Despite its reputation for disorganization and chaos, the Doomguard actually maintains a strong hierarchy of rank and status among its members. Just like many of the other factions, the Entropy Rats have namers, factotums, factors, and of course, the factol. As befits any large group based primarily on violence, these ranks resemble those found in most military organizations.
The Sinkers use the name of their faction to refer to namers. This tends to cause some confusion when dealing with non-Doomguard. The main difference lies in the grammatical usage. When a factioneer uses it as a form of address (as in “Doomguard Wiley”) or a singular reference (as in “one of our Doomguards will assist you”), it always refers to someone of namer status. When a member is referring to the faction as a whole, the article ‘the’ is always used in combination with the word (“Your actions have angered the Doomguard”). Doomguards serve the faction mainly in a behind-the-scenes, support role. They are most often found performing non-critical, or menial, tasks such as accounting, provisioning, and scribing.
On Becoming a Doomguard
Like the other factions, the Doomguard have a number of rituals designed to test the prospective namer’s commitment to the cause of Entropy. Those who desire to become namers of the faction must pass three different, but connected, tasks before they are allowed into the ranks. These rituals are among the visible and widely known entrance tests among all of the fifteen factions. This is because they’re all done in the public view rather than some backroom of the faction’s headquarters.
The first, and easiest, ritual requires that the prospective Doomguard break one of his own weapons against the outer walls of the Armory. (If the basher is one of those rare few beings who do not use weapons, a personal belonging of some value can be substituted for the weapon in this test.) This act of destruction is to symbolize both a break with his old life outside of the faction, as well as a personal display of Entropy. Of course, most bashers destroy a blade, as they know the faction provides a new one upon becoming a member.
The next ritual is a bit more public, but still of little danger to the prospective member. The faction dictates that the basher travel to a public location in Sigil and scatter at least five hundred cages worth of coins on the ground. As this is meant to symbolize a commitment to public Entropy, it is preferred that this happens in the poorer parts of town so as to increase the chances of causing a public riot. Often, the Doomguard high-ups will notify their counterparts in the Bleak Cabal so that the other faction can bring those most in need of such “charity” to the chosen location. This test is unique among the factions in that while all require the applicant spend money to become a member, all of the other factions see to it that the money actually goes into their coffers.
The final ritual is the most dangerous for the prospective Doomguard. He must prevent the dabus from trimming the razorvine on one building in Sigil for a period of twenty-four hours. Any means to accomplish this are accepted. While it is not forbidden to kill the dabus, this is never done as the Lady of Pain metes out swift punishment on any who would be so bold as to try this method. This test has become something of an anticipated public spectacle in Sigil. When word gets around that a Doomguard is undergoing this ritual, a crowd of spectators will quickly gather at the site, and begin to place bets as to whether or not he will succeed at his task. Of course, this does pose some risk to the crowd, as several times in the past the prospective Sinker has used the audience to help protect the razorvine.
Once these three rituals are successfully completed, the applicant is officially inducted into the faction and given the rank of Doomguard. The new namer is immediately subjected to a period of intensive training in the use of swords. (This is what allows any Doomguard to be proficient in the use of a sword, regardless of normal class restrictions.) Once the Doomguard has been trained in the use of weapons, and introduced to the faction’s structure and resources, he’s quickly assigned to a duty, and then left to his own devices to carry it out.
This term refers to one of the two Factotum ranks within the Doomguard. Surprisingly, the vast majority of factioneers are actually of this rank. Given the faction’s focus on the progression of Entropy, as well the rather strict entrance requirements, it is very hard to find people who only partially believe in Entropy and thus remain namers. Doomsoldiers are truly the rank-and-file of the faction. They serve as sentries, infantry, and touts. Occasionally, they will act as a courier or messenger.
Knight of Decay
These factioneers hold the second (higher) rank of Factotum within the faction. This is usually as high as the average member of the Doomguard will rise in terms of status. The higher ranks require the individuals holding them to be rather exceptional in either ability or dedication; the average person just can’t cut it. Thus, along with the Doomguards and the Doomsoldiers, the bulk of the faction membership is filled out by the Decay Knights. These Factotums are the ones that get most of the work done within the faction. They are most commonly found leading squads of Doomsoldiers. Decay Knights also act as elite guards, trusted messengers, and covert agents. It comes as a surprise to most that this rank actually has the most freedom to act besides the Factol. (Thus, most PCs are going to quickly rise to this rank and most likely stay there.)
Although only the lowest of the three Factor ranks within the Doomguard, it is the most rare and most highly respected position (other than being the Factol, naturally) in the faction. This is because to become an Entropic Champion is to essentially personify and embody some aspect of Entropy. It requires an incredible amount of devotion (as well as no small amount of skin) to achieve this rank. Thus, it is a rare event and a high honor to be promoted to this status. Unfortunately, being made an Entropic Champion also tends to mark the end of all political advancement for the Factor so honored. This is because the only way to stop being a Champion is to either accomplish your dedicated task or die in the attempt. Entropic Champions serve as the ultimate shock troop in the faction’s activities. Anything they do is directly related to their personal, and thus the Doomguard’s, goals. When not acting as a lone crusader, they can quite often be found in command of large groups of Decay Knights and Doomsoldiers.
On Becoming an Entropic Champion
During his time as a member of the lower ranks, a Doomguard is mostly free to pursue the cause of Entropy as he sees fit. He is expected to follow his own initiative in promoting Entropy and applying for promotions. However, to enter the ranks of the factors requires another personal investiture. To become an Entropic Champion is to fully embrace one specific quest in the pursuit of overall Entropy. Once that quest is chosen, the new Champion is bonded to his quest, as well as the primary weapon to be used to carry out that quest. This weapon is the famed entropic blade of the Doomguard. These are weapons that are made from the substances of the negative quasi-elemental planes. They are linked to the mission through the life force of their paired Champion.
This is possible because each entropic blade is made specifically for each individual Entropic Champion. The first portion of the ritual involves the new factor receiving a highly modified version of the geas spell, binding the Doomguard’s spirit to the chosen quest. Once done, a portion of skin equal in size and shape to the sword being made is flayed from the Champion. (This is why all but the most fanatical of Entropic Champions wield short swords.) This skin, and hence a portion of the geas, is then made an integral part of the blade. Essentially, a small portion of the Champion’s life force has been bound within the weapon, allowing the blade to “come awake” when used in pursuit of the quest. This mystical binding is what also causes the blade to be useful only in pursuit of one goal – it crumbles to dust when the quest is complete or the wielder dies.
This is the middle of the three factors for the Doomguard. Those factioneers who do not have the drive (or the desire) to become Entropic Champions are promoted to this rank instead. However, while becoming a Nernstrom does not officially end one’s political career, it is almost as universally a dead end as the previous rank. This is because there is only a limited number of the next higher status (Doomlord), and promotion can only be obtained upon the death (or dismissal) of those top factors. Nernstroms serve the faction as low level administrators or overseers of one kind or another. Thus, they serve as assistants to the Doomlords, or govern lesser outposts. But just because they are more governmental than most other Doomguard, don’t think they are any less capable in a fight – after all, they had to spend time at all of the lower ranks to get where they are.
This is the highest rank that one can achieve in the Doomguard without becoming the Factol. Like Nernstroms, Doomlords are administrators but they control the faction’s most important resources. Normally, there are only five such factors: one for each of the Doomguard’s Inner Planar Citadels, and one for the Armory. In extremely special and rare circumstances, it is possible that a Doomlord position could be created that is not responsible for one of these locations. Rest assured that whatever project required such attention would be of critical importance to the faction. While all Doomlords serve as advisors to the Factol, the one who runs the Armory is usually the most influential as he is in the best position to always have the Factol’s ear (and thus, it has come to be the most desired position). The Doomlords also tend to set and enact their own personal agendas within the broad outline of faction policy that is dictated by the Factol. Without a doubt, these factors (and the Factol) are physically and politically the most powerful members of the Doomguard.
Editor’s Note: The Factol’s Manifesto states that the Doomlords in charge of the Citadels are greater Doomlords and that other, lesser, ones exist. For the purpose of this netbook, the lesser Doomlords referred to by the Manifesto are, in fact, the Nernstroms.
On Becoming a Doomlord
Only the most powerful and ruthless of the Doomguard’s members get picked to be a Doomlord. They must then undergo a transformation ritual on the Negative Energy Plane that’s so horrible that it’s only spoken of in whispers and innuendo. The ritual is similar to that which creates an Entropic Champion. However, rather than binding the Doomguard with a weapon, he’s essentially turned into a weapon.
The candidate is plunged into the cold, black expanse of the Negative Energy Plane, where everything is reduced to oblivion. But there’s something there, in the void, something that sucks the life out of the marrow and drains the spirit from a being. It devours the soul. Then, just as the new Doomlord’s life is all but extinguished and his mind has faded to nothing, a great force reaches out from the utter depths of the Negative Energy Plane, and puts something back into the shell. The force shapes the candidate to resemble the person that he once had been, but it does not reproduce the essence exactly. Thus, Doomlords can’t recall what kind of person they were before the transformation; only a zealous ambassador of decay remains.
Upon surviving, the Doomlord is given the black-and-red mask emblazoned with the faction’s skull symbol. This mask is never removed from that day forward. This is because underneath the garish mask the face has been removed. The Doomlord has been subjected to the ultimate Entropy, beyond even that of the flesh’s decay. There is literally Nothing underneath the mask, the emptiness of pure Entropy.
Obviously, the status of Factol is the highest rank within the Doomguard. The person who holds it is chosen by the five Doomlords, and doesn’t always come from among their number. (Pentar is one such example. She was elevated to Factol directly from the rank of Entropic Champion.) The Factol interprets the faction’s core philosophy and dictates policy based on that interpretation (with occasional input from the various Doomlords). Although the position is referred to simply as “Factol” (even by factioneers), there have been attempts by past office holders to give the rank a more impressive title. Several examples include “Lord of Entropy”, “Entropy’s Hand”, and “Consumer of All”. Such things usually only last as long as the Factol who coined the phrase.
Source: Ken Lipka