Firebrand Monks

From Dragon Eye Atlas

The Firebrand Monks are a sect that interprets the Seogism goddess Thabug and uses her knowledge and power, usually for the good, sometimes for purposes that are debatable.

The name comes from their practice of branding themselves as part of the initiation. All Firebrand Monks carry a flame symbol on their chest, the size of a hand, at least. On Hampa, where the monks are most common, they often go bare-chested or with clothes open in the front, as only the coldest winter months are too cold for such. This is true for female monks as well. Nobody would dare question them showing their breasts, not when they are Firebrand Monks. About 4/5th of the Firebrand Monks are male, however.

The branding continues as the monks rise to higher initiation levels. Nobody outside the order is quite sure how many levels there are, but monks have been seen in public with additional brandings on their arms, back of their hands and thighs.

The branding ceremony is part of the initiation process. The monk is supposed to carry out a magical ritual and receive his branding during the ritual, without losing his concentration. Needless to say, many initiates fail in this task. Those who failed get the branded skin flayed off their body. If they survive this, which less then half do, they receive the honour of working in the order's monasteries serving those more worthy then themselves. They will spend the remainder of their natural lives in the same monastery, never again allowed to leave it.

Those who succeed, however, are on a path to become powerful ritual mages. It is mostly rituals that makes up the magic practices by the Firebrand Monks, though many of them also wield incantations and other spells. As befits the concept of fire, magical artifacts are uncommon, and their magic is mostly temporary, for the moment.

When leaving the monasteries, the Firebrand Monks commonly travel in groups of three, sometimes five. They often help the common people during emergencies and disasters and like all monks are often asked for advise and guidance.