The Black Cowl is a mid-ranked mystic headgear in Final Fantasy XII that boosts the wearer's Magick Resist by 33, Magick Power by 5, and Speed by 4. In the Zodiac versions, it also gives 60 MP. It has lower offensive stats than the preceding Sorcerer's Hat, but offers a Speed boost whereas most mystic gear don't. Speed has minimal effect on Charge Time, however, but does count in the damage calculations for bows, ninja swords, and daggers, though in the Zodiac versions, Archer and Shikari boards don't unlock mystic gear.
In the original PlayStation 2 version, the Black Cowl is sold for 4,900 gil Rabanastre and Nalbina Fortress after defeating Judge Bergan. It is found as a treasure in Phon Coast's Cape Uahuk (northwest; 40% chance to appear, 80% chance for gil, 50% chance the item treasure is the Black Cowl without the Diamond Armlet equipped ).
The Black Cowl rarely drops from the Vulture, and is made in the bazaar set "Ninja Garb" by selling four Fine Wools (from some gator-type enemies, e.g. Baritine Croc in Paramina Rift), two Tanned Tyrant Hides (from Archaeosaur), and five Fire Magicites (from various enemies, e.g. Worgen).
In the updated Zodiac versions, the Black Cowl is sold for 4,900 gil in Mosphoran Highwaste after defeating Judge Bergan, and in Phon Coast. It is found as a treasure in Dalmasca Estersand's Broken Sands (80% chance to appear, 35% chance for gil, 50% chance the item treasure is the Black Cowl without the Diamond Armlet equipped), as well as the Trial Mode Stage 93 with the Diamond Armlet equipped.
Black Cowl is a mid-ranked mystic hat, giving 33 Magick Resist, 5 Magick Power, and 4 Speed, as well as 60 MP in the Zodiac versions. Mystic armor offer magick-related bonuses that affect all types of magickal actions, from casting black magick to damage an enemy, to casting white magick to heal the party. Magick Power is also a factor when determining damage dealt by katana, staves, and maces. The Speed boost the Black Cowl offers has minimal effect on the wearer's Charge Time and affects damage for bows, ninja swords, and daggers. In the Zodiac versions, however, the boards that use these weapons do not unlock mystic armor.
In the Zodiac versions, White Mage, Red Battlemage, Black Mage, and Bushi can equip it, and so the Black Cowl is only useful to buy if the player has chosen any of these License Boards for their party. In The Zodiac Age versions, after fighting Belias the player can choose two License Boards per party member; it is usually a good idea to pair jobs that use two different types of armor for versatility.
The Black Cowl offers less Magick Power and MP than the preceding Sorcerer's Hat, and the Speed boost is likely not relevant enough to offset this, and so the player may not plan to upgrade via the shop if they have the Sorcerer's Hat already. However, the player could get the Black Cowl slightly early if they make it to the northern edge of Estersand and Mosphoran Highwaste right after the events at the Tomb of Raithwall, and nab the cowl from the Vultures or from a treasure in the Zodiac versions.