|I prefer to think of myself as a super-advanced flying stealth dinosaur! |
Blackwing is the raven familiar of Vaarsuvius. Vaarsuvius treated Blackwing as something of an afterthought for a long time before he became a more permanent fixture around V. It was due to this that Blackwing received his Common name from Haley. Since V's change of heart after the Soul Splice, Blackwing has served as a confidant and friend to V, helping the elf to carry on despite feeling great guilt over the Familicide.
Blood Runs in the Family (bonus materials)
When Vaarsuvius was an apprentice wizard studying under Master Aarindarius back in the Elven Lands, a talking raven knocked on the chamber door, seeking refuge from a rainstorm outside. Vaarsuvius originally wondered if the bird was a polymorphed wizard, and agreed to let the raven wait out the storm if it stayed silent. However, the raven instead proved increasingly distracting to V's magical study, asking endless random questions, and stayed inside even after the storm passed, proving to be a nuisance to V day after day.
Upon returning, Master Aarindarius explained what happened: Vaarsuvius's first wizard level attracted a magical familiar through the door. The raven was surprised by this, asking "Are you sure?" Since then, V ignored the bird's voice as much as possible; apparently, eventually the familiar gave up and started communicating only in caws instead.
Dungeon Crawling Fools
Blackwing appears only once in the Dungeon of Dorukan, to help V attempt a spot check (which he fails). This began a running gag, parodying a common D&D oversight, that Blackwing's existence is forgotten until a time when his services are required—when he poofs magically into existence.
No Cure for the Paladin Blues
Blackwing reappears during the party's sidequest to the Wooden Forest. Since Vaarsuvius hadn't bothered to name it, Haley Starshine dubbed him Blackwing when he was sent to spot Elan, captive in a bandit camp. However he was hit by arrows.
Vaarsuvius understood Blackwing well enough to pass on his request for morphine. It was at that point that the raven expressed his view that speaking the Common Tongue was demeaning. He later clarified that he only detests speaking in common to V who never showed him any respect.
When V was turned into a lizard, Blackwing did not recognize his master and attempted to catch and eat them.
War and XPs
Blackwing was the last to ask a question of the Oracle of the Sunken Valley; what it asked is unknown, but the Oracle recommended that he "try gingko bilboa [sic]", which likely indicates that Blackwing wants Vaarsuvius to remember his existence more consistently.
When Vaarsuvius summoned the familiar to defend them against a death knight, Blackwing immediately deserted the wizard (Saying "Screw THIS, you're on your own Mammal" causing V to inquire as to whether Blackwing became a chicken without them noticing).
Don't Split the Party
When Vaarsuvius was defeated in their attempt to use the powers of the Soul Splice to defeat Xykon, V used Blackwing as part of their and O-Chul's effort to destroy the lich sorcerer's phylactery by dropping it into the Snarl's rift. Contrary to his previous displays of cowardice, Blackwing rose to the occasion by bravely flying to the rift while Vaarsuvius and O-Chul attempted to distract Xykon. However, just as he reached the rift, Blackwing was stunned by what he saw inside, allowing Xykon to catch up. The Explosive Runes spell that Vaarsuvius had cast on the phylactery prevented Xykon from retrieving it, but it missed the rift and fell into the Azure City sewers, meaning that Xykon was only temporarily (though significantly) inconvenienced.
While sailing to the Western Continent, Blackwing explained (now willing to speak in common) to Vaarsuvius that what he saw through the rift was a whole other planet inside the planet, a concept which completely mystified both of them.
Blood Runs in the Family
In Sandsedge, the other members of the Order of the Stick completely forgot about Blackwing, to the point that they believed that Blackwing, who was on Vaarsuvius' shoulder, was an illusion—including Haley who was the one to name the bird (though Haley was lying to screw with V).
In the wake of Vaarsuvius's battle with Xykon in Azure City, the wizard's more humble attitude led Blackwing to begin speaking Common and reconciling with his master.
In Girard's Pyramid, when Vaarsuvius is confronted with their crimes against humanity due to the unintended consequences of the Familicide spell, V flees into the tunnels beneath the pyramid to die. It is Blackwing, the loyal familiar, who talks V back into action despite the tremendous weight of guilt.
During the ensuing fight with the Empire of Blood and the party's flight from Windy Canyon, Blackwing saves Bloodfeast, now polymorphed into a small lizard, and brings the animal aboard the Mechane. The fight with the Vector Legion continued aboard the airship, at which time the raven, ever covetous of shiny objects, took the opportunity to steal a magic Ioun Stone from the psion Laurin Shattersmith.
Blackwing employed a gnome Artificer in Tinkertown to craft the Ioun (identified as an Orange Prism) into a bracelet that he could wear around his foot. The craft of the gnome allows the magic of the stone to be used by Vaarsuvius when it is worn by their familiar.
During the Northern Godsmoot, Blackwing and the other animals of the group all slept together in Vaarsuvius' cabin. It was there that Gontor Hammerfell, who had been raised by "Durkon" as a vampire, snuck aboard the Mechane to steal Vaarsuvius' teleportation orb. Blackwing put up a heroic resistance to the powerful vampire cleric, motivated by the shiny nature of the orb, but he and the other animals, Mr. Scruffy, Bloodfeast, and Little Whiskers were no match for the undead. He summoned a swarm of rats to overwhelm the animals. Blackwing almost succumbed to the onslaught, only to be saved by Mr. Scruffy. With the cat holding off the rats, Blackwing made use of his master's skills to read an arcane scroll. However, lacking any real arcane ability, he (intentionally) misread the scroll, setting off a magical explosion which destroyed the rats, leaving the animals wounded but alive.
Blackwing accompanied Vaarsuvius, Haley, and Belkar when they cleared Passage Pass of the clan of frost giants.
Blackwing was with the party in Firmament when they battled with "Durkon" and his minions in the banquet hall. There, he tried to free Beklar of his domination by using novelty sunglasses to interrupt the vampire's gaze. Unfortunately this had no effect, and Belkar subsequently stabbed him, leaving Blackwing unconscious on the ground.
Personality and Traits
Initially, Blackwing had little to no personality, merely existing as a joke about familiars. Over time, more details are revealed about him, namely his refusal to speak common. He also shows some cowardly tendencies, as he testifies against the Order in their trial and almost immediately abandoned Vaarsuvius against a death knight (though in his defense, Vaarsuvius intended for him to fight the death knight, certain death for the familiar, while V escaped). At the same time, he was willing to aid V in his fight against Xykon, flying the phylactery to rift and would have succeeded in destroying it if he hadn't been distracted by what he saw in the rift.
It is only after V's humbling that we really get to see Blackwing's personality. Once he begins regularly offering V advice on his actions and reminds V of the elf's failings, like how poor a mate V has acted in the past.
He has also proven to be quite clever, as he quickly sees through Qarr's motives and manages to trick the imp several times over.
Despite his enhanced intelligence, Blackwing is not above certain stereotypical raven behaviors, namely an attraction to shiny objects, which he calls glittery. He has been infrequently distracted by shiny things, causing him to lose focus. He also gets delighted at the prospect of Laurin fighting V, eagerly chanting, "Caster fight!" throughout their duel.
He greatly identifies with dinosaurs, going as far as to refer to himself as 'A Super Stealth Flying Dinosaur', saves Bloodfeast the Extreme-inator and tries to get his autograph (which Belkar mistakes for an attempt to eat the polymorphed Allosaur).
Powers and Abilties
- Blackwing has the base abilities of a common raven
- As a familiar Blackwing has the following additional powers and abilities:
- Grants V +3 to Appraise checks
- Treated as a 16 HD creature, has hit points equal to half of Vaarsuius' total (approximately 20 hp)
- Base attack bonus +8/+3, uses Dex modifier for attacks (+2)
- Uses V's saving throws unless his base raven saving throw is better
- Uses V's skills
- Natural armor adjustment +8 (AC 22)
- Intelligence of 13
- Grants V the Alertness feat
- Improved Evasion
- Share spell effects cast by V on themself
- Empathic Link with V up to one mile
- Can deliver touch spells for Vaarsuvius
- Can communicate with V (later expanded to be able to speak Common generally)
- Can communicate with other birds
- Spell resistance +21
- V can scry on Blackwing once per day as if casting the Scrying spell
- Bracelet with Orange Prism Ioun Stone: Blackwing stole this Ioun stone from Laurin Shattersmith during the caster fight with Vaarsuvius. He had it fashioned into a bracelet for his foot by a gnome artificer in Tinkertown. The item grants +1 effective caster level to all of V's spells.
- Wand: While chasing Mr. Scruffy, Blackwing was in the possession of a wand of unknown function.
- Blackwing also has in his possession: sunglasses, a bauble, a sombrero, and a fake beard and mustache.
- Comic #797, "Bird Brained"
- Blood Runs in the Family, "Quoth the Familiar" bonus story
- Comic #3, "See Spot Spot"
- Comic #154, "One Bird with Two Dozen Arrows"
- Comic #155, "Time is On My Side"
- Comic #178, "The Early Bird Catches the Wizard"
- Comic 271, "The Prosecution's Case"
- Comic #331, "For the Future"
- Comic #440, "Flew the Coop"
- Comic 659, "Flight of the Phylactery"
- Comic #660, "Lucky Breaks"
- Comic 672, "A Familiar Conclusion"
- Comic #967, "Craft Wondrous Bauble"
- Comic #750, "Making Up for Lost Time"
- Comic #1119, "The Fighting's So Bright"
- Comic #679, "Oh, Right, That Other Problem..."
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