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Black Steel

by Bruce Heard

Five Shires -- another example: they discover some rare ore in their backyard. It has the property of causing common metals (bronze, iron, etc) to remain liquid (like quicksilver) or semi-liquid (like putty). The metal originally needs to be melted, and the ore is then added. When the metal cools, it retains its liquid or semi-liquid properties until sprinkled with a certain powder. It's the rage in Thyatis and other progressive states like Darokin and Glantri. The hin keep a watchful eye over the ore and protect the composition of the alchemic powder jealously. They create a Guild of the Ore to protect the interest of the Shires during the exploitation of the ore and the manufacturing of the powder. Naturally, should anyone steal any amount of either, the guild has a specially trained group of halfling bounty hunters who will stop at nothing to regain the stolen goods. The Shires otherwise will negotiate with legitimate buyers. Now, of course, certain nations may now be eyeing the Shires for possible annexation just to acquire the wondrous ore. The hin understand this and have begun a military build-up for the occasion, as short-legged as it may be. A contingent of Ierendi pros is not impossible, in exchange for some ore and powder. As an alternative to the above, the ore could have other properties such as rendering metals translucent or reducing their weight (down to zero or a negative weight -- thus causing the metal to levitate).

A new sect is growing among the Hin. It alters their behaviour over time, using trickery at first and brain-washing techniques later on, maybe some magic. This causes the sect's members (victims) to suffer a temporary change in alignments, at least as long as they remain within the sect. In the long run, the sect is similar to RW-India thugees. Now we have a secret sect of halflings killing foreigners for religious reasons (or in many cases, for political reasons in order to advance the evil schemes of the shady master of the sect). Who could that be? Political and nobility figures pretty high on the sect's hit list. The Shires' ore may also have a special place in the sect's beliefs.

Let's see... Bargle (still alive BTW???)
How about "The Master", at least by proxy.

by Robert J. Nuttman, Jr.

From what little information I have about the halfling's clan relic (Cyclopaedia, pp 145-146), the Crucible of Blackflame can be used to craft magical weapons using an oil of distilled moonlight. This oil is captured over a long period of time with a magical netting of shadowstuff "woven" from the shadows cast by the Blackflame. The time involved in creating the netting (200 years) and distilling an ounce of oil (7-10 years) are enough to make these items very rare, and items made with them extremely valuable.

What if the Keeper of the Flame found an ancient ritual that could allow the hin to actually forge weapons from this shadowstuff, or make some kind of alloy? Daggers and short swords capable of dealing extra damage under shadowy lighting conditions, perhaps even draining strength as a shadow would? Maybe these weapons are able to hit shadows, even if they have no "plus to hit"(hmm.... BlackSteel, anyone?)? I'd imagine these shadow weapons would also be lighter than usual, or are only lighter when used in shadowy conditions.

Perhaps this information was lost for good reason by a Keeper of the Flame, and has been re-discovered by a secretive group of halfling assassins. Maybe they're in a league with Bargle, and have stolen some of the oil of moonlight so that the wizard can use it to forge a cache of shadow weapons, which the assassins plan to use on various and sundry sheriffs, so that the assassin guild's own candidates for the positions can rise to power....