"Rest easy - I can make you richer and more content that you ever have been before. All I want is the newborn thing that has mewled and cried and fussed in your home all night. Is that so much?"
Jarissa Kenn, a Nightsinger, offering a Tainted Bargain to a pair of unsupecting peasants
Nightsingers represent a new face of the Unseelie - one that is no longer willing to shun and ignore the mortal world. Too long have the Fey dwelt away; too long have they left themselves to wither and die. The Lords of Darkness are not going to slip quietly out of mortal memory - such a death is beneath their station, beneath their dignity, and beneath their duties!
Ever has it been the Unseelie's job to drag the mortal world down - to confuse, delay, and inhibit, to prevent those bold beings from growing too far, too fast. They have failed, and they will not fail again.
Enter the Nightsingers, mortals blessed with Unseelie power in exchange for a simple, but ironclad promise - to advance the goals of the Wayward Path. The gifts of the Court of Darkness are many and varied, often twisted and soaked in blood, and they are the Nightsingers' to use. Many of them are unaware of their other purpose - to connect the Dark Court to the mortal world, and give them a new understanding of duties long since neglected. Some of them know, though, and they grin in the shadows that they wrap around themselves like a cloak.
The Lords of Night will ride again, and the Nightsingers will be their heralds, the heirs to a cosmic change that has not been seen for millennia. Blood and song and wine will flow like rushing rivers as the world burns.
And they will dance in the flames.
Becoming a Nightsinger
Most Nightsingers are mortals with a predisposition for Unseelie values; deception, cunning, self-interest, and a certain gleeful amorality. These people are not evil per se, and actually run the gamut from filth-streaked murderers to enlightened philosiphers espousing universal anarchy. These individuals are approached by a representitive of the Unseelie Court, who offers them a bargain which may be open or concealed - power, in exchange for serving the ideals of the Unseelie. It is important to note that they do not serve the Court itself unless they choose to do so - they swear allegiance to ideas, and nothing more. Upon accepting, a potential candidate is a Nightsinger - with all that entails.
That being said, many Nightsingers are bards, and those that don't start out Nuetral Evil often find it hard not to end up that way; selfishness is an inherant part of being a Nightsinger, and it's all too easy to slip from being amoral to being malevolent, especially when you are being rewarded for doing so.
Entry Requirements Alignment: Any nonlawful Skills: Perform (Any) 8 ranks, Tumble 4 ranks Feats: Deal with the Dark*, Night's Favored* Type: Any non-fey capable of suffering age penalties. Special: The potential Nightsinger must agree to the Chorus Pact (see the Night's Chorus class feature). The Pact will only be offered thrice; after that, the potential Nightsinger has forsaken the Unseelie forever, and will likely be hunted down and tortured to death out of spite - and will only find rest if she can overcome her hunters thrice.
* Indicates a new feat; see below.
Sidebar: Sworn to Darkness
Deal With the Dark [General]
You've sworn yourself to some aspect of primordial night and darkness, and benefit thereby. Prerequisites: Charisma 13+, Hide 4 ranks Benefit: You gain a +2 sacred bonus to Hide checks made while you are in darkness or shadowy illumination. You gain low-light vision, if you didn't have it before, or darkvision out to sixty feet if you did (your vision does not improve if you already had darkvision). Part of your body - your hair, your eyes, your skin - turns dark and dusky, though how this manifests is up to you.
Night's Favored [General]
Your connection to darkness has deepened, marking you as one of the night's favored. Prerequisites: Deal with the Dark, Knowledge (The Planes) 6 ranks Benefit: Your vision improves; you gain darkvision out to sixty feet if you previously had low-light vision, or your darkvision becomes able to penetrate even magical darkness if you previously possessed darkvision. Additionally, as a free action at the beginning of your turn, you may choose one: you are healed by positive energy and take only half damage from negative energy, or you are healed by negative energy (also gaining a +1 sacred bonus to saves against negative levels, death effects that do not also possess the mind-affecting descriptor, and energy drain), but take damage from positive energy sources (such as cure light wounds) instead of being healed by them. The dark part of your body darkens further, becoming like living night cut whole from the midnight sky, and other parts of your body may become dark as well.
The Nightsinger's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are: Appraise (Int), Balance (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disable Device (Int), Disguise (Cha), Hide (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge (Any, chosen seperately) (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Open Lock (Dex), Perform (Any) (Cha), Profession (Lawyer) (Wis), Search (Int), Sense Motive (Wis), Spellcraft (Int), Spot (Wis), Swim (Str), Tumble (Dex), Use Rope (Dex) Skills Points at Each Level: 6 + Intelligence Modifier
Sidebar: Mind Rape
Under the rules as they are currently written, Bluff and Diplomacy make the Nightsinger an unstoppable Faustian force, coercing NPCs into dark deals with no chance for them to resist. It is highly reccomended that you seek an alternate method of using these skills in your campaign, both on general principle and in regards to this class.
Hit Dice: D8
Base Attack Bonus
Faerie Reels, Night's Chorus
Ten Thousand Steps
Aria of the Crescent Moon
Amoral Indifference, Bloody Smile
Half Moon Waltz
Bean Sidhe's Blessing, Fool's Curse
Unimpeachable Passage, Wine-Lipped Kiss
Full Moon Reel
Throw the Locks
New Moon Dirge
Belle Dame's Kiss, Tithe to the Unseelie
Weapon Proficiencies: The Nightsinger gains no new weapon or armor proficiencies.
Faerie Reels (Su): By using music, poetics, or some other form of audible performance, the Nightsinger can produce a variety of magical effects. The Nightsinger has a number of daily uses of this ability equal to her class level, which stacks with any previously possessed Bardic Music or similar ability. It takes a swift action at the beginning of the Nightsinger's turn to maintain the effects of a Reel (assuming that its effects may be maintained); as long as the Nightsinger expends this swift action every turn, the effects of the Reel will continue for as long as she continues singing, playing, reciting, et cetera. This ability is otherwise identical to the Bardic Music class feature.
Restless Reel - This reel is available to any Nightsinger with at least nine ranks in perform and one level in this class; one creature within sixty feet of the Nightsinger performing this reel (excluding the Nightsinger herself, and chosen when the reel is activated) must succeed at a Will save (DC 10 + the Nightsinger's class level + the Nightsinger's charisma modifier) at the beginning of their turn or take at least one move action during their turn - a move action which must be less than advantageous to them. They needn't put themselves in harm's way - such as by provoking attacks of opportunity - but are instead likely to find themselves unwittingly drawing useless items, literally dancing out of any useful position in combat, dropping prone, et cetera. The victim is entitled to a new save at the beginning of each of its turns; the effect ends when they succeed at a save, the Nightsinger stops performing, or after a number of rounds equal to her charisma modifier. This ability consumes one daily use of the Nightsinger's Faerie Reels, and is a mind-affecting, compulsion effect.
Aria of the Crescent Moon - The song of the Sickle Moon cuts beings off from their allies. This reel, available to any Nightsinger with at least eleven ranks in Perform and three levels in this class, forces those within sixty feet of the Nightsinger to succeed at a Will save (DC 10 + the Nightsinger's class level + the Nightsinger's charisma modifier) or be cut off from aid; they cannot target themselves or their allies with spells, use teamwork actions, or even stand comfortably within ten feet of a creature friendly to them - any creature that threatens their square is treated as hostile for the purposes of flanking bonuses - for as long as the Nightsinger continues to perform. The affected creatures may still choose to use area spells in locations that happen to include their allies, however. This ability consumes one use of the Nightsinger's Faerie Reels, and is a mind-affecting, compulsion effect.
Half Moon Waltz - The Half Moon is a time of between, of not-things and near-realities, and its song distorts the line between what is real and what is not. This reel, available to any Nightsinger with at least thirteen ranks in Perform and five levels in this class, turns creatures incorporeal. Each creature within sixty feet of the Nightsinger turns incorporeal (if it was previously corporeal) or corporeal (if it was previously incorporeal). A being who wishes to avoid this effect is entitled to a Will save (DC 10 + the Nightsinger's class level + the Nightsinger's charisma modifier) to do so; those who don't wish to avoid the effect but wish for it to apply to their equipment and carried possessions must also succeed at a Will save; failure indicates that their equipment and carried possessions do not change corporeality. All affected creatures and objects revert to their normal state of corporeality when the Nightsinger stops performing, or after a number of rounds equal to her class level, whatever comes first. This ability consumes one use of the Nightsinger's Faerie Reels.
Full Moon Reel - The Full Moon is a time of rage and war; this reel, available to any Nightsinger with at least fifteen ranks in perform and seven levels in this class, forces all creatures within sixty feet of the Nightsinger (excluding the Nightsinger herself) to succeed at a Will save (DC 10 + the Nightsinger's class level + the Nightsinger's charisma modifier) or enter a rage identical to that of a barbarian half their character level, with the exception being that the rage ends when the Nightsinger stops performing. A creature may choose to voluntarily fail this Will save. This ability consumes one daily uses of the Nightsinger's Faerie Reels, and is a mind-affecting, compulsion effect.
New Moon Dirge - The New Moon is a time of death, of secrecy and betrayal. Unlike other reels, this reel (available to any Nightsinger with at least seventeen ranks in Perform and nine levels in this class) takes a standard action to maintain. By singing or playing out a horrid sound that seems to scrape along the inside of the skull, the Nightsinger may raise a number of dead creatures equal to one half her class level (rounded down) within sixty feet of herself to serve her, provided that it has died within a number of minutes equal to her class level and possesses hit dice equal to or less than her character level. These creatures gain the undead type and regain all of their lost hit points, and are otherwise identical in all ways to the creature they were before death (including the availability of any unexpended spells, powers, et cetera), and they remain animate for as long as the Nightsinger continues to perform, after which time they fall to ash. This ability consumes five daily uses of the Nightsinger's Faerie Reels, and is a necromancy effect.
Faerie Reels are always obvious and present; under no circumstances (including magical interventions and feats) may the Nightsinger hide her attempts to use a Reel gained from this class; any attempt to do so spoils the magic of the Reel and consumes one use of this ability for the day. However, the Nightsinger is free to use her Reels from concealment, hiding, and other, similar methods.
Night's Chorus (Ex): Each Nightsinger swears the same oath, which both drives them and grants them their power (and is also the reason that they are, at times, referred to collectively as the Chorus). The formal version of the oath is as follows:
"I swear on my name and honor to uphold the values of the Unseelie; to provoke change, to deceive those unworthy of my respect and to always consider my own health, wealth, and comfort before that of others. I promise to confuse, befuddle, and hinder, to stifle unwanted change and to prevent mortals from treading where even gods are given pause. Let the Hunt claim me if I prove false."
Each Nightsinger swears some variant of this oath, and each interprets it differently. Violating this oath in a minor way (giving away gold when you'd intended to buy yourself a trinket) results in the loss of all abilities from this class for 24 hours. Any more severe violations require that the character beg forgiveness from the Unseelie and complete a task for them - if they manage to survive the assassins that the Dark Court sends to punish traitors.
The Nightsinger may not be compelled to violate this oath; she must do of her own free will, though she may be persuaded to do so through threats, bribery or other methods (though one wonders how a Nightsinger could possibly violate her oath if she is being threatened - own health/comfort is at stake - or bribed - own wealth/comfort is being increased). The oath gives them another benefit as well - she will never be selected as the Unseelie's tithe, and she is free from hinderance or harassment from any member of the Unseelie that she does not personally provoke or offend. They are under no compulsion to help her, but the direst penalties await an Unseelie who breaks this peace pact without just (for a faerie definition of 'just') cause.
Unseelie Truths (Su): Also starting at level two, the Nightsinger is immune to zone of truth, as well as similar spells and effects that determine if she is telling the truth or not; such spells always read as though she is speaking the truth. Sense Motive checks directed against the Nightsinger take a penalty equal to half her class level.
Ten Thousand Steps (Su): Also starting at level three, as a standard action, the Nightsinger can force a being within their line of sight to move; if their victim fails at a Will save (DC = 10 + the Nightsinger's class level + the Nightsinger's charisma modifier), they must take a move action and move at least ten feet on each of their turns for a number of rounds equal to the Nightsinger's class level. A creature may choose to voluntarily fail this Will save. While the victim may choose where he moves, he must move as far as he is able (up to the ten foot minimum) and must provoke an attack of opportunity from a hostile creature if at all capable; if no hostile creature is present within their minimum movement, they must move as close as possible to the nearest hostile creature. This ability does, however, have one positive benefit; a creature who fails their save against Ten Thousand Steps is instantly free of any magical effect that hinders their movement, such as hold person, slow, and similar spells and effects.
Tainted Bargains (Su): Arguably the greatest of their powers, a Nightsinger of level four or higher may offer pacts to willing, sentient beings. The terms of these pacts are simple - either the oathbound offers the Nightsinger something tangible (a lock of hair, a firstborn child, a favor, et cetera) or his services. In exchange, he gains a boon from the Nightsinger in the form of either a service or wealth. The power of the bargain is such that the Nightsinger can create whatever it is she is offering, up to a value of a thousand gold pieces per class level (per month in the case of pure currency or gems, but not magical items) - but the gift is always tainted in some way or another. Wealth turns to dry leaves and dust, magical items prove cursed, or services contain the seeds of betrayal and ruin. It is important to note that these deals often include a time limit - a Nightsinger may promise, for example, to "make you and your line rich unto the twentieth generation" - and that this time limit should factor into the penalty; perhaps the aforementioned family grows fat and corrupt on its wealth, until it all vanishes, turning them into desperate, evil paupers.
The powers of the Unseelie are vindictive and know when they are being abused; the Dungeon Master is encouraged to be especially cruel if the Nightsinger is abusing this power to give her party members level or adventure inappropriate benefits.
Horrifying sanctions await oathbreakers; if either side fails to hold up their end of a Tainted Bargain, a powerful curse strikes them, inflicting a -10 penalty on all rolls until the other side honestly, and without any form of magical of mundane coercion, forgives them. During this time, the cursed will find themselves beset by constant threat, danger, and misfortune, and will likely die if not forgiven or cured by other means.
No being may be magically forced to accept a Tainted Bargain, though they may be bribed, persuaded, and threatened into doing so. Likewise, impossible tasks cannot be bargained for. As always, the Dungeon Master is the final judge on these matters.
Amoral Indifference (Ex): There is only so long one can associate with something without becoming at least a little like that thing; a Nightsinger of level five or higher has been blessed (or, perhaps, infected) with a bit of the amorality of the Lords of Night; she gains a bonus equal to her Charisma modifier on saves vs. effects that have an alignment descriptor, and is utterly immune to magical effects, items, powers, spells, etc. that temporarily or permanently alter her alignment.
Bloody Smile (Su): Also at level five, the Nightsinger becomes resistant to all divination spells and effects used to determine the extent and nature of her misdeeds; this includes spells and effects incidentally used at the scenes of her crimes that would turn up evidence leading to her, spells that affect an area in which she happens to be perpetrating some form of misdeed, et cetera; the spell fails to provide any evidence of the Nightsinger, even by her absence. For example, a spell used to scry into an alleyway in which a murder was being committed by a fifth-level Nightsinger would show everything but the Nightsinger and the murder - not even the corpse of the victim would be detected. The caster of any such spell must succeed at a Sense Motive check (DC 20 + the Nightsinger's class level + the Nightsinger's charisma modifier, penalized by her Unseelie Truths class feature as normal) in order for their spell to function normally; failure indicates that it is obfuscated as described above.
Additionally, the Nightsinger gains a +2 sacred bonus to Bluff checks, provided that she has killed something with hit dice equal to or greater than her own within the past week.
Bean Sidhe's Blessing (Su): Starting at level six, the Nightsinger is immune to death effects and negative levels. Additionally, as a free action, he may touch a sentient being and grant that being foreknowledge of its own death; this has a few effects, depending on the nature of the next threat to that being's life takes place:
- If the being would die as the result of an effect that allows a save, it may re-roll that save with a +4 sacred bonus.
- If the being would die as the result of an attack roll, the attack is re-rolled and the being's armor class gains a +8 sacred bonus against it.
- If the being would be killed due to circumstances beyond its control (such as an erupting volcano), then it dies horribly, and probably goes insane with powerlessness in its final moments.
A Nightsinger may only bless one being, which cannot be herself, in this manner at a time.
Fool's Curse (Su): Starting at level six, a number of times per day equal to her charisma modifier as a swift action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity, the Nightsinger may inflict a curse of buffoonery upon an unfortunate victim within sixty feet of her. If their target fails a Will save (DC 10 + the Nightsinger's class level + the Nightsinger's charisma modifier), they suffer a -4 luck penalty to all ability scores for a number of rounds equal to the Nightsinger's class level. If they succeed at their Will save, they are immune to all luck penalties for a number of days equal to the Nightsinger's charisma modifier; shaking off such a curse is energizing and invigorating.
The effects of this ability are comical in that the victim looks foolish, stupid, and bedeviled, though one should keep in mind that sympathy is the only line between comedy and tragedy.
Unimpeachable Passage (Su): A Nightsinger of level seven or higher is gifted with a bit of the unearthly grace and bearing of the Faerie Lords; she gains a +2 inherant bonus to charisma. Additionally, the Nightsinger ignores dangerous or difficult terrain - caltrops do not deal damage to her, thin ice bears her weight, et cetera. This unearthly grace even allows her to walk on water and other liquids at her normal movement rate without making a check or suffering any kind of penalty. It does not, however, protect her from the indirect effects of the terrain she walks on; convection from lava will still damage her, walking on acid will ruin her boots and then start dealing her damage, et cetera.
Additionally, the Nightsinger no longer leaves footprints and similar markings; attempts to track her suffer a -4 penalty.
Wine-Lipped Kiss (Su): A Nightsinger of level seven or higher is given a dark gift - that of addiction. By kissing a sentient being, the Nightsinger can force that being to make a Will save (DC 10 + the Nightsinger's class level + the Nightsinger's charisma modifier). Failure indicates that they fall under an effect similar to that of charm monster, with one important difference - they are literally addicted to the Nightsinger. A brief kiss, willingly given to them, will stave off the effects of the addiction for a day (a willing sexual encounter sustains them for a week - while they might attempt rape, it does not help them in any way); every day that they are denied their fix, the being gets more and more desperate, their alignment shifting one step towards chaotic or evil as they desperately try to find some way to gain the favor of the Nightsinger. Each day that their fix is steadily maintained reverses one step of alignment change inflicted by this ability. Most Nightsingers string their poor victims along to make them more pliable; some of the more merciful ones instead use this power to pacify otherwise implacable enemies.
The effects of this ability last for a number of days equal to the Nightsinger's charisma modifier, at which point the victim is entitled to another Will save to throw off the effects. Failure indicates that they remain charmed for another number of days equal to the Nightsinger's charisma modifier, at which point they are entitled to another Will save, et cetera. The Nightsinger may attempt to use this ability in combat by first pinning an opponent in a grapple, but their victim gains a +6 circumstance bonus on their Will save in that event. A creature already under the influence of another compulsion effect also gains a +6 bonus to their Will saves vs. this ability.
A Nightsinger may only hold a number of beings in her thrall with this ability equal to half her charisma modifier, rounded down.
This ability is a mind affecting, compulsion effect.
False Virtue (Su): At level eight and higher, even the soul of a Nightsinger is a consummate deciever; all mundane or magical attempts to detect her alignment fail. Additionally, the Nightsinger is always treated as being whatever alignment is most beneficial to her at any given time, regardless of what her actual alignment is.
Throw the Locks (Su): At level nine or higher, whenever the Nightsinger opens a door or window, or otherwise attempts to pass through a portal of any kind, she makes a reflexive (read: involuntary and automatic) Open Lock check as a free action, substituting her charisma modifier for her dexterity modifier. This check has a number of effects:
- It functions as a normal Open Lock check, automatically opening any mundane lock with a DC equal to or lower than the check result.
- It functions as a targeted dispel magic, affecting all abjuration and/or transmutation spells on the door, window, or other portal. The check is substituted for the normal caster check; it otherwise functions as dispel magic.
- It disarms all traps on the door, window, or other portal, magical or mundane, with DCs equal to or lower than the check result.
Throw the Locks only functions once per hour on any given door, window, or other portal.
Belle Dame's Kiss (Su): The most feared and hated of the Nightsinger's abilities is their kiss; though the Nightsinger can already enslave unwitting victims with her lips, at level ten her kiss gains the ability to steal souls. She gains death knell as a spell-like ability usable at-will, though she must kiss her victim in order for it to function. However, there is another option; if she kisses a helpless sentient creature full on the lips, she may begin to draw their soul out of their mouth. This process takes five minutes, at the end of which the victim is entitled to a Will save (DC 10 + the Nightsinger's class level + the Nightsinger's charisma modifier). Success indicates that they merely die peacefully; failure indicates that they gain the ghost template, bound to serve the Nightsinger. The Nightsinger may only have one ghost bound in this way at a time, but she may, as an immediate action, destroy her ghostly servant and devour its soul, gaining a number of temporary hit points equal to five times its hit dice; these temporary hit points last up to an hour. The Nightsinger may not enslave a new soul within three days and three nights of the destruction (or freedom) of her previous slave.
Needless to say, there are very few situations in which stealing and enslaving a sentient being's immortal soul is not an evil action, let alone devouring it.
Tithe to the Unseelie (Su): At level ten, a Nightsinger may elect to take on the Fey type, gaining DR 10/Cold Iron, an additional +2 inherant bonus to their Charisma, charm person as an at-will spell-like ability (caster level equal to their hit dice), extending their darkvision by forty feet and suspending their aging - the Nightsinger does not age further while she maintains the Fey type (this is in addition to the various and sundry benefits of actually being Fey). This transcendance, however, comes at a cost - once per month, on the new moon, they must offer a sentient being to the Unseelie Court, either as a slave and plaything or as a blood sacrifice. A representative of the Unseelie Court comes to claim the sacrifice - appearing from the nearest door, window, or other portal and dissappearing through the same - and grants the Nightsinger her continued transcendance. The Unseelie are not, however, interested in having to work for their offerings; the being offered to the Night Court must either be helpless or slain in a ritual sacrifice dedicated to the Unseelie. The Nightsinger may certainly elect not to take on the Fey type, and may abandon it at any moment as a free action, or simply by electing not to make their sacrifice.
In order to initially gain the Fey type (or regain it after it has been abandoned), the Nightsinger must offer a sacrifice to the Unseelie, as described above. A Nightsinger who loses the Fey type ages at the rate of one year per day until she is caught up to her true and proper age.
Gaining the Fey type (and cheating age penalties) through this class feature does not disqualify you for this prestige class, nor does it cause you to lose any abilities gained from it.
Playing a Nightsinger
Your're a trickster, beholden to nothing and no one, with a magically bound obligation to be selfish. This is not a free ticket to be a complete jerk to your party, but look out for number one first, your party second, and everyone else distinctly last; do little things to entertain yourself and revel in the lives you ruin. You are the hinderer, the adversary, the Transcendant Muse that burns out the soul of your protoge - dance in the ruins you create! Combat: Nightsingers typically alternate between supporting their allies by creating flanking opportunities and debuffing. Once a Nightsinger has slung all the curses she's going to sling, she usually begins singing, using her Reels to cause chaos in the battlefield and ensure that her opponents can't gain any kind of advantage. Make sure to target spellcasters with such abilities as Ten Thousand Steps, while more melee-oriented characters should suffer the unsubtle caresses of the Fool's Curse and, wherever possible, disrupt, disrupt, disrupt! Ready actions if you have to - just don't let the opposition organize, and don't fight on their terms. Advancement: Many Nightsingers choose to advance as bards, though others seek more esoteric classes such as warlock, or even prestige classes such as Seeker of the Song. Some Nightsingers choose instead to advance as rogues, and a rare few advance as a pure melee or spellcasting class, augmenting their trickster abilities with something a little more direct. Resources: At first glance, it doesn't seem like a Nightsinger has many resources to draw upon - until one realizes the extent to which they can manipulate people. The weakest of Nightsingers can foil truth spells, and many of them are consummate confidence men and decievers. It only gets worse as they increase in level, enabling a Nightsinger to embed themselves in a community or organization as a member in good standing, leeching funds, allies, and assets off of them while quietly controlling, embezzling, and even stealing from the organization on the side - and that's if the Nightsinger chooses to limit themselves to one organization or community. Getting to the point of being suspicious is difficult enough; proof is nearly impossible to procure about an intelligent Nightsinger's misdeeds. Couple this with the potential allies, boons, and services granted to them by their Tainted Bargain class feature, and this means that any Nightsinger worth the title has a vast pool of wealth, allies, slaves, and assets to call upon in dealing with any given problem.
Nightsingers in the World
"Please don't leave me - I need you! Please, I need you!
Regdar, pleading with the Nightsinger whose Wine-Lipped Kiss enslaved him.
There are two ways that Nightsingers are viewed in the world; theoretically, and practically. In theory, the life of a Nightsinger is not a fun one; powerful paladins hunt them down, servants of the Seelie Court constantly seek their lives, and the common populace doesn't precisely have a rosy opinion of the servants of the Unseelie, who are tricky and antagonistic towards mortals on the best of days, and running with hot, fresh blood on others. Theoretically, Nightsingers should be chased out of any right-thinking settlements and into the cracks and crevices of dungeons with all the other 'evil' folk.
The reality is very, very different.
Nightsingers are, almost by definition, smooth customers, and their supernatural abilities only enforce this. Any Nightsinger intelligent enough to avoid mentioning Nightsingers in general or the Unseelie can quickly and efficiently establish themselves as loved or even essential members of the community; many take up positions similar to that of being the town bard. They're everyone's friend and people turn to them for advice and wisdom that they often never suspect is subtly twisted to make life a little harder, a little darker, a little more challenging. Pretty soon, the Nightsinger has money rolling in, one way or another, and they become a respected member of the community (for their wealth) and an essential economic pillar (for their business). At that point, even if someone discovers one of their misdeeds - which grows increasingly unlikely as the Nightsinger gains power both mystic and temportal - it's a simple matter to have them discredited, or lynched, or ostracized, or to simply deal with them personally. After all, what right-thinking person could ever suspect such an honest and upstanding soul? If allowed to grow powerful enough, a skilled Nightsinger can even bend the local religions to her whims, especially once she starts looking like everyone's ally and no one's enemy - after all, she never appears as evil (or good, or lawful, or chaotic, or...) and abilities such as smite evil and holy word fail to even faze her. A Nightsinger entrenched into a community is a frightening thing, indeed.
Ironically, the best hope for a community's (dubious) salvation is a pre-existing selfish or evil social interest; an evil-aligned bard, or an influential socialite uninterested in losing her place in society. Such a person can freeze out the Nightsinger in much the same way an established Nightsinger can, forcing the Unseelie's servant to look for more gullible pastures. How, exactly, this is any better than the Nightsinger taking up residence is up for debate, but it is a hope. Daily Life: Most Nightsingers devote their days to the pursuits of securing their personal comfort, making a tidy profit (with which to secure even more comfort), and entertaining themselves. The Unseelie don't actually rule them, you see, and that means they tend to flap about at loose ends, stewing in their own hedonism until something makes them budge out of their niche. Those Nightsingers who adventure tend to form fairly typical adventurers, in that "adventurers" can be defined as, "roving bands of heavily armed mercenaries seeking socially acceptable victims to murder and rob," which ultimately amounts to the same thing as a stationary Nightsinger, but with less community respect and more personal and/or mystical power. Notables: Jerissa Kenn is everyone's friend. She makes quite a bit of money trading in antique items, various "recovered" artifacts, and rare spell components - adventurers on other continents know her name and the quality of both her goods and her hospitality. The poor woman seems to have a knack for marrying rich men that are fated to die horribly, but the local wizards and priests have all agreed that there was no foul play at work.
Except that there was.
Jerissa is a very old and powerful Nightsinger, and this is but the most recent of her many names; the young woman changes faces and cities every ten years or so, taking up a new business as the whim strikes her. She's been offering one life a month to the Unseelie for sixty years now, and the 'young' human loves the Nightsinger life. Thus far, several attempts on her life have been made by representatives of the Seelie Court, only to be crushed by her political and societal influence, which she has learned to gain with a kind of ruthless efficiency. Only one person knows who she is without being enslaved to her, and while he keeps careful tabs on her, Jerissa's existence is tolerated because she tends to keep worse influences out of wherever she's living. What her secret watcher doesn't know is that Jerissa is actively serving the Unseelie, and soon - very, very soon - she will be able to draw a substantial portion of her master's estate into the mortal world, where they will infiltrate the mortal world and once again take up their age-old duties as adversaries. Gods help whatever city she inflicts them on. Organizations: Nightsingers are social creatures, tainted with an inherant self-interest; they flock to organizations with large bases of members, assets, and wealth which they may quietly exploit and abuse. Of these organizations, bardic colleges are a veritable gold mine - plenty of drama, cash and ideas flowing freely, and a lively social structure for them to manipulate to their whims. Bardic organizations also provide an easy backdrop for them to hide behind; what is, after all, one more magical singer among bards?
Sidebar: Knights of Shadow
The organization that claims the largest percentage of the Nightsinger's fealty is the Court of Night, and the Unseelie are, perhaps, unique amongst those organizations in that it often claims the Nightsinger's honest cooperation.
The Court of Night, like the Court of Day, is composed of urban and urbane Fae who take a direct interest in civilization. Where it is the Seelie's job to promote mortals, it is the Unseelie's job to hinder mortals in any way that they can. The Unseelie is the home of the artist driven mad by being centuries ahead of his time, the author enslaved to a dark muse, the rhyming serial killer and the genteel cannibal. The Unseelie are monsters, and they don't bother themselves about hiding the fact longer than it takes to lure a victim in. That said, they aren't evil per se, just selfish and self-centered; the artist needn't paint in blood, and many of the Wayward Path are simply strange and bizzare, rather than gore-spattered maniacs.
With the Court's recent rekindling of interest in the mortal world, Nightsingers are presented with a glut of opportunities in their service, many of which provide easy avenues of profit; teaching mortal tongues to faerie nobles, explaining cultures, securing their trinkets and kidnapping the occasional plaything are all very common tasks that Nightsingers are put to. It is also very often their duty to open long-shut gateways to the Feywilds and various demiplanes, allowing the Unseelie to infiltrate the mortal world and begin their work.
Curiously, the Unseelie is nowhere near as concerned with the Seelie as the Seelie are with them. While it's true that an Unseelie soldier or killer is likely to butcher any given Seelie fey, they don't wage organized war - or even official war - against their "enemies", preferring instead to force the "righteous" Sun Court to scrounge and search and quest endlessly to root out their various depravities. That said, one does not wrong or betray the Unseelie lightly; torture was an art form amongst them long before mortals ever discovered the concept, and several of their musicians have been known to literally compose symphonies of screams.
A Nightsinger typically becomes a member of the Dark Court by swearing herself to the service of one of their nobles or lords (which typically claim the title by virtue of being able to defend it, rather than any inherant breeding), though some have managed to worm their way into Faerie politics independantly. Mortals are lesser members of the Court; a Nightsinger is only an equal to the Unseelie if she achieves Fey status. A Fey Nightsinger who achieves sufficient respect and rank (enough to be nobility) is taught the secret of offering a magically binding Chorus Oath, thus enabling them to swear in new Nightsingers.
Upon discovering a Nightsinger's true nature, most nonevil NPCs will react with hostility. However, discovering a Nightsinger's true nature is extraordinarily difficult (see above), and most NPCs aren't equipped with the knowledge to understand that they should be scared or angry. Thus, there is no common NPC reaction to Nightsingers.
Nightsingers in the Game
Nightsingers create a lot of chaos in combat, and, depending on your group, will make battle either A. a lot of fun or B. very frustrating. However, Nightsingers open up a truckload of wonderful opportunities for political and social roleplaying; the possibilities for the Tainted Bargain class feature alone will excite and challenge many DMs and players. Run with it - see what pops out! Adaptation: The biggest adaptation that is likely to be necessary is cosmological; some DMs will not want to deal with the Unseelie, or perhaps with the Fey in general. Could the Nightsingers be the amoral protoges of demons? Certainly. Or devotees to gods of chaos, or corruption, or even "survival of the fittest". These adaptations may require small mechanical changes to their abilities, but they shouldn't be that difficult. Encounters: Most encounters with Nightsingers will be subtly hostile, with the Nightsinger offering some kind of tainted deal or twisted advice; they're well-suited to long, convoluted plots where the players must peel through layers and layers of intrigues in order to finally expose the corruption within.
Originally Posted by Chilingsworth
Wow! Not only was that awesome, I think I actually kinda understand Archeron now. If all the "intermediate" outer planes got that kind of treatment, I doubt there would be anywhere near as many critics of their utility.
Wow! Not only was that awesome, I think I actually kinda understand Archeron now. If all the "intermediate" outer planes got that kind of treatment, I doubt there would be anywhere near as many critics of their utility.
This is one of my favourite PrC's that I've tried to get people to play as. From experience playing this class it can be rather OP in a roleplay setting with the Diplomacy & Bluff + all the other thigns it can do. But it sure as makes for one awsome campaign character.
Later today I'll be putting up a PbP Idea that focuses on using HB prestige classes from this forum. The main themes; Darkness, Night, and Shadows; so as one of my favourite PrC's this one is definately in there.
As this thread's creator, I am bumping it an an effort to get further critique before I use it in my campaign(s).
Originally Posted by Chilingsworth
Wow! Not only was that awesome, I think I actually kinda understand Archeron now. If all the "intermediate" outer planes got that kind of treatment, I doubt there would be anywhere near as many critics of their utility.
Restless Reel: "A move action which must be less than advantageous to them" is terribly vague. So they can move closer to you during their turn if they want to, but not if they don't want to? That sounds confusing. It sounds like you've played with this class before; did this work out well? A more clear explanation here would do wonders.
Aria of the Crescent Moon: They can't target themselves with spells? That seems to go against the theme of the effect. If you're trying to isolate someone, the natural response on their part would be to try to improve their own ability to survive. Denying the cleric the ability to cast a shield of faith on himself is unnecessary and unintuitive.
Half Moon Waltz: This needs a note that it affects the creature and not their equipment; no other spell or ability that I can think of works in the same way, so that should be made abundantly clear. I'm not sure I like it; you only have to be 10th level to do this, and you can keep spamming it at any powerful humanoid. Most NPCs (or PC) who become totally are virtually useless. To be fair, this is gained at a level when a wizard could have dominate, but I'd still prefer a "If a target makes its save against this effect, it cannot be affected by further uses of this ability for another 24 hours" clause. Actually, I'd like for all uses of the Faerie Reels. They are cool as is, and preventing them from being spammed allows them to have more power without worrying as much about abusability (and encourages more creative play).
Full Moon Reel: This has "fatigue all your opponents" as a potential side-effect, if you use it that way. I'm not saying that that would be necessarily unbalanced, but it is still far from the intent of the aria, so I'd add an "except they are not fatigued when the rage ends" clause.
New Moon Dirge: Could use a more explicit note to indicate that the undead are under the nightsinger's control. I am sure there are exploits here (summon and kill an efreet, reanimate its corpse with this, gain a wish), but I'm not sure whether that's worth addressing in the ability. Probably not.
Night's Chorus: Well, that is very flavorful, but this character strikes me as being a horrible team player. I'm guessing you're looking for more of a World of Darkness individualistic feel to your campaigns, so it probably works well for your group, but the oath would need to be less explicitly anti-cooperation for a nightsinger to work well with a "normal" D&D party.
Unseelie Truths: Why "Sense Motive checks take a penalty" instead of "Bluff checks get a bonus"? It's harder to write down and keep track of this way, and it is highly unusual to apply a universal, irrestible penalty like this, from my experience.
Tainted Bargains: A nightsinger can create anything she offers? In other words, the bargain comes at no cost to the nightsinger (except for risking the wrath of the Unseelie). I don't like that; if a nightsinger wants to make a bargain with people, the nightsinger should have to actually put effort into fulfilling that bargain. As it is, a nightsinger could walk up to a town and make bargains with anyone in it to get what she wants. Does buying a magic item count as a "bargain"? In that case, the nightsinger has a free 1000gp per class level - as many times as she wants. Could you explain what this ability is supposed to do? All I can see are ways to abuse it.
Fifth level seems to have a bit of an ability glut, while fourth level only has Tainted Bargains. Could Amoral Indifference be pushed up a level?
Bloody Smile: The only way to see through this effect is with a Sense Motive check, when no primary casters have Sense Motive as a class skill? This seems unnecessarily strong. Why not just give the nightsinger a continuous nondetection, like several other prestige classes do?
Bean Sidhe's Blessing: Being permanently immune to all death and negative energy effects is extremely powerful. I'm worried that things like this will push the class over the edge into being unfairly good. A bonus to saves, perhaps, or some other lesser mechanism would be more appropriate here.
If you grant a party member the foreknowledge of their own death, what should the DM tell them they see? That sounds like knowledge that is impossible to predict ahead of time, and I'd hate to have to try to predict that as a DM. The mechanical effects are fine (though, again, powerful - particularly the saving throw one!) but the fluff here strikes me as very problematic.
Fool's Curse: Classy. No objections here. It's particularly good to give nightsingers something they can do against foes immune to mind-affecting effects.
Unimpeachable Passage: It confuses me that the Charisma bonus comes attached to an ability that is fundamentally about movement and physical action. It might work better to grant two abilities at 7th level: One called "Unimpeachable Grace" (or something) that gives the Charisma bonus, and a separate ability that grants the movement changes.
Wine-Lipped Kiss: Mentioning rape in a class feature? Definitely a World of Darkness player here. :P The ability as a whole is pretty classy. No major complaints. One question: what if you kiss someone who is unconscious? RAW, they'd get the save (without the +6 bonus), and could be under your thrall when they wake up. Nothing wrong with that so far. The problem is that, right now, there's nothing preventing the nightsinger from just repeatedly kissing them until they give in. I don't particularly like that implication. A clause to the effect of "if the target makes its saving throw, it cannot be affected by the nightsinger's kiss for another 24 hours" would avoid that problem, while still allowing the nightsinger to break the will of unfortunate victims eventually, given enough time. I love the image of the paladin in a dungeon, fighting off the nightsinger's kiss each day as he prays for deliverance. Much better than "I kiss the paladin 20 times until he gives in".
False Virtue: No complaints here.
Throw the Locks: This was unexpected. Until this point, nearly every ability has been about people and interactions. But suddenly, at 8th level the nightsinger is a super-rogue. Anyway, the open lock and trap removal I can see; those DCs are set assuming you're taking time to do it right, so giving them as a free action isn't a problem. But using a skill check as the result of a dispel magic check is absolutely huge: you're going to dispel just about anything with that. Is this necessary?
Belle Dame's Kiss: The wording for the death knell ability is a little odd. Why not say "Whenever the nightsinger kisses a creature, she gains the benefit of a death knell effect for that creature" or something closer to that? Calling it an at-will SLA doesn't feel right for how it seems to be used.
I cracked up at the "Success indicates that they merely die peacefully" line. That's great. The idea of giving the nightsinger a personal ghost buddy to serve them at all times is a bit scary, but by 15th level, everything is a little scary, so I'm not complaining.
Tithe to the Unseelie: I'm not sure I like "charm person at will". The idea that the nightsinger can just walk into a town and... er, wait, what am I saying, warlocks can get that at 6th level. Carry on. Just beware that, if the nightsinger tries hard enough, she can really start breaking apart the campaign world by this level.
A nightsinger can abandon the fey type as a free action? Being fey seems like a fundamental change to your character - it doesn't strike me as appropriate that a nightsinger can just throw that off so easily. I would have imagined some sort of formal ritual to regain your humanity would be involved.
Whew! Hopefully this is what you were looking for. I love the class - it is clearly right out of Changeling: the Dreaming (unless I have gone horribly askew in my assumptions), and just bleeds flavor. You've done a great job of making it feel useful and flavorful.