Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Dark Dancer

Somebody—the Internet says Leo Tolstoy, so we’ll go with that—once said, “All great literature is one of two stories; a man goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town.”

Dark dancers are the perfect strangers come to town.

How many fantasy stories start with a wandering bard’s tales of adventure, or a young maid falling in love with a traveling player?  Make the performer a dark dancer who only appears after dusk and vanishes by dawn.  You’ve just tuned that lute up to 11.

And how awesome are dark dancers for kicking off a campaign?  Forget that “You all meet in a tavern” business—honestly, what are the odds a priest, a mage, a burglar, and a brute are all going to be hanging out in the same bar?  But all four could easily happen upon the same troupe of street performers.  And when those performers suddenly attack without warning, or are attacked themselves by rival kobolds or morlocks bursting out of the sewers, and they flash with strange magic and drop interesting trinkets in their death throes…well now the whole party is interested and has a reason to band together. 

And, of course, it's made very clear in the Bestiary 4 that dark dancers move between dark folk clans and among the subterranean societies of other races with unmatched ease.  So even if PCs never cross swords with them, a troupe of dark dancers could be their passport to adventures all over the (under)world.

Seven years ago, a mysterious troupe of dark dancers came to town…and left more than a few brave or curious maids with fetchling babes in their bellies.  When the troupe passes through town again, the dark dancers reclaim their bastard offspring and spirit them away.  The distraught mothers beg adventurers to bring their children back.

Adventurers get their first job guarding a gated portal to the Realms Below.  They soon face more than the usual goblins or dire rats when a troupe of dark dancers demands passage.  A dark slayer has seized control of their clan, and they are determined to get as far away as possible—even if it means drugging or clubbing the adventurers senseless.

A barbarian has been cursed.  He believes he will never be free of the taint unless he can track down the dark dancer who laid it upon him.  The inheritor of a large fortune, he pays well for aid.  But adventurers who take the job will find it a challenging one.  The barbarian will not accept magical aid from a woman, has trouble ending his rages while underground, consults an astrological chart before making important decisions, and smells terrible.  Meanwhile, the dark dancer has found a comfortable place among a new delegation of dark creepers and is happy to sacrifice them to escape trouble of the barbarian sort.

Pathfinder Bestiary 4 43

Behold: a dark dancer with the boss template.

Tumblr readers, you can find the dark creeper on the original Blogger site.

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