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Warlocks, the Nucleus of the Spheres, and Blackflame

by David Keyser

How am I possibly going to tie these three topics together? Read more and find out...

For background, the Warlock, introduced in 3.5 D&D, is a character class which is essentially an arcane spellcaster with a very limited repertoire of spells, but is able to cast those spells as many times as they wish, limited only in the sense they can still only cast one spell per round. Technically not spells, more like spell effects which are mostly equivalent to arcane spells.

Essentially it is a precursor to 4th edition D&D where most classes generate an expected range of damage or effects each round, somewhat standardized.

Because this class was created after Mystara's product cycle, the setting doesn't address this type of arcane spellcaster at all. One of my players wanted to play a warlock in the Savage Tide campaign I was running, so I began to think about how I would go about integrating such a character into Mystara.

The default fluff for the warlock is they make a pact with some power, whether demonic, devil, fey or something else. This is the source of their innate power. I wanted something a little better that integrated with Mystara more that also addressed why warlocks were unknown previously, and why a few exist now. I realize many don't even worry about such little details, but for some it is a big deal, not just me.

While most spellcasters "tire out" or "run out of power" in the course of a strenuous day, the warlock is essentially an ever-living battery. So what kind of power source could be charging the warlock?

That is when I thought of the Nucleus of the Spheres...the ultimate Mystaran battery. At the end of WoTI, the NoS is changed in the final battle. Now what precisely happened is contradicted later, WoTI says the NoS begins draining Entropy, but I believe latter sources continue to mention magic drain instead from the Sphere of Energy. Fans have addressed this, but for my purpose in this thread the NoS really just serves as a black box to power PC and NPC warlocks in Mystara.

But it is WoTI which triggers the motivation. There are fiends and other entities in the Sphere of Entropy which are now affected by the NoS drain, even if it is mostly still draining Sphere of Energy, some Entropic drain is occurring. Not able to stop the drain, these collective fiends/demons have found another way to "get back" most of the energy/entropy they are losing. By forming a demonic pact with a mortal, who becomes a warlock, they tie a mystical/spiritual conduit from the NoS to the warlock. The NoS drains entropy and converts it to power. The warlock uses power from the NoS to generate his or her magics. In doing so, the magic releases energy/entropy again, back into the world, in an almost perfect feedback loop. That which is lost from the world is loosed back by the warlock(or if you have demon entities being drained directly, they get the energy back via conduit when the warlock casts).

So warlocks are essentially a self-defense mechanism put in place by demonic and entropic powers to prevent the NoS from harming them, or at least slowing down that harmful process until they come up with something better.

So where does Blackflame come into all this? Well I gave my player a choice that if he wanted to play a genuinely good warlock, he would have to play a halfling. I did this after he asked if he could use the hellfire prestige class, found here.

Reading this reminded me of Blackflame, particularly from GAZ8 how some halflings can absorb Blackflame into their bodies for brief periods of time. What if I repackaged this as a Blackflame warlock prestige class? My player liked the idea, and the concept behind it is when he first takes a level in the prestige class, he absorbs the Blackflame into his body. Once it is there, the Blackflame burns along the conduit until it reaches the NoS, and then essentially burns on a part of the NoS for as long as the NoS exists. Only now the blackflame can be summoned by the halfling warlock back along the conduit to be channeled into blackflame equivalence of the hellfire effects. The blackflame also destroys the entropic imprint or connection, leaving a very angry fiend wanting to know why it has suddenly been cheated of its investment.

So what do you think of this convoluted pseudo-sicentific magical techno-babble? Love it? Hate it?