There are a whole series of prestige classes that are really nothing other than the marriage of the abilities of two classes. At least in my opinion it seems like the creators went through all the classes and bred them with one another and tried to make some sort of prestige class about them. (How else can you explain something like the Daggerspell Shaper or the Shadowstriker?) A lot of them are very dumb and cumbersome, however one that does sort of interest me is the Blake Flame Zealot, a mixture of Rogue and Cleric that is part of some sort of evil society of assassins that really like kukris and fire. I could get into that. They sit around in abandoned temples, sharpening their curved blades over an open flame and plot the doom of PC’s.
So who does this society attract as devotees? Well, most likely Clerics and Rogues. The requirements are non good alignment, 8 ranks of Hide, Knowledge (Religion) and Move Silently, 2nd level divine spells, +1d6 sneak attack, Iron Will and proficiency with a Kukri. The easiest route seems to be Cleric 3/Rogue 2, though I think it might be worth taking another level of Rogue to get the extra sneak attack at 3rd level. This actually isn’t a bad character as is. Not going to be the star of any party, but enough resources to buff up for a fight and be useful outside of it. I suppose that Druid could also be an option, but since they will probably never get any Wildshape and the companion will stay weak, Cleric is the better choice. And flavor wise Cleric always gets the edge when the occult is involved. I do think that it should have a Profession (something related to fire) as a requirement, but I sort of think that everything should have ranks in Profession as a requirement, or Fire Domain if they are a cleric.
The vitals of the class are about average. D6 hit die, good Reflex and Will saves, medium Base Attack, 4+ skill points. It also advances spellcasting at every other level and sneak attack every third level. It has several class features seen in assassins, such as Poison Use and Death Attack. Both are okay, but nothing to go crazy over. Immunity to Fear (Zealous Heart!) is also nice, but it seems like every other class has that feature.
The signature ability of the Blake Flame Zealot is the supernatural power to make any weapon of their’s (presumably a kukri, you don’t want to anger the cult) burn with a…black flame! The weapon is treated as Flaming (+1d6 damage) and it lasts all day, which is pretty cool. Additionally, once a day for a minute it can be treated as a flaming burst weapon (which actually meshes very nicely with a kukri). The problem with this ability is that it is not available until 6th level. Which is actually more like 11th or 12th level. That is a long time to wait for an ability that is good, but not great.
The other primetime ability is Fateful Stride, which is just a once a day Dimension Door. I sort of have a thing for Dimension Door so I find this to be great. The Black Flame Zealot gets it at 5th level, so about the time that regular casters will be getting it as well. The final ability at 10th level is called Unholy Immolation and is not nearly as awesome as it sounds. All this does is that anyone slain by the zealotry of the black flame can only be brought back by a True Resurrection. If this class did not already scream out to be an NPC, it certainly does now. I mean, do any PC’s worry about foes coming back to life? I’m sure that it happens occasionally, but that is what ghosts are for.
I think that the reason that I like this compared to so many of those other awful hybrid classes is that it has a little bit of personality and makes sense. I can easily envision some rogues getting mixed up in a death cult and performing rituals, practicing unholy rites, etc…The opposite is true as well. Some evil death worshippers need to hone their skullduggery in order to kill the infidels on their list or procure body parts from graveyards. Whatever, it is usable in a campaign. Another aspect that I like in this class (and what I really see as the point of prestige classes) is that it creates a character that is otherwise hard to be. A sneaky cleric is hard to come by. This class is a reason to ditch the heavy armor and the mace and develop some other abilities. And seriously, if a group of these guys Dimension Door in somewhere an start flanking and stabbing they can do some damage in a hurry.