Dishonored is, at its heart, a game about a political conspiracy. There’s the dastardly Lord Regent, who has organised the assassination of the Empress and the abduction of her heir, and there are the Loyalists, the player among them, who aim to displace him. However, there’s more convolution to the groups and factions in Dishonored than you would think. In this article, we’ll take a look at the allegiances and conflicts between the factions of the game. Warning: there may be small spoilers ahead…
Abbey of the Everyman
The Abbey of the Everyman is, according to in-game notes, the dominant religion across all the isles on which Dunwall exists. It probably bears comparing to Christianity, given the isles’ being based on the British Isles, and accordingly “its adherents […] castigate the followers of other religions as heretics, actively resulting in harm rather than harmony”. Fits the bill.
The Abbey is headed by the High Overseer, who interprets the religion’s Seven Strictures and initiates important ceremonies, such as the Fugue Feast at the end of the year. Upon his death, a council of elder Overseers initiates a ceremony called the Feast of Painted Kettles to choose a new leader. Underneath the High Overseer are the regular Overseers, as well as the female-only Oracular Order, and individual congregations from each town and city across the Empire.
High Overseers and other members of the church can be excommunicated through the application of the “Heretic Brand” to their forehead by chemicals. Perhaps one of the most interesting things about the Abbey is how closely tied it is to the government, especially under the rule of the tyrannical Lord Regent. It’s not necessarily a theocracy, but there are steps yet to be taken in terms of separation of church and state…
The government of the Empire matches up to the hierarchy of the British Empire in the 16th Century fairly well, which makes sense given Dunwall’s loose basis on London. That means that there’s an Empress (or hypothetically, an Emperor), with a Royal Protector and a Royal Spymaster. Corvo is the Royal Protector until he’s framed for the Empress’ murder.
With the sole heir, Emily, kidnapped, there now is no Empress in charge – and so an interregnum starts, with the Royal Spymaster, normally appointed to deal with threats and plots within the Empire, taking the role of Lord Regent. This person becomes Emperor in all but in name, until the actual heir can be reinstalled. Naturally, the Lord Regent won’t like that.
Further down the hierarchy, there’s also a Royal Physician: in Dishonored, this is Anton Sokolov, inventor and painter. He’s responsible for a remedy which restores health to the player, as well as paintings which can be collected throughout the game. His competition with Piero, a mechanic associated with the Loyalists, makes up some of the game’s great background story.
This group rescues Corvo from prison at the start of the game, and dedicates itself to reinstalling the Empress’ bloodline to the throne by putting Emily in charge instead of the tyrannical Lord Regent, who was previously the Royal Spymaster. Their group consists primarily of three people: Admiral Havelock, Lord Pendleton, and the undercover Overseer Martin.
They hole up in the Hound Pits for most of the game, a pub with three floors, an attic, and a dedicated staff. This convenient location also features a detached workshop, headed by Piero, and a well-protected tower with a lighthouse on top. It’s the perfect rebel hide-out.
Not many of the Loyalists’ back-stories are revealed, but we know that Havelock is a disgraced navy officer and Lord Pendleton has lived most of his life in the shadow of his two more successful brothers. Martin is as much a mystery as his church, the Abbey of the Everyman.
This group of super-powered mercenaries is responsible for the death of the Empress in the game’s prologue, although their ways and their hierarchy is nearly completely unknown. They’re headed by Daud, a red-robed ally to the Lord Regent who personally puts his sword into the Empress. The Assassins take shelter in Dunwall’s Flooded District – a section of the city where flood barriers have failed, resulting in an “evacuated” area free from City Watch oversight.
The City Watch
The City Watch is the police force of Dunwall, but they run with a degree of autonomy from the Empire’s governance. For this reason, they tend to clash in places: they’ll have conflict with the Abbey, and with the Lord Regent, and their power is muted in certain areas. Their presence in certain districts of Dunwall is also hugely limited, since they’ve withdrawn from the aforementioned Flooded District and have next to no authority in Abbey territory.
Want to find out more about Dishonored? Read our review here.