To Chance with Hell (Planescape)
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The Bleak Cabal: Why Bother?
Life doesn‘t make sense. That sums up the Bleak Cabal‘s philosophy, and no further elaboration is required. They do not believe that nothing is the meaning, like the Doomguard, but instead that there isn‘t even any meaning in the first place. The closest thing to meaning is what‘s inside you, and when nothing means everything and everything means nothing, the inside looks dreary and anything but sane. Bleakers constantly struggle with their own sanity while trying to find inner purpose, most choosing to find meaning in life through charity, giving people reprieve from the mad merciless multiverse.
Philosophy: The multiverse doesn‘t make sense, nor is it supposed to.
Nicknames: Bleakers, the Cabal, Madmen.
Home location: The Madhouse in Pandemonium.
Prominent Members: Tessali, and Ezra
Alignment: Any non-lawful.
Symbol: A helm with a black blaze behind it.
Related skills: Heal, Insight. A player may start the game with skill focus with either skill if they choose not to pick a skill related to being a Primer, or Planar.
Faction bonuses with the Bleak Cabal will confer abilities such as:
- Giving healing and bonuses to allies.
- Protection against psionic abilities
- Abilities that end negative conditions
The Philosophy of the Bleak Cabal
To most people the idea that there isn‘t any meaning to the multiverse is madness, but to a Bleaker, the idea that there is meaning to anything is what‘s really mad. What proof of some greater purpose has their ever been? What makes people so sure life makes sense anyways? None, nil. For all the searching, no one can truly make sense of everything, not the petitioners, the proxies, or the powers themselves. The Bleakers know the truth: there is no answer, no grand design, no reason. Nothing. They find peace in accepting the state of things for what they are; it‘s what allows them to face the multiverse and themselves. They look down at those who try to force meaning on the multiverse with pity, and can only sigh when others say they are mad.
The Bleak Cabal believe that since there is no meaning on the outside, then all they can do is try to find meaning on the inside. See, the multiverse is cruel and merciless, all madness and noise. However, being used to that, a Bleaker tends to be more understanding of such a condition, and more willing to dole out the mercy that is not inherently in the multiverse. They figure if there isn‘t any mercy in the multiverse, then mercy comes from within, and if mercy comes from within, then maybe, just maybe, they can find their own meaning through it. Even the evil among the Cabal try to do charitable acts, not because they care one way or the other, but because the act helps battle the insanity of having no purpose.
While the Cabal would like to shape people with their point of view, they don‘t force it on others. They don‘t even actively recruit members. Indeed, when someone approaches a Bleaker for membership, they just ignore them, even more so now that the Lady of Pain has seen fit to ban the factions from Sigil. Once the potential Bleaker realizes that all of the questions they‘ve been asking have not been answered because that is the answer, they are accepted. Most of the time potential recruits are members of other factions who‘ve lost faith in their creeds, and no longer see the point of their faction, its allies, or its enemies. It just ceases to make sense. And when you can‘t find anything to believe in, not believing in anything at all is rather appealing.
The Bleak Cabal are a group of depressed, and ofttimes mentally disturbed, humanitarians. If that doesn‘t convince people that the multiverse is insane and without meaning, then perhaps nothing will.
Around nine centuries ago, the Bleak Cabal sprung into being. Their philosophy of no philosophy appealed to a great many people, but confused a lot more, especially at first. When belief can shape everything round you, a belief in absence doesn‘t seem too out of place, but an absence of belief is outright insane. No one understands it until they don‘t understand anything anymore, at which point they can either choose to accept the harsh reality or go mad from the strain. Nothing makes any sense, so why keep on trying to force it? Instead, just focus on yourself, and see if you can find meaning there.
Naturally, this appealed to the cynical planars that were tired of the factions and their philosophical wars, or those who found their own beliefs failing them. Thus the Cabal attracted those who had become lost in the clash of ideals, who felt abandoned for one reason or another by their faction or powers, those who were ready to give up. Most other factions never appreciated how the Bleak Cabal seemed to steal their members, even when it was clear the factions weren‘t doing enough to keep them. Still, with all the factions that have existed over the course of Sigil‘s history to oppose them, you‘d think that the Cabal would‘ve have been squashed…but there was always someone who saw that much opposition as a sign they were doing something right. Even at their all-time lows, the Cabal knew that when one faction or another got too big for their own good members would become disenchanted, and their own ranks would swell. This cycle has repeated throughout history, with their memberships rising and falling, and providing the Madmen a chance to be too big for their britches as well…often far too big, which caused some notable problems.
When a Bleaker talks about the Grim Retreat, most people just think they‘re talking about a Bleak Cabal vacation. In a way, they‘re right. The Bleakers, constantly striving against that insanity inside of them, finally give up in large numbers and go on a little trip of the mind that often lasts them the rest of their lives. This happens, oddly enough, whenever the ranks expand too much. The overwhelming loss of belief causes insanity, which can‘t be dealt with efficiently by the few elders who truly understand it. This strange mental disease seems to start at the top and work its way down, with the factol usually the first to go. As it spreads through the ranks, the inexperienced new recruits are left behind, forced to drive the faction themselves while attempting to tend those Bleakers that came before them.
They‘ve gotten smart over the years, however. They‘ve learned quite a bit about medicine and treatment, and now the recovery rate for its members is very high. And though there are still individual cases, the Bleak Cabal has not suffered a mass Grim Retreat in the past three decades, mostly due to the fact that their ex-factol Lhar made a point of keeping their membership at a stable number. Now, with the disbanding of the factions, they aren‘t even sure if one will happen again. They aren‘t even really a faction anymore, just a bunch of like-minded individuals accustomed to dealing with madness. This doesn‘t stop them from tending to the insane and the needy, and they continue to do so, now unofficially instead of officially.
Many of the Madmen decided to make a trek to Pandemonium after the Lady declared factions against the law, and most of those never returned. Some are staying at or around the Madhouse, their faction headquarters on the first layer, to ward off any trouble from the lawful folks who have been sniffing around recently, asking about an artifact reputed to be able to bring back dead Powers. Some decided to settle in Windglum, a town on the third layer of Pandemonium. But whatever the reasons, it‘s reduced the amount of Bleakers in the Cage, but not by too much. It‘s not like things like this didn‘t happen all the time over the course of Bleaker history.
Most people continue to view the Bleak Cabal as a bunch of barmies who are perpetually depressed. No one cared before to look at the intricacies of the Bleak Cabal philosophy, and now the only people who might care are those who have been swept up in the Faction Fever of learning everything about every faction and every factol. It‘s all over the place that ex-factol Lhar was always seeking his parents, but the Bleakers don‘t care, and neither does anyone else really. Apathy breeds apathy, and the Bleak Cabal is one of the few factions that didn‘t generate too much interest when Faction Fever started up.
The Bleak Cabal does not have a unified front or a common objective. Each member is expected to grapple with the implications of accepting the multiverse for what it is. In the meantime, the majority of the Cabal work together and with other organizations to help the poor, the lost, and the insane, running food courts, shelters, and asylums as needed. These acts of charity are considered the faction‘s main responsibility, and their principal method of finding some purpose to their lives. A few Bleakers take up the life of planewalkers, either to promote the truth to those who haven‘t heard it or to find meaning in the personal growth that comes with the adventuring lifestyle.
While the Bleak Cabal has no real official allies, the Dustmen, Doomguard, Sons of Mercy, Revolutionary League, and Xaositects are all well disposed towards them. Now that the Doomguard and the Revolutionary League have moved their main operations out of Sigil, the handful that are left aren‘t very strong allies. Relations are perhaps strongest with the Dustmen, as both of the morose factions continue to carry out their duties solemnly side by side in Sigil, Bleakers helping the poor, sick and dying, and Dustmen carrying away those who the Bleakers couldn‘t help.
The Bleaker‘s principal ―enemies‖, the Sign of One and the Mercykillers, are gone, with the former joined with the Believers of the Source to form the [[Mind‘s Eye]], and the latter splintered. The Bleak Cabal still don‘t really like the Signers for thinking one of their old factols to death, but they don‘t hold it against the Mind‘s Eye, so the Bleakers have purged themselves of the bitterness and turned towards their work and themselves. While the Sons of Mercy are being quite cordial and even a little helpful, any Sodkiller that comes along is bound to crack a few skulls if the Bleaker doesn‘t get out of their way. Overall, most other factions are content to ignore the Madmen and leave them to their madhouses.