Ad Astra Per Arcana
The Transcendent Order may be the name of the faction, but it doesn‘t describe the faction. Rather, the ―Transcendent Order is what they seek, a sense of perfect harmony and unity. But they don‘t seek to impose it on others, like the Harmonium does. Instead, the Ciphers draw it from within by unifying thought and action into an enlightened whole. See, according to them, there‘s a universal harmony – a pulse the entire multiverse beats to. And by understanding that harmony one can always find the perfect action for a given moment.
Philosophy: Know your place in the multiverse; enact it through action without thought.
Majority Races: Half-elves, humans, tuladhara.
Favored Classes: Fighters, monks, psions, psychic warriors, sorcerers.
Factol: Rhys (N female tiefling Mnk15/Sor10 Transcendent Order)
Prominent Members: Quillabrin (N female lightning genasi Psi16 Transcendent Order)
Alignment: Any neutral.
Symbol: An orange sun rising atop a starlit sky, with a crescent moon in the foreground. Gold rims the outer side, with slight hooks within the lower edge, and larger horns rising to frame the skies. The two sides are balanced and joined; unity of the cosmos is attained.
Cipher thought is an oxymoron – at least according to them. To the Transcendent Order, thought is but an obstacle to action. Act upon impulses, instincts, and one will find rhythm with the universe. To ponder is to hesitate; to hesitate is to doubt; to doubt is to fail. All that matters is the moment; anticipating the future is meaningless, and so is dwelling in the past.
Of course, any drunken fool can act without thinking, either with his fists or otherwise. That isn‘t the aim of the Transcendent Order; instead, they believe that ideas should be brought forth into action in a mere instant. By merging body and mind, and balancing both, one opens up both to the multiverse and to the rhythm found within. They call this rhythm the ―Cadence of the Planes‖, and once one is attuned to that rhythm, they can understand their role and purpose in the multiverse. Once this understanding is achieved, they then need not ever think again; they simply know what they must do and act upon it without hesitation or failure.
That doesn‘t mean that a Cipher is always acting. Inaction has its place in the multiverse too, and sometimes it‘s best if a body just doesn‘t get involved. Sometimes a Cipher might come across as uncaring or aloof, but truthfully, it‘s just that they recognize where their place is. When confronted with less balanced folk, Ciphers will often reflect that imbalance. Around tanar‘ri, a Cipher might be saintly. Around a modron, a Cipher might be chaotic. This isn‘t a deliberate act, but rather, a byproduct of their philosophy. Since they serve the balance unconsciously, they often serve as a counterweight to extremes in the cosmos, reflecting them… rarely, though, do they reflect an extreme deeply enough to become an extreme itself. It just isn‘t in their nature.
Despite the fact their philosophy has yet to truly splinter, it has a wide variety of interpretations. See, one can‘t really be taught the philosophy. The basic concepts can be taught, and development can be tracked, but everybody‘s path is a bit different. It‘s more than knowledge… it‘s understanding, and everybody comes to that understanding a little differently… even if the end result is often the same. Even those without professions that require physical strength or grace often take care of their body, regularly training it to be in tune with their mind. The degree of physical training varies with each member, but few neglect their forms. One may never find balance through weakness, after all. Some merely work on maintaining and ensuring their health, relying on a moderate regimen of exercise and abstaining from over-indulgences (food, drink, etc.) Others focus on honing their body to the human limit and beyond, seeking a tool that their mind can unite with no matter its need.
Three major steps of progress are codified through Cipher training. The first is a Master of the Heart, where one learns to act without thought through a special trance… though only for short periods of focus. Then one may advance to become a Master of the Mind, where body and mind become one, and the trance periods last longer and become sharper. Lastly, one becomes the Master of the Spirit, where the trance replaces the member‘s old, clumsy thought processes, allowing them to come in touch with the pulse of the multiverse. It‘s said those that advance further – primarily the former factols of the faction – leave their mortal existence behind. Some claim they become powers; others say they become intermediaries between mortals and the nebulous entity that the Athar call the ―Great Unknown. It‘s at least true that clerics of the Transcendent Order are able to channel ―Oneness, supposedly a representation of the factols that have previously ascended to form their own pantheon.If a factol ―ascends in this fashion, another Master of the Spirit, and only one, feels the call to take up the reins of leadership. However, the role is more that of a spiritual leader than an organizational leader. Members may be more or less enlightened, but there are no real ranks in the faction other than mutual respect (or lack thereof). Typically, the factol is the only Master of Spirit at a given time, but sometimes there have been as many or three or four.
The Ciphers live completely in the moment, following the multiverse‘s pull and generally doing what they do best. They are not random or without reason; rather, they follow a will that outsiders just can‘t get, and even the Ciphers rarely know what the outcomes of their actions will be. No one can ignore their results, however, as the Transcendent Order has long been a contributing force to many events, big and small, in the multiverse, whether they unconsciously helped another faction achieve a goal or prevented a dispute from becoming hostile. Ciphers have a way of being in the right place at the right time, and bring the opposing forces of the cosmos into balance without a second thought (or a first).
Adapted from the Planescape Campaign Setting on Planewalker.com Pathfinder converison by Loki