While good characters can mount up on unicorns and kirin, evil characters are stuck with mounts with much less impressive forms. Don’t get me wrong; I think nightmares are really cool, but at the end of the day, it’s just a magic black horse. This week’s Exotic Encounters features a new mount for evildoers: the dread blackhorn, a horse-like fiend which grants exceptional powers to its riders.
The creature before you resembles a gaunt horse whose flesh glows with a pale, ghostly light. Where its hooves should be, its legs instead end in wicked scythe blades that float just above the ground. Its head is devoid of flesh and shines more luminously than the rest of it. Embedded in its skull where its eyes should be are a pair of curving black horns.
BLACKHORN CR 4
NE Large outsider
Init +6; Senses blindsight 120 ft.; Perception +11
AC 18, touch 18, flat-footed 16 (+6 deflection, +2 Dex, +1 dodge,–1 size)
hp 45 (6d10+12)
Fort +6, Ref +7, Will +7
Defensive Abilities bond rider; DR 5/magic; SR 15
Speed fly 50 ft. (perfect)
Melee gore +5 (1d6), 4 claws +5 (1d4)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Str 10, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 14
Base Atk +6; CMB +7; CMD 19
Feats Dodge, Great Fortitude, Improved Initiative
Skills Fly +17, Knowledge (local) +9, Knowledge (planes) +9, Perception +11, Sense Motive +11, Survival +11
Languages Abyssal, Aklo, Common
SQ empower rider, strong back
Bond Rider (Su): A blackhorn forms a close bond with its rider, drawing upon the rider’s life force to fuel its own. While it has a rider, any damage dealt to the blackhorn is dealt to the rider, instead. If the rider has the Mounted Combat feat, he may attempt his Ride check to negate the damage before he suffers any damage.
Empower Rider (Su): A blackhorn grants its rider a number of magical benefits, depending on the rider’s power. Any rider gains a +1 morale bonus to attack and damage while mounted on the blackhorn. A rider with 6 or more Hit Dice gains a +2 bonus to AC and Reflex saves while mounted on the blackhorn. A rider with 11 or more Hit Dice is rendered invisible, as though by the spell greater invisibility (caster level 6) while mounted on the blackhorn. A rider with 16 or more Hit Dice can make a single extra attack at his highest base attack bonus while mounted on the blackhorn.
Strong Back (Su): A blackhorn is capable of carrying great weight and can do so without encumbrance. A blackhorn is treated as having a Strength score of 30 for the purposes of determining how much weight it can carry (can carry a heavy load of 6,400 lbs.), and can move at full speed regardless of how encumbered it is.
The blackhorn is a lesser fiend hailing from the forgotten plane of Zathir, an endless wasteland which exists beyond the Material Plane but which is not truly part of any Hell or of the Abyss. Zathir was once a splendid land that fell into decay and ruination long before the time of mortals. Today, the endless waste is inhabited only by ruins and such terrible monsters as dwell in blackened and ruinous places. Zathir is a lightless realm whose only illumination is the roaming blackhorns, whose flesh shines eerily. Ancient legends rumor that the blackhorns’ luminescence is the result of devouring the flesh of Zathir’s ancient sun, before darkness and ruination came upon that place.
On their home plane, blackhorns serve as mounts for wicked almost-men and twisted abominations that wage constant wars with one another. Occasionally some powerful servant of evil, learned in forgotten and ancient lore, will call a blackhorn away from Zathir’s ruination and into his service on the Material Plane. Blackhorns are very choosy about who they allow to become their masters and often demand that those who would command them prove themselves worthy with blood sacrifice or the performance of profane acts before consenting to being ridden. Riders who refuse the blackhorn’s price are denied the right to ride it by the blackhorn, which either attacks the would-be rider, or, if it feels it cannot win such a battle, slays itself rather than suffer the indignity of being ridden by the unworthy. Those who do earn the blackhorn’s respect find them to be powerful allies in the cause of evil and loyal even to the point of death, so long as their masters seek to destroy and spread corruption and malice. Being a creature of pure evil, blackhorns are repelled by purity and virtue and it is said that they can be driven away by acts of mercy and compassion and that they have no power to approach one who is pure of heart.