Action without thought is the purest response. Train body and mind to act in harmony, and the spirit will become one with the multiverse.
Home Field: Elysium
Allies: Most factions
Enemies: Harmonium (suspicion)
Best Alignment: Neutral
WITHIN THE RANKSEdit
The Transcendent Order has a very loose hierarchy – every Cipher basically has power equal to every other Cipher. Respect, though, is another matter. Namers don't get any more respect in the Transcendent Order than they do in other factions. When factioneers find the key to "action minus thought," that's when they gain respect. [Just because Ciphers act without thought doesn't mean they act all the time, though. A Cipher, especially a master, knows there's a time to act and a time to be still. Inaction is a form of action, after all. - Ed.)
ROLEPLAYING THE TRANSCENDENT ORDEREdit
Members of the Order do act self-centered, but not because they're selfish, like the Takers and some Signers. They just want to find their own unity with the cosmos before worrying about how others're doing. This introspection makes 'em appear aloof and unfathomable. It's a cinch the Ciphers are an independent bunch, too. Sure, they all agree to make the body govern the mind, but members differ in their approaches to the philosophy. Some see the body as a temple, others as a tool. The former tend to advocate healthy lifestyles and eat only the most nutritious foods. They keep their bodies in good enough shape to act reflexively, but they don’t push it. Quite a different story from those who view the body as a tool; they push it to the limit, and sometimes beyond, in search of the perfect biological machine. ’Course, these differences don’t seem apparent to outsiders.
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 and, while an occasional ranger joins, he either eventually loses his status as a ranger (because he becomes true neutral) or he never advances past the first rank of master. (See “Cipher Membership.” – Ed.) 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.
TRANSCENDENT ORDER MEMBERSHIPEdit
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 3rd 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 7th 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 hasher 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. ‘Ibe 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 based on quick decision-making in role-playing. - Ed.) 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.