The Story So Far...
Watersday, Wealsun 12th, 595 CY
Unable to save Alek Tercival's soul under her own power, Quintessa was told to teleport herself and his body back to the Church of St. Cuthbert, believing that Jenya Urikas could accomplish for her dear friend what the foul sorceress could not---such an act would leave her comrades alone amid the Sea of Dust. With a smirk the sorceress took her familiar, her share of the treasures, and the body of Alek and vanished from view, leaving the others alone before the entrance of the ancient spell weaver ruins with nothing to hold off the silence except for their thoughts... and the flapping of great wings.
In the walled city of Cauldron, within the safety of the Church of St. Cuthbert, Quintessa was reunited with Jenya who repeated all that Stinkeye had told her and her fellows---that Captain Terseon Skellerang had chosen to answer the challenge brought forth by Alek via the "Old Law of Peers" and was ready to march his forces against the nearby town of Redgorge, home of the Chisel. Waisting no time on tears Jenya readied a scroll of raise dead to return her old friend to life before gathering enough allies to waylay Terseon's march and seek diplomatic actions with him.
At the gates of Cauldron, Alek Tercival and Jenya Urikas pleaded for Redgorge's safety, the paladin renouncing his challenge. By their stide stood the sorceress, Quintessa, who explained the events at Dæmonskar and Alek's disappearance into the Starry Mirror; with them, too, were the Striders of Fharlanghn: Fario Ellegoth, Fellian Shard, and Shensen Tesseril, supplementing their words with wisdom. Captain Skellerang heard their case and called off his forces, but not without a look of great disdain awash over his face. The Chisel were safe for the moment, but moments were always fleeting...
Watersday, Richfest 5th, 595 CY
Nearly three weeks had passed since Curwen the necromancer, Lebrecht the paladin, Santana the beastmaster, Stinkeye the barbarian, Zyn Argith the ranger, and "Z" the sublime chord had entered Occipitus, the 507th Layer of the Abyss. After traversing its unnatural terrain and facing a horde of fiends and other foul creatures, the party came before the Great Skull of Occipitus, a chalk-white mountain spewing forth an endless stream of plasms from its exposed eye socket: here stood the final part of the Test of the Smoking Eye---the Test of Sacrifice.
Here, too, their guide in this endeavor, the half-demondand, Kaurophon, revealed his true nature, using his one-time allies as a means to an end; but his desire to lay claim to the power of the Smoking Eye and take Occipitus for his own fell into ruin along with his fiendish form, the dark sorcerer destroyed by those he had betrayed. Indeed it was the one he trusted least, the drow ranger, Zyn Argith, who had successfully snatched the abysal power for his own... as had another.
Joining them in their quest was an angelic being by the name of Liuvash, adding her inspiring music and knowledge of the planes to their resources; like Kaurophon, however, Liuvash had hidden her dark intent beneath a fair guise, using her telepathic abilities to sew deceit and treachery into the group and preventing the half-demondand from achieving his own goals. By the suggestion of the gnome sublime chord, "Z," Liuvash happy flew into the issuing plasms, appearing to nobly sacrifice herself and lay claim to Occipitus might, thanking her ally with a life-draining kiss before teleporting away, her laugh echoing throughout the skull.
While a new heir to the Throne of Occipitus remained, now out of their reach, the party had obtained power and wealth far beyond the meager baubles that lay resting in Cauldron, awaiting their return...
Moonday, Goodmonth 10th, 595 CY
A month-and-a-half after their forray into Occipitus the party had been fully reunited, minus one---the drow beastmaster, Santana, had taken his dear companions, the bears Carlos and Fleetwood, and had departed for parts unknown. In his place was another of elven stock, fair faced but darker of mood: Denniso Colescent, a ninja belonging to a mysterious clan known only as the "Ghost Faced Killers." In the days that followed Occipitus the party had not only payed visits to Skie's Treasury and Tygot's Old Things, but they had even travelled throughout the grand city of Sasserine, Cauldron's neighbor to the north---there they were stalked by their new ally, shadowying their footsteps all throughout the Azure District.
Now, with the Abyss behind them, the heroes of Cauldron relaxed at the Tipped Tankard, regailing each other with tales both recent and ancient, comparing new toys and new abilities, enjoying nothing less than the well-deserved peace that was owed them... not expecting trouble to come kicking down the door...
Sign of the Smoking Eye template
The Sign of the Smoking Eye template permanently marks the one who has been granted it. Aside from the relatively minor benefits and penalties the template grants to a creature, it marks him as the heir to Occipitus. Further ramifications of this dubious honor may be explored in future episodes in the Shackled City Adventure Path. Certainly, the Sign of the Smoking Eye draws a lot of attention, most of which will be unwelcome...
The visible mark of one destined to rule Occipitus, the Sign of the Smoking Eye template imbues a creature with the essence of the plane (an evil place tinged with good). Receiving the Sign of the Smoking Eye is a necessary first step on the path to ruling the plane as a demon lord. But because Occipitus isn't wholly evil, the Sign of the Smoking Eye can also be a useful tool for a creature determined to expunge every trace of evil from the plane and restore it to its Celestial glory.
The Sign of the Smoking Eye enables its bearer to establish morphic control over Occipitus. The previous bearer of the Sign, the fallen angel Adimarchus, could remake the landscape with a wave of his hand, control magic use across the layer, and draw nigh-limitless evil power from the fabric of the plane itself. Such abilities require both immense personal power and mastery of the esoteric techniques of morphic planar control---neither of which is granted by this template. With time, study, and the acquisition of further power, someone with the Sign of the Smoking Eye can turn Occipitus into a world that reflects its master's every desire.
Creating the Sign of the Smoking Eye
"Sign of the Smoking Eye" is an acquired template that can be added to any living creature with at least one eye (referred to heareafter as the base creature).
A creature with the Sign of the Smoking Eye uses all the base creature's statistics and special abilities except as noted here.
Appearance: One of the base creature's eyes (usually the left one) is replaced with magical flame that gives off no heat and does not burn the surrounding flesh. When the eye is open, it provides illumination as a candle. The base creature's vision is unaffected---he or she can still see through the transformed eye normally. The eye also gives off wisps of bitter smoke. The smoke doesn't obscure vision, but it does give a +10 bonus to creatures trying to track the base creature by scent.
Attacks: The base creature gains a +1 insight bonus on all attacks as the power of Occipitus subtly guides his blows.
Special Qualities: The base creature retains all special qualities and gains those described below.
Spellcasting: The base creature's effective caster level for spells and spell-like abilities goes up by +1. The power of Occipitus makes the base creature's spells last slightly longer, reach slightly farther, and deal slightly more damge.
Imbued with Evil: Regardless of the base creature's actual alignment, spells and spell-like abilities with the evil descriptor treat the base creature as if his or her alignment were evil. Spells and spell-like abilities with the good descriptor treat the base creature as if his or her alignment were good. Magic items are similarly fooled. A holy smite spell, for example, won't damage a creature with the Sign of the Smoking Eye, no matter what his or her actual alignemtn is.
Lie in State: When the base creature dies, his or her body disappears after a number of rounds equal to the base creature's Hit Dice. The body reappears dead but intact in the Skull's eye socket on Occipitus. Any equipment the base creature was carrying, holding, or wearing at the moment of death is likewise transported to Occipitus---and it's likewise reconstituted if it was destroyed at the moment of death. Each time this ability is used, there's a 20% chance that the base creature loses the Sign of the Smoking Eye template. Dimensional anchor, dimensional lock, and similar spells delay the body's transportation in this manner, but once the spell effect ends the body transports to Occipitus immediately.
Morphic Potential: A creature with the Sign of the Smoking Eye has the potential to change the landscape of Occipitus through conscious effort, provided the base creature is powerful enough to do so. Details of how this ability can be used are up to the DM, but in any case, no creature of 20th-level or lower can wield such power consciously. Over time, even a lower-level character exerts a subconscious influence on Occipitus, however, and the landscape and the essential nature of the plane changes to conform to the base creature's alignment and desires.
Saves: The base creature gains a +1 insight bonus on all saving throws---it's almost as if the layer of Occipitus is looking out for him or her.
Challenge Rating: The base creature's CR remains unchanged.
Level Adjustment: Same as the base creature +1. The creature is now treated as one level higher than the base creature's equivalent class level for purposes of determining experience point awards. For example, if a 12th-level human fighter gains this template, he is treated as a 13th-level character when determining experience point awards, and thus gains slightly fewer experience points than he would have without the template's additional powers and bonuses.