Life in Sigil

Moderate and Extreme Subfactions for All 15 Planescape Factions

In the previous article Factions Need Moderate and Extremists, we discussed how framing problems -- and factions -- on a belief spectrum adds value to our Planescape games.  In this article, we flesh out the moderate and extreme wings of each of Sigil's 15 factions.

Athar (The Lost)

Moderate Subfaction: Defiers hold that we must assign purpose to our own lives, because the powers are not supreme beings powerful enough to grant our lives meaning from above. Defiers seek out those who have been disappointed by the powers or believe their lives lack meaning, and help them find their own meaning using a philosophy of self-empowerment.

Extreme Subfaction: Defilers believe that the powers are dangerous frauds who trick believers into worshipping them solely for the purpose of increasing their own power. Defilers actively aim to disrupt the worship of the Gods, defile their holy places, and prove to all believers that they are being brainwashed and manipulated for nefarious purposes.

Believers of the Source (Godsmen)

Moderate Subfaction: Tested believe that we all spring from the same Source, and so all must work to overcome our tests together. Those who are farther along on their journey to the source have an obligation to help those behind them--in fact, this final test of charity and leadership is one of the last needed to ascend to the Source.

Extreme Subfaction: Self-Made believe that the multiverse tests everyone according to their current station, and individuals are rewarded or punished according to their performance. Assisting others in performing their tests is misguided charity that robs others of their own incentives to improve and advance. Consequently, the Self-Made seek to eliminate all systems of government welfare, charity, or intervention.

Bleak Cabal (Bleakers, Madmen)

Moderate Subfaction: Creators believe there is no greater purpose or meaning to our life beyond the meaning that we assign to it. Some say that such meaning is arbitrary and subjective. Creators, however, believe that through suffering and loss we recognize that in ourselves which possesses the deepest personal meaning, and this recognition gives us strength to endure. Creators frequently perform charity or express themselves through art.

Extreme Subfaction: Drowners believe that meaning is a delusion created by exposure to language and logic. Our brains are wired to assign meaning to the world around us so that we may express ourselves through language, but we erroneously assign meaning to things, like our existence, that are inherently meaningless. Drowners use drugs, alcohol, and primal impulses to drown out the language in their brains and the existential horror of their meaningless existence.

Doomguard (Sinkers)

Moderate Subfaction: Decomposers believe that creation and destruction are two sides of entropy’s same coin. Normal processes, like creating a bridge or art, consume materials and so ultimately further the cause of entropy. Decomposers oppose unnatural processes, such as alchemy and life-prolonging magic, that violate the normal order of change and decay.

Extreme Subfaction: Destroyers believe that war and conflict hasten the cause of entropy and bring the multiverse closer to its perfect state of change, collision, and glory. The Destroyers use means both obvious (vandalism, sabotage) and subtle (creating conditions that lead to War) to hasten entropy’s destruction of the multiverse.

Dustmen (The Dead, Dusties)

Moderate Subfaction: Walking Dead espouse a version of asceticism, believing that the passions cloud our minds and render us blind to the true nature of existence. By eliminating the passions, we reach a state of enlightenment called the True Death that enables us to judge clearly and act appropriately. The Walking Dead strive to cultivate the state of true death during their current stage of existence that they may exist as long as possible in an enlightened state.

Extreme Subfaction: Life-Cursed believe that this stage of existence serves no purpose save to prepare for the True Death, another state of existence that lies beyond an impenetrable veil. All must bear the burden of life until they have prepared themselves and others for the True Death. In the meantime, Life-Cursed attempt to strip themselves of all trappings of life in order to avoid further meaningless suffering.

Fated (Takers, Heartless)

Moderate Subfaction: Strappers (from the expression “pull yourself up by your bootstraps”) recognize that not everyone starts the race at the same place, but experience has taught them that complaining or blaming others will make damn sure you never finish higher than where you started. They believe everyone benefits from competition and hard work, and they believe the role of government is to guarantee the rights of individuals and create as fair an environment as possible so that skill and hard work are rewarded accordingly.

Extreme Subfaction: Predators believe that the strong are meant to rule and the weak to obey. This is the clearest form of the natural order. No one asks if the mosquito should be swatted or not--it simply is. Predators believe that misguided sympathy distracts the attention of the strong from more important goals and artificially supports the meaningless development of the weak.

Fraternity of Order (Guvners)

Moderate Subfaction: Institutionalists believe that mastering the laws and tendencies that underpin the multiverse helps us best shape the laws of our own governments and institutions. They believe that while heroes can shape events in the short term, in the long term progress is only achieved by developing institutions and layers of law that encourage good behavior and punish bad behavior. Institutionalist research focuses on finding loopholes to prevent their exploitation, and searching for new laws and generalizable tendencies that may be drawn on to perfect existing laws and institutions.

Extreme Subfaction: Auditors believe a natural order governs everything from language, to food, to taste, to love. Left to their own devices and ignorant of all relevant historical factors and scientific evidence, individuals will ignore these laws. Therefore Auditors hold that: 1) proper laws must be established to regulate all behavior; 2) laws must be properly interpreted and enforced; and 3) and all behavior should be recorded and categorized for the purpose of future research or behavior auditing.

The Free League (Indeps)

Moderate Subfaction: Unaligned believe that no one person or faction is privy to the whole truth, only to bits and pieces. Aligning with a single faction results in being unduly influenced by a single source and predisposes faction members to view things in a certain way. The Unaligned believe that those who seek the real truth must keep their options open and carefully avoid all prejudices and preconceptions. But keeping your mind open in matters of belief and philosophy doesn’t mean you don’t need allies--it’s a dangerous world out there, and folks need to work together to survive.

Extreme Subfaction: Preppers believe that the individual is under assault by the insidious power of organizations, which coerce individuals and force them to bend the knee. Ideology and belief are the expressions of organizations’ power, which they use to pre-emptively co-opt our thoughts and weaken our defenses. Preppers resist all affiliations, organizations, judgments, or exchange of beliefs, believing such acts serve as Trojan Horses for organizations’ oppression and control. They interact with other individuals only to perform simple transactions, and only when such transactions are essential to their preparations against authority.

Harmonium (Hardheads)

Moderate Subfaction: The Consensus for Peace believe that stability is necessary to bring peace to a world full of danger and conflict, and the best way to achieve stability is through consensus. Nefarious forces seek to prevent good folk from achieving consensus on their own, so legal coercion is sometimes necessary to create the preconditions for consensus. Coercion, however, remains a means of last resort, as the Consensus understands that coercion frequently breeds resent and instability.

Extreme Subfaction: The Universal Concordance believe that “lawful” means universalizable and “good” means good. Given this, how can anyone support anything other than lawful good? Further, they believe that those who understand this truth are obligated to share it with others and help them overcome the flaws in their nature that prevent them from recognizing it, even if that means knocking a few heads to get everyone in line.

Mercykillers (Red Death)

Moderate Subfaction: Guardians view the role of authority as similar to that of the parent responsible for teaching their child to behave property. This is best achieved through a combination of incentives that encourage proper behavior and punishments that discourage improper behavior. The harder job by far--and the job that the Mercykillers take on--is the latter. While no parent wants to discipline a child, they must do because it is essential for the child’s development, and precisely because it is the more difficult form of instruction, it is also the ultimate expression of parental love. Guardians believe they must eliminate mercy but maintain compassion and sympathy, bearing the burden of being hated by others for performing their ultimate expression of love.

Extreme Subfaction: Givers believe that the multiverse would be perfect if every being received its just reward. Injustice festers like a cancer, and its spread can only be stopped by purging it absolutely and immediately. The unjust call for mercy to avoid justice, but any identification with the unjust or with unjust acts creates space for the cancer to spread. Givers use punishment to destroy injustice in others and to destroy mercy in themselves.

Revolutionary League (Anarchists)

Moderate Subfaction: Knights of the Fair Trade, like Robin Hood, believe that goodness, charity, love, and justice are always more important than the law. Corruption and megalomania lead organizations to forget the source and purpose of their power, or to abuse it to their own ends. In the face of such “law” and “justice,” Knight of the Fair Trade believe that those of strong belief in freedom and goodness should rise to help the weak and protect them from their oppressors.

Extreme Subfaction: The Community of Equals believes that Sigil’s current authorities are corrupt and abuse their power, but so too would any organizations that took their place, as all power ultimately corrupts. Authority must be divested to the people and dispersed to all so that a society based on freedom and camaraderie can flourish. Such a society must rid itself of all organized power and authority. Similarly, all organizations that contribute to the current system are culpable in its corruption and must be destroyed.

Sign of One (Signers)

Moderate Subfaction: Visualizers celebrate the power of belief and hold that we have only just tapped into our understanding of its power. The Outer Planes is a realm of philosophy made manifest where the gods draw power from belief, the physical makeup of the planes shifts according to beliefs, and individuals can will minor changes into existence. Even on Prime Worlds, the power of mind over matter is incredible: if you visualize yourself succeeding on a task before you attempt the task, you are more likely to succeed. Visualizers focus their energies on testing the interactions between imaging beliefs and realizing them.

Extreme Subfaction: The Dreams of One base their philosophy on the precept that we cannot doubt our own existence, as we must exist to be able to doubt, but there is no basis to believe in anything else, as all we know of the world is filtered through our own perception. Because the multiverse is made from belief and there is no reason to believe anything exists outside of ourselves, it follows that everything exists because it was created by our imaginations. Dreamers focus on perfecting their imaginative and deductive capabilities in order to imagine and hold together in their minds an ideal reality.

Society of Sensation (Sensates)

Moderate Subfaction: Experimenters believe that while we can only experience the world through our subjective senses, we can, through careful observation and recording of the results of our experience, analyze the world around us and get a more accurate idea of how things work. They dislike deductive reasoning and hold that all knowledge should be derived from experimentation. Experimenters try to experience as much of the world as possible and record it in sensory stones.

Extreme Subfaction: The Revelry believe that mortals are only able to interact with the world through the senses, and no greater meaning exists beyond the stimuli we perceive. The purpose of life is simple: to give full measure to the senses and experience as much pleasure as possible.

Transcendent Order (Ciphers)

Moderate Subfaction: The Attuned believe that in order to achieve our maximum potential and attune ourselves to the Cadence of the Planes, we must first achieve harmony of mind and body. In this state, we are so in touch with ourselves and our abilities that we can simply act, our mind and body working together as one. Attuned seek to understand themselves and the world around them and to cultivate harmony between the two.

Extreme Subfaction: Unladen believe that action, like thought, clouds the senses, as it blinds one to other potential actions that one may take. Unladen minimize movement, speech and thought, preferring to remain in sensory deprivation chambers or trance-like states of meditation. Unladen intervene in worldly affairs only when absolutely necessary, and then only to the least extent possible.

Xaositects (Chaosmen)

Moderate Subfaction: Ephemera, as they have been dubbed by the Bleaknik artists with whom they occasionally perform, believe that what makes the multiverse beautiful is its random and ephemeral nature. Those who attempt to impose order on this natural state of chaos are like those who would pluck a wildflower to catalogue its parts--they miss the whole bloody point. Ephemera celebrate their own chaotic expression as a form of art and strive to unleash their full creative potential upon the world.

Extreme Subfaction: Barmies. They argue that “Chaos jumping frothy fishheads.”


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1 thought on “Moderate and Extreme Subfactions for All 15 Planescape Factions”

  1. Oh, I love this article so much, it’s so well-presented. I like how it looks like you drew on canon in spots (Athar seems to be inspired by the usual presentation vs. Kesto Brighteyes’ interpretation, Xaositects seems to be inspired by the division shown in Factol’s Manifesto with usual members vs. the more stereotypical factotums) without taking the obvious route (was sure you’d be going something along the lines of Sons of Mercy vs. Sodkillers with the Mercykillers, but nope, you got something substantial out of it)! This is such a great reformation of them, and seeing this article makes me excited to see more! I’m glad more folks are keeping Planescape alive.

    (And as a side note, thanks for your kind words about Timaresh in your resources page! I really hope to devote more time to it in the days ahead. :D)

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