Ice: Leader of the Dark Hunters
The Queen of Air and Darkness honors the most skillful hunters of the Unseelie Court by making them members of her Dark Hunt, also called the Wild Hunt. A fey known only by the name Ice leads these impressive hunters. Who is he and why does he serve the Queen of Air and Darkness?
Few notice the silent elf who often stands in a quiet corner of the great hall when the Queen of Air and Darkness hold court. Any courtier whose eyes light on the gaunt man quickly look away, unwilling to meet the flat, gray eyes of Ice, the leader of the Dark Hunt.
Ice says little, but his gray eyes see much. He silently observes the queen and her court, his gaze penetrating and disquieting. Even an innocent person with nothing to hide would feel uncomfortable under his assessing stare. But at the Unseelie Court, there are no innocents and everyone has much to hide.
Quiet as falling snow, Ice can slip by an opponent unseen and unheard. He often appears unexpectedly beside a noble fey with a message or a summons from the queen. Sometimes, fey nobles deep in what they believe is a private conversation will see him pointedly step from the shadows and smile at them before he disappears again.
His presence at court generates almost as much speculation as it does fluster. Even so, only minimal facts are known about Ice, the queen's current favorite dark hunter. Because of his high standing with the queen, many seek to find secrets from his past or personal attachments with which to gain hold over him.
Orphaned by an orc raid on his parent's tribe early in life, the elven child I'ckle was captured and sold as a slave. For many years he was one of the nondescript servants of a merchant in a port city, surrounded by the noise, bustle, and filth of this crowded environment. His master took little note of the quiet, unobtrusive, but eminently observant boy. When a violent dockside altercation turned into a full-scale riot, much of the port town burned, including the manor house where I'ckle served. In the confusion, I'ckle managed to escape. From there he made his way back to the forest where he had been born. For a time, he lived among elves that had resettled the area, but, though he dwelled with others, he felt separate and apart. He spent most of his time alone with nature, learning to stalk and hunt.
Once he'd honed his skills, he shortened his name to "Ice" and started hiring himself out as a tracker. It mattered not who or what he hunted, or whom he hunted for, as long as his employer of the moment paid well. Ice was very good at his profession. Nothing and no one he sought evaded him. Soon the challenges of pursuing thieves, finding a prince's kidnapper, or kidnapping a prince lost their appeal. Just at the point where life started to seem tedious, Ice encountered the Dark Hunt pursing a half-fiend medusa for sport during a festival hunts.
Intrigued by the thought of stalking creatures across dimensions and planes, Ice agreed to join the fey. He ended up bringing down the quarry, seeing through all of its disguises and forms, and trapping it live to bring back to the queen. Since then, he has been a part of the court of the Queen of Air and Darkness, offering her his allegiance. In return, the queen made him one of her elite dark hunters.
Some courtiers whisper that perhaps Ice is the queen's newest consort. Others believe it is solely his skill at the hunt, one of the queen's favorite pastimes, that has made him such a favorite. Either way, none speak too loudly, for Ice's hearing is as good as his eyesight, and no fey wishes to become the quarry of the next Wild Hunt.
Ice: Male elf Rogue 7/Ranger 3/Dark Hunter 10; CR 20; Medium-size humanoid; HD 7d6+14 plus 3d10+6 plus 10d6+20; hp 115; Init +10; Spd 60 ft.; AC 27, touch 18, flat-footed 27; Atk +22/+17/+12 melee (1d8+9/19-20, +3 longsword), or +22/+17/+12 ranged (1d8+1/x3, oathbow); SA sneak attack +4d6; SQ elf traits, evasion, favored enemy (fey +1), low-light vision, traps, uncanny dodge (Dex bonus to AC, can't be flanked); AL N; SV Fort +14, Ref +19, Will +8; Str 18, Dex 23, Con 14, Int 14, Wis 14, Cha 8.
Skills and Feats: Diplomacy +1, Gather Information +9, Hide +36, Intimidate +9, Knowledge (nature) +19, Listen +24, Move Silently +34, Ride (horse) +19, Search +4, Sense Motive +20, Spot +24, Wilderness Lore +23; Alertness, Blind-Fight, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Improved Initiative, Mobility, Spring Attack, Track.
Elf Traits: Ice is immune to magic sleep spells and effects. He has a +2 racial bonus on saves against enchantment spells or effects. He is entitled to a Search check when within 5 feet of a secret or concealed door as though actively looking for it. Ice also has a +2 racial bonus on Listen, Spot, and Search checks (already figured into the statistics given above).
Evasion (Ex): If exposed to any effect that normally allows a character to attempt a Reflex saving throw for half damage, Ice takes no damage with a successful saving throw.
Discern Location (Sp): Once per day, Ice can use discern location as the spell (caster level 10th).
Fast Mount (Su): A dark hunter can spur his mount to speeds faster than the norm for its kind by +10 feet when wearing no barding (and not carrying a heavy load). At 5th level, the speed increases by an additional +10 feet (to +20 feet), and at 8th level, the speed increases again by an additional +10 feet (to +30 feet). Thus, a light war horse ridden by an 8th-level dark hunter moves at a speed of 90 ft.
Fast Movement (Ex): Ice has a speed faster than the norm for his race by +30 feet when wearing no armor, light armor, or medium armor (and not carrying a heavy load).
Favored Enemy: Ice has selected fey as a favored enemy. He gains a +1 bonus on his Bluff, Listen, Sense Motive, Spot, and Wilderness Lore checks when using these skills against this type of creature. He gets the same bonus to weapon damage rolls against creatures of this type. He also gets the damage bonus with ranged weapons if the target is within 30 feet. The bonus doesn't apply to damage against creatures that are immune to critical hits.
Freedom of Movement (Su): For a total time per day of 10 rounds, Ice can act normally regardless of magical effects that impede movement (similar to the effects of the spell freedom of movement). This effect occurs automatically as soon as it applies, lasts until it runs out or is no longer needed, and can operate multiple times per day (up to a total of 10 rounds).
Scent (Su): Ice can detect approaching enemies, sniff out hidden foes, and track by sense of smell. He can detect opponents within 30 feet by sense of smell. If the opponent is upwind, the range increases to 60 feet; if downwind, it drops to 15 feet. When a dark hunter detects a scent, the exact location is not revealed -- only its presence somewhere within range. The dark hunter can take a move action to note the direction of the scent. Whenever the dark hunter comes within 5 feet of the source, he knows the source's location.
A dark hunter can track by scent, making a Wilderness Lore check to find or follow a track. The typical DC for a fresh trail is 10 (no matter what kind of surface holds the scent). This DC increases or decreases depending on how strong the quarry's odor is, the number of creatures, and the age of the trail. For each hour that the trail is cold, the DC increases by 2. The ability otherwise follows the rules for the Track feat. Creatures tracking by scent ignore the effect of surface conditions and poor visibility.
Dark Hunter Spells Known: (4/4/3/3; base save DC 12 + spell level; spell failure chance 10% due to mithral shirt): 1st -- expeditious retreat, mount, spider climb, true strike; 2nd -- endurance, hold person, locate object, pass without trace; 3rd -- dispel magic, haste, hold monster, see invisibility; 4th -- dimension door, improved invisibility, locate creature, sending.
Possessions: +5 mithral shirt [26,000 gp], oathbow [27,875 gp], +3 longsword [18,315 gp], gloves of Dexterity +6 [36,000 gp], belt of giant Strength +4 [36,000], periapt of Wisdom +4 [16,000 gp], boots of elvenkind [2,000], cloak of elvenkind [2,000], ring of protection +2 [8,000 gp], rod of enemy detection [23,500 gp], bead of force [2,000 gp],medallion of thoughts [12,000 gp], necklace of fireballs (Type VII) [9,150 gp], potion of cure serious wounds [750 gp], potion of fly [750 gp].
About the Authors
Gwendolyn F. M. Kestrelis an editor for Wizards of the Coast's Roleplaying Games R&D department. Recent credits include editingFaiths and Pantheons,Oriental Adventures, andMagic of Faerūn, and designing part of theBook of Challenges. She's a frequent contributor to the Wizards of the Coast website. Also, check out the website she created for her fiancé, Andy Collins, at www.andycollins.net.
Faith M. Price accidentally fell into the adventure game industry nine years ago. Since then she has worked for two game manufacturers, and has written for numerous magazines. She currently lives in Washington with two RPG designers and two cats, all of whom require regular feeding and attention.