To Chance with Hell (Planescape)
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The Harmonium: Might makes Right
The Harmonium believes that peace and harmony is the perfect state of the multiverse. In times of peace, farmers can tend to their crops, merchants can trade freely, and soldiers don’t have to die. Clearly, peace is better than disharmony and war. And what causes disharmony? It‘s simple, say the Harmonium: disagreement. When two nations or just two people disagree, it leads to friction, discord, and ultimately fighting. To that end, the Harmonium believes in minimizing disagreements by working together as one group. Their goal is nothing less than recruiting every sentient being into the Harmonium. And once everyone lives in agreement with all others, then the multiverse will enter into a golden age of peace.
Philosophy: Universal harmony through force of arms.
Home location: Planar headquarters in Melodia in Arcadia – central headquarters in Ortho
Prominent Members: Killeen Kaine, Nicolai Mabru, Tonat Shar
Alignment: Lawful good or lawful neutral.
Symbol: A sword thrust downward in front of a shield.
Related skills: Athletics, Dungeoneering. 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 Harmonium will confer abilities such as:
- those that benefit the Harmonium member and his allies
- those that encourage charging into danger
- those that cower enemies
The Philosophy of the Harmonium
The multiverse has always needed someone like us.
So begins the Book of the Harmonium, the most revered book of the faction. Within that tome the goals, rules, and core philosophy of the Harmonium are laid down. And central to the Harmonium philosophy is that of the truth of belief. Not just the truth of what they believe, but the truth of belief itself.
See, it‘s obvious that peace and harmony is the perfect state of the multiverse. It‘s only when this is achieved that a person can make the most of his life, and not waste it in a struggle of ideals and petty differences. It‘s clear, then, that the only true belief is that which brings about peace and harmony. Truth is harmony, the Book explains, and harmony is truth. And only if everyone accepts this doctrine can peace ever be achieved; anything else is a selfish deception.
When belief is power, belief can be used for the selfish quest of individual ascension, to create discord and conflict among society, or it can be used to forge a unified front of peace and safety for all. Those who care about others strive to find a common system of belief that benefits everyone, while those who only care about themselves choose a different system of belief, inevitably false because it will inevitably lead to disagreement, which causes friction and even war. It is this common belief, this belief that by working together peace can be obtained, that the Harmonium places at the very center of their organization.
Unfortunately, there are many folk that resist the Harmonium, regardless of the truth of their cause. Mostly chaotic people who prefer strife and oppose harmony, and even many good folk who cause friction while thinking it‘s for the best. And so it‘s the Harmonium‘s job to educate them. Remember, disagreement is the cause of war, and so only when everyone agrees with the Harmonium and adopts their beliefs can peace ever be truly obtained. Most Harmoniums will take any opportunity to lecture the uninitiated on the absolute rightness of their cause. They know with an utter conviction not commonly found even among other factions that their cause is right and just. After all, how could it not be? The Harmonium belief has to be right, because the Harmonium belief is the one system that can bring an end to war.
Of course, not everyone can be swayed, and the Harmonium recognize this. The tanar‘ri are a prime example; beings of pure chaos and evil, the tanar‘ri would never accept the Harmonium ideals – their ways of thinking are just too different. Therefore, the Harmonium itself has had to become a military machine to fight their menace. That may sound paradoxical, but it really follows quite naturally from their beliefs. After all, doesn‘t the Book of the Harmonium warn that difference of belief inevitably leads to war? And cannot peace only be achieved when the multiverse all accepts the truth of the Harmonium and accepts a common belief? While these facts are obvious, who thinks the tanar‘ri will ever accept law and good? Will the slaadi ever conform to the truth of harmony through cooperation? No, they never will. Thus, they must be dealt with in the only way possible: through force of arms. Simply put, to bring about peace, first you must defeat the warmongers. The Harmonium will bring peace about, and will pay any price to get it. If bringing about peace means thumping heads, then the Harmonium is willing to thump heads. Every time the Harmonium defeats an enemy, there’s one fewer person opposed to peace, one less barrier to the universal harmony that the multiverse is destined to have. They‘ll bring about peace to the multiverse, even if they have to wade through every god-forsaken layer of the Abyss and defeat every tanar‘ri to do it. It‘s a nigh-impossible task, but they‘re trying anyway – even if it kills them.
The Harmonium has been around for about five centuries in total, but has only had a strong presence in the planes for the last three. The story goes, it started five hundred years ago on a prime world called Ortho. It was there that a group of adventurers calling themselves the Knights of Harmony set out to ―rid the country of chaos and bring peace to the land.‖ It was a simple goal, one that many adventurers aspire to, but unlike most adventurers, the Knights of Harmony actually succeeded. And once they‘d brought peace and harmony to their own country, they set out to do the same to other countries. And after those, still more.
It was hard work, and sometimes the Knights even found themselves fighting others that were good and lawful. They were saddened by these misunderstandings; how could two peoples, both essentially good and lawful, fight each other over what in the end were small details? It seemed to them that only when a people were united could they ever truly be at peace, and they wanted the peace on Ortho to last, even after their time had passed. But how could they ensure that the countries of their world wouldn‘t squabble and fight among themselves ever again?
The Knights had become quite famous, legends in their own time, and so they began to exert their political power. As they vanquished evil after evil, the kings of Ortho swore allegiance to them. Wherever a king would not pledge himself, the Knights found a noble that would, and supported their claim to the throne. In time, the Knights of Harmony united all of the planet, even the so-called monster races such as the beholders, under one banner, so that the peace they created would last forever. This government they called the Harmonium.
In time, the Knights did die, but their legacy endured. For a hundred and fifty years, there was complete peace on Ortho. But then the trouble started. Every now and then, chaos and discord would appear, and the Harmonium would have to deal with it and put it down. After much study, their clerics and wizards determined that the source of the chaos must be off-world, for certainly their own world was now perfectly serene and pacified. In the end, they decided to mount an expedition to the home of chaos and evil on the Outer Planes – the Abyss. It‘s a testament to how little they knew about the multiverse that they thought an expeditionary force would be able to set up a beachhead there, and the problem would be dealt with within a few decades.
Of course, the force was decimated by the tanar‘ri and other demons. After being pushed from the Plain of Infinite Portals to the Caverns of the Skull Goddess and back again, they retreated to a more neutral location – Sigil. From there, they wised up on how the multiverse worked, and developed a new plan. Establishing extensive bases on Arcadia, the plane that most closely matched their alignment and ideals, they set out to convert other planar races, as well as others from Prime Material worlds. The Harmonium has extended its empire to half a dozen other prime worlds now, though none are as fully pacified as Ortho, and most still have pockets of non-Harmonium citizens.
As a faction in Sigil, the Harmonium eventually replaced the Doomguard as the city’s police force. It seemed an obvious fit; after all, enforcement of the peace through strength is both the definition of a police officer‘s job and the definition of the Harmonium‘s philosophy. Yet in the City of Doors they ran into much resistance, with the first problem being the Free League. The Indeps held nearly the exact opposite philosophy of the Harmonium, and it doesn‘t take a crystal ball to see that friction would quickly develop between the two. The Indeps were the ones to give Harmonium members the nickname “Hardheads”, one that they went on to adopt with pride. Over the next few hundred years, the hate between the two continued to intensify, so that eventually some Hardheads began arresting Indeps for no reason other than being Indeps. Generally, the charge was “disturbing the peace”, which they considered perfectly accurate, philosophically speaking.
It was also during this time that what was probably one of the most amazingly bad decisions ever in the history of the Harmonium was made. Someone, and no one quite remembers who anymore, had the bright idea of setting up training camps in Arcadia. Of course, the Harmonium had had training camps there for centuries by this time, but these weren‘t training camps for Harmonium members, oh no. They were camps for those who hadn‘t yet seen the truth of the Harmonium way. Those who spoke less euphemistically called the training camps by what they really were: brainwashing centers. Guests at these training camps were chaotic lawbreakers, and the goal was to turn them into born-again Hardheads. There they were forcefully shown the error of their ways, and in the end, many died. Over time, the evilness of the camps balanced out their good intentions, with the end result being that Menausus, Arcadia’s third layer, slid into Mechanus.
Since the Faction War, the Harmonium has undergone significant changes, most for the good. After Factol Sarin’s death shortly before the War, his wife, Faith, rallied the faction and led them to victory against the Revolutionary League, the Indeps, and especially the Doomguard. With immense support from within the faction and the blessings of her superiors on Ortho, Faith took on the role of factol and began to reexamine the practices of her faction.
Before the War, the Harmonium was not a popular faction. Many saw them as bullies that tried to press their beliefs on others. And, though they do wish to convert everyone else to their way of thinking, they certainly don‘t wish to appear as bullies. Faith knows that part of that is the faction’s own fault, though. She believes that the faction let too many people in that didn’t want harmony – they just wanted to beat up those that disagreed with them. Intimidation and violence must sometimes be used as tools for achieving worthy goals, but when they cease being tools and become the goals themselves, then that’s the opposite of what the Harmonium stands for.
Currently, the Harmonium has three goals. First, they‘re attempting to get Arcadia‘s former third layer, Menausus, back. Faith has closed down the training camps that initially caused the problems there and renewed efforts to recover the layer. Previous efforts to do so have been resounding failures since the Harmonium were doing it for all the wrong reasons: they tried to get it back to cover up their mistakes and save face – selfish reasons that would never get a plane to slide back to Arcadia, a plane that exemplifies actions for the greater good. The complete loss of the third layer has wreaked havoc among the Arcadian petitioners and caused plane-wide problems that Faith genuinely feels guilty about. She wants Menausus back for all the right reasons – to help the rest of Arcadia – and she’s spoken passionately about it, trying to instill this feeling into the other Harmonium officers. It’s helped, and the recent battles with the modrons for control of the former layer have been more successful, not because of any change in tactics, but because it‘s being done for all the good of Arcadians. Planar sages think parts of Menausus may be about to slide back, and that it just needs a bit of a push – some act that truly reflects Arcadian principles.
Secondly, the Harmonium is trying to improve their image. To that end, their new unofficial base in Sigil is the reconstructed Armory, which was vacated when the Doomguard were all but destroyed. After the faction relocated to Melodia and Factol Faith became the new local leader of the city, the former mayor, a tiefling named Nicolai Mabru, had to find a new job. Faith had some very definite ideas about that. See, Mabru is one of the Harmonium‘s biggest success stories. He was once chaotic and evil, but his life was saved by a Harmonium member, and he instantly converted to the faction. He still fights against his inner nature, but in the end he‘s now a loyal, dedicated member of the Harmonium. Faith felt that Mabru would be a good example to others, and so she funded his plan to reconstruct the Armory, which the faction uses to promote a positive view of life under Harmonium law.
Under Mabru‘s guidance, the Armory has been transformed into a training and unofficial recruitment center (the unofficialness being stressed, so as not to anger the Lady). Indeed, it‘s not even technically owned by the Harmonium. Instead, it‘s simply a private venture undertaken by Mabru, who runs things there as he sees fit. The Harmonium have no administrative functions there, and training is not restricted to Harmonium members. Instead, everyone is welcome to train, though training of course costs some money, and Harmonium members do get a significant discount. Within its walls, experts in a wide variety of weapons and fighting styles teach their pupils. Spellswords, arcane archers, lashers, champions of law, and all manner of other exotic martial experts are willing to train students and pass on their experience. To further the Harmonium ideals of races working together, Nicolai usually arranges to have odd races paired together, so that dwarves and drow or tieflings and aasimar often find themselves attending the same sessions or one teaching the other. In many ways, the Armory has become much like the Great Gymnasium, a concept many Cagers find amusing considering the Harmonium‘s distrust for the Ciphers.
And finally, the Harmonium is turning their attentions to the neutral good and chaotic good races. They‘ve been fighting chaos and evil on their own too long, and they believe that they‘d be much more successful if only they could unite those of good alignment under the banner of law. Indeed, the Harmonium has revived the idea of the Pax Benevolus, an ancient treaty once written by the good-aligned gods in an attempt to find common ground they could all agree on. It was never ratified, because of sometimes vast philosophical differences even among beings of good heart, but the Harmonium will never give up on the idea of uniting beings of good under one belief. It‘s a central tenet of their philosophy, after all. But instead of shopping it around to the gods (who they can‘t exactly walk up to and chat with anyway), they‘ve been trying to get the major leaders of the good exemplars to agree on a modified version that they hope can be used as a foundation to unite all beings of good. Their version reads:
i. It is Wrong to Murder
ii. It is Wrong to Covet What is Not Thine Own
iii. It is Wrong to Commit Adultery with Mortal or God
iv. It is Wrong to Steal
v. It is Wrong to Lie or Twist What is True to Benefit Thyself
vi. It is Wrong to Sacrifice Lives to the Gods
vii. It is Wrong to Dishonor Thy Parents and Family
viii. It is Wrong to Sully the Purity of the Upper Planes
ix. It is Wrong to Consort With Fiends
Of course, the eladrins and guardinals won‘t have it, but that won‘t stop the Harmonium from trying.
The Harmonium gets along well with other lawful factions, particularly the Fraternity of Order and the Sons of Mercy, though relations with the former have become strained over the issue of Menausus, which the Guvners want to keep in Mechanus. Due to their alliance during the Faction War, the Harmonium is also on very good terms with the Society of Sensation. Though the Sensates aren‘t generally a very lawful faction, their philosophy isn‘t particularly opposed to that of the Harmonium, and the two factions worked so closely together during the War that continued alliance only seems natural to them.
In the same vein, the Harmonium is generally against the overly chaotic factions. The Free League and the Harmonium share an intense hatred for each other since their philosophies are diametrically opposed. Likewise, the Revolutionary League and the Xaositects are traditional enemies as well. The Transcendent Order, while not enemies per se, have long been carefully watched by the Harmonium, who trust neither their actions nor their ―true‖ motive, whatever that might be.