Mountain Ghosts - Dwarf Ninjas

by Wolfgang Baur, Dragon #348

Above the tree line, in the deep alpine snows, lies a series of hidden fortresses not found on merchant maps. These eagle's nests are home to a secretive sect of dwarves who work in silence and who always enforce their oaths. Assassins, ninjas, and shadowdancers among the stones, they are the mountain ghosts, dwarven masters of stealth and deception.

Most dwarves are straight-talking, hard-fighting, ale-swilling fellows, the sort who appreciate a stout shield wall or a well-built siege engine. But every society has some black sheep, and among the dwarves, those include the mountain ghosts, a group rightly feared by all sensible people. Unlike many assassins or ninjas, they are not driven by spiritual or arcane techniques. Instead, they rely on stealth and powerful equipment.

Mountain Ghost Weapons

Mountain ghosts have developed the following weapons.

Double Axehead: The mountain ghosts jealously guard their technique in throwing these thin, double-bladed axeheads with no handles. The weapons have better range and damage than simple hand axes.

Exploding Crossbow Bolts: These powerful and extremely dangerous alchemical bolts contain reactive agents that explode in a 1-foot radius when they strike. The explosion deals 2d12 points of fire damage. A creature struck by the bolt strikes can make a DC 20 Reflex save for half; those caught in the explosion can make a DC 15 Reflex save to negate the damage.
The formula for exploding crossbow bolts is unknown outside the strongholds of the mountain ghosts, but they are sometimes sold to "reliable" allies for five times the listed cost, typically in small lots of no more than four to six bolts at a time.
Because of their awkward shape and weight, an exploding crossbow bolt can only be fired from a heavy crossbow and its range increment is reduced to 3/4 normal.

Ghost Spike: These masterwork shortswords, forged with techniques held secret by the mountain ghost clan, all possess individual names. Each weapon is typically made from silver or cold iron, and its form resembles a short sword with a spike in place of the pommel. Ghost spike names include the Dwarven equivalents of Firetooth, Greyjoy, Whiteheart, and Widow.

A ghost spike is a double weapon. You can fight with it as if fighting with two weapons, but if you do, you incur all the normal attack penalties associated with fighting with two weapons, just as if you were using a one-handed weapon and a light weapon. Both ends deal piercing damage. You can use either head as the primary weapon. The other head is the off-hand weapon.

Ninjas and assassins are automatically proficient with ghost spikes; other classes treat them as exotic weapons.

Mountain Chain: Comprised of three balls linked by stout chain, a mountain chain resembles a set of bolas. You must fire a mountain chain from a light or heavy crossbow.

The chain is made in such a way that it can be fired from a normal crossbow without penalty.

You can use this weapon to make a ranged trip attack against an opponent. You can't be tripped during your own trip attempt when using a set of mountain chain. It deals only nonlethal damage.

Because of the mountain chain's awkward shape, a crossbow firing it has its range increment reduced to 1/2 normal.

Repeating Blowgun: This blowgun includes a sliding mechanism that resembles a six-note pan pipe. Each pipe is preloaded with a blowgun dart, allowing the user to fire up to two blowgun darts per round rather than the usual one per round (assuming the user has the ability to make at least two attacks in a round).

The repeating blowgun holds six blowgun darts. As long as it holds darts, you can reload it by pushing the cartridge up as a free action and take a second shot. Loading a new cartridge of six darts requires a full-round action that provokes attacks of opportunity.

You can fire a repeating blowgun with one hand but you can only fire one per round. You must use two hands to load a new cartridge.


Not nearly as nimble as other ninjas, mountain ghosts must rely more readily on armor to see them through a battle.

Lead-Lined Breastplate: A thin layer of soft lead added to the interior of this breastplate (and often to a skullcap as well) helps protect the mountain ghosts from divinations and mind-affecting enchantments. This armor provides a +1 circumstance bonus on saving throws made to resist such spells.

Twisted Silk: Rare and valuable, twisted silk armor uses silk wound around strands of mithral to generate protection with very little weight. It superficially resembles a very well made form of padded armor but offers much greater defense. The silk keeps it silent and the twisted strands are surprisingly durable

Alchemical Items

Not every trick mountain ghosts employ relates to the attack: they possess secret arts of alchemy, healing, and concealment as well.

Alchemical Silence: When applied to boots and armor, this noise-dampening oil provides a +2 alchemical bonus on Move Silently checks. You can throw a flask of alchemical silence as a splash weapon). Treat this attack as a ranged touch attack with a range increment of 10 feet.

A creature struck by a thrown flask of alchemical silence cannot speak louder than a whisper, and indeed some of his words become completely muffled. If thrown on a spellcaster, the target suffers a 20% chance of spell failure when casting any spell with a verbal component for 2 rounds. The creature, however, does gain the benefits of the alchemical silence as detailed above.

Exotic WeaponsCostDmg (S)Dmg (M)CriticalRange
One-Handed Melee Weapon
Ghost spike320 gp1d4/1d41d6/1d619-20/x2/x3-2 lb.Piercing
Ranged Weapons
Blowgun, repeating100 gp1d21d3x240 ft.1 lb.Piercing
Double axehead30 gp2d32d4x220 ft.2 lb.Slashing
Exploding bolt60 gp2d122d12-3/42 lb.Fire
Mountain chain25 gp---1/22 lb.-
Check Penalty
Arcane Spell
Failure Chance
(30 feet)(20 feet)
Light armor
Twisted silk400 gp+3+705%30 ft.20 ft.15 lb.
Medium armor
Lead breastplate200 gp+5+3-425%20 ft.15 ft.35 lb.
Alchemical Item
Alchemical silence350 gp1/2 lb.

Races of Faerûn
Character Creation