Travelers lost in the gloom of the moors and forgotten byways of the British Isles catch sight of a pair of fiery red eyes that never cease watching, no matter how far or fast they run. Fearful peasants speak in hushed tones of huge black bestial shapes looming out of the fog on nights when the moon keeps her face veiled in gray. These tales and more tell of the black dogs, canine harbingers of death stalking the wild places of Wales and Britain.
Whether they are creatures of flesh or spirit, none agree. Black dogs normally stand as large as an adult human, with eyes that glow like embers and shaggy fur as black as pitch. Their cavernous mouths hold massive fangs designed to rip through flesh and crunch bone to bits. Omens surrounding people destined to soon die attract a black dog, as it intercepts them along the paths leading to the Underworld while walking firmly in earthly realms. When it attacks physically, it’s a sign its victim fights to avoid some prophesied doom. The black dog chases its quarry effortlessly, like a wind flitting from hill to hill, then fixes him with a mesmerizing stare that paralyzes him with fear before tearing him apart in its enormous jaws.
More often, though, it simply follows its prey from the shadows, showing itself just enough to cause mind-blanking terror before vanishing back into the darkness whence it came. Frequently, reports of a black dog sighting precede the poor soul’s demise by mere days or weeks. On rare occasions, the sighting instead precedes a near-miss, leaving the victim alive. Survivors of such events claim the dogs are angels of death, warning them away from premature fatalities. Repeat encounters like this lead some to believe they are chosen as a black dog’s ward, under its protection until such time as their fated ends come to pass.
People of different regions have various names for the black dogs their stories describe. In Yorkshire these phantom hounds are known as barghests, while in Wales they call a black dog a gwyllgi or “Dog of Darkness.” In other places it’s known as a grim, Shuck, the Moddey Dhoo, or a wisht hound. Cainites wear death like voluminous robes, dragging long and bloody chains behind them. Black dogs harbor a particular enmity for the night’s parasitic masters and stalk them with relentless purpose whenever they cross paths.
Vampires of the Isles disagree on whether the beasts hate them for defying true death or for killing so many before their allotted time, but they tell similar tales: a phantom hound with a Cainite’s scent dogs her steps and inflicts bouts of guilt, paranoia, or fear as punishment for her crimes. A black dog won’t willingly give up the chase on a Cainite until forced, or until it has driven her completely mad. Malkavians and other vampires with strong psychic abilities sense these creatures from miles away.
Powers and Weaknesses
• The black dog recoups spent “blood points” by slumbering or successfully stalking prey for at least six hours continuously.
• A black dog does not count as a spirit or a ghost for the purposes of Disciplines and other powers that interact with these beings specifically. However, anything that works on immaterial beings generally can target and harm it while it’s using Spectral Body, and it otherwise counts as a normal physical entity.
Attributes: Strength 2, Dexterity 3, Stamina 2, Charisma 5, Manipulation 1, Appearance 4, Perception 4, Intelligence 3, Wits 3
Abilities: Alertness 2, Athletics 4, Awareness 4, Brawl 2, Empathy 4, Intimidation 5, Stealth 3, Subterfuge 2
Equivalent Disciplines: Celerity 4, Daimonion 2, Protean 7 (Eyes of the Beast and Spectral Body only), Serpentis 1, Valeren (Watcher) 1 (see note)
Road: 3, Willpower: 7; Blood Pool: 5
Note: The version of Sense Cycle that a black dog uses grants it omens with insight into when and where its target may die, rather than the usual effects.