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The Dark Shire

by Geoff Gander

Special thanks to Shawn Johnson and Paul Dooley


To many a traveller, the Five Shires is a pleasant, tamed land, populated by the kindly Hin. To those who treat them (mistakenly, for certain) as children, the Hin hide behind fašades of child-like simplicity - the better to get past their would-be detractors' defences and get what they want from them. This deception extends beyond mere protection of one's ego; it conceals a far darker secret of the Hin.

A Dark Secret Revealed

The history of the Shires is a strife-torn one; of great victories, of horrible defeats, of love, of loss, of heroes and villains. Though the annals of history record the names of many Hin who, left with no other choice, drew deeply from their reserves of inner strength, and overcame those who sought to oppose or destroy them, there are many more who were not so fortunate, or who suffered a fate worse than death. Many Hin, for example, know well the cruelties of Othrong or Loktal, and they rightfully celebrate those ancestors who rejected oppression; but they forget those who sided with their erstwhile overlords for personal gain, or out of conviction that the cause of the Hin had been lost. It was these latter Hin, who forsook their kin and heritage, who would come to inhabit "the Dark Shire."

During the last years of Furgh Oorr's rule, when the Hin rose in rebellion against their masters to reclaim their lands and their birthright, there erupted a bloody feud among those brave folk. As their forces pushed back the humanoid menace, it soon came to light that the orcish legions, dating back to the time of Thrail almost thirty years earlier, had acquired valuable information from a number of clans living in and around the village of Nimbrendabbas, in what is now Heartshire. Those traitors had sold their kinfolk into slavery for a fair sum of gold, and received guarantees that their orcish masters would leave them to their own devices, secluded in their hill-girded homes. They had told the orcs of the Hin battle tactics, of the rivalries that existed between the clans, and of the best places to hide, to attack, and to retreat - such that the orcs appeared to be masters of the land before they had even conquered it. For this act of greed, the five clans of Nimbrendabbas - the Shortfellows, the Bingleysides, the Nimbrendonnors, the Lynnleyfields, and the Llandoloths - were declared forevermore enemies of the Hin. Nevermore would they be welcome elsewhere in the lands of the Hin, nor would they be spoken to, or referred to by name. Ever after, they were to be known as the Shunned.

So it was that the Hin developed their lands and grew as a people, never speaking to the Shunned, or doing business with them. As more Hin chased the Shunned away from their homes, so those five clans withdrew. As the years passed, so knowledge of the lands around Nimbrendabbas faded into rumour; parents began telling their misbehaving children that the Shunned would take them away if they refused to be good, and accidents or bad storms became known as "work of the Shunned". So things would have remained, were it not for the "Summer of Vengeance".

Though decades had passed since the Shunned had been cast away, they remembered every slight levelled against them, every insult, and every curse. With every passing year, they became more bitter, more cruel, and in mind, word, and deed more like the scoundrels their kinfolk believed them to be. So it was that, one peaceful summer, they began a campaign of looting and burning across the breadth of what is now Heartshire and Seashire. In their years of isolation, they had grown greatly in number, and had domesticated a variety of dire wolf - which inhabited the light forests at that time - to use as a riding animal. Fearsome were those raids, and many were the pillars of smoke that filled the skies - mute testament to the brutality and terror of the Shunned in their wrath. For weeks the attacks continued, and more of the wealth of the Shires made its way north to Nimbrendabbas. Though the resolute folk of the Shires were many, they could not match the prowess and ferocity of the Shunned. So these troubled times would have continued, were it not for the final banishment of these dark Hin by the enigmatic Masters.

The Banishing of the Shunned

As the Summer of Vengeance began to draw to a close, a special meeting of the Shires' greatest Masters was held. They agreed that, if the Shunned were allowed to continue their depredations, the Hin could be weakened once more, and the dream of an independent and free homeland for their people would never come to fruition. Thus, it did not take them long to agree upon a course of action - if the Shunned could not be kept away from their kinfolk by moral or legal means, they would be removed by magical means - never to cause harm again. Immediately, the Masters set about researching a way to harness the power of the Blackflame to remove the Shunned from the Shires, and to place them elsewhere, where they could harm no one. While they worked, the heroes of the Shires hunted the Shunned relentlessly, forcing them to retreat closer to their homes.

After months of hard work, an answer was found, and the Masters, under the protection of Hin warriors, gathered outside Nimbrendabbas to banish the Shunned forever. They eagerly pooled their talents to open a gateway into another dimension, and to invoked the power of the Blackflame to move the village, and its inhabitants, through it. Once the Shunned has crossed to the other side, the gateway was allowed to collapse, sealing the evil Hin away from the Shires for all time. Such as act was costly - many of the older Masters succumbed to the great effort required to master the full power of the Blackflame, but the deed had been done. Those few Shunned who remained in the Shires, who were not hunted down in the weeks that followed, either fled northwards into the Cruth Mountains, or eastwards into the Blight Swamp. Despite the great victory won that day, so exacting was the deed that from that day forward, no Master would be willing to perform the Ceremony of Banishment.

In the years that followed, the Hin began to forget about the Shunned once more, for now there was no trace that they had ever existed. It is said among Hin farmers in the more remote communities of Heartshire, even today, that on some nights, when the moon is full and the nights overly cold, the Shunned may return to the Shires to redo that which had been done centuries before. Few Hin believe these tales, though, thinking them to be the tales of isolated countryfolk.

The Dark Shire - What It Is and How to Get There

Around fireplaces and in pubs across the Shires, tales such as the one above might be told by greybeards in exchange for a pint of the barman's best bitter, but there is more than a little truth to such yarns. The Shunned were indeed banished, in BC 682, to a place resembling greatly the region of the Shires in which they had lived - so much so that even the passage of time was identical. In the years since then, the Shunned grew more numerous in their new home, founding new villages farther afield, and strengthening their hold on the land. The Shunned do not know how large their new home is - explorers have ventured forth and never returned - but there always seems to be another valley beyond the next row of hills, and across the sea, dark Hin sailors claim to have found many islands, and possibly another large landmass. For the most part, the dark Hin are much like their Mystaran kinfolk; they prefer to stay close to home.

The Dark Shire is, more than anything else, a prison. Though the dimension in which it exists has weather, seasons, a cycle of day and night, climate, and even wildlife similar to the Shires, the dark Hin know they cannot leave, a fact which has only deepened their hatred for their kinfolk with the passage of time. Fortunately for them, a way exists for them to visit their estranged cousins on occasion.

Owing to intricacies in the Ceremony of Banishment, and of the fundamental nature of Blackflame, the Dark Shire cannot be sealed away from the Prime Plane all the time. Indeed, the strength of the barrier fluctuates with the seasons, and with the phases of Matera, Mystara's visible moon. The barriers are at their weakest during a full moon in the autumn, and strongest during a new moon in spring. It is during the barrier's weak period that it is possible to enter and leave the Dark Shire.

Unlike most other portals and gateways that bridge the distance between planes and dimensions, those that guard the entrances to the Dark Shire are not readily visible; in fact, the average traveller would likely not even notice that he or she had entered the prison of the dark Hin, for there is no transition zone, or any sensation of being moved by unnatural means. The magic of the gateways even works such that the traveller is placed in an area that resembles their point of origin as much as possible; if they were walking along a forest path, they will appear on one in the Dark Shire. So subtle is this process that travellers will only notice it by making a halved Intelligence check. Perhaps what makes reaching the Dark Shire so difficult, though, is the fact that the gateways move over time to no discernible pattern. Where player characters might end up in the Dark Shire would be up to the DM entirely. All such portal are bi-directional; they may be used to re-enter the Prime Plane as well.

The Dark Hin

The dark Hin are almost identical to their Mystaran cousins in most respects - their size, hair, and skin colouration is the same, their choice in clothing is very similar, and they share a preference for dwelling in burrow-like homes. They also share the Mystaran Hin love of pipe smoking and telling tales - though dark Hin stories tend to be far more violent. What separates them is difficult to notice, but telling all the same. Their eyes have irises that are a pale yellow in colour, and they tend to glow in the dark (though the dark Hin do not possess infravision). All dark Hin youth, upon reaching adulthood, have their front teeth filed into sharp points, and those that can grow facial hair, do so.

Due to their many years in isolation, the development of the language spoken by the dark Hin has deviated from that of the Mystaran Hin. The dark Hin language has retained many of the older Hin words - many of which are now lost in the Shires - and those loan words which had already made their way into the Hin language at the time of their expulsion evolved in different ways. Despite these differences, most Hin, at least, would be able to understand the dark Hin language, though an Intelligence check would be required to decipher the more technical or convoluted sentences. Fluency in the language for Mystarans would require either a language slot, or a skill slot spent as a language.

Perhaps what makes the dark Hin so different from their Mystaran cousins is their cultural outlook and overall attitude as a people. Shaped by their centuries of exile, and their deeply-entrenched anger and bitterness directed towards their estranged cousins, the dark Hin are a profoundly violent-tempered and vengeful people. Few dark Hin will allow any insult, perceived or real, or go unanswered, and the most common recourse in a dispute is to resort to violent means. As a result, bloody feuds are common among the five clans - so much so that any settlement of reasonable size is walled, and few dark Hin venture far from home unarmed. Most clans maintain some degree of contact with their neighbours, though this often consists of little more than intermittent trading. Having had no contact with other races since their expulsion, the dark Hin do not really have any opinions about other peoples, though memories of the Mystaran Hin are kept alive, and it is for them that true hatred is felt.

As a people, the dark Hin venerate no Immortals. Instead, they have developed a theology based around vengeance against their Mystaran cousins for what they see as their unjust expulsion. The tenets of this quasi-faith are fairly simple: The Hin of the Shires have wronged the dark Hin, and everything should be done to prepare for the Day of Reckoning as foretold by the clan elders shortly after the expulsion, when the dark Hin are no longer imprisoned and may return to the Shires and rule over their errant cousins.

As with many religious faiths, this set of beliefs is propagated through institutions, in this case Shrines of Vengeance - the Dark Shires equivalent of a temple or church. In them, red-robed warrior monks guide worshippers to find their own hatred for their Mystaran cousins, as well as train those who wish to become proficient in the military arts. Almost every settlement of reasonable size (ie: over 300 inhabitants) has a Shrine of Vengeance.

The Dark Shire - A Rough Guide

Dark Shire map

click on image for larger view

The area known as the Dark Shire is a confined geographical area. To the west and south lie the Barrier Peaks (as the dark Hin name them), tall, forbidding spires of granite through which many narrow passes wind their way. In the years since their initial confinement, the dark Hin have tried on numerous occasions to follow these passes to their ends, and in so doing find out what lies beyond them. Few have ever returned from such journeys, done in by rockfalls, the extremely low temperatures high up in the mountains, the various predators known to inhabit the range, and starvation. Only one dark Hin ventured into those mountains and returned, but he died soon afterwards of a strange fever that rendered him incoherent. Amid his babblings about ferocious rocs and organised tribes of rock baboons, he claimed that he did see what extends beyond the mountains - a great, unending desert.

Even the foothills of the Barrier Peaks are seldom visited - especially those in the west, though they have been found to contain small veins of silver, tin, and gold. In the western hills, cold winds whip down from the tallest mountains, flattening any vegetation that grows more than a few inches in height. Those few dark Hin who mine the hills do so only during the summer, for in the fall and winter months the weather becomes dangerous, as great gales and thunderstorms batter the hills with freezing rain and hail. Some of the first miners did try to remain in the area year round; the ruins of their meagre homesteads remain today as testament to the vengeful nature of the western Dark Shire. The southern foothills, by comparison, are covered with lush grasses and the occasional stand of evergreen or maple trees. In the summer, herds of mountain goats descend into the hills to graze and mate, and the local goatherds capture some of them to add to their herds. Still, the southern foothills are a fairly rugged land, and most dark Hin prefer the richer plains in the heartland of the Dark Shire.

To the east of the Dark Shire lies the Great Ocean, whose waters are fairly calm around the coasts, but steady become stormier the further east, north, or south one sails. This, and the presence of numerous rocky spires jutting just inches above the waves, makes navigating these waters extremely dangerous. Nearer the coasts, some of the dark Hin have managed to make a living from fishing.

To the north, beyond the forested hills that mark the northernmost extent of the lands claimed by the dark Hin, extends a seemingly endless stretch of pastureland and grassy plains. Called the Empty Steppes by those dark Hin living in the north, it is uninhabited, though some do travel there during the summer to capture the small, but sturdy, steppe ponies known to live there, and to hunt the herds of deer which wander south during that season. Known predators include regular and dire wolves, and in the hills the occasional lynx is seen.

Faced with these seemingly insurmountable barriers, most dark Hin have turned inwards, keeping to themselves in their scattered villages and homesteads - largely centred upon their clans. Owing to their rather antisocial, bitter natures, there are relatively few large settlements in the Dark Shire, since dark Hin of differing clans seldom interact, and each clan controls a fairly large territory for its overall size. Despite this, the dark Hin population has grown considerably in the roughly 1,500 years since their imprisonment. In total, almost 35,000 live in the Dark Shire, their numbers more or less evenly divided among the five clans. Those settlements of significance are listed below.

Bingleyhaven: As the name implies, this village is the main settlement of the Bingleyside clan. The roughly 700 dark Hin who make this fortified village their home cultivate tobacco, grains, and various root vegetables and tubers (such as carrots, turnips, and potatoes), as well as a small number of vinyards. The Bingleyside clan guards its territory jealously - all the lands between the Bingley and Frost Rivers, and the riverbanks all along their frontiers, are patrolled closely. As with most other dark Hin settlements of note, Bingleyhaven contains a Shrine of Vengeance, which is staffed by no less than 15 monks at all times.

Fleggleton: This small coastal village of 420 is home to the mainland branch of the Lynnleyfield clan, which manages to make a living from the sea, and from coastal tracts of farmland which produce a small amount of wheat, corn, and other vegetables. Originally, Fleggleton was one of many Lynnleyfield settlements along the southeastern coast of the Dark Shire, but ongoing rivalries with the Llandoloths forced many of the Lynnleyfields to flee their homes for the relative safety of Hinrock Isle. Aside from impressive wooden watchtowers, and an imposing earthen palisade and ditch, nothing distinguishes Fleggleton from its neighbours.

Harrowtower: This settlement is little more than the dilapidated keep (really a crumbling tower, plus a half dozen outbuildings, surrounded by a moat), and the scattered farmhouses which cluster around it. In all, roughly 140 Shortfellows make their homes here. In earlier times, Harrowtower was poised to become a major waystation for those Shortfellows who wished to settle the Empty Steppes. The failure of those colonies, whether due to the depredations of lynx packs, frequent storms, or more sinister causes, led to a major exodus towards the more settled lands further south. In the many decades since then, Harrowtower has languished is relative obscurity, its original purpose - to guard the northern fringes of Shortfellow lands - largely forgotten. Together with the fortress of Tostleford, Harrowtower marks the northern border of those lands claimed by the dark Hin.

Misty Harbour: This village, situated in a natural harbour on Hinrock Isle, is home to a large number of Lynnleyfields - about 900 in all. What makes this village stand out from its neighbours is that it is surrounded by a formidable stone wall on its landward sides, and a great seawall nearly encircles the harbour. Within its walls can be found a large Shrine of Vengeance, numerous markets, and a great fortress overlooking the village. The harbour itself is busy around the clock, with Lynnleyfield ships bringing in fresh catches of fish, or sailing to Fleggleton to purchase goods not available on Hinrock Isle. Around the village spread numerous vegetable plots and homesteads which feed the populace within Misty Harbour's walls. Dotting the countryside, as well, are fields of barley and hops, which are cultivated and brewed into a passable ale.

Nimbrendabbas: The oldest settlement in the Dark Shire, Nimbrendabbas is also the largest, having almost 6,000 dark Hin living within its walls. This large town is unique in that representatives from all five clans may be found here, although they rarely interact; each clan occupies a "Fifth" (that is, roughly one-fifth of the town), each of which has a gate providing access to the lands outside. The Fifth of the Nimbrendonnor clan is the largest. The only means by which one might enter other Fifths is to enter the Hall of Remembrance, which stands in the centre of town, and pass through there into another section. There are no other means of entering another Fifth, apart from scaling one of the interior walls. The Hall itself stands over the remains of every clan's elders, entombed in catacombs deep underground. It also contains the records of the expulsion of the dark Hin. Traditionally, only clan elders have free access to all Fifths.

The interior walls were constructed around AC 450, in the aftermath of a particularly bloody dispute among the clans concerning which one had rightful ownership over the entire town. Once the rubble had been cleared, the clan elders determined that all clans have a right to live in Nimbrendabbas, but that none should have exclusive right to it. Thus, the walls were erected, some of them cutting through buildings and across streets, and since then the clans have largely kept to themselves. Each Fifth is thus a self-contained community, having its own inns, markets, businesses, and Shrines of Vengeance.

Ningolf: This village, among the southernmost, is the main settlement of the Llandoloth clan. Though the village itself is home to 660 dark Hin, there are numerous farms and homesteads in the surrounding hills and valleys, which bring the regional population up to almost 1,300. Many of the Llandoloths are farmers - growing vegetables and raising sheep and goats - and are thus fairly self-sufficient. There is little incentive for many of them to venture far from home, and few will be seen elsewhere in the Dark Shire, aside from those living in the Llandoloth Fifth in Nimbrendabbas. At the centre of Ningolf is a Shrine of Vengeance, which is always tended by 15-25 monks.

Pindabbath: This village, the largest of those inhabited by the Shortfellows, stands near the fortress-village of Harrowtower, and indeed is connected to it by a wide road - though this is used rarely now. Almost 1,000 dark Hin live within Pindabbath's earthen walls, and many practice various artisan crafts, such as carpentry and glassblowing, while numerous farms and vinyards produce enough foodstuffs and wine to sustain the entire region, and to keep it in relatively good spirits. As a testament to the ongoing feuding with the Bingleyside clan, Pindabbath is well-guarded, and contains four Shrines of Vengeance - each of which is staffed by 20-30 monks, all of whom have pledged their aid in the defence of the village.

Tostleford: This settlement is little more than a guard tower and loose collection of outbuildings, surrounded by an earthen palisade. It is home to roughly 110 Shortfellows, most of whom are the soldiers who staff this fortress. Unlike its more easterly neighbour, Harrowtower, Tostleford is in good repair - in part owing to the continued threat posed by organised tribes of rock baboons, as well as flocks of griffons. Together with its sister fortress, Tostleford marks the northern frontier of the Dark Shire.

Offshore Points of Interest

There are three islands of reasonable size, which are not too distant from the mainland of the Dark Shire, and are known to its inhabitants. They are described below.

Galass Isle: Galass Isle, so named because the discovery of its natural wealth was pure luck to the Lynnleyfield explorers who discovered it, is located in the midst of a rough section of the Great Ocean. It was first discovered almost 400 years ago by dark Hin explorers in search of new lands, who sailed around the island, and then dropped anchor in one of its natural harbours to take on fresh supplies. The island was indeed found to be bountiful, with many species of plant and animal - some of which could not be found in the Dark Shire. After spending many restful weeks there, the dark Hin headed home, intending the share the news of their discovery. The Lynnleyfield clan elders were eager to take control of the island, once they had heard of it, as the Llandoloths had become very aggressive on the mainland, and had seized several coastal villages near Fleggleton, the largest Lynnleyfield settlement in the area. Many dark Hin from those conquered villages and homesteads wished to leave the mainland far behind them, and thus were eager to set sail for Galass Isle, and settle it. Over 300 would-be settlers left Misty Harbour in search of their new home, and have not been heard from since. In the years that followed, expeditions were mounted to locate the island and the missing colonists, and those who returned admitted that no trace of either was to be found.

Hinrock Isle: Separated from the mainland in some places by only a couple of miles of calm water, Hinrock Isle is home to most of the Lynnleyfield clan. Though the only settlement of significance there is Misty Harbour, there are numerous hamlets and farms dotting the south and east coasts of the island. The southern third of Hinrock Isle is mainly clear pastureland, broken by the occasional forested hill. Towards the north, the land becomes more hilly, and the vegetation thickens. Only a handful of dark Hin live in the north, most of them being woodcutters and hunters. The northern woodlands are largely unexplored, and many strange, dangerous creatures have been spotted in its darker corners.

Leerhar Isle: To most dark Hin, this island exists only in legend. It first appeared on navigational charts roughly 600 years ago, after one adventurous member of the Lynnleyfield clan, seeking new lands for his people to claim, washed up on the shores of Hinrock Isle - alone. He told an amazing tale of encountering a violent storm east of the island, in which many of his crew perished. Those that survived managed to guide their battered ship northwards, out of the storm, and near a strange, hilly island covered with tall grasses and isolated stands of oak. Surprised at their mysterious discovery, they named the place Leerhar Isle (Leerhar being the Lalor word for "mystery"). They pulled into a large bay in the middle of the island, and spent several weeks repairing their vessel and restocking their supplies. The weather was mild, and fruits and nuts were plentiful; though there was no animal life whatsoever to be found there. The greatest mystery of the island, was the presence of dozens of worn granite pillars putting from the highest hills. None of the dark Hin visitors could read the faint glyphs carved into their surfaces, not could they determine who built them, or how long they had been standing. Eager to share their news, the dark Hin sailed for home once their ship had been repaired, though a sudden storm dashed the vessel to pieces not far from Hinrock Isle. Since that time, many Lynnleyfields have sailed eastwards to locate the island, but few have ever returned, and of those who have, none have found Leerhar Isle.

Using the Dark Shire

This article was intended to provide the DM with a means to add a little twist to the way Hin could be portrayed in a campaign. Traditionally, Hin are presented as being wholesome, good-natured people who enjoy the comforts of home. This is certainly fine for most campaigns, but it may tend to produce a rather tranquil setting where large numbers of such Hin are involved - such as the Five Shires. The dark Hin provide one potential solution - introduce a subgroup of Hin who are the very antithesis of everything their stereotypical counterparts stand for. They are nasty, deceitful, conniving little buggers who would certainly not think twice about fighting unfairly, blowing smoke rings in people's faces, or about robbing their opponents blind and leaving them at the side of some isolated road to die. Allowing a few dark Hin to escape into the Five Shires, for example, would be a wonderful way to spice up local events for a little while, and to keep your little players busy. That said, there are a number of ways in which this material could be presented in a campaign:

The Serious Way
This method portrays the dark Hin as threatening adversaries in a campaign - especially one that revolves around Hin PCs. The dark Hin are evil people, and they are careful and strategic in their plotting (most of the time), hoping to avenge themselves against their Mystaran cousins. Players, if they find themselves in the Dark Shire, will have to think strategically in order to fight the enemy, and hopefully return to Mystara. They could spend months, in terms of campaign time, stranded in this place. In combat, the dark Hin are vicious, but not ridiculous - providing the PCs with challenging, serious enemies. The emphasis should be placed on finding out why the dark Hin are stranded here, the nature of their imprisonment, and what must be done to ensure survival...and escape.

The "You Little Bastard!" Way
This method is slightly more tongue-in-cheek than the former. DMs should play up the more obvious negative aspects of the dark Hin, to the extent that they are basically caricatures. Dark Hin can laugh maniacally at their opponents while twirling wispy moustaches, bite their opponents in sensitive portions of the anatomy during battle (and hang on), and perform outrageous combat manoeuvres (imagine a dark Hin monk back-flipping into the room, screaming a battle cry, and then twirling like a top in mid air - bashing a hero's skull repeatedly with his heels). This is a setting in which extreme actions on the part of the enemy are possible, but should not be overly deadly (this is supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, after all). Basically, imagine a mixture of every bad martial arts movie, slapstick violence, typecast villains, cheesy lines, gory deaths, and such exceedingly high level of player aggravation that the players scream, "You little bastards!!!!" at the dark Hin, and then indulge in some extreme violence of their own. Players should feel justified in massacring large numbers of dark Hin ("They had it coming, the little buggers!"), though experience point rewards should be slight (unless you, as the DM, make the scenario more dangerous). Overall, this sort of usage of the Dark Shire, and the dark Hin, should provide the players with some diversionary entertainment.

As a final note on this topic, owing to the small size, geographically, of the Dark Shire, it could be inserted into any campaign world without much difficulty. This may be a benefit to those DMs who would rather not have to bother too much about adventuring between dimensions.

DM Notes - Dark Hin

Since it is more than likely that your players, should they find themselves in the Dark Shire, will do battle with the dark Hin, generic statistics for them have been provided:

Dark Hin

AC: 7 (or 5, see below)
HD: 1
MV: 90' (30')
Attacks: 1 bite or 1 weapon
Damage: 1d4 or by weapon
No. Appearing: 3d6 (5d8)
Save As: H1
Morale: 7 or 10 (see below)
Treasure Type: (Q) C
Intelligence: 11
Alignment: Chaotic
XP Value: 10

Dark Hin are the sole sentient inhabitants of the Dark Shire, and may be found anywhere within its borders. They conduct their lives very much like their better-known Mystaran cousins, the halflings - the main difference being their generally foul natures; though they reserve true hatred for their Mystaran counterparts (they must make a morale check at a -4 penalty when meeting one, otherwise they will attack). In combat, dark Hin attack as 1st level fighters (being able to use appropriately-sized weapons, or biting their opponents), receiving a bonus of +1 to hit using missile weapons, and a -2 to AC when fighting larger than man-sized creatures. Additionally, they have a 20% chance of hiding themselves. For every 10 dark Hin there is one leader (who fights as a 3 HD monster) who raises their morale to 10, which is otherwise 7.

Dark Hin Monk

AC: 5 (or 3, see below)
HD: 2*
MV: 90' (30')
Attacks: 1 bite or 2 punches or 1 kick or power-attack
Damage: 1d4 or 1d4+1/1d4+1 or 1d6 or 1d6+1x4
No. Appearing: 2d4 (3d6)
Save As: H2
Morale: 8 or 11 (see below)
Treasure Type: (Q) C
Intelligence: 12
Alignment: Chaotic
XP Value: 25

Dark Hin monks are those dark Hin who have taken vows to propagate the philosophy of Vengeance, and to train those of their people who would take up arms against the Mystaran Hin. All monks - male or female - shave their heads and dress in shapeless red robes, and are cloistered in the many Shrines of Vengeance which dot the Dark Shire. Much of their time is spent practising the various battle stances, sparring, meditating, and lecturing those dark Hin who visit the Shrines for enlightenment. In battle, they attack as 2nd level fighters, and may bite, punch, or kick their opponents, or they may expend additional energy in a single "power-attack". To do so, the monk must concentrate for one entire round; they cannot evade any blows directed towards them (attackers get a +2 bonus to hit), and if they are hit during that time, they must start over. Having spent the round in concentration, a monk may make a "power-attack" against an opponent. This consists of making a running leap, and assaulting the intended victim with four powerful spinning kicks - each rolled separately. Monks may also attempt to block one unarmed attack against them every round (treat as a Weapon Mastery "deflect" option), or dodge any attack once per round (AC is reduced to 0 against one attack). For every 20 monks, there is one "Vengeful Brother", a grand monk who has 5* Hit Dice and is worth 300 XP, and who raises the monks' morale (normally 8) to 11.

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Copyright (c) 2000, Geoff Gander. Used by permission. All rights reserved.