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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Dungeons & Dragons - A Guide to the Factions of Planescape

One of the hardest things for me to get my head around when I first started working on my Planescape campaigns was the factions. There are a million of them and each one has a name and a nickname that are used interchangeably. Worse, I tried to find a simple faction list on google, and I couldn't.

We're going to whip one up right here. First, I'll list them as they are in the Planescape boxed set. Then I'll talk about the changes to the factions following the events of the Faction War adventure and scattered things from subsequent editions.

This article uses material from these sources:
5e Faction Rules: If you want to use these factions for 5e, don't forget to check out the faction and renown rules in the DMG page 21. In theory, a hero can rise up in the ranks from namer to factotum to factor to factol.

Using these factions in a campaign can feel overwhelming. There are so many to keep track of! I suggest just focusing on the ones your players like to start with and slowly expand when it feels like everyone is familiar with the ones introduced so far. You could do an entire campaign of just focusing an adventure on each faction if you wanted to.

History of the Factions: At one time, there were dozens of factions that were constantly bickering and brawling. The Lady of Pain forced a limit of no more than 15 factions operating in Sigil at the same time. This event and declaration became known as the Great Upheaval. It occurred over 600 years ago.

Factol Erin Darkflame Montgomery

Joining a Faction: It's usually simple and there is a fee. You might have someone sponsor you to get in. Some of the factions have a more complicated entry process.

You Can't Be a Member of More than One Faction: Unless you are an Anarchist.

Changing Factions: This doesn't happen much, because a faction is all about your core beliefs. Often, other factions won't allow members who quit another faction previously. The Harmonium actually brings a quitter to court to try them for "treachery" so they can be put to death.

Faction Ranks: There are 4 ranks in each faction. Most people are "namers." Some factions have different names for the ranks.
  1. Namer: All new members are called namers, and most remain that rank for their entire lives. They are members of the faction, but they don't get too involved with the whole thing.
  2. Factotum: Full-time members. They run messages, escort guests, and fill positions of low responsibility.
  3. Factor: A factor is a high-ranking member who directly serves the factol.
  4. Factol: The one person in charge of the entire faction.
Benefits of Being in a Faction: There are a few perks to joining:
  • Headquarters: Members get use of the faction headquarters. Many of these huge places offer services and events. You can stay at the headquarters for a few days or perhaps permanently, depending on your standing.
  • Information/Services: Most factions have information on where portals are and all sorts of other info that only members have access to. For characters, joining a faction means that they have access to special powers. 
  • Powers: These powers change with each edition. If you want to use them in 5e, you'll have to pick out the ones that you like and convert them.
  • Healing: Most factions have healers who can remove curses, cast knowledge spells, all sorts of stuff for a fee.
  • Adventures: They can give you jobs or adventures to go on.
Factions Don't Fight Openly: The Lady of Pain doesn't look kindly on factions going to war. She decreed there could be only 15 factions in Sigil when things got out of hand years ago.

List of Factions
Transcendant Order
Now I am going to list each faction as they appear in the Planescape boxed set. I'm adding information from other sources, too. After that, I'll list the changes to the factions following the Faction War.

Plane of Influence: In these lists, the plane of influence is the plane that the faction travels to on occasion and the plane that best suits their beliefs. Their actual headquarters are always in Sigil.

The Athar (Defiers, The Lost)

Philosophy: There are no gods, just powerful mortals. They want to discover the secret truth to reality.

Plane of Influence: Astral Plane.

Headquarters: The Shattered Temple in Sigil. Formerly a temple of Aoskar, god of portals.

Allies: The Believers of the Source.

Ranks: Factotums are known as "Athaons." To become one, you have to go through a special hidden ceremony in the Shattered Temple. You bring three objects linked to the gods (bibles, holy symbols, etc) and destroy them.
  • Low level athaons work as guards and messengers
  • Mid-level athaons work as special envoys and supervisors.
  • High level athaons: Join the inner circle of the defilers..
Factol Terrance: Lawful Good former priest of Mishakal. Has a sense of humor about realizing the god aren't gods.

Powers: As members become more powerful, they can gain these powers:
  • Magic Resistance: Athaons have a bonus to saving throws against clerics or planar agents serving a diety/archdevil/demonlord
  • Obscurement: Factors gain an obscurement power that protects them from any sort of divination spell.
  • Banishment: Once per day they can case banishment.
  • Divine Cancellation: Counterspell a divine spell once per day.
  • Divine Retribution: Reflect a divine spell back at the caster!
  • Divine Interference: Generate an aura that interferes with divine spellcasting.
  • Crystal Cask of the Great Unknown: The Athar think there is a shattered cask that, if reassembled, can contain and drain the power from all of the "pretender" gods.
Believers of the Source (Godsmen)

The Great Foundry
Philosophy: Everyone is tested and reincarnated until they become a supreme being. When everyone has ascended, the multiverse ends. Godsmen spend a lot of time in the Ethereal Plane studying.

Plane of Influence: The Ethereal Plane.

Headquarters: The Great Foundry.

Allies: The Athar and the Doomguard.

Enemies: The Bleak Cabal and the Dustmen.

Restriction: They can't be raised or resurrected, only reincarnated.

Factol Ambar Vergrove: Courteous and kind, beloved by all.

Rising in the Ranks:
  • To become a factotum, you must have a mentor. When the mentor thinks you are ready, you must go before a factor and go through tests, puzzles and challenges tailored to your fears and weaknesses.
  • To become a factor, you go through a secret test in the Deep Ethereal.
Powers: As members become more powerful, they can gain these powers:
  • A bonus to charisma checks when interacting with planar beings.
  • Godsmen can speed up your travel time in the ethereal plane by up to x2.
Source Tokens: Some factotums have these magical stones that allow you to enter the Ethereal Plane at will from anywhere in the multiverse. It's a consumable item, so each one only works once. Source tokens are made in a secret forge in the Great Foundry and are usually given to factotums who are on specific missions. They can manifest aspects of a past life.

Each pouch has 12 tokens. When you break one, a creature materializes. It could be a tree, a horse, an owlbear, an ogre, or lots of other amusing creatures. The creature obeys you. It's a materialized form of one of your unconscious memories.

The Bleak Cabal (Bleakers, Madmen)

Factol Lhar

Philosophy: The multiverse is without meaning.

Plane of Influence: Pandemonium.

Headquarters: The Gatehouse, an insane asylum.

Allies: The Doomguard, Dustmen, Revolutionary League and the Xaositects.

Enemies: The Fraternity of Order, the Harmonium and the Mercykillers.

  • Lawful characters can't join. 
  • Each day, roll a d20. On a 20, you are overcome with a feeling that everything is futile. Other PCs will need to convince them to get up, otherwise the bleaker does nothing for that day.
Rising in the Ranks:
  • Most members volunteer at a poorhouse, orphanage or the Gatehouse.
  • A lot of members are wizards and scholars.
  • To become a factotum, you must serve for six months in the Gatehouse watching over inmates.
Factol Lhar: Chaotic neutral half-orc, who was himself an orphan. He may be succumbing to The Grim Retreat.

Powers: As members become more powerful, they can gain these powers:
  • Immune to madness/ insanity effects from confusion, feeblemind, Tasha's hideous laughter, etc. 
  • Advantage on saving throws vs. detect thoughts.
New Spells: Factotums get special spells:
  • (Lvl 4) Despair: An area effect spell that causes depression and hopelessness - targets can't attack, cast spells, or move. Paralyzed, basically. Lasts one round per level.
  • (Lvl 6) Howl of Pandemonium: This is like a super gust of wind, where you channel the screaming winds of pandemonium in a cone. It incapacitates people and gives off a random confusion effect.
The Grim Retreat: Many Bleakers get this illness, which leads to madness and death. This process eventually takes down every factol of the Bleak Cabal.

The Doomguard

Factol Pentar

Philosophy: The multiverse is decaying and nobody should meddle with that process.

Plane of Influence: The Negative Energy Plane and the quasiplanes of Ash, Vacuum, Salt and Dust.

Allies: The Bleak Cabal, the Godsmen and the Dustmen.

Enemies: The Fraternity of Order and the Harmonium.

Restrictions: Naturally resistant to healing. They actually have to fail a saving throw for the healing to take effect.

Rising in the Ranks:
  • Factors: Their factors are known as Doomlords. They go through an unspeakable transformation in the Negative Energy Plane and they wear black and red masks blazoned with the faction symbol where their faces ought to be. They say if you look under their mask, you'll go insane.
  • Weapons: Doomlords can create champions of entropy to deal with threats that wield entropy blades.
Factol Pentar: She is chaotic neutral and she has a sword of modron-slaying.

Powers: As members become more powerful, they can gain these powers:
  • Entropic Blow: Do extra damage to creatures, piles more to objects.
  • Destructive Expertise: Good at disabling devices.
  • Spell-like Powers: True strike, shatter, disintegrate.
Entropy Blades: Entropy blades are imbued with negative energy and are made to deal with a specific threat. The blade turns to dust once the threat has passed. In 2e, they are +2 weapons, +4 vs. their specific threat they were made to deal with. A factotum with a long term mission may end up with an entropy blade for their entire life. Most blades exist for a few months.
  • Ash Blade: Protects you like a ring of fire resistance, cast chill touch three times per day.
  • Vacuum Blade: Immune to gas (stinking cloud, etc) and can cast ray of enfeeblement three times per day.
  • Salt Blade: Water resistance, cast lower water to destroy water three times per day.
  • Dust Blade: Protection from stone attacks, can disintegrate stone once per day.
The Dustmen (The Dead)

Philosophy: Everyone is dead, some more than others. Undead have attained purity - they have purged themselves of all passion and sense.

Plane of Influence: The Negative Energy Plane. It is said that the soul of every dead Dustman lurks in their hidden citadel. The Dustmen could call them back to the Mortuary should the Dustmen need them.

Headquarters: The Mortuary. It has a lot of portals in it, many of which go to cemeteries on other worlds.

Allies: The Bleak Cabal and The Fated.

Enemies: The Sign of One and the Society of Sensation.

Restriction: Most Dustmen won't accept being raised or resurrected. They quest for "True Death," where there is no coming back in any form.

Rising in the Ranks:
  • The Dustmen collect bodies and bury or dispose of them in the Mortuary.
  • Factotums are known as "Initiates." You must be at least 4th level. Factotums are initiated through a dark pact with the undead. Factotums gain the power to command undead.
  • Lowest ranking factotums are Initiates of the Fifth Circle
  • Mid-ranking factotums are in the Fourth Circle.
  • Factors and the Factol belong to the First Circle.
  • Nobody knows what the second and third circles are. Many think they are full of powerful, free-willed undead. There are a lot of undead members of the Dustmen.
Factol Skall: He might be an undead spellcaster. He often appears as an empty black robe with the symbol of the Dustmen hovering above him.

The Dead Truce: Undead ignore Dustmen as long as they do no harm to the undead.

The Fated (Takers, the Heartless)
Factol Duke Rowan Darkwood

Philosophy: You have to take what you want in life through hard work and by whatever means necessary.

Plane of Influence: Ysgard

Headquarters: The Hall of Records

Allies: The Free League and the Mercykillers.

Enemies: The Harmonium.

  • No lawful good members. 
  • Can't accept charity in any capacity. Everything they receive must be earned in one fashion or another.
Rising in the Ranks:
  • To join, you must pass a series of mental and physical tests.
  • Members collect taxes and track the city's business dealings.
  • To rise up in rank, you need to remove someone from their spot, usually through threats or magic.
Factol Duke Rowan Darkwood: He is an ambitious fellow with a white beard who schemes for control of Sigil.

Powers: As members become more powerful, they can gain these powers:
  • Fated generally have bonuses to knowledge rolls on one specific plane and have extra bonuses to their skills.
  • Aura of Confidence: Boosts allies, bugs enemies.
  • Larger than Life: Can cast enlarge on themselves.
The Luckmaker's Glyph: In the Serpent Spine mountains of Ysgard, there are deadly caves that contain a glyph that the Fated frequently quest to see. This glyph is said to give you a bit more luck than the average mortal.

The Fraternity of Order (Guvners)

Philosophy: Everything has laws. Learning the laws of the multiverse will give you ultimate power.

Plane of Influence: Mechanus, they have a stronghold there.

Headquarters: The City Courts.

Allies: The Mercykillers and the Harmonium.

Enemies: The Xaositects and the Revolutionary League.

Restrictions: Members must be lawful.

Rising in the Ranks:
  • To join, you must take tests of general knowledge and legal matters.
  • Run the court system of Sigil. Faction members frequently judge cases.
  • Namers are known as "aides."
Factol Hashkar: A lawful neutral dwarf who bores people but knows a lot.

Powers: As members become more powerful, they can gain these powers:
  • They can automatically comprehend languages once per day.
  • At 7th level, they might be able to use magic items not meant for their class if the DM is cool with it.
  • Factotums learn the loopholes of the multiverse and can take advantage of them. Once per day, they can give themselves a bonus to a roll or a penalty on someone else's roll.
  • Sometimes they have custom abilities, like borrowing elemental fire to make their sword a flaming sword, or a thief might learn how to manipulate shadows. 
The Free League (Indeps)

Philosophy: They insist that they are not a faction. They stay out of things and watch each others backs. Many of them are merchants.

Plane of Influence: The Outlands.

Headquarters: The Grand Bazaar.

Enemies: The Harmonium.

Restrictions: Have less rights than most in Sigil.

Factol: While there is no factol, there are 3 leaders. Bria Romay, a human female, and Lethea and Lesander, twin wemics.

Powers: As members become more powerful, they can gain these powers:
  • Advantage on saving throws vs. charm.
  • They can cast (Lvl 1) Know Faction: Lets you look at someone within 60 feet and know what faction they are in.
The Harmonium (The Hardheads)

Philosophy: If everyone follows the rules (their rules), then there will be peace. 

Plane of Influence: Arcadia.

Headquarters: The City Barracks.

Allies: The Guvners and the Mercykillers.

Enemies: The Indeps, the Revolutionary League and the Xaositects.

  • Must be lawful. 
  • Must atone for any violation of Harmonium policy. 
  • If you betray the faction, the factol sentences you to death.
Rising in the Ranks:
  • Factotums are trained extensively in combat. They gain a bonus to saves against fear.
  • Harmonium clerics can learn (Lvl 2) Dictate: This is an improved version of the command spell. The caster can speak up to 12 words that must be obeyed by those who fail their save. Examples: "Throw down your weapons!" "Seize that elf!"
  • The factor hierarchy is organized by "Movers." Mover Five is th highest, then four, than three, etc. Like army generals.
  • There are two Mover Fives: Tonat Shar and Killeen Kaine.
  • One Mover Four is Durkayle, the guy who gets into trouble in "Umbra" from Dungeon Magazine #55.
Factol Sarin: A lawful good paladin, devoted to law and good.

Power: Cast charm person once per day

Planar Mancatchers: Harmonium use these magic polearms that are enchanted to block teleportation and plane-shifting.

The Mercykillers (Red Death)

Philosophy: Justice must be carried out. Perfection is the goal of the multiverse. 

Plane of Influence: Acheron

Headquarters: The Prison

Allies: The Harmonium, the Guvners, the Doomguard and the Mercykillers.

Enemies: Signers, Sensates and the Anarchists.

  • Must be lawful. 
  • No thieves, no criminals. 
  • If you break a law, you must subject yourself to the full punishment.
  • They execute the guilty.
Rising in the Ranks:
  • No tests to join. They just hear the cold, hard facts about law.
  • Many Mercykiller guards have Aoskian Hounds, two-headed dogs.
  • Factotum are known as Justices. They must train and study to learn the law thoroughly. They are free to take on a crusade against rulebreakers. They can go through a ritual to become a justiciar (see below). 
  • Some people who are sentenced to death are devoured by the Mercykiller Wyrm, a dragon-like creature that lurks in the bowels of the prison.
Factol Nilesia: She is very unhinged and very harsh when it comes to sentencing offenders.

Power: Once per day, can ask a question and know whether the person is lying or not.

Justiciar: An elite members who track their quarry. Created in 3 steps:
  1. Swear a blood oath to pursue their target
  2. They are linked to the target in a binding ceremony
  3. They have a warrant to serve the prey.
They can sense the location of their quarry, even between planes. The quarry is aware it is being hunted. The warrant has a special hold person spell that the target has a penalty to save against.

The Revolutionary League (Anarchists)

Philosophy: The other factions are corrupt and need to be brought down. Once that is done, the real truth will be revealed.

Plane of Influence: Carceri

Headquarters: None in Sigil. They move from place to place to avoid detection.

Allies: The Doomguard and the Xaositects.

Enemies: The Harmonium and the Guvners.

  • No lawful characters. 
  • Can't hold public office or own a business. 
  • 90% of their income (treasure) must go to the cause or to the oppressed. "In no case can it be given to another player character or player-controlled nonplayer character."
Rising in the Ranks:
  • The league is made up of cells of 3-8 anarchists. Only the leader, a factotum, knows who all of the members are. That factotum is also a member of a cell full of factotums.
  • Factotums are masters of forgery and disguise and get bonuses on those checks.
Factol: None. The closest they have is Beringe, a smooth talker who has set traps, killed officials and started riots. He has toppled governments on prime worlds.

Power: They can pose as members of other factions without being detected and gain access to the headquarters of other factions.

The Sign of One (Signers)

Factol Darius

Philosophy: One person is the center of the universe, possibly you. Everyone else is a figment of that person's imagination.

Plane of Influence: The Beastlands

Headquarters: The Hall of Speakers

Allies: The Sensates

Enemies: The Harmonium and the Bleak Cabal.

  • No Lawful Good or Lawful Neutral members. 
  • They have big egos that tend to rub people the wrong way. They have a penalty to charisma checks.
Rising in the Ranks:
  • To Join: Go to the Hall of Speakers and predict the future. If it comes true, you're in.
  • Factotums belong to the inner circles of the faction.
Factol Darius: Neutral good olive-skinned woman who promotes tolerance and diversity.

Powers: As members become more powerful, they can gain these powers:
  • Advantage on saves vs. illusionary magic.
  • Imagining: Factotums have a special power called imagining where they can mimic certain creation spells. In 2e it's minor creation or shadow monsters. For 5e, maybe phantasmal force, phantom steed, and phantasmal killer? Basically, the caster needs to make a check. If they do, they can imagine an object or creature into reality for a time. Failing this check means they "burn out" and can't try using the power again until they gain a level. If the Signer rolls a one, the signer realizes that he or she is imaginary and becomes a shadow version of themselves. Each day they can make a check to try to imagine themselves back to reality.
The Society of Sensation (Sensates)

The Civic Festhall
Philosophy: To experience everything is to learn the meaning of the multiverse.

Plane of Influence: Arborea

Headquarters: The Civic Festhall

Allies: The Signers, the Guvners and the Indeps.

Enemies: The Doomguard

Rising in the Ranks:
  • To Join: Visit the Festhall and record five experiences in sensory stones.
  • To become  factor, the sensate has to make a lasting and significant contribution to the faction.
  • Factotums gain 2e bard abilities. They get bonuses to local history and can identify magic items.
Factol Erin Darkflame Montgomery: Lawful good, has the most political power in Sigil, hunted by demons.

Powers: As members become more powerful, they can gain these powers:
  • Bonuses to saves against poison, hard to surprise, all members have darkvision.
  • Sensory Caress: You can take on one effect that a save can end from one target to yourself.
  • Dramatic Recount: Enthrall people as per the spell.
  • Sense Link: See and hear through a creature within 30 feet.
  • Sensory Overload: Magnify a creature's perception of damage. The target takes extra damage.
  • Shared Spell Experience: You can reflect spells, but you still are affected.
  • Hyper Scent: You smell real good.
Sense Escalation Tank: Spending a minure in one of these items feels like a day of real life. It is a way to experience deep thought and inner exploration.

The Transcendent Order (Ciphers)

Factol Rhys
Philosophy: Be impulsive, follow your instincts. Once you sync up your body and mind, you will be in tune with the multiverse.

Plane of Influence: Elysium

Headquarters: The Great Gymnasium

Benefits: Bonus to initiative.

Restrictions: Must be neutral. Players of Ciphers can't change their mind once they commit to an action. They should not pause to consider or debate pending actions.

Rising in the Ranks:

They don't have factotums or factors, they have "masters." It takes 3-4 months of intense exercise and meditation to achieve each rank.The ranks...
  1. Master of the Heart: +2 to initiative
  2. Master of the Mind: +3 to initiative
  3. Master of the Spirit: Nobody knows what it takes to become a master of the spirit (except the masters themselves).
Factol Rhys: "Master of the spirit," a neutral tiefling who has internal harmony and can inspire others to greatness. She becomes important post-Faction War, because she suddenly becomes one of the most politically powerful people in the new Sigil government.

Powers: As members become more powerful, they can gain these powers:
  • Bonus to saves against charm/fear/illusion. This only applies when they are in an "action trance," which is when they are fighting, exercising or mediating. They can't walk around in this state all day.
  • Locate Weakness: Do lots of damage to inanimate objects.
  • Evasion.
  • Become ethereal once per day.
  • See invisible.
  • Haste once per day.
  • Mauvignon Fragments: Pieces of a tome known as the Mauvignon Codex that can expand your consciousness.
  • Pinnacle of Perfect Knowledge: A place where perfect knowledge is attained. Might not be a physical place.
The Xaositects (Chaosmen)

Philosophy: The multiverse is chaos. There is no order or pattern to anything.

Plane of Influence: Limbo.

Headquarters: The center of the Hive Ward.

Allies: The Doomguard and the Bleak Cabal.

Enemies: The Harmonium and the Guvners.

  • Must be chaotic. They are bound to chaos. 
  • They can't own a business or stronghold, and they can't do things that require long-term organization.
Rising in the Ranks: No factotums or factors.

Factol Karan: A githzerai who quits a few times per day and doesn't remember anything about his past.

Powers: As members become more powerful, they can gain these powers:
  • Once per week they can cast babble, a spell that makes people speak incoherently.
  • Chaosmen of 5th level or higher are protected by nondetection.
  • At 9th level they radiate confusion in a 20 foot radius once per day for 2d6 rounds. Lawful characters have a penalty to the save.
  • Really powerful chaosmen have the ability to create a circle of chaos (like protection form evil) and some might be able to mutate their forms.
  • The Die is Cast: When you roll a d20 and dislike the result, add d10 and subtract d4.
  • Hornung's Deflector: When you would be hit by a ranged attack, it hits a random creature (including yourself) within 15 feet.
  • Hide from the Law: Hard to scry them.
  • Immune to illusions.
  • Chaotic Contagion: Cause confusion.
  • Babble: Aura of chaotic noise (like a gibbering mouther, maybe).
  • Confusion aura.
  • Chance's Friend: Reroll a die roll.
  • Spark of Life: Bring inanimate objects to life (like the monsters).
  • Chance's Master: Force a creature to reroll.
Blade of the Attractor: A sword that can cut reality to the bone, revealing hidden cycles that dictate each moment. It can change weather patterns, alter the flow of rivers and disrupt political order.

Splinter Groups

There are all sorts of sidegroups and sub-factions in Sigil and in the planes:
  • The Ring-Givers of Ysgard: Giving things away brings you the true wealth of the multiverse.
  • The Dispossessed: Angst-ridden outcasts on Pandemonium and Carceri.
  • The Order of the Planes-Militant: Defenders of Mount Celestia.
  • The Incantifiers: Mastering magic is the key to ultimate power.
  • The Prolongers: They quest for immortality.
  • The Ragers: Your worth is determined by beating others in physical challenges.
  • The Hopeful: Splinter group of the Dustmen who believe that once they achieve True Death they'll be granted True Life.
Factions of the Past

These factions once thrived but were snuffed out by the Lady of Pain.

The Communals (Hivers, Tribe of One): They shared everything and proclaimed that all races are equal.They were made up of the poor people of Sigil and they controlled the City Provisioner's, the only food storehouse in Sigil. They tried to declare that Sigil belonged to everyone, not just the Lady of Pain. One day, they all vanished.
  • Solidarity Bands: When two different creatures where these, they share damage evenly when they are on the same plane. An armband can't be removed until the wearer dies, or someone casts dispel magic.
The Expansionists (Growers, Bullies): They believed that power grows and that anyone could build themselves into a being of great power. They began to get bigger and bigger. Then their leader, Vartus Timlin, vanished and they disbanded. There is only one member still in Sigil. She is known as the Grixitt. She does her best to sabotage and destroy portals.
  • Bully Chains: These chains boost intimidate checks.
  • Metal Slave Collar: Absorbs a bit of damage, made primarily for bar brawls.
  • Rear Guards: Darkened lenses that let you see behind you, as well as the front.
  • Shivving Duster: Long leather coats that are like leather armor +1 and have lots of space to hide weapons.
  • Lightbringer: A +3 dancing sword that is intelligent (It's neutral). It can communicate telepathically with the wielder and cast bless 3 times per day. If there is another weapon bearing the same name, it can destroy it. It can speak Common, Abyssal, Celestial and Infernal. Lightbringer was wielded by the Factol Vartus Timlin until he was mazed (see "The Mazes" in Well of Worlds).
The Incanterium (Wanters): (I wrote an entire separate article on this sect right here) They believed that magic is the root of all power. They lived in the Tower Sorcerous in Sigil and they controlled a good chunk of Sigil and manipulated other factions. One day, the tower and the faction vanished.

The survivors had immersed themselves in magic and lost their bodies and souls. They needed to consume arcane energy to survive and they can only heal wounds by absorbing magic. They are paranoid and bitter and they have silver eyes.

Alluvius Ruskin is an Incantifer. She runs Tivvum's Antiquities and she has a big role in Faction War.

Faction War

Duke Rowan & Factol Nilesia

In this mega-adventure, the factions go to war. I don't want to spoil the whole thing, but the outcome is that many of the factions are gone and most of the factols have disappeared.

This Wasn't Meant to be Permanent: Apparently, there was a sequel to Faction War planned. The idea was to use the Faction War as an excuse to make some Planescape products and adventures that focused on the planes. Then, the sequel would more or less restore the status quo.

This never happened because TSR collapsed and got bought by Wizards of the Coast. I have never heard what the proposed plot of the sequel was going to be.

The "Factions" post-Faction War

The Lady of Pain has forbade the existence of factions. All of these operate in secret.
  • The Sodkillers: They run the Minders Guild, where people can come and hire them as mercenaries.
  • The Sons of Mercy: Oversee the Prison, patrol the streets.
  • The Mind's Eye: You must discover the secrets of the planes to pass into a new kind of existence. They have a base in each of the gate towns.

They operate within an organization called the Minders Guild. They are mercenaries for hire. They hack off the hands of thieves and execute killers

Philosophy: Chaos wins if we permit free thinking and subversive ideas.

Restrictions: They must be lawful and have the ability to track.

Factol Cruel Seirrah:She is a tiefling with twisted horns and an illegitimate daughter of the crazy former factol Nilesia. Unpredictable and vindictive, she craves power. She likes to carve up enemies slowly with a thin knife.

  • Axiomatic Strike: Do extra damage to chaotic creatures once per day.
  • Oath of Blood: This takes an hour, and locks you into a particular quest. It allows you to use the contract and warrant abilities like the justiciars above.
Sons of Mercy

Arwyl Swan's Son
They run the prison and police Sigil in an unofficial capacity.
  • Philosophy: By Ensuring justice is applied fairly to all who live in civilization, we all prosper. The punishment should always fit the crime.
  • Factol Arwyl Swan's Son: A kind and just leader.. He was once a divine champion of Torm from the Forgotten Realms. He is 150 years old and has white hair. Torm has blessed him with an extended life. Torm wants him to represent his interests in Sigil.
The Mind's Eye

They believe that each time you die, you are reborn in a new body and in each life you learn more of the cosmic truth. 
  • Philosophy: You can discover the secrets of the multiverse by exploring it. 
  • Factol Ombidias: A voadkyn who was a factor in the Believers of the Source when it collapsed.
  • Orb of Omniconsciousness: An eye plucked from a god. It gives a clear, unsullied view of the multiverse. Those with weak minds can't handle it.
Dead Factions

Following the Faction War, some factions ceased to exist.

The Sign of One: The Believers of the Source and the Sign of One combined to become The Mind's Eye.

Believers of the Source: They reached a state of philosophical atrophy and merged with the Signers to form the Mind's Eye. Factol Ambar vanished, was possibly mazed.

Mercykillers: After the Faction War, they split into two factions: The Sons of Mercy and the Sodkillers. There are some Mercykillers still out there. They are fighting the hordes of chaos in the planes. Their leader is Captain Andrezhej, a being with pale skin, white hair and strange skin patterns.

The Sign of One: They merged with the Godsmen to become the Mind's Eye. There are a bunch of newer magic items associated with them:
  • The Book of All Names: This book has the name of every creature in existence. Whoever possesses it can control the fate of any being. Signers make lesser versions that are largely empty. When you write a name in the book, you can bestow a blessing or curse.
  • Shadow Mirror: A mirror that reflects only shadows. Once per day it picks up the thoughts of the nearest sentient being and creates a shadow creature from their thoughts. It exists for one day and then fades away.
  • Speaker's Trumpet: A clasp that goes on your lip. It makes your voice project. It's like a magic microphone/speaker system for making proclamations.
  • Heart of Aoskar: This is a minor artifact, a clockwork heart originally meant to bring the dead god of portals, Aoskar, back to life. It can create spontaneous, random portals.
Factions That Moved to the Planes

After the Lady of Pain outlawed factions, these organizations moved to the planes.

The Athar: They moved to Sum-of-All, the rilmani city at the base of the spire in The Outlands. Their home is the Fortress of Veils. They also have an observatory in the Astral Plane overlooking dead gods. Deities hold grudges against them and send spies and assassins after them. They mine gems near the base of the spire and used them to make magic items harmful to deities and their agents.
  • Spireshard Weapons: If this hits a target, that target must save or be unable to case spells for d4 rounds.
The Fraternity of Order: Their leader died during the Faction War. They live in the Fortress of Disciplined Enlightenment on Mechanus. They spend their time experimenting, studying and plotting their return to Sigil.
  • Zelekhut Wings: Clockwork wings with golden feathers, give you the ability to fly.
  • Kolyarut Hand: If you graft the metal hand to your wrist, you can use vampiric touch three times per day.

Doomguard: They were almost wiped out in the Faction War. They fled to their four armories on the edge of the negative energy plane.

Harmonium: They went to Arcadia. They want to unite the upper planes under the banner of law.

Their new factol is named Faith. She travels the planes extensively trying to make new allies. There is an army of Harmonium Peacekeepers that steps in wherever evil and disorder rear their ugly heads.
  • Planar Steed: They get special mounts like paladins. 
  • They can plane shift once per day from Arcadia to the first layer of any non-evil plane.
  • They can smite chaos once per day, doing extra damage to chaotic creatures.
  • Calm Emotions once per day.
The Fated: They moved to Ysgard and live off the land. Their new factol is a dwarf named Aram Oakwright who likes to duel. 

Revolutionary League: They have no purpose any more. They moved to Carceri and live in the Bastion of Last Hope on the first layer of Carceri. They want to return to Sigil as rulers, to lead the masses toward the real truths of the universe.

The Second Wave: This is a splinter group that has formed cells in cities across the planes (like Dis and the City of Brass) to try to make them crumble like Sigil. Many of the are magical saboteurs known as anarchomancers. They use special rituals to promote rebellion and anarchy:
  • Ritual of the Dark Infiltrator: This takes a day to cast and turns you into different race/class for an indefinite period of time.
  • Ritual of the Stilled Tongue: Touch a helpless foe and compel them to be silent about a certain topic.
  • Ritual of the Moment Unleashed: Creates 2d12 confusion effects within a one mile radius. Lasts as long as the anarchomancer keeps the ritual going. Causes widespread civic unrest.
Disbanded, Still in Sigil

  • The Bleak Cabal: They shrug and keep helping the poor.
  • The Dustmen: Continue running the Mortuary.
  • The Free League: They were never a faction. Now they are happy.
  • The Society of Sensation: They went to Arborea and wander the planes. Some stayed in Sigil to continue to run the Civic Festhall.
  • The Transcendent Order: They disband and form a new government - the Sigil Advisory Council. The council has nine seats. Former Factol Rhys has one of them. She's the only Factol to survive the Faction War unscathed.
  • The Xaositects: They carry on as if nothing has happened.
My Other Planescape Guides:


Ukiah said...

Where does the transcendent order illustration under the list of factions heading come from? It looks very modern and it'd be cool if there was more stuff like that out there.

Unknown said...

What happened to Factol Erin?? D:

Sean said...

Ukiah: It's from Dragon #414. That article has a few pieces of art similar to that one. The one I used here is my favorite.

Ann Wright: OK.. spoiler alert... In the Faction War adventure, she gets mazed by the Lady of Pain. Most of the factols get sent to the mazes in that adventure. A lurid novel comes out about her life, which is probably fake. Famed author Jeena Ealy puts out an accurate account of what happens, but nobody buys it because the truth is boring to them.

Jason R said...

I could never grasp the intent or goals of the multitude of factions. Do their plans go much beyond Sigil? Are their organizations present throughout the planes? Would any organization with a base in Sigil that has an agenda be identified as a "faction?" With their singularity of purpose, the faction members seem like automatons. I obviously need to read more on the subject!

S Bloom said...

Really useful guide. I have only just really started playing the game after collecting for years and my ultimate goal is to take my players to Sigil, but the massive lore investment for adventuring there may put them off. Any more Idiots Guides like this one become required reading!

Sean said...

Jason Raabis: They do spread to the planes a bit but it always feels weird. There can be only 15 factions in Sigil.There are other splinter groups and secret organizations but if they are found out the lady will maze them or kill them. I think that the original idea of the factions was inspired by vampire: the masquerade and their clans At the time when planescape came out, vampire was pretty popular. Thanks!

S Bloom: Check out my guide to sigil and the guide to the lady of pain. Between those and this, that's the basics of the city. It's tricky because there's so much stuff. All of it is cool, but it can feel very overwhelming. Thank you!

Andre Michael Pietroschek said...

Rare, as it can be: Sometimes the knowledge gives a feeling of 'life' to fictional worlds and characters.

I wonder WHY it is so hard to find your website, when researching D&D stuff. You certainly would be much more well-known as a preserver, lorekeeper or librarian, if it would be easier.

Anyway, thanks.