The Doomguard Faction Symbol
'Course, members of this faction have to keep an eye on the big picture. Most Sinkers don't go around tearing up roads or putting sick folks in the dead-book; sure, the multiverse is going to collapse, but it doesn't have to happen overnight. Allowing a river to take a thousand years to erode its banks is every bit as strong and beautiful an act of entropy as is setting a fire. A lot of Sinkersíd even prefer the river, as it's a natural force of decay - one that's surely meant to be.
Like the Mercykillers, the Doomguard owes its charter to the Great Upheaval, when the Lady of Pain forced the nearly 50 factions in Sigil to reduce their number to only 15. The Lady's shakeup - a glorious example of entropy in its own right - made the loose gang of Sinkers formalize their organization and set themselves a purpgse: patrolling the streets of the Cage. But the idea of guards promoting disorder and decay didn't sit well with the other factions; the Harmonium was sent in, and war broke out. The Sinkers retreated to the Armory, which they conquered handily, as no berk'd ever had the audacity to attack the monstrous structure. With fresh supplies, the battle raged for months. It was thought that the Lady of Pain might step in to set things right, but she never did; only her dabus took part, repairing mads and public structures damaged in the fighting. It finally took a vote of the other factols in the Hall of Speakers - one that threatened to revoke the Doomguard's faction status - to make them call off hostilities. The Sinkers even signed a blood pact swearing that they'd never again instigate a war in the Cage. In exchange, the Doomguard got to keep the Armory as its headquarters and settled into a new duty: making and dispensing weaponry, a task well suited to the faction's beliefs.
Even today, the enmity between the Sinkers and the Hardheads continues to boil; their philosophies are just too directly opposed for any kind of coming together. Other lawful factions have a similarly hard time dealing with the Doomguard. The Fraternity of Order tries to stem the tide of entropy with its narrow interpretations of law, and the Mercykillers long to punish Sinkers who take criminal actions to further the cause of decay. On the other hand, the Doomguard has a strong ally in the Dustmen; fact is, Factol Skall was instrumental in preventing the rest of the factols from revoking the Doomguard's status during the war. And while the Bleak Cabal scorns the idea that the multiverse has any goal, entropy or otherwise, Bleakers and Sinkers find common ground in decay.
But order lurks even in the midst of enmpy. Followng the multiversal Rule of Three, the Doomguard often finds itself split into three quarrelling subgroups, each taking a different approach to fostering decay. The first clique thinks that the multiverse ain't crumbling fast enough. These Sinkers periodically embark upon rampages of destruction: defacing or dismantling personal property, disrupting trade or negotiation in public places, and so on. They're countered by a more sophisticated buncb of Sinkers who take a longer view, seeing the construction of a new bridge as part of the process of decay. After all, masons chip the stone, miners empty a lode of iron, laborers add more creaks to their worn bodies, and razorvine weakens the span until it eventually collapses. According to this group, the disintegration of the multiverse is right on schedule; no need to hurry it along. And finally, a tbird pack of Sinkers - albeit a minority - thinks that everything's falling apart too fast, that they must take steps to slow the rate of decay. Too much destruction too quickly isn't entropy; itís just bedlam.
Interestingly, Factol Pentar's lent her support to the first group, the most violent of the three. She incites her Sinkers to acts of arson and vandalism, especially if the blame can be pinned on a sod from another faction. Yet rumblings of discontent brew in the ranks: the old-fashioned Sinkers wbo prefer a slower or more natural erosion of order disapprove of the factol's activities.
Factol PentarBorn in the gate-town of Xaos on the Outlands some thirty-odd years ago, Pentar grew up in an environment steeped in chaos and destruction - which she embraced with arms open wide. Even as a child, she sought situations rife with danger and decay: as a teenager, she nearly lost her life reveling in a volcanic eruption.
In many ways, Pentar's the model of a perfect Sinker, prefemng to let her long, raven tresses flow freely rather than tie them back, no matter how impractical. She's completely without fear in battle or any other hazardous situations. And that attracted the attention of the Doomlords, who early on imbued her with the power and responsibility of a champion of entropy. When the previous factol of the Doomguard met a glorious end in the midst of a slave uprising he himself had sparked, the Doomlords voted to appoint Pentar the new factol.
The decision's proven well founded. Pentar's been factol for over five years now, and she's always eager to perform her duties; she even sleeps garbed in battle gear, her swords and bow at the ready. Pentar also has an ancient dust blade, historically titled the blade of modron death, that's been handed down from one factol to the next. It was forged specifically to quell the Great March of the modrons. So far, though, every factol who's tried to stop the march has failed - some've even died in the attempt.
Pentar's aware that many of her Sinkers sagree with her call for active, violent disorder. Fact is, she secretly delights in the sowing seeds of rebellion, hoping to push the faction to the point where it'll display a little entropy of its own - perhaps by falling apart completely. Besides, the next Great March will take place in about a year's time, and she's busy training to be the first factol to stop that threat of order and regulation. As such, she's come to leave more of the day-to-day dealings at the Armory to her most sturdy blood, a tanar'ri named Ely Cromlich.
The 24-Story structure is covered with razorvine deliberately left to grow out of control - all the better to discourage any would-be thieves from climbing the walls and entering through the open roof. But the four square towers anchoring the corners of the building remain strangely free of the sharp vine, even though no Sinker or dabus seems to cut it back.
The Armory's first floor is the only one open to the public. The mighty weapons forge takes up the center or the floor, with the rest devoted to the buying and selling of all types of weapons. In each corner of the floor are guarded doors leading into the four square towers, which hold only a small forge on the first floor and Sinker quarters on all the rest, Only the Doomguard - or sneaky bashers - may use the towers to get into the higher floors of the Armory. Those remaining floors house treasuries, guard barracks, meeting rooms, practice halls, display cases that boast every type of armor known, and repositories for weapons not available to the public. The topmost floor features only the factol's quarters and chambers for visiting Doomlords.
Just inside the building's only entrance is the area for buy ing and selling weapons, an exhibition hall that's open to the public 24 hours a day. A customer must first go though a harsh security check, and the entry hall's antimagic barrier is sure to pick up anything the searchers might miss. A berk more interested in a particular purchase is escorted into one of the weapon repositories, where, depending on his desire and his purse, he can purchase weapons both common and magical. A sod without much jink can poke through slightly damaged or defective weapons, all on sale for half price. If a cutter's got real brass, he can check out the engines of war repository for large-scale equipment - a siege machine, say, or a catapult or two.
Those looking to have a special-order weapon made can talk to Cromlich at the central forge. A weapon fired in the forge costs three times the standard price, but they're exceptionally well made and worth every coin. Besides, it's said that any weapon forged in the Armory has a special enchantment - undetectable by detect magic - that lets it absorb the effects of a spell cast in combat. 'Course, Cromlich won't say if a weapon's got the power, not unless he gets a mighty fine fee for his "professional opinion."
It's suspected that the Armory contains hidden portals to the Doomguard's citadels, but so far not a single bloods come forward with the dark of it. However, it's known that the faction maintains one citadel on each of the four negative quasielemental planes, each built as close to the Negative Energy Plane as possible. Each stronghold is ruled by one of the four greater Doomlords. Sinkers often visit the citadels, both for patrol duty and to witness the destruction of the multiverse in a more dramatic environment.
Within the Ranks
The Doomguard doesn't bother marking namers and factotums: the only distinctions it makes are among faction members who push hard for entropy, those who let nature take its course, and those who slow it all down. 'Course, as the first bunch of Sinkers is usually the most vocal (and violent), the latter two groups often find themselves viewed as agents - tools, really - to be manipulated by "rightthinking" faction members. This can often lead to blows when Sinkers of different leanings try to work together. But infighting's natural, they'd say -just another manifestation of decay.
The Doomguard's one of the factions most open to a body's personal interpretation of its tenets. Regardless of how a Sinker leans, he always responds to a direct threat to entropy. But the method of that response varies from one body to another, depending on alignment and faction leaning. Say a Hardhead moves to break up a brawl, or an Indep tries to quiet a stampeding herd. A Doomguard who believes in speeding up the decay of the multiverse would physically restrain the berk hying to restore order. Another Sinker might take a longer view: Perhaps Letting the Harmonium basher make his arrest is the entropic thing to do, as it may engender more hatred for the Hardheads and eventually spak a mass uprising.
A Sinker's got to live with his own choices, and that extends to personal habits, as well. Some Sinkers use only the newest of gear, delighting in the erosion of virgin materials. Others use equipment that's passed through many hands, insistent that secondhand articles he shepherded to their demise. And some sport clothing and weapons so old as to be barely functional. 'Course, a Doomguard warrior who fights with a broken sword won't be much loved by his adventuring group - except perhaps, by a rogue who follows the Sinker along, picking up gold coins that drop through the hols in his worn pocket.
The Doomguard's open to bashers of all alignments. But a Sinker's world view tends to put him in one of the three competing cliques that've popped up in the faction.
Those of chaotic alignments usually fall in with the Sinkers who want to accelerate the pace of decay; those of neutral alignments generally agree that the multiverse should crumble at its own pace, with no help or hindrance; and lawful cutters try to hold entropy to a slow crawl. What's more, these three distinctions are further colored by whether a Sinker leans toward good or evil. Good Sinkers prefer inaction as a method of pushing their agenda - rather than tearing down a new kip, they'd merely stop others from shoring up a decrepit one. But evil Sinkers play a more active role, figuring that it's better to start a fire than sit around and wait for one.
Priests with access to the spheres of creation or healing are banned from the Doomguard; their spells are a slap in the face to the forces of entropy. However, all other classes - including priests who can't use those constructive spheres - may join the faction.
Fact is, a Sinker's class often determines how fiercely he fights for entropy. Many fighters take a direct approach, using their strength and weapon skills to weaken bridges, upend merchantsí carts, and so on. Wizards and priests tend to step back and more readily grasp the big picture, promoting decay in a subtle, long-range fashion. And rogues like to use their abilities to stir up chaos, rather than build their fortunes - a thief might plant stolen goods in the mayor's pocket, for example, or a sweettongued bard might incite oppressed masses to riot.
Sinker MembershipThe Doomguard's open to most everyone, but it wants to make sure that an applicant's not some berk who'll run around destroying things just for the fun of it. A body looking to sign up must pass three tests to prove his understanding of devotion to entropy.
A candidate should talk to Ely Cromlich or Spagg at the Armory; whichever of them is less busy'll adminster the tests. First the base must smash one of his weapons to pieces on an outer wall of the Armory, showing both decay and his willingness to surrender his past life. Second, he must take a sack containing no fewer than 500 gold coins into the Hive Ward and scatter the coins in a public place - if a riot breaks out all the better. But it's the third test that usually gives a basher pause: He must prevent the dabus from trimming back the razorvine on any single overgrown building in the Cage for a full day. With communication difficult and combat most likely fatal (especially if the Lady of Pain takes offense at a berk messing with her agents), the applicant must find a more creative method of protecting the razorvine. Any cutter who passes all three tests is given a Doomguard-forged sword and henceforth considered a Sinker.
First of all, all members of the Doomguard are trained to fight with a sword - perhaps because Sinkers seem to have a hack for bloodshed. Even those normally denied the use of a blade can wield one without penalty. By the time a Sinker hits 3rd level, his training grants him a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls with a sword.
But Sinkers of all levels can draw upon the forces of entropy to further increase their skill in combat with any weapon. If a Doomguard's engaged in melee with a foe of an opposite alignment (for example, evil as opposed to good, or chaos as opposed to law), he can call upon the might of his faction and try to deliver an entropic blow. If his attack roll is at least 5 points higher than the THACO needed to hit, the foe automatically loses half of its current hit points. A Sinker can try to invoke this power once per game week; the player just has to tell the DM that his character's going to attempt the entropic blow. Note that even if the Sinker's attack misses, it still counts as his weekly attempt at using the blow.
'Course, faction members find themselves with more than just fighting skills. Any Sinker can sift through destroyed material and gain a psychic impression of what caused the destruction. He just picks up some broken rubble, charred wood, ground dust, or whatever. He then lets the material filter through his fingers while be spends a round in quiet meditation. Sinkers of 1st through 5th level can read the cause of destruction only if it happened in the last 10 years. Sinkers of 6th through 10th level can go back 500 years. And Sinkers of 11th level or higher can read as far back as 1,000 years.
What's more, if the destruction occurred within the last century, higher-level Sinkers can actually experience parts of it. For every round spent in meditation and in contact with the rubble, Sinkers of 6th through 10th level can relive five minutes of the disaster through sight only. Sinkers of 11th level or higher can hear and smell as well as see. And the chant hints that Sinkers who are 30th level or higher can actually enter the scene of a disaster, though nothing's ever said of a basher returning from such a trip.
Doomguard priests of all levels can also sift through deceased organic material and learn the cause of death. The mental images received are particularly vivid if the death was a violent one, or if the destroyed being was of the same alignment as the priest.
Finally, if a Sinker's especially ruthless in his pursuit of entropy, he may find himself picked to become the entropy champion of a Doomlord. Only those of 5th level or higher who've served the faction well may be considered for this promotion. Once petitioned by a Doomlord - or even the factol - the Sinker must first travel to the Doomlords citadel on the appropriate quasielemental plane. Once there, the basher undergoes a fasting and purification ritual for one week. Then, he's brought to the stronghold's forge, where the steel to be used for his new entropy blode lies in a molten pool. The Doomlord chains the Sinker to a table and peels away a layer of his skin equal to the surface area of the weapon to be made. The Doomlord forges the skin directly into thee new weapon, casting various binding spells in the process. Then the new champion's allowed 33 days to recover and sent on his mission.
'Course, some berks who like their skin right where it is ain't tempted by the promise of being made an entropy champion. They no doubt see it as a hazard of joining the Doomguard, not a benefit. But itís all a matter of persoective, as is another setback to being a Sinker. Because of his antipathy for healing and mending, a Sinker must fail a saving throw vs. spell before he can accept any kind of magical healing. That won't bother a true Sinker though; the berk should be glad to give his life eather than violate the aims of entropy. Fact is, most Sinkers wouldn't insult their wounded or fallen comrades by offering them aid.