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I am creating a new level 8 human character for a new campaign. It is a two-handed melee class, with no spellcasting. Her primary weapon is a two-handed weapon, so holding a plain torch or everburning torch is out. I am looking for cheap ways to get a permanent light source because humans don't have dark vision. I came across another character in another game that has a bandanna enchanted with Continual Flame.

As I am starting out at level 8 with plenty of gold to spend, what is the cost of a bandanna enchanted with Continual Flame?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ One question per post: I removed the bonus question. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 14 '18 at 15:38
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Continual flame, as the name suggests, has a permanent effect. You do not need to actually enchant the bandanna with continual flame; you can just get someone to cast continual flame on it. That costs \$50\text{ gp}\$ worth of ruby dust sprinkled on the bandanna as the spell is cast. If no one in the party can do it, and you have to pay for a spellcaster to do it, it costs an additional \$60\text{ gp}\$ for a caster level 3rd casting (the minimum; you could go up to \$300\text{ gp}\$ for a caster level 20th, assuming you could find a spellcaster for hire who has a caster level that high, which you probably won’t).

So if you just go with a casting of continual flame, the cost is \$50\text{ gp}\$ if an ally does it, \$110\text{ gp}\$ if a hired spellcaster does.

The problem with this approach is that this spell effect could be dispelled. You would then have to get someone to cast continual flame on it again. A continuous magic item can also be dispelled, but it has to be targeted directly, and even then its magic is only suppressed for 1d4 rounds, and then returns normally.

A continuous continual flame effect is rather redundant, though. Instead, consider an item of continuous light—that also produces light like a torch, but it’s a cantrip. Per the guidelines, anyway, that costs

$$^1/_2 \times 1 \times 2{,}000\text{ gp} \times 1.5 = 1{,}500\text{ gp}$$

A fair bit more than the mere \$110\text{ gp}\$ for hiring someone to cast continual flame, so you have to wonder how much you are really worried about dispelling. Personally, I would rule that the item isn’t actually worth that much, and would price it much closer to the simple continual flame effect’s cost—a few hundred gold pieces maybe—since the advantage over continual flame is kind of minor.

As a side note, considering the existence of this item, I would rule that an item of truly continuous continuous flame costs the same as an item of continuous light, rather than the \$6{,}000\text{ gp}\$ you might expect—the first guideline for magic items is to compare to similar items, and continuous continual flame is functionally identical to an item of continuous light anyway. As with light, I would also rule the actual cost to considerably less than what the guidelines suggest even for light.

Of course, all of these are way more than you need to spend. Liquid sunlight is an alchemical item from Complete Scoundrel that can be thrown as a splash weapon or used as a sling bullet, and mildly discomforts things with sunlight sensitivity. Basically worthless as an attack, even against vulnerable creatures. However, the opening line of the item description includes this gem:

Liquid Sunlight: Shining with the light of a torch,

and that’s all we care about. They’re \$20\text{ gp}\$ a pop; buy a handful, string a couple around your neck or tuck them in your bandanna, and stash the rest somewhere safe just in case (why not? they’re \$20\text{ gp}\$!). Since they’re alchemical, they won’t interfere with magic items and can’t be dispelled, so all you really need to worry about is them breaking somehow.

And if we take those into account when pricing our items of continuous light or continual flame, even \$100\text{ gp}\$ seems high for them. They’re arguably less fragile (the rules don’t really describe liquid sunlight’s stats as an object, but they shatter when thrown at something so you have to imagine they break pretty easily), but the magic items can be dispelled and take up an item slot, so I’d prefer the alchemical items over the magic ones. But costing an item of continuous light or continual flame at \$20\text{ gp}\$ or less—when continual flame itself costs \$50\text{ gp}\$ just to cast—seems preposterous. Realistically, someone wasn’t paying attention when they wrote that liquid sunlight glows like a torch and didn’t realize they were blowing existing options for light out of the water—it was probably just meant as fluff and not well considered. But ultimately, I prefer the game with liquid sunlight in it than without.

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    \$\begingroup\$ While the liquid sunlight is awesome—it's the go-to for creatures without darkvision in my campaigns—, the advantage of the continual flame (if a level 17 caster can be found to apply to the continual flame spell the feat Heighten Spell so as to make the flame, effectively, a 9th-level spell effect) is that the resultant effect overcomes being blotted out by lower-level spells with the descriptor darkness. Although 1,580 gp is substantial for an effect that's merely permanent, the light source's reliability against foes employing magical darkness effects shouldn't be ignored. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Feb 14 '18 at 16:33
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110 gp.

A Continual Flame spell is a 2nd level spell with a minimum caster level of third. By the spell services cost, the casting itself costs 60 gp. However, since Continual Flame has an expensive material component of 50 gp, the total cost runs to 110 gp.

If you have a party caster with Continual Flame on their spell list/spellbook, you only need to pay the 50 gp unless your party member is being stingy.

The bandana probably only costs 1 sp or something trivial like that.

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If you were going to go the permanent item route rather than just having someone cast the permanent duration spell for you (so as to avoid the dispel problem) the cost would vary depending on whether you were acquiring it from a divine or arcane enchanter, as it is a 3rd level cleric spell, but only 2nd level for sorcerer/wizard.

Assuming you were able to locate an arcane source, it would cost 2 (spell level) x 3 (caster level) x 2000 gp (base price for continuous enchantment) x 0.5 (discount for continuous enchantment of spell with 24-hour or longer duration) x 1.5 (assuming the DM considered a bandana to have the same effect affinities as a headband, which continual flame does not match) = 9000 gp + 50 gp (material component cost) + 7.5 gp for a masterwork bandana (extrapolated from a cost of 10gp for a square yard of silk, assumption that the bandana is 18" on a side, and thus 0.25 square yards, and Crafting requires spending one third market value on raw materials), for a total cost of 9057.5gp and just over 9 days work for the enchanter.

As to why you would want to do this rather than going with the considerably cheaper option of having it enchanted with light, has to do with the interaction between spells of light and those of darkness. You could have a light-based bandana made by a 3rd level enchanter, and it would be just as hard to dispel as the above item. And while either one could be dispelled by a darkness spell, the light bandana, brought into a preexisting darkness effect would be completely suppressed, while a continual flame bandana would not. (A darkness spell can only dispel or counter a light effect when it is cast. It does not automatically dispel light effects merely by having its effect overlap.)

Normal lights (torches, candles, lanterns, and so forth) are incapable of brightening the area, as are light spells of lower level (such as light or dancing lights). Higher level light spells (such as daylight) are not affected by darkness.

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