A Brief Introduction to the Factions

Depending on who a body asks, he'll be told that the factions are the lifeblood of the planes - or the worst plague that's ever befallen them. Of course, it's not like anyone can remember a time when there were no factions. Most of the groups that exist today are just a thousand years old or younger, but other factions were around before that time as well. The bands weren't always so organised either, and there used to be a good deal more of them - four dozen or so, all bickering and brawling. It was the Lady of Pain herself who eventually forced the factions to limit their number to fifteen in an event called the Great Upheaval that took place over six hundred years ago.
Each factions looks for the meaning of life, the path to power, or the dark of the planes. In short, they all seek truth. Problem is, most of them believe they've already found it, and they try to persuade everyone else to accept their view as the one true way. Over the years this kind of open minded undertaking has claimed the lives of thousands of poor sods.

Faction Central: Sigil

Faction strength is at its peak in the City of Doors - that's where they're all based, and where they wield the most influence. Fact is, most berks'd say the factions hold the reigns of power in Sigil. Sure, everyone's beholden to the Lady, but the real day-to-day clout is in the hands of the factions. Many of the factions wield true authority - the Harmonium catches criminals, the Fraternity of Order tries court cases, the Mercykillers run the prison, the Fated collect taxes, the Signers preside over the Council of Speakers, the Dustmen oversee the Mortuary, and so on. For some factions though, their importance is self-imposed. For example, the Athar keep a close eye on priests and temples, the Believers of the Source try to keep the peace, and the Bleak Cabal treat the sick and barmy. But, official or not, all factions play important roles.
For the factions, the best way to stay in the Lady's good graces is to run part of the city. This is something most factions try to do, though some are more successful than others. A Guvner believes in laws, so it's a lot easier for him to work the courts than, say, an Anarchist, who doesn't believe in the system at all.
Now, no faction fully trusts another, no matter how noble or trustworthy their goals might seem, and everybody wants a play in the game. That's why the city offices are so divided. The Doomguard doesn't want the Harmonium to have the final say, and the Guvners and the Xaositects both have different ideas about what's good for Sigil. The solution, then, is for every faction to have a role. Some are official, like the Guvners' control of the courts. Others, like the Anarchists' refuge for the unfit, fill a needed but unrecognized role in the city's life. Only the Outsiders are left out; the poor Clueless have no real role in Sigil's life.
Once a body leaves the Cage, the significance of any single factions ranges from moderate to little to none. Oh, each group has a refuge or base on a different "home plane", and they try to exert at least some influence over their chosen territory. The Dustmen, for example, have built a fortress on the Negative Energy Plane, though few others give a damn about the place. The Dead might congregate in areas that reflect their beliefs - like the realms of death gods for instance.
Go to Gehenna though, and more than likely folks don't give a sod about a body's faction allegiance. That's even more true on a plane of Fire or Earth. In some places, faction membership means nothing; power and influence are measured in different coin. And that's not really so hard to understand. Think about it - it's be surprising that a bunch of guilds from one city have much effect on as large as area as they do.

Sects

On planes where the factions don't hold sway as much as they do in Sigil, other organised groups with wide-reaching philosophies take their place. These groups are called sects. Some are former factions that fell in importance or membership (perhaps because of the Great Upheaval). Others are just groups that espouse ideas unique or limited to a particular plane or realm.
Many, many sects litter the planes, but some of the more well known groups include:

Belonging to a Faction

Joining a factions is usually fairly easy. Most of the time a sod's just got to show up at the right place, flash a bit of jink, and put forth the right attitude. It never hurts to be sponsored by a full-time member of the faction though. Anarchists claim that most factions accept anyone who shows up with a bit of jink and a promise to toe the line (or not to, if a body's looking to be a Xaositect). Fact is, unless the Free League's involved, becoming a member's not that simple. Sure, anybody can declare allegiance to a faction. Talk's cheap, and the streets are filled with loud-mouthed urchins who change their colors every other week. No one takes 'em seriously.
The first step toward that recognition is embracing the group's philosophy. Actions speak louder than words, so a cutter should live the creed a while, trying it on for size. If his actions seem questionable, the factotum might arrange a mission to test the namer's devotion. Rituals sometimes mark the advancement from namer to factotum but are more common for promotions to higher ranks.
All new members are called namers, and most factioneers remain namers throughout their lives. That's because they don't get involved in their factions administration - or its intrigue. Namers proudly wear the group's symbols, but few would give their lives for the cause. And that's fine - lots of folks owe their allegiance to a faction without giving it all their time. Plenty of namers who join the Harmonium end up becoming the enlisted troops of their armed forces, but not all of them do. Most remain butchers, cobblers, scribes and the like. But they still hold fast to the beliefs of their factions, and that's the important thing.
Those namers who do prove themselves particularly devoted to the cause might be promoted to the rank of factotum. Factotums are full-time faction members who devote all of their time to the administration and advancement of the group. They run messages back and forth, escort faction guests around Sigil, and fill other positions of low responsibility. They look upon their membership as a calling, an occupation that fills their entire lives. Truth is, factotums think of themselves as the ones who really get the faction's work done.
The high-ups of the factions are called factors. These bloods have positions of great responsibility, but they also wield a good deal of authority within the faction and it's purview. They govern strongholds and oversee operations spawned by the factol's policy. Factor councils often control most of a given faction's affairs, especially day-to-day business. Few members attain this rank. Furthermore, some factors pretend to have a lower stature when such a subterfuge suits the faction's (or factol's) cause. The only member higher in rank is the factol, the leader of the faction. It's interesting to note that factors and factols are sometimes, but not always, the most devout believers or profound thinkers in their factions. Other times, they're just the most capable of leaders or even simply the most popular. It's difficult to focus on the dogma of the faction and maintain the administration of so large a group at the same time. Factols wield great power; the sod who crosses one might end up in the dead-book. These leaders have the resources of their factions at their fingertips; besides commanding devoted followers, they can supplement their personal equipment with faction assets whenever the need or desire strikes them.
Faction membership has its rewards and restrictions.Those completely devoted to their group's philosophy gain certain abilities, proving again that the planes are fueled by belief. Most namers have the same basic abilities, and gain more skills as they move up in rank. If a factioneer ever loses his convictions, he loses the special abilities, even if he's still technically a member of the faction. See, the power isn't in the name; it's in the faith. That's something that eludes a good many berks. Some of them just pretend to have the special abilities of their factions, hoping to conceal their deep-rooted lack of faith.
For the most part, the doctrines of the various factions are mutually exclusive, but not necessarily diametrically opposed. A basher can cherish the tenets of his faction with complete sincerity, yet still sympathize with the philosophies of another. That's why certain factions ally with one another - they can see merit in similar credos. Of course, sympathy only goes so far. A body can't actually belong to two factions at the same time.

Changing Factions

It's possible to change factions, but it doesn't happen very often. For one thing, most people don't have a dramatic change of heart when it comes to their basic beliefs. What's more, the factions - as organised groups with agendas and enemies - don't take quitters lightly. Faction membership is extremely important, and turning stag is dangerous. No faction (as an entity) likes to suffer betrayal, and no factioneer (as an individual) likes being made to feel like a leatherhead for trusting and confiding in someone thought to be a kindred spirit.
The bad feelings hold across the board. Even such free-wheelers as the Indeps and Xaositects frown upon those who switch allegiances, though all a sod usually earns from them is scorn. The Harmonium on the other hand, scrags turn-coats and hauls them to the City Court, hoping to see them sentenced to for their "treachery". The other factions fall somewhere in between.
But a basher's problems don't stop when he quits his group. If he then tries to join another faction, he often hits the blinds. See, the new bunch is likely to worry that the berk's not reliable. If he skipped out on his last faction, what's to stop him doing the same to them? A quitter who wants to sign up with a new faction needs to have a silver tongue, a well respected sponsor, and a lot of garnish.
Anyone who succeeds in switching from one faction to another gains the new group's abilities and restrictions - and loses those of the old group.

Avoiding Faction Membership

Not everyone joins a faction. Many planar beings belong to a faction and Primes are encouraged to sign up, but plenty of folk all over the planes avoid membership. They don't feel the need to waste their time with endless debates of philosophy or bureaucratic intrigues. They forfeit the connections, the camaraderie, and the protection, but avoid all the bother.
A very rare few believe in what a faction stands for, but don't belong to the actual group. They see no reason to saddle themselves with a needless organisation just so they can believe what they already know to be true. Even rarer are those bloods who focus their faith without the aid of the faction and gain the special abilities on their own.

An Overview of the Factions

Below is a mountain top view of the factions. Details on each individual faction such as important members, headquarters and special membership abilities will be dealt with on the page for each faction. The following should be considered to be a "pocket book guide to the factions".

Athar (Defiers, The Lost)
Philosophy: The gods are frauds; the unknowable truth lies beyond the veil.
Eligibility: Priests who follow a specific god or pantheon of gods cannot join.
Factol: Terrance.
Sigil HQ: Shattered Temple (Lower Ward).
Home Field: Astral.
Allies: Believers of the Source.
Enemies: -
Role within Sigil: Depending upon who a body asks, the Lost are either loyal supporters of the Lady or vile spies. They've got no official position in Sigil, but they figure it's their job to watch the doings of the various priests in the city. Anytime some yapping cleric starts to become too powerful, the Athar'll act. Sometimes they spread rumors to bring the priest down a bit, other times they strike more directly. In an odd way, the Athar and Godsmen often work together.

Believers of the Source (Godsmen)
Philosophy: All life springs from the same divine source, ascending and descending in form as the cosmos tests it.
Eligibility: Anyone can join.
Factol: Ambar Vergrove.
Sigil HQ: Great Foundry (Lower Ward).
Home Field: Ethereal demiplanes.
Allies: Athar, Doomguard (temporary ally).
Enemies: Bleak Cabal, Dustmen.
Role within Sigil: Like the Athar, the Godsmen don't have authorized jobs in the government. From the Great Foundry, they take it upon themselves to be the peace keepers of Sigil. After all, everyone could become divine, and it would be a shame to put a potential power in the dead-book before it reaches its destiny. They consider their sacred duty to keep the peace between warring faiths (and they'll use swords to do it if they must). At least until a sod proves to a Godsman that he's no power in the making, he can expect a fair shake from the believers.

Bleak Cabal (Bleakers, The Cabal, Madmen)
Philosophy: The multiverse ain't supposed to make sense; there's no grand scheme, no deep meaning, no elusive order. The only truth worth finding lies within.
Eligibility: Members cannot be lawful.
Factol: Lhar.
Sigil HQ: The Gatehouse (Hive Ward).
Home Field: Pandemonium.
Allies: Doomguard, Dustmen, Revolutionary League
Enemies: Fraternity of Order, Harmonium, Mercykillers
Role within Sigil: For a group with such a miserable outlook on life, the Bleakers are the most charitable faction in Sigil. These cutters have taken it upon themselves to run an almshouse for the sick and insane. Not that it's a great place - the Bleakers have some pretty strange ideas about treatment - but at least a sod can get a hot meal and a bed from them.

Doomguard (Sinkers)
Philosophy: Entropy is ecstasy; decay is divine. The multiverse is supposed to fall apart; we're just here to keep leatherheads from interfering.
Eligibility: Priests who cast from the spheres of "healing" or "creation" cannot join.
Factol: Pentar.
Sigil HQ: Armoury (Lady's Ward).
Home Field: Each of the negative quasiplanes.
Allies: Bleak Cabal, Dustmen.
Enemies: Fraternity of Order, Harmonium.
Role within Sigil: This faction controls the City Armory, and with good reason: as far as they can see, there's no better symbol of decay than weapons of destruction and death. It makes sense, too, because by controlling the Armory they're also keeping the tools of order out of the hands of their rivals in the Harmonium. Of course, no other faction's going to let these bloods police the city, anyway - a gang devoted to entropy ain't exactly going to promote law and order.

Dustmen (The Dead)
Philosophy: We're all dead - some more so than others. So, we explore our current state with patience, purge our passion, and ascend toward the purity of True Death.
Eligibility: Anyone can join.
Factol: Skall.
Sigil HQ: Mortuary (Hive Ward).
Home Field: Negative Energy Plane.
Allies: Bleak Cabal, Doomguard.
Enemies: Society of Sensation, Sign of One.
Role within Sigil: The Dead have a job that suits them well, and one that nobody else is keen on anyway. In the Mortuary, they're the ones who dispose of Sigil's deceased. The Cage doesn't have space for graveyards or crypts, so the bodies of her citizens get dispatched to other planes. These portals lead directly to mortuaries and other places of death on each plane, and those on the other side are expecting nothing but dead bodies to come through, so those cutters who somehow manage to sneak through any of these doors are in for a nasty bit when they pass through. The Dustmen handle all this work, and for the most part nobody minds. Then again, there's always the suspicion that the faction's keeping a few back and reviving them for its own purposes...

Fated (Takers, The Heartless)
Philosophy: The multiverse belongs to those who seize it. No one's to blame for a poor sods fate but the sorry sod himself.
Eligibility: No lawful good members.
Factol: Duke Rowan Darkwood.
Sigil HQ: Hall of Records (Clerk's Ward).
Home Field: Ysgard.
Allies: Free League, Mercykillers (loosely).
Enemies: Harmonium.
Role within Sigil: The Takers handle the most hated and needed task in the city: They control the Hall of Records - a vital piece of city administration. They record property deeds, births, and deaths (when some sod bothers to notify them). This isn't what makes them hated though. They're also the tax collectors, a job nobody thanks them for. With their "I got it, you don't" attitude, the Takers are perfect for the job. Now, having all this jink could be trouble for the other factions, so they all keep the balance by trying to pay as little as possible. If things get too bad, any faction can always appeal to the Guvners - their control of the courts gives them the means to keep the Fated's greed under control, and the rest paying their taxes.

Fraternity of Order (The Guvners)
Philosophy: Everything has laws; most are dark. Learn the laws of the multiverse and you can rule it.
Eligibility: Members must be lawful.
Factol: Hashkar.
Sigil HQ: City Court (The Lady's Ward).
Home Field: Mechanus.
Allies: Mercykillers, Harmonium.
Enemies: Xaositects, Revolutionary League.
Role within Sigil: The Guvners are a natural to act as judges and advocates. They believe in laws and don't like breaking them. The Guvners run the city courts, from the small ward courts to the High Court of the city. They also make the best advocates for pleading cases, so either way their faction tends to win, which keeps it fair. Their absolute belief in Law makes them chillingly legalistic. Still, the Xaositects and Harmonium are both happy the Guvners don't get the power to create laws, only enforce them.

Free League (Indeps)
Philosophy: This ain't no faction, and nobody tells us what to do. Keep your options open; nobody's got the key to the truth.
Eligibility: Anyone can join.
Factol: None.
Sigil HQ: Great Bazaar (Market Ward).
Home Field: Outlands.
Allies: Fated (sometimes).
Enemies: Harmonium.
Role within Sigil: Buying and selling is what keeps Sigil alive, and the Indeps are there to make sure there's always good trade in the city's markets. Their job's not official, but these cutters still make sure that every small merchant's getting a fair chance. They don't like the high-up guilds fixing prices, strangling competition, peeling their partners, or hiring bashers to beat up rivals. Since they don't have an official rank, the Indeps use criers, rumors, and "friendly advice" to keep the markets more-or-less honest. If they must, they'll bring a case to the Guvners, but they don't like relying on others.

Harmonium (Hardheads)
Philosophy: Peace is our goal. But if it takes a little war to get others to see things right, the Harmonium way, so be it. That's how we'll reach our golden harmony.
Eligibility: Members must be lawful.
Factol: Sarin.
Sigil HQ: City Barracks (The Lady's Ward].
Home Field: Arcadia.
Allies: Guvners, Mercykillers.
Enemies: Indeps, Revolutionary League, Xaositects.
Role within Sigil: The Hardheads, always sure their's is the only way, have muscled themselves into control of the City Barracks, which means the City Watch is theirs. Members of the faction take it upon themselves to arrest those they think are breaking the laws. Their hard-liner view of order means they're pretty eager to crush crime, but their laws and Sigil's laws don’t always match, so they often arrest people who aren't really acting illegally. Fortunately, a sod arrested by the Harmonium's tried by the Guvners, who are strict about what's legal and what's not. With the Doomguard controlling the Armory, the real tools to run Sigil the Hardhead way are kept out of the Harmonium's hands. That suits everybody but them just fine.

Mercykillers (The Red Death)
Philosophy: Justice is everything. When properly applied, punishment leads to perfection.
Eligibility: Members must be lawful.. Thieves and known criminals cannot join.
Factol: Formerly Mallin, now Alisohn Nilesia.
Sigil HQ: Prison (The Lady's Ward).
Home Field: Acheron.
Allies: Harmonium, Guvners
Enemies: Often Sensates, Signers, Revolutionary League.
Role within Sigil: The Red Death has a job which it performs with relish: punishment. Now, the Mercykillers'd much prefer to hunt down, try, and punish criminals themselves, but that's not something the other factions are too keen on. The faction is too rigid in its views, and telling a Mercykiller to pike it is just not an option. Still, they're well suited to the task of running the Prison and carrying out sentences. After all, what happens to a criminal who's been arrested, tried, and sentenced is only just, and who better to administer justice than the Mercykillers?

Revolutionary League (Anarchists)
Philosophy: The status quo is built on lies and greed. Crush the factions. Break 'em all down and rebuild with what what's left - that's the only way to find the real truth.
Eligibility: Members cannot be lawful.
Factol: None.
Sigil HQ: Mobile.
Home Field: Carceri.
Allies: Doomguard, Xaositects (weak tie
Enemies: Harmonium, Guvners.
Role within Sigil: The Anarchists don't have an official role and aren't even organized enough to have an unofficial one. Still, their belief in pulling down the system does have a twisted virtue in the works of the city: they're a haven for those who don't - indeed, can't - fit into the plan. Anarchists are proud of the fact their kind can be found anywhere, lurking in the streets as harmless-seeming clerks or wand-wielding wizards lending a hand to loners in trouble. These bloods keep Sigil alive and trying, or at least that’s how they see it.

Sign of One (Signers)
Philosophy: The multiverse exists because the mind imagines it. The Signers - it could be any Signer - create the multiverse through the power of thought.
Eligibility: Anyone can join, but lawful good and lawful neutral members are unlikely.
Factol: Darius.
Sigil HQ: Hall of Speakers (Clerk‘s Ward).
Home Field: Beastlands.
Allies: Sensates.
Enemies: Bleak Cabal (especially), Harmonium.
Role within Sigil: The Signers' confidence that each berk's the center of his own universe makes them probably the only folks who can actually govern Sigil....as much as the Cage can be governed. They run the Hall of Speakers, where the high-ups meet to make the laws of the city, and they settle feuds, handle treaties, and do all the other legislative things that keep Sigil running. Of course, the Signers aren't the only ones on the Council - every faction and power bloc's got representatives - but the Signers are the only ones who can preside over the sessions. Knowing every cutter's the center of things, the Signers make sure that everyone gets their say, and that's the only way to keep the sessions meeting. Other factions may not like the Signers, but they respect the faction's ability to keep city business on the table.

Society of Sensation (Sensates)
Philosophy: To know the multiverse, experience it fully. The senses form the path to truth, for the multiverse doesn't exist beyond what can be sensed.
Eligibility: Anyone can join.
Factol: Erin Montgomery.
Sigil HQ: Civic Festhall (Clerk's Ward)
Home Field: Arborea.
Allies: Signers; occasionally Indeps and Guvners.
Enemies: Doomguard; often Mercykillers, Dustmen.
Role within Sigil: The Sensates don't have an official role either, but every blood knows the city'd go mad without them. In their endless quest to experience everything, the Sensates make sure that there's plenty entertainments and diversions flowing through Sigil. Here's the dark that makes it important: what basher wants to be around when a lesser baatezu gets bored? Sound bad? Now multiply that disaster by tanar'ri, modron, tiefling, prime, bariaur, djinni, yugoloth, and more. Thanks to the Sensates, there should be something, somewhere in Sigil, that'll suit every taste. Pleasure is the balm that keeps Sigil from fevered rage.

Transcendent Order (Ciphers)
Philosophy: Action without thought is the purest response. Train body and mind to act in harmony, and the become one with the multiverse.
Eligibility: Members must partly neutral.
Factol: Rhys.
Sigil HQ: Great Gymnasium (Guildhall Ward).
Home Field: Elysium.
Allies: Most factions.
Enemies: Harmonium (suspicion).
Role within Sigil: The most universally accepted of all the factions, the Ciphers are natural advisers. They want the perfect union of thought and action, and they embody the qualities that other factions lack. To the Guvners, the Ciphers are the compassion missing from the coldly legalistic courts. To the Harmonium they try to lend tolerance, to the Mercykillers they preach order, for the Xaositects they're the voice of stability, and so on. Their advice usually gets ignored, and some basher'll take a poke at a Cipher for his troubles, but that's the play of things and they're ready to deal with it.

Xaositects (Chaosmen)
Philosophy: Chaos is truth, order delusion. By embracing the randomness of-the multiverse, one learns its secrets.
Eligibility: Members must be chaotic.
Factol: Karan.
Sigil HQ: Hive (Hive Ward).
Home Field: Limbo.
Allies: Doomguard, Bleakers.
Enemies: Harmonium, Guvners.
Role within Sigil: Chaosmen have no claim, no stake in the city. Too capricious for ruling, too uncontrolled to judge others, too free to follow orders, the Xaositects, from their hole at the center of the Hive, are the voices of the dispossessed. They don't just represent those poor sods who don't have anything - the Chaosmen become them. Security, warmth, sustenance, none of these things matter. The Chaosmen lurk on the edges of order, eager to pull down the case that's just been built. Along with the Anarchists, these wild addle-coves are part of what makes Sigil alive and constantly changing. Perversely, their attempts to tear everything down is part of what keeps the city constantly building.