Dark Harlequin

Dark Harlequins are those who have turned to dark forces for their powers; some have even made pacts with evil extraplanar beings (demons, devils, etc.) in exchange for power. A rare few have simply lost all hope in their lives, and have instead turned to darkness and despair as the inspiration for their music. While bards use their music to entertain and bolster their comrades, Harlequins typically use theirs to wreak havoc and cause fear.

Harlequins are usually solitary, grim individuals, though some serve a greater power (evil lord, power undead/extraplanar being, etc) in their capacity as a bard. Even then, they spend most of their time alone or with creatures immune to their playing – long-term exposure to a Harlequin's dark and depressing tunes is enough to drive most beings to insanity.

Bards or bardic multiclasses are about the only ones known to become Dark Harlequins. Some few necromancers choose this class, but most others have no wish to become as proficient as a true bard in music and singing.

Hit Die: d6.


To qualify to become a Dark Harlequin (DHn), the character must fulfill all the following criteria.

Alignment: Any evil

Skills: Perform (instrument of choice) 8 ranks

Spellcasting: Ability to cast 3rd-level arcane spells

Bardic music class ability.

Special: Must kill a sentient being and use its body parts to create an instrument.

Restrictions: All of a Harlequin's power comes from his instrument. If it is ever lost or destroyed, he cannot advance in this class and or use any class abilities until he recovers it or creates a new one. He can, however, still use his normal bardic music abilities.

Class Skills

The Dark Harlequin's class skills are Acrobatics (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disguise (Cha), Gather Information (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge (all skills) (Int), Perception (Wis), Perform (Cha), Sense Motive (Wis), Spellcraft (Int), Stealth (Dex), Use Magic Device (Cha).

Skill Points Per Level: 6 + Int modifier

Table 1: The Dark Harlequin
Level Base
Attack Bonus
Special Spells Per Day
1st +0 +0 +2 +2 Cursed music, ritardando
2nd +1 +0 +3 +3 Discordant melody +1 level of existing class
3rd +2 +1 +3 +3 Touch of the dark one
4th +3 +1 +4 +4 Larghissimo +1 level of existing class
5th +3 +1 +4 +4 Song of discord
6th +4 +2 +5 +5 Requiem for the damned +1 level of existing class
7th +5 +2 +5 +5 Basso profundo
8th +6 +2 +6 +6 Shattermind +1 level of existing class
9th +6 +3 +6 +6 Voice of the dead
10th +7 +3 +7 +7 Symphony of destruction +1 level of existing class

Class Features

All of the following are class features of the Dark Harlequin. All saves vs. Dark Harlequin special abilities are DC 10 + the Harlequin's class level + Cha modifier unless otherwise noted.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Dark Harlequins gain no additional weapon or armor proficiencies.

Cursed Music (Su): A Harlequin's bard levels stack with his class levels to determine the total level for purposes of his bardic music abilities. However, his music is also corrupted by the dark energy infusing his being - many of the bardic music abilities have the opposite effect when used while playing the special instrument, as noted below (alternate names are noted in parentheses, for those who wish to use them). If a bardic music ability is not listed, there is no reverse effect.

Fascinate (Dirge of Despair): Creatures are rooted in place from fear instead of enchantment. All other specifics of this ability remain unchanged, but creatures immune to fear cannot be affected (any effect that grants a bonus to saves vs. fear also applies to this ability).

Inspire Courage (Inspire Fear): The Harlequin's singing and playing gives his enemies a -1 penalty to attack rolls, and a -2 penalty to saves vs. charm and fear effects. It has no effect on his allies.

Inspire Competence (Litany of Curses): The Harlequin inspires self-doubt in one being by denigrating its abilities and generally filling it with hopelessness. The target suffers a -2 competence penalty to skill checks.

Inspire Greatness (Inspire Weakness): The target suffers a -2 morale penalty to attack rolls and saves vs. charm and fear.

Inspire Heroism (Inspire Cowardice): The target suffers a -2 morale penalty to attack and damage rolls, a -4 penalty to saves vs. charm and fear, a -1 penalty to Con, and a -2 penalty to Fort saves.

Inspire Valor (Inspire Cowardice): The target suffers a -2 morale penalty to attack and damage rolls, and a -4 penalty to saves vs. charm and fear.

Ritardando (Su): A Harlequin of 1st level or higher who makes a DC 23 Perform check can play a dark melody on his instrument. All who hear this music must make a Will save or be affected by lethargy - they are slowed for the duration of the playing (up to 2 rounds per class level) and 1 round afterward. This is a sonic, mind-affecting ability. Freedom of movement does not protect against this effect, as it is affecting the target's mind, not its body, but protection from evil and similar effects will.

For every 10 points by which the Harlequin exceeds DC 23, the duration is increased by 1 round.

Discordant Melody (Su): A Harlequin of 2nd level or higher who makes a DC 26 Perform check can play a series of discordant notes and jangling tunes that grate on the nerves. All beings within 30 feet hearing this music must make a Will save or be confused (as per the spell) for the duration of the playing. Like the spell, those within earshot must make a Will save each round; a successful save means they can act normally, while a failed save means they take one of the actions listed in the spell description. Discordant Melody is a sonic, mind-affecting ability that can be employed three times per day for up to 2 rounds per class level.

For every 10 points by which the Harlequin exceeds DC 26, the save DC increases by +2.

Touch of the Dark One (Su): A Harlequin can command or rebuke undead as a cleric of equal class level.

Larghissimo (Su): A Harlequin of 4th level or higher who makes a DC 27 Perform check can play a slow, quiet tune that puts up to one creature per character level within 30 feet of him to sleep. He must play for a full round, and creatures to be affected must hear him. This sleep is not peaceful, however – victims are plagued with nightmares and images of their greatest fears. Each round a creature remains asleep, it must make a Will save or take 1 point of Wisdom damage from the mental onslaught; if the save is successful, the victim awakens, screaming, but takes no damage. Immunity to fear does not protect against these nightmares – they are too deeply rooted in the victim's psyche.

Victims reduced to 0 Wisdom fall into a coma and cannot be revived without a heal spell or similar powerful magics – even if their Wisdom scores are restored, their minds are so damaged that they will not awaken otherwise. Sleeping creatures can be roused by inflicting at least 1 point of nonlethal damage – simply shaking or slapping them won't work. They otherwise remain asleep for 2d6 rounds. This is a sonic, mind-affecting ability.

For every 10 points by which the Harlequin exceeds DC 27, the save DC increases by +2.

Song of Discord (Sp): A Harlequin of 5th level or higher who makes a DC 28 Perform check can weave a song of discord and disharmony among those around him, causing them to fall on each other instead of their enemies, as per the song of discord spell. The song requires a full round to take effect; thereafter, all creatures within 30 feet of the Harlequin who hear his singing must make a Will save or have a 50% chance to attack the nearest target each round (check each creature's action at the beginning of the round). The effects of a Song of Discord last for 1 round per class level, and it can be used three times per day.

For every 10 points by which the Harlequin exceeds DC 28, the save DC increases by +2.

Requiem for the Damned (Su): The Harlequin's musical ability is such that when playing his special instrument, he can affect the undead as well as the living. Undead may make Will saves as normal to avoid being affected, and all effects last only half the duration they would for living beings. Cursed bardic music abilities have their normal (uncursed) affect on undead - that is, they grant bonuses instead of penalties.

Basso Profundo (Su): A Harlequin of 7th level or higher who makes a DC 31 Perform check can play music of dark mood and somber tone that creates an aura of negative energy in a 40-foot radius around himself. All living beings in the area of effect, whether or not they can hear the music, must make a Fort save each round or temporarily lose 1 Hit Die/level. Any creature reduced to 0 HD/levels dies. Lost levels return at the rate of 1 per minute after the song ends or the affected creature moves out of the area of effect.

Undead in the area of effect gain fast healing 5 while they remain in the area of effect. If an undead already has fast healing, it uses its own or the new value, whichever is greater.

For every 10 points by which the Harlequin exceeds DC 31, the save DC increases by +2. For each 20 points by which the Harlequin exceeds the DC, living beings lose one extra HD/level per round, and undead gain an extra 5 points of fast healing.

Shattermind (Su): A Harlequin of 8th level or higher who makes a DC 32 Perform check can inflict feeblemind on one being simply by playing for that being and empowering his music with dark energy. He must play for a full minute, and the target must be able to hear him; at the end of the minute, the target must make a Will save or have its Int and Wis scores permanently reduced to 1. This effect can be reversed with break enchantment or heal, but not remove curse.

For every 10 points by which the Harlequin exceeds DC 32, the save DC increases by +2.

Voice of the Dead (Su): A Harlequin of 9th level or higher who makes a DC 33 Perform check can animate the bodies of dead beings, as the animate dead spell, with the dark power of his voice and music. This ability can be used once per day during the hours of darkness only, and requires a full minute of playing; if the Harlequin loses his focus during this time, the ability fails and is wasted. At the end of the minute, the Harlequin can animate a number of undead equal to his class level (bard levels don't count toward this total); he can control up to his class level + his Cha modifier in undead created in this manner. Undead created via this ability remain under the Harlequin's control until dismissed or destroyed.

For each 10 points by which the Harlequin exceeds DC 33, he can raise an additional undead creature. This does not allow him to control more undead than normal, however.

Symphony of Destruction (Su): A Harlequin of 10th level or higher who makes a DC 35 Perform check can, while singing and playing, summon dark energy to slay one creature per level within 40 feet who hears him, as a wail of the banshee. Affected creatures can make a Fort save to avoid dying, but those who save must make another Fort save or be permanently deafened.

For every 10 points by which the Harlequin exceeds DC 35, the save DC increases by +2.

The Dark Harlequin's Instrument

Much of the power behind a Dark Harlequin's music comes from his instrument. How they come by these instruments is a horrifying process known to few and found only in obscure texts or passed on by other Harlequins.

In order to make an instrument, a Harlequin must kill a sentient being with an ECL of at least half of his own and use its body parts in the item's construction – bones for a frame, strings from hair or gut, etc. When the instrument is complete, it must be bathed in the victim's blood to seal some of the soul energy into it and give it its power. A completed instrument always radiates moderate evil and Necromancy to spells or abilities that detect such; a paladin, cleric of a good-aligned god, or a necromancer will instantly recognize one upon handling it.

A creature whose parts are used to make a Harlequin's instrument can be raised, but it permanently loses 1 point of Con due to part of its life energy being tied up in the instrument. If the instrument is destroyed before the creature is raised, it keeps the Con point, but it doesn't regain the lost point if the instrument is destroyed after it is brought back.

Harlequin's instruments are automatically masterwork and can be enchanted with additional effects.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License