can cast enthrall (as the 2nd-level priest spell) once per day. This only affects reptilian or partially reptilian creatures.
- At 5th level, saurix can cast prayer (as the 3rd-level priest spell) once per day.
- At 7th level, saurix can cast battle trident (as the 4th level priest spell) once per day.
- At 9th level, saurix can cast domination (as the 5th-level wizard spell) once per day. This only affects reptilian or partially reptilian creatures.
- At 12th level, Lizard King saurix can cast battlearms (as the 4th-level priest spell detailed in TSR11442 Bastion of Faith) once per week. For those without access to this book, assume the saurix can grow four additional arms that are fully functional and can be used in attacking and spellcasting as normal, and they last for 1 round per level. This ability is not available to saurix of any race other than Lizard Kings.
In addition to the spells listed below, priests of the Emperor Lizard can cast the 4th-level priest spell battle trident, detailed in the Priest’s Spell Compendium Volume I.
Barbed Dart (Pr 2; Conjuration/Summoning)
Range: 30 yds.
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 5
Area of Effect: 1 creature
Saving Throw: None
This spell conjures a large, barbed war dart that flies at a target designated by the caster. It strikes with the caster’s THAC0, gaining a +3 bonus to the roll. If it successfully hits, it deals 1d3+3 points of damage and lodges in the creature’s flesh. The following round, the magic of the spell rips the dart out of the target creature’s flesh, dealing an additional 1d3 points of damage as the barbs tear the flesh. This damage can occur earlier if the dart is torn out by the target or another creature prior to it falling out on its own. After the dart is dislodged, or if it misses, it vanishes. The dart is capable of striking creatures hit only by +3 or better magical weapons.
Stagnant Splash (Pr 2; Conjuration/Summoning)
Sphere: Elemental Water, Necromantic
Range: 5 yds.
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 5
Area of Effect: Special
Saving Throw: Special
When cast, this spell summons a viscous glob of befouled, stagnant water and launches it at a target. The caster makes a normal attack roll with a +4 bonus to hit; if successful, the target takes 2d4 points of damage as they retch and choke on the foul water. This foul water carries with it a fatal disease if the target fails a saving throw versus poison upon being struck. See the reverse of the cure disease spell for details of the fatal disease. Finally, if the glob of water misses treat it as a grenade-like missile, and any creatures within five feet of where it strikes is affected as if by Type K contact poison (2d4 round onset time, save versus poison or take 5 points of damage).
The material components for this spell are pieces of rotting fruit and flesh.
Sess’innek’s Bite (Pr 3; Necromancy)
Components: V, S, M
Duration: 1 rd.
Casting Time: 6
Area of Effect: The caster
Saving Throw: Special
This spell empowers the caster’s bite to inflict horrible pain, and even death, on lizard-like reptilian creatures that do not worship Sess’innek. Damage from the bite attack is as normal for the casting creature (if no damage is listed, assume 1d2 with no Strength bonuses), but deals an additional 1d6 points of damage from excruciating pain as a highly toxic venom enters the creature’s blood. Creatures affected by this spell must then make a successful saving throw vs. poison or die in agony over the course of 1d4+1 rounds. Poison save modifiers, due to magic or Constitution do not apply to the roll, although immunity to poisons does offer protection from the lethal effects of this spell. If the caster does not bite another creature in the round following the casting of this spell, it expires with no effect.
The lethal power of this spell has no effect on non-reptilian creatures, nor does it affect dragons and their kin, dinosaurs, turtles and related creatures, nagas, or other monstrous reptiles that are not clearly related to serpents, lizards, or crocodilians. All such creatures take the initial damage from the venom injection, however. Creatures who worship Sess’innek are completely immune to all effects of this spell.
The material components for this spell are an adder’s fang and the venom gland of a Gila monster.
Blackmist (Pr 4; Invocation/Evocation)
Sphere: Elemental Water
Range: 30 yds.
Components: V, S, M
Duration: 1 rd./level
Casting Time: 7
Area of Effect: 20-ft. cu./level
Saving Throw: Special
This spell creates a dense, swirling mass of dark, foul mist that is hazardous to non-reptilian creatures. Non-reptilians who enter this thick mist can see no farther than 10 feet, while reptilians are limited to a 30-foot sight range. Non-reptilian creatures caught within the blackmist must make a saving throw vs. poison each round; those who fail suffer 1d4 points of damage and can take no action other than moving at half their movement rate as they choke and gag on the noxious mist. Plants and plant-based creatures, as well as those that do not breathe are immune to this effect of the mist. Strong winds (including the gust of wind spell) halve the total duration, even if the spell has been in effect for a time; in such a case, the wind may blow the mist away.
For the purpose of this spell, reptilian creatures includes all full reptiles, as well as those that are at least 50% reptilian (lamia nobles, greater medusas, etc., but not normal medusas and chimeras). All yuan-ti are reptilian creatures, even humanoid abominations.
The material component of this spell is a spoiled egg and a small piece of rotting flesh.