May 13, 2016

Black Flame Zealot

Roguish Archetype

*This is a favorite from 3.5, brought to life by the very talented Takiskal!*

Black Flame Zealot

There exists a religious order of assassins that worship the hungry Fire God. These assassins are feared by all, noble, king, and wizard alike, for their unmatched skill and mystical fire powers.

Black Flames
When you choose this archetype at 3rd level, you can sheathe your weapons in black flames. Your melee weapons can deal fire damage instead of their normal damage types are considered magical for the purpose of bypassing damage resistances and immunities. If you deal Sneak Attack damage using a melee weapon, you can ignore the target creature's fire resistance.

Burnt Offerings
Starting at 3rd level, any creature killed by your flaming weapons turns to black ashes before it hits the ground. A suitable offering to your hungry god.

At 9th level, your faith and purpose is unshakable. You add your proficiency bonus on saving throws against being charmed, frightened, or possessed. Upon gaining the Slippery Mind ability, you instead gain advantage on Wisdom saving throws against being charmed, frightened, or possessed.

Vision in Flames 
Beginning at 13th level, you can cast your gaze into a flickering fire, concentrating on it for 1 minute to see through other nearby flames. During this time, you are blind with regard to your surroundings, but you are aware of all nonmagical sources of fire, such as candles, torches, and campfires, within 500 feet and can see through one of them at a time. Also, you are instantly aware if a creature within this area takes fire damage.

Fiery Dispersion
Beginning at 17th level, you can use your reaction to disperse into black flames, while so transformed you become immune to all damage and cannot be targeted by any effect, however, you also cannot deal damage to other creature or objects until the start of your next turn. At that time, you reform in an unoccupied spot within 30 feet. After using this ability, you must complete a short or long rest before using it again.

Changelog: 5/13/15: Fanaticism: Wording change.


  1. Ah the good old black flame zealot. I really like your 5e implementation, but the wording is somewhat off in the fanaticism feature. The "fear and charm effect" thing is usually not a thing in 5e instead the rules normally refer to being frightened or charmed.

    1. Huh, that's a good point. Frankly, I don't know how I let that slip past me.

    2. As merely a curiousity in this instant, what made you choose the 500 feet as a benchmark for how far you can sense flames? It seems a /touch/ small, considering it only allows you sight and not teleporting through them or other ways of interaction. The ability is undoubtedly flavorful, and I applaud it's concept.

      Secondly, is it intended that you are not deaf while gazing through the fires? As-written, while blind, a rogue retains their auditory (and tactile/olfactory) senses and thus it can be assumed that they can end the glimpse and react to any enemy they sense approaching. This is only notable for the comparison to the familiar shared sight.

    3. Also, is it unreasonable to have one of the higher level features provide either the trademark 'Creatures immune to fire are treated as only resistant to your black flames'?

      Or if that is unreasonable, what about 'Such is your devotion your weapons enchanted by the black flame are still treated as magical, even against creatures with fire immunity'

      Mostly, this is protection against the edge case scenario where a monster is both immune to fire and also resistant or immune to 'Piercing, Slashing, and Bludgeoning damage from nonmagical weapons', which as the archetype is currently written completely lock you out of your core mechanic.

    4. @Vision in the Flames: I can't remember now what I compared it to, but I remember that I found a feature or spell which had a similar benefit, which also had a range of 500 feet.

      Also, it's fully intended that you're not to be deaf while peering through the fire. Find Familiar is a little different since you can see and hear from your familiar's perspective, whereas this provides only sight.

      Fire Immunity: I'll have to look for some examples on this to see how highly 5e values ignoring resistance or immunity. To my knowledge, there aren't a lot of instances of ignoring immunity, but there might be a few examples of ignoring resistance. I think it's probably fine right now, but I'll do some research.

    5. You have at least one on this site, with the Force Missile Mage - which has the /added/ benefit of also reducing Shield from immunity to purely resistance.

      If ignoring immunity is too strong for a 3rd level feature (it probably is) you could tack it on to something close to say, the 13th level feature - which is right alongside where you valued the Force Missile Mage's one.

      However, I feel that it /does/ need clarifying whether your weapon is still treated as magic against fire-immune creatures.

      I feel that it /should/, purely because it makes Greenflame Blade not /necessary/ (since a GFB attack should be treated as magic regardless of immunity or resistance to fire) which is a welcome direction for the subclass.

      I should note that (at least in Force Missile Mage) there is no removing of resistance - it simply decreases it to the next incremented step. The 3rd level feature increments Resistance one step,

      Immunity > Resistance > Neutral.

      I don't have my copy of the Monster Manual open at this exact instant, so I can't vouch for the fact that a creature that is immune to fire and immune to non-magical weapons exists /presently/ but I feel that it would be wiser to future proof this subclass than have to band-aid it when Wizard's decides to print such a creature.

      This of course doesn't take into account DM's that tinker with MM stats for monsters.

    6. Additional Query - Is sight from Vision in Flames subject to visibility/light? Obviously fire exhibits light so this is a strange question, but since the Black Flame Zealot can still hear while glimpsing (and damage presently does not force you to save vs concentration or even simply revert to normal vision).

      In the overwhelming majority of cases this won't matter, but there is the situation where a BFZ could take a birds eye view over a battle or watch multiple potential points through this ability.

      The concept of a BFZ managing to have a top-down view of a situation by staring through the hanging brazier or using a series of torches on the wall to have a better perspective of an infiltration.

      Once again, I must tip my hat to you - this ability is so full of flavor and has so many interesting uses. You deserve applause.

    7. Nothing is immune to damage from non-magical weapons to my knowledge. Things are only immune to bludgeoning, piercing and slashing from non-magical sources. Since there are no non-magical weapons (RAW at least) that deal any non-physical damage this means that things are effectively immune to non-magical weapons though.
      Furthermore, if a weapon is considered magical (as written, they are for this class, it doesn't state they're only magical when dealing fire damage) it bypasses the physical damage immunity entirely.
      On this note, GFB is a normal weapon attack followed by a magical fire attack. The weapon attack is magical or not, depending on the weapon, the fire attack is magical, but it deals fire damage and everything that's immune to fire is immune to both magic and mundane fire.
      At this point I could go on a rant about golems being a gear check and how there should be more enemies that distinguish between different physical damage types and that magic weapons shouldn't just ignore immunities, but that's beside the point.

      The ability makes your weapons magic so they bypass immunity.
      Greenflame blade doesn't bypass immunities.

    8. Forgot to add the main point. I kinda' lost track of what I was writing.

      Main point is that it states:
      -Your weapon IS considered magical
      -Your weapon CAN deal fire damage

      Meaning it can also deal it's normal damage while being considered magical, therefore meaning that nothing is immune or resistant to it and the fire damage option only serves to deal extra damage to vulnerable creatures and suppress regen.

    9. Thanks, Aurtose! This point is completely correct. The original wording Takiskal provided made this more explicit, but I summarized it to 'can deal fire damage' because that's the 5e way of talking about it.

    10. ...Your melee weapons can deal fire damage instead of their
      normal damage types are considered magical for the purpose of bypassing damage resistances and immunities...

      Should probably read

      ...Your melee weapons can deal fire damage instead of their normal damage types/, and/ are considered magical for the purpose of bypassing damage resistances and immunities...

      Which would clear up any confusion.

  2. Hmm, the thirteenth level feature makes me Melissandre from GoT..

    1. Ha! I was wondering if anyone would get the reference!

  3. Why won't the Fanaticism just give advantage instead of having to change mid-class?
    The concept is pretty cool, but seems a bit weak next to other Rogue archetypes. Maybe the Burnt Offerings can give you temp HP or some other reward from your god?