Rocks fall, party dies.

Rukhsamun, the God-King

"Scorpion God", original art by Mark Winters, Wizards of the Coast 2018
Spoiler: Build Stub and Ability Scores
Neutral Evil

Build Stub
  • Awakened Black Sand[CR5]
  • Incarnate Construct CR/2 [CR3]
  • Swordsage CR+1 [CR4]
  • Afflicted Entomanothrope (Devastation Scorpion) CR+7 [CR11]
  • Phantom CR+2 [CR13]
  • Half-Elemental (Air) CR+2 [CR15]
  • Dark CR+0 [CR15]
  • Phrenic CR+3 [CR18]
  • Faerzress-Infused CR+1 [CR19]
  • Soul Eater CR+1 [CR20]

Ability Scores
Ability Elite
STR 10 20(+10) 20 20 (+28) 20 20
DEX 14 12(+2) 12 19(+7*) (+24) 21(+2) 21
CON 8 - 12(4d6b3) 12 (+22) 14(+2) 14
INT 15 15 15 13(-2)
22(+2) 24(+2)
WIS 12 12 12 14(+2) 16(+2) 18(+2)
CHA 13 13 13 38(+25*) 40(+2) 44(+4)
* from increased HD
** 5 from epic feat (Great Intelligence x5) and 2 from Epic Destiny
Spoiler: Tables
CR Race/
Skill Ranks Feats Features
5 8HD Awakened
Black Sand
(Awaken Sand on Black Sand)
+6 +2 +2 +2 Autohypnosis
5 Balance (CC)
Handle Animal
5 Knowledge: Arcane
Knowledge: Architecture
Knowledge: Dungeoneering
Knowledge: Geography
Knowledge: History
Knowledge: Nature
Knowledge: Nobility
Knowledge: Psionic
Knowledge: Religion
5 Knowledge: the Planes
Martial Lore
11 Spellcraft
Use Magic Device
Use Psionic Device
1HD: Keeper of Forbidden Lore
3HD: Knowledge Devotion (Arcane)
6HD: Improved Initiative
Earth subtype, Engulf, Black Sand effects, stats as a Huge Animated Object except 3d6 for INT/WIS/CHA
3 Incarnate Construct +6 +6 +2 +2 Giant type, lose feats, lose special qualities/attacks above, 4d6b3 for CON score
4 Swordsage 1 +6 +6 +4 +4 8 Knowledge: Local 9HD: Touchstone
(Sunken City of Pazaar)
Quick to Act +1, Discipline Focus (Weapon Focus: Tiger Claw), Maneuvers Known 6, Maneuvers Readied 4, Stance Known 1
11 128HD Afflicted
+102 +72 +46 +46 140 Hide
108 Intimidate
140 Knowledge: Arcana
140 Knowledge: the Planes
140 Sense Motive
140 Spot
12HD: Keeper of Forbidden Lore
15HD: Knowledge Devotion (Arcane)
18HD: Martial Study (Vanguard Strike)
21HD-30HD: Epic Destiny (Demigod)
33HD: Great Intelligence
36HD: Great Intelligence
39HD: Great Intelligence
42HD: Great Intelligence
45HD: Great Intelligence
48HD: Martial Stance (Shifting Defense)
51HD: Martial Stance (Ghostly Defense)
54HD: Martial Study (Tornado Throw)
57HD: Martial Stance (Thicket of Blades)
60HD: Martial Stance (Aura of Perfect Order)
63HD: Desert Wind Dodge
66HD: Mobility
69HD: Spring Attack
72HD: Evasive Reflexes
75HD: Improved Combat Reflexes
78HD: Spellcasting Harrier
81HD: Robilar's Gambit
84HD: Power Attack
87HD: Improved Unarmed Strike
90HD: Thunderclap
93HD: Dust Cloud
96HD: Combat Expertise
99HD: Improved Trip
102HD: Sand Snare
105HD: Great Throw
108HD: Knock-Down
111HD: Shape Soulmeld (Shedu Crown)
114HD: Open Least Chakra (Crown)
117HD: Mindsight
120HD: Weapon Focus (Sting)
123HD: Alertness
126HD: Adaptive Style
129HD: Run
132HD: Epic Speed
135HD: Fast Healing
Shapechange subtype, Alternate Form, Entomanothropic Command (Scorpion), Entomanothropic Immunities, Improved Grab, Squeeze, DC85 STR-damage Poison, Darkvision 600ft (+Epic Feat), SR50, DR15/-
13 Phantom +102 +72 +46 +46 +CHA to AC, Phantom Defense, Vulnerability to Ghost Touch, Phantom Strike, Incorporeal Jaunt
15 Half-Elemental (Air) +102 +72 +46 +46 Outside type, Immunity to Disease and Cold, SLAs (1/day: Obscuring Mist, Wind Wall, Gaseous Form, Air Walk, Control Winds, Chain Lightning, Control Weather, Whirlwind, Elemental Swarm, Planeshift), +2 DEX/CON/INT/WIS/CHA
15 Dark +102 +72 +46 +46 Extraplanar subtype, Hide in Plain Sight, Superior Light Vision, +10ft speed, +8 Hide, +6 Move Silently
18 Phrenic +102 +72 +46 +46 Psionic subtype, Naturally Psionic, PR10+HD, +2 INT/WIS, +4 CHA, Psi-Like Abilities (1/day: Force Screen, Body Adjustment, Brain Lock, Aversion, Psionic Blast, Psychic Crush, Psionic Dominate, Energy Current, Tower of Iron Will, Fission, Ultrablast) (3/day: Defensive Precognition, Empty Mind, Mind Thrust, Intellect Fortress, Psionic Teleport)
19 Faerzress-Infused +102 +72 +46 +46 Detect Faerzress, Infused Faerzress
20 Soul Eater 1 +103 +74 +48 +48 9 Listen 138HD: Create Spectral Spawn Energy Drain 1
Final Skill Ranks: Autohypnosis , Balance 5, Handle Animal , Knowledge: Arcana 140, Knowledge: the Planes 140, Knowledge: Local 8, other Knowledge skills each, Hide 140, Intimidate 104, Listen 9, Martial Lore , Sense Motive 140, Spellcraft 11, Spot 140, Use Magic Device , Use Psionic Device

CR Abilities Gained
4 Maneuvers: Burning Blade, Shadow Jaunt, Cloak of Deception, Mountain Hammer, Counter Charge, Mighty Throw
Stances: Step of the Wind
11 Maneuvers: Vanguard Strike, Tornado Throw
Stances: Holocaust Cloak, Thicket of Blades, Aura of Perfect Order, Shifting Defense, Ghostly Defense
15 Spell-Like Abilities: 1/day Obscuring Mist, Wind Wall, Gaseous Form, Air Walk, Control Winds, Chain Lightning, Control Weather, Whirlwind, Elemental Swarm, Planeshift
18 Psi-Like Abilities: 1/day Force Screen, Body Adjustment, Brain Lock, Aversion, Psionic Blast, Psychic Crush, Psionic Dominate, Energy Current, Tower of Iron Will, Fission, Ultrablast; 3/day Defensive Precognition, Empty Mind, Mind Thrust, Intellect Fortress, Psionic Teleport)
Spoiler: Highlights
General Interaction
How Rukhsamun interacts will largely depend on which form the party finds him in.

When encountered as the God-King (hybrid form), he regularly employs the help of whichever minions are readily available. He opts to stand his ground, taking on all attackers for Robilar's Gambit. He generally employs tactics such as using thunderclap, dust cloud, grappling (while possible), and utilizing his SLAs to either buff himself or get allies. He prioritizes taking out the weakest ones first, but would gladly accept surrender provided you pledge loyalty and worship to him. He talks trash during combat to intimidate and throw people off their game. If combat stalls enough and he gets impatient, or if he suffers enough (~300HP), Samoon will take over and switch to vermin form.

When encoutered off-guard as Rukhses (humanoid form), he tries to keep the interaction from escalating to physical violence (e.g. explaining why he's right, diplomacy, distractingly talking about his fascination for history, using charm/compulsion, etc.). If it can't be helped, he goes for straightforward powerful, wild swings with no tactic than to loudly charging/full-attacking and power attack at -70 minimum. Once he gets damaged enough (~50HP), Samoon will take over and switch to vermin form.

As Samoon (vermin form), he unleashes his full arsenal and tries to end combat as fast as possible, preferably using Tornado Throw and Dust Cloud for a quick slaughter. He fights to the utmost of his abilities, but he won't hesitate to escape if the situation calls for it.
CR5 Encounter
Rukhsamun combines the physicality of a Huge Animated Object with smart combat brought about by the awakening. Being made out of actual supernatural black sand, Rukhsamun will get more bang out of his engulf attack--suffocating and trapping creatures, as well as additional automatic 1d4 damage just from being in contact with his body.

Even in defeat, he is smart and capable enough to escape by digging deeper under the desert sands.

Spoiler: click the image for a bigger view

"Shukaku Awakens", original art by catandcrown, 2018
The good thing about experimentations involving awakened animated sand is that there's no trace in the desert in case anything goes south. The young high priest of Set had a plan in mind, and after hundreds of failed creations, has finally synthesized a highly-intelligent construct out of his deity's divine power. It must have been his usage of black sand, whose destructive and shadowy nature synchronized so perfectly with his patron's essence.

The creature was surprisingly inquisitive and receptive of the things around it. It had particular fondness for seeking knowledge, its curiosity even leading him into the young priest's forbidden tomes.

With his attention focused on his successful experiment, the young priest prepared Rukhsamun for the next few months, hoping that it will survive the next excruciating phase of the transformation. Rukhsamun had an understandble alienation to the idea of pain despite knowing what the concept was, because its physical construct kept it from feeling anything remotely similar. That's about to change.
CR11 Encounter (Sweet Spot)
Rukhsamun suddenly becomes a massive 128HD werescorpion beatstick with massive numbers: hit points, ability scores, saves, armor class, DR, SR, attack, damage, poison DC, land speed, SR, skill ranks (and synergy bonus) where applicable. He also has darkvision to 600ft, mindsight, greater invisibility, tactical teleport, taking 11., and fast healing.

Epic Destiny (Demigod) gives him bonuses, unlimited healing, greater restoration, and a terribly powerful/versatile Miracle 1/day. CL137 Miracle is pretty bonkers, as it allows Rukhsamun to do things like:
  • use Improvisation to gain massive momentary skill bonuses
  • use Legend Lore or Hindsight to get more information about a certain place, person, or thing, of the past months/years/decades/century/millenia
  • use Resurrection on corpses of legendary warriors who lived within the last millenia
  • use Create Undead to turn corpses (who refuse Resurrection) into bone/corpse creatures
  • use Animate Dead repeatedly to control 548HD of skeleton/zombie minions
  • use Body Outside Body to create 27 clones of him
  • use Heroics to gain any fighter feat, including Martial Study
  • use Geas or Dominate Person to manipulate someone
  • use Awaken Sand for permanent friendly "servants" that can special in niche skills (Skill Focus + Knowledge Devotion)

Resurrected legends will be given the privilege to form a symbiosis (as the template) with Rukhsamun's commanded monstrous scorpions (he scours the Sunken City of Pazaar or anywhere in the desert for scorpions to command), vastly augmenting their physical prowess and in a way becoming half-scorpions themselves. Technically, any Devastation Scorpion he manage to find can also be used for this.

He takes advantage of 130ft land speed, 50ft. space, and 40ft. threat range by using Spring Attack and/or the Tornado Throw maneuver. He has unlimited AoO that triggers off of movement, spellcasting, and attacks. He also deliberately provokes AoO by running, charging, and/or spring attacking, then returns the AoO. He can substitute 5ft-step or trip for AoO. Sand Snare keeps tripped creatures stuck in the sand until a full-round action to escape, and Great Throw allows can reshuffle tripped creatures anywhere his 65ft-radius of control (e.g. up to 9d6 falling damage).

Lastly, he screws over spellcasting and coordination further via deafening eighth-mile cone Thunderclaps and blinding half-mile radius Dust Clouds.
Spoiler: click the image for a bigger view

"Torment of Venom", original art by Johann Bodin, Wizards of the Coast 2018
Rukhsamun felt a dreaded sense of danger unlike any. Not fear, mind you, for his kind is absent of such frailties. No, it's the sense of an inevitable threat to his existence, a heightened awareness of your own mortality being chipped away bit by bit, rearranged like pebbles on the ground, and then the simple realization that you have no way at all to help extract yourself out of this situation. "Suffering" would be the most appropriate way to describe it, but that would severely understate what Rukhsamun endured for the next months that followed, trapped in gods know where.

During the last moments of this torturous predicament, something inside Rukhsamun finally broke. Maybe that was the point of this phase? Everything came rushing out like a flood. This time, each torment flooded both his body and mind, afterwards leaving him lying in a puddle of his own secretions--blood, sweat, tears, pus, and all. For the first time in his existence, like a newborn child, Rukhsamun heaved and cried out loud.

For the next few weeks, he was allowed to recuperate and adjust to his new body. He now finds himself bearing the shape of his caretaker, the young high priest of Set, "humanlike" as they call it. It was all too foreign, and never felt like his at all. Additionally, the procedure seems to also have enabled manifestations of new powers reminiscent of Set's.

The last phase of the experiment lead him and the young priest to an obscure location in the middle of the desert, but disaster struck. After vanquishing a couple of monstrous scorpions, an exemplar of Set's destructive power in the form of an entomanothrope devastation scorpion attacked Rukhsamun and impaled him with its stinger, unloading a full massive of poison in his bloodstream. The aggressive young priest provoked the werecreature and got killed, leaving Rukhsamun for dead in the middle of nowhere.
CR15 Encounter
Rukhsamun receives new SLAs, most notably being: 1. Plane Shift; 2. Control Weather; 3. 13-minute, quarter-mile long, eighth-mile high Wind Wall; 4. 22-hr Air Walk; and 5. 22-hr, half-mile radius, Tornado-strength Control Winds. Combo #4 and #5 to be "blown away" for up to 300ft of further movement that provokes AoO from more creatures.

At will Incorporeality gives CHA to AC, protection from nonvisual senses like scent, sound, blindsight, etc., and unusually lets him use normal attacks (even keeping the STR score) and combat maneuvers that don't require prolonged contact. Furthermore, it allows him to be partially inside the ground for cover and even hide underground as a 5ft step. Lastly, it makes building his kingdom in a subterranean world of caverns and winding passages easier, especially considering his size.
Spoiler: click the image for a bigger view

"Hour of Devastation", original art by Daarken, Wizards of the Coast 2018
Samoon watched in awe as Rukhses finally unlocked the puzzle of the ancient crypt, causing massive walls to shift and spun on all directions and eventually paving the way to the royal sarcophagi. His intellectual growth has been nothing sort of impressive, and even she knows it now easily surpasses most creature's intellect.

Like a carrion waiting for his opportunity to pounce, the God-King shoved the young boy aside, himself eager to get his hands on the remains of millenia-old remains of these warriors. She despised how the God-King has always treated Rukhses as a tool that he easily discards once done with. The God-King forces Rukhses to subservience whenever he needs any sort of information; intel about his enemies, places where he can salvage corpses of ancient legends, construction design of his grand kingdom, navigation especially in his subterranean kingdom, ancient magik and rituals, myths and realities concerning deities, his own identity as both construct and outsider, etc.

For her part, the God-King commands her to fight for him whenever he tires of fighting or he just simply can't overcome his enemies. Referred by him as "The Poison Wind", Samoon is seen by him as an absolute engine of death and destruction.

"Let's get away from here", Rukhses once whispered to her. The only reason she came here in the first place was to make sure nobody would be able hurt him anymore, so it stung her to tell him that they can't.

Rukhses himself hated his situation--his weaknesses and his fears. "You always end up getting hurt because of him and me. I promise you, I'll fulfill my destiny. I'll be a god, powerful and strong. Nobody will hurt us no more. We will kill everyone who hurt us, and everyone who stood in our way. Everyone else will bow before us gods."

One day, we will seize the throne. Just you wait, Rukhses
CR20 Encounter
Rukhsamun keeps on building his subterranean kingdom within Faerzress-rich areas, making Scry and Die tactics harder.

His awakened sapience further evolved, providing him ML138 Psi-like abilities, most notably: Psionic Teleport, Fission, and a DC90+, 138-day, mass-targeted Psionic Dominate.

He gets to defile the dead further with Create Spectral Spawn, which can also be used on his half-scorpion symbiotic minions to get a Spectral creature with massive HD (higher HP, higher BAB, and more difficult to turn). Spectral creatures also get healed by awakened black sand and even has sun protection via the sand's magical darkness.
Spoiler: click the image for a bigger view

"O, great God-King", called out an awakened sand minion as it shambled out of the main tunnel.

It informed me that the interlopers finally found their way to the upper chambers, and are on their way here. Despite my orders of letting them in without incident, I've learned, to not much surprise, that these savages repaid my kindness by murdering one of my awakened servants.

I wish I could've handled these interlopers at a more opportune time, but it looks like certain higher powers want me stopped immediately. This party would be the fourth just since today, and the sixty-seventh since the season of inundation started.

Even with the help divine magic to hasten this last vanity project of mine, all these recent interruptions had delayed it long enough. Looking over the slabs of unhewn limestone and unworked adamantine, I again shook my head and gestured my overseer of construction as well as his advisors to follow one of my lieutenants for safety.

The intruders then stepped out of the tunnel in a unique formation, their humanoid leader keeping the shining longspear pointed straight at me. He bellowed, "Prepare for divine justice to be meted out, abominable scion of darkne--"

"Whoa. Whoa. Whoa! Stop!", I interjected after hearing more or less the same lines treaded for the most part today. "Do you think... you impress the God-King, what with your scholarly expertise, on name calling? Or how about your advanced martial technique, of ganging up on an unresponsive pile of sand just a while ago? Or maybe you think you impress the God-King with your perfect memorization of the same cliched speech that's been fed to you when you took on this quest?"

"This is where your path of blasphemy and terror ends! And you dared proclaim yourself a god?"

"Of course!", I retorted. "Literally created by Set's own divine dweomer... the sand-awakening, shadow-rising, storm-brewing, poison-stinging, undead-raising, all-devastating, the God-King! And the God-King says, it's his birthright and destiny to walk amongst the deities!"

Is it, though? Maybe, maybe not. Truth be told, I really neither cared nor believed in predestination. I am the overseer of my fate. Though, what I DO KNOW is that with the way I live, it'll suck once I bite the proverbial dust! Unless I get VIP accommodations and treatment on the lower planes, which is where the whole "take advantage of my divine heritage to become a full-fledged god" came from in the first place.

But enough about this. I have a kingdom to run, so I let out an exasperated sigh, cracked my knuckles, mentally commanded all nearby servants to aid me, and gave the adventurers an ultimatum:

"Tell you what, the God-King's running late on schedule, so he's gonna give you six seconds. forward to the part where you issue threats, probably call names one more time for good measure, strike menacing poses, like this and like that, and then spout another holier-than-thou speech, ironic but whatever. Can you do that for the God-King now, so he can finally layeth the smacketh down on all your humanoid haunches?"

Spoiler: Templates making sense and other RAW concerns

Unifying concept for templates and abilities
Even though we are supposed to stack templates, I feel there should still be a core theme to the villain. Rukhsamun was created by a divine caster of Set, and thus most of his crunch reflect Set's titles, domains, and portfolio:
  • Air domain and God of Desert Storms: Desert Wind, trip-based techniques, Dust Cloud, Thunderclap, Phantom, Half-Elemental
  • Darkness domain, Night portfolio and God of Darkness: Shadow Hand, Setting Sun, Black Sand, Dark template
  • Defiler of the Dead: necromancy spells, Create Spectral Spawn
  • Destruction and Poison portfolio: devastation scorpion

Entomanothrope Size Requirements
The base ability of the Sunken City of Pazaar makes Rukhsamun one size category larger (i.e. from Huge to Gargantuan) for the purposes of effects of any ability (such as Improved Grab or Swallow whole). A Natural Entomanothrope Devastation Scorpion can use its Curse of Entomanothropy ability to a creature within one size category (Colossal or Gargantuan). Thus, he can be afflicted with the curse.

Incarnate Construct - Awakened Sand
The spell that grants the template requires the target creature to be humanoid-shape (generally has a head, a pair of upper extremity, and a pair of lower extremity.) An Awakened Sand is amorphous and capable of movement (i.e. has a DEX score), and due to its sapience and amorphous nature arguably has good enough range of motion to form its shape into a humanoid figure. Per the spell "sand creatures are amorphous and can do anything sand would be expected to do", and being able to be sculpted into a specific shape probably with the assistance of liquid is one of those.

At the end of the day, while I can just go for the cut-and-dry RAW and make use of the more optimal Phaerlin Giant to be the base creature of my entomanothrope, I believe the more thematic usage of an incarnated animated sand is worth the possible elegance, provided the judge wasn't convinced otherwise by my RAW explanation.

"This is TO, isn't it?" (just random musing)
My goal would be to use Devastation Vermin at the earliest CR possible, and it worked at 11. Technically, the correct answer is a CR10 Phaerlin Giant Entomanothrope, but this works, too. Yes, it's TO, and I'll straight up admit that this is more of a ridiculous thought experiment than an actual design for a villain. No sane person would ever unleash this abomination at mid levels and expect a non-cheesed-out party to fare easily.

What surprised me, though, is just how crazy the magnitude turned out for some of these spells. Most of the time, you are expecting spells from CL1 to maybe 25, up to 40+ if you are high on non-infinite cheese. In this build with CL/ML138, the most serious offenders would be Control Winds (size and duration), Animate Dead (undead HD limit), Hindsight (the amount of details vis a vis length of time), Psionic Dominate (DC and duration), and Resurrection (years of death). I suppose part of the fun is imagining just how ridiculous they'd turn out to be when cranked up to the limit.
Spoiler: Sources
Sandstorm: Black Sand20, Sand Snare52, Touchstone53, Sunken City of Pazaar55, Awaken Sand111
Savage Species: Dust Cloud33, Thunderclap40, Incarnate Construct121, Symbiotic131
Web Article: EntomanothropyLink, Epic DestinyLink, Great ThrowLink
Tome of Battle: Swordsage15, Adaptive Style28, Desert Wind Dodge29, Evasive Reflexes30, Martial Stance31, Martial Study32, maneuvers48
Tome of Magic: Dark161
Monster Manual V: Phantom130
Underdark: Faerzress-Infused87, Faerzress48
Manual of the Planes: Half-Elemental189
Book of Vile Darkness: Soul Eater66, Bone184, Corpse185
Magic of Incarnum: Open Least Chakra39, Shape Soulmeld40, Shedu Crown85
Lords of Madness: Mindsight126
Dragons of Faerun: Spectral109, Create Spectral SpawnLink
Fiendish Codex I: Keeper of Forbidden Lore86
Complete Champion: Knowledge Devotion60
Complete Arcane: Body Outside Body100
Sword And Fist: Knock-Down7
Player's Handbook II: Robilar's Gambit82
Spell Compendium: Hindsight114
SRD: everything else

FINAL NOTE: I'm still working on my conciseness. Apologies in advance for the TL;DR texts