Sects Index
Sects Index

Sects Index

Ascendant Factions | Minor Factions | Sects

Sects, Dissected

Thirty-Something Tenets, a tiefling lullaby

Anarchs are masters of Limbo’s raw matter,
But haven’t yet mastered the Scramblespeak patter.

Archonites worship, strange as it sounds,
Lanterns and trumpets and wardens and hounds.

Bleeders’re martyrs, that’s how they’re restricted;
Their injuries usually all self-inflicted.

Carpet Knightsh are fond of wine, women and shong,
And hic partying all night hic parrrrtying all nigh’ long!

Chippers are hardened, with hatred to spare,
Just ’cause the multiverse didn’t treat ’em fair.

Converts skip quickly from creed to creed,
Guess that’s ‘cos they’ll swallow any old screed.

Eaters are worse than your usual thief,
They ain’t after jink, but they’ll steal your belief!

Guardians step in when there’s wrongs that need righting,
Battling evil, and going down fighting.

The Hospitable’s aims make it seem like they care,
Handing out alms but they take payment in prayer.

Illuminated seek out and out war,
From their secret base in darkest Plague-Mort.

Incantifiers guzzle magical forces—
Rods, staves and wands are their favourite courses.

The Legislate run a tight little ship,
You’ll follow their laws or else they’ll flip.

Mathematicians live by the abacus,
And cosmological calculus.

Merkhants strive for cold hard jink,
They’ve no real interest in how you think.

Opposers will argue, and get in the way,
And contradict loudly whatever you say.

Plaguebearers do whatever they please,
Trying their best to spread deadly disease.

Planarists want Primes out the City of Doors,
“Send ’em all back” is their charter’s main clause.

Planes-Militant live for sweetness and light –
No wonder tanar’ri will kill ’em on sight!

Plane Tenders’re friends to all who’d promise
To help them stop planes slide into the Abyss.

Primals are coy about what they believe,
But it’s likely they’ve got some weird tricks up their sleeve.

Prolongers exist at others’ expense,
With Death at their backs, they’re wise to be tense.

Ragers are always first into the fray,
Take my advice and stay out of their way!

Revivalists seek to turn the clock back,
Returning the planes to a glorious track.

Ring-Giver creed is karma pursuing,
Give just a bit, and find plenty accruing.

Shadows are masters of intrigue and stealth,
You can bet that their plans’ll be bad for your health!

Symmetrists managed to cause an outrage,
By announcing they wanted to shut down the Cage!

The Syndicate profit from over-production,
Espionage and environmental destruction.

The Temperant Order promote healthy thinking,
Eating your greens and cutting out drinking.

Vile Hunters will try, however they can,
To destroy any beast that talks like a man.

Wylders love nature, but of this fact take note:
They cherish both lamb and the wolf at its throat.

Xaoticians look for order in chaos,
But it doesn’t always herring gnirreh wobble wobble.

Source: “Thirty-Something Tenets” poem by Phil Smith and Jon Winter-Holt; sect entries edited by Greg Jensen and Jon Winter-Holt, mimir.net

What’s so great about Sects anyway?

So, 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:

From the Book of Chaos [Planes of Chaos Boxed set]:

“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 Travelogue:

“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 there.

“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.”

Basic definition of a Sect

A 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

The 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

Sects 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.

This 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…

If you look at the Sects found in PSMCII you will notice that they do not have the same philosophical bent as the Factions do.

Overview

With these sage words still lingering in our memories, let us consider some of the points which have been raised:

  • Sects 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.
  • Because 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.
  • Of 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 the Cage.

The 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.

The 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 examples…

Almost 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.

Compare 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.

That’s 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.

The 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 sects.

Of course, there are now only 12 ascendant factions; the Lady of Pain saw to that. Nobody really knows whether she’d take offence if a sect set itself up in Sigil as a proper faction.

The Role of Factions and Sects

With 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).

Some wise philosopher once said: “Factions are bent on conquering the multiverse, sects are more concerned with living in it.”

Now, 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 thinking.

Why 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 the multiverse.

Sects 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 Beastlands.

Could 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?)

Of 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.

Entropy 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 blood.

There’s 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.

Or mybe the factions are simply sects who’ve got the Lady of Pain’s seal of approval…

Source: Jon Winter-Holt

Canonwatch: Entries are from D&D canon unless otherwise marked, although when the canon is sparse I’ve got creative with the details; † adapted from a 3rd party publication; ‡ homebrew.

6 Comments

  1. George

    A little question, that may be weird. Will Daughters of Light be mentioned on this cite? To my knowledge, they are only mentioned in the Fraction War as the “formerly obscure” group, who took upon themself a goal to fulfill Lady’s decree to eliminate fractions, but it’s implied they’ve existed before

  2. Arcades Sabboth

    There used to be a list of the sects with more information about them. I remember reading online an in-depth description of several of these, with headquarters and NPCs and detailed philosophies. I hope you’ll be able to find and restore it to the Mimir one day. I’d especially like to know how much of it was canon and how much was fan-made.

      1. Arcades Sabboth

        Thank you!

        Yes, looking at the Avernus page I really like how you marked lines that deviate from D&D canon. In my own notetaking I color-code things but that would make it hard to read for most people.

        1. Good stuff, I shall continue to use that system then and update older pages whenever I edit them. Could are a nice idea but tbh this WordPress template makes non-standard colours a little tricky. Cheers! Jonmimir

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