View Full Version : Requesting Assistance With a... Thing...

03-28-2013, 10:29 PM
I am writing up a full-blown book for my campaign world (will be similar to any of the main books, like the Eberron Campaign Sourcebook and the like)... and have hit a snag. Any suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated.

The campaign world has only recently (5000 years) emerged from a major ice age, and ruins are relatively common. There is a race of mariners that founded a new nation for themselves on a peninsula and discovered an ancient "altar" on a mountaintop. Any that touched it were burned alive (though there was no fire or heat).
Enter the "Founders" of the land. A high priest of a good deity of knowledge got greedy and self-centered and turned to the main evil deity in my campaign world for support and spells. He received revelation that a "dark flame" would guide his way, once he took his first steps. Long story short, he split from the adventuring group and "discovered" this race of seamen and subjugated them. When they were building his capital city, he saw a shadow flickering on a nearby mountaintop. He gathered some spellcasters and fellow clerics and journeyed to the mountain - where they found the "Dark Flame."
Fast forward 2000 years, and this now ancient civilization is known as "Dark Flame" and they've built a huge temple with a tower atop the altar to protect it - and built a lighthouse in the tower that is visible for about 200 miles (the geometry works - larger planet than Earth, so less curvature, and it's elevated on a mountain).
The people are still outstanding sailors - and trade and conduct warfare from the sea throughout the coastline of my campaign world. There is a caste system, with short, round (i.e. kind of fat) commoners and extremely tall, slender spell-casting (arcane and divine) rulers. Everyone is happy with the arrangement. They ONLY settled on land to provide food for their bellies and wood for their ships, and all dream of getting back to sea.

Where's the problem?

I can NOT imagine what the heck that "dark flame" does. I'm thinking some flavor of artifact, but other than facilitating communing with the evil deity, I am at a total loss for the description.

It's venerated as a REALLY holy site. It was foretold in prophecy to the cleric - and in prophecies that the indigenous people had that the evil cleric fulfilled. The flame is only visible to clerics...

and that's it. :confused:

Can anyone suggest anything?

03-29-2013, 03:31 PM
what is the nature of the entity behind the flame?

what is the goal of the entity?

is it a manifestation of direct power as opposed to an artifact?

who/what opposes the entity behind the flame?

these questions might help shape and congeal your thoughts....

03-29-2013, 11:33 PM
The deity is a major god of disease and death - basically an entropy deity.

The goal of the deity is to speed things along...

No idea if this is a manifestation or an artifact.

Opposition is any deity of order or goodness.

I've used this nation in my campaign world for decades now, and never bothered fleshing this out. I'd like the flame to do something in particular (like allowing any clerics of this deity to use it to commune (per the spell) with the deity) - and I'd like some sort of nationwide (or at least widespread) impact/effect... but for some reason I am running into a HUGE puddle of writer's block.

03-30-2013, 01:13 AM
well, sounds like they would want that black flame burning in as many places as possible. some thoughts:

it could speed aging in a large radius, this has the side effect of compressing the life energy of the faithful. while they survive, they have more power as they burn through it quicker: haste effect or extra action every so often. perhaps it simply drains heretics: constantly fatigued.

causes radiation sickness, but disguises itself as mutations. sort of like the red steel game. new mutant order, or perhaps a zombie apocalypse.

a certain pattern of the black flames across a very large space (nation, chunk of planet, etc...) will open a portal for the entity to manifest physically.

black flame causes climate changes, everything is withering away to dust. sort of like never ending story.

the pieces of black flame must be reunited with the ancient "body" they used to inhabit, buried deep and under bar, lock, and seal.

deadly hippy nation - they idolize chaos, randomness, and nihilism, and the false sort of freedom from law and restraint espoused by such types, and encourage everyone else by example. only there isn't going to be any protection from disease.

they are deliberately breeding a super-plague, and perhaps mistakenly believe that they will be spared. that 12 monkey movie i heard about.

mistaken artifact: this is some sort of artifact, but it is not even of the entity in question! it has it's own purpose and design... and the clock is ticking down. (ie: doomsday something or another)

maybe i'll come up with some more later. ^^ night!

03-30-2013, 08:28 AM
You are a devious man - and I admire that.

I really like the deadly hippy nation thing... it might give them a +1 to do stuff like "Free Action" if they make an annual pilgrimage to "Mecca."

And I have totally fallen in love with the, "I ain't your daddy," artifact that ain't a deity mouthpiece plot device!!!

I guess one reason this has me so bent around the axle is that I've never experienced writer's block like this before. I'm all, "Oh, the nation of Dark Flame is spectacular and has a long, LONG history, benefited and supported by the powerful device from whence they got their name. The people are feared throughout the land, and their navy is second to none. What's this 'Dark Flame' do? Uhhh... well... I got nothin'. It does things an' stuffs. You know... for the kids!" (sorry, random movie reference from The Hudsucker Proxy)

04-02-2013, 12:40 AM
now you have to make it in the shape of a ring. just because. it'll be the next great invention. you know... for the kids. ;D

(that was a most enjoyable movie, any chance of the high priest and priestess being a fast talking dame and a laid back dude? might be interesting if there was a male cult and a female cult built around the thing, each with their own mysteries, secrets, and other assorted agendas and what not...)

writers block happens to everyone eventually. ^^ i just happen to be one of those odd people who is good at idea generation (quantity guaranteed). one of my former (and sometimes current via remote) dm's calls me on a weekly basis to get plot twists and interesting scenes & locations for whatever is currently happening with his local group. ^^

04-02-2013, 06:14 PM
I don't care if it happens to other guys... it's never happened to ME before! And, no, I _DON'T_ want to try again later! :biggrin:

It will require some rewriting and reworking, but I think the dual-cult thing may work. Perhaps a boost to the spell-casters' abilities - and I'll figure out some way to penalize them. Perhaps a save with each spell - a natural 1 and they lose a point of CON permanently. Would it be worth a +3 on caster level for spell abilities? We'll see!!

Thanks! Now I'm thinking that the avatar of this deity will be a wizened old, Black dude that can stop time... (thank you Bill Cobbs!)

04-02-2013, 11:54 PM
i wasn't expecting all this hoopla. you can quote me on that.

the first thing i misread in your post was "bill cosby", the next thing i saw was a jello commercial in my head (thanks, mr. cosby) quickly followed by a fat albert clip. ^^ so your wizened old black dude stops time... and summons gelatinous cubes while singing 'everyone loves j-e-l-l-o'. or maybe has that one oozemaster prestige from the 3.0 prestige books. or both.

there are a couple of gender based caster feats in ghostwalk. "shar'lem" or somesuch.

there is also a feat for boosting your caster level by up to +3 for a skill check and longer casting time in the eberron books. "elder giant magic". though with the extended casting time, i have a hard time not thinking "ka-me-ha-me-ha" when doing a boosted fireball or orb of x. =D

04-06-2013, 04:12 AM
If the black flame causes atrophy in all things living (the quickening and dimishing of life), would the venerable head priest use this to his advantage, and become a Lich with a black flame lantern as a phylactery?

"I have becometh a beacon from whence the black flame shines. Those who stand against me... stand against eternity."

04-19-2013, 05:53 PM
This is what I came up with... I had to change the deity to one of the Sea and Weather to fit the backstory better. The original founder for the region started worshiping the darker aspects of weather and the sea - basically chaos at its worst (as opposed to its best).

What is unknown to all is that the Dark Flame found in Malfiorenta Dalen (the Dark Flame Temple) is not a direct manifestation of the sea-god – it is a very powerful artifact of indeterminate origin. The effects reach as far as the lighthouse is visible – nearly 200 miles to the horizon. Watercraft built under the light of the Flame receive a +4 divine bonus to hardness and hit points, and those that pilot them get a +4 divine bonus to Profession (sailor) skill checks.
When a Cleric comes within 50’ of the Dark Flame, a personality conflict occurs, with the Cleric having to make a WILL save of DC 40 or fanatically accept the Dark Flame as the mouthpiece of their deity’s for a period of 100 days. Those that successfully save are immune to the effect for one month (30 days). Clerics that subjugate themselves at least once every 100 days to the Dark Flame begin to fulfill some unknown goals of the Flame itself, and receive a +2 divine bonus to overcome spell resistance, and cast spells at +3 to their current level (a 3rd level Cleric casting as if she were a 6th level Cleric).
This does come at a cost, with Clerics taking double damage from spells from the earth domain, and they age at an accelerated rate. Those making the seasonal pilgrimage to the Dark Flame age at double the normal rate for their race (all human) – and if they do not make the trips, triple the normal rate.
Those that remain away from the Dark Flame for more than three months feel an intense longing to return to renew their pledge. At this time, if they receive either a Remove Curse or Break Enchantment spell that overcomes a DC 30 roll if the person is conscious and fighting the affect, or a DC 25 if the person is not conscious or willingly accepts the attempt. If successfully removed, the person is permanently immune to the Dark Flame’s control. Note: This longing is like an addiction to heroin, with the Cleric “Jonesing” for the Dark Flame as long as they are away, and actively attempting to stop any sort of “intervention.”
Clerics understand that something “special” is happening, and will do anything they can to encourage other Clerics to begin a pilgrimage as soon as possible. Clerics under this compulsion will also encourage non-divine casters to “double-class” and take a level of Cleric so they may also enjoy the joy that is the Dark Flame.

Yes, I know this makes their navy almost unbeatable, but that is why they are there - to have an unbeatable navy. Also, other than having lots of heart, they are chaotic and disorganized on land (basically Vikings - uncontrollable on land, but deadly in ship-to-ship combat.

Is the earth-magic and age stuff enough of a negative? The Clerics in the region don't like to get out of sight of the lighthouse, so...


04-20-2013, 12:53 AM
I can dig it. I like the sea/weather angle. The negatives make sense in-context that people are more or less cursed by the Dark flame into obedience, as well as suffering the negatives.

04-20-2013, 01:55 PM
a point of physics: unless the lighthouse is unusually high, the visible horizon isn't anywhere near that far away, unless you have an unusually large planet with a radius much larger than the earth.

for an average height human in the americas (somewhere around 6' tall) standing on the ground at sea level, the horizon is about 3 miles away.

same person standing on top of a hill or tower 100' in height, the horizon is about 24 miles or so away.

standing on top of a structure about 2700' tall, the horizon is only about 69 miles away.

so, you will either need to adjust the height of the lighthouse, change the area of effect or how it functions, or change your planetary size. ^^

04-20-2013, 02:07 PM
Boon, thanks.

Nijineko, it took an hour of math to figure it all out. The radius is some 9600 km, with a 20,000' mountain and a 500' lighthouse on top. I fudged it about 15 miles, but it works mathematically. And thank you VERY much for asking about that point - I need my campaign world to make sense.

The mountain is modeled after Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa almost to the foot (okay, i rounded...).

What about the powers/abilities. Is it balanced?
The ruling class is all spell-casters, both divine and arcane. The arcane casters are immune to the effects - and suspect something is amiss. Clerical folks get selected to all the "real" leadership positions, and the arcane casters are beginning to notice. I don't know what would happen if the arcanes found out what was going on... I doubt that it will happen.

04-20-2013, 06:00 PM
maybe i should have included this link: http://www.ringbell.co.uk/info/hdist.htm

a handy online horizon calculator. ^^

well, the real thing to consider is sneakiness, divination, and planar allies. arcane divination/planar ally/gate/etc could be to almost anyone/thing and might get them information useful to work with. even if they are blocked, they can tell they are blocked - which will simply confirm their suspicions. next step will be to test the range of effect, and seek for allies, especially if they are getting cracked down on / disappeared.

as far as balance, i'm never fond of things which abrogate free will, but aside from that preference of mine, i would say that nothing you have presented is over the top. after all, there are several methods for increasing hardness that are easily available to mid-level characters, as well as skill boosters and so forth. the +3 caster level increase can be done by a feat or two, or a couple of prestige classes.

the massive range of all the effects is the biggest effect. but that is easily within the range of an artifact. overall, it would rate as a minor artifact. mostly because of the range. underpowered if anything. shouldn't really be a balance issue, assuming you allow access to all official materials.