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Acererak, L, is the Binder quest nemesis in dNetHack and notdNetHack. He is a powerful lich that guards the Bell of Opening and will also have the Binder quest artifact, The Pen of the Void, if it has not yet been obtained. Acererak has a weapon attack, a life draining touch, a spellcasting attack, and a gaze that can also drain life.

Defeating Acererak restores The Pen of the Void, to its double-bladed form, making it a double damage weapon and increasing the effects of spirits bound into it - this will also teach you his seal, so you can bind him as a spirit.


Acererak is not generated on level creation, and instead only appears when the unaligned altar at the far right of the Binder quest goal level is converted through sacrifice. The room containing the altar has three doors, which can only be opened by converting the altars within the three temples outside the room.

If you are a Binder and have not received The Pen of the Void as a sacrifice gift, it will generate in the possession of Acererak.


Acererak is an undead spellcaster, so all the usual suggestions for dealing with high-level liches apply here. Additionally, Acererak has a tendency to teleport constantly around the level while fighting, so standing on the up stairs is suggested to ensure that you can actually do enough damage.

Binding spirits that provide extra attacks will help make short work of Acererak, particularly for high-level binders with a well-enchanted Pen of the Void. Recommended seals include Miska, which can be learned from the Rod of Seven Parts on top of the Arcadian Tower in the Law Quest, and can be bound using the lava on Acererak's level; Miska provides up to four extra attacks for Binders at levels 26 or higher, not including additional two-weaponing). Visiting the Law Quest also may provide an opportunity to tame Lady Oona, who can also make relatively quick work of Acererak, as can other strong pets.

As a spirit

Once he is destroyed, Acererak, the Demi-Lich can be bound as a spirit. Acererak can naturally only be bound by a Binder.

Binding Dahlver-Nar expels Acererak if you have him bound; this does does not drain a level as with other broken spirit taboos, though the timeout still applies should you wish to re-bind Acererak. Binding Acererak will in turn expel Dahlver-Nar, with the same conditions.

While Acererak is bound, you have gemstones for eyes that can be seen from a distance; they can be hidden by any facial covering, even a pair of lenses. Binding Acererak confers weldproofing, preventing cursed equipment from welding to you - this does not protect against the other effects of cursed items.

Acererak's active powers are as follows:

  • Swallow Soul: You can suck out and consume the soul of one adjacent living creature that lacks drain resistance and has a lower level than you. This restores one lost level as with a blessed potion of full healing, and will otherwise heal up to xd4 HP, where x is the monster's level.

Acererak's passive powers are as follows:

  • Speak with Dead: You can chat to undead if you are of a higher level in order to pacify and fully heal them. You can also chat to the corpses of non-animal, non-mindless creatures to hear rumors from them, which have equal chances of being true or false; hearing rumors this way has a cooldown of rnz(100) turns.
  • Death Sense: You can sense all undead on the current level.


Acererak the Devourer is a character that originates from the Greyhawk setting of Dungeons & Dragons. He was once a cambion, a demonic offspring of a powerful summoned balor named Tarnhem and a human woman. Ten years after his conception, she was killed by a torch-wielding mob, and the young half-demon was rescued by Vecna; the Whispered One killed his advisors when they urged him to kill the child, and instead took on Acererak as an apprentice. The ten-year-old Acererak loathed life and looked forward to becoming undead like his master - during Vecna's siege of Fleeth, the lich was severely wounded and rescued by Acererak, earning him a promotion.

As he worked to achieve lichdom, Acererak constructed a number of dungeons and tombs in order to draw out and defeat adventurers, claiming their souls for his phylactery: one of these tombs was the infamous Tomb of Horrors. Acererak fully succumbed to the lure of lichcraft and had himself buried in the labyrinthine tomb, where he achieved demi-lichdom and leaves his body behind for the planes beyond. The sequel module Return to the Tomb of Horrors retcons this, instead portraying the Tomb as an antechamber to Acererak's true dwelling: a lost city on the Negative Energy Plane's border, where he plots to fuse his essence with the plane and gain multiversal control over all undead.

Acererak is thwarted by the player adventurers and destroyed; in the 3rd edition of Dungeons & Dragons, he lingers on after his passing as a vestige that can be summoned and bound by Binders, the basis for his role as the Binder quest nemesis.

Encyclopedia entry

Ages past, a human magic-user/cleric of surpassing evil took the steps necessary to preserve his life force beyond the centuries he had already lived, and this creature became the lich, Acererak. Over the scores of years which followed, the lich dwelled with hordes of ghastly servants in the gloomy stone halls of the very hill where the Tomb is. Eventually even the undead life force of Acererak began to wane, so for the next 8 decades, the lich’s servants labored to create the Tomb of Horrors. Then Acererak destroyed all of his slaves and servitors, magically hid the entrance to his halls, and went to his final haunt, while his soul roamed strange planes unknown to even the wisest of sages.

[ Tomb of Horrors, by Gary Gygax ]