Campaign of the Month: May 2009
Forgotten Realms: The Savage North
The Blackhands are a band of thugs and bandits who are characterized by the black gloves they wear. They are led from an unknown stronghold in the Spine of the World by a man known as Lucan and are little more than criminals who use their power and organization to get what they want.
As far as anyone in the North can tell, the Blackhands began as a group of marauders that roamed the Icewind Dale region. However, nearly a decade ago something changed, and the Blackhands changed from being bandits and outlaws who barely managed to work together, instead becoming a well-organized mercenary force. Though the Blackhands retain many of the same methods that they used when they were nomadic highwaymen, the organization has become far more organized in recent times.
Three years ago, the Blackhands began seizing various settlements throughout the North, claiming them for their own. Much of the Ten Towns fell under Blackhand rule, and they cut off the entire Icewind Dale region from the Sword Coast by controlling the mountain passes through the Spine of the World (such as Frostford Pass). The Blackhands also seized control of towns at the base of the Spine, such as Grateheim, though larger cities (like Mirabar) managed to keep the Blackhands out. In a short amount of time, though, the Blackhands managed to gain control of most of the settlements in Icewind Dale, and had plagued the folk of the North ever since.
That all began to change in recent months. A band of adventurers liberated the towns of Grateheim and Brynn Shander, and drove the Blackhands out of Spellgard Keep. When a band of Blackhands was defeated by orcs in the mountains near the Sea of Moving Ice and driven out of Targos, questions about an end of Blackhand tyranny became that much more valid. Though the Blackhands still control several fortresses in the Spine of the World as well as others of the Ten Towns, the people of the North are finally starting to fight back in force.
The Blackhands have a loose organization, owing to their roots as bandits. The organization is led by a mysterious man named Lucanfrom a fortress somewhere within the Spine of the World. Below Lucan are several Lieutenants (Andrez, Azard, and Thoran were all Lieutenants before their deaths). Each lieutenant in turn has a small number of Captains under their command, and the rest of the Blackhands have no formal title.
Goals and Operations
The Blackhands’ motives seem to be, on the surface, to have their way with the people of the North, and enjoy the fruits of their oppression. However, darker plots have been revealed over time. Thus far, adventurers have learned that Lucan has been plotting to overthrow King Obould Many-Arrows XVII and seize control of the orc kingdom for himself. To do so, he sent his Lieutenants out to seize control of the various oracles, prophets, and seers of the North to prevent Obould from being tipped off to his plans. He had Azard craft special masks that disguise his men as orcs, and has used them to infiltrate his kingdom. Given their recent visions, it seems as though the Blackhands are taking control of the Kingdom of Many-Arrows, and may be expanding their reach to the East and South rather than trying to reclaim lands lost in the North.