Candles

Candles

(Now (6/23/2011) updated with Inferno Candle!)

Every so often, I just get some random idea and need to work on it. By “every so often”, I mean, “Ten or twelve times a day”, and by “work on it”, I mean “focus on it obsessively and pay attention to nothing else until… oooh, shiny!”.

Today (and by ‘today’, I mean ‘a week ago two weeks ago when I started this article’), that idea is candles. A quick check of the DDI Compendium shows the number of candle-related magic items for 4e is very low. This is somewhat odd, as they’re a sort of obvious concept (You light the candle, it does something magical), and because candles have a significant place in legend and lore as symbols of learning, knowledge, faith, hope, and so on. The wizard studying spells by the light of a lone candle which has encrusted  skull with wax, the pentacle with candles set at every point, the idiot venturing down the dark secret tunnel found behind the rotating bookcase in the hidden library, carrying a single candle ahead of her, etc. (OK, that last is more a symbol of “clueless person getting in totally over their head”, but these are also called “adventurers”, so, it’s all good.)

The other brilliant stupid idea I had was to take similar concepts, and stat them up for both 4e (which I’m running) and Pathfinder (which I’m playing in). The actual mechanics should be fairly different in detail, but the concepts should translate. I enjoy doing things this like this, because a big part of how I see the world is endless variants on the same idea repeated with different costumes. That, and I’m a masochist.

(And another note/apology… this is something which has been sitting open for a while, with my intending to add more, but I’ve been very busy with things that are creative and gaming related, just not intended, yet, for posting. I’ve decided it’s better to post a single candle two candles than to let the site linger in darkness. I have a lot of cool ideas for more, it’s just a matter of sitting down and statting them up!)

(The fact the DDI Compendium is currently (6/22/2011) borked didn’t help. Dear WOTC: If your business plan is to use DDI subscriptions as your main revenue stream, and your pathetically anemic lineup of dead tree books for the next year indicates that you are, it better be working all the time, and known bugs should not be met with “Meh, it will be fixed in the next monthly patch cycle.”)

4e Basic Rules

Candles — well, these candles, which are considered to be alchemical items — follow the following rules.

  • Lighting a candle is a minor action that does not provoke an OA. You must have some means of generating flame (a prestidigitation cantrip, tinder and flint, a lit torch, a pet fire elemental) readily available and in your hands. You must have both hands free to light a candle, unless the candle is placed on the ground or otherwise secured, in which case, you need one hand free.
  • Extinguishing an unattended candle is a minor action does not provoke an OA. Extinguishing a candle someone else is holding requires a standard action (Dexterity vs. Reflex)
  • Once a candle is extinguished, all of its effects end immediately.
  • All candles weight 0.1 lbs.
  • Unless otherwise noted, a candle burns for five minutes or until the end of the encounter.

Pathfinder Basic Rules

I’m pretty sure there’s a gazillion-odd magic candle supplements for Pathfinder. I’m not going to bother looking them up, because I’d end up spending a hundred bucks at Drive-Thru RPG, and I don’t have a hundred bucks to spend. (Sheesh, click some Amazon links, people!) Also, it would make the OGL cumbersome. So, here’s some rules just for these candles.

  • Lighting a candle is a move action which provokes an AOO. You must have some means of generating flame (a prestidigitation cantrip, tinder and flint, a lit torch, a pet fire elemental) readily available and in your hands. You must have both hands free to light a candle, unless the candle is placed on the ground or otherwise secured, in which case, you need one hand free.
  • Extinguishing an unattended candle is a swift action which does not provoke an AOO.
  • Extinguishing a candle someone else is holding can be tried as either a Disarm or Sunder Combat Maneuver, but these do not provoke AOO as usual.
  • Any force of wind strong enough to cause combat effects (including natural winds and spells such as gust of wind) will automatically extinguish a candle.
  • Candle duration is given for each candle.

Specific Candles

Candle of Clear Shadows

This candle is made of fat rendered from a master thief executed for his crimes, mixed with ectoplasmic residue. The wick comes from a noose used to hang a blind man. It has an oddly translucent appearance.

4e Game Mechanics

Alchemical Item, Level 5+

  • Level 5: 50 gp
  • Level 15: 1000 gp
  • Level 25: 25000 gp

Property (Zone): So long as the candle is lit, all invisible creatures within a Close Burst 5 zone of the candle will cast thin, wavering, shadows, giving them merely partial concealment. The candle can only affect beings of its level or lower. There must still be enough light to see the shadows (the candle fills the area with dim light, but follows normal rules for obstruction, magical darkness, etc, so some areas may still be dark even if they’re otherwise affected by the candle’s magic). The candle lasts until the end of the encounter or until it is extinguished. The candle can be moved, and the zone will move with it.

Pathfinder Game Mechanics

Aura: Faint Divination; CL: 5; Slot: None; Price: 750 gp; Weight: 0.1 lb

This candle creates a magical zone in a 15 foot radius burst, centered on itself. Any invisible creatures within the zone, including those naturally invisible, are instead treated as having partial concealment. There must still be enough light to see the shadows (the candle fills the area with dim light, but follows normal rules for obstruction, magical darkness, etc, so some areas may still be dark even if they’re otherwise affected by the candle’s magic). The candle lasts until the end of the encounter or until it is extinguished. The candle can be moved, and the zone will move with it. Creatures with Spell Resistance may check against it each round they are within the candle’s effect; this is done at the start of their turn or as soon as they enter the zone.

The candle burns for 25 rounds, total. If it is snuffed out but not destroyed, it can be relit for whatever rounds were not used.

Construction: Requirements: Craft Wondrous Item, invisibility purge; Cost: 375 gp.

Notes: Compare to a scroll of invisibility purge or a lantern of revealing. Unlike a scroll, it can be used by anyone. Also, because it can be extinguished and relit, it is more useful than a scroll, because it can be used in several encounters, if it isn’t destroyed. The spell effect is less powerful than a true invisibility purge spell, which is why there’s no Will save to resist it, but it’s also much easier to extinguish the candle than it is to dispel an Invisibility Purge. These balanced out, in my mind, to giving it the same cost as a scroll. A lantern of revealing is much more powerful, but also much more expensive.

Candle of Companion’s Light (Thief’s Candle)

This candle is made from the same components as any other in the local culture, with a mundane wick. However, when it is made, a drop of blood is required from all those whom it will affect.

4e Game Mechanics

Alchemical Item, Level 2+

  • Level 2: 25 gp
  • Level 12: 500 gp
  • Level 22: 13000 gp

Property (Zone): When ignited, the candle creates light which can only be seen by those whose blood was used in the making of the candle. (Creatures without blood, such as constructs or undead, might drop in a few skin shavings). For rather obvious reasons, these items are often made by rogue alchemists or wizards strongly linked to guilds of thieves, assassins, and other ne’er-do-wells, but the formula is often trained or sold under the rubric of “For adventuring companions battling the forces of darkness deep in the earth!”, thus sometimes avoiding legal scrutiny.  The light created is a close burst 3 around the candle at second level, increasing to a close burst 5 at 12th level and a close burst 7 at 22nd level. The candle will burn for a number of hours equal to its level, and it can be snuffed and re-ignited at will until the total time is consumed, however, each ignition burns a minimum of one hour of potential time (so a candle that burns for 5 minutes and one that burns for 50 both consume an hour of the total ‘burn time’).

Pathfinder Game Mechanics

Lesser Candle Of Companion’s Light

Aura: Faint Evocation ; CL: 4; Slot: None; Price: 300 gp; Weight: 0.1 lb

When ignited, the candle creates light which can only be seen by those whose blood was used in the making of the candle. (Creatures without blood, such as constructs or undead, might drop in a few skin shavings). For rather obvious reasons, these items are often made by rogue alchemists or wizards strongly linked to guilds of thieves, assassins, and other ne’er-do-wells, but the formula is often trained or sold under the rubric of “For adventuring companions battling the forces of darkness deep in the earth!”, thus sometimes avoiding legal scrutiny. When lit, it creates a 15 foot radius zone of light, equivalent to that of a torch. It will burn for up to 4 hours, and can be snuffed and ignited at will, but each ignition consumes a minimum of one hour’s “burn time”.

Construction: Requirements: Craft Wondrous Item, continual flame; Cost: 150 gp

Greater Candle Of Companion’s Light

Aura: Strong Evocation ; CL: 10; Slot: None; Price: 1250 gp; Weight: 0.1 lb

This candle functions exactly like the Lesser Candle of Companion’s Light, except that it lasts for 12 hours and sheds light in 30 foot radius.

Construction: Requirements: Craft Wondrous Item, continual flame; Cost: 625 gp

Notes: I based the cost of the Greater Candle on applying the metamagic ‘widen spell’, to create an effective level for a version twice as powerful. The ‘each use counts for an hour’ rule is there mostly to keep people from tracking seconds or minutes in a tedious fashion. Very few people would bother to do this, anyway, so why not formalize it and prevent a tiny amount of unnecessary bookkeeping?

Inferno Candle

To craft this candle, some small amount of fat from a red dragon (even a hatchling) must be blended in. The wick is from fibers soaked in alchemist’s fire for seven days.

Red dragons can smell these candles at a distance of 60 feet (no Perception check needed). They do not look favorably on those who carry them. During the first expansion of Caranail, one adventuring wizard happened to have one on his person when he explored the region later known as the Gibbering Wastes. He vanished, but some months later, a box containing 50 candles was delivered to his family in Corazain by an unknown benefactor.

4e Game Mechanics

Alchemical Item, Level 6+

  • Level 6: 75 gp
  • Level 11: 350 gp
  • Level 16: 1800 gp
  • Level 21: 9000 gp
  • Level 26: 45000 gp

Property: So long as this candle is lit, the character holding it, or any creature adjacent to it if it is not being held, causes any powers with the fire keyword, of the candle’s level or less, to gain the Brutal 1 property (reroll any damage dice that come up 1). In addition, such powers have their critical range increased by 1.   It will burn until the end of the encounter, or until snuffed. Once extinguished, it cannot be re-ignited. Holding this candle does not interfere with spellcasting, but it otherwise occupies a hand.

Pathfinder Game Mechanics

There are three sorts of inferno candle, the lesser, the normal, and the greater. The lesser requires the fat of any kind of red dragon; the normal requires the fat of a dragon of at least young age, and the greater requires the fat an adult dragon. Sufficiently little fat is required that those in the business of making dragonskin armor can usually scrape enough off of a decent sized piece of hide to make a little extra selling it to an alchemist.

Lesser Inferno Candle

Aura: Faint Transmutation ; CL: 5; Slot: None; Price: 1000 gp; Weight: 0.1 lb

When ignited, this candle increases the damage done by all spells of 3rd level or less with the fire descriptor, such that whenever damage dice are rolled, any results of “1” are re-rolled. It affects the spells of the person holding it, or those of any adjacent creature if it is set down. It will burn for 5 rounds, and cannot be re-ignited once it is snuffed.

Construction: Requirements: Craft Wondrous Item, Empower Spell,  ability to cast a spell with the fire descriptor of at least 3rd level; Cost: 500 gp

Inferno Candle

Aura: Moderate Transmutation ; CL: 13; Slot: None; Price: 4550 gp; Weight: 0.1 lb

As per the lesser inferno candle, but affects spells of 6th level or less.

Construction: Requirements: Craft Wondrous Item, Empower Spell,  ability to cast a spell with the fire descriptor of at least 6th level; Cost: 2275 gp

Greater Inferno Candle

Aura: Moderate Transmutation ; CL: 13; Slot: None; Price: 7650 gp; Weight: 0.1 lb

As per the lesser inferno candle, but affects spells of 9th level or less.

Construction: Requirements: Craft Wondrous Item, Empower Spell,  ability to cast a spell with the fire descriptor of at least 9th level; Cost: 3825 gp

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One Response to Candles

  1. I’ve always thought magic candles were cool, and haven’t seen any in a long time (I can’t remember the name of the article, but during 2e there were a bunch of magic candles in Dragon that I got a lot of use out of).

    All three candles are good, but the Thief’s candle is by far my favourite. It’s absolutely indispensible to sneaky characters, especially in 4e where there is little to no darkvision. I can tell you my Avenger really could have used this candle on at least a dozen occasions.

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