Faces In Sigil

"Welcome, addle-cove! Welcome to the worlds beyond your world, the great wheel of the cosmos. This is a great place! Where else can a poor sod mingle with mighty minions of the great powers, or sail the astral ocean, or visit the flaming courts of the City of Brass, or even battle fiends on their home turf? Hey, welcome to the lands of the living and the dead!"
- from A Player's Guide To The Planes

Those who make a life wandering the planes have a culture all their own. The rise and fall of mortal empires mean little to those who wake up to a sunrise on one world and end their day watching a sunset half the cosmos away. The true currency of such travelers comes from beliefs -- knowing who thinks what, and what that means to who. Got it?

The hub of most planar activity is Sigil -- the City of Doors also called "The Cage" -- a crossroads that reaches everywhere while itself sitting nowhere...

Sigil, the City of Doors | The Planar Principles


Planar Cartography

Planewalkers have several options on how to get from point A to point B anywhere in the cosmos.


Doorways connecting distant places are rare but often stable and well known to the area's locals. Most only open under specific circumstances (the portal's key): once for a few moments during the same time each year, when a specific word is said, when a specific object is bought nearby, and so forth.


Places with permanent portals which work with predictable frequency often draw merchants and adventurers who enjoy the best of two worlds. Gate-towns are the most common example, but in some cases whole towns or cities have been known to drift from plane to plane based on the time of day (sunrise to sunset here, sunset to sunrise there), or based on the season of the year (spring/summer here, autumn/winter there.)


Magical teleportation is a quick but costly alternative to seeking out portals, but many rituals can be invoked most anywhere.


Astral skiffs, planar dromonds and spelljammers require longer journeys compared to portals or rituals, but they have the advantage of being able to transport larger numbers of travelers and cargo. Most such vehicles are limited to traveling the Astra Sea and briefly touching down on the Great Outlands, but versions of such craft have been seen in the Elemental Chaos. Githyanki pirates are notorious for hunting and plundering these vessels.


Soaring from the sky into Astral Space, or burrowing deep through the Underdark to the Elemental Chaos, dragons can get almost anywhere. Finding one who is willing to take a rider is not easy to come by.


The final option is simply to travel on foot across great distances, a task that can take a lifetime and still not traverse a fraction of the distance. Still, some beings for whom time is not a problem (immortals, undead) have been known to make such trips.


Accidents happen. Psychic storms and ethereal cyclones have been known to disrupt the normal boundries between planes. Common examples include when the Feywild overlaps time and space with the Mortal World (called a "worldfall"), or when the Shadowfell overlaps with the Mortal World (called a "shadow crossing"). Eruptions from the Elemental Chaos into the deep Underdark also are common.



Some facts about Sigil (all "canon" from AD&D2e and D&D4e rules; 3.0/3.5e material pretty much ignored)...


• The city is its own demiplane full of fickle portals to places throughout the cosmos. Most portals resemble ordinary doors or windows until triggered using a portal key, which varies from portal to portal (a pinch of salt, a musical note, a time of day).

• The city is built around the inside surface of a 20-mile-long torus with no "view" to an outside world. Looking up on any given street simply gives a berk a view of the neighborhood across town.

• Magical gravity keeps buildings and people sticking to its streets, which appear to curve away, up or down following the shape inside the torus. Digging "down" leads to an underdark, but never breaks "through" to an outside realm.

• Two decades ago, after the god Vecna made an unsuccessful attempt to exploit Sigil, some sort of planar cataclysm altered reality outside of Sigil. Many in the city recall a "Great Wheel" ring of "inner" and "outer" planes that they say existed "before" the Feywild, Shadowfell, Elemental Chaos or Astral Sea. Such talk makes no sense to those from outside the city.


• A powerful entity called the Lady of Pain is supreme; she often moves about invisibly, can cause wounds with a glance, never speaks aloud and can banish individuals (or whole groups) into The Mazes, extradimensional prison demiplanes of her own design.

No god or primordial may enter the city; the portals simply won't let them through. However, it appears the Lady cannot (or simply will not) leave Sigil to enter the outside cosmos, perhaps explaining the city's other nickname as "The Cage."

• The Lady seems to only have one civil rule: Keep the city functioning, no insurrection, no attempts to invade. Beyond that, anything goes.

• For more than six centuries, 15 ideology groups called Factions ran various municipal functions within the city. A few decades ago, an outbreak of open warfare between these groups (the Faction War) prompted the Lady of Pain to order them expelled from the city or disbanded and removed from government. Since then, the Sigil Advisory Council acts as a public forum to advise the dabus ministers and justices. (Note these creatures are in no way bound to any authority under this council, but people like to be heard.)

• The Lady of Pain may alter the layout of streets at will, though she rarely does. Mundane city services and repairs are done by the Dabus, strange creatures loyal to the Lady who enjoy her vicious protection against those who might abuse them.


• The streets are packed with species from all over the cosmos; every day, mortals rub shoulders with angles, demons, devils, fey, elementals and other strange things. A cautious truce prevents most outbreaks of violence.

• Most residents of Sigil have an elitist attitude toward non-Sigil dwellers, especially natives of the mortal world (called "primes," or worse, "the Clueless"). Sigilians also speak their own slang, called planar cant.

• Until recently, Sigil was neutral ground between demons and devils in an ancient, cosmos-spanning conflict called the Blood War. The armies of the Abyss and the Hells currently hold an uneasy truce, though each side still hates the other.

• Some say the business of Sigil is simply business itself (trade and travel), but the real business of Sigil is in ideals, the paradigms that shape reality. What you believe is a greater currency than where you came from, your race or your alignment.

• The city has no natural resources; everything used for trade came from somewhere else, leading to a chaotic style of architecture.

• The city has no natural flora or fauna, but a nasty and dangerous weed called razorvine and packs of psionic cranium rats are found everywhere. Worse monsters turn up from time to time, especially in the underdark and sewers below the streets.

• The city has no natural weather, but there is a cycle of dim "peak" noon and dark "anti-peak" midnight that visitors will find familiar. Occationally a cold rain will fall on the streets, although there are no clouds (indeed, no sky).


According to the chant of planewalkers, there are three principles governing cosmos...


Things tend to happen in threes. Beginning, middle, end. Birth, life, death. Mortal, Feywild, Shadowfell. Ring of three wishes. A play in three acts. The principles which govern the planes are themselves subject to this rule.


Many things on the planes are circular, coming back around to where they started.


There is a center of everything — or, rather, wherever a person happens to be is the center of the multiverse... from their own perspective, at least. As most planes are functionally infinite, disproving anyone's centricity would be impossible.

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