Kossuth, spoken like a whispering flame, is the patron of all fire elementals as well as any who view fire as a purifying and revitalizing force. He is normally depicted as a huge pillar of flame boiling skyward and represents the burning away of the old to make way for the new with the cognizance that the way to change is harsh and measured. He is the fire in the hearth which appears comforting but which may turn on its owner at any time and burn the house down. He is the mystery of fire, the unknowable secret that speaks inspiration to smiths and death to crazed people who burn things and people for pleasure.
Like all the elemental lords, Kossuth seems to hold little affection toward his followers. His reactions seem calculated in end result, if alien in logic; he moves toward a certain end, but has not shared that end with anyone on Faerûn. He seems driven, however, to collect more followers to do his bidding—perhaps because he burns them out so quickly.
In Faerûn, he is the most worshipped of the four Elemental Lords, as well as the most vocal and active. His church tends to be very hierarchical and impersonal, many of it's members leaning more towards lawful neutral, and the church spends most of it's time acquiring land, power, and wealth. The Kossuthan church has held a place of importance in Thay for generations, in part because it is one of the few agencies by which non-Mulan Thayans can raise their stations in life.
Followers of Kossuth on Abeir-Toril seem to be plotters and schemers itent on "cleansing" the world and rebuilding it according to the Firelord's dictates. Of all the elemental cults, Kossuth's is probably the most dangerous and unpredictable in that individual churches of Kossuth are led by powerful leaders with a rigid priest hierarchy beneath them but no ultimate authority other than Kossuth to report to—and Kossuth does not seem much to care what they do, as long as they honor him. Its priests and members are quick to resort to violence and quick to take offense at the actions of others; the "justice" of a Kossuthan is harsh, quick, and brutally suited to the offense or the crime.
Temples of Kossuth are led by a great many proud, deadly, and determined individuals, all convinced that their way is the way. Strict obedience is required—or rather, demanded—within the church. Those who go against the wishes of the ruling priests frequently find themselves tossed into a nearby river or lake and effectively excommunicated from the church (Splashing a follower of Kossuth with water is considered an insult). Senior clerics use their underlings as pawns, frequently sending them on missions for which they are not properly trained or equipped, so that only those of the highest skill and ambition will advance. Highly motivated and easily manipulated, clerics of the lower terraces tend to "burn out" quickly (often literally) in their efforts to advance to the next terrace.
All clerics of Kossuth share a fiery temper: They are quick to take offense and use violence to enforce the rigidity of their chosen lifestyle. The primary goal of all clerics is to acquire land, wealth, influence, and power, and few church activities involve anything that does not directly contribute to one of these goals.
Clerics of Kossuth divide themselves into two factions, the Tendrils and the Burning Braziers. The Tendrils make up the bulk of the order and hold most of the ecclesiastical power. They see to the affairs of the temple, officiate at holy days and ceremonies, and preach to local Kossuthan communities.
The Braziers, also known as the Brazier Brigade by critics of the church, represent the adventuring and missionary arm of the church, travelling the wilderness to bring new lands into Kossuth's scalding, purifying light. They venture forth out into lands that have not seen the "wisdom of Kossuth," often leaving burning buildings in their wake. Preaching the word of the Tyrant, they discover new areas that are ready to accept a church of Kossuth (pragmatically, most folk would say that they look for areas ripe for picking—those with weak leadership or little protection).
VestmentsThose who follow the Tyrant Among Fire dress in light robes of red, crimson, and orange. The use of armor while participating in a ceremony in a shrine or temple is forbidden to all priests except those of the Order of the Fire Drake. The flame of Kossuth is worn as a holy symbol and is usually formed of a ruddy gem (often flamedance) enchanted to glow with an inner fire that is set into jewelry. Embroidery depicting flames of various hues is a popular decoration to ceremonial robes, and the decorations grow more elaborate and expensive with increases in a Kossuthan priest's rank.
When adventuring, reds are the favored colors, though they wear whatever clothing is appropriate in style to their current location. Priests are allowed to wear (up to) chain mail and a shield in the field, although magical protections are preferred. Most Kossuthans are extremely fond of magical items that do loud, flashy, sudden, and brutal damage, and display them prominently in an offensive posture at the drop of a hat.
HierarchyNovice Kossuthans are referred to as the Lightless. Upon taking the Oath of Firewalking, they become full priests and are known as the Promised. In ascending order of rank, the titles in general use by the Promised are: Torch of the Faith, Righteous Flame, Devoted Blaze, Zealous Pyre, Pillar of Flame, Fury of the Faith, Flamebrother/Flamesister, Inspired Forge, Numinous Blaze, Most Fervid Fire, and finally the Eternal Flame of Kossuth. All are subservient to the local Eternal Flame. Specialty priests of Kossuth are known as firewalkers. Monks of Kossuth are known as Faithful Flames.
Adherents on the lowest terrace deny themselves all worldly goods and pleasures, donating to the higher terraces all but the minimum needed to remain alive (in the case of adventuring clerics, this minimum includes armor, weapons, and magic items). As a cleric advances through the terraces, more and more rights and pleasures are granted to him, but only through great hardship and difficult – often fatal – tests of faith.
Kossuth's priests are organized into temples. Each temple is led by an Eternal Flame who is a specialty priest. Under the Eternal Flame are three Most Fervid Fires, and under each of them are two Numinous Blazes. Under each Numinous Blaze is one of every other rank of clergy member down to Devoted Blazes. A temple has as many priests of Devoted Blaze rank and below, novices, and members of the laity as it can support, with the breakdown of numbers of each rank of priest being as equally divided among the Zealous Pyres as possible. Progress through the ranks is through experience until the rank of Devoted Blaze, and then only through the recommendation of two higher-ranking priests when an opening occurs. Promotions are always confirmed by the temple's Eternal Flame, who may negate any promotion or promote anyone to any position as she or he wishes without following normal procedure (within the limits of the numbers of each rank of priest allowed in a temple). In primitive or nomadic societies, Kossuth is served by shamans who are allied to no particular temple but held in great respect by their communities, which usually fear them.
TemplesShrines and temples of Kossuth are always made of hard stone (sometimes carved from lava), ceramic, and metal so as to withstand the hottest natural blaze and most magical ones. Most are rather solid and blocky in general feel with soaring central elements or columns to give the impression of huge bonfires blazing up from the floor. All are constantly well-lit with burning braziers and bonfires, with several dozen adherents tasked with keeping the holy flame alive. Gems and precious metal usually encrust most surfaces of the sanctuary but are sparsely distributed elsewhere so as to enhance the sumptuous effect of the holy sanctum. The largest Faerûnian temple of Kossuth is the Flaming Brazier in Bezantur.
OrderThe church boasts no fewer than three orders of fighting monks, each corresponding to a different lawful alignment—the Disciples of the Phoenix (good), Brothers and Sisters of the Pure Flame (neutral), and the Disciples of the Salamander (evil). They are very insular orders who maintain abbeys composed of monks of only one order and who have very rigid traditions of scholarship and martial prowess. Each order has particular taboos applying to the behavior of its members that date to the founding of the order.
The crusading military order of Kossuth is the Knights of the Fire Drake. This order's members guard the holy sites of the faith, lead the faith's numerous holy campaigns, and provide personal protection to Eternal Flames.
The church of Kossuth also has many affiliations with the Red Wizards of Thay, since many Red Wizards are Kossuthans. A number of zulkirs work with the church and the church with the zulkirs in endless power plays within Thay and in preparation for conquest beyond Thay's borders.
Those fit to succeed will do so. Kossuth's faith is innately superior to all other faiths, particularly that of Istishia. Fire and purity are one and the same. Smoke is produced by air in its jealousy. The reward of successful ambition is power. Reaching a higher state is inevitably accompanied by difficulty and personal pain of some sort. Kossuth sends his pure fire to temper our souls and allow us to achieve a pure state. Expect to be tested and rise to the challenge no matter what difficulty and pain it brings. Those above you have proven their worth and deserve your service. Guide others to Kossuth's pure light so that he may reforge all life into its essential form.
Kossuth is normally depicted as a huge pillar of flame boiling skyward. Any significant blaze is viewed as a manifestation of the Firelord by his faithful. Kossuth sometimes sends servant creatures from the Elemental Plane of Fire such as fire elementals, salamanders, fire snakes, efreet, fire bats, smoke and magma para-elementals, and azers to do his bidding or aid followers. Starting a fire successfully is always seen as a sign of Kossuth's favor, as is successfully forging a piece of smithwork.
The Lord of Flames rarely intervenes in affairs in the mortal world, spending most of his time embroiled in the intrigues of the Inner Planes.
Kossuth's doctrine of elemental supremacy virtually assures conflict with the other elemental lords. Kossuth is vehemently opposed to Istishia and his clergy. He is watchful of the upstart archomental Imix, who is always trying to undermine his better but while Kossuth remains clearly the true master of the element of fire, the Grand Sultan of the Efreet is the only being on the plane who holds even a slightly comparable level of power. The Firelord interacts very little with the other deities of Faerûn. Moradin and Flandal Steelskin honor him for the heat of the forge, but he barely responds. The Return of Bane pleases Kossuth, however; the two deities seem to agree on the importance of a strong religious hierarchy and have a common intolerance for the ephemeral and unpredictable nature of chaos.
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