(circa The Pool of the Black One)
Large Outsider (Evil)
Hit Dice: 2D8 + 15 (26 hit points)
Inititiative: +3 (Dex)
Speed: 30 ft.
Armor Class: 16 (+3 Dex, +3 Natural)
Attacks: Claw +12 Melee
Damage: Claw 1D6+9
Face/Reach: 5 ft x 5 ft/ 5ft
Special Attacks: Magical Pipes
Special Qualities: Racial bonus (Innuendo) +9
Saves: Fort +1, Ref +4, Will +4
Attributes: Str 28, Dex 16, Con 20, Int 11, Wis 12, Cha 15
Skills: Perform +8, Climb +10, Move Silently +9, Sense Motive +3, Innuendo +10
Climate/Terrain: Ancient Ruins
Organization: Pools (10-30)
Challenge Rating: 2
Alignment: Lawful Evil
Advancement: by character class
|Black Ones are
black and naked, make like men, but the shortest of them are heads and
shoulders above a tall human. They are rangy, rather than massive,
but are finely formed, with no suggestion of deformity or abnormality,
save as their great height is abnormal. But one can sense the basic
diabolism of their features; every line, each feature is stamped with evil
- evil transcending the evil of humanity. Under their ebon
skin long, rounded muscles ripple, and the monsters can rend an ordinary
man limb from limb. The nails of the fingers are grown like the
talons of a wild beast. Their eyes are tawny, a vibrant gold that
glows and glitters.
Black Ones do not speak - vocally. They nod and gesture, but are strangely silent. They find pleasure in dragging to light the abysmal secrets that sleep in the unfathomed darkness of the human soul. What dark gods they worship is unknown, but they live forever, save for violence or accident. They tend to create a dark pool on whatever world they decide to dwell upon, a pool that reduces men to small statuettes.
They are entirely nude, except for the shaman, who wears a headpiece.
The Black Ones fight bare-handed, using their fingernails like claws. They prefer to capture their prey alive so they can perform their awful, alien rites upon them.
Magical Pipes: The shaman of a group play mute pipes which force a victim to dance uncontrollably (Will Save, DC 20), grasping the soul of the victim. This entrances the victim. After they have tasted of the soul, the Black Ones throw the victim into the Pool. Each round the victim dances "feeds" the Black Ones - healing them of damage. They eat souls, survive on depravity.
|"The Pool of the Black One" by Robert E. Howard
first appeared in the October 1933 issue of Weird
Tales. It can be found also in the Lancer/Ace
collection "Conan the Adventurer" and in Donald M. Grant's "The Pool of
the Black One." It is currently available in the British "Conan
Chronicles Volume 1: The People of the Black Circle".
All the artwork on this page comes from the Donald M. Grant edition of this story.
Two things of interest about this story. The first is the pool's strange effect on human anatomy. One suspects Howard was influenced by the shrunken heads of the Jivaro Indians; shrunken heads were very big in the thirties (so to speak). Here, Robert E. Howard has taken the process a step further -- with creepy results. Stranger still, is the fact that we are given no explanation for who the creatures are or what reason they have for dipping people in the pool. That may be something of a weakness in the story, but the very vagueness of the whole thing adds to the sense of unreality. It is almost like a nightmare.
The other thing great about the story is the climax. I can't think of another Conan story which had this same edge-of-your-seat, race-with-the-devil sort of ending, and it works very well.
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Pool of the Black One
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