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    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: GITP Monster Competition XXI - Now You See Me...

    Skratta-sker

    Visual Inspirations for the Skratta-sker:

    Broadsword and the Beast Album by Jethro Tull

    Goblin Sketch from the Movie, Labyrinth

    Tiny Fey (Earth)
    Hit Dice: 8d6+40 (64 hp)
    Initiative: +12
    Speed: 40 feet (8 squares), climb 30 feet
    Armor Class: 28 (+2 size, +8 Dex, +5 natural, +3 armor), touch 20, flat-footed 18
    Base Attack/Grapple: +6/+5
    Attack: Claw +14, or weapon
    Full Attack: 2 claws +14 melee (1d4+1 plus poison), or weapon
    Space/Reach: 0 feet/5 feet
    Special Attacks: Eldritch Blast, Exploit Mortal Temperament, Invocations, Maddening Cackle, Poison, Rend, Rituals
    Special Qualities: Damage Reduction 10/cold iron, Evasion, Exceptional Reach, Fast healing 4, Immunity to acid, energy drain, and poison, Lowlight Vision, Nature of Phantasm, Puissant Build
    Saves: Fort +6, Reflex +14, Will +9
    Abilities: Str 13, Dex 26, Con 18, Int 17, Wis 16, Cha 25
    Skills: 33 points Bluff +10, Climb +20, Craft (Trap) +8, Hide +9, Intimidate +9, Jump +8, Listen +14, Move Silently +13, Search +14, Spot +14, Tumble +19
    Feats: (B) Lingering Venom, (B) Potent Venom, Combat Reflexes, Improved Initiative, Weapon Finesse
    Environment: Any land, and underground
    Organization: Solitary, pair, family (3-8, plus 1-2 charmed guards/slaves—generally humanoids—and 1-2 wraiths), or clan (9-30, plus 4-8 charmed guards/slaves, and 6-10 wraiths)
    Challenge Rating: 12
    Treasure: Standard
    Alignment: Usually chaotic evil
    Advancement: By character class
    Level Adjustment: +6 (ECL 18)

    Naturally visible only to those that are already bound by fear and superstition, skratta-sker appear as tiny goblins, slightly larger than upright foxes. With feral green eyes, black fur over pebbly, gray skin, and large mouths curved into wickedly fanged grins, these creatures seem the embodiment of a child’s nightmare. Wiry and lean, they are incredibly fast, and despite their stature, stronger than the average dwarf or man. They wear strange armor made of still-living ash-black vines and thorn-infested ivy. Skratta-sker wield large weapons in their long-fingered paws, but are just as apt to strangle their victims, or rend them with their black talons. Their voices are rough and hoarse, and they screech and cackle with laughter, finding the darkest and most horrid things perversely humorous.

    Skratta-sker are related to goblins, though they are deeply rooted to their fey origins. Some say that the skratta-sker were the first goblins, fey earth spirits born of eldritch magic. Others whisper that the skratta-sker are the blight caused by fiendish presence within the faerie realm. Either way, the skratta-sker are vile, corruptive fey that delight in enslaving mortals to their will—if they do not destroy them outright in their malicious whimsy.

    Skratta-sker are potent invokers, and can summon intricate phantasms and charms with which to snare their mortal prey. They are fond of bonfire revels beneath the moon and starlit nights, and have no qualms with luring mortals to their celebrations, though their intentions are always lethal. Nearly immortal, the skratta-sker pass the millennia by, content with their never-ending nomadic journeys, enacting their small role in the cycle of the world. A skratta-sker is not considered an adult until it has been around for at least four centuries, and truly ancient skratta-sker are often as old as the greatest dragons.

    Skratta-sker speak their own tongue, known simply as Skratti, as well as Common, Draconic, Sylvan, and Terran. Some patriarchs and matriarchs speak Abyssal, Celestial, and Infernal as well.

    Rumpelstilzchen was probably a skratta-sker, though questions have arisen as to why he decided to bargain for the maiden’s child rather than simply charm it or take it by force.

    Combat

    Skratta-sker are amazingly ferocious little creatures, capable of tremendous speed and brutal strength. They relish melee combat, though they are also comfortable with their spell-like abilities, and far reaching eldritch blasts. The little fey are quite fond of applying their natural poisons to the striking end of their preferred weapons. But the skratta-sker are just as fond of the hunt—and the fear produced by that last moment of looming destruction—as they are of the kill itself. They will often harry their prey for days before moving in for the kill or rapture, harassing their target with tricks and illusions in order to unnerve and demoralize them.

    Skratta-sker capitalize on the fact that their opponents cannot see them, playing games with them for as long as they desire, hunting them and startling them, knowing that until they actually outright attack them, their prey will never be able to see them. Even against a foe that can see the skratta-sker, its ability to cast any illusion up to 2nd level means that it can still disappear from view unless that creature has the means to defeat normal invisibility and other minor illusions.

    Skratta-sker are proficient with simple and martial weapons, as well as light armor.

    Most Skratta-sker wear what they call Bloodmoon Weave, an ivy wrap that acts as elven leafweave masterwork studded leather (Arms and Equipment Guide), except that skratta-sker ignore maximum Dexterity bonus and arcane spell failure penalties in this kind of armor. Bloodmoon weave armor can be worn by other Tiny creatures, though they still suffer the +6 maximum Dexterity bonus and 10% arcane spell failure, and skratta-sker are less than friendly to outsiders wearing their specially cured and prepared armor. It is generally the clan patriarch or matriarch that creates these suits of armor, and he or she often possesses levels in a class (generally warlock, though some druids, sorcerers, and wizards also exist) that allows their enchantment. The creation process is a secret that not even the charmed servants are privy to, and no suit of bloodmoon weave has ever been made for any non-skratta-sker.

    Eldritch Blast (Su): 4d6 damage (8th-level invoker)

    Exploit Mortal Temperament (Su): The skratta-sker have perfected the use of their magic by playing with the instincts and presuppositions of what they consider lesser creatures, in order to either destroy the minds of their foes, or to urge stubborn resistance in order to extend the game a little longer. A foe that has been subject to the skratta-sker’s pranks (usually illusions, the command spell, and minor telekinetics) at least three times during the last 24 hours receives either a +2 bonus or a -2 penalty to its enchantments, illusions, invocations (not eldritch blast), and Maddening Cackle saving throw, as the skratta-sker sees fit. The bonus comes as the skratta-sker unloads a multitude of minor, poorly crafted illusions and unsubtle enchantments, and the creature’s mind automatically tries disbelieve and to make sense of the illusory nature of this harassment. The penalty comes when the skratta-sker finally decides that it is time to reveal itself to the creature, and assaults it with more potent attacks, such as eldritch blast, ray of frost, or curse of despair, and the creature is overwhelmed by the cruel tricks and begins to jump at every shadow and cringe at every unexpected noise. A single skratta-sker can never produce a bonus or penalty greater than +2 or -1 respectively, though it can do so for days on end. But a group of skratta-sker working together to harass a foe can give a cumulative bonus or penalty up to +6 or -6 respectively, manipulating and crippling their foes with ease. This is a mind-affecting effect.

    Invocations: A skratta-sker invokes as an 8th-level warlock. Though they do not advance by racial hit dice higher than 8th level, their invoker level always equals their racial hit dice; this is pertinent in order to determine the ability of any juvenile or infant skratta-sker.

    General Invocations: Least—eldritch spear, leaps and bounds, and see the unseen; Lesser—charm (every patriarch or matriarch has charm, whether through racial or warlock levels), and curse of despair.

    Other Common Invocations: Least—beguiling influence, darkness, frightening blast, hideous blow, and summon swarm; Lesser—eldritch chain, fell flight, and voracious dispelling.

    Maddening Cackle (Su): As a swift action, a Skratta-sker can hoot and laugh maniacally, requiring a target within 30 feet to make a successful Will save (DC 20) or suffer the effects of a hideous laughter or scare spell with no maximum level restriction. Treat both abilities as the equivalent of 3rd level effects. The save DC is Charisma-based.

    Poison (Ex): Bite (Note: bite is too insignificant to cause normal damage, though it can be used to transmit venom) or claws, injury or contact; Fortitude DC 20; initial effect is 1d4 Intelligence and 1d4 Wisdom damage, and secondary effect (4 extra secondary effects, one minute apart each) is confusion as the spell, for 1 round/hit dice of the skratta-sker. The save DC is Constitution-based.

    Venom Feats can be found here

    Rend (Ex): A skratta-sker that hits an opponent with two or more claw attacks in a single round latches onto that opponent’s body and tears the flesh. This attack deals an extra 2d4+2 damage.

    Rituals (Su): The skratta-sker has an effective caster level equal to its hit dice. Rituals performed by multiple skratta-sker have an effective caster level of the highest-level skratta-sker performing the ritual.

    Cuwléeajl: If a skratta-sker wants a creature to become aware of its presence immediately without resorting to physical violence (which is admittedly very rare), it will touch the creature on its forehead—or whatever body part the skratta-sker figures to be similar—and speak its own family name in the Skratti tongue. This is dangerous for the skratta-sker, who are suspicious of magic and the potential to steal one’s name to begin with, so they very rarely utilize this ritual, and only under dire circumstances, or with a creature that they respect or see as equals. This ritual has the verbal component. Note: This name is not the personal truename of the skratta-sker, though it is a component of such, and someone learning this family name would receive a +2 bonus to any future attempts to learn a skratta-sker’s personal truename.
    Darkakul-skroekja: If three or more skratta-sker within 30 feet of each other spend two full rounds using their Maddening Cackle, at the end of the second round, they produce an effect similar to wail of the banshee, though it is a tumult of screeching, ear-piercingly terrifying laughter, not a ghostly wail. The save DC is Charisma-based. Fey are immune to this effect. This ritual has the verbal component.
    Horenotknaa: If six or more skratta-sker wildly dance widdershins around a bonfire together for two hours, screeching and hollering, they will enjoy 24 hours of the heroism spell. This ritual is common only among clans, and families with enough skratta-sker to perform it. It is also the source of many of the legends and rumors that are circulated about the witchery and ghost hauntings within deep forests and mountain passes. This ritual has the verbal component.
    Liswenskadi: By spending standard action in concentration, hissing and coercing minor nature spirits, a skratta-sker can reproduce any 0th-level spell effect, the spell command, or any illusion up to 2nd level. They use this ritual’s magic, especially prestidigitation, minor image, mage hand, and ghost sounds, to great effect, causing all sorts of mischief and mayhem, and spurring already scared or superstitious creatures to even greater levels of unease. This ritual always requires a verbal component, no matter what spell to be cast.
    Morubegja: If a skratta-sker eats the eyes of a fallen foe (generally a full-round action), it will receive the benefits of the bull’s strength and bear’s endurance spells for 24 hours. Generally this ritual is reserved for the skratta-sker that felled the foe. If the skratta-sker eats the eyes of a fallen friend or family member, it will receive a +4 insight bonus to armor class and saving throws for 24 hours. Generally this second ritual is reserved for the skratta-sker with the closest relationship to the fallen ally. This ritual is sacred, and when performed upon a fallen ally, shows deep respect, not desecration.
    Sheothac-fjall: If a patriarch or matriarch of a family or clan spends eight hours to prepare a bitter herbal brew and gives it to a willing supplicant (generally a servant) to be imbibed at a crossroads, on a night of a new moon, that supplicant will be granted one Least and one Lesser invocation that he or she can use at will, at an invoker level equal to half of his or her hit dice, until the rising of the next new moon, or 30 days, whichever comes first. The invocations are chosen by the skratta-sker performing the ritual, and can be revoked as a full-round action that forces the supplicant to make a successful Fortitude save (DC is Charisma based), or suffer the effects of a power word kill spell. Both the ritual and the revocation have verbal components. Obviously this ritual is reserved for those servants that have shown their worth, and is not given—or revoked—lightly, though there have been supposed instances of a supplicant given the ritual simply to enact an elaborate execution for earlier betrayal or disappointment.
    Ztatn: If a skratta-sker utilizes its Maddening Cackle within one round after felling a foe that had succumbed to its Nature of Phantasm ability, a death knell effect is immediately enacted, and if the foe’s life force is snuffed out by the effect, it rises as a wraith under the control of the skratta-sker that killed it. A skratta-sker cannot control more hit dice of undead in this fashion than 2x its own hit dice. The skratta-sker make particularly good use of this ritual, and utilize the spirits bound to them as guardians for their campsites, roving scouts, nightmare-inspiring haunts, or horrifying, incorporeal combatants. This ritual has the verbal component.

    Exceptional Reach (Ex): A skratta-sker has an amazing reach for a creature so small, owing in part to its overlong arms and big paws, and in part due to its frenetic, lunging strikes. It has a reach of 5 feet despite its Tiny size.

    Nature of Phantasm (Ex): Skratta-sker are naturally invisible, though not in the same way as pixies and similar creatures. Skratta-sker are the essence of phantasm and eldritch enchantment given life. They represent the most basic magical talents and affinities of the faerie realm, and as such, are made of equal parts illusion and enchantment. Until a creature has found sufficient reason to believe in the skratta-sker, he or she will never be able to see it. This kind of invisibility is near-absolute. Nothing short of a wish or miracle will reveal the skratta-sker to a nonbeliever. However, there are ways in which the nonbeliever can become a believer, and there are ways in which a skratta-sker can make an immediate believer out of one that earlier could not see.

    In order to automatically believe in and see the skratta-sker, a creature must be targeted by a melee attack from the fey (not a melee touch attack, eldritch blast, or various other methods by which the skratta-sker can hurt or influence other creatures), or the creature must be targeted by a skratta-sker’s Cuwléeajl ritual, or the creature must purposefully fail its Will save against the skratta-sker’s charm or Maddening Cackle effect. Any of these methods automatically open the creature’s eyes to the existence of the skratta-sker, and he or she will forevermore be able to see them.

    Generally, however, the skratta-sker favor a deeper, more dramatic and traumatic unveiling, one that they can control and manipulate in order to seed the greatest chaos and terror. Normal—sane—individuals are hoping to overcome illusions and phantasms, to realize that they are not real, in order to not be affected by them. It is instinctual to creatures that reside in a high-magic world. But the skratta-sker are created by the magic of enchantment and illusion. For this reason, disbelieving in the skratta-sker in order to overcome them is counterintuitive. One must actually lower his or her defenses against the creatures, to throw away all presuppositions of the immaterial nature of phantasm, and to realize that the skratta-sker are indeed real, in order to finally see them. Mechanically, a creature must fail its saving throw against the skratta-skers’ charm or Maddening Cackle in order to have the fey creatures revealed to them.

    Children are most likely to see skratta-sker, as their minds are still open and willing to believe. The mentally infirm are also capable of seeing the skratta-sker fairly consistently, and it is probable that such a fact gives ‘normal’ people even more determination to resist the illusion.

    Puissant Build: The physical stature and tenacity of a skratta-sker lets it function in many ways as if it were two size categories larger, giving it a greater form of Powerful Build. Whenever it is subject to a special size modifier for an opposed check (such as during grapple checks, bull rush attempts, and trip attempts), the skratta-sker is treated as two size categories larger if doing so is advantageous to it. It is also considered to be two size categories larger when determining whether a creature’s special attacks based on size (such as improved grab or swallow whole) can affect it. The skratta-sker can also use weapons designed for a creature two size categories larger without penalty. However, its space remains that of a creature of its actual size, and its reach is modified only by the Exceptional Reach ability. The benefits of this racial trait stack with the effects of powers, abilities, and spells that change the subject’s size category.

    Skills: A skratta-sker receives a +8 bonus to Intimidate checks because of its hideous laugh and aggressive personality. It has also a +8 racial bonus on any climb check to perform some special action or avoid a hazard. It can always take 10 on a climb check, even if distracted or endangered. Even against those that can see a skratta-sker, it enjoys a remarkable ability to alter the colors and shades of its surroundings, as well as its own form, giving it a +15 racial bonus to Hide checks.

    Society

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    Traveling in nomadic families, skratta-sker are remarkably loyal to each other, showing love and affection in ways that surprise and confuse those few that have ever been allowed to witness the spectacle. They will go out of their way to protect each other, and to exact retribution for crimes against one another.

    Though chaotic and irrational by nature, skratta-sker exhibit an astounding reverence and ritual behavior toward their hierarchy and clan relations. Families are led by the eldest of their number, whoever that might be, and clans as a whole are led by the family with the oldest patriarch or matriarch. As there have never been larger documented groups than a clan made of 20-30 individuals—roughly two or three families—it is unknown as to how the hierarchy would function for larger groups, though it is theorized that they would follow a similar suite. Skratta-sker have never been known to share the answers to such musings with outsiders, and their servants are not talking either.

    Another of the quirks that make these otherwise impetuous and whimsical creatures seem dogmatic and rigidly lawful, the skratta-sker are intolerably superstitious, and follow rituals and daily patterns that cater to these superstitions. They always seek out ley lines (nodes of natural eldritch power) for their camps, though when none are available they will make do without. For this reason, they rarely frequent villages and cities (though they are notorious for their quick raids and burglaries into such areas), preferring to stay close to the natural magic of the land. Many of their most solemn ceremonies, whether they be weddings, birthings, funerals, or executions, must be enacted at a crossroads of some sort, and always within the influence of a ley line. Though superstitious, they are not religious, per se. They recognize divinity, and occasionally offer their services—or are compelled into service—to a higher power. However, all skratta-sker recognize the authority of a faerie court somewhere in the planes that holds their affection and allegiance.

    Skratta-sker are terribly infamous for stealing children, whether from their cribs, or while playing in the yard, and such children are never seen again by those that knew them. It is said that the children are warped and befouled until they no longer remember their own lives, and then persuaded or coerced into signing over their own souls to the sadistic little goblins. These unfortunate waifs supposedly become warlocks, witches, and sorcerers of great power, but are bound to the skratta-sker by their pacts. Though they are considered inferior beings, a skratta-sker’s familial affection extends to the slaves—no matter their race—that it has charmed into its service. Those charmed servants that prove to be exceptionally devoted are often released from the charm in order to facilitate more rational, natural loyalty and affection.


    Encounters

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    A single skratta-sker is not much of a challenge for high-level characters, though they operate in an unorthodox way that might cause a few moments of panic and confusion. It is when they are together in their tight families and clans that they become a formidable force. Not even counting the fact that larger groups tend to have leaders with levels in character classes, the skratta-sker enjoy a great number of abilities that are only accessible when in groups.

    The skratta-sker have long ago realized their Nature of Phantasm, and they know how to take advantage of it. Facing formidable foes that might benefit too much from being able to see them, the fey will use guerilla tactics, assaulting with their eldritch blasts and various other tricks, so as never to allow their opponents the opportunity to see them.

    Just because they are naturally invisible does not mean that they cannot be affected by others. As with any other invisible creature, they might be hard to target, and foes might not know exactly what it is that they are facing—or where they are—but they can still be slain by a randomly tossed fireball, or an errant throwing knife.

    These fey make for a tense single encounter, but they make even better long-term protagonists or antagonists. Some of their greatest abilities are of more use out of combat than in combat. Their ability to exploit the mortal mindset through days of pranks and mischief is a tool with which the canny GM can frighten or exasperate even the most confident players, and can be used to create the atmosphere and build the plot needed in order to advance the story.
    Last edited by Stycotl; 2008-05-22 at 10:47 AM.
    my own diabolical experiments (homebrew)

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