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Danse Macabre

Dozens of ghostly figures swirl and cavort, floating through the air as they follow the steps of an ancient, rhythmic dance— seemingly keeping time with the ebb and flow of life itself. Amid this eerie crowd of dancing specters looms a dark-cloaked figure wielding a scythe.

Danse Macabre CR 14

Source Curse of the Crimson Throne (PFRPG) pg. 470, Pathfinder #11: Skeletons of Scarwell pg. 80
XP 38,400
NE Large undead (incorporeal)
Init +13; Senses darkvision 60 ft., lifesense 60 ft.; Perception +29
Aura dance of death (40 ft., DC 27)

Defense

AC 29, touch 29, flat-footed 19 (+10 deflection, +9 Dex, +1 dodge, –1 size)
hp 203 (14d8+140)
Fort +14, Ref +13, Will +17
Defensive Abilities incorporeal, deathless; channel resistance +4; Immune cold, undead traits; SR 25

Offense

Speed fly 40 ft. (perfect)
Melee incorporeal scythe +18/+13 touch (2d6/×4 plus 1d6 Constitution drain)
Space 10 ft., Reach 10 ft.

Statistics

Str —, Dex 28, Con —, Int 8, Wis 22, Cha 30
Base Atk +10; CMB +20; CMD 41
Feats Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Mobility, Skill Focus (Perception), Spring Attack
Skills Fly +32, Perception +29, Sense Motive +23
Languages Common, Necril

Ecology

Environment any
Organization solitary
Treasure incidental

Special Abilities

Dance of Death (Su) A danse macabre is constantly surrounded by a 40-foot aura known as the dance of death, an endless gala of dancing spectral figures. Any living creature that enters the area of the dance of death must attempt a DC 27 Will save. On a failed save, the victim joins the ghostly dancers, takes 1d4 points of Constitution drain, and is affected as per irresistible dance (CL 14th). A creature can attempt a new DC 27 Will save at the end of its turn to escape from the effects of a dance of death; otherwise, these effects persist for as long as the victim remains within the aura. The Constitution drain effect only occurs, however, after the initial failed saving throw. As victims cannot willingly move from the square in which they dance, the dance’s effects end when the danse macabre moves to a point where the victim is no longer within its aura, the danse macabre is destroyed, or if the victim is physically removed from the area. A victim who succeeds at a save (whether from the original exposure or at a later point to successfully escape the effect) is immune to the dance of death of the same danse macabre for 24 hours. Dance of death is a visual, sonic, mind-affecting compulsion effect, and blindness or deafness can provide protection from the effect. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Deathless (Su) As a manifestation of death incarnate, a danse macabre is not itself subject to permanent destruction. If reduced to 0 hit points, it vanishes, only to rejuvenate at full hit points in 1d4 days. Only by destroying the creature and then casting hallow to consecrate the site it manifested upon prevents the undead monster’s reappearance.

Incorporeal Scythe (Su) A danse macabre wields an incorporeal scythe in combat that leaves deep and horrific wounds on any creature it strikes. Attacks made with this scythe are touch attacks and deal slashing damage, but are not modified by any of the monster’s ability scores. A creature hit by a danse macabre’s incorporeal scythe attack must succeed at a DC 23 Fortitude save or take 1d6 points of Constitution drain. Each time a danse macabre drains Constitution from a target, the danse macabre regains 5 hit points, regardless of the total number of Constitution points drained by the attack. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Lifesense (Su) A danse macabre notices and locates living creatures within 60 feet, just as if it had the blindsight ability. It also senses the strength of life forces automatically, as per deathwatch.

Description

Danse macabres are the embodiment of the inevitability of death. They represent the ultimate equalizer of station, revealing in their dance of death the futility of all life. It has been said that, in the end, all mortal beings must face the fateful piper and dance to its tune. If such claims are true, then surely the danse macabre is the personification of such a dreadful doom.

Danse macabres typically manifest as looming, black-cloaked skeletons, although they may appear in other sinister forms depending on personifications of death unique to the cultures near where they manifest, such as a fiery pillar, a pale child, or a man in a white mask. The crowd of dancing souls that surround these 10-foot-tall specters typically do little to dispel their ominous aura. While these ghostly images are entirely insubstantial and harmless, they also emanate faint, haunting music, as if a violin-led orchestra is playing along. When a victim succumbs to the creature’s dance of death, the music becomes nearly deafening and the spectral figures appear almost real. The dancers and music cannot be interacted with, but visibly and audibly mark the boundaries of the danse macabre’s dance of death aura.

Ecology

As undead creatures, danse macabres require nothing from their environments and contribute nothing in return. Their very presence typically suggests the murder of large numbers of creatures and, upon their horrifying manifestations, the deaths of others that happen too near. Yet a danse macabre will not simply form on the ruins of any battlefield or on the site of any mass murder. Instead, these malevolent spirits appear in areas where those who were slaughtered did not expect their deaths until, perhaps, the very last moment. At other times, a danse macabre (such as the one encountered in the ruins of Scarwall) manifests at a much later date in an area where revelry and sadism commingled, triggered into being long after those who died by a singularly potent pulse of necromantic energy or the vengeful thrashings of a bitter and angry god.

Habitat and Society

A danse macabre is a solitary creature that seeks nothing other than to call others to join its eternal celebration of the inevitable. It manifests only in locations tainted by untimely deaths—the sites of countless violent executions, estates overrun by deadly plagues, or battlefields where mass slaughters took place. In all of these locations, hundreds, if not thousands, of victims met their fates, often in rapid succession. None claim to know what terrible death count or measurement of psychic trauma is required to spawn a danse macabre, and indeed, some of the most gore-soaked sites on Golarion have never led to one of these beings’ manifestations. An element of grim irony or communal revenge tends to inspire such hauntings, making it impossible to predict what catastrophe or massacre might cause one to appear.

Some scholars of the undead suggest that danse macabres harbor no hatred for the living, but have a natural drive to bring mortals to their final state on an accelerated schedule. Witnesses of danse macabres, however, tend to disagree, and the appearance of a danse macabre can quickly depopulate a location via both its depredations and the flight of any survivors. Fortunately, these morbid shades rarely move far from the sites of their initial manifestations, leading to numerous tales of haunted halls where the dead endlessly dance in their eternal revel.