The followers of the Eternal Flame cult worship the destructive power of fire in all its manifestations. They seek the power to burn away the "corruption" of both civilization and nature with volcanic eruptions, forest fires, heat waves, and droughts, creating a wasteland of ash and cinders ruled by fire alone. Eternal Flame cultists believe the world and all its peoples are wicked and malformed, and they consider it a sacred duty to "purify" everything around them by reducing their surroundings to smoking cinders.
The Eternal Flame appeals to those drawn to destruction for its own sake. Creatures of elemental fire are most likely to take up this reckless philosophy; even non-intelligent fire monsters sense the reckless lust for destruction lurking in the hearts of fire cultists and consider Eternal Flame believers to be their allies.
The Sign of the Eternal Flame
The symbol of the fire cult is reminiscent of a bowl-like brazier with a burning flame. Fire cultists sometimes identify themselves with a symbolic hand sign: holding one hand in a fist, thumb up, and laying the other hand over the fist as if to cover the bowl but allow the flame to show. Members of the cult can also be identified by their burn scars.
Tactics and Philosophy
Fire cultists are impetuous, hot-tempered, and violent. They aren't mindless savages; their impetuousness also encompasses fiendish inventiveness and a drive to devise new tools for their mad cause. They are masters of fire and forge, taking captives to work in their infernal foundries. Fire cultists see conquest and enslavement of the weak as necessary steps in bringing about the chaos they intend to unleash on the world.
In battle, fire cultists launch sudden, overwhelming assaults. They throw themselves into reckless attacks with no regard for their own lives, seeking to cause as much damage as possible before falling. They are fearless and would rather die fighting among a mob of enemies than retreat a single step.
Followers of the Eternal Flame cult surround themselves with the largest fires they can create. Their favorite tactic involves using magic to open volcanic fissures or vents and channel flows of molten rock. Widespread arson and deliberately set forest fires are acceptable alternatives. Most fire cultists believe that something important and beautiful should be set on fire every day, or else they're just not doing their part.
Through all-consuming ambition and a desire to punish all who ever thwarted her dreams, the tiefling Vanifer has risen to leadership of the Eternal Flame cult. Beneath her refined exterior is a steel edge of scorned pride. And underneath her hard pride lies a desire for murder and mayhem. Vanifer harbors a fierce hatred for all who think themselves superior to her, and she stops at nothing to make them see her as a figure to be feared and respected.
Vanifer was born and raised in the crushing poverty of Calimports poorest quarters, armed with only her cunning intelligence. In her youth, she learned to dance for coin and slowly worked her way up from the wine sinks of the laborers districts to the elegant chambers of the citys nobles. She mastered minor fire magic to distinguish herself from other dancers and incorporated flame into her routine. Her talents grew, and soon she caught the eye of a pasha and became his concubine. But even as she enjoyed the gifts he lavished on her, Vanifer hated the pasha for seeing her as a mere trophy. She left before long, robbing the pasha of a small fortune in jewelry and setting fire to his palace.
Vanifer fled to Zazesspur, but her former masters agents soon found her. She fled again to Baldurs Gate, taking up residence in the poor neighborhood known as Little Calimshan. There she opened a school of dance and discovered that her gift for fire attracted other sorts of students. She became the leader of a cult of fire worshipers. There she remained until a few months ago, when dreams and visions impelled her to seek out a lost dungeon in the North. On the altar of a forgotten temple she found the dagger Tinderstrike, imbued with the power of Imix, the Prince of Evil Fire. Armed with this powerful weapon, Vanifer resolved to establish a new chapter of her cult beneath the Sumber Hills.
Vanifer is an extraordinary manipulator. She collects allies and followers with her wiles, using them as she needs and discarding them the moment they lose their usefulness. Its a testament to her natural talent that many of her victims are pathetically eager to bask in the glow of her attention again if she discovers she needs something else from them. While Vanifer puts on the airs of a rich noble, she despises those raised with great wealth, and her sensibilities favor the coarse. Vanifer is ambitious above all else, and as undisputed master of the fire cult, she intends to make the Eternal Flame the strongest and most feared cult of all.
Enemies and Allies
Eternal Flame cultists detest the followers of the Crushing Wave. They see the water cultists as slippery and untrustworthy, perhaps even cowardly-after all, the Crushing Wave retreats quickly from opposition and seeks the path of least resistance before committing its strength. The earth cultists are stolid and courageous, but maddeningly slow to act. The cultists of the Howling Hatred share the fire cults impulse to act swiftly and show many of the same qualities of inventiveness and creativity in the service of Elemental Evil.