27 September 2016

Owen KC Stephens's 100 Questions For Your Group: Questions 11-20

Questions 1–10

Owen posted the next 10 topics for rpg-focused discussions. This batch is quite generic, and honestly, I have problem with answering them, because not very often I have clear favorites when it comes to books, comic books, games, movies, and even settings. How I feel about them is too much dependent on my present mood and what I would like to read, play, see at the moment. I have large pools of "favorites" instead of single favorite in each category.

With that in mind mentally replace "favorites" in the listed answers with "things that came to my mind when answering".

#11. What is your favorite Saturday Morning Cartoon? What is your favorite animation you don’t consider a Saturday Morning Cartoon?

Beyond the already mentioned issue with favorites, this question has another problem in the form of cultural barrier. While the Polish television of my childhood times followed the popular format of showing cartoons on Saturday morning, the cartoons shown were often different than in English-speaking countries (though we had a share of American cartoons). For a long time they were only a part of larger children and kids-directed programs on Saturday and Sunday morning.

If I was to point singular Saturday morning cartoon that etched in my mind it would be Spartakus And The Sun Beneath The Sea (shown in Poland under the title Shagma Or The Lost Worlds, closer but still different than the original French title).

#12. What is your favorite commercial?

That question is like asking what disease I like to suffer the most... I dislike commercials and try to avoid them, zone out, not pay attention, go to bathroom, make myself tea, etc. There were commercials that I liked because of some funny plot, witty comment, or creative direction, but they all share the same quality: I have no idea what they were about. I simply did not cared about remembering what is advertised.

Actually... There were a number of commercials that used music I liked, and done that in a masterful way. I can actually recall what was advertised in one of them. It was commercial of Tchibo caffee... I would not call it an advertising success, though, as I don't drink coffee, except for rare social occasions when I am visiting someone. Even then I usually go with tea instead.

#13. What is your favorite book cover (fiction or nonfiction)?

I have fondness for Frank Frazetta. I have great fondness for some of the covers of the books from the Witchworld series (though googling them now shows that pictures that I like less — like if Polish edition used more toned down versions focused on very evocative landscapes). Also, Larry Elmore's Dragons Of The Autumn's Twilight and Winter Night. By the way, Polish edition actually looked better than the images I can find by dropping the borders.

#14. What is your favorite toy?

Computer. In the past I had big fondness for Star Wars figurines with favorites being TIE Fighter pilot, Yoda, and Leia in Hoth outfit. I got the pilot before watching Star Wars and Yoda before seeing Empire Strikes Back—I thought it might be Jawa...

#15. What is your favorite television show or movie that you think is objectively bad?

Really hard to say. I don't watch that many movies and haven't seen a TV show for ages... I might go back to this question at a later time.

#16. What is your favorite book series with 6 or more books in it?

This one is easy and those are among my to book series, regardless of length: Roger Zelazny's Amber Chronicles. Frank Herbert's Dune. Steven Erikson's Malazan Book Of The Fallen.

Karl Wagner's Kane missed one book to catch into this list. Unless we count the lose stories as another book. It isn't cheating to get it into favorite series list, right?

I also have great fondness for already mentioned Andre Norton's Witchworld and Margaret Weiss's and Tracy Hickman's Dragonlance Chronicles and Legends (giving us together six books).

#17. What is your favorite story (book, TV, movie, or otherwise) that you hate the ending to? What ending would you have preferred?

Alien: Resurrection. Cut away the xenomorph queen's pregnancy and the human-like child made of soft tissue paper (as anything more sturdy would not be sucked through a small hole into the vacuum). Replace it with something more sinister, more Gigeresque, and more dangerous.

#18. What story (book, TV, movie, or otherwise) did you love when you were younger, but have since come to dislike? Why do you think your opinion changed?

Another question where nothing clear comes to my mind... Not that such stories hadn't happen but I fail to recall any of them at the moment.

#19. What RPG that you hate the rules for do you most love the setting of?

Hate is too big word here. I dislike AD&D 2nd edition for its rules* but I love its settings.

*Lets say that 5th edition is what 2nd edition should be. Thirty years late to the party.

#20. What RPG that you hate the setting of do you most love the rules for?


I can't recall any setting that I would hate. There is a lot of settings that don't impress me, that failed to catch my attention, but not one I would hate...

I love GURPS rule set but Banestorm, it's medieval humans-transported to fantasy land setting failed to capture my attention as a whole (it has a lot of nice touches here and there), though I like the Infinite Worlds meta-setting, of which Banestorm is (insignificantly small) part.

25 September 2016

City Of Mists Story Idea: What The Hell Happened In The Heaven's Bay

City Of Mists: Introduction
City Of Mists: The Law
City Of Mists: The Departments
City Of Mists: The Infrastructure
City Of Mists: Characters And Campaigns
City Of Mists: Black Market Deals

City Of Mists is a place where many strange events take place. Hidden behind the layers of coincidences, ineffective law enforcement, corporate obtrusion, divided health care system... Some of them explainable with corporate intrigues, other, not so much. This is an idea for a scenario around one such strange incident.

"What The Hell Happened In The Heaven's Bay"
Characters: Anyone, though some degree of overall physical fitness is recommended. Medical training of some sort is highly recommended.
Moving The Story Elsewhere: Not a big problem as long as the law enforcement can be expected to be ineffective.

The protagonists wake up... In a hospital. They are hurting, bruised, and very very hungry. Their recollection of recent events is dim at best. What the hell has happened?! Quick examination shows they are bandaged up, like if they suffered serious injuries. Their medical cards show they were shot. The nurse coming in to check on them is genuinely surprised they are already awake and up. She calls a doctor after noting down the hour of their awakening. He is surprised to see them up already, too. They should stay in beds for weeks at best. He can tell them they were assaulted while visiting "The Heaven's Bay"—a tourist yacht harbor combined with a bar and number of bungalows for lease. There was some sort of gathering for rich tourists yesterday and a robbery attempt, thwarted by the characters. They can recall vaguely the party, but throwing themselves at armed thugs?! Short-term memory loss can be caused by shock but how did they managed to regain strength so quickly? Why their wounds look almost healed? The doctor is as baffled as they are. It will take some time for the law enforcement to show up, probably the carabiniers, unless someone among the guests has ties to another department. One of the bandits died at the protagonists' hands, there were a few lightly injured guests, the characters were judged the the worst cases and taken to nearby obscure village hospital.

They slowly start to remember the early part of the party—a show off by a renowned lecturer, self-help and coaching guru, and a satanist... Named John Milton, no really, that's the name listed in his American passport, check for yourself if you meet him.

Will they stay waiting for law enforcement or will they search on their own? Regardless of their choice they need to sate their immense hunger now. Crappy hospital they woke up in is not a great place for that and the doctor warns them to avoid its canteen...

Asking at the Heaven's Bay itself brings only more questions... They start to recall They start to recall the evening but not the attack itself. Why did they acted so much against common sense attacking the bandits? Why did the experienced mercenary stood in the thugs way taking the bullets instead of firing from available cover, as dictated by his combat training? Why did a sneaky survivor and a former actress threw as living shields? The attackers. Some of them were robbing the guests out of jewelry, phones, and cash, but their leader did not appear to be here for money. He went toward the stage where Milton stood and was stopped by the characters.

Will the camera recording made by Milton's assistant that night reveal more? Will it trigger the memories or will it confuse it more?

There is a body of one of the thugs in a morgue in one of the hospitals in the city. Getting the autopsy report is just a matter of bribing the right person. This is the City Of Mists after all. A small time crook, member of a tiny gang. More like a bunch of kiddos wanting to be a gang. Cruzeros is the name. They have big flaming cross tattoo split across their arms. Gossip says their leader, Ernesto, is a kind of religious nut. Hearing angels, occasionally seeing demon here and there. It might be all the LUX he is doing, though folks say he was like that before LUX hit the streets.

There is a wounded gang member somewhere in the city in hands of some back-alley trauma surgeon and others around their turf near the harbor. With a right incentive they can be questioned, as long as no law enforcement is involved. It was all Ernesto's idea! They only were in to get hands on some spare cash! Ernesto took them there to go after "The Antichrist", though... Was his target Milton? Or someone else? Ernesto is probably praying in an old decrepit church in the harbor.

Oh, and the doctor who treated them can mention if contacted (or if he has a way of contacting them) that multiple people, some looking to be corporate dupes, came to him and gave him bigger than needed money for copies of the protagonists medical documentation from their short stay there. Really, a windfall for a few pages of photocopies...

It still does not explain what happened, why the characters acted like they acted and why they don't remember it, why their wounds are almost healed?

Will Milton have more answers? Ernesto?

20 September 2016

Owen KC Stephens's 100 Questions For Your RPG Group: Questions 1-10

Owen KC Stephens posted a list (well, the first part) of topics to be discussed between players an their GMs about playing and GMing. Why discuss such topics, though? To learn about each other preferences and expectations, to find a common ground, a consensus fitting the needs and wants of the group of the whole. Discussing those things helps cope with situations when different players have different expectations—you might be surprised how often players (and GMs) consider their own preferences to be the norm and are surprised when they start playing with someone new and can't reach understanding because whet they think is universal approach, isn't really anywhere universal. Or even more often, the interpretation of the same thing might be wildly different...

This goes beyond meeting new players, though, for often groups composed of people who played with each other for long had their own unspoken assumption they never spoke of, and which because of various reasons never collided with each other, sometimes for years, until they came into a sudden spotlight causing confusion and misunderstanding.

As I have spoken in the past on some of my gaming lectures: discussion of games is important.

So, to answer the first ten of Owen's questions:

#1. Would you prefer a GM be entirely beholden to the game rules and die rolls, or secretly make changes if it leads to a more interesting, or more dramatic, or more fulfilling game session?

Rules are tool for the GM to help with making the decisions. As every tool, they should be used for benefit of the situation and GM is supposed to decide how much of them should be used, possibly even discarding them when they cause more problems than they solve. It's good to know the actual rules before discarding them, though. Also, sometimes playing a 100% rule-focused game can be fun from time to time.

#2. Give one concrete example of when a GM fudging die rolls or rules might lead to a more interesting, or more dramatic, or more fulfilling game session?

I'd go with a sort of fudging rules here: A GM should not ask for a roll when the rules call for one, if he does not want to have the story derailed by failure, i.e. don't ask the player for roll when you don't intend to play along the failure in the first place. It's better to not ask for the roll than ask for the roll and then try to force success anyway. I done that in the past and it spoils the game.


#3. Does it make a difference to your preference if the GM is entirely open about making changes? What if the GM can hide any change so you never even suspect it?


I am ok with GM making changes, either planned or on the fly. Some changes should be clear and open (i.e. rule changes, major setting changes, anything that connects to the crunch of already created characters and most of things that connect to the fluff of the character). Retconning events that took place on session should be consulted with players, especially when it involves their direct action. E.g. saying that "oh, by the way, I was wrong about introducing the gossip about the war in the North, you haven't heard that" is completely ok, saying "no, you didn't actually win the war in the North, it didn't happen" is not ok unless the players agree to the change OR it is a separate campaign with different characters where the events of the other campaign hadn't happened in the first place.

#4. Do you consider altering NPC attitudes or personalities from their originally planned starting points, or changing the plot of a future game session based on interesting ideas that come up in play, to be GM fudging, or just normal GM activities, or both?

Normal GM activity, though any changes to the NPCs attitudes and personalities after they are introduced should at least try to be consistent and/or explainable. NPCs and plot nature are uncertain until the PCs interact with it in some way (or learn of it in reliable way). Player-introduced ideas for plot elements and directions are often fun, they also tend to be appreciated by players (or at least players I usually play with).

#5. Should a GM be able to veto the color of a PC’s eyes? Or is that none of the GM’s business?

Yes, when the choice goes beyond the normal range for the PC's race without explanation fitting the setting and theme of the game. E.g. if we are playing a modern game that is completely mundane without supernatural or SF elements, the GM can say no to glowing eyes. The GM is responsible for the world's consistency, so don't come back crying when consequences for unusual choice hit you. E.g. aforementioned glowing eyes in Warhammer? You are either a student of magic, or you are a walking kindling as a mutant... I hope you are smart enough (and good at) to pretend you are a student of magic. Though, the GM should warn you before starting that you are asking for trouble or ban a character that would be disruptive to the game or unfun to play in the first place.

GM might insist on restricting certain trait choice when it should be a direct result of the PC's background. E.g. you want to play Robert Baratheon's secret bastard in Saga Of Ice And Fire game? Black hair, unless your mother happened to be Targaryen... Though I'd be wary of that convoluted background, especially as the GM.

#6. Is the GM a player in an RPG session?

Yes, to a degree. "the session should be fun to all the players" definitely apply to GM, though range of the GM's responsibilities and rights is different from other players.

#7. Should the GM roll dice in secret, roll dice in public view, or roll dice with varying secrecy as appropriate to the nature of the roll?

As the situation demands.

#8. Is being the GM a chore, or a privilege?

Being the GM is fun and an obligation.

#9. How much of the success of an RPG session is determined by the quality and actions of the GM? Would you prefer an awesome RPG ruleset with an awesome adventure and awesome other players run by a mediocre GM; or a mediocre RPG ruleset with a mediocre adventure and mediocre other players under an awesome GM?

This one is hard (because of the putting an awesome GM against mediocre players, otherwise the choice would be a no-brainer). Both the mediocre GM and mediocre players can spoil the game. Awesome GM can help overcome mediocre RPG ruleset, and to a certain degree deal with mediocre other players, though its easier to deal with crappy ruleset than certain types of players.

#10. What is your pet peeve about GMs, expressed in a way that makes it generic and impossible to connect to any one specific GM?

GM insisting on PC's actions when no form of actual mind control was involved. Note it does not applies to background story of a one-shot games, or suggestions what happened in the downtime for the character that fit the character (like simple explanations why our Fading Suns characters were on this or that planet at the start of adventure, though later it was us deciding where we go according to events taking place) nor explanations why the PC isn't present when the player couldn't make to the session.

That's it for now. More when Owen puts more of his questions to ponder on.

19 September 2016

City Of Mists: Black Market Deals

City Of Mists: Introduction
City Of Mists: The Law
City Of Mists: The Departments
City Of Mists: The Infrastructure
City Of Mists: Characters And Campaigns

Black Market is, pardon the pun, a shady matter in City Of Mists. Lose regulations leave a lot of wriggle room for those who enforce them and lawyers of those who wish to circumvent them. A real black market, dealing in completely forbidden things and services is really-really small, as there are few outright restrictions. Majority of black market deals in the City Of Mists is more of a grey area—focusing on understatements and interpretations, avoiding taxes and custom fees, and concealing traces of transactions instead. Still, there are a few forbidden goods and activities.

Human Trafficking

Dealing in people for purpose of forced labor, sexual exploitation, and extraction of organs via use of force, coercion, or deception is strictly forbidden under the threat of harsh penalties, nominally including capital punishment (though in reality it would apply only to extraction of organs that caused death of multiple people). Actual detection of such activities is low, though, as most of them can be easily covered by "fully voluntary" contracts with the victims. Only the most blatant violations are pursued with full force of law, though from time to time law enforcement officer do happen to discover such activities while investigating other crimes.

Prostitution

Prostitution is mostly unregulated, though there are precedents for law enforcement arresting prostitutes for infecting their customers with STDs (no legal court verdicts were issues, as in all cases prostitutes were simply expelled from island as undesired foreigners). Pimping is nominally illegal but brothels can operate as long as they operate as cooperatives of prostitutes, and nothing prevents building-owners from getting hefty fees.

Drugs

Various recreation drugs are nominally illegal since the nineties, though the enforcement of this law is very lax. Possession of small amounts is not subject to punishment, larger amounts are subject to forfeiture and possibly a summary fine. Only a really large amounts that are "obviously" intended for sale warrant arrest. The distinction between small, large, and for-sale amount of drug is at sole discretion of the law enforcement officer involved.

The list of illegal drugs is rather short and rarely updated: cannabis (though law enforcement practically ignores their use and home growing), opium, amphetamine, and LSD plus their derivatives and related substances (including methamphetamine and esctasy). There is a vague stipulation allowing law enforcement officers to confiscate and possibly prosecute production, possession, and use of "dangerous chemical substances" though it happens very rarely. Breach of public order is invoked more often.

Some strange drugs appear from time to time in the city, often sparking fads and gossip of corporation and gangs live-testing new substances.

LUX: This white milky liquid is a potent hallucinogen giving overwhelming sense of surrounding presence, often described in religious terms. Auditory delusions of ominous chanting are common and a few users mentioned seeing divine beings or magnificent beings made of bright light. It is often mixed into alcoholic drinks.

cUre: A powerful pain-killer and a mild relaxant, cUre appeared recently. This green gel is rumored to stop bleeding, disinfect wounds, and even accelerate healing of injuries when applied directly to the wound, though its side effects involve intense hunger, exhaustion, and loss of memories. When applied to skin it minimizes further pain while distorting but not preventing tactile sensations.

Animal Importation

Restrictions on importing animals from outside the island is surprisingly strongly enforced. While the penalties are not particularly harsh, involving fines plus covering the cost of getting rid of the animal, the custom offices pay much more attention to it than to human trafficking. It does not seem to be dictated by animal rights—animals on their way to another destination can be held in harbor warehouses as long as they are well secured, and there are no restrictions on trading in locally bred cats, dogs, chickens, and goats, nor restrictions on importing tropical fishes for fishtanks.

Underground Medicine

There is no public health care but all medical services—private hospitals and individual medical practitioners need to obtain proper licenses from the Department Of Health. In case of physicians wishing to open a private practice it involves presenting a diploma of a foreign medical school (there are no medical schools on the island), passing a test before a committee organized by the Department of Health (often from local practitioners or doctors hired from local hospitals), show reference of a medical institution where they worked in the past (though it's rarely checked) and pay the requisite fee. Note that hospitals are not required to hire licensed physicians—it's a legal assumption that each hospital screens its employees according to its needs, though in case of malpractice suit, being able to prove that hospital failed at taking basic precautions against hiring a hack greatly increases chances of winning the case.

Hospitals and private practices are required to notify law enforcement about suspicious deaths and suspicious injuries under the threat of license being revoked, though individual doctor's discretion is primary factor here. In the past a doctor was deemed to be not in violation of that regulation when he took a gunshot victim's explanation that it was "a cleaning accident"—the court ruled that as medical doctor does not have to be able to discern between accidental and deliberate discharge of weapon he took the victim's explanation in a good faith.

Practicing medicine without the license ends with expulsion from the island and forfeiture of property related to the practice. It's uncertain what kind of penalty would a citizen suffer for such infraction, though.

Weapon Trade

A lot of international weapon trade comes through the city and the department of defense takes fees for licenses and permissions involved. Trading small arms is often overlooked but attempts to deal in military equipment or in bulk are discouraged. Working within the system is safer and easier anyway, as the department of defense fees are small—they are making enough thanks to enormous quantity of weapons moved through the city.

Still, there is a thriving market for unrecorded weapon transactions, with occasional appearance of experimental toys produced by local corporations, including a few competitive models of experimental caseless firearms and firearms using polymer-cased ammunition.

11 September 2016

Monster: Ve-Kamo-Suda

Ve-Kamo-Suda

A big arthropod covered in green and brown chitin, with multiple long clawed limbs.

CR 7; XP 3,200
N Large Vermin
Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 ft., telepathic sense; Perception +11


Defense
AC 20, touch 12, flat-footed 17 (+3 Dex, +8 natural, –1 size)
hp 85 (10d8+40)
Fort +11, Ref +6, Will +6

Immune mind-affecting

Offense
Speed 60 ft., climb 30 ft.
Melee 2 claws +13 (1d8+6), bite +13 (1d6+6 plus poison)

Special Attacks poison, pounce

Statistics
Str 22, Dex 16, Con 18, Int —, Wis 17, Cha 11

Base Atk +7; CMB +14; CMD 27 (35 vs. trip)
Feats Combat ReflexesB, Improved InitiativeB
Skills Acrobatics +11 (+23 when jumping), Climb +14, Perception +11, Stealth +7, Survival +11; Racial Modifiers +8 Acrobatics, +8 Perception, +8 Stealth, +8 Survival


Ecology
Environment tropical jungle (luminarian homeworld)

Organization solitary
Treasure incidental


Special Abilities

Poison (Ex) Bite—injury; save Fort DC 19; frequency 1/minute for 10 minutes, effect 1 point of Intelligence damage and psychic disruption; cure 1 save. Any creature suffering from the ve-kamo-suda poison is suffering from headache, hallucinations, and overall anxiety that impedes mental focus. As long as the poison acts, poisoned creature has to succeed concentration checks to cast spells, use spell-like abilities, or use other abilities requiring concentration, with the DC equal to poison DC + the spell level of used ability. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Telepathic Sense (Ex) A ve-kamo-suda can accurately sense use of mind-affecting abilities, telepathy, and spells with thought component within 60 feet as if using blindsense. It can sense activation of such abilities from up to 1 mile, detecting the general direction toward the place where it was used but not the exact distance.

Ve-kamo-suda are a deadly predatory arthropods from the luminarian homeworld. They are solitary hunters particularly eager to hunt prey that uses psychic powers, preferring psychically active victims over mundane creatures, though they can feed on whatever they manage to kill.

Tukuna-ze, a small luminarian city-state known for its unparalleled study of psychic magic fell victim to a swarming horde of ve-kamo-suda a few hundred cycles ago. The agitated vermin overwhelmed the defenses and devoured majority of its inhabitants. Normally, however, ve-kamo-suda are solitary hunters and are usually aggressive toward others of their kind.

04 September 2016

Monster: Totentanzer

Totentanzer

A skeletal figure dances a terrifying, unearthly dance.

CR 2; XP 600
CE Medium Undead
Init +6; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +0


Defense
AC 14, touch 12, flat-footed 12 (+2 Dex, +2 natural)
hp 19 (3d8+6)
Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +3

Defensive Abilities endless dance, invigorating dance; DR 5/bludgeoning;  Immune undead traits

Offense
Speed 30 ft.
Melee 2 claws +4 (1d4+2 plus grab)

Special Attacks constrict (1d4+2), dance of the death, grab

Statistics
Str 14, Dex 14, Con —, Int 11, Wis 11, Cha 15

Base Atk +2; CMB +4 (+8 grapple); CMD 16
Feats Escape Route, Improved Initiative
Skills Acrobatics +8, Escape Artist +8, Knowledge (religion) +6, Perform (dance) +8

Languages Common
SQ deathly grace

Ecology
Environment any

Organization a pair, a band (3-12), or a team (13-24)
Treasure standard (clothing and jewelry)


Special Abilities

Dance Of Death (Su) When a totentanzer makes a grapple check to maintain a grapple it always chooses move option, moving together with grappled creature at its full speed. It always tries to pull the grappled victim into a danger, such as hazardous location or into a group of enemies, and the victim doesn't get a free attempt to break out. A humanoid that is forced to dance with a totentanzer remains conscious even when disabled or dying, and it will becomes a totentanzer 1d4 rounds after death if killed while dancing with a totentanzer.

Deathly Grace (Ex) A totentanzer treats Acrobatics, Escape Artist, and Perform (dance) as class skills.

Endless Dance (Su) A totentanzer ignores difficult terrain, and is immune to magic that would impede its movement, such as halt undead, solid fog, slow, or web.

Invigorating Dance (Su) A totentanzer grappling a living humanoid gains channel resistance +4. Whenever it deals its constrict damage to a grappled living humanoid, it heals the same amount of hit points.

Death is inescapable to most mortals, and yet, it is not the final end. Before the entropy swallows all that is, there is an eternity of unlife, like the life itself bleak or joyful, stagnant or dynamic. Totentanzers are manifestations of joy in despair, momentum among stillness, chain of souls leaving the lands of the living for the lands of the dead, celebrating entropy and erosion of existence until they unmake them.

28 August 2016

Monster: Stygian Chorus

Stygian Chorus

A swarm of heads, mummified, rotting, and bare skulls flies around murmuring obscenities and forbidden lore in a mixture of fiendish tongues.

CR 6; XP 2,400
NE Tiny Undead (swarm)
Init +8; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +20

Aura stygian song (30 ft.)

Defense
AC 19, touch 17, flat-footed 14 (+4 Dex, +1 dodge, +2 natural, +2 size)
hp 66 (12d8+12)
Fort +4, Ref +8, Will +9

Defensive Abilities swarm traits; Immune undead traits
Weakness swayed by song

Offense
Speed fly 30 ft. (perfect)
Melee swarm (3d6)

Space 10 ft.; Reach 0 ft.
Special Attacks distraction (DC 16), fiendish chatter, stygian command

Statistics
Str 10, Dex 18, Con —, Int 13, Wis 13, Cha 11

Base Atk +8; CMB —CMD —
Feats Alertness, Dodge, Improved Initiative, Skill Focus (Perform [sing]), Toughness
Skills Fly +31, Knowledge (arcana) +16, 
Knowledge (religion) +16, Perception +20, Perform (sing) +18, Sense Motive +5
Languages Understand Abyssal, Celestial, and Infernal, speak (and sing) a maddening mixture of all of those

Ecology
Environment any

Organization solitary, pair, or choir (3–6)
Treasure incidental


Special Abilities

Fiendish Chatter (Su) Stygian chorus swarm attack is composed of baleful utterances in fiendish languages. Half of its damage is sonic and half is inflicted by raw unholy power.

Stygian Command (Su) Stygian chorus can take a standard action to command a single corpse within 30 feet to rise and perform one claw or slam attack as if was a skeleton or a zombie. Corpses that could not be animated as undead cannot be affected by this ability. This is a sonic necromancy effect.

Stygian Song (Su) Stygian chorus constantly sings a blasphemous verses in its many voices bestowing +1 profane bonus to caster level of spells and spell-like abilities with evil descriptor, +1 profane bonus to saving throws against effects with good descriptor or created by creatures with good subtype, –1 penalty to caster level of spell and spell-like abilities with good descriptor, and a –1 penalty to saving throws against effects with evil descriptor or created by creatures with evil subtype, doubled for sonic and language-dependent effects. This is a sonic effect.

Swayed By Song Stygian chorus has weak spot for songs. When a stygian chorus hears someone sing, it joins the song with a choir of ghastly, unnerving voices spending its standard action to sing and acting as fascinated. Any hostile action breaks the effects and renders the stygian chorus immune to the effects of song until the end of the encounter.

Stygian chorus is a swarm of skulls and severed heads of people who were versed in dark arts. The forbidden lore once bound in their brains now animates the shells that contained it, forcing them to recite and sing blasphemous praises to unholy powers. Stygian choruses arise particularly often when a cult or a band of scholars that dabbled in the forbidden lore but held little actual power gets slaughtered, either by champions of good, or by evil they unwittingly unleashed.