Black Dog

A black dog (pl. black dogs, also known as barghest(s)) is a type of fae. Always ominous figures, they are portents of death.


Physiology

In their natural shape, black dogs are (if the name wasn't enough of a clue) large black dogs, typically with huge teeth and claws. They are known for their big glowing eyes, which are often red but sometimes yellow or green. These hounds can vary in size from the size of a natural dog to as large as a horse. While in that shape, black dogs can become invisible at will. Black dogs can take a human shape, and often do for convenience when they aren't hunting.

Like all fae, black dogs are deathly allergic to iron. Iron reacts strongly with the magic that is an integral part of their anatomy, and causes a violent allergic reaction in the form of a burn. This starts out resembling a rapid and intense sunburn, but prolonged contact with iron can cause any fae's flesh to blacken and die.

Other than that, black dogs are as immortal as any true fae - they will not die of natural causes. They reach physical maturity within their first century, and from then on they do not age. Black dogs are not particularly family-oriented, but occasionally they will take a mate, and have a litter of anywhere from one to seven offspring. They also sometimes cross with púcaí shapeshifted into dog form.

Black dogs are carnivorous, and will eat just about any creature they can hunt, including other fae. They are among the few fey not particularly swayed by sweets and sugar.


Magical Characteristics

All fae are capable of glamour - an elaborate illusion that will fool all five senses (at least for a mortal) - but black dogs can generally only manage small adjustments to their person (enough to hide the true color of their eyes and their true size). By the same token, black dogs are capable of seeing through most glamour. Their own glamour can be defeated in the usual ways: even if they can fool another fae's eyes, it is nearly impossible for them to fool another fae's sense of touch. Even mortals can see through glamour, if they have a special ointment rubbed on their eyelids, have pure iron touching their skin, or turn their clothes inside out.

Like all fae, black dogs are incredibly attuned with nature - they can move through the woods without cracking a single twig or disturbing a single leaf.

No fae can tell an outright lie. They can bend the truth, and they can talk in circles around the truth, but if they actually SAY the sky is red, it had better be red, or they're considered an oathbreaker and their magic (if not their life) is forfeit. On that note, all fae can sense magic in their vicinity, usually by feeling or seeing it. Black dogs are also largely immune to magical assault.


Society and Habitat

Black dogs are trooping fairies, and can be either Unseelie or Seelie. They are the enforcers of oaths among the fae - any fae considered to be an oathbreaker will have black dogs on their trail, and they never lose a scent. Although black dogs primarily hunt in the Otherworld, on Earth they are drawn to the dead and dying, and sometimes appear to ghosts or those who are soon to die.