|The Black Stranger
(circa "The Black Stranger")
Medium Outsider (Evil)
Hit Points: 12d8 + 24 (78 hitpoints)
Speed: 30 ft.
AC: 13 (+3 Natural Armor)
Attacks: 2 Claws +13, Bite +11
Damage: Claws 1d6+1, Bite 1d4+1
Face/Reach: 5 ft. by 5 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks: Sleep
Special Qualities: Darkvision 60 ft, Blurred, Control Weather, Control Wind, Charm Animal, Shadow Walk, Spell Immunities, Damage Reduction 50/Silver
Saves: Fort +9, Ref +8, Will +10
Abilities: Str 13, Dex 11, Con 13, Int 14, Wis 15, Cha 9
Skills: Hide +15, Listen +15, Spot +15, Search +15, Move Silently +15, Open Locks +15
Feats: Multiattack, Power Attack, Dodge, Mobility
Challenge Rating: 7
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
Advancement: by Character class
Count Valenso Korzetta
Strom the Barachan Pirate
Black Zarono the Buccaneer
|"Conan saw it through the drifting smoke - a monstrous black figure outlined against the hell-fire glare. That outline was vaguely human; but the shadow thrown on the burning wall was not human at all. The black monster reared up, looming gigantic against the flame, great arms spread wide; a dim face leered through the drifting smoke, semi-human, demonic, altogether terrible - Conan glimpsed the close-set horns, the gaping mouth, the peaked ears - it was lumbering toward him through the smoke..."|
|~Robert E. Howard, "The Black Stranger"|
|The Black Stranger
is a fiend from the outer gulfs of existence that was given the form of a
man and raised up into the world by an unnamed magician for Count
Valenso. It crushed and slew his enemies. But the price the
fiend demanded was too high for the Count, so he and the magician tricked
the fiend, a soulless waif of darkness, and bound him in hell.
But because the sorcerer had given the fiend the form of a man, he could
never break the link that bound it to the material world; never could
completely close the cosmic corridors by which it had gained access to
this world. The fiend escaped from hell and throttled the magician,
and sent its image to the Count as a threat. The Count fled over the
oceans, and the fiend had to physically follow him.
|The Black Stranger
fights with tooth and nail. He is inventive in his ways of
death. He throttled the sorcerer who raised him and bound
him. He hung Valenso from the rafters.
Damage Reduction: 50/Silver. Further, silver does double damage to the Stranger. Magic weapons (non-silver, non-flaming) do normal damage.
Spell Immunities: Immune to all elements except fire, which does double damage to the fiend..
Sleep (Sp): 3/day the Black Stranger can put people to sleep as the spell. Cast as a 12th level sorcerer.
Blurred (Su): The form of the Black Stranger is continually blurred, resulting in the fiend having 1/2 concealment at all times (20% miss chance)
Control Weather (Sp): Just like the spell in PHB, page 188, cast as a 12th level sorcerer. 1/day
Control Winds (Sp): Just like the spell in PHB, page 189, cast as a 12th level druid. 1/day
Charm Animal (Sp): Usable 3/day, just like the spell Charm Person or Animal, except it only works on animals. Cast as a 12th level druid.
Shadow Walk (Sp): Usable 3/day, per the spell in PHB, as a 14th level sorcerer.
|Robert E. Howard completed twenty-one Conan
stories during the four years that he wrote them. Of these,
seventeen were published in Weird Tales. The other four,
rejected by Farnsworth Wright, the editor of Weird
remained unpublished until many years after Howard's suicide. "The
Black Stranger" is one of these four completed stories.
After it was rejected, Howard made an unsuccessful attempt to salvage the story as a pirate yarn, substituting his pirate hero, Black Vulmea, for Conan, and calling it "Swords of the Red Brotherhood."
L. Sprague de Camp later found the original draft of the Conan version of the story and severly edited it so that the story would fit better into his personal idea of Conan's chronology. This rewrite was titled "The Treasure of Tranicos." De Camp changed the ending of the story: In the original, Conan decides to take up piracy again. In De Camp's alteration, some Aquilonian nobles divine Conan's location and go there to pick him up so he can lead a revolt against the King of Aquilonia. De Camp also changed the identity of the Black Stranger, changing it unnecessarily from a demon to Thoth Amon. He further changed the names of some characters. Strom became Strombanni in De Camp's recension.
Howard's original tale, unedited, was first published in paperback in 1987 in Karl Edward Wagner's "Echoes of Valor". It has since been published in Millenium Press' "Conan Chronicles Volume 2", which was recently released and is still in print.
|The artwork above for "Echoes of Valor" is by Ken Kelly and features Conan, Belesa, and Tina against the picts. This has got to be one of the worst examples of Mr. Kelly's art I have ever seen. The main trio seem static and posed and do not look threatened or scared or worried or... well, they don't really display any emotion at all. Really a shame, since I know Mr. Kelly can do better than this. His covers for the three Berkley/Putnam Conans were incredible, as were his artwork for the El Borak series by Howard. His Frazetta-like art works a lot better than his Boris imitations.|
|The drawing of the fiend above is an effective piece of art by John Buscema, "The Savage Sword of Conan", issue 48, from the Marvel Comics adaptation of "The Treasure of Tranicos."|
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