The Fated Faction Symbol
First and foremost, folks are peery about the faction's philosophy: Take what you can, and to the pits with the rest. The Fated believe that a body can stake a claim to the nultiverse by simply knowing what he wants, figuring out how to get it, and being strong enough to hold onto it. Faction members know how to take care of themselves. Most folks can't help but respect such self-sufficiency, but they also can't help being afraid of it. After all, a berk's never sure just what dangerous knowledge and powerful abilities a Taker's got under his hat.
The second and third reasons stem from the Fated's responsibilities in the smooth running of the Cage. The faction controls the Hall of Records, the administrative center of Sigil where folks go to register and look up deeds, births, deaths, and all business transactions - for a pretty fee, of course. And the Fated collect all taxes for the City of Doors, often with a bit too much gusto for the average berk. Naturally, there's a tax on everything: real estate, income, goods, establishments, intangibles, eyesores (plenty of fights break out in the Hall of Speakers over just what constitutes an eyesore in Sigil), and even crowds (especially the poor masses in the Hive, who can't pay - go figure). These jobs earn the faction a modicum of respect tainted by fear - a berk doesn't dare treat a Taker badly or he might find himself owing 50,000 gp in "back taxes" - but it also generates a good deal of hatred.
The Takers've been around Sigil for a while; there's always been a need for record keepers and tax collectors in the City of Doors. But before Duke Darkwood stepped in and turned everything on its head, the faction'd settled into a behind-the-scenes approach to life and politics in Sigil. They kept to themselves, manipulating others with information and taxation to get what they needed. And regardless of the rise and fall of other factions, the numbers of the Fated remain relatively stable - currently, at about 34,000 members.
There isn't much else known ahout the history of the Heartless, though more's said to he scrawled in the Secret History of Sigil. Kept and maintained by each factol since the Fated's inception, these mysterious volumes record, in minute detail, all the secrets and sensitive information gleaned by the Takers throughout Sigil. Many times, the dark makes little sense to the average namer, but to the faction's diggers (high-ups who carefully analyze the data and piece together secrets), there’s no such thing as useless information -just information that might take a while to become useful.
Duke Darkwood's been factol for less than a year, but his arrogant, demanding attitude already has infected quite a number of Takers. He's set up offices in each of Sigil's six wards as tax-collecting bases and now sends his Takers out to pull in city taxes twice a month instead of just once. Although the taxes collected are half the usual amount, the collection fee is the same, which, of course, doubles the Fated's jink. 'Course, other factions keep a close eye on the tax rates, and major increases in taxes have to be put to the vote in the Hall of Speakers. Still, this past year's seen more than its share of one group or another standing before the Guvners to lodge complaints ahout the Fated.
Darkwood makes a point of finding out all he can about the complainers. The Duke's got about two dozen high-ups known as diggers operating as his factors, his right-hand bloods. Most are known only to the Duke, which tends to make a sod in the Cage nervous - the berk he's sharing the dark with in a pub might be a digger. And diggers are known to scour the streets of the Cage and the vaults of the Hall for information to help Darkwood bully or bribe his opponents.
Darkwood's aware of who's likely to be in his corner. The Fated get along well with the Free League, for the Indeps' philosophy of "leave me alone" is similar to the Takers' own "every berk for himself" attitude. Fact is, the Free League and the Fated often work together, though on a strictly monetary basis - one namer might hire on as a mercenary for the other faction, for example. The Duke's recently learned that a few Hardheads're taking it upon themselves to harass the Indeps, and he's trying to devise a way of helping the Free League - provided the Indeps can offer something in return. And if it ever came down to war, the Mercykillers'd be sure to side with the Harmonium. The Red Death like the Fated's policy of a body being responsible for his own actions - with no whining about being wronged - but they just can't overlook the Takers' lack of faith in law or justice.
The Takers have a number of pubs and kips tbroughout Sigil that serve as safe havens for faction members, including the Tear of the Barghest, the Iron Heart, and Heshter's Arms, all found in the orderly Clerk's Ward. Each spot's got a guarded basement reserved for the Fated's sole use; non-Takers aren't admitted without approval from at least three faction members.
Factol Rowan DarkwoodMost who meet the Duke in the flesh come away more impressed than they might've expected. The Duke’s 6-foot-4-inch frame is lean but muscular - he looks as quick as a hellcat and just as tough to hoot. His tanned, craggy face, hands and arms are marked with permanent scars, a lifelong reminder of his run-in with a lieutenant of Baator's Lords of the Nine. Fact is, one of the facial scars went a bit too deep, leaving him blind in his right eye.
The third son of a trivial noble on Oerth (although the Duke likes to claim Toril as his homeworld), Darkwood had dim prospects for succession and took to adventuring. He became a ranger and wandered his homeworld for quite a number of years, doing well enough to set up a small fiefdom. He took a wife named Merilyn, who bore him two sons, Rory and Reuel. The pattern of his life seemed set were it not for a minstrel who left a deck of battered cards at Darkwood's manor. Not knowing they were magical, the Duke let his children play with the cards. Unfortunately, the boys summoned a fiend - a cornugon named Amaggel - who tried to claim them as slaves. Darkwood struck a bargain with Amaggel, who agreed to play a single game of cards. If Darkwood won, the children would go free; if Amaggel won, Darkwood would willingly return to Baator as a slave. 'Course, the fiend cheated, but Darkwood somehow bested him at his own trick, winning the game by a single point.
Amaggel knew he'd been peeled. Furious but bound by his word, he freed Rory and Reuel, but teleported Darkwood to Baator for a lifetime of unimaginable punishments. The Duke spent the next decade there with nothing but a desire to live that not even the cornugon's barbed whips could quell. Over time, Armaggel developed a grudging respect for the human whose spirit he couldn't break, and he freed the Duke. Battered and nearly broken, Darkwood eventually found his way out of Baator and back to Oerth. There he found that Merilyn had remarried and his sons were grown; with no life left for him there, the Duke returned to the planes. He became a priest of Heimdall, eventually healing body and spirit, though he still bears the scars of his captivity.
About a year ago he decided to make the City of Doors his home; since then, he's not only joined the ranks of the Fated but vaulted into the position of factol. But Duke Darkwood's the very image of a self-made man, from his homespun clothes to his brusque, no-nonsense attitude in the Hall of Speakers. He hasn't the charm and persuasive abilities of his nemesis, Facto1 Erin Montgomery of the Sensates, but he's as stubborn as a goristro with prey in its mouth. When the Duke takes the floor at the Hall of Speakers, a weary groan usually flutters across the room. But he's no fool; Darkwood knows just how his personality grates on the nerves. He prides himself on being ruthlessly efficient, and he doesn't have time for the social niceties and political courtships other factols engage in. He gets what he wants, when he wants it, and the way he wants it. And what he wants now is to conquer the Cage.
The Hall of Records
The Hall of Records Grounds
The remaining six buildings were formerly used as a food hall, two student dormitories, a faculty dormitory, a huge academic hall, and a recreational ball. For the most part, a number of these buildings still retain their original functions. For instance, in the food hall, now just called the Faction Hall, the Fated and their comrades can get a good meal - and even a small room - at a reasonable price. Berks without jink can work for their supper or board, provided they make their arrangements in advance.
One of the student dormitories houses members of the Fated's "army." Duke Darkwood has gradually increased the number of faction members stationed inside the Faction Dormitory: it now holds 2,500 Takers. Ostensibly, the troops are needed to help maintain the grounds and move the bulk of the archives, but some folks remain suspicious.
The second student dormitory and the faculty dormitory were converted into smaller records halls. One's the Hall of Property Records, where a body can learn who owns what in all of Sigil - if he cares to look. 'Course, finding the right record is a tricky thing, and the Fated charge a good fee for the task (as well as note who wanted the information). And the Hall of Census Records tries to keep up with the fluctuating population of the Cage. The Fated do a decent job of recording births, but deaths are another thimg - mostly because the Dustmen don't always bother to report the names of the deaders they collect. Fact is, the two factions often find themselves nearly coming to blows over the issue.
The five-story recreational hall, renamed the Rowan Academy of Training, is the site of challenges for position among the Takers. Twice a week, in the first-floor auditorium, contests of combat, magic, wit, or some other skill take place. If a low-ranked namer wants to move up, he finds a factotum who's got the job he wants and issues a challenge. (Some namm prefer to "convince" the factotum to retire or encourage him to go afier someone else's position; some stubborn factotums disappear entirely.) As this is a major source of entertainment in Sigil, the Fated naturally charge admission to all onlookers - and contestants as well. The higher the position desired, the greater the fee.
When it isn’t being used for challenges, the hall's devoted to recreation of a sort far more like drill instruction. Per the factors orders and under the guidanm of Ray1 Whitespoon, faction members learn the niceties of warfare, via both magic and weaponry. Whitespoon, though devoted to herself, respects Duke Darkwood's prowess and is willing to follow him - at least, until a better prospect turns up. Some 3,000 faction members are crrently in training in the Academy.
Also found inside the Academy is a permanent portal to Himinborg - a burg in the first layer of Ysgard where the Duke's power, Heimdall, is sometimes found. There's a fair amount of back-and-forth passage between Himinborg and Sigil, for not only do the Fated often go to Ysgard for recreation, but many of the inhabitants of that plane like to watch (and sometimes partake in) the Academy's challenges and training sessions.
The final building, for which the whole campus is named, is the Hall of Records - a monstrous tower thirty stories high. Here are found all the moneylending records, tax rolls, debtors' defaults, foreign bills of credit, and the like - anything dealing with jink. Duke Darkwood has close to 3,000 faction members working in the Hall, all devoted to findiog still more tidbits of information usable in his quest to take over Sigil.
When the diggers uncover a secret worthy of reporting, they bring it to the first floor, where it's sent up through magical tubes to the next floor and sorted. Depending on the nature of the information, it might get sent up to higher floors, until the most sensitive dark of all finally reaches the top floor. Plenty of other folks in the Cage have learned to bring bits of usefil infonnotion to the Hall where they usually get a gold piece or two in exchange.) Since privileged information makes its way through the Hall, guards are posted prominently throughout the building; likewise crystal balls for scrying are located in key positions, making guard duty less obvious and more efective.
Underneath the Hall of Records lies the main part of the archives (though they've sprawled out over the years beneath nearly all of the buildings). A staff of 4,000 tries to glean knowledge from the ancient scrolls or put together lists of cross-referenced information on possible threats to Darkwood. The only visitors allowed in the archives are other faction members with written permission from the Duke himself. During his year as factol, Darkwood‘s admitted only 37 guests.
One of the more noted historians at the Hall of Records is a frost giant named Brigitte Gunnarsmoon; she's usually too busy to meet with every cutter off the street, but sometimes she takes an interest in an intriguing request and personally attends to a visitor's needs. The blood to go to when all else fails, though, is Aram Oakwright, known to be the Duke's right hand at the Hall.
Within the Ranks
Factol Rowan Darkwood
Most adventurers find it easy to translate their possessive attitudes about treasure toward the multiverse as a whole. But as a Taker gains knowledge and experience, he should want to set his goals higher than a coin in his palm and a crown on his head. Some of the more important things in life can't be taken at the point of a sword - for example, happiness, respect, and friendship.
All that matters is that a Taker goes after whatever it is he seeks with unwavering determination. Dealt a had hand hy fate? Don't waste time crying in your ale about how unfair the multiverse is - on the contrary, it's as fair as could be. Absolutely everything's out there, just waiting to be claimed by those with the strength to take it and the will to hold it. That might sound ruthless, but it doesn't mean that a Taker automatically grabs everything he can get his hands on. There's no law that says he must claim the pit fiend's share of treasure or peel his companions out of their valuables. 'Course, if that's what he wants from life, fine - though a greedy berk might get himself killed.
In party disputes, a Taker throws in with whichever side's likely to reap him the most benefits, though he generally supports Free Leaguers and opposes Hardheads. And there's no such thing as professional courtesy amoung Takers, not even those in the same group; if one's too weak to defend his long sword +4, another’s happy to step in and claim it.
Because of their great skills at survival and knowledge of the planes, Takers often find themselves acting as guides for adventuring parties. Naturally, the peery wonder how far to trust a guide whose only motivation is his own betterment; generous compensation usually ensures a Taker's reliability. 'Course, a guide who leans toward evil might maroon a party in the five-hundredth layer of the Abyss if a better offer came along.
The Fated also believes in keeping its nose out of other folks' business. For instance, if a Taker sees a highup in a rival faction beaten senseless in a back alley, he won't rush to help the poor sod - not unless he can get something out of the deal for himself. Similarly, a Taker's careful to stay out of debt, buying items and property outright. And he only pays up after service - whatever it is - has been rendered.
Sods of lawful good alignment can't join the Fated, but those of chaotic or neutral tendencies might find the gronp particularly attractive. The very nature of the Heartless leans toward a selfish, mercenary outlook, but it's not without focus or purpose. Alignment often outlines just how ruthless a Taker'll be to get what he wants.
A few chaotic evil berks might run around hashing and bobbing other folks, but most're sharp enough to realize it's safer to simply take advantage of their prey. Chaotics of other bents would twist the laws to their favor as long as such action wouldn’t result in evil - and might even contribute to the greater good, as in the case of a Taker who forecloses on a tavern known for its murderous clientele. Even those who tend toward goodness still push their way through the multiverse, but they take pains to avoid bringing harm to others.
Paladins, being lawful good, are naturally excluded from the Fated. Likewise, priests whose powers advocate the disposal of all worldly possessions can't join unless they surrender their faith. Rogues, of course, are naturals.
This isn't to say that other classes don't fit in; indeed,any cutter with a love of jink or the desire to control others usually finds the faction tempting. It all depends what a body wants out of the multiverse. A brutish warrior whose only goal is to rack up piles of treasure and magical items might find himself in league with a genius level wizard looking to earn respect as the greatest spellcaster of his plane. Both know what they want and both go after it.
Taker MembershipAll beings - save those who're lawful good - are allowed to join the Fated. Initiation takes place weekly at the Rowan Academy of Training; potential recruits are culled from the faction's exhaustive records of past applicants and brought in for interviews and testing. The first set of tests resemble university entrance exams, designed to measure a berk's intelligence. If the recruit passes, he goes on to the physical tests - after all, a Taker's got to have the muscle to go out and grab his due.
If the recruit passes both the mental and physical exams, the faction arranges a final test to see if the basher's really Taker material. At some point in the near future, the recruit stumbles into a situation where he has a chance to make off with a special prize; a bag of jink, a magical item, etc. However, the trap's set up such that the recruit realises that doesn't have to do a thing to claim the prize - it's just there for the asking. If the recruit takes the bait, he's denied entrance into the faction. Members of the Fated claim only what they're rightfully earned; they don't give or take anything for free.
The Heartless are a self-sufficient bunch, and an independent one too. They don't pass out magical items or spells to every namer in the faction; each berk's got to earn his way. However,all Takers start off with twice the number of non-weapon proficiencies as typical characters. Furthermore, all non-weapon proficiency categories are available to all character classes at no penalties or additional costs - warriors can learn proficiencies reserved for wizards (and vice versa) without expending extra slots.
A body who spends his life looking out for himself tends to pick up other tricks as well. Any member of the Fated looking to make a puchase can haggle to get the price reduced by 5% (for cheaper items) or even as much as 10% (for higher priced goods). Rogues in the Fated also get a boost to their pick pocket skill: A rogue of 1st through 5th level recieves a 5% binus, a rogue of 6th through 10th level gets a 10% bonus; and a rogue of 11th level or higher receives a 15% bonus (which could virtually guarantee a successful attempt). Interestingly, Takers who aren't rogues get a base 10% chance to pick pockets.