To Chance with Hell (Planescape)
Fraternity of Order
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The Fraternity of Order: Not Breaking the Law, just Reinterpreting It
The Fraternity of Order isn’t what a body might think. First of all, they aren’t concerned with keeping the order – that’s the Harmonium. Secondly, they just aren’t as… well… orderly as they used to be. Getting booted out of Sigil by the Lady shook them up but good, and inserted a bit more chaos into the stagnant mix that the Guvners used to be. But their core philosophy still revolves entirely around laws and the order therein. See, according to them, it‘s very important to understand laws… whether they’re the local statutes or the universal axioms all creatures are forced to live by. To them, understanding the laws – the Orders – things work by is vital to manipulating things to be the way people want them and need them. Of course, the sort of power that information grants isn’t bad, either. And it’s no secret that the Guvners are looking to be in charge of it all, sooner or later.
Of course, if you listen to them long enough, you just might think that they are in charge. And if their theories are correct, that just might be the case…
Philosophy: Learn the laws that govern the multiverse and gain power through them.
Home location: The Fortress of Disciplined Enlightenment in Mechanus.
Prominent Members: Nancias Garabutos
Alignment: Any non-chaotic.
Symbol: A dagger with a blue handle, pointed upwards. Blue curls over from the top, branching and splitting as it falls down – as if being cut by the dagger itself. The blade of knowledge reveals the truth.
Related skills: Arcana, Diplomacy. 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 Fraternity of Order will confer abilities such as:
- those that let you reroll dice
- those that change the nature of rolls (i.e. from one damage type to another)
- teleportation abilities
Special: all members of the Fraternity of Order gain “Legalspeak” as a bonus language. This language cannot be learned by outsiders, and even magic such as Comprehend Languages automatically fails.
The Philosophy of the Fraternity of Order
Knowing the law is one thing, and relatively uncomplicated, even if it can be taxing and time-consuming to study it. But knowledge of how to use laws is where real power comes from. Think of it this way: a man might not know he can use a boulder as a weapon until he understands that the law of gravity will let him push it off a ledge, or, even better, the law of action and reaction that lets him construct a catapult that flings the boulder as far as he needs it. Imagine that on a multiversal scale, and you‘ve got an inkling of what the Guvners are aiming for.
The Fraternity of Order believes there are three types of Orders. The first are called Rules, created by sentient beings to govern themselves and resolve disputes. The second are called Laws, which derive from the powers. Most Laws are the natural laws of a given plane – the cycle of time in the Outlands, for example. The third are known as Axioms. Axioms are laws all things – inanimate or alive, divine or mortal, planar or prime – must adhere to. Some Axioms are referred to as Great Axioms, which it‘s said only the powers can really understand. However, if by some chance a mortal does come to fully understand one, one might move on to an existence more capable of withstanding that knowledge. Whether this means becoming a power or something else is entirely theoretical.
Another trick to laws is discovering loopholes. By using loopholes in Orders, one can win court battles, devise a device that boils tea nicely, or even bend Axioms to perform actions that might otherwise be impossible. With loopholes, it‘s possible to do anything… a body‘s just got to uncover the secret to it. The loopholes of Rules are useful in the court, the loopholes of Laws are useful in the lab, and the loopholes of Axioms… well, they‘re useful anywhere, though one can only cheat the universe itself so many times before it wises up.
Some Guvners argue that Rules are not created by mortals, nor are Laws created by powers. Rather, they are discovered, and the truth is that there‘s a universal set of such Orders, and that some may become lost or misunderstood, while others simply haven‘t been discovered yet. People may think they‘ve written a new law, or a power may think its edict is its own, but they‘re just introducing (or rediscovering) a previously unknown Order. While some may argue that there is no such thing as universal Rules and Orders due to the seemingly varied laws of different planes and realms, such Guvners would counter with the idea that Rules and Orders can be different between places and times. In their mind, that simple fact doesn’t mean there isn’t an underlying order behind their variations of absolutes.
Though they may seem monolithic and homogenous to outsiders, the Fraternity of Order is often divided between different viewpoints. While they’re all undeniably dedicated to law, they have varying viewpoints on what those laws might be. Even what is considered to be known is somewhat self-contradictory, and the Guvners realize it’s hard for them to see the whole picture. Therefore, different bureaus have been devised to help solve this problem. Sometimes they are formed to devise a solution to a problem, or other times simply to perform dedicated study of a single piece of the multiverse. A handful of the bureaus are described below, but a there are literally hundreds of different bureaus both defunct and active in Guvner records.
One group within the Fraternity of Order, the Mathematicians, focuses solely on discovering the Orders of Mechanus itself. After all, the theory goes, Mechanus embodies every law, everywhere in the multiverse. So a full understanding of Mechanus‘ laws would allow you to use those discoveries across all planes. In addition, it‘s said that somebody that pins down every bit of law about the gears would gain enough insight to rule Mechanus… and from there, the rest of creation shortly afterward. Furthermore, they believe the plane of ultimate law has a ―perfect‖ version of anything else in the universe. So by studying Mechanus, one can find anything one might be desire. Formerly a separate sect, they have been subsumed into the Bureau of Native Mathematics, a subdivision of the Fraternity of Order.
On the other, more down-to-earth side, some newer members are claiming that folks within their faction were and are going too fast, too soon. They argue that the understanding of Rules and Laws is incomplete at best, and that to try and uncover Axioms before mastering the basics is dangerous, if not outright mad. Focusing on bringing the information they have into more physical endeavors, many of these younger Guvners are explorers, investigators, and inventors, seeking out knowledge and putting it into more practical pursuits, such as golems and clockwork oddities designed to perform tasks of labor and the like. Surprisingly, though Jamis has not joined in with her rhetoric, many of those returning with her to Sigil are of this group. Officially, they‘re organized under the new Bureau of Timekeepers, even if many of their endeavors deal in more than just watches.
Finally, another new theory that‘s controversial at best, and considered outright heresy at worst, posits that the Fraternity of Order is looking in the wrong place entirely to discover law. An outgrowth of attempts to study the elements which made up the Faction War, these scholars believe that only in attempting to discover the patterns of chaos can one uncover the truth of the multiverse. They believe that if one can find the patterns and rules even in the most seemingly disorderly of all forces, that those rules will be the ultimate Orders… those that exist even in the face of seemingly total chaos. There is no official bureau for them as of yet; most of them exist under the Bureau of Extraplanar Exploration and Development, or as the Bureau of Xenophilosophical Studies. While considered a bunch of fools by the majority of Guvners, they have mounted expeditions to Limbo. Right now they‘re particularly interested in trying to discover the dark of the inhabitants’ ability to influence the raw matter of the plane itself, though much to the relief of Limbo‘s inhabitants, they haven‘t stumbled onto it yet.
An Exhaustively Comprehensive History
Being the gluttons for knowledge the Guvners are, they’ve recorded nearly everything they can about their own history. Their own records stretch back roughly a millennium – or maybe more – in millions of volumes that sprawl across their libraries in Mechanus. Some of their records get into minutiae that might test the patience of even their own… from the clothes somebody wore on a given day to how many dribblings of mucus came down a orc’s nose at a given trial. But to the Guvners, no detail is worth missing. Anything could be a greater piece of the puzzle that, day by day, they’re working to uncover. Consquently, few of their records are interesting from an artistic or emotional perspective. They have no great heroes… no epic tales… no climactic disasters… at least by the reckoning of most people’s viewpoints. Of course, with the amount of mundane details in Guvner works, even vast clashes like the Faction War might be so deeply analyzed that they hardly seem any more interesting than their factol’s dinner records for the past year. The thing is, they‘re good at the details, but there just isn‘t much passion in their written works. After all, passion distorts, and they can‘t have anything but the unvarnished facts.
The actual history of the Fraternity of Order begins with a bunch of magically-inclined sages in Sigil that had gravitated there from various prime planes. Back then, they were what a prime would call a college of magic, picking their numbers from various worlds – from Toril to Cerilia and so on. Of course, having to reconcile the magical traditions of dozens of worlds was quite a feat, and so they worked on developing theories that would uncover the basic laws that underpinned wizardly magic. Forget that born to power heritage sorcerers work with… they were working on what let pure training and knowledge allow a wizard to harness one of the strongest forces in the universe, perhaps even the strongest force.
It‘s a cinch for anybody that knows how the Fraternity operates now to see how that developed. Once they had a theory for that down, they started looking for ways to cheat magic. Though they didn‘t consider it more than spell research, it was what a modern Guvner would consider primitive study of what they now call loopholes. Their research succeeded beyond their wildest beliefs, and some started theorizing that the laws of magic weren‘t alone in their malleability. Their search led them naturally to Mechanus, where they set up a secondary fortress to complement their home in Sigil. From there, they slowly gravitated away from a pure study of magic to a study of the multiverse as a whole.
They took the name Fraternity of Order not too long prior to the Great Upheaval to replace The Planar Order of Magic. Their orderly ways allowed them to weather the Lady‘s new edict without even blinking for the most part, only restructuring their activities slightly. Becoming a part of Sigil’s rule by the factions, they took up the role of record keepers, keeping track of laws, statistics, events, and so forth. But laws became their métier, since there was always somebody needing to know what the laws were, thanks to the constant power struggles – both small and large – in Sigil. And needless to say, the Guvners used this to their own benefit, interpreting and using the laws in their favor. Of course, the fact that they ran the courts, often playing judge, prosecutor, defender, recorder, and more, also helped them quite a bit. Though they were unable to create new laws on their own, they were able to bury laws they didn’t care for occasionally.
Over time, the faction got more complacent. Influence and power took its toll; though empowered by order, they were also trapped by it. More members joined with no inclination towards studying law past Sigil’s books… sloppiness crept in, something that would have been anathema during their origins, when they picked only the mightiest minds from across the planes. The faction became a haven for the unimaginative and rigid, and their original ideal of exploration was lost between a mountain of bureaucratic paperwork and a maze of internal regulations. A number of older Guvners, disgusted with the situation, traveled back to Mechanus to try to pick up where they believe their faction left off. Particularly taken by studying Mechanus once more, they joined with some of the disillusioned Guvners there, breaking from the faction and becoming the sect known as the Mathematicians. They went on to study Mechanus solely, though they would often share notes and efforts with the Guvners of Mechanus.
Somewhat recently, the factol of the Fraternity by the name of Lariset the Inescapable locked herself up, only explaining during her occasional outings that she was on the verge of a new discovery. One day, she vanished, and it’s assumed by most Guvners that she’d ascended somehow to a higher power, having discovered a Great Axiom. Her successor was Hashkar, a planar dwarf. His single-minded quest for knowledge seemed to define him, and he was an easy choice to lead the faction. While he wasn’t exactly a interesting fellow, he seemed to know anything about everything, and that was enough for the Guvners. Shortly before the Faction War, though, he was revealed to be a petitioner, with the rumors being his faith in life was one for Sigil itself, and he was somehow reborn as a petitioner in the City of Doors! Even though the concept seems impossible, it’s not unthinkable, considering the facts. Hashkar wasn’t Mazed like the other factols, and rumors were spread that he had some sort of agreement with the Lady of Pain.
Of course, none of that saved him from the blade of a Xaositect, inflaming the already natural enmity between the factions of law and chaos. The fact that attempts to raise or resurrect Hashkar magically after the War were completely abortive didn‘t help the Guvners refute matters, either. After this disaster, the Guvners then joined with the rest of the Guardians of Peace during the War, weathering the chaos afterwards just as they did the Great Upheaval centuries ago. However, when the dust was cleared, they could no longer be the keepers of law in Sigil. Though they still had their knowledge, much of their power was lost.
Afterwards, the Fraternity of Order retreated from Sigil, joining with their fellows on the plane of Mechanus. A flurry of talks followed on a variety of subjects, with most centering on the central question of where did we go wrong? Most agreed that while their organizational structure was able to weather the chaos rather well, the fact remained that plans and theories centering around Sigil, some of them hundreds of years in development, had been put on indefinite hold. Quite quickly, a small power struggle erupted between Jamis, a high-ranking Guvner from Sigil and cleric of Oghma, and Nancias Garabutos, the wizardly head of the Fortress of Disciplined Enlightenment. Jamis was the obvious choice to succeed Hashkar, but Nancias was already head of Guvner doings in Mechanus. At the same time, a grand restructuring of the Fraternity was taking place. For everything a place, and a place for everything became the tagline that marked many speeches and talks during this time. The Mathematicians were reabsorbed into the organization, with the promise of a new direction for the faction luring them back.
Jamis, after many debates, was elected – though many Mechanus natives resent the fact that it was probably due more to her charming presence and divine favor than to intellectual ability. Still, Jamis softened the conflict by announcing that she would be leading an expedition to form a safe house and library in Sigil again (so as to avoid threating Nancias‘ authority). Also, the structure of bureaus was greatly expanded with the interest of exploring previously neglected studies and widening the scope of the Fraternity’s research.
The Guvners haven‘t forgotten Sigil; indeed, it‘s been foremost in their minds even during their absence. Since it seemingly lies in the middle of the Outer Planes, the Axioms discovered there might be the most valuable of all. Rumor has it that Jamis has quite a few of Hashkar‘s journals, which may include darks regarding both Sigil and the Lady of Pain…
The main goal of the Fraternity of Order remains as it always has been – to gather knowledge and information in order to gain the secrets of the multiverse. How they‘ve gone about it has changed in some ways, but their defining element has remained unchanged in over a millennium.
Towards this end, they have set up shop in Sigil again so that they may resume their studies. Through an agreement with the aasimon and modrons that run the Hands of Time, a clockwork piece of Mechanus that‘s somehow been planted in Sigil, they‘ve been able to gain a new stronghold where they can continue their studies. In return, they‘ll be putting in money and hard work to expand the Hands of Time, as well as deal in the acquisition of new plots of land to develop on. Many are still working in the legal system and bureaucracy, though without their former badges of office. Jamis heads this operation personally, keeping each development and outgrowth on a tight, controlled plan.
Keeping Menausus, a new layer of Mechanus, from slipping back to Arcadia stable is also a major undertaking by the Fraternity. Rooting out the leftover Arcadian petitioners and shipping them back to Arcadia is a high priority for Nancias, who is planning and overseeing the operation. Unfortunately, the Xaositects – and possibly even the Harmonium – are confronting them on this point. Even with their modron allies and their work to import additional lawful inhabitants to the layer, it doesn‘t look like the layer will be stabilized anytime soon.
The traditional allies of the Fraternity of Order in the old days before the Faction War were the Harmonium and the Mercykillers. Unfortunately, the Mercykillers were dissolved in the Faction War, and recent events concerning a new layer of Mechanus, Menausus, look to damage Hardhead/Guvner relations, possibly irreparably.
Conversely, they‘ve found new allies in both of the Mercykillers‘ splinter groups. When in need of having their body guarded, they‘ve hired the Minder‘s Guild, the label under which the Sodkillers’ business endeavors operate. On the other hand, their return to the City of Doors has led them to assist the Sons of Mercy from time to time in the fields of law enforcement and peacekeeping.
The traditional enemies of the Fraternity of Order are the Xaositects, naturally enough. Their philosophy of engendering chaos is quite disruptive to Guvner activities, and the fact that one of their number killed Hashkar hasn‘t helped matters any. Distance and time have mellowed things somewhat, but it‘s certain that meddling in Sigil will cause both groups to meet head-on in the future.
The Revolutionary League is none too fond of the Fraternity either, but with the Guvners out of power, the League‘s hostility has dropped a notch. Still, given the claim by the Guvners that they plan to run everything, some Anarchists are inclined to take preemptive actions against them, even today.
Almost all Guvners speak Legalspeak, their version of high Planar Trade. Legalspeak is obtuse and impenetrable for non-speakers, combining Draconic with high Planar Trade (but either root language is hardly recognizable as a part of Legalspeak), as well as over a millennium of Guvner jargon and professional terms.