"Do you know the sweetest thing about screams? That point at which you cannot distinguish between a cry of terror and delight."
-Lithul'Luveria, elvish Pumpkin King
People enjoy scaring one another—they always have. Stories of bewitching and wicked faerie queens and black and dark things that stalk the night have truth in them, of course, and the fear these tales evoke can keep a clever man alive longer. But they are most often told, not to give warnings, but to elicit thrills. It comes as no surprise then, that when fright is a method of entertainment, one develops specialized entertainers.
But pumpkin kings are far more than mere performers. There are terrible things lurking out there, and fighting them always costs lives. But even the shadowy monsters that can tear a man in two can feel terror.
When not terrorizing the monstrous population, pumpkin kings perform for the delight of their community—or for their own sick thrills, for the more cruel. But often enough that selfsame community revolves, to an extent, around the pumpkin king. And it is well known that, on that certain time of the year when the boundaries between life and death grow thin and the darkest of the fey intrude upon the world… there can be no surer guardian than these.
BECOMING A PUMPKIN KING
Like most performing arts, the ways of the pumpkin king are near-universally passed down from master to apprentice. Terror isn't something that can be taught in a classroom. However, some performers, already attuned to drawing upon the emotions of others, may find themselves plucking upon certain heartstrings with greater ease than others… and as any who have felt the pounding of their heart after a fearful encounter can attest, fear is very much a matter of the heart.
Skills: Perform (acting) 5 ranks, Intimidate 5 ranks
Feat: Skill Focus (Intimidate)
Special: Bardic Performance class ability
The Pumpkin King's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Acrobatics (Dex), Appraise (Int), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disable Device (Dex), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (all) (Int), Linguistics (Int), Perception (Wis), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Spellcraft (Int), Stealth (Dex).
Skills Points at Each Level
: 6 + Int
Hit Dice: d8
Weapon and Armor Proficiencies
|Level||Base Attack Bonus||Fort Save||Ref Save||Will Save||Special||Spells per Day|
|Boo, King's Regalia, Master of Fright, Fear Technique||+1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class|
|Startle, Fearful Aura (Alarm)||-|
|Desperation of Horror, Dreadful Demeanor, Fear Technique||-|
|Screaming Dread, King's Retinue, Building Suspense||+1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class|
|State of Shock, Fearful Aura (Quivering), Fear Technique||-|
|Absolute Panic, Fearsome Gaze||-|
|Jumping at Shadows, King's Palace, Fear Technique|| +1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class|
|Heart Pounder, Perfect Performance||-|
|Frozen in Fear, Fearful Aura (Unholy Terror), Fear Technique||-|
|Soul-Shattering Terror, King's Kingdom, True King of Nightmares|| +1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class |
: The pumpkin king gains no new weapon or armor proficiencies.
Spells per Day
: At the indicated levels, a pumpkin king gains new spells per day as if he had also gained a level in an arcane spellcasting class he belonged to before adding the prestige class. He does not, however, gain any other benefit a character of that class would have gained, except for additional spells per day, spells known (if he is a spontaneous spellcaster), and an increased effect level of spellcasting. If a character had more than one arcane spellcasting class before becoming a pumpkin king, he must decide to which class he adds the new level for purposes of determining spells per day.
(Ex): Fear has a multiplicity of uses, and the pumpkin king steadily gains mastery of them all. Whenever he would make an opponent shaken (be it through magic or through the Intimidate skill), he can instead choose to daze them for the duration of the effect -1 round (minimum 1 round).
(Su): A pumpkin king has bound his soul to the primordial concept of fear itself; his form and garb will take on suitable appearance to reflect his dominion over terror. The pumpkin king never takes a penalty to Intimidate checks due to what he is wearing or due to size. He can, at will, make changes to his clothing to make it appear more frightening: clothing tears and rips or becomes filthy and drips with a never-ending trickle of blood or black bile—and, at will, becomes whole and pristine again, or whatever color he desires.
His body, too, is his tool to shape in pursuit of terror: although he is always recognizable as himself (regardless of how he changes his appearance due to this class feature), he can affect his coloration—can stain himself or flay his body, develop extra eyes and organs (useless, but disturbing), or appear as emaciated or bloated as he desires, or even a skeletal corpse—he takes no damage or other penalties due to his appearance. He gains a +2 bonus to Intimidate checks.
Master of Fright
(Ex): The pumpkin king is at home amongst screams of terror and delight, and his dominion over such is questioned only by those of questionable sanity. Whenever he subjects someone to a fear effect, he may choose to reduce the effect to a lesser level of terror, or even to a simple heart-racing thrill that inflicts no penalties or conditions. He may reduce the duration of any fear effect by any amount he so desires. He gains a bonus to Will saves vs fear effects equal to his class level.
The pumpkin king employs fright as another entertainer would employ song and dance: he gains an additional 2 rounds of bardic performance per day every level, and adds his pumpkin king levels to bard levels to determine the DC of bardic performance abilities and number of creatures targeted by the Fascinate class ability, but not of other class abilities. Finally, when casting a spell with the fear descriptor, the pumpkin king uses his character level as his caster level (or his caster level, if it is somehow higher).
: The pumpkin king learns many tricks of the trade in order to magnify the dread of all about them; at each odd numbered level the pumpkin king may select one of the fear techniques listed below. Some fear techniques have requirements to learn, and many use up rounds of bardic performance to accomplish their effects.
(Su): The pumpkin king develops further uses of fear. When a 2nd level pumpkin king successfully renders and opponent shaken, he can instead spend a round of bardic performance to cause the opponent to momentarily recoil in mindless reflex. They drop whatever they are holding and if maintaining concentration must make a concentration check opposed by an Intimidate check by the pumpkin king, or drop that as well. They cannot take immediate or swift actions for one full round.
(Su): To create fear require more than a scare voice: it is the entire being. Without saying a word—or sometimes more frighteningly, with one—the pumpkin king can emit an aura of dreadful fear. At the indicated levels, the pumpkin king gains access to each of the following auras, which can be maintained by using performance; a single round of bardic performance as an immediate action can sustain a single aura for a full round, and if he has the rounds to spare he can sustain multiple auras at once. Each has a range of 30 feet, and are mind-affecting fear effects. The pumpkin king is, of course, immune to the effects of the aura.
: Gained at level two, this aura is subtle, and inundates the very air about the pumpkin king; he doesn't even need to be perceived for this aura to come into effect, for his very presence forces everyone to play their part. A nameless and terrible fear that something horrible is about to happen affects everyone in the aura; they gain a +4 circumstance bonus to Perception rolls and a +2 bonus to Initiative, but any individual that is adjacent to two opponents is considered to be flanked, regardless of their positioning, and anyone who has taken damage that round is considered flanked against the following attacks in the round, even if no one is adjacent to them (and even if the attackers aren't adjacent to him).
: At 5th level, he emits such a terrifying aura that those opposing the pumpkin king can't restrain the shudders that wrack their form. So long as he maintains the aura, every enemy within range takes a -1 penalty to attack rolls, Armor Class, Reflex saves, and skill checks.
: At level nine, terror cloaks the pumpkin king as holiness cloaks a paladin, as death cloaks a necromancer—but they never felt such a give-and-take as he experiences in every moment. He can share this experience with others, radiating an aura of such unbearable fear that none can dare to approach him. Anyone attempting to move within ten feet of him, or to attack him while within the range of the aura, must succeed at a Will save (DC 10 + class level + Charisma modifier) to succeed; otherwise, they waste the action and are shaken. If they succeed at the Will save, they are immune to the effects of that pumpkin king's Unholy Terror for one minute.
Desperation of Horror
(Su): At 3rd level, the pumpkin king can inflict a horrible dread upon their foes, a fear so great that they can only prostrate themselves in moaning terror. Whenever the pumpkin king would render an opponent frightened through any effect, they can instead expend a round of bardic performance to force that opponent prone for 1d4 rounds.
(Ex): A pumpkin king of third level is capable of acts of terror far beyond anything another could accomplish without delving into magical means. A pumpkin king who makes a successful Intimidate check to demoralize an enemy makes the effects last twice as long. He may also demoralize an enemy who can only see or only hear him; normally, it requires both. Further, if the pumpkin king beats the DC by at least ten, you can instead frighten the opponent for 1 round for each 10 points by which you beat the DC of the Intimidate check.
(Ex): There are ways to make such beautiful screams… A pumpkin king of 4th level who would successfully apply the frightened condition to someone may instead cause them to wail in boundless terror. They are stunned for 1 round and can take no action but to shriek. If they failed their saves on a natural 1 or the pumpkin king won the Intimidate check on a natural 20, this lasts 1d4 rounds.
(Su): The pumpkin king rules over dread, and can be joined by his court at a moment's notice. If he doesn't already know them by 4th level, he adds all the Summon Monster
and Summon Swarm
spells to his spells known list at appropriate levels (if he does know any of them, he can learn another bard spell in their place). He may, once per day, use Summon Swarm
or a Summon Monster
spell (of level no higher than that which a bard of his character level would be able to cast).
Unlike normal spellcasters, the pumpkin king's retinue is there to augment his terrifying prowess; he may not summon celestial creatures, and when casting Summon Monster
he may summon monsters augmented by the zombie or skeleton template. The pumpkin king's alignment is not affected by summoning fiendish creatures or undead, and they are not considered evil spells; they are twisted and fearful reflections of his own soul as seen through the warped circus-mirrors of primordial fear, not true independent beings or summoned creatures. They always understand the pumpkin king, and he does not need to command his summons. His Summon Monster
spells are considered to be of the [creation] subschool, rather than the [summoning] subschool.
He may create spiders, snakes, scorpions, and similar creepy-crawlies from his body at will, but these are only temporary half-existent things and cannot attack (being an extension of his King's Regalia class ability).
(Ex): A monument is created by building upon foundations; every scream is a work of art, but each is but a component of a greater whole. A pumpkin king of fourth level may heighten existing fears to previously unseen heights. If a pumpkin king uses Intimidate on someone who he has already shaken due to Intimidate successfully, the opponent is frightened; follow the same rules for demoralizing an opponent with Intimidate, but he is now frightened rather than shaken.
This fear can escalate to an even more sublime level, however; if he makes a further Intimidate check on someone who has been terrified due to Building Suspense (and not due to any other method) successfully, the opponent is panicked, following the same rules.
State of Shock
(Su): Thrills are exhausting, both mentally and physically, something that a 5th level pumpkin king can enforce if he so desires. If the pumpkin king successfully frightens a target through any means, he may instead fatigue the target for 1d4 rounds or the length of the frightened condition, whichever lasted longer. If he instead successfully panics a target, he may choose to render the target exhausted for 1d4 rounds or the duration of the panic. Either way, using this ability requires him to expend a round of bardic performance.
(Su): Captured in the depths of fear, the mind can do horrible things to itself; beset by outside forces, it can crumble. If a pumpkin king of 6th level successfully panics an opponent through any means, he can instead confuse the enemy for 1d4 rounds by spending a single round of bardic performance.
(Su): The eyes are mirrors to the soul—if the pumpkin king will let you, you can see how deeply dread has interwoven into their soul. They gain a gaze attack with a range of 60 feet; they can use this gaze attack as a full-round action, making a single Intimidate check to demoralize everyone in range (which cannot be used to frighten through Dreadful Demeanor). Using Fearsome Gaze requires a round of bardic performance.
Jumping at Shadows
(Su): The pumpkin king can make people's fears come alive to suffocate them. When he successfully frightens an opponent through any means, he can instead drown them in their secret terrors. They immediately suffer 2d6 points of damage and the pumpkin king makes a special grapple check using his Intimidate check in place of a CMC as their own fears being to strangle them; this grapple can last 1d4 rounds, but cannot pin an opponent. Each round of successful grappling deals another 1d6 damage. Once an opponent breaks free of the grapple, they are no longer under the effect.
(Su): Haunted houses are haunted for a reason…The pumpkin king may, once per day, create a variation of Mage's Magnificent Mansion
, with a caster level equal to their character level. However, this palace is not nearly so accommodating as that mansion; it is of a terrible majesty, decrepit and worn-down, covered in cobwebs and with stains of blood being all too common. Shadows move and glare, and portraits twist at the corners of the eye. Reflections in mirrors move a touch off
, and nothing can shake the overbearing pall of doom laying over the pumpkin king's manse.
The mansion can range from stiflingly warm to chilly cold, and wind can whistle menacingly through the house (even if it shouldn't) at the master's whim. It is filthy, or so pristine as to be disturbing; there is a nine-course banquet, as per the spell, but it can range from delicious food to rancid filth at the pumpkin king's discretion; if he has a dose of poison, he can even apply it to every bit of the food if he so desires. The sounds of the palace are his to control, from creaking doors to a perpetual heartbeat. There are unseen servants
that range from the unseen to the seen; all horrific, and are as helpful as the king desires (he can impose a -2 penalty on all skill checks within his mansion, or can target individuals).
Instead of creating a palace out of thin air, the pumpkin king can instead haunt an existing abode; treat it as the spell, but instead of an extradimensional space the effect is anchored to a real location.
(Su): With but a small push, the screaming soul can vent its frustrations on the weary heart in the chest; pushed to its limits by fear, the rushing blood will pour from wound without stopping. By spending 2 rounds of performance on an opponent they have frightened, the 8th level pumpkin king can instead choose to force their heart to race unnaturally fast. For the next 1d4 rounds, they take 2 points of bleed damage for another 4 rounds from any damage they suffer.
(Ex): When casting a spell with the fear descriptor, instead of requiring a Will save against spell DC, you can instead force the save against your Intimidate skill check. Any fear spells you cast that have a Hit Dice limit to the target they can effect have their limit increased by a number of Hit dice equal to your class level.
Frozen in Fear
(Ex or Su): At the very heights of terror, one doesn't run or cower or even scream. One can only freeze before the unrelenting horror before them. Whenever a 9th level pumpkin king would panic an enemy, he may instead paralyze that enemy for 1 round. By expending 3 rounds of bardic music, he can extend this to 1d4 rounds.
(Su): Fear beyond fear, terror beyond terror. At his height, the pumpkin king can evoke a dread, a horror, that existed before the gods themselves were more than sparks in the sea of eternal chaos. When he would successfully panic an enemy, he may instead choose to inflict an unbearable fear upon the target. The target must make a Will save or die; on a success, he suffers 1d6 negative levels. This expends 4 rounds of bardic music.
(Su): What is a king without his kingdom? At the highest tier of power, a pumpkin king emits a special aura that extends a full mile in each direction about them. Within this kingdom, the world itself stands more ready to inspire fear, and the pumpkin king can work his art through it with ease. You may cast Scrying
at will on anyone within the radius; further, you may make a single Intimidate check on any individual within your aura that you are aware of at any time, without them needing to be aware of your presence.
True King of Nightmare
: You have mastered fear to an extent few others could dare to claim. You gain one of the following abilities to represent your mastery of terror, or two Fear Techniques.
Baleful King of Screams
(Su): The pumpkin king may expend 4 rounds of bardic performance to make 6 Intimidate checks in a single round as a full-round action. He can target separate individuals, or stack Intimidate checks on a smaller number of people (which lets the pumpkin king use Building Suspense in a single round). He can spend one use of Intimidate to make other uses of Intimidate on that target bypass any immunities or bonuses to saving throws against fear or mind-affecting effects.
(Su): The pumpkin king can focus on his ability to wield primal fear. By spending 4 rounds of bardic performance as a full-round action, the pumpkin king can emit a wave of incalculable, mind-shattering fear. He makes an Intimidate check to demoralize everyone within 30 feet: everyone he successfully uses this against suffers 5d6 points of damage and is shaken for 2d4 rounds. They must then make a Will save or be frightened for 1d4 rounds, and confused for as many rounds as they are shaken—a natural 1 on this save drives them permanently insane as per Insanity
and panics them for 1d4 rounds instead. At the pumpkin king's discretion, this can also deal damage to objects. This bypasses immunities to both fear and to mind-affecting effects.
(Ex): The pumpkin king is fear—there is no longer a distinction between him and the primordial terror that has existed since before the qlippoth ever cast their baleful shadows upon the Abyss. He gains a +2 bonus to any two ability scores and is considered an outsider (native) for purposes of spells and magical effects. He is immune to fear effects, and gains fast healing 2 for the duration of any fear effect he is subjected to.
PLAYING A PUMPKIN KING
Pumpkin Kings are a strong support class: in addition to still being able to use their bardic performances and having some limited spellcasting ability, they have a great number of status-affecting and debuffing effects: they operate best by standing behind the warriors and terrorizing the enemy.
Intimidate and fear spells are central to using a pumpkin king effectively: with their ability to turn the shaken, frightened, and panicked conditions into a wide variety of effects they are presented with a lot of versatility. They also have bardic magic to buff, and the proper selection of Fear Techniques can do… nearly anything.
Beyond being a Pumpkin King, the most obvious class to progress in is the bard for the extra bardic performances that they rely on: however, it isn't a stretch to imagine a feasible bard/sorcerer multiclass option for greater spellcasting versatility, or to take a melee class to physically take advantage of the openings their fear can create.
There aren't precisely organizations of pumpkin kings: the nature of their art isn't one encouraging cooperation for more than temporary measures. However, fear can open doors and threats can go a long ways to getting them what they need. Less drastically, pumpkin kings are still performers: people enjoy thrills, and so long as he doesn't delve into the deepest horrors fear can provide he can garner quite a following from providing entertainment.
PUMPKIN KINGS IN THE WORLD
"Don't go in there alone. It's not that he's mean—he won't hurt you or nuthin', traveler. It's just… don't see him by yourself unless you like that kinda thing."
-Jean McVille, bartender, to a group of adventurers looking for Lithul'Luveria
Pumpkin kings are markedly more common in the more rural areas: a curiosity that some sages have studied, as organized attempts to scare others as entertainment is more associated with more civilized regions. Nevertheless, they are most often found in villages, entertaining children before more closed-minded parents pull their young away. In some places they are revered, even given semi-religious titles: in others they are ostracized. But in that time of year when the dead rise and the spirits haunt the world, when the mischievous fey pull their wicked pranks on mankind… even when they are shunned, there are those who can feel the kinship between them and who will beg for salvation.
Regardless of how far they have gone beyond that, the pumpkin king's ways begin in art. Like all artists, they are focused on perfecting their arts and developing new, more perfect ways to thrill. Practicing and performing consumes most of their day—but they remain individuals, and many may pursue other activities in their spare time, ranging from alchemy to other forms of art.
A pumpkin king known as Jack is perhaps the most famous, travelling across the world and alternatively terrifying and delighting entire nations as he travelled. He is best known for terrifying a dragon to death and being titled a "demon of light" by an entire goblinoid nation—his skeletal appearance is one of the iconic images of the pumpkin king. He took special care of children, and when they fled in a child's fear from him they would often find sweets hidden away amongst their clothing later.
Another famous persona, notable for being diametrically opposed to Jack in nearly every way, is the bugbear known as Grinning Black. Grinning Black once terrified a man for seven weeks, until he killed his entire family and hung himself in the town square: he took joy in twisting the minds of others through the medium of fear. He is dead now, but it is known that his soul, when consigned to the Abyss, successfully killed and consumed a marilith, devouring her power to become a balor.
Pumpkin kings do not gather in large organizations. At most, one might find a small troupe of them travelling together to create a nightmare circus, but theirs is not an art that lends itself to group activities.
The NPC reaction can be neatly split between welcoming and rejecting—but never close. Some find their toying with fear to be morally disgusting and cannot abide them, but others find their presence to be a thrill and a joy, and every moment makes their spines tingle in heightened awareness of the world as adrenaline rushes throughout their body. But neither of these lend themselves well to more than shallow relationships.
PUMPKIN KINGS IN THE GAME
The pumpkin king's focus on debuffing effects means that lone enemies will be taken down even quicker than normal; groups are important to counteract the debilitating effects of the pumpkin king (and to make up for the occasionally grunt who runs away and don't come back).
In a certain nation ruled by a god of torture and fear, a pumpkin king could be more than entertainment—he could be nearly divine. Not settling with fear, he terrorizes people to the boundaries of sanity.
Elsewhere, a man makes pacts with demons, selling his soul to inflict fear onto the bullies to oppressed him throughout this life.
In another place, they are also religious: where some take drugs to reach ecstatic states to reach the divine, the pumpkin kings can incite such furors of emotion that they can propel mystics to the gods themselves.
A secret elven order takes oaths and foreswear all mortal companionship, to wield terror as the blade to drive the goblinoids, orcs, and drow away from civilization for decades at a time.
Learning the tools of the supernatural beings that stalk the night, a group of rural men take on the ways of the undead and Unseelie Court to drive away the things that go bump in the night.
A PC might encounter a pumpkin king while looking for a specialist for a certain job, or someone who has a special bit of lore regarding the fey. Pumpkin kings often go into unusual branches of study to discover new methods of terror, and may have secrets of magic or alchemy that the Player Characters need to take. Another may be performing in the middle of town, which the PCs might misunderstand as an attack, while another could be a terrorist getting sick thrills from ambushing travelers. A psychopathic pumpkin king could make an excellent final villain in a serial killer mystery/horror adventure.