|“||Ill omen? I’m the one thing standing between you and oblivion.||”|
There are a lot of names it can answer to: the Black Dog, the Black Shuck, the Hellhound, the Gwyllgi, the Barghest. The Shadowbane is a large black hobgoblin-hound that roams the length and breadth of both Arcadia and the Hedge. While mortals in the mundane world tend to think of the Shadowbane as a premonition of impending doom, changelings who have visited the Hedge for awhile and talked with others know the truth. The Shadowbane is considered lucky, for they generally tend to be friendly toward changelings, and have often aided those in need. Some have even been known to “adopt” changelings they feel are in particular need of their protection.
Although some mortal legends refer to the Shadowbane as a ghost dog, this is incorrect. The Black Dog first came into the Hedge when a dog from the human world was brought through the Hedge along with its master by one of the Keepers. Just as the mortal became a changeling, the dog was also changed by the magic of Arcadia. When its mortal master, now a changeling, died at the hands of his Keeper, the Shadowbane attacked the Keeper, nearly killing him, and escaped into the Hedge. Since that day, they have spread out and bred, and can be found wherever changelings and hobs are found.
Some villages and Goblin Markets within the Hedge keep Shadowbanes on hand as guardians and protectors. For the promise of future favors or pledges, Shadowbanes have been known to guide changelings through dangerous areas of the Hedge, and having one with you during such travels greatly increases the chance of reaching your destination in one piece. Although they dislike being used as beasts of burden, they will agree to carry small riders, especially children, if it becomes necessary to their wards’ survival. They are peculiarly benevolent for fae entities, but they are still fae. A Shadowbane understands the concept of a favor for a favor. Their aid comes with a price, and they’ve been known to track down those they’ve helped and call old debts due.
Shadowbanes are known to despise the Others, and the feeling is mutual. More than one changeling newly escaped from captivity has told tales of being dragged along on a Keeper’s hunt to track down and slay an unlucky Shadowbane. At least one of the True Fae, the Zookeeper, has a mated pair of Shadowbanes penned up within his menagerie. The protections on that particular cage are among the strongest in his entire enclosure. His precautions are well-founded, as one changeling who escaped from his durance at the Zookeeper’s hands has related a story about the one time that the Shadowbanes nearly escaped, wounding their Keeper.
Rumors exist about Shadowbanes that can walk through walls and solid objects, fly, and work magic. So far, these rumors appear to be false. However, as things continually change within the Hedge, the likelihood of Shadowbanes eventually developing such abilities through Contracts is by no means impossible.
The Shadowbane resembles a huge black dog, though its conformation changes from individual to individual. Some appear to be much like a large mastiff. Others may more resemble a German Shepherd, a Saint Bernard, or an Irish Wolfhound. Their fur tends to be short, their fangs long, and their eyes blaze like fire in the dark. They are easily confused with shadow wolves (see below) at a distance, which can lead to tragic results. They loom, being taller, broader, and heavier than their mundane-world counterparts. Shadowbanes can speak human tongues without the use of magic, and seem to understand any language they are addressed in.
Unlike Briarwolves, there is nothing about the Shadowbane that points to their ever having been human. No one is known to have ever spotted a Shadowbane in an intermediate stage between human and hound. Shadowbanes are carnivores, but are not known to prey on changelings or hobs. They prefer freshly killed meat and will not eat carrion. Shadowbanes are extremely long-lived. Individual hounds are known to have existed for hundreds of years. Although they can be killed, they do not age after reaching adulthood, and are very resistant to the illnesses and infirmities that accompany old age.
Shadowbanes reproduce in the same way that dogs do in the mortal world, with one difference. Unlike domestic dogs, they mate for life. Females have litters of two to five pups, which grow to adulthood within two years. They live within a pack structure, with the strongest male and female in the alpha roles. Alpha status is determined by the group consensus on which individuals are the strongest, rather than fighting.
Mental Attributes: Intelligence 4, Wits 3, Resolve 4
Physical Attributes: Strength 5, Dexterity 3, Stamina 4
Social Attributes: Presence 5, Manipulation 2, Composure 3
Mental Skills: Investigation (Tracking) 4, Occult 3
Physical Skills: Athletics 3, Brawl (Bite) 4, Stealth 2, Survival 3
Social Skills: Animal Ken 3, Empathy 3, Intimidation 4, Persuasion 2, Subterfuge 1
Merits: Brawling Dodge, Fleet of Foot, Iron Stamina 3, Strong Back
- Dancers in the Dusk, p. 113-114