What's a Sect?
of the Vine
Copyright 1998 by Jon
Thanks to Randir, Thomas Magann and the Planes of
Chaos Boxed Set
great about Sects anyway?
ha, how many more lame puns can I make? ;-) Sorry. That
was the last one, I promise...
you want to know about sects? In case you haven't seen
'em, here's a couple of relevant quotes from TSR's
fabulous Planes of Chaos boxed set, that say it as
well as any blood with the dark of it could:
the Book of Chaos [Planes of Chaos Boxed
"Surprising as many Cagers
might find it, not everybody on the Great Ring ascribes
to one of their factions. For one thing, there are a lot
of backwood communities that've never even heard of
Sigil. And then there are those folk who have heard of
Sigil, but figure it's just some pretentious madhouse
that doesn't hold much significance to their lives. These
folk have their own irons in the fire, which means they
have their own way of looking at things.
"Sometimes those distinctive
ways of looking at things are held in common by enough
people that they rival a faction in significance, at
least locally. That world view is referred to as a sect.
To put it more simply, while factions are groups centred
in Sigil with a specific world view, sects are those
without a recognised seat in Sigil."
From the Planes of Chaos
"Planar Politics. If Sigil
is, as some claim, the heart of the planes, faction
politics is the lifeblood pumping through the heart. And
Sigil's factions reach outward to the rest of the planes
as well, affecting much of what transpires
"However, not everyone on the
planes gives a fig about Sigil's factions. The most
obvious example is the denizens of the prime worlds, who
are as clueless about the factions as they are about
other planes in general. But even on the other planes, a
lot of souls are either ignorant of the factions or
disdainful of them. In fact, in some places, local
philosophies and concerns outshine Sigil's factions in
importance. Within the githzerai strongholds in Limbo,
for instance, the politics of terrain shaping is
extremely important. And from Ysgard there has spread a
philosophical outlook whose adherents are known as the
Ring-givers. These and other examples are detailed
[in the Travelogue], with the planes on which
they're most commonly found.
"Among Cagers, it's common
practice to refer to such groups as 'sects', so as not to
confuse them with the factions who run the various
aspects of Sigil. Now, that may seem a pretty pretentious
attitude for Cagers to take, but considering how snobbish
and self-absorbed they can be, it's a wonder they deign
to recognise outlying groups at all."
definition of a Sect
group of people who share a particular world view, who
are not represented in Sigil. Factions on the other hand
are a group of people who share a similar world view and
are represented in Sigil.
Most sects do not
serve a particular purpose
Anarch's Guild are one of the exceptions, (however, their
purpose is localised to Limbo see Planes of
Chaos). Factions on the other hand have a very
specific purpose, in that each one operates an maintains
an aspect of Sigil's civil government, in addition to
their own scheming.
Sects are in a
sense hereditary, they are local
are usually limited to a small area (relative to the
planes) and are always "local" in nature. The
Mathematicians are found primarily on Mechanus, and
generally are only found wandering in other planes.
However, you are just as likely to find a Guvner native
to Baator as you are one in Elysium.
also changes who Sects "recruit". Sects tend not to be
highly evangelistic, unlike Factions which are in Sigil
largely for that purpose.
Sects do not always
have a philosophy they are promoting...
you look at the Sects found in PSMCII you will
notice that they do not have the same philosophical bent
as the Factions do.
these sage words still lingering in our memories, let us
consider some of the points which have been
are groups of people and things outside of the Cage that
share lifestyles. Factions are institutions,
establishments, and in a few cases "disestablishments"
that promote a way of living.
the Sects don't have an official presence in Sigil, they
have much less of an impact on what the planes think.
Factions pervade the society of the planes, except where
folks decide they've got their own better ideas, and set
up local sects.
course, on infinite planes, "local" takes on a whole new
meaning. It could be one plane, a part of a plane, or
several; it depends on all sorts of factors. But
basically, while there might be individuals espousing
their sect's beliefs in Sigil, the sect itself isn't
officially represented either on Sigil's Council (which
not all the factions are either) or with it's own HQ in
Planes of Chaos quotes above give the impression
that it isn't just where the sects aren't based
that defines what they are, it's the fact that they're
more relevant locally to the people who believe in 'em.
The sects are keyed to more specific attitudes than the
factions, almost. Many of 'em have tighter alignment
restrictions, and they're not so easily adaptable to
other places in the planes.
Anarchs for example don't have much call outside
of Limbo, and the Converts can't be lawful. Lawful
and evil characters tend to shy away from the
Ring-Givers as they ain't the generous sort.
Ragers must be chaotic, Merkhants aren't
ever good, Incantifers are usually evil or at
least neutral. Chaotics aren't allowed in the Order of
the Planes-Militant (and evil berks can't usually
hack it), and Mathematicians must not only be
lawful, but also have an intelligence of 17 or more!
Wylders can't be evil or lawful, and the
Guardians must be good. And there's plenty more
all of the published sects have alignment restrictions.
Members might be found anywhere, but they tend to
gravitate towards the plane that spawned their sect, as
that's where their belief fits in best.
this with the factions: Neither Bleakers nor Anarchists
may be lawful, the Fated can't be lawful good, Guvners,
Harmonium and Mercykillers must be lawful, lawful good or
lawful neutral characters 'might find being a Signer
difficult', Ciphers must be neutral, and Xaositects
obviously are chaotic.
just over half the factions (if you count the Signers).
Maybe some of the factions grew up on the Great Ring and
then made the jump to Sigil, or maybe they just started
off in the Cage. Probably some of both.
factions are more all-embracing than the sects. More
cosmopolitan, if you like. They're based at the centre of
the Outer Planes in Sigil, where all beliefs clash, and
they generally appeal to more folks than the
course, there are now only 15 factions. The Lady of Pain
sorted that out long ago. Nobody really knows whether
she'd take offence if a sect set itself up in Sigil as a
of Factions and Sects
the exception of the Indeps and Anarchists, all the
factions play a part in the day-to-day running of Sigil.
The Fated take the taxes, the Guvners run the law courts
etc etc. The sects have philosophical goals, sure, just
like the factions, but they don't have a hand in the
running of either Sigil or any other non-sect activity
(except the Anarchs as was stated earlier).
wise philosopher once said: "Factions are bent on
conquering the multiverse, sects are more concerned with
living in it."
that's elegant, but the Ring-Givers might disagree. Maybe
that's how a sect starts off, but when it grows big
enough, taking on the multiverse gets higher on its 'to
do' list. The Guardians want to put all the evil
creatures into the dead-book, for a start. Pretty grand
are the Factions in Sigil? For health reasons? 'Cause
they like smog? No, because from Sigil they can spread
their ideology to the greatest number of people. And if
enough people all think the same way, then they take over
on the other hand, are mostly local in nature and deal
with an aspect of a particular plane. Verdant Guild deals
with ecology and nature, primarily in the
the factions also have come to Sigil as it's the place
that best suits their cosmopolitan stance on morals?
After all, it's easier to pick up recruits in the Cage
than it would be to traipse round the Great Ring
preaching. Sects tend to want to find recruits who share
their morals and ethics, and they'd naturally look first
to the planars on the Great Ring. After all, it's easier
to change the way someone looks at the world in terms of
entropy, justice, anarchy and death than it is to change
their morals (there's no XP penalty for thinking you're
the centre of the multiverse, unlike there is for
changing alignment, right?)
course, this is just a rough guide. Sects can be found
all over the place, and some faction members never leave
one plane. But on average, the factions are not only
located in Sigil, but their members're also more widely
dispersed than sects as their world views rely less on
morals and ethics and more on abstract ideas.
isn't lawful or chaotic, it just is. Anyone can
believe in it, no matter if they're good as a guardinal
or bad as a balor. Defending Mount Celestia from evil and
corruption, however, takes a special kind of
a difference in the lack of sects' headquarters in Sigil,
the function they play in the belief of the planes as
well as Sigil's government (most sects are local whereas
the factions are widespread and in Sigil) and the
necessity for specific ethical and moral beliefs in more
sects than factions.
mybe the factions are simply sects who've got the Lady of
Pain's seal of approval...