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The Factions
There are 7 factions involved in the Secret War. Each is a political entity that resides in a particular time and place in history. Each has some sort of agenda that they are trying to advance. The first step in advancing that agenda is, of course, to crush the other factions...

Architects of the Flesh
Eaters of the Lotus
Four Monarchs
Guiding Hand

The Architects of the Flesh

The Architects come from the world-state known as the Buro, in the year 2056. They are the quintessential jack-booted military goons, but then pumped up with futuristic technology with a little bit of black magic thrown in for good measure.

The Buro is the political organization that controls this faction. The police of the era are known as the PubOrd (for Public Order). There is also a military arm known as the BuroMil. The last main subgroup of this faction is the scientific group, the CDCA. They use a new technology called Arcanowave that combines high-tech with magic.

One of their creations is the Abominations. These are demons that have been captured in the AD 69 juncture and taken to the 2056 juncture. They are then implanted with various arcanowave devices to make them more powerful combatants and to make them vulnerable to the BuroMil's control.

Other minions of the Architects include their range of Cyborgs and various PubOrd cops.

Dramatis Personae

Johann Bonengel artwork ©1995 Dennis Detwiller Johann Bonengel: the BuroPresident. He is the political leader of the Architects. Like many of the other faction leaders, his card has pretty cool abilities but requires too many resources to be practical in anything but a single-faction deck.
CHAR: a BuroMil cyborg. In the storyline, he is nothing special- just another warrior. He deserves mention here because he is a pretty darn good card. His fighting score of 6 with a play cost of 4 and only 1 tech and 1 Architect resource makes him nasty and easy to get into play. His ability is also pretty good: nobody can redirect or reduce any damage that he deals. As a bonus, he has really cool art by my favorite artist, Richard Kane-Ferguson. CHAR artwork ©1995 Richard Kane Ferguson
Card back art, art direction, and graphic design ©1995 Jesper Myrfors Curtis Boatman: the leader of the CDCA, the Buro's scientific arm. He understood the implications of Arcanowave technology (Arcanotech) long before anyone else did and has used his knowledge to earn a position of power. There is no card for Curtis Boatman yet, but he is very important in the backstory. Perhaps we'll see him some day...

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The Ascended

The Ascended come from a line of animals who envied humanity's control over the earth. A long time ago, they used magic to transform themselves into human shape. They are most prominent in the current day, but they can be found deeply seated in the politics of just about every juncture.

They use a huge political force to control human cultures and bend them to their will. While they are seen as an evil controlling organization, it can at least be said that they want to provide the average man with a solid family life and a safe home.

Two groups make up the Ascended: the Lodge and the Pledged. The Lodge is the organization of transformed animals. They are the ones who give the orders. The transformation they performed long ago doesn't give them the ability to change between their human and animal forms- in fact, if they encounter areas where magic is strong then they run the risk of losing their human forms. This change is permanent, and very dishonoring. But being a changed animal isn't all bad- they get some characteristics from their heritage such as inhuman strength and endurance, lightning reflexes, or amazing cunning- it all depends on which animal each is descended from. The Pledged are a group of regular humans who have pledged their lives to the support of the Lodge. They do not know anything of the animal nature of their masters (except for a very few who have learned the truth).

Dramatis Personae

The Unspoken Name: the leader of the Lodge. He runs the whole political machine that is the Ascended. Of course, not all the others agree with all of his policies... The Unspoken Name artwork ©1995 Susan Van Camp
Adrienne Hart artwork ©1995 Ken Meyer Jr. Adrienne Hart: the Unspoken Name's forbidden lover. The Lodge and Pledged aren't supposed to mix, but these two defy tradition. While their love is supposed to be secret, nothing can be kept long from the espionage forces of the Ascended. She is probably the only character from the original set that requires 4 resources that people use regularly (with the possible exception of Homo Omega).
Undercover Cop: One of the Ascended's many police flunkies. This particular card is pretty nasty. He is the best of the X-fighting characters, with a very low cost and a fighting score that can be boosted quickly. He also has Stealth and the ability to attack back-row sites. This card is pretty much required in large numbers for the dreaded cop decks. Undercover Cop artwork ©1995 Mark Poole

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The Dragons

The Dragons are the archetypical heroes of popular Western fiction. They are gun-toting, kung fu-fighting, sports car-driving ass-kicking fanatics who fight for the right to a good hamburger with the works. They hail from current-day, either in Hong Kong or the good old US of A.

They are very unorganized, and if they did manage to take enough Feng Shui sites to change history they probably wouldn't know what to do. Not that there is much risk of that. They are not only heroes, but usually tragic heroes: always overly willing to die for their friends and all that.

Dramatis Personae

Kar Fai artwork ©1995 Douglas Shuler Kar Fai: the acting leader of the Dragons. He used to be with the Guiding Hand, but he tired of the strict discipline put forth by Quan Lo. When the Prof was displaced from the current juncture, Kar Fai took her place as the leader.
The Prof: the former leader of the Dragons. She has been banished to the Netherworld. She has two abilities, both of which are good when taken separately. Together, the abilities rock. She can turn to unturn a character, and she is effectively immune to all events. Unfortunately, she costs 3 and has a fighting score of a mere 1. The Prof artwork ©1995 Kaja Foglio
Golden Gunman artwork ©1995 Mark Poole The Golden Gunman: he has an awesome ability. He is immune to most denial cards- since he can't be targeted, he can't be hit with Nerve Gas, Imprison, Operation Killdeer, Shattering Fire, Discerning Fire, etc. His main drawback is that he is so popular that you are likely to get into an auction when playing against another Dragon deck.
Ting Ting: the most valuable card in the game. This is for a number of reasons. There are 2 Ting Tings on the Netherworld rare sheet, and 3 each of the other rares. Also, since one of her takes up a corner she was more likely to get damaged and thrown away before being packaged. Another reason is that she is in a way the mascot of Shadowfist. She appears on the back of every card, and in gold in the corner of all Limited and Netherworld cards. Plus, she has very juicy abilities. Ting Ting artwork ©1995 Brian Snōddy

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The Eaters of the Lotus

The Lotus are a band of eunuch sorcerers from the year 69 AD. They have the implicit trust of the Chinese Emperor. They specialize in using magic and in eliminating their opponents' ability to play by removing their resources from the game.

Lotus goals are accomplished with the help of their many demonic minions.

Dramatis Personae

Gao Zhang artwork ©1995 Melissa Benson Gao Zhang: the leader of the Lotus. His ability is to change the target(s) of events. This can be very handy, but it is rarely worth the cost of having to turn a character that costs 6 and could be put to good use brutating people with his fighting score of 10.
The Thing with a 1000 Tongues: one of the few big hitters the Lotus have, and by far the best. He (it?) had the misfortune of dying in Operation: Killdeer, making him one of the highly sought-after "Dead Guys". Thing With a 1000 Tongues artwork ©1995 Jesper Myrfors
Destroyer artwork ©1996 Christoper Rush Destroyer: he's really hard to destroy. While he isn't a big hitter, he makes up for it by coming back from the dead over and over again. At the beginning of his owner's turn, he pops back into play for free as long as he is in the smoked pile. He is at his worst when he is damaged: if you have him in play with damage on him, your best bet is to finish him off before your turn starts so that he comes back again, fully healed.

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The Four Monarchs

The Four Monarchs are an odd bunch. They essentially make up four sub-factions that each have their own unique goals.

They are the four children of an old sorcerer who understood well the power of Feng Shui sites. This sorcerer trained them well in the ways of magic, and in combat. He gave them the power and the knowledge to help them take over the world. When he refused to crown any one of them as the world ruler, they got jealous and murdered him.

Since magic is so damaging to the Lodge, the Ascended worked hard to eradicate the magic in the world. Their excursions into other junctures allowed them to control enough Feng Shui sites to alter history enough to create a Critical Shift. They bent the world's nature in a way that drastically reduced the available magic energy. The Monarchs suddenly never came into power, and found themselves bumped into the Netherworld. That is their new home, and they run their operations from there.

Dramatis Personae

The King of the Thunder Pagoda: the least subtle monarch. He is easily swayed by flattery or insults. He is mostly incapable of forming his own plans, and tends to put the fight over anything else. He ruled most of current-day western civilization and modeled his empire after the ways of feudal Europe. King of the Thunder Pagoda artwork ©1995 Melissa Benson
Queen of the Ice Pagoda artwork ©1995 Néné Thomas The Queen of the Ice Pagoda: thought of as the nice one. She, more than any of her siblings, regrets her part in killing their father. Knowing that since their act of patricide they are capable of any evil, she secretly is glad that they have been displaced from the world. Her goal is really just to keep her brothers and sister from gaining control of the world again.
The King of the Fire Pagoda: the most calculating of the four. He plots with the Queen of the Darkness Pagoda to take back the world, their rightful property. King of the Fire Pagoda artwork ©1995 Rob Alexander
Queen of the Darkness Pagoda artwork ©1995 Kaja Foglio The Queen of the Darkness Pagoda: probably the most evil of the bunch. She ruled what is now South America with an organization that modeled itself after the Aztec culture. In combat, she is greatly feared for her dark arm- a shadowy magical appendage that replaces the real arm she lost in her earlier days.

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The Guiding Hand

The Guiding Hand is a group of Shaolin monks and their supporters. They come from 1850 China. In their own time, they oppose the decadent western cultures and try to push them out of China. Across the junctures they particularly oppose the Architects and Lotus for their evil ways, but their emphasis on a strict personal discipline makes them against pretty much everyone else.

The Hand is the only faction that makes really common use of Chi energy. This gives them access to many supernatural combat abilities and various other cute tricks. Of course, they are very much against the cute tricks of magic and technology...

Dramatis Personae

Quan Lo: the leader of the Hand, also known as the Perfect Master. He believes in a strict moral code, but will still team up with the Dragons from time to time if he must. While he is very hard to get into play in even a straight Hand deck, he makes all characters from his own faction really whup some butt. Quan Lo artwork ©1995 Richard Kane Ferguson
Sun Chen artwork ©1995 Melissa Benson Sun Chen: a pawn of the Perfect Master. He was killed in Operation Killdeer. Sun Chen is a fairly basic big hitter for the Guiding Hand, but his cool superleap is offset by a pretty lame ability.

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The Jammers

The Jammers are even more thrown-together than the Dragons. They consist of various malcontents from pretty much every juncture. The Battlechimp isn't picky about the history of his followers.

These guys' main goal is to blow up all the Feng Shui sites. Their theory is that if luck (the luck brought by powerful chi) is removed from the equation, all beings will succeed or fail based on their own abilities. This is intended to level the ground and stop the Secret War forever.

However, the result of the destruction of all Feng Shui sites is uncertain. A few possibilities exist, but Potemkin isn't too concerned about the less-desirable outcomes. If the result is the end of civilization then the world could probably do better without us anyway. What should a cyborg nihilist monkey care?

Although their leader hails from the world of the Buro of 2056, they don't really have a home juncture. They stage most of their raids from the Netherworld.

While I'm not overly impressed yet with their capabilities, I still like the Jammers the best for pure chrome reasons. The Battlechimp is one of the reasons I was initially drawn to Shadowfist.

Dramatis Personae

Battlechimp Potemkin: the leader of the Jammers. The Architects used to use primates in their early attempts to create the "Perfect Soldier". The Battlechimp was one of their test subjects. He failed the experiment because they made him too smart and he decided to leave. His cybernetic enhancements and heightened intelligence made him the perfect candidate to form his own faction in direct opposition to his creators. Battlechimp Potemkin artwork ©1995 Richard Kane Ferguson
Furious George artwork ©1995 Richard Kane Ferguson Furious George: The Battlechimp's right-paw monkey. Shadowfist really needed Flying Monkeys, and this guy was the first.

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©1999-2001, Tony Hafner