There are few things in the world that can fill one with both comfort and horror. One such thing is an element thought to be the most important, and the most destructive. It rages at the very center of our lights and it provides the warmth of a hearth. It can destroy most in its path, and it can lose control incredibly fast. I am of course talking about the true giver and taker, fire.
Every world and every culture has its myths about where fire came from, usually from the gods, through trick or gift. The power of fire is legendary among all people, and they have always wanted and wished to harness it and control it. Fire is used to soften metals for forging, cook food for eating, and even provide light for reading and writing. Its variety as a tool is only matched by its ferocity as a weapon.
Here on Sense of Immersion I will be going over the true sense and feeling you get when you experience fire. Now before I get to the fun part of it all, I simply must express the following;
Fire is Dangerous. Do NOT play with fire! It can go out of control insanely fast, and you or people you love could be hurt or even killed. This is an absolute truth. IF you wish to use fire for something, Read this page first!
Alright now that we discussed that, let’s get on with the show.
Using fire in your RPGs is an absolute blast. No pun intended. In your fantasy games, fire can be controlled and shot through spells, or shot like a jet through the maw of a massive dragon. In science fiction campaigns it can even take down a Starship, sucking the oxygen out while burning all the people and stuff inside. Its danger and its atmosphere can be used so easily that it’s a wonder that any other element ever gets any love at all.
An absolutely easy way to introduce fire quickly and cleanly is to change the theme of a creature to be that of fire. A boar that has flaming hair and jets of flame for tusks, a lion with a mane made of fire, blasting rays of heat from its tail, or a bird made completely of flame, that is reborn from the ashes.
Potions can easily introduce fire to the players as well. Such as a magma potion that turns all stone it touches into magma, a potion that allows you to breathe fire like a dragon, or a potion that simply works extremely well at cooking food without the light, but with all the heat of a flame.
If you want to generally theme a villain around fire, have them use it creatively. Any schmuck with a fireball spell can use it, but what if this ancient wizard can fill his zombie minions with explosives, and a single red glyph of fireball. When somebody destroys the rune, boom.
Senses Before the Fire
When one realizes the true reality of a possible fire, it’s all they can think about. The tension, the fuel, the fear. The one thing that sets it all off is a simple spark from a sword on shield, or the click of fingers followed by a quick magical command.
You can have the fuels present the entire fight, but introduce the idea of fire as the barrels of oil shatter open, spilling their contents into the road.
You see the oil spilling out onto the road, thick and yellowed with age, it crawls through the cracks and lines in the cobbled stone. It shines and glints off boots and off armor as people fight, splashing through it.
The smell is overpowering, It fills your nostrils with a tinge of fumes, just waiting to ignite. The heavy air is thick with the scent.
A taste of oily bitterness splashes your mouth as an ally runs by, the oil splashing up towards you. You wipe it away, leaving a trail of it on your arm, and a ghost of the unfortunate flavor.
Companions warn you through shouts, you hear the other side start to communicate, they have a plan. Somebody pulls a small silver object out.
The sense of urgency that fills you is acidic. You feel it burn away your stomach lining as you rush to get away, as you rush to escape the fuels of this upcoming event.
Senses During the Fire
The other side caught wind of the environment, and quickly (though not intelligently) set a plan into motion. They had a lighter they bartered from an old Craftsdwarf. They threw it to the ground, and the tongue of flame quickly rippled through the back alley flooded with two barrels worth of oil.
Your sight is blinded in an instant by the orange, red, and white of the explosion. It comes back a moment later, But you wish it hadn’t.
Your burning flesh doesn’t smell like it’s cooking, it smells like overcooking. Flesh and bone smell like meat on a grill being completely destroyed by the fire, while the blood boils and the metallic odor drowns all things in its stench.
You cannot taste anything at all anymore, and if you could, it would be the worst side of beef ever left on bare coals for six hours straight, the fat just boiling in the flames until they melt away completely.
Somebody is screaming, you are sure of it. You hear it clear as day, and you realize, suddenly, that its you. You watch your companions with horror as they grab their cloaks and try to put you out, the air whooshing towards you and causing the burning fire to burn even worse all over you. You hear them drowning out your own dying screams with screams of attempted helping.
You could feel the heat as the flames licked their way up your body, it was searing pain, the hairs growing all over you catching on fire and disintegrating in an instant. You cannot feel anything anymore.
Senses After the Fire
For the poor soul caught in the flames, there is a cleric and a lot of bed rest in the future. For the alley, there is nothing left but stonework and foundation.
For the town, there was simply ruin.
The sight of stone from under the buildings and in the roads is caked in soot and ash. The wood making up the twisted remains of the Inn and Blacksmith’s home has bent and cracked, ending the shelters with a swift and bright inferno. People wander through, glassy-eyed and in shock.
Smells of smoke and of warm air choke all who wander through, hoping to help or running from it all. The light tinges of burning flesh or burning leathers mixes into the very chemicals of the air, causing all breaths to be taken with a shake.
Black dots and specks of debris fill the sky, far off some children think it a new snow in the night, but a quick taste of the acrid ash clears the thought up immediately.
The sobbing mothers and fathers, the crying children, and the calling friends and families fill the once calm village with the sounds of a place in ruin.
You feel a twist of the urge to help, spun around the urge to run away. You feel the heat emanating off the charred and destroyed place, as it washes over your entire body.
Kinda sick, huh?
Well, immersion has its dark sides as well. You are more than welcome to go into as much, or as little, detail as you feel is necessary. Some players are squeamish, and you should keep this in mind when narrating. If somebody is looking green in the gills, tone it down, we’re all here to have fun.
Thank you so much for reading yet again, and please, if there is a topic you’d like me to cover on a future Sense of Immersion, let me know and I’ll be happy to add it to my ever-growing list. Also please check out my Patreon!
Roll a D% to see what sort of weird magic things are happening to your fire!
1-10: The fire burns a normal bright orange, but the light is a strange eerie blue color.
11-20: The firelight reveals all creatures that are invisible, ghostly, or hidden by illusion.
21-30: All who stare into the glow see the faces of their dead loved ones smiling warmly back at them, proud.
31-30: All creatures within fifty feet of the fire must make a DC 14 wisdom saving throw against a psychic command telling them to make my fire grow. All who fail will fuel the fire until they run out of fuel, and then jump into it themselves. Those who fail can be broken out of the command by being knocked out or splashed with water.
41-55: The fire explodes into a base-level fireball spell.
56-70: The coals, wood, or other fuel inside the fire come to life, and begin dancing around inside the fire, happy and joy-filled. The fuelings stay living as long as they bathe in fire once every 24 hours.
71-90: The fire begins to pop as corn appears, kernel by kernel, into the fire. It quickly burns and the buttery smells become disgusting and smokey.
91: The flames freeze solid, and are cold to the touch. They can be removed as a solid frozen object, and warm up the area they are in as if they were un-frozen.
92: The flames become sentient, and are really confused.
93: An ear-splitting scream fills the area, and the fire dies out immediately. Unable to be re-lit.
94: The fire burns away all nightmares and dreams had within a mile of it.
95: The fire connects to another fire on the same plane of existence, and the people around either of them can speak to, and hear each other.
96: The fire flickers into color imagery, projecting the image of a battle the Players will have soon, using the area around them as a theater.
97: The fire will never go out, and will never spread.
98: The fire, when extinguished, reveals a beautiful platter, holding the favorite meal of a god or goddess that favors the players.
99: The flames become magnetic, pulling a single weapon from each character into them. If the weapons stay in the fire until it goes out naturally, the weapons deal 1d6 fire damage extra from now on, and are decorated with imagery of an important figure in the world’s history related to fire.
100: Roll twice on this table.