The World Born Dead
The House of Black Lanterns Guild
Compare to the Poison Shadows guild of thieves and assassins.
The House of Black Lanterns is a cross planar thieves guild based in the planar metropolis of Gloomwrought on the Plane of Shadow. The Black Lanterns were founded by a secretive group some say were Dark Ones, Drow exiles, or Shadar Kai. The House is controlled by a single extended family, about which little is known. Although the majority of the family is believed to live in an extremely large palatial mansion in Gloomwrought, details like their names or race are unknown even to their subordinates who can only recognize their masks and tattoos.
Members of the family are called factols, they wear quivering amorphous oily black masks that cover their entire head and distort their voice as well as bear full body tattoos similar to those that the membership get only larger and more intricate as a symbol of office. Various factols control factions of the House that oversee different aspects of the Black Lantern’s criminal empire. The guild treasures its anonymity and details of its operation are shrouded in mystery.
Freelance thieves and cutthroats outside the organization whisper that Black Lanterns are living shadows, that they are uncatchable, and that they evaporate by the light of day. Factors of the House laugh at these stories and when possible even play up the “truth” of them to enhance the mystery that surrounds the secretive guild. The House makes certain that traitors that rat out the House hunted down and swiftly eliminated. Its rumored that the factols, the hereditary leadership of the House, are aware of the location of every factor of the House and that they can still traitorous tongues with fell magics and blind traitorous eyes. It is known that on occasion an unlit magic lantern is used to track down a traitor, who when caught is seemingly devoured by summoned shadows, never to be seen again.
Entry Requirements: Level 4 or higher, combined hide and move silently skill ranks must total at least 12 (any combination), must pass questioning under a zone of truth , agree to the Black Lantern’s code, and successfully complete an assignment on behalf of the House.
- Never let a debt go unpaid.
- Never be late paying your debts.
- Don’t get caught.
- If you do get caught, keep your mouth shut until you escape.
- Never steal from another factor of the house.
- Never perform another factor’s assigned task or “steal” jobs from another factor.
- Never let your own jobs interfere with the house’s jobs.
- 10% of the take from your jobs goes to the house; you keep the rest.
- 100% of the take from house-assigned thefts goes to the house, and maybe you get a taste.
- Always show respect to the House’s factols.
Associated classes: Expert, rogue, child of shadow, master of shadow, shadowblade, shadowcaster, shadow dancer, and shadowsmith.
Black Lantern’s Benefits:
- Economics: When factors sell stolen goods to the House, they can expect to receive 60% of the goods market price, rather than the usual 50%. However they are expected to give 10% of their nightly take to the House. Its expected that members of the House will lie about their income or otherwise cheat the House a little by not reporting or fencing everything they steal through the House. How much this is tolerated will depend on how well liked the member or factor of the House is by those enforcing the rules of the House.
- Information: Many members of the Black Lantern’s are shadow magic users to one degree or another so asking around, a Black Lantern factor can, given access to a Retreat as the Black Lantern safe houses are known, substitute his gather information skill for knowledge: arcana, knowledge: local, knowledge: history, or knowledge: the planes.
- Services: Upon joining the organization, a member is referred to as a factor. Factors are receive a magical tattoo to identify themselves to other members of the House. The tattoo is inked with liquid night and further enchanted with shadow magic. The factor can choose where he wants the tattoo to be, however by its very nature magic items worn on the same body part as the tattoo, interfere with it. For example, wearing magical gloves over a palm tattoo negates the abilities of the tattoo as long as the gloves are worn while bracers over a forearm tattoo likewise prevent the tattoo from functioning until the bracers are removed.
The magical tattoo provided by the house is usually called a marker. When created, a marker appears to be of a unique design and contains five charges. These charges can be spent in the following ways to create various magical effects:
- One charge can be spent to cause the exposed mark to glow with dim red light in a 15 foot radius. The glow does not extend through armor or cloth. The glow lasts for 1 minute, and can provide a +4 circumstance bonus to intimidate checks made with non-members of the House. This power automatically actives for free when on the Plane of Shadow but can be suppressed for 24 hours by spending one charge.
- Two charges can be spent to teleport adjacent to any living creature within 10 feet, emerging from their shadow, as long as they are not in an area of total darkness or direct sunlight. This power only works on the Prime Material Plane. Each additional charge spent increases the distance another 5 feet.
- Three charges can be spent to render the tattoo invisible and conceal its magic aura for 24 hours or until one of its other powers is used.
- Five charges can be spent to plane shift to the Plane of Shadow. Getting back to the Prime Material Plane can be an ordeal unless arrangements have been made.
There are three ways that a marker can be recharged. Every 24 hours spent on the Plane of Shadow restores 1 charge to the marker. Second, ritual can be conducted by a House shadowcaster which costs 500 gp +50 gp per charge to be restored in material components, and lasts 2 hours per charge to be restored. Lastly, a character can, as a full round action, call upon the connection forged with the Plane of Shadow, and suffer a point of constitution damage for every charge restored as he channels shadow stuff through his soul. The character is then stunned on the round after he channels shadow stuff from the Plane of Shadow to restore the marker.
The House can provide discrete access to magical healing at cost to factors. Unless the factor was injured in an attempt to complete an assignment on behalf of the House, in which case the House picks up the tab for the treatment up to the regeneration of lost limbs, but seldom do they manage to raise dead factors. Usually such access can be had in any Black Lantern Retreat.
House factors can also find free lodging at a Black Lantern Retreat on a first come, first serve basis. Retreats are usually built underground in cities along major trade routes such as in Arkanast, the White City of the Eastern Provinces where the Retreat was built into a forgotten section of the ancient sewer works. While staying at a Retreat, you are maintained at a common lifestyle level. Most Retreats have room for 1d4-2 new factors available as most members in the city tend to frequently stay at them. If all the space has been filled, a factor can be turned away unless he is able to negotiate to stay with a fellow factor usually in return for a little bribe, 5 gp a night is standard.
The House also provides easy access to specialists in alchemy, appraisal, disguise, forgery, interrogation, locksmithing, magic item identification, and trapmaking. These specialists are invariably factors of the House. They expect to be compensated for their services and typically have anywhere between a +10 to +15 in all skills relevant to their area of specialty. The House can bring a requested specialist in on a job in a matter of 1d6+1 days. As fellow factors, they have an initial attitude of friendly to the PCs, although that can change as they get to know the character.