There’s a novel to be written about skulks. They fascinate me, at least. Their paranoid, almost Bizarro-esque Opposite Day mindset—cowardice is bravery, bravery is foolishness, human industry is laziness, stealing is a good day’s work—is one I could read for pages and pages and pages, if it were done well.
Come to think of it, I think that novel already was written—by Faulkner. It was The Sound and the Fury, and skulks are an entire race of Jasons.
Obviously, most PCs are never going to get to know skulks to that degree. To them, skulks are just outskirters—is that a word?...I think it should be a word—joining the list of scavengers, skulkers (duh), and sneak thieves that dwell on the outskirts and in the cellars of human society, like derros, chokers, doppelgangers, and wererats (and perhaps changelings, if you’re a 3.5 player). Low-level parties need to beware them as threats, and higher level parties should be mindful that their open displays of wealth don’t draw the greedy eyes of skulks with class levels. On the other hand, skulks might be useful snitches if properly motivated—paranoid people see an awful lot, especially when no one can see them…
Spur’s Boys only number twelve members, but already the tribe is beginning to fracture. They had a good gig following drunks back to their homes, murdering them, and then squatting until the food ran out. But then Weeble coshed the Lord Mayor’s son but let him get away, and now the law is after them. Breadknife wants Weeble left dead for the humans to find but won’t say so yet, because as long as Weeble stays alive Spur looks weak. And meanwhile Shurl is in secret talks with a doppelganger who swears it’ll teach her lock picking if she helps it replace the Lord Mayor. The doppelganger needs a ruckus to make the switch, and the easiest way to separate the Lord Mayor from his guards would be if Shurl makes sure that a fight between the skulks and some clueless hired adventurers spills out into the streets…
Most adventurers know skulks as dungeon dwellers and urban sneaks, but they are equally adept in forest settings. Skulks are especially abundant in the Thrushfall Forest, though they avoid the two small elf nations in the Deep Thrushfall. Instead they stick to robbing trailers on the outskirts and trailheads. Half-elves are their favorite targets, as these tend to be loners and bastards no one will miss.
Amon of the Book is the Head of Illusions at the Kingfisher School of Charms. All illusionists are assumed to have secrets, but even the other two pattern casters on faculty haven’t yet realized he is a skulk. He keeps his paranoia in check with alcohol, but he still assumes every other shapechanger is a potential enemy, and he goes to great lengths to expose even harmless shifters (like druids) to the public.
—Pathfinder Bestiary 2 248
For more on skulks in the Greyhawk setting, check out Roger Moore’s “Legacies of the Suel Imperium” in Dragon #241. I also gave that article some love back when we covered the derro.
(If you do follow that link, forgive the occasional typo. As I’ve said before, trying to edit a BlogSpot entry causes more problems than it solves, so I have to just grin and bear the little slipups.)