In the action-packed, intrigue-laced, pulp/noir world of Eberron, heroes are certain to encounter a wide array of different organizations, from crime syndicates to knightly orders to merchant houses. There are churches, cults, clans, and more. And whether the organizations in your campaign work behind the scenes, out in the open, or both, the schemes, machinations, plans, purposes, goals, and agendas of those various groups provide an endless number of reasons for your characters to traipse all over the continents of the Eberron Campaign Setting.
Motivating Forces in Your Campaign
For the heroes of a pulp/noir world filled with action, adventure, and intrigue, it's not hard to see how even a handful of organizations can become the catalysts for never-ending adventure.
Dragon Magazine #316
For more insight into the world of Eberron, check out Dragon magazine for a new six-part monthly series: "Countdown to the EberronCampaign Setting." Issue #316 (that's the February issue, which goes on sale this month) gives you an idea of how all of the standard character classes fit in the setting, introduces you to an all-new character class -- the artificer -- and introduces you to another of the setting's prestige classes: the master inquisitive. Issue #315 (the January issue), offers more insight into the tone and attitude of this new D&D world, along with a little of Eberron's most recent history.
Take Raiders of the Lost Ark as a fine example: Indiana Jones was a professor at the University of Chicago. He took on a dangerous assignment from the U.S. government. During the course of his quest for the Lost Ark of the Covenant, he faced rival archeologist Belloq and the forces of the Third Reich. That's three separate organizations and a major NPC foil in just a single adventure. Indy's affiliation with the university provides more than enough motivation for every one of his escapades. The U.S. government is a great entity for introducing new jobs, goals, and motivations. Belloq was very clearly a recurring bad guy who was always slipping in to ruin all of Dr. Jones' hard work, and if he hadn't exploded at the end of Raiders, he certainly might have sauntered in to snatch up the Holy Grail action in TheLast Crusade. And the Nazis were an ideal evil organization to conflict with Indiana Jones -- with plenty of equipment, personnel, and resources, they offered many different threats throughout the entire Raiders adventure and resurfaced once more with and entirely different array of challenges for The Last Crusade.
When you start flipping through your copy of the Eberron Campaign Setting, you'll discover an entire chapter dedicated to but a few of the organizations you may encounter in your campaign. One of the more heroic groups your characters could ally with (or at least be employed by) is the Church of the Silver Flame. Of course, just as you'd find in any organization in the real world, not every member of the Church of the Silver Flame has the same alignment. So, you could just as easily find your heroic party confronted by radical members of the church. Unexpected allies and intriguing enemies can be found in every organization.
The Church of the Silver Flame
The priests and paladins of the Silver Flame have battled the forces of darkness for hundreds of years. While it is a relatively young religion, it has found staunch support across Khorvaire, especially in the kingdom of Thrane.
The Church of the Silver Flame was born in 299 YK. A massive and unexpected volcanic eruption in Thrane released a demon lord and its minions, and for a time it seemed that darkness would cover the land. But the upheaval had also opened a path to the force that had bound the demons for an aeon. This silver flame found a vessel in a young woman named Tira Miron; empowered and inspired, Tira rallied the forces of Thrane and drove the fiends back to the black mountain, sealing them in the vaults of Khyber once more. But Tira's work was not done. Traveling to the cavern where the flame rose from the earth, she allowed her body to be consumed so that her soul could join with the flame itself. Tira now serves as the Voice of the Silver Flame, the intermediary between humanity and the divine.
Over the centuries the Church of the Silver Flame has spread across Khorvaire. Its followers are engaged in a never-ending struggle against the forces of evil. They have fought demons, hunted the lycanthropes almost to extinction, and battled all manner of monsters. But all too often, it is human corruption that proves the most dangerous foe.
Headquarters: Flamekeep, Thrane
Leader: Jaela Daran, the Keeper of the Flame
Alignment: Lawful Good
Symbol: The symbol of the Church is a silver arrowhead engraved with a stylized flame.
The Church of the Silver Flame is divided into the church militant and the church ministry. The ministry oversees the administrative functions of the church. The members of the ministry are also responsible for providing spiritual guidance to the followers of the church. They are shepherds rather than soldiers, and they battle evil by nurturing good. Each kingdom is overseen by a network of priests and bishops; this chain of command continues up to the Council of Flamekeep and the Keeper of the Flame. The current Keeper is a girl named Jaela Daran, who was appointed in 995 YK .
The church militant is comprised of warriors, paladins, clerics, and exorcists. Where the ministry attempts to kindle a spark of good in the human spirit, the church militant battles the forces of evil wherever they appear. Members of this spiritual army live ascetic lives in monastic fortresses, alternating periods of devotion and training with circular patrols across the territory protected by the Flame. The church militant has its own internal hierarchy, but it is under the rule of the Keeper of the Flame, and the rank and file of the army are expected to defer to the ministry. The church militant is the sword of the Flame; the ministry is the mind that guides it.
Within both the ministry and the church militant, a promising initiate is often sent on an extended and unstructured pilgrimage, charged to discover the true nature of good and evil by walking in the world and to try to make a difference as an individual. These pilgrims are expected to respond to the needs of the church in the communities they pass through. Any PC cleric or paladin who wishes to be a member of the Church of the Silver Flame should usually be considered a pilgrim.
Motivation and Goals
The Church of the Silver Flame seeks to purify the world. Its most obvious work is its war against supernatural evil; members of the church militant roam the land fighting fiends, undead, and magical beasts. But the church also seeks to fight corruption, greed, and other human evils. The common layman is not expected to fight zombies and ghouls; this is the work of the soldiers of the church. But he is expected to live a noble life and to encourage others to do the same. It is said that those who purify their spirits in this life will join with the Silver Flame after death, strengthening the flame as it binds the forces of evil within Khyber.
Sadly, the priests and parishioners of the church don't always live up to these noble standards. Within Thrane, the warriors and ministers of the Silver Flame are generally dedicated to the ideals of the church -- sometimes with an almost frightening zealotry. But the further away one gets from Flamekeep and the watchful eye of the Keeper of the Flame, the more common it is to find corrupt ministers and warriors who abuse their reputation for personal gain. Southern Breland is particularly infamous for the conduct of its ministers. Periodically, the Council of Flamekeep sends agents to seek out and eliminate corruption within the church -- but the foul often find shelter in the shadows.
The Silver Flame has close ties to the Knights of Thrane. Most of the knights are devotees of the Silver Flame, but they have chosen to serve the crown instead of taking up the monastical rule of the church militant.
The greatest enemies of the Silver Flame are the Lords of Dust. Though few even within the ministry are aware of it, the Silver Flame was born in the ancient struggle between the rakshasas and the couatl, and it is the power of the Silver Flame that holds the rajahs at bay. The Lords of Dust rarely move openly, but over the centuries there have been many clashes between the agents of the flame and this alliance of fiends.
A second deadly rival is the Order of the Emerald Claw. The church militant will take any opportunity to strike down these necromancers and their vile creations -- a situation that may exacerbate tensions between Thrane and Karrn'ath, where the Order has been gaining support.
Jaela Daran (LG female human Clr16) is a nine-year old girl who was called to serve as the spiritual leader of the Church of the Silver Flame. She has a streak of pure silver in her hair, a sign of the touch of the divine. She is disturbingly intelligent and charismatic; while her body is that of a little girl, she speaks with the voice of all of the Keepers of the Flame who have come before her.
While Jaela is one of the most powerful clerics in Khorvaire, she is bound to the flame and cannot venture far from it. She is not a hero, but she has been empowered to recognize and guide heroes, and adventurers may be summoned to Flamekeep to receive messages from the Flame.
Any PC who chooses to play a paladin or cleric devoted to the Silver Flame has a tie to the church. A fighter or wizard with strong religious beliefs could also choose to join the church militant. In most cases these characters should be pilgrims -- freed from the strict hierarchy of the church. As a pilgrim, a character will be treated respectfully by others of the faith, but does not have access to the resources of the church; the purpose of his journey is to learn about the world on his own.
The Church of the Silver Flame can serve as a valuable ally to good-aligned parties. It is engaged in an endless battle against evil, and while the church militant has many warriors, few have the potential of player characters. If they chose, PCs who align with the Silver Flame can become champions of the church. However, there are a number of limitations to consider when using the church as a patron. First, good contacts with the church does not automatically equal free healing magic. In small towns or smaller communities, the priest of the Silver Flame may simply be an expert with ranks in Healing, Sense Motive, Knowledge (religion), and Diplomacy -- but no actual magical powers. Even in larger cities, members of the ministry are more likely to be adepts than full clerics. Clerics are rare and exalted, and are usually tied to the church militant, serving on the front lines of the war against evil. While most priests know mundane healing techniques, House Jorasco is the center for magical healing.
Another limitation is the high moral standards of the church. Normal parishioners are not expected to behave as paladins. But the Silver Flame sees the world in black and white, and when dealing with the church of Thrane, PCs will be expected to act as heroes.
But then there is the final issue: The fact that not all priests live up to these standards. Characters who appeal to the church for aid may find that the local priest cares little about their problems. In fact, a truly noble pilgrim or champion might actually become the target of treachery, if a corrupt priest sees the character as a threat to his position.
In any PC is a cleric or paladin in the service of the Silver Flame, the church presents an easy way to draw the characters into a conflict; a local priest calls on the passing pilgrims to overcome an evil that has arisen within the area. Corrupt priests also present opportunities for adventure, as the heroes realize that the work they have been doing for the church has only benefited the priest. How far does the corruption go? If the heroes try to expose the priest, will they simply endanger themselves further?
At higher levels, characters may be directly summoned by the Keeper of the Flame. Jaela may have seen the destiny of the characters in the flame itself; this could be the start of a major campaign arc, as she equips them with relics of the church and sends them on a task that only they can accomplish.
Note that followers of the flame may receive a cold welcome from monstrous communities. Droaam and Darguun have both suffered at the hands of the Silver Flame -- and pilgrims who pass through these regions would be well advised to be prepared for treachery and aggression.
If your character of adventuring group finds itself closely tied to the goals and purposes of the Church of the Silver Flame, you might be drawn to serve as a champion in its endless battle against demons, devils, and other evil outsiders -- to take on the prestige class mantle of an Exorcist of the Silver Flame.
Exorcist of the Silver Flame
The church of the Silver Flame is dedicated to fighting supernatural forces of evil across Khorvaire. Trying to remain above the lingering conflicts of the Last War, the church focuses its energy on combating extraplanar threats such as possessing devils and corrupting demons. Leading this unceasing war are the exorcists of the Silver Flame, spiritual heroes who channel the power of the Silver Flame to ward off evil outsiders, cast out possessing spirits, and smite the material forms of the forces of evil.
Exorcists of the Silver Flame are drawn from the ranks of the most experienced and dedicated champions of the church, primarily clerics and high-level paladins. Multiclass cleric/wizards (and accomplished mystic theurges of the church) are also drawn to the class, though most of these retain their emphasis on divine spells and powers.
Most exorcists of the Silver Flame are active in the world, out on the front lines of the war against evil. A few NPC exorcists might be found in a state of retirement -- so physically and emotionally scarred from their experiences that they border on insanity.
Hit Die: d8.
To qualify to become an exorcist of the Silver Flame, a character must fulfill all the following criteria.
Alignment: Any good.
Base Attack Bonus: +3.
Skills: Knowledge (the planes) 3 ranks, Knowledge (religion) 8 ranks.
Spells: Able to cast 1st-level divine spells.
The exorcist of the Silver Flame's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (arcana) (Int), Knowledge (the planes) (Int), Knowledge (religion) (Int), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis) and Spellcraft (Int).
Skill Points per Level: 2 + Int modifier.
All of the following are class features of the exorcist of the Silver Flame.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Exorcists of the Silver Flame gain no proficiency with any weapons, armor, or shields.
Spells per Day: From 2nd level on, when a new exorcist of the Silver Flame level is gained, the character gains new spells per day as if she had also gained a cleric or paladin level. She does not, however, gain any other benefit a character that class would have gained (improved ability to turn undead and so on). This essentially means that she adds these exorcist of the Silver Flame levels to her levels in cleric or paladin, then determines spells per day and caster level accordingly.
If a character had levels in both cleric and paladin before she became an exorcist of the Silver Flame, she must decide to which class she adds each level of exorcist for the purpose of determining spells per day.
Flame of Censure (Su): An exorcist of the Silver Flame can manifest the mystical power of the Silver Flame to ward off outsiders with the evil subtype. The exorcist makes a Charisma check and consults Table 8-9 in the Player's Handbook, using his total character level to determine the most powerful outsider he can affect. He then rolls 2d6 + his level in this class + his Charisma modifier for turning damage. Using both his character level and class level in this manner means that he is more likely to affect a single, powerful outsider, but unlikely to censure more than one of them.
A censured outsider is stunned for 1 round by the power of the Silver Flame channeled through the exorcist. If the exorcist's character level is at least twice the outsiders' Hit Dice, he banishes the outsider back to its home plane. An exorcist can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + his Charisma modifier.
Weapon of the Exorcist (Su): An exorcist of the Silver Flame chooses a weapon with which he will dispense the will of the church. The chosen weapon must be a weapon that the exorcist of the Silver Flame is proficient in, and must have been in his possession for the last 24 hours. While wielding this weapon, the exorcist has +1 sacred bonus to damage and the weapon is considered magical for purposes of penetrating damage reduction.
An exorcist of the Silver Flame may only have one weapon of the exorcist at a time.
Weapon of Silver (Su): Starting at 2nd level, the exorcist of the Silver Flame's chosen weapon is now considered silver as well as magical for the purposes of penetrating damage reduction, while he wields it.
Darkvision (Ex): If he does not already have it, an exorcist of the Silver Flame gains darkvision 30 feet at 3rd level. His darkvision is increased to 60 feet at 6th level.
Resist Possession (Su): At 3rd level, an exorcist of the Silver Flame receives a +4 sacred bonus on saving throws against possession, including magic jar spells, ghostly malevolence, and fiendish possession. He also receives a +2 sacred bonus on saving throws against all charm and compulsion spells and effects cast by evil outsiders or undead.
Smite Evil (Su): Starting at 3rd level, once per day an exorcist of the Silver Flame may attempt to smite evil with one normal melee attack. He adds his Charisma bonus (if any) to his attack roll and deals 1 extra point of damage per exorcist level. If the exorcist accidentally smites a creature that is not evil, the smite has no effect but the ability is still used up for that day. An exorcist who is also a paladin and/or cleric adds his daily uses of this ability from each class together, and adds his exorcist level to his paladin level and/or cleric level to determine bonus damage. For example, a 5th-level cleric/10th-level paladin/3rd-level exorcist of the Silver Flame can smite evil 4 times per day (3/day from his paladin levels and 1/day from his exorcist levels) and deals +18 points of damage on a successful smite.
At 7th level, the exorcist may smite evil one additional time per day.
Detect Thoughts (Sp): At will, an exorcist of the Silver Flame can use detect thoughts, as the spell. The DC is 10 + class level + Charisma modifier.
Weapon of Good (Su): Starting at 4th level, the exorcist of the Silver Flame's chosen weapon is now considered good as well as silver and magic for the purposes of penetrating damage reduction, while he wields it.
Burning Exorcism (Su): At 5th level, an exorcist of the Silver Flame gains a +2 bonus on Charisma checks to force possessing spirits out of the bodies they inhabit, as well as on all dispel checks and caster level checks to harm, banish, or overcome the spell resistance of evil outsiders. This includes dispel checks to dispel a summon monster spell when the summoned monster is an evil outsider. However, the bodies they inhabit take 1d6 damage (half sacred, half fire).
Weapon of Flame (Su): Starting at 6th level, the exorcist of the Silver Flame's chosen weapon deals an additional 1d6 fire damage while he wields it.
Weapon of Law (Su): Starting at 8th level, the exorcist of the Silver Flame's chosen weapon is now considered lawful as well as good, silver, and magic for the purposes of penetrating damage reduction, while he wields it.
Weapon of Sacred Flame (Su): Starting at 9th level, the exorcist of the Silver Flame's chosen weapon deals an additional 1d6 sacred damage while he wields it.
Warding Flame(Su): At 10th level, an exorcist of the Silver Flame, at will as a free action, can bath himself in silver flame. As long as the warding flame covers him, he gains a +2 sacred bonus to Armor Class and Saving Throws. In addition, he gains spell resistance 25 against evil spells and spells cast by evil creatures.
Any evil creature that makes a successful melee attack against the exorcist of the Silver Flame while he is bathed in the warding flame must make a fortitude save or be blinded (as per blindness/deafness spell, with a DC 20 + the exorcist's Charisma modifier.)
The warding flame also provides bright illumination up to 30 feet from the exorcist and shadowy illumination up to 60 feet. The warding flame can be dismissed at any time.
This June, you'll be able to pick up and start exploring the Eberron Campaign Setting. Every month until then, we'll offer up more material to help you get an even better idea of what you'll encounter when you do. Next month, you'll get a look at some of the exciting artwork being created for the Eberron Campaign Setting, along with some insight from Eberron's art director, Robert Raper, and a couple of the highly talented artists who helped the vision of Eberron come into focus.
About the Author
Mat Smith is a copywriter who's been playing roleplaying games for a disturbing number of years, and now gets to spend an astonishing amount of time thinking about clever ways to get more people to do the same.