"I have here a warrant, sirrah. Surrender yourself willingly, Or I shall have the pleasure of executing you immediately."
--Jasy, Mercykiller Justiciar, after a decade-long search
Also known as:
The Red Death, the Punishers, the Hounds
Factol: Alisohn Nilesia
Home Field: Acheron
Sigil HQ: Prison (The Lady’s Ward)
Justice is everything to this faction. There is no one who can give justice the laugh, because if you try, you'll have the Mercykillers hounding your every step. Laws exist for the sole purpose of determining when justice should be carried out; they are the dividing line that separates the just from the unjust. Injustice has corrupted the multiverse; once all injustice has been cleansed, the whole of planar society shall be perfect.
Some cry of mercy, but mercy is construction of the criminal. If you do not commit crimes, you need no mercy because you are safe in the eyes of Justice. Once you step over the line and become a criminal, your pleas of mercy fall upon deaf ears, because the Mercykillers make sure each crime is paid for appropriately. There are no "extenuating circumstances."
Most criminals think they can give us the laugh by believing we won't commit crimes to catch them. As they all learn, they are wrong. We, the Mercykillers, have been entrusted with dealing out justice, and we answer to a Higher Law. When no more crimes are being committed, we will gladly take our leave. But until then, we exist to hunt down every last lawbreaker there is and make them pay for each injustice. You can count on that.
The Mercykillers maintain dozens of outposts on Acheron, where the strict discipline of that plane has bred many Mercykiller recruits. Injustice on Acheron is swiftly crushed, just the way the Mercykillers would like it on every other plane. In Sigil, the Mercykillers operate the Prison, where they enforce the sentences of any criminals that they or the Harmonium have caught.
The Mercykillers are part of the Triad of Order in Sigil (Guvners, Harmonium, and Mercykillers), and the three work together in most cases to maintain what little order there is within the city. In an interesting spin, occasionally the Doomguard allies with the Mercykillers, seeing some form of entropy in the punishments that they faction deals out. The Signers, Sensates, and Anarchists in particular have many unpleasant run-ins with the Mercykillers because each of them believes they are above the law in many cases. The swift retribution from the Mercykillers makes all three among its potential enemies.
Cutters looking to join the Mercykillers face some pretty stiff restrictions. All members must he lawfully aligned, whether good, evil, or neutral. An applicant with any criminal taint in his past is usually tossed out into the street, with a warning never to return.
While the Red Death requires only that its members be lawful, only those who’re lawful neutral may truly understand the final goal of justice above all else. Lawful evil and lawful good characters, if they properly play their alignments, allow the distracting factors of good and evil to cloud their judgment and search for justice. Of course some players may feel that their faction goals override their alignment ideals. But truly exciting role-playing can take place when a character tries to meld these two potentially conflicting attributes. A Mercykiller’s got to find a compromise that satisfies his inner turmoil. Otherwise, he might face the faction penalties described below under membership – or end up in the Gatehouse with the other barmies who couldn’t handle the strain of The Multiverse.
Rogues are regarded with suspicion by the faction, due to the nature of the class. Other classes might try to punish the guilty in the name of their power, rather than in the name of justice. But they’d be missing the point; justice ain’t beholders to any power. Most Mercykiller priests learn quickly to place justice above all else. Any Cleric who wants to punish lawbreakers in his power’s name had better keep his actions dark from the faction high-ups – unless, of course his god’s a power of justice.
Any and all races are accepted as long as all other prerequisites are met.
In their eternal pursuit to separate the guilty from the innocent, members of the Mercykillers have learned how to detect falsehood in one's words. Any Mercykiller factioneer may cast discern lies once per day, at a caster level equal to half his class level, round up. In addition, when in battle against a criminal they may choose to strike in the name of justice. This kind of strike may only be used once per week and must be announced before an attack. If the attack misses, the strike is wasted, but if the attack is a hit, the target finds himself jolted with spiritual energy and stunned for one round. During the time when he is stunned, he is considered flat-footed and loses all modifiers from Dexterity. Also, the stunned opponent is considered prone for the purposes of defending but may make no attacks.
Mercykillers consider themselves innocent of any crimes committed while tracking down a criminal. However, should a Mercykiller ever commit a crime, knowingly or not, at any other time, he is to subject himself to the full extent of the prosecution. Mercykillers are typically very careful and serious about this; a Hound in the Prison is often treated with extra contempt by his fellow prisoners. Mercykillers who do not turn themselves in for prosecution are considered to have turned stag and are to be executed when found. In addition, a Mercykiller must always accept a criminal's surrender if it is offered (so that he can serve his punishment) and may never release a prisoner under his protection until the prisoner's punishment has been served.
As is the case with Arwyl Swan’s Son, the Mercykiller faction allows player characters to interpret the abstract concept of justice according to their personal ideals. Of course, this can lead to arguments between two Mercykillers, not to mention between a Mercykiller and another character – say, a thief who steals to feed the poor. But, as a lawful faction, the Red Death also offers strict regimentation to those who seek it. After all, sometimes the easiest way to live is just to do as you’re told and follow the rules – even blindly.
Sigil - Planar Legends: Members of the Mercykillers can cast Hold Person 1/day.
For those who measure up, joining the Red Death is a simple matter. The faction holds enlistment days once per fortnight, and an applicant need only present himself at the Prison. The day’s candidates gather in a room for a lengthy discussion of the Eight Tenets of Justice. At the end of the day, any berk who still wants to join must swear to each of the tenets. Doing so means he’s henceforth considered a Mercykiller.
He'll quickly learn that the pursuit of justice ain’t easy. First and foremost, he must realize that Mercykillers don’t arrest or try a berk, no matter what he’s accused of. It falls to the Harmonium to arrest lawbreakers, and to the Fraternity of Order to conduct trials for the accused. Only when a sod’s been found guilty of a crime under the law may a Mercykiller carry out punishment. In an adventuring party, that means a Mercykiller can’t automatically punish a Fighter for slaying an innocent peasant, or kill a thief for picking a noble’s pocket.
The Mercykiller’s got to stay his hand until the “criminal” has been duly arrested, tried, and found guilty. ‘Course, if the party has both a Hardhead and a Guvner, the Mercykiller might be able to convince them to hold a quick court. Failing that, he can only keep track of crimes that go unpunished, hoping to see justice done at the earliest possible opportunity.
The most profound conflict for a Mercykiller usually arises over the specific interpretation of justice. After all, what might seem wrong to one member of the Red Death may not seem so to another, especially when the two have different alignments. Lawful Good Mercykillers – like Arwyl Swan’s Son – often are less troubled by an escaped criminal than they are by a poor sod who’s been wrongfully imprisoned or faces a staggeringly inappropriate punishment. Many Mercykillers, inspired by the high-up paladin’s commitment, have likewise chosen to seek out and correct examples of gross injustice.
Of course, being a Mercykiller requires more than a simple love of justice – no matter what his class, a Mercykiller must undertake a lengthy period of training and study if be wants to progress beyond the rank of Namer. Those who do learn the law to an exacting degree – the factotums of the faction – are called Justices by the Red Death. They carry out the day-to-day functions of running the Prison and maintaining the faction’s outposts on Acheron. The most devoted Mercykillers go on to become Factors. And an elite few may even become Justiciars (a special kind of factor) and be assigned to track escaped criminals.
Any Mercykiller should memorize the Eight Tenants of Justice upon joining the faction. These tenants - a charter written up 600 years ago by the original leaders of the Sodkillers and the Sons of Mercy - are as follows:
1: I will uphold Justice before all else, purging the multiverse of those who break the law.
2: In all situations, I shall weigh the rights and wrongs with a clear and impartial mind.
3: I shall decide where Justice must fall under the law, and I will mete out that Justice with a firm and unyielding hand.
4: I believe in the righteousness of my faction: we alone answer to the higher law of Justice.
5: I will not pass judgment on good or evil, only on law-abiding and law-breaking, for therein lies wrongdoing.
6: I will punish the guilty as the crime demands.
7: I will be diligent in my pursuit of the guilty, and while so engaged I will remain innocent of any wrongdoing in the eyes of others.
8: I will never release a lawbreaker until his sentence has been carried out.