The Anatomists

Mechalich's picture

The Anatomists

“Pass me that scalpel will you Jeren.” A cold voice, all business, requested.

“Which one? There’s four in the tool kit.” Jeren returned, all nerves and jitters.

“Only one of them cuts through elemental flesh you dolt, didn’t you learn anything in your training?”

“Well, yes Professor, right, I’ll get you that scalpel.” Jeren hurriedly grabbed the sharp implement from among its fellows in the tool kit, and almost cut himself in the process. “I just never expected to be cutting open a water elemental.”

“You really are a dolt.” Dr. Kleck said as he began to make cuts into the confined watery mass, cuts that somehow actually held the fluids apart. “You think the water in this elemental is just water, boy? Do you? It’s charged material, infinitely more complicated than a base material like water. Everything down to the most minute scale is a specialized structure that relates to how this elemental exists, how it works, how it has the capacity to reason without a brain.”

“Yes, but why do you have to cut it up to see that? I mean, it’s a fluid, what’s different?”

“Jeren,” Dr. Kleck turned away from the captive elemental, a still living thing that was now bleeding water from several precise cuts in its ‘flesh.’ “Jeren, everything has a structure inside, even if that is fluid, and just looking at the surface isn’t going to reveal the truth to us. And we need to know the truth; we need to know how these elementals work, how they function, what forms they have that allow them to function, if we are ever to understand how everything works.”

“But isn’t it just water with elemental energy? How complicated is that?” Jeren was truly confused now.

“Yes, in a way it is, water and elemental energy.” Dr. Kleck nodded sagely and made another cut. “But what is water and elemental energy, what is an elemental? Can you answer that question, student.”

“Well, I…uh…that is…”

“Exactly.” Kleck concluded as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. “You can’t answer, and you can’t answer because you don’t know how it works. That’s why we’re doing this. So we know how it works, so we can answer what a water elemental truly is, to give meaning to that name. So that ultimately, we can give meaning to the word ‘multiverse.’ Do you understand now?”

“I think so, Professor, I think so.”

“Good, then pass me that pair of tweezers, I’ve spotted something interesting here.”

The Anatomists are a number of things, one is new, another is scientific, and a third is what some call ‘vomit-inducing.’ They’re a group that used to call itself the Anatomical Society of the Planes, and had all kinds of factioneers and non-affiliated members in it, bound by a common passion. Then the Lady kicked over the proverbial Ivory Tower of faction strength and solidarity but good, and the group decided to break out on its own. They made a philosophy out of their pursuits, and decided that if you could just figure out the why and hows of all the things in the multiverse you could grasp the whole big puzzle. It’s very Guvner-ish in a way, but the Anatomists only focus on life, and not on law, and they acknowledge that life is a balance of chaos and order, positive and negative, and so work from that perspective. Well, that and their attempts at some kind of objectivity and scientific reasoning, which is why they stick to the inner planes, where there’s a reality, and not just creations of belief.

Course, one of the upshots of knowing how things are put together is you also know how to make them stop working or take them apart, which tends to makes people just a little peery…

Philosophy: Understand how all life works, principally by cutting it open to take a look, and thereby understand the multiverse.
Nickname: Scalpels, Body Boys
Headquarters: Void Station on the Elemental Plane of Water
Majority Races: Humans, elves(gray, drow), tieflings
Majority Classes: Wizards, Priests, Druids
Sect Head: Dr. Nathan Larcond (TN Male human Wiz 14 Anatomist)
Prominent Members: Dr. Hevern (TN Male human Necro 17 Anatomist/Dustmen), Divek the Corpsecutter (NE Male human Ftr 6/Rog6/Anatomical Survivalist 5 Anatomist)
Alignment: Any, tendencies toward neutral on both axes
Symbol: A scalpel surrounded by twining snakes and capped with streams of mystical energy, a modification on the ancient caduceus.

Life is the key. This is clear as day; the multiverse is filled with life, and shaped essentially by living (and nonliving, but we’re not counting) things. After all the Astral and Outer Planes owe their existence entirely to the influence of life, and even the primal inner planes have evolved and created life. So it is life that holds all the keys to the multiverse, and to grasp those keys and understand how life works is essential. Life can be described by anatomy, form and function. We seek to determine the secrets of life through anatomy, the only way that is known.

In addition to the ultimate benefits of understanding the great cosmic puzzle that is the multiverse, a greater understanding of life is essential to the progress of known sentient races throughout the multiverse. Our current ignorance is astounding, and must be remedied. In fact it’s amazing that we have survived so long confined by that ignorance, and only now are we beginning to finally look at things with the detail necessary to understand it. This is why we dissect things; because only by ripping off the outer veil protecting the body can we glimpse the true secrets. What you see from without is only the surface, the true complexity and only by cutting away the barriers and looking within can we find knowledge. So we search, increasing our knowledge as much as we can as long as we can.

Of course, ignorance is infectious, and many strive to protect it. For a long time society has resisted looking within, and many dislike what we do and our methods. This is unfortunate, but we must proceed, knowledge waits for no one. Our own and advances and knowledge show the need for our work, we succeed, we learn, and society will not be able to ignore us. We will disseminate what we discover until they understand and change. Ignorance is our foe, and it must be combated both directly by our research, and indirectly by circulating the knowledge so all know what we find.
We look toward the future, but we act and learn in the present, and looking within we apply our knowledge no matter the time frame. Life we reveal itself to us completely in time, because every single step is an advancement, and can be utilized. We seek, we learn, and we dissect, because we know that the answers are there.

Brief History
The Anatomists have existed for little more than five years, having been born only in the aftermath of the faction war. Before that they had existed as a loose affiliation of people called the Anatomical Society of the Planes, who exchanged notes, published works in their own libraries, and generally acted as any other secret society of mutual associates. Dr. Nathan Larcond and his friends founded this group about thirty years ago.

The Society was having problems on the Outer Planes, however, since many of the life forms there are creatures of belief, and the anatomical analysis wasn’t working very well. Those of their members who analyzed undead and mechanical beings were actually having more success than the more mainstream members, it was disappointing. The group was considering disbanding.

Then one of their more unusual members, the Dustman Dr. Hevern traveled to Radiance, and brought back exquisite monographs describing Darklights and Wyrds, two unusual species of undead, that meshed perfectly with Anatomist theory. At the same time a number of dissections on Shad, Living Steel, and Dao also went extremely well. It appeared that Inner Planar creatures worked far better with their theories than Outer Planar ones. Dr. Larcond relocated to the Elemental Plane of Water almost immediately, establishing his tower in a Vacuum pocket there. The Anatomist began something called the First Grand Series, which involved a suite of dissections designed at arriving at a complete understanding of some thirty elemental creatures. It was almost done and highly successful when the Faction War broke out.
The Lady booted the Factions from Sigil and the Society looked at itself and found a vacuum staring at them. No longer would the Dustmen and Guvners help publish their writings, no longer would the Athar keep them safe from god fearing men and women who feared their practices. They were on their own, and the answers were pouring in.

So they incorporated themselves politically, and began publishing their works so that planewalkers could access them. They also discovered a number of strange people including the Tanar’ri eating and wearing Divek the Corpsecutter who practiced a strange anatomically oriented survivalist lifestyle, and invited them along. Recruiting occurred, and the Anatomists started regular publication of their Proceedings journal, which quickly became popular with planewalkers because it revealed how to kill fearsome creatures. Recently they’ve even been forced to start a new journal, Examinations, so they can put their more scientific work somewhere.

And there the Scalpels stand today.

The Anatomists just want to stay afloat and pursue their work in peace. Unfortunately their work tends to aggravate those who don’t think cutting up the dead, and occasionally the living, is moral or justified. Their work broaches many ancient taboos in many cultures, and even when it doesn’t the Inner Planes are tough enough on science as it is. Avoiding being swamped by other political groups is a task as well.
Currently Dr. Larcond has begun the Second Grand Series, an effort to thoroughly analyze hundreds of Inner Planar beings, taking up right where the First Grand Series left off, and almost all Anatomists are encouraged to participate. Of course, many Anatomists have their own goals and pet projects, so keeping them going in one direction is a challenge, one the senior leadership, called the Governing Board, has difficulty accomplishing. Their control over the base in water and the publication lines are their primary tools.

Individual Anatomists have their own projects, dissections of whatever interests them, journeying to find new specimens, publishing their writing, and defending their pet theories from attack by others. Many seek to establish clumps of their order in new Inner Planar locales.

There is also the problem of dealing with political relations. Many Anatomists were members of other factions prior to their incorporation and factions and sects both have pestered the Anatomists about where they stand. At the moment the group can’t come to a consensus even on elementary points, but they are trying. This really requires that their full philosophical image is embraced, and not just the ‘cut it up, figure it out’ practical image that is often associated with them.

The survivalists among the Anatomists, though very few in number, have their own goals. Led by the notable Divek the Corpsecutter, they want to turn more people to their path, and to earn the respect they feel they deserve, rather than being regarded as savages by many. This is a long hard road, especially considering the lifestyle of these strange and harsh men and women, and even the other anatomists are leery of many of them.

Even more of the sect is leery of Dr. Hevern, an undead specialist and Dustman. Not a former Dustman either, he ascribes to both philosophies and holds the powers of both groups at an extraordinary level. The man leads expeditions, is terrifyingly observant, and can scare undead witless with his iciness, never mind his associates. Much of the leadership wonders whose side he’s really on, and what he plans. Dr. Larcond worries about a challenge to his leadership, since Dr. Hevern’s publication work is exquisite in both the scientific and planewalker oriented fields, and he’s well known among outsiders.

The situation remains in flux, but most observers are betting that if the Anatomists can survive the next few years, and all indications are that they can, they’ll become a permanent fixture of the Inner Planes.

The Anatomists are generally seen as either harmless, or horrid, which has affected their accumulation of allies in their first years. Many of the group’s members have scrambled to keep open links with the Dustmen, who formed a plurality of former members, with some success. Certainly dustmen necromancers traveling the Inner Planes appreciate the reception they get from the Anatomists, who don’t find them creepy at all. Unfortunately, it’s not like the Dustmen would ever do anything productive to help them. Most other Inner Planar sects ignore the Anatomists, but it takes hard work to keep it that way and prevent incidents. Dr. Larcond has entered into discussions with the leadership of the Cinderformed about supporting researches jointly, but that is a tentative venture at best.

The Anatomists have a lot of people who regard them as destructive and disgusting rejects, but few actual enemies. They work hard to keep quiet and avoid offending people, since they know how their actions are viewed. At the moment only the Primals have any problems with the Anatomists, since they dislike anyone pushing in on the arcane dominance image they had, but the Primals are strange and detached, so little happens between the groups. A bigger danger is that the Anatomists worry about a religious backlash if they experiment among the wrong population. It hasn’t happened yet, mostly because the majority of members take extreme care with when and where to dissect things, but as the group expands it’s likely only a matter of time before they break a serious taboo with the wrong people.

Hyena of Ice's picture
Joined: 2009-09-25
Re: The Anatomists

Idea for anatomist prestige class features:

--If using "Heroes of Horror", the Archivist is also a likely, if not perfect, base class canidate.
--Anatomists who autopsy a humanoid or monstrous humanoid at least once per month get a +2 competence bonus to heal and poison use checks (+4 if they vivisect the subject instead). Bear in mind that vivisecting a sentient creature is considered an evil act. Anatomists with the backstab ability add a +1 bonus to their damage rolls (+2 if they have 10 or more levels in a class with the backstab ability) Because of their intricate understanding of anatomy and physiology, they also add +1 bonus to the save DC against poisons they use.
--Poison use is a class feature at lv. 1. Anatomists who choose to vivisect (or rarely, perform a exploratory surgery on ailing victims) frequently use paralyzing poisons as muscle relaxants. Neutral good characters can only use paralysis and sleep-inducing poisons on willing victims, or animals without affecting their alignment.

Yeah, that's all I have for now. You definitely need to figure out the prestige class features for the anatomists.

Mechalich's picture
Joined: 2004-05-16
Re: The Anatomists

Frankly, I see no reason for the Antomists to have a specific prestige class (aside from the Survivalists, for whom I did create one once upon a time, but it's too much of a flavor thing to really function according to existing mechanics). Most members of the group will pursue prestige classes according to their own interests, such as Ijien Deepseeker, who is a Dracolexi. Other Anatomists will have similarly appropriate PrCs, such as Vermin Keeper or simply Loremaster.

Shackling the sect to a specific prestige class would be a waste.

Planescape, Dungeons & Dragons, their logos, Wizards of the Coast, and the Wizards of the Coast logo are ©2008, Wizards of the Coast, a subsidiary of Hasbro Inc. and used with permission.