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February 6, 2008, 12:08 am

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The Dark Man


"The Dark One, he looks like anybody you see on the street. But when he grins, birds fall dead off high places. When he looks at you a certain way, your humors freeze and your urine burns. The grass yellows up and dies where he spits. He’s always outside. He came out of time. He doesn’t know himself. His names are legion as are his faces. He’s afraid of us. He is always on the outside looking in; hating people who have good fellowship and good conversation and friends - things he can not have. We’re inside. He knows magic. He can call the Night Beast and live in the shadows. He’s the king of nowhere. But he’s afraid of us. He’s afraid of . . . inside." The Book of Cauldius, found in the Royal Archive 828 by Arthurus the Wise

The Dark Man’s appearance is never threatening; he is said to be an average-looking man, taking on the physical appearance of whatever the local people tend to look like. The Dark Man always showed up with a different face and a different bag of tricks, but two things about him are always the same. Always he comes hooded, a man who seemed almost to have no face, and he never comes as a King himself, but always as the whisperer in the shadows, the man who poured poison into the Kings’ ears.

The Dark Man has had many faces and lives. He is always somebody who is charismatic, laughs a lot, attractive to men and women both, and somebody who just appeals to the worst in all of us. His face changes, but whatever his guise is, he’s saying the same thing: ‘I know all the things that you truly want and I can give them to you. All you need to do is something simple for me…."

The Dark Man came from Out of Nowhere. His names have been many, as have the eras (various times and worlds) been that he walked. His first form, as he was born some 1700 years ago on what I call, The Unfortunate World, ran away from home at the age of 13 and set out for a life on the road where he was raped by a fellow wanderer a year later. He resisted the temptation to slink back home and instead went on further to find his destiny and devote his life to The Darkness (where the true power over others lies). He became determined to exact revenge on The Unfortunate World, the place of his suffering. Becoming a powerful wizard, The Dark Man began to sow discord and strife through the neighboring lands, and eventually walking the way to Other Worlds. He seldom acted directly, preferring to act behind the scenes and patiently set events into motion over years, decades, or even centuries. At some point after fleeing The Unfortunate World, he met a Greater Darkness. In a passing whim, he was gifted.

His goals typically center on spreading destruction and causing conflict, usually through bringing down entire civilizations. On The Fallen World, where most of Humanity is destroyed by plague, he is The Walking Man, who gathered the remaining dregs of society into the Army of Sin.  On The World of the Great Middle Kingdom, his influences weakened and nearly brought down the Mandarin system that supported The Great Society. On Wylann, he directly brought down The Great Court of the Grand Table through manipulating the great personalities of the Court. 

He has, in fact, come to The Unfortunate World often. He came under a different name each time, but always with the same load of woe and misery and death. This time he is Bechell, the court advisor. The time before he had been known as Ballerius, and he had been the King’s Lord High Executioner. He, and his heavy axe (which is now the Evil Artifact BoneSpreader) made an end to hundreds thousands, some said of prisoners some who were with his heavy axe. The time before that ... he came as a singer named Dayson, who became a close adviser to the King and a Queen. Dayson disappeared like smoke after drumming up a great and bloody war between the Two Great Countries Avalon and Gaula.

As Delain and all his forms, he cannot remember his life before each "era" of his history. All he has is vague memories. He has been a knight under many banners, a French Cardinal, a servant to the throne, great philosopher, a minstrel and a star, a Nihon Courtesan, a small town priest, an Atlantean Geo-Engineer, and countless others. Each path a dream that teases him with knowledge and wisdom that will help him.

The Dark Man varies his tools from Era to Era, but most like he is an accomplished sorcerer (though he might not call it that) and a devoted servant of the Outer Dark, with general supernatural abilities such as necromancy, prophecy and influence over people’s behavior.
The Dark Man wants what evil men always want: to have power and use that power to make mischief. Being a King does not interest him because the heads of Kings all too often find their way to spikes on castle walls when things go wrong. But the advisers to Kings . . . the spinners in the shadows . . . such people usually melted away like evening shadows at dawning as soon as the headsman’s axe started to fall.

To quote one of the great sages of Atlantis of the Second Age:
"The Dark Man is a sickness, a fever looking for a cool brow to heat up. He hoods his actions just as he hoods his face. And when the great trouble comes as it always does as time moves ons The Dark Man always disappeared like shadows at dawn. Later, when the carnage is over and the fever has passed, when the rebuilding was complete and there was again something worth destroying, The Dark Man appears again in a hood guise."

Special Equipment
None specific to the Dark Man. He does manage to pick up "a trinket or two" each era.

Roleplaying Notes
He is the Eternal Schemer and a Hand of Evil. He frequently has an unspectacular demises which are often suprising given that he is a legendary villain who outwitted great minds for centuries without ever truly achieving any of his goals. (Effectively the Greater Evil tortures him in life as he would his corrupt soul in Hell even as he serves his cause.)

In your world he may just be a passing waundering evil. He will sow a seed of chaos on his way through.

Perhaps he will have a presence in an era (when/where you are playing). He will be one of the world, taking effort to disrupt the way of the world and corrupt the golden era. He may appear again and again, attempting to bring the end of the society.

Your world may be the Unfortunate One, the world of his first waundering, the one that he returns to again and again, all in an attempt to destroy the source of his greatest suffering.

He is also known as The "Ageless Stranger", "The Waunderer of the Outside", "Fever of the Road", and The One Outside.

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Comments ( 11 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted Cheka Man
December 30, 2007, 19:36
Me likey. Good for any world.
December 31, 2007, 0:45
I noticed that the weapon in this submission would of been a great submission for the quest, had it been done in time. Well it is a stub at least.
Voted Siren no Orakio
December 31, 2007, 15:00

As an individual character, I can't think much of this. There's just very little characterization, very little motivation - It is hard to see how his vengeance would color his specific actions, or the course of his hungers. However, what I do see here is a powerful archetype. Here is is value. He is a template for every spider-villain, every dark puppeteer and manipulator. For managing to write and example that, I applaud.
January 1, 2008, 0:28
As to his "motivation", he is a continuing cascading failure. Because of his own shame and pain, he turned down the Dark Road. He was met along the way by a Greater Darkness. He accepted that invitation. He does what he does because of his own assumptions about people's worth or need for happiness, procssed by his own twisted logic and neurotic worldview. In doing his "madness" as it is, he does the Greater Darkness's bidding (who in turn continues to make sure he can keep doing it.) If you can actually kill him, he will be no more (mostly likely). But, he will, slip out early, long before the curtain begins to fall, having set everything into motion long before.
January 1, 2008, 0:07
I live with campaigns, usually with a paranormal thread running through the, that the span centuries (where your characters are usually descendents of the PC earlier), cross time, or cross dimension (para-time). Even some of the "non related campaigns" which may or may not have players from other previous campaigns, will find "echos" from a previous campaign. The players are always on the look out for these "echos" from a previous campaign/ play session. To them it gives them a sense of "universal continuity".

He has advantages because he functions like a demon, but is not. He is not really an "arch-mage", but has a little magic. He is just a twisted being moving through the universe.

So this Dark Man is a perfect being for long term play over several campaigns.
Voted Pariah
January 1, 2008, 0:14
Ahh, Flagg, how do we miss thee. The tortures you comitted were teh finest, the second-rate villains the weirdest. Good post Moon.
Voted valadaar
January 2, 2008, 20:25
This fellow reminds me of Mr. Morden on Bab 5, who I think fits this category near perfectly. A definate archtype!
Voted Mesenchymal
January 4, 2008, 13:23
Hej Moon..This is my first post to you may have noticed I haven't posted (I don't think I am up to everyones standards yet but I am working on my first one a little grave yard in Ouroboros's city Locatus)I have read some of your other things and they are good..I really like this one..Keep up the good work..
Voted Maggot
January 7, 2008, 9:34
I have to say that I like this. The very vagueness that surround this traumatized being, makes him the ideal master-mind, the true author behind the rise of the monstrous evil that the PC's must fight. Of course, the irony is that the Dark Man himself is but a hapless pawn, to be used or rather abused in any manner that his mysterious master sees fit. Nicely done indeed.
Voted Spark
January 12, 2008, 3:52
Although I'm not sure how useful this might be in gaming context, I fell in love with this article enough to disregard that aspect. It was very well-written, and I'm a sucker for those sort of sleeper characters with vaguely epic backgrounds; it just oozes authenticity and rich depth.
February 6, 2008, 0:08
Updated: Updated a bit of spelling

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