The Faction War

The Faction War

Roughly five years ago, the factions had devolved to the point where they could no longer exist in harmony. Though Sigil had been running efficiently for centuries, hatred fueled by the never-ending cycle of quiet conflict had set the scene for another full-blown war. Some factions were forcefully undermining other factions, while others broke Sigil’s laws on a daily basis. What was once idealism had become well-honed fanaticism, and the balance of power shifted back and forth like a swinging pendulum. Old grudges had simmered for centuries, and it was only a matter of time before people stopped being civil and decided to settle things the bloody way. It wouldn’t have taken much to spark a war, but what Sigil got was several such sparks only days apart, and soon Sigil was gripped in a civil war that rocked its very foundations.

Everything started with the Harmonium and Doomguard, as both groups suspected each other of
preparing an attack. What truth there was to the rumors is hard to say, even today, but the tension such hearsay caused was quite real. When Pentar, the factol of the Doomguard, suddenly vanished, the Doomguard blamed the Harmonium and Society of Sensation, shouting accusations loudly across Sigil.

The Harmonium in turn accused the Doomguard of violating their ancient edict against sparking a war, and demanded the Doomguard relinquish the Armory to the Harmonium. Naturally, the Doomguard balked, but it would be weeks later before the conflict would come to arms.
Soon thereafter, the varied leaders of the Free League and Revolutionary League would come together and accused the Harmonium of wrongdoing, though the Anarchists also added the Mercykillers and Fraternity of Order to their accusations. At the request of Nilesia, the Mercykillers were put under the control of Duke Rowan Darkwood, factol of the Fated, for reasons that remain a mystery. Most agree that Nilesia was somehow duped, though the exact circumstances are still hotly debated. In any case, Nilesia vanished soon thereafter. Many Mercykillers refused to serve Darkwood, while others were simply bewildered by the turn of events. The faction began to splinter, falling into disarray, and within only days it would cease to be an effective force in planar politics. Meanwhile the Doomguard began to gather allies, distributing weapons in order to build an army against the Harmonium.

Factols kept vanishing – both Ambar Vergrove and Darius ―ascended shortly thereafter, at least according to the Godsmen and Signers at the time. Terrance of the Athar also disappeared, and that faction brought suspicion against both the Sign of One and the local churches. Karan would be captured by the Harmonium and subsequently vanish, bringing the Xaositects to the side of the ―Enemies of Peace as the Harmonium called them. Shortly thereafter the Hardheads‘ factol, Sarin, would die in an Anarchist assassination. Only levelheaded leadership in the Harmonium prevented a riot, and the Hardheads began to plan an attack on the Doomguard.

Finally, the Mercykillers split into its two predecessors, becoming the Sons of Mercy and the Sodkillers. A few diehard Mercykillers remained, but they failed to reorganize into a faction proper. The Sons of Mercy would go on to release those they thought unjustly imprisoned in Sigil’s prisons. It’s said that a number of those released were killers or worse, though the Martyrs have protested that they were not responsible for their release to this day.

That same day, Anarchists performed a vicious attack on a Sensate bar that prompted the Sensates to swiftly ally with the ―Oppressors of Sigil. Meanwhile, the Doomguard sought allies with the Bleak Cabal. The Bleakers, true to their nature, refused and opted for neutrality in the upcoming conflict. The Free League, on the other hand, eagerly jumped at the chance for an alliance against the Harmonium, seeking revenge for years of oppression. Eventually the Sons of Mercy allied with the Sensates and the Harmonium, while the Sodkillers, looking for an excuse to fight someone, sided with the Doomguard. Open war was imminent. The final catalyst hit when a Xaositect slew Factol Hashkar of the Fraternity of Order.

The first battle of the war was known as the Battle of the Armory. Giving no formal warning, the Oppressors of Sigil staged an assault on the Armory. The ―Enemies of Peace‖ mounted a defense, but were eventually overwhelmed due to their lack of organization. Several backfiring Doomguard weapons ended up destroying the Armory, and the Sinkers suffered massive losses in the ensuing destruction. Still, it was far from a decisive victory, and sizable losses occurred on both side. Soon thereafter, the Fraternity of Order, Sign of One, and Believers of the Source allied with the Harmonium and the other Oppressors of Sigil, while the Athar joined the Doomguard and the other ―Enemies of Peace.

Things rapidly deteriorated as the Indeps and the Chaosmen staged a counterattack on the Civic
Festhall. However, upon receiving prior warning, the Hardheads, Martyrs, and Sensates were able to build their defenses in the Lower Ward. The battle that ensued there remained a stalemate until tanar’ri forces began pouring into the city, believing this was their chance to take Sigil finally. Almost immediately, a baatezu force arrived to fight the tanar’ri in response. There was no victor of this conflict – all of the forces simply lost numbers, with no appreciable gain or loss, the only exception being a surprise attack by Sodkillers and some tanar’ri on the Festhall, which led to the slaughter of many holed up inside. Similarly, a much smaller conflict erupted between the Lost and the Signers, which resulted in the destruction of the Shattered Temple, but the Athar were nonetheless able to drive the Signers from their base.

Suddenly, at the height of the chaos, Sigil’s portals ceased working. Riots for food and water
immediately began. The less stable threw themselves off the edges of Sigil, tumbling away to
destinations unknown. While the fiendish invasion was cutoff, it almost seemed that the panic and fury of Sigil’s citizenry would destroy the city anyway. However, the sudden appearance of nearly every member of the Transcendent Order brought relative peace to the city as they worked to calm the populace and aid them in their time of need. Anarchists, however, in one final act of retribution against the Bleak Cabal for remaining neutral, infiltrated the Gatehouse and freed many of the inmates there.

The war ended without any more ado, with no real winners, no new rulers of Sigil. Too spent to
continue fighting, and not driven enough to truly consider mutual destruction, the factions signed a truce. It was another bold step by the Lady of Pain, however, that truly ended the Faction War. Once again, her dabus issued an ultimatum:

“This city tolerates your faction no longer. Abandon it or die.”

Though vague, there was no disputing Her Serenity’s words. The factions left the city’s institutions they had maintained for centuries, leaving private and public organizations to rise to take their place. Some buildings that once served as faction headquarters were taken by private entrepreneurs, while others were made public facilities.

The Athar, Doomguard, Fated, Fraternity of Order, Harmonium, and the Revolutionary League all chose to leave Sigil and regroup on their respective planes. Meanwhile the Bleak Cabal, Dustmen, Free League, Society of Sensation, Transcendent Order, and the Xaositects simply renounced their faction status while changing little about their beliefs or activities. The
Believers of the Source and the Sign of One decided to merge into the Mind’s Eye, and moved the majority of their faction to the Outlands. Finally, the Sodkillers and the Sons of Mercy, under the guise of guilds, both took it upon themselves to fill the void in Sigil’s law enforcement.
The portals reopened, but with their destinations and keys changed entirely. This became known as the Tempest of Portals, and with it, the factions left Sigil.

In the aftermath, it became abundantly clear that more factols were missing than previously assumed -in fact, Factol Rhys of the Transcendent Order is the only survivor. Rumors began spreading that factol Rowan Darkwood of the Fated’s manipulations were responsible for starting the war. Much of the city became consumed with ―faction fever as Cagers tried to gather as much information on the departed factions as possible. Various conspiracy theories began to circulate blaming different forces for the disappearances of the factols, including Darkwood, Rhys, the Daughters of Light, the Eschaton, and the Lady of Pain herself.

In retrospect, most assume the Lady to be the most likely suspect. After all, she’s the only one with enough power and seeming reason to have done so, but ultimately there’s no real
evidence to support this theory. The disappearance of the factols remains, for the most part, a mystery.

Excerpted from the Planescape Campaign Setting – a free download on!

The Faction War

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