|Black Zarono the
(circa "The Black Stranger")
15th level Fighter
Hit Points: 15d10 + 15 (100 hitpoints)
Speed: 30 ft.
AC: 18 (+3 Dex, +5 Masterwork Breastplate)
Attacks: Rapier +18/+13/+8
Damage: Rapier 1d6+1
Face/Reach: 5 ft. by 5 ft./5 ft.
Saves: Fort +10, Ref +8, Will +6
Abilities: Str 12, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 11, Wis 9, Cha 13
Skills: Profession (Navigator) +11, Climb +19, Intimidate +10
Feats: Expertise, Improved Disarm, Improved Trip, Improved Critical, Dodge, Mobility, Spring Attack, Quick Draw, Power Attack, Sunder, Dirty Fighting, Whirlwind Attack, Combat Reflexes, Skill Focus (Navigator)
Climate/Terrain: Zingara, Pictish Wilderness
Challenge Rating: 15
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
Advancement: by Character class
The Black Stranger
Count Valenso Korzetta
Strom the Barachan Pirate
Galbro the Senschenal (Valenso's Cohort)
|"He was a tall wiry man, clad in black silk and polished steel. The stranger was dark, with a lean predatory face, and a thin black moustache. A bunch of lace was gathered at his throat, and there was lace on his wrists. The stranger bowed with stately elegance"|
|~Robert E. Howard, "The Black Stranger"|
|Black Zarono is
quick to laugh, and often twirls his moustache. He is rumored to
have once been a frequent visitor to the Kordava royal court. He
comports himself as though he were a nobleman, not a pirate. He
leads a crew of around a hundred and seventy dark-faced men in flaming
silk and shining steel, with scarves around their heads and gold hoops in
Zarono is willing to negotiate, and is reasonably trustworthy… for a buccaneer. Although his speech is decorous and formal, his expression sober and respectful, these things are but a mask through which gleams the violent and sinister spirit of the man. He is brutally cynical, and cruel.
|Zarono is quick in battle, trained by top aristocratic fencing masters and years on the Barachan Main.|
|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remained unpublished until many years after Howard's suicide.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 from the outer dark 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.|
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