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The Factol's Manifesto (2e)
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The Factol's Manifesto (2e)

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This volume's outlawed in the Cage, berk? it's a crime just to own it. 'Course, that makes it required reading for peery cutters. Which factol's gone barmy, and which one ain't quite alive? Who tops the Hardheads' hit list, and who's a Sensate spy? What portals, spells, and powers can a factioneer use to give his foes the laugh? Catch the chant here!

Designed for players and Dungeon Masters alike,The Factol's Manifesto provides a covert look at Sigil's 15 factions? the bands whose philosophies shape the multiverse. For each faction, get the dirt on:

  • Secret histories, current plans, and raging conflicts.
  • Headquarters and other safe houses, including detailed, full-color maps.
  • Bloods a basher's bound to meet, from the factol on down.
  • New and vital abilities for the faithful.

Product History

"The Factol's Manifesto" (1995), by Dori Jean Hein, Tim Beach, and J.M. Salsbury, is a splatbook for the Planescape setting. It was published in June 1995.

About the Title. What's a factol? It's the "high-up in charge" of a Sigil faction. Good 'ole Planescape cant!

Origins (I): The Sigil Trilogy(s). The Planescape Campaign Setting (1994) said "the number 3's important - some say it's got power. Things out here tend to happen in threes, like Prime Material, Inner, and Outer Planes; Good, Evil, and Neutrality; Law, Chaos, and Neutrality; even prime, planar, and petitioner … See two things and ask, 'Where's the third?'"

In 1995 TSR published two books about the center of the multiverse: "A Player's Primer to the Outlands" (1995) in April, then "In the Cage: A Guide to Sigil" (1995) in May. Where's the third, you might ask. It's "The Factol's Manifesto" (1995), published just a month later, in June. While "In the Cage" gave very little attention to the factions of Sigil, that's what "The Factol's Manifesto" is all about.

But maybe we counted wrong, because a year later TSR decided to supplement the center of the multiverse trilogy with "Uncaged: Faces of Sigil". So maybe it was a Sigil trilogy all along, and "A Player's Primer to the Outlands" was just a complementary release.

Origins (II): Splat! Factional splatbooks were big news (and big sales) in the roleplaying industry of the '90s. They were especially important at White Wolf who put out long series of clanbooks, tribebooks, tradition books, guildbooks, and kithbooks for their many World of Darkness games.

TSR's "PHBR" series (1989-1995) was sort of splatty but it focused on mechanics. "The Factol's Manifesto" was TSR's other approach to the popular topic. Like the White Wolf books, it concentrated on the fluff of player organizations, to enable and empower characters. However, it jammed the material on all fifteen of Planescape's factions into one book. This was how things had been done in proto-splatbooks like Chaosium's Cults of Prax (1979) and Lion Rampant's The Order of Hermes (1990) but it was still a major step away from the player-oriented organization books that consumed the rest of the industry at the time.

Origins (III): The Factions. The factions of this "Manifesto" didn't come out of nowhere. They were a crucial part of the Planescape setting from the start, receiving a page each in "A Player's Guide to the Planes" and a few additional pages in "Sigil and Beyond", all in the original box. However, Dragon #213 (January 1995) offered an equally important breakthrough. In "Godsmen, Bleakers, Guvnors & Takers", Rich Baker spent another half-dozen pages describing secrets of the factions, secrets that were then built upon in this "Manifesto".

If you wanted a sillier take on Planescape factions, that appeared in "April Fool's Faxions" in Dragon #216 (April 1995). Unshockingly, those new "faxions" aren't referenced herein.

Origins (IV): Musical Designers. In the '70s and even into the '80s, TSR's campaign worlds had pretty singular visions. Greyhawk was the creation of Gary Gygax, Dragonlance was Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's child, and the Known World came under the strong guiding hand of Bruce Heard.

By the '90s, this was dramatically changing. Core designers were often brought in to create a world, then other hands took over its maintenance. Thus, Monte Cook was one of the main creators of Planescape, but TSR soon turned it over to others (while Monte Cook himself left the company).

The fractures that this could cause in TSR's lines was obvious in a Monte Cook interview, when he said, "As for Factol's Manifesto, some of the sections I think are great expansions on the faction background, but there are a few (particularly the Mercykillers, unless my memory is toast) that seemed to wildly miss the point, even to the extent of making the faction unplayable."

Bits & Pieces: A Unique Accessory. "The Factol's Manifesto" came with a neat little artifact: a bookmark ribbon that reads "Banned in Sigil". It gives the book part of its in-world feel, but it also feels like a jab at the BADDs and other censors of the '80s who tried to ban D&D.

Metaplotting Along. Though "The Factol's Manifesto" is about the current state of the factions of Sigil, those factions all feel like they're on the verge of war, making this book a prelude to the major metaplot events of "Faction War" (1998).

Exploring the Great Wheel. After "In the Cage", "The Factol's Manifesto" is the second most important book detailing Sigil, because it focuses on the factions that underlie the fabric of Sigilian society.

NPCs of Note. The in-game portions of "The Facto's Manifesto" are written by a mysterious "editor". A few years later, "Faction War" would reveal that editor was A'kin the friendly fiend, introduced several months earlier in "Planar Personalities", another Planescape article from Dragon #213.

About the Creators. Hein was a frequent editor and project coordinator at TSR, but only received credit for writing on a few supplements. Salsbury only has two writing credits himself, with his other being a co-authorship of "The Deva Spark" (1994). Of the three, Beach was the biggest workhorse for TSR in the early '90s, though this was his only Planescape work, and one of his last TSR books overall.

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to shannon.appelcline@gmail.com.

 
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Reviews
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January 24th, 2017
Good book, but the scan is a bit light. Still readable, but you might have trouble on certain devices. [...]
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January 18th, 2017
The Factol's Manifesto is a great book expanding upon the main factions of the basic setting. It includes information on the leaders and abilities of the factions (new abilities gained as you move up in a faction) as well as their base of operations an [...]
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February 6th, 2005
Basically, this is the splatbook for <I>Planescape</I> -- the only TSR setting really complicated enough to need them. It has chapters on each of the main factions, detailing their factols, explaining their philosophies, describing their [...]
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July 7th, 2004
An absolute must have for any DM running a campaign in Sigil. The factions are part of what makes the city of doors so interesting in the first place and the small overview of each faction in the main box set only had enough info to pique your interest [...]
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Copper seller
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Pages
160
Edition
1.0
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TSR 2611
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File Last Updated:
June 08, 2017
This title was added to our catalog on January 17, 2017.