This dry, hovering corpse’s chest is a prison of jagged ribs, within which is trapped a small tormented ghostly form.
Devourer CR 11
At will—animate dead 4th, bestow curse 4th (DC 19), confusion 4th (DC 19), control undead 7th (DC 22), death knell 2nd (DC 17), ghoul touch 2nd (DC 17), inflict serious wounds 3rd (DC 18), lesser planar ally 4th, ray of enfeeblement 1st, spectral hand 2nd, suggestion 3rd (DC 18), true seeing 6th, vampiric touch 3rd (DC 18)
Str 28, Dex 16, Con —, Int 19, Wis 16, Cha 21
Base Atk +10; CMB +20; CMD 33
Feats Blind-Fight, Cleave, Combat Casting, Combat Expertise, Improved Initiative, Improved Sunder, Power Attack
Skills Bluff +19, Diplomacy +14, Fly +19, Intimidate +19, Knowledge (arcana) +21, Knowledge (planes) +18, Perception +20, Sense Motive +17, Spellcraft +21, Stealth +6
Languages Abyssal, Celestial, Common, Infernal; telepathy 100 ft.
By making a touch attack as a standard action, a devourer can deal 12d6+18 points of damage as if using a slay living spell. A DC 22 Fortitude save reduces this damage to 3d6+18. The soul of a creature slain by this attack becomes trapped within the devourer’s chest. The creature cannot be brought back to life until the devourer’s destruction (or a spell deflection—see below) releases its soul. A devourer can hold only one soul at a time. The trapped essence provides a devourer with 5 essence points for each Hit Die possessed by the soul. A devourer must expend essence points when it uses a spell-like ability equal to the spell’s level (for sake of ease, spell levels for its spell-like abilities are included in its stats in superscript).
At the start of an encounter, a devourer generally has 3d4+3 essence points available. The trapped essence gains one permanent negative level for every 5 points of essence drained—these negative levels remain if the creature is brought back to life (but they do not stack with any negative levels imparted by being brought back to life). A soul that is completely consumed may only be restored to life by a miracle or wish. The save DC is Charisma-based.
If any of the following spells are cast at the devourer and overcome its spell resistance, they instead affect a devoured soul: banishment, chaos hammer, confusion, crushing despair, detect thoughts, dispel evil, dominate person, fear, geas/quest, holy word, hypnotism, imprisonment, magic jar, maze, suggestion, trap the soul, or any form of charm or compulsion.
While none of these effects harms the soul, the caster makes a DC 25 caster level check when a spell is deflected—success indicates that the trapped soul is released from its prison and the creature whose body it belonged to can now be restored to life as normal.
Knowledge (religion or planes)
|DC 16||(Religion) Though uncertain what this creature is, you are positive it is one of the undead. This reveals result all undead traits. (Planes) Though uncertain what this creature is, you are positive it is not native to the material plane, though you do not believe it to be an outsider.|
|DC 21||This creature is a devourer, a horrific undead monster that can typically be found stalking prey on the Ethereal and Astral Planes. The tiny figure in its rib cage is the trapped essence of a slain opponent upon which it feeds to sustain its unnatural life.
|DC 26||The devourer is named for its ability to consume an enemy’s life essence. The devourer reaches out and touches its victim, that is slain instantly if their body fails to resist the devourer’s horrific magic. The slain creature’s essence is trapped within the figure in the devourer’s ribs which takes on the features of the victim. Only the most powerful magics can free the victim, though destroying the devourer has the same effect. Luckily, a devourer can only hold a single essence at a time.
|DC 31||A devourer’s touch drains the life energy of its victim, inflicting a negative level with ever touch. It can even do this through the use of its spectral hand spell-like ability. Devourers are also resilient to magical attacks.
|DC 36||As well as providing sustenance to the devourer, a trapped essence can also be used to power an array of spell-like abilities that the devourer has access to. Using the essence in this way diminishes its power and can eventually destroy it. As well as this, the devourer can also use the trapped essence to be the victim of certain spells that make it past its spell resistance, including all charms and compulsions, making these spells effectively useless against these creatures.
Source: Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Undead Revisited
When a devourer manifests, it undergoes a dramatic transformation—one more invasive and overwhelming than those most undead transformations involve. The devourer’s body and mind are reshaped and reformed by the alien influences that created it, and what remains of the source is often so fragmentary so as to constitute little more than a characteristic turn of phrase or a dreamlike memory of a life spent elsewhere.
Sometimes, however, a devourer retains a bit more of its previous personality—when this occurs, the remnants often take the form of unusual spell-like abilities. This might be a single ability—a trade of contagion for bestow curse, for example—but if the original creature was a powerful devil, daemon, or demon, these variant spell-like abilities can be quite different.
A devourer formed from a powerful devil sometimes has a suite of spell-like abilities that focuses more on the deception and control of living creatures. These devourers are always lawful evil. Replace the standard devourer spell-like abilities with the following at-will spell-like abilities: alter self, beast shape I, charm monster, charm person, detect thoughts, invisibility, lesser geas, lesser planar ally, mass suggestion, scrying, secret page, suggestion, and summon monster VII.
A devourer formed from a powerful daemon sometimes has a suite of spell-like abilities that focuses more on the destruction of living creatures and spreading fear and horror. These devourers are always neutral evil. Replace the standard devourer spell-like abilities with the following at-will spell-like abilities: animate dead, contagion, crushing despair, death knell, desecrate, destruction, doom, fear, harm, inflict serious wounds, phantasmal killer, spectral hand, and vampiric touch.
A devourer formed from a powerful demon sometimes has a suite of spell-like abilities that focuses more on destruction and devastation. These devourers are always chaotic evil. Replace the standard devourer spell-like abilities with the following at-will spell-like abilities: acid arrow, black tentacles, chaos hammer, disintegrate, earthquake, fireball, ice storm, lightning bolt, magic missile, phantasmal killer, scorching ray, shatter, and vampiric touch.
Treasure standard (see below)
Devourers are the undead remnants of fiends and evil spellcasters who became lost beyond the farthest reaches of the multiverse. Returning with warped bodies, alien sentience, and a hunger for life, devourers threaten all souls with a terrifying, tormented annihilation. These withered corpses stand 10 feet tall but weigh a mere 200 pounds.
Devourers’ origins are shrouded in mystery. While spellcasters may create them through the usage of create greater undead spells, exactly what occurs during these rituals is unclear, and it’s possible that devourers are more called into being than physically created—certainly it’s more than just a simple matter of animating a corpse.
Unlike many other forms of undead, devourers do not form spontaneously, nor do they breed or spawn. Rather, they begin as either one of two creatures: a terribly evil mortal spellcaster or an actual fiend. Those of either category who find themselves lost in the hinterlands of the cosmos sometimes return as devourers, their forms stretched and twisted into almost unrecognizable 10-foot-tall behemoths. They do not find their rebirth, their unholy transfiguration, in a specific place or plane. Rather, far beyond the knowledge and sight of mortals or outsiders, they experience some sort of transformative gnosis, realizing some infectious idea that simultaneously destroys and recreates them with a new form and a new hunger. Whether or not there might be something out there that actively calls to them, compulsively drawing them to its presence and making them into what they are, is anyone’s guess, yet it would explain why only evil outsiders and spellcasters seem to be susceptible, and also potentially why the strange mannerisms of the devourers who return to the planes seem more than simple madness. It’s even possible that some devourers themselves might not be aware of their precise origins, and their obsessions could be attempts to find their way back and discover who or what made them.
Those devourers created (or potentially called from elsewhere) by magic share all the traits and madness of their transformed kin, a fact that has confused spellcasters for generations. Some scholars have pointed out that specific details of these magical rituals have certain traits in common across all schools of magic and faith, leading some to believe that the ability to create devourers may have been introduced long ago as a single spell, perhaps provided by whatever malign forces lurk beyond the planes.
Another unusual facet of devourers’ existence is their strange response to a host of different spells, both powerful and weak. When one of these particular spells—mostly banishments or charms and compulsions—is cast on a devourer, there’s a chance that it instead causes the devourer to lose its hold on whatever spirit it has trapped in its chest, allowing the captive to escape off to its designated afterlife. No one is entirely sure why this is; perhaps the mind-affecting effects interact strangely with whatever madness or alien compulsions already drive the devourers, or the banishments can’t figure out where to send a creature that is effectively from beyond the planes. What is known, however, is that on those rare occasions when devourers have been cast back out to the space beyond reality, they have always found their way back with shocking ease.
Like a black stain upon the proper flow of souls in the cosmos, devourers face revulsion from most other beings. They forsake their own spiritual evolution for undeath, and opportunistically feed upon other souls. A devourer’s hunger heavily colors its interaction with other races, and even those more powerful creatures who command devourers, or the lesser creatures who serve devourers, may find themselves under attack when a devourer grows tired of them or feels they’ve outlived their usefulness. Devourers are pragmatic to the extreme and highly secretive, but willing to serve greater masters should it serve their needs and offer a way to advance their current fixation.
Without occasionally feeding, devourers lose the use of their magical abilities, though in reality, the fact that a devourer can survive without a trapped soul for indefinite periods of time makes the “feeding” analogy break down. Instead, souls are simply capsules of energy that can be stored and used up, like batteries. It is perhaps for this reason that a devourer feeding has no orgiastic or sacramental aspect to it. To a devourer, consuming souls is simply a means to an end.
Devourers spend their undead existence pursuing bizarre and alien notions that make little to no sense to anyone else. Intensely fixated on certain things both philosophical and more concrete, their soul-hunting often seems to be of secondary importance to these less concrete goals. As a race born from planar explorers but denied such interplanar transportation magic themselves, devourers are obsessed with planar lore and gates, and seek ever more efficient ways to wander the cosmos on their strange errands. Altogether, their interests encompass an alien corpus of irrational, often blasphemous and dangerous knowledge, much of it presumably linked back to the mysterious force that led to their creation and which might continue to inf luence them.
Whether a devourer remembers its previous life or not, what it was prior to becoming a devourer may have some inf luence upon its undeath. Former clerics may sometimes arrange small, meaningless shrines or perform incomprehensible prayers, while former wizards may continue to collect bits of obscure lore or perform experiments to advance their knowledge. Each clue to their past, however, is invariably juxtaposed with other collections of bizarre ephemera, books written in the obsessive detail of hypergraphia, and even corpses left to rot next to others that were hung, carefully preserved, and painted with freakish, meaningless patterns.
In addition to being extremely rare, devourers almost always avoid each other, though it’s unclear whether this is simply a natural aversion to others of their kind or a necessary factor in fulfilling their arcane and far-reaching agendas. Perhaps it’s that devourers are heralds of their unknown creators, preparing to deliver the planes to their masters, and thus having more than one in a given area is unnecessary. Whatever the case, those who encounter even the most seemingly civilized and sane of devourers should remember that these soul-hungry undead appear to have been sent back not just as predators, but as direct agents of otherness.
Devourers are unholy abominations, gaunt giants who have seen beyond the trappings of mundane reality, and who have had some part of themselves twisted by the knowledge. Though skeletal and decayed, a devourer is no mere zombie, and goes about pursuing its alien goals while carrying a struggling, wailing soul in its hollow and cavernous rib cage, slowly consuming the captured spirit’s essence and condemning it to a fate worse than any hell.
While the Outer Planes are unimaginably vast, and in many ways can be considered to be infinite, there have long been questions about what lies beyond them. This is not merely the darkness and strange voids between distant stars on the Material Plane, but something fundamentally different—a beyond for the Great Beyond. Information about this otherness is almost completely unavailable, with even the gods seemingly deaf to most questions, yet there are always a few who to decide to see for themselves. When powerful fiends and evil spellcasters undertake this quest, some come back and report nothing but vast expanses of… well, nothing. Others don’t return at all. Yet some—the foulest ones, or those who become lost beyond the multiverse’s reaches—find something out there that changes them. These return with twisted, emaciated bodies and alien consciousnesses totally different from their original personalities, and bear an overwhelming hunger for soul energies, which they use to fuel their magical abilities. Though these maddened beings possess genius-level intellects, a strange ability to ignore many spells, and significant necromantic powers, most stories and legends ignore these aspects to focus instead on the wriggling, doomed spirits trapped and being digested within the devourers’ chests—the source of both their name and their infamy. Devourers can cause devastating damage with a touch, and those foes killed in this fashion find their souls forcibly drawn out and trapped inside the devourer’s body, where their essence is leeched away and used for spellcasting. Devourers can only consume a single soul at a time, absorbing it piece by piece as they utilize their magical abilities, and must finish off or relinquish one soul in order to consume and utilize another. For a trapped soul, the only real hope is that someone will target its captor with one of the eclectic collection of spells that can cause a devourer to momentarily lose control of the spirit, allowing the imprisoned soul to escape. Upon occasion, those wishing to obtain the release of a captive soul have attempted to bargain with the devourer, offering it a more powerful soul in exchange, but in these situations a devourer often simply burns up the last of its current soul energy in capturing the new morsel. Those souls that are successfully released and resurrected come back weaker and drained—and those destroyed completely by the devourer’s consumption cannot be brought back by anything less than the most powerful mortal magic.
Those rare few who peaceably encounter devourers—generally other powerful evil entities, or necromancers who call devourers into being through magic—all describe similar, disturbing traits. Though extremely intelligent and knowledgeable, devourers have a tendency to speak in weird riddles and half-sentences, babble in unknown languages, or respond to bizarre questions that no one had asked. Though devourers never discuss just who or what they’re talking to, many suspect their madness rises from a lingering connection to whatever sinister, alien entity or force made them what they are, and the devourers themselves sometimes let apparent titles slip, with appellations like the Dire Shepherd or the Wanderer Upon the Stair.
For all their madness, and despite their capacity for soul-annihilation, devourers are not creatures of mindless hunger, rampaging across the land. Instead they wander the planes, taking up new souls as needed but generally paying little attention to most other creatures, simply because their minds are elsewhere, occupied with more important things. The exception to this arises when devourers run across those individuals who, for one reason or another, play into their alien goals. Should they turn out to be foes, devourers show no mercy and leave nothing in their wake, not even the whispers of the dead.
Ultimately, devourers’ role in the cosmos remains a mystery, revealed individually and on a timescale not rushed by mortality. The whispers of places beyond the planes play across their atrophied synapses, calling them forth from the darkness—and it is to these places that they owe their only allegiance. Mortal necromancers and more powerful creatures may command devourers, but only the foolish claim to understand them.
Among the most powerful undead that clerics and necromancers can create on their own, devourers encountered by adventurers on the Material Plane have generally been created or bound as servitors by more powerful masters. Of course, devourers may also function as villains in their own right, as their wanderings across the planes can take them just about anywhere, and both their soul-consuming abilities and vast intellects make them dangerous and unpredictable opponents.
Devourers rank among those few creatures who threaten their enemies not only with death, but with the very real potential for utter obliteration. In addition to their soul-devouring touch, however, they also feature a wide range of lesser level- and energy-draining attacks that can be utilized at a distance via spectral hand, as well as abilities such as bestow curse and suggestion. Though almost never found in the company of their own kind, they frequently team up with plane-shifting creatures such as cauchemar nightmares, which share their alignment and assist them in traveling across the planes.
Devourers empower themselves via the consumption of souls, and those souls need not be acquired by random chance or opportunity. A devourer who expects to travel in regions where living creatures are scarce frequently maintains a small pantry of captured creatures to be consumed as needed, and those entrapped in such a manner have little chance of escaping a creature that never sleeps, is far smarter than most humans, and kills with a touch or from a distance. A devourer’s lair typically contains a stash of such entrapped individuals, and some devourers even go so far as to chain or impale Small creatures onto their massive bodies, hauling the feebly struggling individuals around with them in case of emergencies. Though it’s believed to be possible for devourers to consume souls that have already been separated from their bodies, those disembodied souls found in devourer lairs always seem to be more a part of strange experiments than a backup food supply. Perhaps this is simply unnecessary; as a creature with the ability to devour the soul of any living creature it encounters, the devourer has little incentive to buy disembodied souls from night hags or risk destruction by poaching from the River of Souls f lowing from the Material Plane to the afterlife.
What all devourers covet even more than souls—which are relatively common—are magical items that allow them to shift between planes, such as amulets of the planes or wells of many worlds. Once planar travelers with a desperate desire to see what lies beyond the reaches of reality, devourers are understandably frustrated by the limited scope of their undead wanderings, and relish anything that allows them to readily leap from plane to plane—even if such travel is uncontrolled and unpredictable.
Section 15: Copyright Notice – Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Undead Revisited
Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Undead Revisited. © 2011, Paizo Publishing, LLC. Authors: Eric Cagle, Brian Cortijo, Brandon Hodge, Steve Kenson, Hal Maclean, Colin McComb, Jason Nelson, Todd Stewart, and Russ Taylor.