What appears at first glance to be a child or halfling has skin more akin to cracked porcelain barely covering a black, insectile carapace, and it has spiderlike legs where one would expect arms.
Fantionette CR 4 (XP 1,200)
Str 12, Dex 19, Con 14, Int 13, Wis 15, Cha 16
Base Atk +5; CMB +5; CMD 19
Feats Following Step, Improved Initiative, Step Up
Skills Acrobatics +12, Bluff +11, Climb +9, Knowledge (local) +9, Knowledge (nobility) +9, Perception +10, Sense Motive +10, Stealth +16
Languages Abyssal, Common, Halfling, Undercommon
SQ puppet strings
Aura of Revelation (Su)
A fantionette appears as an adult halfling or a human child (its choice) to all creatures outside of its aura. This is an illusion (glamer) effect that can be bypassed only by true seeing or similar magic. A creature within a fantionette’s aura that is studying or interacting with it can attempt a DC 15 Will save to perceive the outsider for what it truly is. A creature that succeeds at this save or that is attacked by a fantionette immediately sees the fantionette’s true form for the next 24 hours, even while outside the aura. The save DC is Charisma-based.
Puppet Strings (Su)
Once per day as an immediate action, a fantionette can relinquish control of itself, letting a higher entity gain control. When it does this, a fantionette can perform one of the following special actions.
Environment any (Abyss or Axis)
Organization solitary, pair, or cast (3–12)
A fantionette is a servitor outsider for a halfling deity. It embodies the halfling god’s association with assassination and opportunity, presenting itself to loyal followers both as a powerful assassin and as impressive support for established murderers. When left to its own devices on the Material Plane, a fantionette is a terrifying stalker of halflings and humans alike, positioning itself among large groups of human children or halflings and selecting adult targets to murder based entirely on whim and opportunity.
A fantionette stands between 3 and 4 feet high and weighs about 70 pounds.
Unlike other auras, a fantionette’s aura of revelation serves as a weakness—a range at which creatures can see through its otherwise illusory guise. A fantionette combines its deceptive form with its ability to blend in to crowds, often positioning itself as part of a group of children or adult halflings. Sometimes a child sees through the fantionette’s aura, only for the child to be scared away and attempt to warn her parents. The result is almost always the same: the warned parent glances over at the disguised fantionette, too far outside the aura to perceive its true form, and dismisses the child for being foolish. A fantionette thrives on the fear it generates from children—though it is clear from their patterns of attacks that these outsiders are either somehow forbidden from harming children, or simply prefer not to.
Once a fantionette is ready to strike, or when an unfortunate witness manages to pierce its illusory form, the fantionette attacks in a flurry of claws accented by vicious bites. In its true form, it has a pair of wicked claws, each made of black chitin and pieces of jagged porcelain. The fantionette also sports a similarly serrated bite; its mouth resembles disjointed spider mandibles with a second layer of chipped porcelain.
Fantionettes often employ their claws to cruel effect, combining an uncanny knowledge of anatomy with savage rends that tear most opponents into a bloody mess within seconds. Even creatures attempting to flee an unrestrained fantionette soon discover the outsider is capable of instinctually following—in some cases relinquishing itself to its malignant puppet strings, letting an unseen force drag the fantionette to chase down the fleeing target.
A wide array of divinely granted powers assists the fantionette in its paired roles as assassin and deceiver.
These gifts most often manifest in a variety of spell-like abilities, which the fantionette uses as means to overcome targets or as a way of deflecting scrutiny in social settings. The god’s hand is said to hover invisibly over every fantionette. While fantionettes are free-willed beings, they can temporarily suspend their independence and allow other forces to guide their malignant claws. Such lapses in control manifest in odd last-second movements, such as a claw destined to miss a foe suddenly jolting upward into a disemboweling strike. Other times, a fantionette moves in an oddly contorted manner; these jerks and jostles reveal that it’s being guided by its hidden puppeteer.
Habitat And Society
Whether directly delivered by their god or summoned to the Material Plane by eager spellcasters using spells such as lesser planar ally, fantionettes seek only to spread the chaotic, murderous joy of their patron deity. Of the divine servitor races, perhaps none are more closely aligned than fantionettes and their karumzek counterparts. Where fantionettes prefer the eventual chaos of revealing themselves to a target, karumzeks prefer to act entirely behind the scenes. The two outsiders complement each other well, as karumzeks provide alchemical tools and poisons to fantionettes.
A fantionette’s patron will inevitably grow weary of its murderous presence and either destroy the outsider or release it into the wild. On their own, fantionettes often assist thieves and murderers—and disenfranchised halflings in particular—establish a violent reputation by grafting their own long trails of murder and theft that lead to these apprentices.
When not acting on the Material Plane, fantionettes are found in equal measure in the Abyss and Axis. In the Abyss, they congregate around their deity’s mysterious home, operating as guardians or entertainment, depending on the whims of their capricious master. In lawful realms, fantionettes fall in line, acting in equal roles as assassins, entertainers, and messengers for the deity. Left to their own devices on either plane, fantionettes form horrific gaggles. These groups traverse the planes in search of new arrivals or otherwise weak prey, first presenting themselves as lost or stranded children or halflings. In the Abyss, this deception often surprises voracious demons, who see nothing more than a buffet of innocent humanity and are torn apart shortly after realizing the truth of their would-be meal.
Pathfinder Adventure Path #127: Crownfall © 2018, Paizo Inc.; Authors: Thurston Hillman, with Eleanor Ferron, Crystal Frasier, and Adrian Ng.