"By the time you've thought about it, I'll have killed you.
That makes it a do-or-die deal."
--Factol Rhys of the Ciphers
Also known as:
Home Field: Elysium
Sigil HQ: Great Gymnasium (Guildhall Ward)
Allies: Most factions
Enemies: Harmonium (suspicion)
The Multiverse speaks to all of us, invites us to become one with it. But most people can't hear its subtle voice because they are too busy blocking it out with their own complex layers of thought. They doubt themselves and over-analyze everything, and by the time they do make a decision, they've already missed the prime opportunity. Every single one of us is part of The Multiverse, if you act with the flow of The Multiverse and not against it, you will act in the right moment with the right action. The purest form of thought in relying on pure and instant intuition, moving with the flow of The Multiverse.
It's not a matter of just not thinking, because then every Clueless prime would know the Truth. You must truly know and understand yourself and trust your instincts, because they speak to you with the voice of The Multiverse. You must train your mind and body to act as one, so that the hand moves at the speed of thought, not clouded or slowed by doubt. Once your mind and body are attuned to the resonance of The Multiverse, your spirit will become one with it, and you will understand your role in the great scheme of things.
The Ciphers have numerous monasteries on the layers of Elysium, the plane they attribute with being purely harmonious and resonating the strongest. Here, there is not overt order because there is not analysis; everything just knows its place and together forms a harmonious good. In Sigil, the Ciphers run the Great Gymnasium, a place of exercise and relaxation where a cutter can work on the harmony of mind and body. They also act as advisers to many other operations in Sigil, as they seem to know just the right advice to give at any given moment.
The Ciphers seem to cause very little friction with the other factions, and those factions that have strong opinions about them often do about individuals rather than the whole bunch. The Harmonium, for instance, believes that some Ciphers have a view of harmony contrary to theirs, but that others support their goal. And some Bleakers scoff at the idea that there is some great scheme that everyone fits into, but at the same time many Bleakers whole-heartedly agree that the only truth is inside oneself.
The Transcendent Order practices moderation, since extremes of attitude cause too much thought and too little action. Moral restrictions or selfish greed should not cloud a body from doing what is right. Therefore all Ciphers must have a neutral component in their alignment.
The Transcendent Order has only one stipulation for joining: A body has to be at least partly neutral. Oddly enough, the faction always seems to maintain an alignment balance without ever devoting any effort to it: Whenever a neutral good member joins, a neutral evil member joins soon, or another neutral good member slides over to true neutral. Anyway, the faction maintains its balance. Most Ciphers become true neutral, eventually; as long as they progress toward the new alignment slowly as they come to grasp faction philosophy, they suffer no penalty for changing.
Folks of all classes come to the Transcendent Order, though most members belong to the more action oriented professions. Thus, most Ciphers are Fighters. Paladins never seem interested, ‘cause of alignment problems. (See “Transcendent Order Membership” below) Wizards, Rogues, and Priests join the Ciphers in about equal numbers. Though Wizards aren’t always the most active folks in the world, some spellcasters’ study of magic leads them naturally to study of self; Cipher rogues usually started thieving either from need or as a search for thrills. Priests in the Order frequently channel powers that serve the Athar’s Great Unknown power-behind-the-powers. Some even say they revere Cipher ex-factols.
The Ciphers welcome all races to their ranks. A lot of Tieflings find homes here, because they tend to trust themselves far more than they do others – very much in keeping with the Order’s philosophy. The Ciphers also let a body keep to himself and do as he likes without any interference, which Tieflings also appreciate. ’Course, the large number of Tiefling members, known for individualism, makes the conformist Harmonium members peery about the Ciphers. Half-elves tend to join the faction for the same reasons as Tieflings and in about the same numbers. Since Half-Elves often have trouble knowing themselves, the Ciphers provide good direction for them. Not only do humans share this need to find inner harmony, they also love to get things done. Bariaur and Githzerai seldom join the ranks, though Githzerai that do generally become some of the faction’s most successful members.
Ciphers never allow doubt or hesitation to slow their actions, which causes them to react to situations much faster than most. This is reflected in the fact that all Ciphers get the Improved Initiative feat for free. In addition, they also receive a +2 to all reflex saving throws. However, because of their lack of hesitation, once a Cipher factioneer decides to do something, there is no turning back. He can not change his mind because to do so would be to ignore the resonance of The Multiverse and the right action, which goes against their entire philosophy.
Sigil - Planar Legends: Members of the Transcendent Order can cast Expeditious Retreat 1/day.
Transcendent Order Membership
The Ciphers have pretty easy entrance requirements: A cutter goes up to a member and says, “I’d like to join your faction,” or some such, expressing a desire to seek harmony of body and mind. See, to the members of the Transcendent Order, expressing the desire to join is sign enough that a cutter knows what they’re about and has accepted that the Ciphers’ve got the right of things. Once in, Ciphers do their own thing. ’Course, namers too often take this attitude to mean they can run about acting on every impulse. Like the worst Sensate namers, some are thrill-seekers, acting for the sake of acting, not to seek a deeper oneness with The Multiverse. Ciphers their peers declare to be on their way to uniting body and mind are hailed as masters.
The faction unconsciously follows the Rule of Three by recognizing thee ranks of master: master of the heart, master of the mind, and master of the spirit. To become a master of the heart (a factotum) a Cipher must reach at least 10th level and achieve recognition from his peers. A master of the heart no longer needs to think before he acts – at least, in the short term. See, a Cipher of this rank learns how to invoke an “action trance,” the state of pure action. A heart master of at least 15th level can spend three to four months in solitary training to become a master of the mind (a factor, to other groups).
A group of all the Order’s masters promotes a basher to mind master when the masters think he’s honed his reflexes to the extent that his body and mind have become one, subject only to the movements of The Multiverse. Masters of the mind stay in action trances for gradually longer periods. The next level, master of the spirit, gains a basher a lot of respect – and not only from faction members, either. These cutters have found their places in The Multiverse and can act at any time without the clutter of unnecessary thoughts. The factol’s the only one with this rank. There’s no specific point when faction members normally reach this level – it just happens. (The DM makes the call.) As with the previous rank, the transition to spirit master requires three to four months of special training.
A Cipher who transcends this level supposedly rises above mere mortal status. The faction claims that most factols who don’t die in office leave their posts due to this sort of transcendence. In any case, when a new factol needs to be chosen, the first two levels of master all decide on a new one. No meetings, no arguments, no lobbying – they just decide. A master of the spirit suddenly feels compelled to become the new factol. Never have the masters decided upon a candidate who did not feel the urge to become factol, and never have two masters of the spirit had the compulsion at the same time – the instincts of everyone concerned lead them all to the same conclusion.