Phyles in the Polychotomy
With reality being so broken up and fragmented, it’s often hard to know whom to trust, or whom to turn to for help. Over time, various groups have risen up to fill this need. These groups, commonly called phyles, each have their own point of view and their own agenda. By and large, members of the same phyle will assist each other. Most phyles also have allies in some other phyles, and enemies in some. Occasionally, someone chooses to be phyleless – this is generally a sign of either extreme levels of power, or extreme stupidity. Most regard the phyle-less as easy targets for whatever it is that their phyle is all about (anything from conversion to enslavement to death).
At this time, there are twenty-one commonly recognized phyles: [Pure phyles have their names in bold, Tainted ones in italics.]
- All-Seeing Eye – Observing all
- Bastion of Righteousness – Smiting evil-doers wherever they tread
- Broken Bond – Liberating the oppressed
- Clock Tenders – Seeking knowledge and understanding
- Dead College – Seekers of a way around (or through) death
- Drummers – Wanderers, journeyers, free spirits
- Family – Just a group of businessmen – you got a problem with that?
- Green Way – Protecting nature (or what remains of it)
- Hospitalers – Bringing healing to the broken
- Maul – Power through destruction
- Mutual Defense Co-operative – The little people must hang together
- One World Party – Bringing the Shards back together
- Other Side – Reveling in forbidden knowledge
- Overlords – Putting sniveling slaves in their places
- Regium – The rightful rulers of all the Shards
- Shadowy Men – Exploring the mysteries
- Sign of Swine – Using the power of wealth to improve the standard of living
- Sisters of Mercy – Defending the downtrodden
- Talon – Dragons and their followers
- Tunnelers – Connecting the Shards any way they can
- Wretched Victims – Taking the sins of the universe upon themselves
While it is possible for people to switch their allegiance, such behaviour is viewed rather dimly. Typically, the receiving phylactor will require some inducement to accept the turncoat. (What the inducement is depends on the phyle and the people involved and can range from appeals to principle through bribes to death threats – depending on the situation.) Invariably, the receiving phyle marks the new member on the forehead with the Brand of the Turncoat, a large and recognizable scar. People bearing the Brand are invariably watched closely by members of their new phyle, and are initially considered members in Poor Standing (see below). It is impossible to conscript a person into a phyle unwillingly (although people can be unwillingly expelled). However, people can be magically compelled to change phyle.
Standing in Phyle
In every phyle, there are expectations placed on members in terms of standards of behaviour and obligations towards other members and the phyle as a whole. In some phyles, these burdens are relatively light (e.g. in the Maul, aside from an expectation that members not go out of their way to attack each other, and that they do go out of their way to attack pretty much everyone else, there isn’t much expected). In others (the Overlords come to mind), the number of duties can quickly become quite onerous.
In all phyles, members are treated according to the degree that their behaviour conforms to or departs from the expected standards. There are three general categories of membership:
- Distinguished Members are those who continually epitomize the ideals that the phyle promotes. Their reward includes repsect from their co-phylists, and access to more opportunities within the phyle. Other rewards may exist, depending on the phyle in question.
- Members in Good Standing are those who make an adequate show of upholding the codes of appropriate behaviour withint the phyle. Such members do not gain any special benefit from their status, but also feel no penalty for it.
- Members in Poor Standing are those who regularly act in ways that violate the letter or spirit of the phyle’s codes of behaviour. Such members will, over time, find themselves slighted by co-phylists, and may find the assistance of the phyle hard to come by. In the case of some phyles (the Regium, for example), Poor Standing can be grounds for imprisonment or worse.
Having a group of people willing to come to your defence in your time of need is of little value if you don’t know who they are and they don’t know who you are. Thus, each phyle uses an easily recognized symbol as a way for co-phylists to identify themselves to each other. These badges, as they are known, are used on banners, embroidered into clothing, embossed on armour and shields, or even tattooed into the skin. Each badge is slightly magical – the aura is faint enough that a detect magic spell only picks up the badge closest to the caster – usually the one the caster is wearing. The magic has two effects:
- Phylists can detect a forgery of their own phyle’s badge relatively easily. (They get at +10 circumstance bonus on the Spot check to detect forgeries. Anyone with at least 5 ranks in Knowledge (Phyles) gets at +2 bonus from synergy on the check.)
- The badge changes shape in subtle ways to reflect the member’s Standing in phyle. Typically, a phyle does not share the nature of these changes with non-phylists. Consult your phyle dossier for details.
Reading the Phyle descriptions
Hopefully, most of the information in the phyle descriptions is self-explanatory. Prestige Classes listed are those available to members in Good (or Distinguished) standing in their phyle. (Some Prestige Classes require Distinguished standing.) Cleric Domains consists of two lists. Clerics must select one domain from the “at least on of” list, and are forbidden from taking domains on the “none of” list. Feats and Skills list some common choices for members of the phyle – these are also important for characters interested in becoming Phylactors.