The Brothers of the Dark Hood
The Brothers of the Dark Hood

The Brothers of the Dark Hood

The Brothers of the Dark Hood

aka the Outlands Dark Eight

Nilis Blackwing, an Outlands planewalker, lanned me this chant about a bunch of bandits who’ve been preying on caravans crossing the Lands…

The merchants of Sigil make a good deal of their jink by arranging goods and supplies transport into Sigil. Usually the goods come from the primes, the Great Ring, and elsewhere by way of caravan. Of course there are a lot of bashers out there who like to prey on these caravans. Why, just a short while ago I came across the remains of one such caravan after it had been brutally robbed. There wasn’t one survivor. Now any berk with more than a portal to the plane of vacuum in his brain-box knows, that if you are going to move a single wagon of goods through the Outlands, you’ll need to have some cutters for protection. This group was smart, and had five bashers with them, yet it did them no good. Every one of them was brought down—but I couldn’t find any bodies of the raiders. I couldn’t find any spots of blood on the ground neither, so it wasn’t like they carried the corpses of their fallen off. I’m betting they were able to take down every one of the guards and the caravan drivers and merchants without taking a single casualty. That’s impressive to say the least.

The decimated caravan was right next to a portal, so once I figured out the key, I took a step through. I landed in some horrible colourless burg in the Gray Waste. The caravan had apparently left from there with a shipment of baatezu and tanar’ri ichor, flesh, teeth, claws, and other assorted good stuff harvested from a nearby Blood War battlefield. Apparently this caravan regularly travelled this route on a set schedule. And a few days earlier some other cutters had come through asking about the very same caravan. With a bit of garnish, I was able to convince the innkeeper to give be the dark of the berks.

There were seven of them, but they kept mentioning, to each other, about what “Klyster” had told them to do. As in: “Don’t forget, we are suppose to get some beef for Klyster, or he’ll have all our heads on a pike!” I talked to the butcher of the town. The seven of them bought the three largest chunks of beef he had! This Klyster cutter must have one big appetite. According to the townsfolk, the other seven cutters were a mixed bunch. Four were human, but there were two tieflings, and one was either half ogre of half orc. I’ve got a basher-by-basher description below:

Jonis Crosh (human fighter [he/him] / N). A large fellow who seemed a bit slow The leather headed sod just kind of followed the rest of the guys around asking stupid questions and such. He wore a set of black studded leather armour that had spiked studs. He had a long sword and buckler. The rest of the group kept yelling at him, and they used either his first or last name when doing so.

Nimbus (human bard [he/him] / NE). Born to be a true knight of the post, this basher fast-talked the bartender out of a full keg of bub! He wore no armour, and only seemed to have a short sword. One of the children of the town noticed he had something shiny up his right left sleeve. I’m betting it was a dagger in a wrist sheath. Apparently he was a real intimidating berk.

Dornith (human fighter [he/him] / LE). Silent with a constant grim look on his face, he didn’t say nor do much of anything the entire time he was here. He usually had his hand on his green steel bastard sword and he wore had a set of banded mail. Carried a lassoo and looked handy with it too.

Corleath (human wild mage [he/him] / CE). He was noted for not having a cleanly shaved chin, and for being completely bald on the top of his head, by a lady of negotiable affection who spent the night with the cutter in his room at the inn.

Trodis (half-ogre fighter [he/him] / CE). A bit of a braggart, he told a story to the local bubbers about how he got discharged from a mercenary force on Acheron for killing his commanding officer in a duel. He accented his story by drinking his bub from his own mug, which is made out of a human skull. He was not seen sober his entire stay in the burg. His weapon of choice is a hooked scythe, and a sickle for close quarter fighting. He wore scale-mail.

Narnis (tiefling fighter [he/him] / NE). Also somewhat of a braggart, a barmaid told me that he use to be part of an Abyssal army. He “escaped” when his side lost a battle of the Blood War on part of the Outlands. He has goat legs and small horns on his forehead. He wore leather armour and was armed with a battle-axe.

Dark Heart (tiefling thief [he/him] / NE). The group always called him “Dark Heart” or just Dark. He wore a black trench coat apparently had some pockets only on the inside. I suspect a full set of picks and such. The innkeeper noticed that he had some arrows he was toying with but didn’t have a bow in his gear. I suspect he might have a collapsible short bow under his jacket. He was noted for having blue skin, horns on his head, and a lizard tail. I also learned that he refused to take silver coins as part of his change at the blacksmith. He bought a crowbar there.

After a few rounds of free bub down at the tavern I was unable to get and idea of whom Klyster was from the bubbers, but the bartender was very happy with my tab. He informed me that he was referred to as “old four arms” once or twice, and the he killed some one once, just for looking at his face! From the sound of it I’d say the group was led by a reave. But the thing is, reave generally aren’t considered that smart. After a talk with an old beggar named Grossis, he told me that he noticed that whatever “Black Heart” seemed to suggest happened, even though he wasn’t the apparent leader. I’m betting that he is the behind-the-scenes leader of the group, and that even the reave doesn’t know it.

Author’s Note To DMs: I set this up so that the It should be fairly easy to modify this account of the highwaymen so that the PCs are the ones asking the questions. Some things like appearances can be easily had, while more important bits mention their sources in the town. Black Heat was designed to escape when the group is brought down, and eventually become a recurring villain. The group tends to pretend to be a broken down caravan (the wagon has the reave covered up in the back and the rest of the group dressed in rags over their armour) and then spring to life when another caravan stops to help.

These characters were designed as low level villains. In a campaign filled with fiends, celestials, and the most powerful creatures of the multiverse, it can be hard to get a low level games going. Most of the characters are low level warriors, and their leader, a reave, only has HD 2+4. Only Black Heart needs special weapons to hit him. (Although it’s still handy if he can escape for later use)

Dark Heart

[Note: This character is a much higher-level version of Dark Heart in the entry above, intended for use by DMs with higher-level campaigns who seek a powerful adversary for their PCs.]

There are a number of unwritten constants in the multiverse. The reason they are unwritten is that if some leatherheaded sod were to write it down, another leatherheaded sod would read it and prove it wrong. That’s why I ain’t going to say: “No matter how good you are at something, you can always find someone else who is better.” Hey wait a second, you ain’t planning on writing this down are you’se? Well that might explain why no one, but no one, is as good a burglar as Black Heart.

What’s that! You ain’t never heard of the great Black Heart? The plague of the misers! Living legend to all thieves in the multiverse, and you ain’t never heard of him? Does clueless run in your family or are you just naturally leatherheaded? What’s that? Oh you’re a prime! Well that would explain it a bit then wouldn’t it…

Well settle on down here, and for the small fee of another bub, that’s the interplanetary name for beer mind ye, I’ll tell you all about old Black Heart.

Well the best place to start is usually just that, the start. Dark Heart is a thief, not just any thief mind you, he’s a professional. He can get in to any vault, bank, hoard, lair, etc with out setting of one alarm, or meeting one guard. Course he wasn’t always so good. He originally was part of a band of Highwaymen. They called themselves “Brothers of the Dark Hood” or some rabble. It was basically seven planewalkers and a reave. The reave was the official leader but Dark Heart (even as he was known back then) more or less did all the thinking for the reave and then some. Caravan plundering was to easy and to small time for the likes of Dark Heart. He quickly tumbled to minor theft in side the Cage, err the City of Doors. I wouldn’t want to confuse you there, sir prime. Anyway, he stole from clueless and well-lanned cutters alike. He eventually moved on to breaking-and-entering cat-burglary, although he quickly learned to avoid the breaking part, as it tends to draw attention. He ended up making a bit of a name for himself. A talented lone wolf thief is neither liked by thief guilds nor the Hardheads, so needless to say every basher from both sides of the law could pick up a bit of jink for his head.

It took no more then two years for Dark Heart to become so good at what he did that he couldn’t do it anymore. He upped and left Sigil altogether. He now makes his kip on the Outlands. Has for a number of years. That how he became known as the Dark Heart Plague. You see the Merkhants (that’s a sect mind you) all tend to have holdings and vaults scattered around the most out of the way parts of the Outlands. These became the targets of Dark Heart. He plundered one unique item from everyone of the merkhants he could find. Everything from a sword from the Blood War to a massive diamond from the Plane of Minerals was taken. At one vault he got into, he found only a mound of coins with no unique items. Instead of taking some coins, he wrote a note to the owner in complaint!

Although it’s not like as soon as he stepped onto the Outlands he suddenly became a master thief—far from it! He improved his skills in the Cage and he got some nifty tricks all worked out. For example, instead of trying to sneak past guards, or trying to fight them or such, Dark Heart just kills them outright before entering. Some suspect magic, other suspect psionics but I once had a conversation with someone with the dark of it. He kills them with poison. A gas to be exact. But type has got even the Hardheads confused. See it appears to be yellow mold spores, and a lot of them. More than a small patches of mold, so somehow he is either collecting the spores, or duplicating the effects. Regardless, it hard to defend from. Now the rest of the thefts are better understood. It’s all fairly standard stuff. It’s just that such standard tactics shouldn’t work on such heavily guarded vaults. He tends to come into the buildings through small openings usually used for ventilation or service. He disarms the traps as he goes, and uses acid or such to get past bars and barriers. Then he goes in, avoids the magic traps, takes the desired object and gets out. Course no one knows why he is just able to do this. No other thief has ever been able to just disarm the traps in a miser’s vault, or just go around the magic traps, but for some more bub I’ll tell you why I think he does it

Well now, let’s see. First off he’s get the experience for it. He has been doing this stuff for a long time, and he more or less specialises in high security vaults and such. I also think It has to do with his heritage. See there is a bit of cant going around that Dark Heart is a direct descendent from some yugoloth high up, and if any creature is better suited to getting itself into places it ain’t suppose to go, it’s a yugoloth. Yup that’s right he’s a tiefling. Not that it’s all that surprising. Plenty of thieves are of fiendish heritage, but this one got more ‘loth then mortal in him I reckon.

Now some say you can best judge a thing, by its enemies, so let me tell you of a few here just so you can get an idea. He’s wanted by the Harmonium for numerous thefts in Sigil, but that ain’t nothing compared to this: A few Merkhants banded together and did the only thing they know how to do when presented with a problem, threw money at it. The result was a band of yugoloth mercenaries took the job of tracking down and bringing in Dark Heart. The band is said to have three canoloths, an arcanaloth, and a host of lesser ‘loths. On top of that, there is still a good deal of bounty for his head in the underworld, so a number of assassins are always on the look out for him.

Dark Heart tends to enjoy the thrill of the chase, though. He is constantly playing games on his pursuers. He doesn’t tend to kill them, although some say he can’t. He is a master thief and not an assassin, but as a master thief, he is nearly impossible to find. There is one fed-up arcanaloth out there that can attest to that!

So what does he look like? Well now that’s some very hard dark to come by course I’m a bit thirsty and…. aww, you read my mind!

Well no one has actually seen his face in more then a few years, but there are some that met him back when he was just a minor thief. They say he had this real blue-looking skin, and he had horns on his head, like coming out of his forehead. And he had a lizard tail. Rumour has it that the tail was kind of prehensile, as he was known to use it to pickpockets back in those days. And the last bit I heard was that he never touches silver. My guess is that he got some fiend-related disorder about it. Kind of like how he never tells anyone his name (you didn’t think he was named Black Heart at birth did you!?) on a count of they might be able to use that true name magic on him.

Dark Heart (tiefling thief [he/him] / NE)

Level: 17, HD: 17 (d6), HP: 52 , THAC0: 12 (+2 dex), Armour Class: 10 (silver, magic, or type B weapons only, -3 dex), Str: 9, Dex: 17, Con: 10, Int: 15, Wis: 11, Cha: 9 (-3 to non-tieflings/fiends due to appearance), PP: 75%, OL: 95%, F/RT: 95%, MS: 95%, HS: 90%, DN: 65%, CW: 90%, RL: 50%, BackStab: x5. Tiefling abilities: harmed only by magical or silver weapons [S, P only, B works fine regardless] blur 1/day, invisibility 1/week, mirror image 1/day, infravision 120′, detect magic 3/day)

He is noted for having blue skin, horns on his head, and a lizard tail. He is somewhat short, and is very slim. He always wears a large black trench coat which also servers as a “dark suit” (+5% to hide in shadows) as well as contains his gear. The outside of the coat has only two pockets which hold nothing, but inside, a few dozen pockets hold sets of green steal thief picks, lock chisels, wire cutters, small hack saw blades, files, glass cutters, climbing daggers, and “special” arrows (four poisoned, one major grapple, and five stone bitters). Each item has a separate pocket so that even as the coat moves about, none of the parts can hit each other and make noise. Under that coat, when on a job, he wares a “spider” or housebreaker harness. He commonly uses it to suspend himself from ceilings and such to avoid floor panel traps. When on a job he also carries a pair of bags of holding (usually stored in a single non-magical bag) one holds additional larger gear like his crowbar, rope/cables, spikes, a magically silent hammer, and other such goodies. The other bag of holding contains a large colony of yellow mould. In order to activate its spores, he disturbs the molds by throwing sling shot bullets into the sack until the spores shoot out into a massive cloud. (10d4 foot by 10d4 foot) In order to allow himself to breath, he uses a small bag of holding (the kind commonly used by mages to hold spell components) but instead ties it to his head and breathes a 20 minute stash of air in it.

He also uses a few protective items, such as a wrist sheath (normal throwing dagger inside), poisoned darts in his jacket cuffs (Brain Spider venom or type “F”), and a collapsible short bow +2. (Sigil forged)

His personality is not that of outwardly aggression or hatred but he always looks out for number one. The rest of the Multiverse can pike it. He steals because he needs the cash. Not that he doesn’t already have a lot, but living well, and not leaving a trail for other to fallow, and still getting at rare items (like green steel thief picks or Brain Spider Venom) can be far more costly then one would dream. True to the professional thief, he no longer requires the thrill of the theft (it has been replaced by the chase) so he does his work smoothly and efficiently. It’s his job, and he is very good at it, nothing more.

Avoiding the constant flow of trackers, bounty hunters, and assassins on the other hand, is now his favourite past time. He enjoys the look in the eyes a hunter gets when a prey gets away from them, especially when he was the prey. He will go to great lengths to fall into and then get out of an ambush. He is not stupid though. He never intentionally gets into an ambush without first knowing what it is and how to get out of it. He also always wears an amulet of proof against detection.

Notes for Role Playing Dark Heart:

He is designed to be chased across the Outlands as he steals valuables from dozens of museums, treasuries, and Merkhant vaults. Perhaps even Magnum Opus herself is after the blood, her Musée Arcane would be a juicy target for this cutter. He will outsmart, frustrate, and taunt PCs who are trying to catch him far more often they trying to kill them. Actual physical conflict is only the last resort of a thief of his skill.

I only included thief stats so that if he is encountered face to face, the DM will know how good he is at hiding in shadows etc. He should never actually fail to by pass defences or alarms when entering or stealing from a location. Also, he is very direct in stealing from a location. He enters via the easiest way, which is rarely a door. He is more likely to melt a whole in an iron roof (with acid), drop in by rope and steal a large gem with out ever touching the floor than he is to try and by pass PCs or other guards/traps at a front door. If he is ever pressed into a situation where he can not escape or fight his way out (poisoning a PC can give him a diversion etc) then he will surrender, and latter attempt to buy his way out etc.

Some possible “hooks” that could be built of this character include:

  • He is somehow the result of a selective breeding project of a baernoloth. His yugoloth adversaries are under the control of an ultroloth that wants to see what the baernoloth has been up to.
  • He steals a magical artifact and doesn’t know its full destructive power.
  • He is actually being funded by a Merkhant to steal other Merkhant’s valuables and thus advance his employer in the sect hierarchy.
  • After being captured by the PCs, and brought to justice, He promptly buys his way out of the system (a trick learned from his Merkhant targets) and then decides it’s his turn to chase the PCs.
  • The PCs are hired by the Harmonium to setup a sting operation in which the PCs are suppose to meet up with Dark Heart and try to catch him while he attempts to sell a dragonslayer sword. (PCs pretend to be a group from the Plane of Air, where dragons are ruthlessly hunted down and killed)

Source: Brian

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