People coming to Sigil from the Prime Material Plane are often treated as clueless inferiors by the planar elitists who dwell there. They are thus widely referred to as "the Clueless", "berks" or more charitably, as "Primes". It is highly recommended that planewalkers new to Sigil employ a guide, known locally as a "tout," lest they be taken advantage of or mugged. Such guides can be little better themselves, though, either serving to persuade a traveler to the side of their faction or simply robbing their "customer" once their back is turned.
Sigil located inside of the Outlands, a plane at equal distance from each of the Outer Planes, hovering above an immensely tall landmark known as The Spire that sits at the plane's center. In a certain fashion, this puts Sigil at the center of the planes, at least according to the Great Wheel cosmology, but since the multiverse is infinite in all dimensions there is no true center.Still, Sigil is the closest thing to a center (other than the Prime Material Plane) that there is. Curiously, from the Outlands one can see Sigil atop the supposedly infinite Spire.
Sigil has the shape of a torus and the city is located along the inner surface of the ring. It is generally agreed by knowledgeable people that this should be impossible, since the center of the Outlands is void of any and all magic, and yet it apparently is. Theories to explain Sigil's location and existence vary wildly, though one of the more popular is that the Lady of Pain either created it or keeps it intact — or both.
There is no sky, simply an all-pervasive light that waxes and wanes to create day and night. The city cannot be entered or exited save via portals; although this makes it quite safe from any would-be invader, it also makes it a prison of sorts for those not possessing a portal key, giving Sigil its nickname "the Bird Cage" (or simply "the Cage").
Sigil contains innumerable portals: any bounded opening (a doorway, an arch, a barrel hoop, a picture frame) could possibly be a portal to another plane, or to another point in Sigil itself. Thus, the city is a paradox: it touches all planes at once, yet ultimately belongs to none; from these characteristics it draws its other name: "the City of Doors." This feature make Sigil a prime destination for travelers as well as a center of trade throughout the multiverse.
The ruler of Sigil is the mysterious Lady of Pain. The Lady is sometimes seen in Sigil as a floating, robed lady with a face bearing a mantle of blades. The Lady does not concern herself with ruling the city directly; she typically only interferes when something threatens the stability of Sigil itself or crosses one of her few but unforgiving edicts, which amount to keeping the peace and refraining from worship of her. The Lady is an entity of inscrutable motives and often those who cross her path, even accidentally, are flayed to death or teleported to her hidden "mazes", extradimensional labyrinths, and lost forever.It is widely believed that she never speaks, although some unconfirmed rumours to the contrary do exist.
Although the Lady of Pain does not take action directly, she does act through a number of servants known as dabus, who simultaneously serve as the Lady's eyes and ears as well as maintaining the structure of Sigil. Like the Lady, the dabus do not interact with Sigil's inhabitants or travelers much and it is best to leave them be, since antagonizing them can bring down the infrequent but harsh wrath of their mistress.
The Lady's LawsEdit
- Worship of the Lady is prohibited.
- No harm may come to any dabus.
- There are to be no challenges to the Lady's ultimate rule or authority within Sigil.
- Any action which harms the city of Sigil either directly or indirectly will be considered as a direct attack against the Lady herself, and punished appropriately.
- No divine entity may enter Sigil.
- There may be at no time more than 15 factions operating within Sigil. (Though this rule was put into place during the Great Upheaval, it is unknown if it is still amongst her laws, and the dabus have refused comment. Most haven't risked testing it.)
Violating the Lady's laws is to be punished with either exile to the Mazes or death, depending on the severity of the incident.
Sigil is, theoretically, neutral ground to all: no wars are waged there and no armies pass through. Furthermore, no power can enter into Sigil; the Lady has barred them from the Cage. Of course, Sigil is hardly peaceful; with such a condensed population, consisting of everything from angelic devas to demonic glabrezu, violence is common, usually befalling the foolhardy, the incautious, or the poor. Most natives of Sigil ("Cagers") are quite jaded as a result of living there.
Sigil is also home to several extraplanar "factions," which struggle with one another for power and prestige but generally do not engage in open conflict. The Lady of Pain tolerates the existence of these factions so long as they do not interfere with her or her nebulous goals and several even serve useful purposes, such as the Guvners, Harmonium, and the Mercykillers, which serve as the judges, jury, and executioners of Sigil, respectively.
Outside the laws of the Lady, government of Sigil is handled by the city's factions. It can be considered as divided into two segments.
The laws of the city are decided on by a council of representatives from each faction, moderated by the Sign of One at the Hall of Speakers. Any laws must be agreed upon by a majority of faction representatives to be put into place. The Fraternity of Order records the minutes of all meetings within the Hall of Speakers, and keeps ultimate records of all of Sigil's laws.
The city treasury, as well as the collection of taxes for Sigilian city programs, is handled by the Fated. At present, all commerce within the city carries with it a flat 5% tax rate collected monthly, and all citizens must pay 3 copper per month or 10% of their total income over that month, whichever is greater, in addition to taxes on real estate, establishment permits, assemblies, eyesores, and other intangibles. (Most citizens without the money to hire an accountant or that simply don't care to track income merely pay the 3 copper monthly tax, though for those skirting the line audits are occasionally enforced, usually to the benefit of the Fated.) An unofficial exception is usually made for the Hive, considering the risk to tax collectors there, but some still make the effort.
Enforcement of the laws of Sigil is handled by a combination of three factions, the factions of Law. The physical enforcement is left to the Harmonium, who serve as the city guard and, when necessary, the militia. (Arming of the Harmonium is officially provided by contract by the Doomguard, who run the majority of forges in Sigil as well as the City Armory.) When an individual is arrested, the Fraternity of Order is responsible for trying the case, as well as providing a public defender for those with insufficient income to have a personal barrister. Those convicted are then transferred to the care of the Mercykillers, who handle sentencing. In the case of a fine, the Mercykillers are to be paid, and 90% of the fine is then sent to the city treasury, with the remaining 10% distributed amongst the three factions of Law. If jail time is given, the offender is either held in the City Prison, or one of the Mercykillers' labor camps on Acheron, depending on the status of the prisoner and remaining capacity of the Prison. If the sentence is death, the Mercykillers are responsible for executions; as of late, the Mercykillers under Factol Nilesia have begun making executions public within the Prison courtyard, with all citizens invited to observe. Depending on the level of the crime, executions consist either of beheading by axe, or consumption by the Mercykiller Wyrm.
Wards of SigilEdit
Sigil is divided into six districts, called wards, listed below:
- The Clerk's Ward, an affluent district, home to most of the city's lower-rung bureaucrats and middlemen.
- The Hive Ward, the slum and the ghetto, home to the poor, the rogues, and the unwanted dregs of the city.
- The Lady's Ward, the richest and most exclusive section of the city, is home to the elites of society and of its government.
- The Lower Ward, an industrial district, clogged up with the smoke from the foundries and from the portals to the Lower Planes.
- The Market and Guildhall Wards are the home to the traders, craftsmen, artisans, guild members and other members of the middle class.
The Hive =Edit
Nordom makes it clear with his location announcements that The Hive is a Ward just as Lower and Clerk's Wards
- The Hive
- Trash Warrens - Thief trainer, witch / mage trainer Mebbeth
- Buried Village - Dabus do not just repair, they reshape. This village was above ground until they buried it at the whim of the Lady of Pain
- Catacombs Rats to the north, undead to the south - choose your path to the Drowned Nations
Lower Ward Edit
- Lower Ward
Clerk's Ward Edit
- Clerk's Ward
- Undersigil - early on, a small diversion; very late in the game, a potential grindfest
Much of the early history of Sigil is murky, long since lost to time. It is commonly thought that the tanar'ri were the first to discover the city during the second fiendish Age of Exploration, when the tanar'ri and baatezu swarmed out throughout the multiverse seeking means to best one another in the Blood War. Though both races' histories say there were repeated major attempts on both sides to take the city from the Lady (who already resided there when it was found) by force soon after its discovery, these attempts went utterly nowhere, and were eventually abandoned for the most part; ever since, the Blood War has touched the city only indirectly, but for the occasional skirmish that spills over into the Sigilian streets.
After this, there are few records of Sigil, merely legends from the long-since-past days. The most prominent of these legends is the tale of the mage who nearly deposed the Lady from her rule of the city some tens of thousands of years ago. A massive magical battle is said to take place in the streets of Sigil, so strong that there were no witnesses. As the story goes, the Lady wasn't seen for weeks following the battle, leading some to have concluded he may have been successful. Eventually, though, the Lady returned, and it was revealed that the mage had been cast into Agathion, imprisoned within a soul crystal for the audacity to challenge the rule of the Lady; her preferred punishment in those days, before the time of the Mazes.
The next major recorded event is a related legend, that of the wizard Shekelor who sought to find this unnamed mage and use his power to unseat the Lady himself. He went missing for months as he searched Pandemonium for the crystal containing the wizard's essence. When he finally returned, it was through a portal in the center of the Great Bazaar. Shouting a single sentence — the specifics of which vary from telling to telling — he then burst into flames, leaving nothing but a thin ash behind on the street.
Solid facts do not begin to be recorded until approximately a millennium before the present day; not coincidentally, about when the Guvners were first founded in Sigil. It is known that prior to about a thousand years ago, it was not factions but rather guilds that were the major political and governmental driving force in the city. Around this time, however, the time of the factions began to rise, and the draw of belief over industry slowly pushed the guilds out of prominence. They had not yet taken power, as splintered as they were, but the split loyalties did much to sow unrest within the city.
Approximately 630 years ago, the infighting between factions reached its peak. Somewhere between 49 and 52 factions are recorded to have existed at this time, and their fighting, both direct and indirect, finally reached the point of entirely disrupting life within the city. In response, the Lady made her decree, limiting the number of factions within the city to a maximum of 15 on penalty of death. This event is known nowadays as the Great Upheaval, and was ironically the key in cementing the factions as the major political force in the city.
Soon after the Upheaval, many citizens began declaring their independence from the factions altogether by declaring membership in the Free League, the organization that has long claimed the status of being outside the factions entirely. At its peak, the Indeps counted membership of over one million bodies, including nearly a third of the population of Sigil at the time. However, over the next 50 years a sickness of some sort ravaged the faction, cutting its members to a mere 20,000 in what is still the worst and longest-standing epidemic Sigil has ever seen.
Seen by many as an ill omen, the remaining citizens of Sigil cemented their relationships with the factions. With the number of such organizations having been culled, the factions quickly grew in power, using their increasing influence to force their members to withdraw from the city's guilds under claims of avoiding similar split loyalties as caused the original problems. Within a century and a half, even the Planewalker's Guild, once the most prominent organization in the city if not the entire Upper Planes, had dropped to almost nothing and disbanded from Sigil. By this point, the factions were well-situated and had claimed the city's day-to-day duties for themselves.
Some 300 years ago, the next major shake-up to the factions occurred following an Anarchist plot against the Mercykillers, culminating in the assassination of the Mercykillers' factol. This even quickly spread into a war that pulled in nearly every faction in the city, ending in the destruction of three altogether, the largest blow to the factions since the Great Upheaval. This event left a power vacuum that was quickly filled by the arrival of the Harmonium, and the reconstitution of the Ochlocrats into the Xaositects, and the return of the Athar.
By far the most famous property of Sigil is its imperviousness to any sort of magical entrance or exit. No forms of teleportation, summoning, or planar transit spells will allow a person to enter Sigil from without or exit it from within, even that of the gods. The only way to enter the city at all is to do so through a portal, which can form within any bounded space in the city. Teleportation and summoning within the city, however, still functions fine; one can summon a creature from elsewhere within the city, or can teleport from one location in the city or another.
Portals within Sigil can link to any location, even within the Ethereal or Inner Planes. Occasionally such portals can even manifest from one location in Sigil to another, though cross-Sigil portals are very rare. Portals may be either fixed — always linking to the same two points — or shifting — one or both endpoints changes over time. Some shifting portals follow a regular pattern between two or more locations, but others change unpredictably. In addition, some portals are freely usable, while others require some sort of "key". This key can take any form; an object, an action, even a thought.
Learning the secret (if any) behind the portals of Sigil is one of the major pursuits of many Guvners, and that faction holds the largest known collection of portal-related data, with record books going back centuries on known portals in the Cage. Though they have most Sigilian portals recorded, there are still only a few general facts discovered to be true of all portals.
- Only the Lady can open a portal, or permanently close one. A portal can be temporarily closed by certain spells, or by the destruction of its bounded space, but such portals reopen upon the removal of the spell or the reconstruction of the bounded space. The Lady does seem to open portals for the sake of the citizens, as marked by the numerous organizations and businesses that carry multiple useful portals within their walls.
- Shifting portals with cycles can have periods ranging from seconds to decades. Some portals thought by most to be fixed have in fact been recorded as merely having extremely long cycles. Others thought to be randomly shifting have been found to in fact simply have extremely complicated cycles, though others have been fairly well established as being truly random.
- Portals cannot be used by any beings with any amount of divinity. Those merely invested with divine power, such as powerful priests or proxies, can use portals without problem, but gods and goddesses of any strength cannot. It is thought that this is a direct application of the Lady's control over Sigil, but such beliefs are still unconfirmed.