The Eternal Flame

The Eternal Flame

Power corrupts; absolute power Is a good start

The Eternal Flame is both one of the most well-loved of these factions, and perhaps the most deceptive, for it is based on nothing less than the precepts of corrupting and twisting the most noble and selfless of deeds into the service of evil.

Attributes of the Eternal Flame

Size: Different factions of the Eternal Flame range from Small (10–50 members) to Large (101–200 members). Multiple factions — all unaware of one another — exist throughout the multiverse, creating a truly enormous network of agents.

Alignment and Purpose: LE, masquerading as LG; To slowly suborn those who wish to do good into becoming more and more tyrannical and evil as they gain power.

Approximate Class Breakdown: Aristocrat 15%, Fighter 15%, Rogue 15%, Cleric 10%, Ranger 10%, Sorcerer 10%, Wizard 10%, Monk 5%, Paladin/Blackguard (see below) 5%, Other 5%.

Resources: The resources of a given faction of the Eternal Flame depend largely on those who have joined. On average, any individual faction can draw on capital, goods, and services worth approximately 5,000 gp per member.

Thus, a faction with 187 members can draw on approximately 935,000 gp-worth of resources. Factions that claim particularly wealthy nobles or powerful spellcasters may exceed these limits at the DM’s discretion.

Central Headquarters: As each Eternal Flame faction on any given world is largely ignorant of its brother factions elsewhere, the organization does not have a central headquarters per se. The true founder of the Eternal Flame, the creature called Methuriel, operates from the city of Subrachai on the sixth level of Hell.

Known Enemies: Many evil cults and organizations oppose the Eternal Flame on a local level, as the society appears devoted to exterminating such bastions of wickedness. Some few devils who have learned that the Eternal Flame is actually (albeit indirectly) a creation of Duke Moloch are allied with Moloch’s enemies in the hierarchy of Hell, and work against the organization for that reason. Finally, on several of the worlds in which they operate, the Midnight Dawn has become aware of the Eternal Flame’s true nature and works against it accordingly. Given that the Eternal Flame is often quite popular with the citizens of the worlds in which they operate, this causes substantial damage to the Midnight Dawn’s already atrocious reputation.

A General Overview

The Eternal Flame appears, at first glance, to be a blessing of the gods, a gift to the cultures in which it operates. A society of both the wealthy and powerful, it is devoted to stamping out evil in all its forms.

In truth, the Eternal Flame is a living testament to the axiom that power corrupts. As members of the organization become more popular and more influential, the group’s leaders encourage them to more extreme interpretations of law, harsher methods of ensuring the “greater good.” In those cultures where the Eternal Flame has run unchecked, the group inevitably becomes the ruling faction of a tyrannical, despotic regime, under which any deviation from the approved norms results in severe punishment. It is the perfect tool of lawful evil, a growing extension of the Hells cloaked in the garb of justice and right.

A Brief History Of The Eternal Flame

Although the Eternal Flame is but a few generations old as a true organization, its birth can be traced back thousands of years to the corruption and fall of Methuriel, a powerful angel of the upper planes. Like so many of the most ardent warriors for good, Methuriel grew intolerant of anything she perceived as even remotely evil or corrupt. Free will and personal freedoms became temptations to be avoided, rather than wonders to be cherished, for the celestial no longer trusted mortals to choose good over evil.

None alive today can say whether Methuriel’s fall was caused by the machinations of Moloch, one of Hell’s dukes, or whether he tricked the fallen angel into his service at a later time. Whatever the case, Methuriel now operates from the hellish city of Subrachai, founded in the shadow of Moloch’s own domain.

Granted the use of several of Moloch’s most powerful servants, Methuriel spreads her influence throughout the infinite worlds. Her first such attempt established the procedures the Eternal Flame now uses on all the realms in which it operates. She appeared first, a radiant vision “sent by the gods,” to a high priest by the name of Erlormeon. A devout and faithful servant of a benign deity, Erlormeon never suspected that the angel was anything other than a being of goodness. At her behest, and using the great societal influence he already possessed, Erlormeon gathered others about him, from all levels of society, all determined to eliminate evil from their kingdom once and for all.

For years they warred against goblin tribes, set out on dragon-slaying expeditions, and battled only the most obvious and blatant of evils. They grew in popularity; the people loved them, the king showered them with gifts. Slowly, however, as the presence of overt evil faded, Methuriel and her servants planted seeds of doubt in Erlormeon’s mind. What of those evils that flourished nearer to society’s heart, those that were not so easily rooted out? Were those not actually more dangerous than all the monsters of the wild?

So the Eternal Flame, as Erlormeon had named his organization, turned first against the thieves guilds of the cities, the cults of vile gods and demons. Then they went further still, rooting out any trace of corruption amongst government officials. Still the people loved them dearly, though the king and his underlings began to doubt. By then it was far too late, and it was not long before the Eternal Flame, backed by popular support, overthrew the king himself and proclaimed themselves “guardians” of the land.

When Erlormeon began imprisoning those who showed any sign of discontent with his policies, for fear that they would spread “dissent” and disrupt the ordered society he had created, most of the populace accepted his decrees as natural and good. Thus did the first of many cultures fall to the Eternal Flame, a society enslaved and stripped of all rights and free will, a land occupied by a tyrannical theocracy where secret police lurked around every corner and a single word of protest could condemn a man to prison. And the people thanked them for it.

Over the years the Eternal Flame has appeared on many worlds, always heralded by an appearance of either Methuriel herself or one of her servants. Usually the results are the same, though some fortunate few societies have seen the truth of what they were becoming, thanks to a select few heroes who manage to open their eyes, and have rejected the false security offered by the Eternal Flame. Methuriel utterly despises those who would work against her in such a fashion, deeming them the most foul of evildoers and proclaiming them agents of corruption in the guise of good. Even when a culture is long since lost to her, when the people have turned against the Eternal Flame and no chance remains for the group to usurp control, she insists that her remaining agents hunt down and destroy those who thwarted their rise to power so they cannot cause “further harm.”

Inside The Eternal Flame

The Eternal Flame can be a tricky organization to use in a campaign. It’s imperative that the

DM not only have a solid understanding of how they operate, but also the skill to portray them as well-meaning agents of good, which most of them believe themselves to be, even while describing actions that hardly qualify as “good” in any sense of the word. The organization can be a memorable adversary for the PCs, since few of its members are truly evil — or at least, few of them start out that way. Alternatively, the DM might offer the PCs the opportunity to join the Eternal Flame in its early stages. The realization, many adventures down the line, that they have been advancing the cause of a horrible evil can be a campaign- altering event for even the most experienced and jaded of players.

For any of these techniques to work, the DM must understand the methods and activities of the Eternal Flame itself.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

As described above, the Eternal Flame always begins with the best of intentions and the most beneficial of activities. Hunting down monsters who prey on the outskirts of civilization, while certainly a viable means of gaining popularity, is but one of their many activities. The Eternal Flame acts as a philanthropic organization, donating much of the wealth it acquires, both through monster hunting and the generosity of its members, to temples and charitable institutions. Its members engage in public works projects, attempting to better the quality of life among society’s poor. They even provide healing for the injured or diseased who dwell near them, when they have the resources to spare. At this stage of the group’s existence, no one could possibly accuse them of having anything but the community’s best interests at heart.

Once the Eternal Flame is well and truly established, Methuriel (or whatever entity first appeared to the founder of the organization in this particular world) encourages the group’s leaders to expand their activities. Their targets are still very clearly evil: corrupt politicians, organized crime, cults of evil deities, and other lawbreakers. Most of the Eternal Flame’s leaders are only too happy to turn their attentions toward these more subtle — and some would argue more dangerous — evils. This occasionally turns certain elements of the government against the Eternal Flame, since no government is completely free of corruption, but by then the organization has sufficient popular support that those in power cannot afford to move against them. Again, months if not years often pass in this fashion, as the Eternal Flame eliminates more and more of society’s darker elements. Not only does this expand their popularity with the commoners, but it often nets the organization substantial political power as well. The corrupt leaders and politicians who fall before their efforts and investigations must be replaced, and while many rulers are, at this point, rather nervous of the sheer popularity of the Eternal Flame, wise nobles take advantage of that popularity by appointing members of the organization to governmental positions. They feel this ensures that they, too, will remain well-liked by the populace, never realizing that they are planting the seeds of their own eventual downfall.

As the organization slides into corruption, even their public works projects become twisted. Charity is no longer handed out to all who need it, but only to those who support the Eternal Flame. Churches whose officials do not speak out in open praise of the organization cease receiving tithes. Poor neighborhoods in which the Eternal Flame is popular receive far more support in food and finances than those in which it is not.

Only at this point do the madness of Methuriel and the evil of the organization truly begin to manifest. As the leaders of the Eternal Flame gain more power and public adulation,

Methuriel and Moloch’s other servants convince them that other people pose a danger, harboring a festering evil in their hearts or threatening the new ordered tranquility the Eternal Flame has worked so hard to create. Any noble or politician who openly expresses any discontent with the organization is clearly in the early stages of working against it, and must be removed from power. Citizens who worship any god but those approved by the Eternal Flame are disruptive to society itself, for surely anyone who worships a neutral or chaotic deity cannot have his community’s best interests at heart. Foreigners from distant lands cannot be allowed to move unchecked through the Eternal Flame’s kingdom, for none can say what unwholesome ideas they might bring with them. Eventually, anyone who so much as utters any notion that is not in line with the organization’s beliefs, or decries any of its activities, is a public menace who must be imprisoned or worse. What was once a power devoted to good has become an instrument of the most intolerant lawful evil imaginable.

Werewolves in Sheep’s Clothing

It’s very easy to say “the well-intentioned leaders and members of the Eternal Flame are slowly corrupted by power and the advice of Methuriel,” but that really isn’t enough information for a DM to portray the process — especially if the PCs are among those being corrupted. Most players aren’t simply going to decide that their character now values his new authority over his ethics, even if some of the NPCs do exactly that. How, then, does this slow shift in the organization happen without the people involved recognizing that they are becoming something tainted, something corrupt?

Perhaps the most important aspect is that the suggestions for how to behave are coming from a celestial patron, an angel of the gods of light. Surely such a creature couldn’t possibly suggest any course of action with anything but the greater good as its purpose, could it? These orders are then passed down to the rest of the organization by trusted leaders, men and women who have been at the forefront of the battle against evil for months if not years. Almost any suggestion can be made palatable if it is argued reasonably by trusted friends.

Remember, as well, that the Eternal Flame enjoys vast popular support by this point. The common folk have grown accustomed to thinking of the organization as heroes, saviors, possibly even societal leaders. When the group begins moving against “dangerous elements” in the community, the majority of the populace is going to support them, to believe them when they say that they’re acting for the greater good. It’s all too easy for people, be they PCs or NPCs, to fall into the trap of assuming that if something is popular with the people whom it most directly affects, it cannot be bad.

The agents of Moloch who serve as Methuriel’s lieutenants are not above staging or arranging events as “evidence” that the shift in the Eternal Flame’s activities is necessary. If certain members of the organization are hesitant to move against a group of foreigners or the followers of a neutral deity, the devils might frame them for various atrocities. If some within the Eternal Flame are made uncomfortable by the idea that simply speaking out against the group should be a crime, the devils, through a combination of charms and illusions, might stage a violent riot against the organization, forcing its members to act in self-defense.

Perhaps the single greatest threat to Methuriel’s and Moloch’s objectives comes in the form of paladins and clerics, servants of good deities who joined the Eternal Flame to serve their communities. Even if these do-gooders can be tricked into thinking their questionable actions are justified, their gods cannot. If a cleric loses

access to her spells, or a paladin to his powers, it becomes only too obvious that they’ve done something to displease their deity.

Duke Moloch, devious as he is, has found a way around even this. Through Methuriel and his other servants, he has introduced a number of religious rituals to the members of the Eternal Flame. These ceremonies appear to be innocuous paeans to the gods of good, but they conceal a far more sinister purpose. Through these rites, Moloch ensures that any prayers uttered by clerics and paladins of the Eternal Flame fall on his ears, rather than those of the gods for whom they’re intended. Thus, it is Moloch himself — or, as some legends would have it, some greater and darker power of which the duke is but a servant — who grants the spells and powers of the Eternal Flame’s divine casters. This is particularly devastating to paladins, whose abilities are so closely tied in to their alignment; many paladins of the Eternal Flame actually become blackguards without ever realizing what’s happened to them.

One aspect of paladinhood that even Moloch cannot corrupt is the paladin’s mount. These faithful companions possess a mental and emotional link to their masters that makes them all too aware of what is happening. Such a mount might well question its master’s actions if intelligent enough to do so, or else simply abandon the paladin in an unmistakable sign of his fall from grace. In order to prevent this from happening, and thus alerting the paladin to the questionable nature of his actions, Moloch’s servants often arrange for the mount to be slain in a “chance” encounter or a conflict with minions of evil. This removes the mount from the equation, at least for a while. By the time the paladin may summon another, he may have become sufficiently corrupt that his new mount is actually the fiendish companion of the blackguard.

Should a member of the Eternal Flame resist manipulation and prove incorruptible, Methuriel often encourages the leaders of the organization to have the troublemaker imprisoned or slain, even manufacturing evidence that he is a traitor or otherwise dangerous to the group. In other instances, devils or truly corrupt leaders might simply arrange for the target to die in battle, sending him against hopeless odds or assassinating him on the field after a victorious encounter.

Customs and Practices

Although not officially devoted to any specific deity, the Eternal Flame is very much a religious organization. Its leaders are usually clerics, paladins, or others of faith, and Methuriel and Moloch’s demons portray themselves as divine messengers. As such, even the non- devout members of the organization are expected to participate in the group’s religious ceremonies. Prayer before battle or danger, and a moment of thanks afterwards, are all common events among Eternal Flame personnel.

Only a single religious observation is actually required of all members, however. On a daily basis, local religious leaders of the Eternal Flame conduct an hour-long prayer service, offering thanks and devotion to any and all of the various “approved” deities of the world. Members are not obligated to attend every one of these services, but they must participate at least once a week, and on major holidays. These services conceal a hidden evil; see the new spell black faith below. If one (or more) of the leaders of a particular faction are divine casters of sufficiently high level, they cast the spell themselves while conducting the service. If the leaders are not high enough level or not yet fully corrupted, one of Moloch’s devils casts the spell, disguised as one of the congregants.

It is also a custom among members of the Eternal Flame to offer prayers over all those “criminals” whom they imprison, torture, and/or execute. All of this is, of course, done for the prisoner’s own good; perhaps, through physical pain, he can be made to see the error of his ways, to repent before the end. Few things are more disturbing than seeing a hooded torturer or executioner praying for his victim’s soul even as he goes to work.

Strictures and Requirements

Few requirements exist for joining the Eternal Flame, save that one must possess a desire to do good. Methuriel and Moloch’s servants would certainly rather that only those who are easily manipulated join, of course, but no means currently exists of enforcing this preference. Once someone has joined the Eternal Flame, they have but a few strictures they must follow.

Influence and Outside Connections

Bearers Of The Eternal Flame

Different factions of the Eternal Flame on different worlds have varying degrees of influence. Those that count powerful nobles or guild leaders among their members often have a surprising amount of political and financial control, while those that have taken over entire governments obviously hold substantial amounts of power. On other worlds, the Eternal Flame is still a fledgling organization, little more than a good-aligned adventurers’ guild, and has little in the way of connections.

The network of devils at the organization’s pinnacle have a great many servants they can call upon throughout the multiverse, worshippers of the duke and other demonologists. They often make use of these agents when arranging specific threats for the Eternal Flame to combat, so as to improve the organization’s standing or to cast blame and doubt on a specific faction or individual enemy.

The Eternal Flame has no particular alliances with any other planar factions, but they do often come into conflict with several of them. As mentioned above, some local factions of the Midnight Dawn have discovered the Eternal Flame’s true nature and actively work to oppose it, despite the fact that standing against a popular organization of heroes does no good for the Midnight Dawn’s reputation. Additionally, the Eternal Flame’s efforts at wiping out thieves’ guilds and criminal organizations often place them at odds with groups connected to the Midnight Empire. As yet, this conflict has occurred entirely with sub-organizations, and the Empire has made no effort to bring its full might to bear against the Eternal Flame.

Llonains Carience

Male Human Clr9/Blk4; CR 13; HD 9d8+18 plus 4d10+8; hp 104; Init +0; Spd 20; AC 21 (+11 armor), touch 10, flat-footed 21; BAB/grapple: +10/+13; Atk rod of the viper +15 melee (1d8+5); Full Atk rod of the viper +15/+10 melee (1d8+5); SA: Aura of despair, ebuke undead, smite good 1/day, sneak attack +1d6; SQ: Aura of evil, dark blessing, detect good, poison use, spontaneous casting (inflict spells); AL LE; SV Fort +12, Ref +4, Will +10; Str 16, Dex 10, Con 15, Int 14, Wis 17, Cha 16.

Skills and Feats: Bluff +13, Concentration +12, Diplomacy +14, Heal +12, Intimidate +14, Knowledge (arcana) +12, Knowledge (religion) +12, Ride +3, Spellcraft +14; Cleave, Combat Casting, Improved Sunder, Power Attack, Quicken Spell, Spell Penetration.

Possessions: Rod of the viper, +3 full plate, glove of storing, wand of cure light wounds, horn of fog

Spells Prepared (Clr 6/6/6/5/3/2; save DC 13

+ spell level): 0 — detect magic, detect poison, light, mending, purify food and drink, resistance; 1st — command, divine favor, endure elements, inflict light woundsD , sanctuary, shield of faith; 2nd — cure moderate wounds,

hold person, shatterD , silence, sound burst, undetectable alignment; 3rd — cure serious wounds, dispel magic, magic circle against

chaosD , speak with dead, stone shape; 4th — air walk, freedom of movement, inflict critical

woundsD; 5th — flame strike, inflict light

wounds, massD .

D Domain spell. Domains: Destruction (smite, 1/day), Law (cast lawful spells at +1 caster level).

Spells Prepared (Blk 2/2; save DC 13 + spell level): 1st — cause fear, cure light wounds; 2nd

— bull’s strength, cure moderate wounds. Appearance: Although approaching middle age, Llonains is still a powerful figure of a man. Topping six feet in height and weighing nearly 200 pounds, he sports a stronger frame than many men half his age. Only his iron-gray hair and beard, and the lines around his eyes, indicate his true age.

Overview: Llonains is the leader of an Eternal Flame faction in a nation called Thunadros. The organization in this world has been active for many years. It has acquired complete control of Thunadros and reached the point of utter corruption — and its leader has gone right along with it. Llonains has long since succumbed to the power of his position, and no longer deludes himself about his true morality or his allegiance. While he still masquerades as a servant of the gods of good in the presence of outsiders, he actively worships the devil Moloch in private. Llonains is a cruel and ambitious man, and never hesitates to use any means at his disposal, from deception to overt force, to obtain his goals. He normally carries his rod of the viper in his glove of storing, and avoids using its snake-head properties in public.

Tanara Moruve

Female Half-Elf Clr7; CR 7; HD 7d8+7; hp 54; Init +3; Spd 20; AC 19 (+3 Dex, +6 armor), touch 13, flat-footed 16; BAB/grapple: +5/+5; Atk masterwork morningstar +6 melee (1d8); Full Atk masterwork morningstar +6 melee (1d8); SA: Turn undead; SQ: Aura of law, immunity to sleep, low-light vision, spontaneous casting (cure spells), +2 racial bonus to save vs. enchantments; AL LN; SV Fort +6, Ref +5, Will +8; Str 10, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 15, Wis 16, Cha 15.

Skills and Feats: Concentration +5, Craft (Painting) +4, Diplomacy +8, Gather Information +4, Heal +7, Knowledge (arcana)

+6, Knowledge (religion) +8, Listen +8, Search +8, Spellcraft +6, Spot +8; Craft Wand, Extend Spell, Extra Turning.

Possessions: Masterwork morningstar, breastplate, small steel shield, necklace of prayer beads (karma), potion of owl’s wisdom, three potions of cure moderate wounds.

Spells Prepared (Clr 6/6/5/4/2; save DC 13 + spell level): 0 — create water, detect magic, light, mending, resistance, virtue; 1st — bless, comprehend languages, divine favor, entropic

shieldD , obscuring mist, remove fear; 2nd —

delay poison, resist energy, shield otherD , silence, spiritual weapon; 3rd — dispel magic, prayer, protection from energyD , searing light; 4th — spell immunityD , tongues.

D Domain spell. Domains: Luck (reroll any roll, 1/day), Law (cast lawful spells at +1 caster level).

Appearance: Tanara heavily favors her elven parentage, and is often mistaken for an unusually tall elf. Well over five-and-a-half feet in height, Tanara is incredibly slender, and her blonde hair is tied back in a braid that reaches nearly to her waist.

Overview: Tanara received her first visitation by an “angel” within the past two years, and is currently the head of a relatively young faction of the Eternal Flame. The organization has yet to make any concerted moves into the local government, and has only recently turned its attention away from monsters to more subtle evils such as human criminals. Tanara still believes with all her heart that she is doing good, as directed by Methuriel, although her alignment has slipped from its original lawful good. She is still at the stage where the notion of turning on those who are guilty of no crime worse than disagreeing with the Eternal Flame would be repugnant to her, but as the fallen angel continues to influence her, she slides ever nearer the abyss of true evil.

New Spells

Black Faith

Abjuration

Level: Clr 8

Component: V, S, DF

Casting Time: 1 hour

Range: Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)

Area: 5 ft./level radius

Duration: See below

Saving Throw: None/Will negates (see below)

Spell Resistance: No

This ritual enchants a number of other divine casters so that their prayers are heard by the caster’s own deity or patron, rather than their own. The deity or patron can then grant them the power to cast divine spells, and to use divinely oriented spell-like and supernatural abilities. The subjects of the spell must voluntarily participate in the ritual, although they need not know what it is, and in fact black faith is designed to be easily concealed within an apparently innocent religious service of any variety. (The Spellcraft DC to identify black faith is 31, rather than the standard 23 for identifying an 8th-level spell, unless the character attempting the check is specifically looking for this precise spell.)

The spell works flawlessly for a full week. If the spell is not renewed on a given subject within a week, that subject receives a Will save on the eighth day; success indicates the effects of black faith have faded and the subject’s prayers reach her deity as normal. The subject gains another save for each additional day that passes, until either the spell is thrown off or renewed. A subject who successfully throws off black faith is entitled to a Wisdom check (DC equal to the spellcaster’s caster

level) to realize that something has been wrong, though she may not realize precisely what.

This spell is most often used to fool divine spellcasters into believing that they are still acting with the approval of their deity — and thus still receiving spells — when they have, in fact, been tricked into acting outside their alignment or their deity’s dictates.

Cloak of Deception

Illusion

Level: Clr 4, Sor/Wiz3

Component: V, S, M

Casting Time: 1 round

Range: Touch

Target: Creature touched

Duration: 1 day

Saving Throw: Will negates (harmless), and see below

Spell Resistance: Yes (harmless)

The subject of the spell is protected against spells designed to detect alignment, thought, emotion or intention. Anyone casting a divination of that sort receives false information determined by the individual under the effects of cloak of deception. Thus, a chaotic evil assassin planning to kill the duchess at a banquet could decide to register as lawful good, and to appear to be thinking about the buffet. If someone becomes aware that the subject has a spell cast on her — perhaps through use of detect magic — he may then attempt to “see through” the cloak of deception, as if disbelieving an illusion.

Material Component: A silk blindfold with the blood of any creature with innate illusion or deceptive abilities.