A magic torch is a magic item designed to work around "the shocks that flesh is heir to" as they apply to the portable light sources of the typical fantasy adventuring party. As the name implies, it should normally use magic or else it's just a regular light source with good engineering.
Generally the magic torch provides light indefinitely - thus saving the party from carrying endless regular torches - and doesn't go out in windy or wet conditions or when dropped. It needn't necessarily look like a traditional torch1 and may be a lamp or lantern - or even some less traditional light source2.
The deluxe version not only does all this, but also flies about under its own power, meaning that it doesn't even need someone to tie up a hand to carry it.
To some, the magic torch can have a distinct whiff of handwavium about it, but can fairly be considered entirely congruent in any setting where artifice is advanced enough to produce "utility magic". After all, lighting has traditionally been relatively high on humanity's want list and using magic to secure it is highly reasonable if the magic system allows this to be done at a reasonable cost.
Game and Story Use
- Can be pretty useful for cutting out the tedious record keeping involved in tracking the duration and replacement supply of conventional light sources.
- As noted, requires a "utility magic" setting - in a setting where magic is rare and wondrous it will be jarringly out of place, and where it is dark and exacts a heavy price, it will leave people wondering if a light that never goes out was worth someone's life/soul/whatever…
- Where these things are common, more subversive writers have also employed them as an artificial energy source - if, as often described, they produce constant, free light then they are essentially an indefinite source of energy.
- Modules for "that RPG" have had them do all sorts of things from lighting underground greenhouses to powering a dimensional gateway.
- Tackling this is prone to involve deep thaumatology - does conjuring a light really channel energy, and if so, from where … or is it merely a complex form of illusion than tricks the eye into seeing where it otherwise could not?