The Believers of the Source
The Believers of the Source Faction Symbol
Folks consider Perrine the first factol - at least he founded what would become the Belivers of the Source back before the Great Upheaval. As a mangrel-hurler, Perrine was not only an athlete but a philosopher as well; who else would care how far a man can toss a heavy iron ball trailing a 3-foot leather strap fringed with iron spikes? This blood knew he could win mangrel tosses only after much prior preparation. No surprise, he figured victories in less athletic pursuits also stemmed directly from a body's previous decisions and actions.
Not content to ponder the matter alone, Perrine founded a society of equally curious bashers. Together, they developed the Godsmen's core belief - existence is a forge that shapes us - and an accompanying lifestyle called "sequel observance." See, a body pays strict attention to the consequences of every one of his actions, so he can figure the way to produce only good results in the future. Learning from experience, that's the idea, and ability to reason clearly, that's the tool.
During the Great Upheaval, a cutter named Augy of Faunel solidified the society as a faction and forever altered its philosophy. Seems Augy'd been reincarnated a thousand times and could remember her past lives. Each built on the last, she said, and she went up or down the ladder of existence in response to her choices. Augy even claimed to recall her first incarnation and the glory that came before it. "Light poured through my essence like water," she wrote in her journals.
Singing pounded me in ocean waves.
Without sight, without hearing,
I perceived the radiance
And the music.
Such was my Source,
The origin from which all lives spring.
She introduced Perrine's society to the merits of intuition - it's usually a past life trying to get something across - and to the benefits of peering back beyond a body's own memories. This philosophy lets a basher evolve without merely sticking to cold logic, in a process that reaches beyond death into one's next incarnation. Evolve enough, and a body becomes a god.
Augy gave the society the name it bears to this day: the Believers of the Source. As factol, she directed her followers into intense research. They collected biographies and interviewed anyone claiming to recall a past life. Perhaps this study would reveal the reason the multiverse inflicts lives of tests on a body.
While their first priority remained comprehending the tests of the multiverse, Godsmen often stumbled upon other secrets along the way - like the chamber of bones beneath Sigil's Armory. Such a room might hold valuable hints about death (and thus life and evolution), Factol Augy figured. Plus, she'd taken to reading the rotting memories of berks in the dead-book. So, she snuck in - and wound up in the blinds. See, while reviewing images in an old thigh-bone there, she got scragged by the trapped spirit of the fiend Fosnatu'u.
This tanar'ri took control of the factors mind and told Believers that evil acts best enabled a bdy to evolve. But soon a friend of hers, Roscoe, got peery at Augy's apparent philosophical shift. The good news? Roscoe banished Fosnatu’u back to its thigh bone prison. The bad news: In doing so, he sent Augy on to begin Life No. 1,001.
More bad news: The Doomguard caught the chant that Augy'd been visiting the Armory uninvited . Seems the Sinkers felt antagonistic to the Godsmen in those days - the way they saw it, the desire to ascend to godhood opposed entropy. Hearing of a spy in the secret heart of their headquarters was all the Doomguard needed to launch a rampage against the Godsmen.
The work of a mathematician and musician named Luce sparked the next vogue among the Godsmen. See, Luce said that any given moment in time and space possesses a unique, associated resonance. This resonance, though beyond hearing range, could be transposed down several octaves for mortal listeners to enjoy. The Godsmen felt convinced this "Music of the Multiverse" could tell a basher which way he's moving on the ladder toward godhood. When a new blood claimed to "hear" the celestial symphony, more Believers abandoned their biographies and work at the Great Foundary (the faction's headquarters) to try cultivating the sensitivity.
Empyrean harmonies became the rage in Sigil. Mathematicians in every ward started composing, as did amateurs all 'round the Great Ring. The Hardheads saw the Godsmen's discovery as an attack on their goal of peace through conformity. Verbal hostility reigned in the Hall of Speakers, while covert bloodshed raged between the City Barracks and the Great Foundry.
While violence of word and sword still thrives rives between the Believers and their traditional enemies of the Dustmen and the Bleak Cabal, both of whom detest Godsman philosophy, the most significant conflict facing the faction now springs from within. Basdank, a factotum with a considerable following, attacks her faction for placing the form of a dog or zebra low on the ladder toward the sublime, while half-elves, tieflings, and humans sit on higher rungs. As a Shapeshifter druid with considerable experience in animal forms, Basdank even calls instinct superior to rational intelligence. Many fear her notions, so close to the Cipher ideal of action mated without thought to circumstance.
The factol's not just rattling his bone-box, and he's borrowed from the past to further his debate-oriented strategy. Recalling the one time popularity of empyrean harmonies, he has organised a program to train all Godsmen in singing or playing an instrument. Students learn melodies that provoke strong feelings in listeners, plus techniques to transform these emotions into debate amoung the audience after a performance. The first graduates from Ambar's "Bardic Qualm Curriculum" have hit the Cage, and the results look favourable. Small groups cluster around the Godsmen bards and engage in spirited argument once the music ceases.
Factol Ambar VergroveIn a place on the Outlands named Fayrill to some, Fayrie to others, and unknown to most, an elf gave birth to a half-human son. This woman, Galina, founs herself ostracized by her kin - not for her choice of father for her child, but for her refusal to shape her demeanor to the stiff formality customary for those of the Quybier, her clan. Galina loved to dance, sing, laugh, and play the harp. Not too unusal for an elf, right? But then, all Galina knew was her rigid family. Fortunately for her and her child, she also knew how to weave shelter from fallen pine boughs.
Her son, Ambar, never knew he was poor. He slept on the softest moss by night, drank clear spring water by day, and thrived amid the beauty of the forest. To his eyes, his house seemed a mansion. He learned his mother's songs and played with fox cubs denned nearby.
The youth discovered his pverty only after he spotted Caye, a maiden of the Quybier, strying through his wood. Her brown, silken hair brushed her ankles; her mahogany eyes carried a hint of purple in the depths of their unfathomed mystery; her lithe form was slim as a birch, but her manner seemed os solemn, like nothing Ambar had ever imagined. The half-elf went to ask the maid's sire, Florien, for her hand, but found himself brusquely refused. Ambar felt astonished. Caye would live in a wooded palace, dine on the finest of viands, enjoy the gladdest of music, and have the most devoted of bridegrooms - what more could a father want?
Ambar's mother enlightened him: Social status, political or military power, a castle built by hands rather than by nature, and monetary rather than inner wealth were necessary attributes for wedlock among the Quybier. The youth believed Galina, but he also believed in himself. He wooed Caye without her father's consent and won her. For a time, all thee exiles dwelled contentedly in their woodland glade: bride and bridegroom in a pavilion of willow wands and grape vines, Galina in her pagoda of pine boughs opposite. The trio sang mad melodies, indulged in woodland feasts, told stories, and danced wild jigs. The news that Caye was with child delighted them.
The warriors Florien sent ended all that. They slew Galina and Caye in the scuffle and brought Ambar in chains before the Quybier lord. To the patriarch's accusation of abduction, the half-elf replied eloquently. "I accuse you! I accuse you, murderer of my mother, slayer of my consort and unborn child! I accuse you of killing my happiness, of defiling my home, and robbing me of my future. Dare you deny me? Dare you demand recompense in the face of that which you owe me?"
In fact, the Quybier dared not. To assuage their guilt over the deaths, they presented Ambar with a velvet casket filled with gems and begged him to depart Fayrill forever. He accepted the precious stones and left.
With a fortune in gems and the abilities of the woodwise, a half-elf can go far. Ambar guided travelers through the Outlands, invested his wealth in profitable ventures, and searched the Great Ring for a spot he might call home. He never found it, but he collected a vast selection of artwork and rare musical instruments. Eventually he fell in with the Believers of the Source and discovered that, although no place could feel like home again, a group of people could. His coutesy and kindness - he still likes everyone to call him by his first name - earned him many friends amongst the Godsmen, and in time he became factol.
He is beloved of all his namers, factotums, and factors - half of whom believe him well on the way to becoming a power. Most of them would lay down their lives at his beckoning. To his credit, Ambar rarely requires such sacrifice. His goal as Factol? He wants both the faction and its members to flourish. Unlike many of his followers, Ambar values individuals more than the philosophies they espouse.
The Great Foundry
The Great Foundry
The Godsmen make their headquarters in the heart of the Lower Ward. It's a grimy section of Sigil, with narrow, twisting streets and crooked, soot-covered shops and houses. The sods here look pale, bent, and furtive, most of them artisans intent on hoarding craft secrets. Visitors asking locals the way to the Great Foundry will likely get no answer. Only bubbers too long on nearby Alehouse Row'd have a hard time seeing the stacks of the metalworks belching smoke above the roof line.
The Great Foundry's two 10-foot-wide main gates never fail to impress a basher. The wrought-iron frame's as tall as most neighboring inns and houses, and each gate swings on hinges as thick as a smith's thigh! The guards here look as intimidating too. And a glance at the jagged, massive metal-works (called just the foundry) nestled in its semicircle of stacks tells a body that a powerful faction indeed runs the place.
The Great Foundry's main yard looks dismal and dirty - a gravel expanse surrounded by dingy walls and humped with piles of rubble and unsmelted ores. The roaring of fires and ringing of forges grows deafening after just a few minutes. Still, the imposing mass of the metal-works reaching toward the sky lends grandeur to its sodden surroundings. This brick edifice looms a full 10 stories tall. Huge, iron-mullioned windows flood its interior with light. Equally huge portals allow wains full of ore to roll right inside.
Spending time inside this foundry building makes a body start to think Baator'd be a nice place to cool off. Fiery-mawed furnaces the size of barns seem to yawn everywhere one looks. Pulleys bigger than the bashers working them boom like giant hemlocks. Crucibles large enough for an ogre's bath brim full of molten metal. Namers scurry about in the sweltering heat, bringing drinking water to the metal men. Some don't last long - seems they decide they don't have a taste for dodging drops of boiling steel in air hotter than an oven.
The sheet-works, bar-works, and mold-works are all just smaller versions of the huge and complex metalworks. Few smithies, prime or planar, can prepare a body to work the liquid metal at the Great Foundry.
A basher touring these facilities might spy a small tiefling woman chasing down some animal that's found its way into the 'works. She moves at breakneck pace and always manages to capture whatever bird or critter she hunts, calming it with a few soothing words. 'Course, she never acts soothing or calm amund people.
'Course, hundreds of bashers work at the Great Foundry more often than Zena: metal men, artisans, laborers, and messengers. The place can daunt workers newly arrived to do their part in the manufacture of the metal everyday items the Godsmen produce. (Basic iron items like utensils, screws, etc.) Their best friends a tall, brown-skinned blood named Omhidias, who takes new recruits under his wing. He's gentle and slow of speech, but strong. Despite his factor status, he always seems to have a moment for namers needing guidance.
The council chamber atop the metal-works remains off limits to namers - even friends of Ombidias. It resembles a terrace with a low stone balustrade tucked in among a forest of chimneys. The chamber's enclosed by a bubble of glass panes supported by arching steel beams and iron mullions forged in the foundry. The oval council table of polished bronze (measuring 15 feet by 25 feet) features a central opening that aligns with a window of glass block in the granite floor to provide the debating factors with a view into the metal-works below. Both the floor window and the glass bubble require frequent washing to remove the pervasive soot.
The factors and factotums who supervise the running of the Great Foundry have luxurious suites atop the lesser 'works. Namer quarters are what one might call a bit more - modest. They sleep in small closets in the clerks’ residences behind the foundry, in the storage yards amid warehouses and piles of scrap. Their tiny spaces each do include a window, though, as well as clean sheets and warm quilts. When these new recruits advance in seniority, they find themselves transferrd to better chambers in Anbar's Palace in the Ethereal Plane.
Godsmen find themselves well received most places they travel, but they enjoy visiting some places in particular.
Everyone looks forward to a trip to Factol Ambar’s escape: a study in perpendicular gothic executed in polished steel, rather than stone, on an island in the deep Ethereal. The complex possesses many high-ceilinged wings, and newcomers feel awed by its intricate vaulting and stained-glass windows. Gilt furniture, an eclectic mix of art, and vases overflowing with flowers appoint the rooms. Marble terraces, lily-ornamented reflecting pools, rose-grown arbors, and bowers of blossoms comprise the palace courtyards.
Ambar dwells in this miniature paradise with his factors and many factotums and namers who labor in the Great Foundry. High-ups hold conferences and issue orders to factotums here. One permanent portal in the metalworks of the Great Foundry connects to the workers' wing of Ambar's domain. Another, in the wire-works, lead the impressive front steps of his palace.
Godsmen find they can rely on a network of people for help in a pinch, rather than on hidden caves, cellars, garrets, or other normal refuges. An innkeeper here, a farm wife there, a loyal monk, an herbalist, a castle guard - in the Outlands and on most Outer Planes, a place might fail a body, but friends won't. Usually, bloods can borrow their friends' resources too, which gives them easy access to weapons, clothes, medicines, disguises, or bits of news.
The Godsmen oversee a barmy asylum called Harbinger House in either The Lady's Ward or the Lower Ward - the chant can't decide. The factol has appointed Housemaster Bereth to care for the troublemakers brought here but will welcome bloods from the faction as well.
Within the Ranks
Factol Ambar Vergrove
Despite their concern for others, don't call Godsmen softies. They insist a basher learn from his mistakes, and they won't interfere in the "life lessons." Sure, a body can count on a Godsman to help out in a pinch, but the blood'll never rob another of a learning experience.
'Course, some lean on the notion that these lessons of the multiverse act as a forge, while failing to recognise that this forge works equally on everyone. These bashers figure some sods have more potential then other, so they have no qualms about contributing to the tough "education" of those that come up short. So, bubbers wanting sympathetic handouts from these Believers had better look elsewhere.
Having what looks like a compassionate outlook doesn't mean a Believer has to espouse the principles of goodness. Many Godsmen are evil (wanting to inhibit others' progress toward godhood) or neutral (professing that noninterference in others' lives allows the multiverse to do its best work).
Lawful Godsmen view regulations as essential in the process of evolving toward divinity. “Follow the rules and a body'll pass all the tests the multiverse offers up," they insist. Chaotic Godsmen evaluate all situations case by case. After all, giving one beggar a free dinner might give him the energy to play a pennywhistle for the entertainment (and coins) of passersby. Feeding another might just convince him to put off doing anything for himself yet one more day. Sometimes killing a sod is the best thing a body can do for him. Neutral Godsmen fall somewhere in between.
A Godsman bas two preoccupations: his own progress up the chain of evolution and the progress of the rest of the bashers in the multiverse. 'Course, no two will express these concerns quite the same way - it depends on a body's area of expertise. Fighters think battle teaches a basher life's lessons, so they press conflict on others to help them grow. Godsman paladins believe they evolve by helping others and expect those they aid to offer succour, too. Rangers, biased towards beasts, frequently see their animal fiends' potential unmatched in sentient races.
Godsman priests seek to emulate the divine evolution of their deities, yet they knowo that no power leads to the Source. Druids, trusting in the cycles of the natural world, believe these cycles wil bring into a body's life the appropriate level of testing and illumination. Beliver wizards, frequently arrogant, believe magic is the key to evolution and pity those who don't dabble in this art. Godsman thieves think secrets're best stolen and love forbidden knowledge. Bards know they can spark inspiration: After a heroic ballad, they want listeners to emulate the song's hero.
Due to their belief in the divine potential of every being, Believers of the Source welcome a diverse membership. Wemics, pixies, satyrs, bariaur, tieflings, swarves, and hlf-elves mingle with one another and the odd erinyes, lammasu, githyanki, sladd or moon dog.
Godsman MembershipBelivers want to drill into members that life is a forge, shaping personalities and spirits. Therefore, to join the factions, bashers all have to take their turn at the forge. A body tells the guards at the Great Foundry' main gate that he's interested, and before he knows it, he's sweating rivers in the wire-works or one of the other. If the back-breaking labour doesn't send them running, these namers can seek greater involvement in the faction by asking a more experienced member to sponsor them.
Namers serve informal apprenticeships with these mentors, learning the rigors of Believer philosophy. But different mentors provide very different experiences. Some virtually ignore their charges, while others insist on daily lessons reinforced by assigned tasks. When a mentor considers his protege ready for a factotum's responsibility - to seek the inherent worth in all - he presents the namer to a factor for evaluation.
The candidate then undergoes a series of tests: unusual puzzles or challenging tasks, specifically tailored to probe his fears and limitations. 'Course, the factors don't measure prospects against perfection. They just try to gauge the malleability of a namer in the multiversal forge. A similar test is administered at Ambar's Palace to factotums chosen to advance to factor rank.
Regardless of rank, all Godsmen gain the same special benefits and hindrances. Their belief that everyone can achieve godhood generally translates into fair treatment of all they encounter. This reputation for a consistent lack of prejudice makes them well received throughout the Great Ring. They gain a +2 bonus (or +10 percentage points) to all encounter reactions with planar beings. However Godsmen, can't be resurrected or raised. With the DM's permission, the can be reincarnated as a PC race (chosen by the DM).
Godsman priests who venerate a specific deity (as opposed to the Source) suffer from lack of ultimate faith. After all, they know a power ain't anything special - just some basher who occupies the next-to-last rung on the ladder of evolution. This priestly problem of faith results in -1 penalties to all saving throws.
The Believers of the Source possess a faculty they don't truly understand. See, in the Great Ring, beliefs matter more than they do in prime-material worlds. Whole burgs can vanish or move because of belief - take Plague-Mort, the gate-town that's regularly pulled into the Abyss, then pushed out. Entire planes can be born or destroyed because of belief. And, because the Godsmen believe ordnary bashers may one day evolve into powers, they actually can. So far, the Godsmen've seen only one of their fellows evolve to this stage: the previous factol, Curran, who grants her followers spells of healing and protection. Many think Ambar'll be next.