A black dog is a supernatural beast from England. The creatures are so named because of their appearance, which is that of a huge black hound with blazing red eyes. They are often associated with attacks on churches and are usually said to be agents of the Devil.
Black dogs are usually encountered at night or during thunderstorms. They are very stealthy, appearing and vanishing without a sound, and are said to make none of the usual noises one would associate with a large canine, such as panting or the clicking of their nails as they walk along. The size of a black dog ranges from that of a large dog (such as a Newfoundland or a Mastiff) to that of a small pony. Often these dogs are described as having large fangs, long claws, and eyes that burn a fiery red. Some, especially those from the north of England, are said to be headless. They can run very quickly and are very strong, capable of killing cattle or a man with ease. Many people believe the appearance of a black dog is a portent of death. Other black dogs are said to be just the opposite; these animals will protect travelers and guide them to safety along dark roads.
Dogs aren't the only black-furred creatures to haunt England (and elsewhere). Black horses, donkeys, cats, pigs and other "beasts" have been reported in both England and the rest of Europe. These creatures share many of the same attributes of black dogs and are often blamed for the deaths of individuals or large numbers of cattle. Many of these creatures can fly and most appear only at night or during great storms.
As a final note, for many years England has been home to a great number of sightings of a large black cat, about the size of a puma or a leopard. This creature is often blamed as being responsible for the mass killings of sheep. It has been photographed at least once and may in fact be an unknown species of great cat native to the British Isles.
Barghest: The barghest is found in Scotland. It is able to assume virtually any form it desires, although it usually appears as a great black dog with a shaggy coat, red eyes, sharp fangs, and long claws. Considered a messenger of death, the barghest will run through a town to seek out the home of one destined to soon die.
Black Shuck: Black Shuck is possibly the definitive English black dog. He is described as a huge black dog, larger than any normal dog could ever be. His eyes are green, red, or yellow, and burn is if they were on fire. Black Shuck is often reported as being headless, with two blazing points where his eyes should be.
This particular black dog is said to haunt graveyards, marshes, deserted country roads, or the hills outside of towns. He appears during storms, howling louder than the wind. If encountered, Black Shuck is utterly silent and leaves no footprints, although his breath is cold and icy. Meeting Black Shuck is a sure sign that the unfortunate person encountering the dog will die within a year. However, the people of Suffolk say that Black Shuck is harmless, provided one does not bother the dog.
Dando: This is a pack of black dogs who haunt the Tamar River in South Devon, England. These beasts are so named due because they are led by ghost of a priest, whose name is Dando. The pack is known to only appear on Sunday mornings, terrifying people on their way to church.
Gabriel Ratchets: The Gabriel Ratchets are said to foretell the death of an individual. They appear during thunderstorms, taking the form of howling wolves who race across the sky. It is said they are the souls of unbaptized children, and their howls serve to warn others to repent their sins before judgment day. The Gabriel Ratchets are also known as "The Devil's Dandy Dogs" and "The Wild Hunt."
The Hound of the Baskervilles: This fictional black dog was created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for his Sherlock Holmes story of the same name. Based upon the stories of Black Shuck and the Whist hounds, Doyle described the Hound of the Baskervilles as follows: "...a foul thing, a great black beast, shaped like a hound, yet larger than any hound that ever mortal eye has rested upon. And even as they looked the thing tore the throat out of Hugo Baskerville, on which, as it turned its blazing eyes and dripping jaws upon them..." Of course, this being a Sherlock Holmes story, there is no real Hound of the Baskervilles, the culprit was a specially trained dog fed phosphorous in order make it glow and seem to breathe fire.
Moddey Doo: The Moddey Doo is a small black dog from the Isle of Man. It is said to haunt Peel Castle, and to have frightened a soldier to death in the 1100's.
Whist Hounds: These hounds are said to haunt Dartmoor and Wistman's Woods in Devon, England. Glowing and headless, they are believed to be the hunting dogs of Odin (or Woden), king of the Norse gods. As with many other black dogs, anyone meeting these hounds will die within the year.
The hounds are usually abroad on Sunday nights. They race across the moors, howling and breathing fire, only to vanish by running over a crag. Anyone foolish enough to pursue them will fall to their deaths over the crag. The only way to survive an encounter with the Whist hounds is to lay face down, with arms and legs crossed and repeat the Lord's Prayer until the pack has run past.
Val CHA Cost Roll Notes 20 STR 10 13- Lift 400 kg; 4d6 HTH Damage  18 DEX 24 13- OCV: 6/DCV: 6 18 CON 16 13- 13 BODY 6 12- 10 INT 0 11- PER Roll 13- 15 EGO 10 12- ECV: 5 20 PRE 10 13- PRE Attack: 4d6 6 COM -2 10- 14 PD 10 Total: 14 PD (6 rPD) 14 ED 10 Total: 14 ED (6 rED) 3 SPD 2 Phases: 4, 8, 12 8 REC 0 36 END 0 32 STUN 0 Total Characteristic Cost: 96 Movement: Running: 12"/24" Leaping: 4"/8" Swimming: 0" Cost Powers & Skills 9 Howling: +20 PRE; Only For Fear-Based Presence Attacks (-1), Incantations (must howl; -1/4) 20 Fangs: HKA 1d6+1 (2 1/2d6 w/STR), END 2 8 Claws: HKA 1/2d6 (1d6+1 w/STR); Reduced Penetration (-1/4) 1 6 Spectral Form: Damage Resistance (6 PD/6 ED) 15 Spectral Form: Does Not Bleed 2 Heavy: Knockback Resistance -1" 33 Spectral Movement: Extra-Dimensional Movement (spirit realm, Any Location corresponding to current physical location), Reduced Endurance (0 END; +1/2) 12 Supernaturally Fast: Running +6" (12" total), END 1 -2 Can't Abide Water: Swimming -2" 60 Spectral Form: Desolidification (affected by affected by magic), Reduced Endurance (0 END; +1/2) 6 Sharp Senses: +2 PER with all Sense Groups 5 Can See In The Dark: Nightvision 30 Silent Movement: Invisibility to Hearing Group , No Fringe, Reduced Endurance (0 END; +1/2) 50 Spectral Form: LS (Eating: Character does not eat; Immunity All terrestrial poisons and chemical warfare agents; Immunity: All terrestrial diseases and biowarfare agents; Longevity: Immortal; Safe in High Pressure; Safe in High Radiation; Safe in Intense Cold; Safe in Intense Heat; Safe in Low Pressure/Vacuum; Self-Contained Breathing; Sleeping: Character does not sleep) Skills 10 +2 with HTH Combat 5 Concealment 13-; Self Only (-1/2) 7 Shadowing 13- 3 Stealth 13- 7 Tracking 13- Total Powers & Skill Cost: 286 Total Cost: 382 75+ Disadvantages 0 Physical Limitation: Human Sized (maybe be larger) 10 Physical Limitation: Near-Human Intelligence (Frequently, Slightly Impairing) 15 Physical Limitation: Very Limited Manipulation (Frequently, Greatly Impairing) 15 Reputation: harbingers of death, hounds of the Devil, 11- (Extreme) 267 Experience Points Total Disadvantage Points: 382 OPTIONS Cost Powers 24 Taking To The Air: Flight 12" 2 Notes: More inches of Flight are possible. 73 Assume Any Form: Shape Shift (Sight, Hearing, Smell/Taste and Touch Groups, any shape), Imitation, Reduced Endurance (0 END; +1/2) (This power can be bought at differing power levels to represent dogs who can only shape shift into other dogs or into other animals)
Ecology: Because they are spirits, black dogs normally appear only at night. They tend to be found in bleak and barren surroundings, such as graveyards, remote moors, and lonely roads. Some can fly and are abroad only during storms, howling louder than the winds. Black dogs are thought to be servants of the Devil, sent to harass churches, priests, and the innocent. Other dogs are reputed to belong to Herne, Odin, or other mythological deities. Other names for black dogs include: Barghest, Black Hound, Black Shuck, the Churchyard Beast, Devil Dog, Gabriel Ratchets, Galleytrot, the Hateful Thing, Hellbeast, Hell Hound, Moddey Doo, and Whist Hound
Personality/Motivation: Most black dogs seem to exist only to inspire fear. They haunt desolate moors and back roads where the dogs prey upon lone travelers. Some dogs target churches, haunting graveyards or running through the church grounds. A few black dogs are actually benevolent and serve to protect and guide travelers out on dark nights.
Powers/Tactics: Black dogs do not seem to have any set combat style. Some howl as they race along, inspiring fear and terror in all that hear them. Others will appear on lonely roads, padding along silently, following lone travelers. These latter dogs are usually harmless unless bothered or disturbed, while other, more inimical dogs will try to lead passersby to their deaths.
When dealing with headless dogs, the GM can either remove the dog's biting attack, or simply declare the head is invisible, with the exception of the dog's eyes. In the latter case, the dog can still bite a target. If the GM uses this option, an excellent feeling of horror can be created as the victim is bitten by something he can't exactly see (don't forget to add Invisible Power Effects!).
Appearance: A black dog has an inky black coat, eyes that seem to burn like fire, large fangs, and long claws. Its size ranges from that of a normal hound to the size of a small cow. Some black dogs are headless and have two burning eyes that float in empty space.
Campaign Use: Due to the nature of black dogs, it is recommended the GM customize each and every one. Depending on the area, a black dog can vary in size, shape, appearance, and personality. Most should be hostile, existing only to terrify local inhabitants who are foolish enough to venture abroad on dark and stormy nights. The GM should give the local black dog a unique name, description, and habitat (such as a certain stretch of road or a particular range of hills).
The template supplied is for a fairly large black dog. Game Masters should feel free to alter such characteristics as STR, BODY, PRE, and SPD in order to make the black dog fit the power level of his campaign. For a more modern campaign, you may want to increase the dog's defenses in order to make the dog more bulletproof. Another option is to give the dog a large number of DCV levels, with the special effect being attacks directed at the dog either mysteriously miss or impact with no effect.
Black dogs are usually solitary beasts, although they could be used as the familiar to a powerful witch or wizard. If found in packs, you should make the dogs smaller so they won't totally overwhelm a typical party of Heroic-level player-characters.
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