The Pool of the Black One – Part Two

This is the second creature from Robert E. Howard’s The Pool of the Black One (well, sort of a creature).  For the summary of the story as well as the black one thug and the voice of silence, click here.
Spoiler Alert!  All of these Hyborian age posts are going to be filled with spoilers.  From the summary, to the monster stats they are going to ruin any surprises as to what the monster is, when they pop up in the story and how and why they are killed.  You’ve been warned.

Emerald Pool of Sacrifice

The emerald pool of sacrifice plays an important role in the vile society of the black ones, both as a focal point for their infernal religion and as a torture device for their depraved amusement.  The opaque, green fluid that fills the pool is suffused with anti-life.  It strips away the life essence of those immersed in the water so violently that it leaves the body of the victim a small, compressed statuette with the consistency of petrified bone. 
In their weird cities of green glass, the black ones spend generations collecting these grisly trophies.  It is unknown what role they play in the creatures’ religion, but the black ones guard the remains of their victims with zeal.


There is a moment of horror in the story, when Conan realizes that the rows of statuettes were once people, which I thought would work perfectly for a D&D encounter.  Petrification is a staple of the game, but it’s hard to get that feeling of dawning dread anymore – the medusa’s garden filled with statuary is cool, but a cliché that players have come to expect.  Despite the story being as old as it is, I thought its titular pool could add an interesting twist to petrification.
I made the pool peter out as it ran out of targets, which is counter to the story, but I wanted it to be useful for the widest variety of encounters.  Alternatively, you could have the pool trigger a skill challenge after 10 rounds, simulating the PCs flight from the city of the black ones (the whole ‘running from the wave of lava’ thing).  Of course, if you wanted this to be a plot point, you’d have to make sure that a creature sacrificed itself during combat, which, depending on how it was handled could seem overly heavy handed by some players.

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