Traven Blackdagger was a bandit leader of the Sword Coast North in the late 15th century DR. He and his brother Malus Blackdagger had joint command of the Blackdagger Bandits in the late 1470s DR, and were the most successful and notorious bandits of the area at the time.
The Blackdagger brothers were ambitious and ruthless, and had a knack for spotting a good opportunity and a willingness to seize it. They apparently made a pact with the god Bane, the Black Lord, that they believed would bring them power, as evidenced by their possession of an annotated The Doctrine of Discord. They also fancied themselves to be pirate lords and lived as such in their lairs.
Hailing from Luskan some time in the 1400s DR, Malus and Traven Blackdagger started out as a pair of penniless brothers. It was unclear whether they were related to the old pirate Bartholomew Blackdagger or were simply inspired to adopt his name and legacy. They gathered a small gang and turned to banditry, and had much success. Coming to be called the Blackdagger Bandits, they became notorious and yet more bandits and other criminals went to their side.
With the rebuilding of Neverwinter in the 1470s DR, trade along the Sword Coast North swelled and so too did the Blackdagger Bandits' numbers and riches. They seized the ruins of Cragmire Keep and rebuilt it as Blackdagger Keep, making it their fortress and base of operations. They raided caravans on the High Road, extinguished warning beacons at Raven Cliff Beach so they could loot the wrecks and enslave the survivors, and engaged in protection rackets with businesses like Melkhor Goldseeker's Angelhead Mine. Blackdagger pirates were reported to be plying the waters off the Sword Coast. With them posing a serious threat and disrupting trade, Lord Dagult Neverember of Neverwinter put a bounty on the heads of Traven and Malus Blackdagger. Shortly after, the two brothers apparently disappeared and were not seen by anyone outside the bandit army. This started much speculation and rumors that someone else now commanded the Blackdagger Bandits, who remained as powerful and organized as before.
Don't let me down.
The truth was more nefarious. The Red Wizard necromancer Kallos Tam met Traven and Malus and proposed to excavate and take control of the undead army within the Cragmire Crypts, giving them the army they desired to take over Neverwinter and become lords of the land. The brothers were receptive to his offer, only doubting if Kallos could do it or not, and expecting he would try to retain control of the undead for himself, and thus the real power in the alliance. In the Year of the Ageless One, 1479 DR, he broke the magical seal of Cragmire Crypt and discovered inside some artifacts he was seeking, found the undead army still waiting there, and, he said, the means of controlling them. However, Traven did not fully trust Kallos and went with him and some of the Blackdaggers' best fighters into the crypts, intending to keep an eye on him and learn how to control the undead himself, and then dispose of the wizard. Before he left, he sent a message to Jareth Grim placing him in charge of raids while he was gone and while Malus prepared the defenses of Blackdagger Keep and an attack of Neverwinter itself.
Just in time, the Harper agents Garl Gnarlclaw and Xalliana discovered the plot and recruited an adventurer, the Hero of Sleeping Dragon Bridge, to help them destroy the bandits. Xalliana went to hunt Kallos and Traven herself, but didn't return. In the end, Garl sent the adventurer and a party descended into the Cragmire Crypts, fought through both bandits and undead, and killed Kallos and finally Traven.
Traven was the brother of Malus Blackdagger.
The two had a number of trusted lieutenants: Jareth Grim, their raid leader in their absence; Krag Foultooth, leader of a group of gnolls who joined the Blackdagger Bandits; Kallos Tam, a Red Wizard of Thay; and Marion Hexbane, who respected them because they, in her words, "are willing to set their sights on so high a target".
Early versions of Neverwinter gave the Blackdagger Bandits a very different backstory via one of its in-game Lore entries. In this, Traven and Malus were pirate captains who operated on the Sword Coast North between Neverwinter and Luskan some time after the Spellplague of 1385 DR and reigning from Blackdagger Keep, until they were killed and the keep destroyed in the Mount Hotenow eruption. The ruins were later occupied by bandits and Kallos Tam reanimated and controlled the Blackdagger brothers, who took over the bandits and turned them undead. However, this Lore entry was later removed and the undead models for Traven and Malus replaced with living models. Some elements of this remained, with undead-seeming models for Marion Hexbane and others and pirate trappings for bandits who seem to do little actual piracy. In any case, the whole Blackdagger Ruins zone and this storyline were removed in July 2021.
Either way, the connection of the Blackdagger Bandits to the still-undead actual pirates led by Bartholomew Blackdagger in the Pirates' Skyhold zone is unknown. However, a Lore entry there makes allusions to new Blackdagger pirates and the question of whether they are related to or simply inspired by Bartholomew Blackdagger. In addition, both Blackdaggers use the same banner and crest, displayed above, but this may be a case of a reused model.
- Traven Blackdagger article at the Neverwinter Wiki, a wiki for the Dungeons and Dragons: Neverwinter MMORPG.