Image credit: William Moreno
"I will haunt your nightmares -- and then, when you run from me, I will bring your nightmares into the light."
Lurching footsteps in the night -- slithering, raspy laughter. Hearing things like that makes a man shiver and look more closely at his surroundings. Then, suddenly a nightmare lurches into the firelight, vines grasping, eyes glowing... and the shadow, oh gods the shadow reaches for you, and you scream but no one can hear you, no one...
The Mawkin (or Nightmare Scarecrow) is a horror, returned from the dead to terrorize those who mistreated it while alive. Its head is a writhing tangle of vines, punctuated by two orbs glowing with sickly green fire, and its tattered shadow cloak ripples in its own wind -- until it reaches for you.
BECOMING A MAWKIN
To become a mawkin, a creature has to die from decapitation, without being raised or resurrected. Not all creatures who are decapitated become mawkins, however; only those with training in sneaking around and inspiring fear in their opponents have the quirks of personality necessary to rise again as a mawkin.
Race: Any which is roughly humanoid in shape
Skills: Intimidate 8 ranks, Hide 6 ranks, Move Silently 6 ranks
Feats: Any one of Skill Focus (Intimidate), Imperious Command, Dreadful Wrath, or Frightful Presence.
Special: You must have been killed by decapitation, and must not have been returned to life afterwards. As a special feature of this class, you rise with the abilities of a 0th-level mawkin added to your previous abilities. When you earn enough experience points to advance another level, you must become a 1st-level mawkin.
The Mawkin's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Disguise (Cha), Hide (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Profession (Wis), Spot (Wis), Tumble (Dex), and Use Rope (Dex).
Skills Points at Each Level: 4 + int
Hit Dice: d8
1st|+1|+0|+2|+2|Shadow cloak, grasping vines
2nd|+2|+0|+3|+3|Whispers in the night
10th|+10|+3|+7|+7|Recurring nightmare, secret terror[/table]
Weapon Proficiencies: A mawkin gains no new weapon or armor proficiencies.
Pumpkin crown (Ex): When you rise as a 0-level mawkin, you return to your previous form, with one major alteration: your head has been replaced by a thorny tangle of ropy vines, similar to the vines that pumpkins grow from. Your eyes, orbs set deep within the morass atop your neck, glow with a sickly green fire. You still count as a living creature and all your ability scores remain the same. However, you no longer need to eat, breathe, or sleep. In addition, if you are ever decapitated again, you die permanently, and cannot be raised or resurrected except via a wish or miracle spell.
Shadow cloak (Su): At 1st level, your shadow begins to take on a mind and existence of its own, granting you strange powers, but betraying your true nature to creatures who know how to look for it. No matter what your actual form is at any given time (but see Mawkin form and Nightmare form, below), your shadow has the shape of a humanoid figure one size category larger than you, with long ropy tendrils for arms and legs, and a wispy tangle in place of a head. It seems to billow and shift like a tattered cloak, even when there is no wind to move it.
The strange shifting cloak made by your shadow confuses and disturbs your enemies. You suffer a -4 penalty to Disguise checks due to your distinctive shadow, but you gain a +4 bonus to Intimidate checks against any creature who notices your shadow, whether by seeing through a disguise or by spotting it normally. In addition, enemies suffer a miss chance on melee attacks against you equal to 5% times your class level (maximum 50% at 10th level) as your rippling shadow distracts them; this miss chance does not stack with miss chances from other sources.
Grasping vines (Ex): Your shadow cloak can lash out and grasp at your enemies with its shadowy tendrils like pumpkin vines. As a move action, you may direct your shadow cloak to grapple an enemy who is within a distance of 5 feet more than your natural reach. The cloak uses your attack bonus for the initial touch attack. It counts as one size category larger than you, its base attack bonus is equal to your own, and its Strength score is equal to 10 + your Charisma modifier. It also benefits from any other bonuses you might have to grapple checks. It cannot deal or receive damage, but only hold the target or move it closer to you. You must spend your move action each turn to direct the cloak, or it releases the creature it is grappling. You can otherwise move and act normally, though you cannot move out of range of the creature your shadow is grappling without making a grapple check with the shadow to bring the creature along. You may not use this ability while in your Nightmare Form (see below).
Whispers in the night (Ex): When you achieve 2nd level, you hear the silent murmurs of minds seeking knowledge about you. Whenever any creature makes a Knowledge skill check, bardic knowledge check, or any similar mundane attempt to acquire information about you, you are instantly alerted to that fact, even if the creature is on another plane. You know the direction and distance to the creature, or that it is not on the same plane (if the latter is true). You are not alerted by magical divinations, however.
Mawkin form (Su): Beginning at 3rd level, you learn to draw upon the bizarre and terrifying nature you have acquired. As a standard action which does not provoke attacks of opportunity, you can reach down to your shadow and don the mawkin cloak in actuality, taking on the nightmarish form previously hidden in the folds of your shadow. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to half your class level (rounded up), and it lasts a number of rounds equal to your Charisma modifier. At 8th level, you may use this ability a number of times per day equal to your class level.
You grow by one size category (with the associated adjustments to reach, attacks, and AC), which grants you a +8 size bonus to Strength, a +4 size bonus to Constitution, a -2 size penalty to Dexterity, and a +5 increase to your natural armor bonus. You gain two primary slam natural attacks which deal 2d6 damage plus your Strength modifier (assuming your new size is Large; adjust base damage accordingly). You gain the Improved Grab ability with your slam attacks, and deal 4d6 + your Strength modifier damage on a successful grapple check, as per the Constrict special ability.
In addition, when you take up the cloak to assume mawkin form, your shadow is revealed as an even more horrifying nightmare cloak, a great knot of writhing shadowy pseudopods two size categories larger than your original form. While your shadow is revealed, the skill bonuses and penalties granted by your Shadow Cloak ability are doubled, though the miss chance remains the same, and the shadow cloak's range for the Grasping Vines ability increases to 10 feet plus your reach in mawkin form.
Stalking midnight (Ex): At 4th level, you know how to creep through the shadows, hungrily seeking your prey. You gain a bonus to Hide checks equal to half your class level; in addition, whenever you make an attack against a creature who cannot see you, that creature must make a Will save (DC 10 + class level + Cha modifier) or become shaken for a number of rounds equal to your class level. Even though this is a fear effect, you may even affect creatures who are immune to fear with this ability, but such creatures gain a +4 bonus to their save. However, mindless creatures are immune to this ability.
Nightmare mask (Su): Once you reach 5th level, your mere presence is enough to frighten even the most staunch and bravehearted of men. Whenever you are in mawkin or nightmare form, any creature within 5 feet times your Charisma modifier who can see you must make a Will save (DC 10 + class level + Charisma modifier) or become frightened. A successful save grants immunity to this ability for 24 hours. Even though this is a fear effect, you may even affect creatures who are immune to fear with this ability, but such creatures gain a +4 bonus to their save. However, mindless creatures are immune to this ability.
Eerie gaze (Su): Beginning at 6th level, you have learned to release the sickly green energy that makes up your eyes into a ray of eldritch fire. As a standard action, you may send out the energy in a line, 10 feet long per class level. Any creature caught in the area takes 1d6 damage per class level (Reflex save DC 10 + 1/2 class level + Charisma modifier for half damage); on a failed save, a creature must also make a Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 class level + Charisma modifier) or be paralyzed for 1 round. You may use this ability a number of times per day equal to your class level, but only when you are not using your Mawkin Form or Nightmare Form abilities.
Grasping shadows (Su): At 7th level, your shadow cloak has grown in power, such that it can even affect creatures which would normally be immune. You can use your Grasping Vines ability to grapple creatures protected by freedom of movement and similar effects, though such creatures gain a +4 bonus on all attempts to escape the grapple. (The freedom spell still ends a grapple as normal.) In addition, the shadow cloak can grapple incorporeal creatures as if they were corporeal; calculate an incorporeal creature's grapple modifier as normal, using Dexterity in place of Strength.
Nightmare form (Su): When you achieve 8th level, you reveal the most terrifying visage in your arsenal. Once per day per two class levels, when in your mawkin form, you can spend a move action to reach down to your shadow and pick up the nightmare cloak, merging your shadow with your own body and assuming the form of a horrifying creature. You remain in this form for the remaining duration of your mawkin form, after which you return to your normal form and your shadow separates into its usual shape.
When you don the nightmare cloak, you grow an additional size category (with the associated adjustments to slam attack damage, reach, attacks, and AC), doubling the bonuses and penalties to Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, and natural armor granted by your mawkin form. You also gain 4 additional slam attacks with the same properties as the first two, and all your slam attacks can affect and grapple incorporeal creatures and creatures under the effects of freedom of movement, as per the Grasping Shadows ability. Finally, you gain a deflection bonus to AC equal to your Charisma modifier against attacks by non-mindless creatures, as it is difficult for creatures to face you head-on.
Whenever you successfully attack a creature while in nightmare form, that creature must make a Will save (DC 10 + class level + Charisma modifier) or be shaken for 1 round. Even though this is a fear effect, you may even affect creatures who are immune to fear, but such creatures gain a +4 bonus to their save. However, mindless creatures are immune to this effect. You may only affect a given enemy once per round with this effect.
Lurking visions (Ex): Beginning at 9th level, creatures feel your dark presence even if they can't see you. You can use the Hide skill even while being observed, using your own shadow in which to hide. In addition, whenever a creature adjacent to you cannot detect you, it suffers a penalty to AC and saves equal to your Charisma modifier as its mind rejects what its eyes would otherwise be able to see.
Recurring Nightmare (Ex): Like other creatures from horror stories, you keep coming back. Upon reaching 10th level, you gain regeneration 1, but fire deals normal damage to you. However, this ability does not protect you from dying due to decapitation, as per your Pumpkin Crown class feature; in addition, you do not gain the benefit of this ability if you are immune to nonlethal damage.
Secret terror (Ex): At 10th level, your nightmarish essence protects others from learning anything about you by magic. All that remains of your legacy are the stories that mothers tell disobedient children. You gain immunity to all divination spells cast against you or cast to learn information about you. Such divination fails to reveal any information. In addition, whenever a divination effect is blocked by this ability, you can make a DC 20 Intelligence check as a free action (as if identifying a scrying sensor); if you succeed, you are alerted and sense the direction and distance to the source of the effect, as per the Whispers in the Night ability.
PLAYING A MAWKIN
A mawkin is a stealthy, scary combatant. While not necessarily evil, they are certainly spooky and otherworldly.
Combat: The mawkin has a few excellent tactics for destroying his enemies, which he will often use in conjunction. He is an excellent grappler, especially if he has made some effort at being good at it; he is quite sneaky; and he has fantastic capabilities at making his enemies more frightened than they have ever been before. If all else fails, a mawkin can grab his enemies with his Shadow Cloak and finish them off with his Eerie Gaze.
Advancement: Similarly, a mawkin has several abilities which he might choose to improve upon -- stealth, fear, and grappling/natural weapons. Totemist makes a particularly good dip for a mawkin, gaining soulmelds to improve grappling, stealth, and natural attacks.
Resources: Mawkins don't make new friends very easily, though they might reconnect with allies from their first life.
MAWKIN IN THE WORLD
"It was there suddenly, like a shadow of nightmares, all grasping vines and green eyes. I ran -- I couldn't help it, the thing was terrifying!"
Mawkins are viewed with horror first and foremost, and secondarily with suspicion and wariness. Few are willing to talk to a Mawkin, making normal interactions difficult.
Daily Life: Since a Mawkin does not eat, breathe, or sleep, one does without waking up or eating breakfast. Instead, one seeks out one's enemies to deliver a second helping of nightmares, terror, and destruction.
Notables: The most famous Mawkin of them all was Simmith Droane, a human of some (mostly imagined) importance who made quite a bit of coin through brute force and intimidation during his lifetime. Some of his rivals decided that he'd be less of a nuisance when dead, and removed his head to seal the deal. They certainly did not expect what came after them that night... and none lived to tell the tale, though the pieces of those rough men were found scattered through the town. Stories and rumors abounded... but no one wanted to look too close, for fear that Simmith might appear for them.
Organizations: As primarily solitary creatures, Mawkins are not likely to organize themselves.
Most NPCs who have ever heard of a Nightmare Scarecrow believe them to be fabrications, old wives' tales told to unruly children. And, to most, that's all they are. But some NPCs see a Mawkin in person... and spend their nights in the tavern, hoping enough ale will help them sleep without being hunted by the Mawkin as soon as they close their eyes.
MAWKIN IN THE GAME
A Mawkin is a sneaky, scary grappler. The abilities revolve around those three things -- stealth, fear, and grappling. A Mawkin can be very good at all three of those with some investment. In terms of party role, a Mawkin can be a good scout (with the stealth abilities), as well as an excellent debuffer and melee beast.
Adaptation: In a campaign setting with a lot of aberrations, the tentacles of a Mawkin can easily be changed to more rubbery, fleshy appendages. The "death by decapitation" entrance could be altered to a horrible ritual involving illithids, aboleths, or other pseudonatural creatures, incubating a horrifying symbiont which replaces over the character's head.
Encounters: An NPC Mawkin would be an excellent recurring villain, haunting the party's nights, appearing out of the shadows again and again, each time more fearsome.