Special thanks to Christopher Howard for this explanation of the Balefire System which he posted on the White Wolf Changeling Forum on October 22, 1999.
Glad you're not holding a grudge. Finishing off Denizens and leaping onto Werewolf has kept me pretty busy, but I'm posting this for your edification (and for anyone else who is curious about Balefire). As the author of Nockers I will mention how it relates to them and if I overstep my bounds in any other way, Jackie and Nicky can feel free to whack me on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper. (It wouldn't be the first time a developer has done that.) First: Balefire shows up in two major and distinct forms in the World of Darkness. The first is the toxic hellfire of the Wyrm and the Black Spiral Dancers in the Werewolf cosmology. Although I cannot speak for the current developers, past Werewolf developer Bill Bridges made it very clear that the two are not even remotely related except by name. To paraphrase: "No. No. No. Not in a million years." The coincidence of name here probably comes from the BSD's progenitors the White Howlers who were ubiquitous in Great Britain and had at least some truck with the fae in earlier times. The Balefire familiar to faerie freeholds is the spark of pure creative force. It is fire, but also raw Glamour in its most chaotic, fundamental form. Nockers do indeed use it in their forges, along with more "mundane" faerie fires. I did not differentiate a different kind of "Forged" for Balefire as opposed to regular fae fire in the Changeling 2nd Ed. rules simply because I didn't want to make things more complex that they already were. (Four types of chimera? Aaagh!) There was originally some information in Kithbook: Nockers about how Balefire was mainly useful for the most highly skilled nocker crafters (the balmalocha) to make truly great faerie Treasures that would be impossible to make with normal fae fire. The line didn't make the final cut for space reasons, but for people's edification I am reprinting the paragraph here.
Balefire runs hotter than most normal faerie flames (though certain legendary volcanoes, dragon breath, etc. may be just as hot or even hotter). For certain nockers, Balefire's chaotic, creative nature renders it as an unparalleled tool for creating Treasures that would be impossible using lesser chimerical flames. Its raw dream energies make it particularly useful for melting materials that might otherwise resist more mundane forging methods. Under certain circumstances even Autumn materials, if properly enchanted can be melted using Balefire which can distill their Dream aspects from the Banal dross of the waking world. Certain enterprising nockers have attempted to use this process to bring modern materials such as advanced ceramic composites, plastics and metal alloys into the Dreaming. While occasionally successful, this process is a long and arduous process fraught with difficulty. While not usually dangerous, it typically entails more frustration than most nockers care to contend with (especially when there are equally useful materials distributed throughout the Dreaming).
System: All Forged items made with Balefire are at +2 difficulty because of the fire's chaotic nature, but items so forged thereafter gain an additional point with which to resist Banality. At the Storyteller's discretion Balefire forged blades also maintain a much keener edge and Balefire armor is simply stronger than its more mundane counterparts. Depending on the skill of the crafter, weapons or armor made with this process receive additional dice to damage or defend. All the most truly extraordinary Forged Treasures in fae history were created with Balefire. As for the rest of it. Yes, Balefire be used as a weapon via a flaming torch or other similar means? It burns like any other fire, though I don't know if I would ascribe any additional damage to it over normal faerie fire. (Storyteller's discretion.) Aggravated? Maybe, but I'm not in any position to make a ruling. Sorry. I generally use the Tremere "Lure of Flames" scale for fire damage, though there may be some other scale in the Changeling rules. I can't remember off the top of my head and none of my books are available to me at the moment.
"What happens when someone chucks water at Balefire? Does it go out? Would this type of action extinguish a freehold's Balefire and therefore render the freehold inert? Can Balefire be smothered?" To quote Bill: No. No. No. A thousand times no. You can smother a Balefire with Banality, absorb it through some sick sort of Ravaging, but it is otherwise eternal. It takes a lot more than a bucket of water to douse a faerie Balefire.
Copyright © 2000, Beau Brown