The Xaositects Faction Symbol
See, that's one of the problems with the Xaositects: They don't write things down. They don't have a real headquarters, and they don't keep histories So, a body's got to glean an account of the Xaositects from the records of other factions. And that doesn't come to much. These accounts all do paint the same picture of the group, thongh: They're trouble. Well, at least most of them.
Most of the time.
The Xaositects never start any movements that last very long, and they rarely do anything of historical significance, 'cause historically significant events usually require a level of planning that's beyond them. 'Course. a basher canít even make that rule about the Xaositects.
There are a few exceptions.
- While the Hardheads were still pretty new to the Cage a couple of centuries ago, a few Xaositects got lucky and managed to assassinate the factol by hitting him in the head with an hourglass.
- A gaggle of Xaositects went into The Lady's Ward 20 years ago and messed around in a bunch of the local manors' courtyards; some owners woke up the next morning to find only ragged ground, while others found beautiful rock gardens.
- A decade or so ago they arranged an alliance with every single faction at the same time. 'Course, it lasted only about 12 minutes because, when the other factions realized what was going on, they broke the alliances quicksmart.
- And just a few weeks ago, a lot of 'em got together and painted a mural on the Great Gymnasium, a mural most folks consider one of the most beautiful works of art in the planes.
See, the more Xaositects a body's got in one place, the greater the chance for trouble - and there were maybe a thousand there that night. Mix in a few Anarchists, and what happens? One of the biggest riots ever to shake the planes spreads through the city, that's what. Mobs of Xaositects swept all the wards, causing vandalism and mass desbuciion. [A few Sensates went along for the ride, and a few Anarchists directed.)
After the first day of the riot, some Doomguards and Bleakers moved in. More Xaositects got wind of it and joined the fun, as did a handful of Indeps. A few more cells of Anarchists showed up to keep things rolling. The Harmonium tried to contain it at first, and then the Mercykillers joined the peacekeeping effort, along with some Ciphers and whatever Guvners could hit the streets. For about a week, a meaningless war raged in Sigil, and thousands died. Some thought the Lady'd intervene and "remove" the leaders of the strife, but by the time things bad gotten really out of hand, there weren't any leaders. The City Court burned for a few hours, the Hall of Records nearly collapsed, and a fie swept through the Hive. Some bashers'll tell a body that the Shattered Temple got ruined during these Days of Xaos, or that the Hive was a nice place before the riots, but only an addle-cove'd believe it.
Sure, there's the time the Xaositects painted the Armory pink. (The Mercykillers were not pleased.) And the time a Xaosman, as a lark, infiltrated the Revolutionruy League, getting three cells deep before he couldn't take it any more and quit. But don't forget the time a mob of Chaosmen went around putting Clueless into the deadbook, just for being stupid. See, the Xaositects ride the winds of whimsy - winds that can blow a lot of innocent sods right into the blinds.
Some will say the Xaositects don't have a history. 'Course, other factions' records say different, but the Chaosmen don't remember what they did in the past - and if they did, it wouldn't matter. So they more or less have a blank slate. No one can beat 'em at living in the present, with ties to neither past nor future. Some Sensates tell folks to "seize the day." Take advantage of the present to do things you canít do later. Chaosmen go a few steps further: They "seize the moment." They live in the now, doing whatever seems like a good idea. It's a cinch they'll keep right on doing it, too.
Thing is, why does the Lady let the Xaositects stick around when they can be so disruptive? Why'd she allow the faction in the first place? Well, that question has a lot of possible answers, none of them good. Some jokers say the Lady brought in the Xaositects herself, to handle the problem of too many modrons showing up in Sigil. Others say the Xaositects create things the Lady of Pain wants. It's like the old saying: If you put enough red slaadi in a room with enough paint, they'll eventually paint a masterpiece. Just by chance, the Xaositects will do evelything eventually. Who knows what masterpiece the Lady's waiting for them to paint?
Factol KaranKaran ain't the typical factol. Fact is, he's not factol all the time - only when he wants to be. See, when he gets tired of the job, he stops for a while - he quits two or three times a day, sometimes. So far, he keeps coming back to the job, 'cause it suits him most of the time. 'Course. there's a small hunch of other Xaositects, each of whom'll tell a body he's the factol. Sometimes one of 'em is - whenever Karan's not in a "factol mood" for more than a few hours, another Xaositect jumps in for a bit, but steps aside when Karan wants the job back.
Why do other Xaositects follow this Githzerai? It's sure not because Karan's impressed them with his past accomplishments. (They don't know anything about his background. Then again, Karan doesn't remember anything about it either.) Still, faction members clearly have a few reasons for letting Karan lead them. For one, he wants to do it, and not many others want the headache of governing the Chaosmen for longer than a day or so. Also, Karan's about as chaotic as they come, and other Xaositects respect that. Finally, the charismatic factol has some good ideas. As surprising as it sounds about a Xaositect. Karan is a great leader - he just doesn't necessarily lead others to great things.
See, Karan leads by example. More active than any other factol, Karan himself goes among his ranks and stirs them up. A handful of Xaositects (seldom the same handful from day to day] follows him around most of the time, waiting for him to have a good idea - and he does, pretty often. Sometimes the factol keeps the idea to himself and acts on it alone. Other times, he tells a few followers, and they go off, like eddies from a whirlpool, to create smaller whirlpools of chaos. He might even start gathering dozens of Xaositects together to act on an idea - but only for a time.
Karan can come off as a surly basher, a brave cutter, or the barmiest of the barmy. It depends on his mood, as mercurial as the winds of Limbo. One thing, though: He's got a magnetism about him. something that compels folks to follow him. He'll turn this magnetism to intimidation when simple persuasion fails him.
The factol's appearance changes occasionally, within certain parameters. He's a githzerai - that never changes. He generally wears a beard and a topknot, but these get longer or shorter, messier or neater, depending on the factors whim. His clothes usually look tattered, and he tends toward a disheveled appearance. Folks frequently see him in a motley collection of plates and pieces that form the equivalent of chain mail. Once in a while, the factol really cleans up and gets some nice clothes - but then he wears 'em until they literally fall apart. Karan almost always remains heavily armed, but he never specialized in the use of his favorite weapons: he doesn't have the concentration.
That's something folks usually notice about Karan pretty quick his short attention span. He leaps from topic to topic without hesitation. He'll talk normally for a bit, then break into babble, then launch into a speech that sounds like it should be understandable, but isn't. He's a unique one, Karan is, just like every member of his faction.
The factol also has a unique ability - leastwise a body'd hope itís unique. This power resembles the wizard spell major creation; Karan doesn't use it very often, and, when he does, he hides it. His ability lets him call up pure chaos as raw material for his creations, rather than reaching into the Demiplane of Shadow as wizards do. The spell-like power, which requires no casting time and no components, creates an object that lasts up to one round per experience level - nine rounds, in Karanís case. He can use the power three times a day.
In other words, it's perfect for the Xaositects.
Chaosmen wander the area in groups, doing what they will, but generally avoiding Harmonium patrols that strut though from time to time. A basher can always find a Xaositect in the Hive, whether he wants to or not. Karan and the big bosses wander the area, talking to people, checking on things (even though they don't seem to know exactly what.) They keep food and supplies in empty tenements there and sometimes light purple-flamed torches to announce a gathering. Basically, they do whatever theu want, ultimately maintaining the Hive in its state of disorder. Until the Hardheads figure out how to handle them, the Xaositects rule here (Factol Sarin has more than once rejected the ideaof burning down the Hive.)
'Course, it's an easy rule, one without laws. Either a body belongs or be doesn't, and a cutter that doesn't belong (like a Hardhead, an annoying Clueless, or just anybody the Chaosmen don't like at the time) might pay the music for a trip to the Hive. Though not malicious, most Xaositects by their very nature prove dangerous. Faction members do venture into the rest of the Hive Ward sometimes, singly or in groups, and it seldom takes more than a minute or two to find some Chaosmen there. The rest of the Hive Ward, though also a slum, seems much less chaotic and degenerate than the centre that gave the ward its name.
The Hive holds several main houses where Xaositects slepp and various taverns where they congregate. Once place in particular, run by Quake Lavender, has a steady clientele of Xaositects. That might sound surprising, 'cept for the way the tavern's laid out. See, the place is built of light walls and furnished only sparsely. Every few days, Quake and her emplyees rearrange the walls, often repainting them or replacing furniture inside. They like to change the name too - but not necessarily at the same time they alter the place physically or move it to a new location.
Quake is a Xaositect herself, a big boss (factor), and she knows that to keep Xaositects coming to her place - herself included - she's got to keep it fresh. That means changing it whenever the mood strikes her. A body never can tell what Quake's place'll look like from day to day, or what it'll be called. At least it always stays in the same block. A body can't predict when Quake'll remodel, either; recently, during a party with more than 100 revelers crowded into the hovel she was using, Quake decide to move to another building. Most of the party went with her.
Within the RanksHow does one recognize a Chaosman? The most ohvious method is to look for the faction symbol on the basher's clothing. A more patient cutter might ohserve the character: Eventually, a Xaositect'll do something disorderly. 'Course, just because someone acts chaotic or disobeys a law doesn't mean he's a Xaositect. A body might also figure it out by talking to a Xaositect; lots of 'em scramble their syntax once in a while, and others do it all the time.
Finally, a Xaositect might come right out and admit he belongs to the faction. Few others, even barmies, would go around falsely claiming membership. See, the Hmonium doesn't like the Chaosmen. Siding with chaos violates their rules - so the act could really place a berk in a blind. The Xaositects don't like pretenders, either, and more than one sod has wound up in care of the Dustmen for impersonating a member.
Every basher's got a story about the weird things Xaositects do or say. Then there's the time a couple of years ago when all the Xaositects acted "normal" for about a week. That really shook some bashers, 'cause no one could figure what the Chaosmen were up to. Turns out they weren't up to anything, things just happened that way. See, the Xaositects figure that if they acted chaotic all the time, they'd become predictable. Namers, smashing things for havoc's sake miss the point. Being chaotic ain't an excuse to kill wantonly. The object ain't to cause chaos, but to observe it and be a part of it. A lot of cutters talk about the Chaosmen like they know 'em. Ain't true. Nobody really knows the Xaositects - not even other Xaositects. Members of this faction do share a few common traits, though.
Hardly needs saying, but a Xaositect's got to chaotic. Actions always reveal a faction member's moral tendency, eventually. Evil Chaosmen still act cruel and selfish, just more randomly than most. Good ones leave haphazard beauty and chance kindnesses in their wakes. A truly chaotic cutter might commit an evil act one day and a good one the next, then seem pretty neutral for a couple of weeks. Most in the faction act chaotic neutral: even those that start out good or evil find themselves slipping away from those ethics, which only distract them from the sublime joy of chaos.
As a body might expect, the Xaositects attract a variety of different professions. Alignment keeps out some, like druids and paladins, but the ranks of chaos include at least a few of almost anythiig else. Quite a lot of warriors join, since - as any mage'll say - brawling doesn't take much concentration. (By the same token, few Xaositect warriors have the single-mindedness needed to learn a weapon specialization.) Simple fighters seem the most common, though a few solitary ranger types belong as well. Expect to see a high proportion of rogues, too, since they're usually the selfish types that like a faction that lets a body do whatever he wants. A lot of prime thieves can accept the Xaositects, 'cause it doesn't demand much from 'em.
Chaosman priests, though uncommon, always devote themselves to a chaotic power. Chant says some of the major Xaositect priests are proxies of those powers. Thankfully, the Xaositects don't have too many wizards, either, because studying magic takes a lot of concentration, which most Chaosmen can't manage. However, since magic can add so much chaos to the cosmos, more than a few Xaositects become wild mages. The faction includes a few illusionists, transmuters, and invokers as well, but not many other specialists. A body's well-advised to stay away from any of these spellcasters. A Xaositect with a sword is one thing, but one who can toss fireballs is another matter.
Not only do the Xaositects not have a human majority, the group hasn't got a majority of anything - just a lot of humans and githzerai, and bariaur, tietlings, and halfelves. The faction also welcomes members from a few dozen other races, from minotaurs to slaadi. A group with no rules to speak of doesn't leave anyone out.
Sometimes a basher has to take a test to join, and sometimes a Xaositect sponsor just says "okay." Some new members had to go through a waiting period or an interview with a few Chaosmen; others had to pay dues or sign statements of intent. One sponsor makes prospective members dress up funny and do barmy stunts. 'Course, a basher who wants to join doesn't necessarily have to do what he's told - sometimes the Xaositect sponsor only wants a refusal.
Once an "official" member, a cutter usually starts wearing the faction symbol, so everyone knows his affiliation. The symbol tells other Chaosmen, "I want to know when someone has a bright idea, so I can get in on the act." 'Course, any faction member can always approach a handful of comrades in chaos and give 'em an idea for something new and interesting to try - but if he doesn't wear the symbol himself, another Xaositect might not know to include him in the fun.
Do Chaosmen have ranks? Well, as usual, the answer is "sometimes." Xaositects form a spontaneous, spastic sort of organization, its members always working at a halfdozen different tasks at once, and ready to drop them all when a new brainstorm hits. New Chaosmen, or namers, just lie to cause chaos and act barmy. Everybody's seen 'em: They make their affiliation an excuse for bizarre actions, seem willing to try literally anything, and can't stick with one thing for more than five minutes. They'll work for themselves or anybody with an interesting idea, regardless of its consequences. Thing is, namers try to be chaos, rather than be a part of chaos. Though they wear their faction symbols like badges, namers don't get much respect.
Once in a while, a namer'll catch a due and advance to the equivalent of a factotum, sometimes called a boss. To become a boss, a basher must win the acceptance of other bosses. It's an unstated acceptance, given when a group of bosses latches onto a namer's notion (like racing around the Lady's Ward tickling folks with an erinyes feather) and run with it. See, any berk can unite a group of namers behind a goal, but only a basher of boss material can motivate higher-ups. A cutter from another faction can recognize bosses by their air of leadership, as well as by their small groups of followers. Some will stick with a boss for quite a while. happily caught in the eddies of someone elseís chaos, but others come and go.
As they grow more and more attuned to the chaos around them, some bosses eventually move up in the ranks. These folks become big bosses: more or less the equivalent of factors in other factions. Big bosses really marshal the chaos around them. They act a lot like regular bosses, bringing groups of Xaositects together for specific purposes. But a perceptive cutter might tell that big bosses work with more skill in chaos than mere bosses, and that they can gather bigger groups of followers. Fact is, big bosses get regular bosses to go out and gather groups together for particular tasks. The best compliment a basher can pay a big boss is calling him a "mobile center of disorder."
Maybe a half-dozen big bosses live in Sigil and elsewhere, like the town of Xaos on the edge of the Outlands. Some have held factor rank for months or years; others last only an hour or a week. Some prominent ones fill in when Karan gets bored as factol. One well-known big boss is Mordrigaaz Anthill. Boss status gives a blood extra abilities related to chaos. A boss of 5th level or higher always enjoys the protection of nondetection (as the wizard spell) from spells cast by lawful wizards or priests. Upon reaching 9th level, a boss can radiate confusion, like the wizard spell, once per day in a 20-foot radius. The effects last 2d6 rounds; any lawful characters in the area of effect receive -2 penalties to their saving throws.
Big bosses gain special abilities beyond those of regular bosses. The DM determines this ability: The cutter might have the power of a wand of wonder once a day, find himself able to alter self three times a day, or even become subject to alter self at random times with no control. He might suddenly discover he can use a power similar to the spell item or minor creation three times a day or gain a constant unseen servant (per the wizard spell). DMs should base abilities on a character's personality and skills, taking care not to make the PC the center of power in a campaign. And change the ability from time to time. That's the way chaos works: Nothing stays the same for long.
All Faction members also enjoy a couple of other powers, to varying degrees.
Anyone rattling his bone-box like that has to be barmy, right? Well, maybe not: Rolling a Xaositect's words around a bit makes them clear: I am not insane, I merely do what comes naturally to me, according to the randomness of the multiverse. When Xaositects use this scramblespeak, they twist all the words of a sentence out of order. Another Xaositect can understand the talk if he makes a successful Intelligence check. Most cutters just muddle through, but, to interpreters of scramblespeak, Xaositect bloods can sound downright erudite.
Namers try to use the Xaositects' scrambled syntax ability, but they ain't too good at it; they can reverse a few sentences, or mix up a short one. Still, they keep trying. A lot. A boss can use strings of full sentences of scramblespeak - but only part of the time. If he used it all the time, namers couldn't understand him. (But if he never scrambled his syntax, namers'd understand him all the time, and either good no, that's.) 'Course, big bosses speak scrambled whenever they want.
One odd thing about the Xaositects: They know where things are. Some folks have a disorderly living area but know exactly where they keep everything. Xaositects, with their inner sense of chaos, know where the whole multiverse keeps everything. If a body loses something, he could do worse than ask a Xaositect where it is.
'Course, Chaosmen who try to find something doom themselves to failure. They aren't any good at searching, only at knowing. Here's bow it works: A basher who lost something should just ask a Xaositect straight out, with no warning, "Whereís the sword I lost last week?" If itís really lost, the Xaosman might know where (on a succesful Wisdom check). 'Course, the Chaosman doesn't have to tell anyone. Also, a character can't use this ability to find an object that someone deliberately placed somewhere. See, that ain't really lost. The only way the character can find a stolen item is if the thief himself lost it.
Xaositects with the best such instincts are the ones closest to achieving oneness with the force of disorder. The DM should modify the Xaositect's ability check based on the character's rank in the faction. (A namer might suffer a -3 penalty to his Wisdom score for the check, while a big boss gets a +3 bonus.) DMs also might modify the roll based on effective role-playing. Still, characters seeking information on lost items might not get exactly the answers they expect from a Chaosman. Sometimes, a faction member rattles off an objects exact location: "Itís five feet directly in front of the side door of the Black Sails, in the Lower Ward in Sigil." Other times, the Xaositect gives only the amount of detail needed ("Itís behind your washbasin") or offers just a general answer ("Itís near a tree"). The Xaositect can decide himself how accurate to make his response, or the DM might base the accuracy and depth of the answer on the character's rank in the faction.