Difference between revisions of "Sigil"
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Revision as of 02:10, 31 May 2013
|Corruption +25; Crime +10; Economy +17; Law +2; Lore +16; Society -14|
|Qualities free city, insular, legendary marketplace, notorious, planar crossroads, prosperous|
|Population 650,000 ()|
Lady of Pain, ruler of Sigil
|Base Value 25,600 gp; Purchase Limit 370,000 gp; Spellcasting 9th|
One of the most important sites on the Outer Planes, Sigil (also known as the Cage or the City of Doors) is the largest center of commerce and most popular nexus of planar travel in the known multiverse. Its age and origins are unknown, as are the means of its existence, but its nature as a crossroads of all realms across existence ensures it holds a key role in planar society, and the Lady of Pain ensures it will remain free and neutral, at no risk of capture by any person or organization of any sort.
Sigil is located at the top of the Spire, the infinitely-tall pillar in the center of the Outlands. Despite this fact, magic functions for the most part completely normally, with the anti-magic properties of the Outlands holding no sway over it. It occupies the inner surface of a ring or torus of approximately five miles in diameter, with gravity pointing outwards and allowing people within to walk about somewhat normally. Despite its size, however, the city is extremely crowded, with the total number occupying it at any one time far greater than the permanent population.
Though at the top of an infinite pillar, the air within Sigil is not infinitely thin as some may otherwise expect. Though slightly thin, enough so that first-time visitors to require time to adjust, and though fairly polluted in some areas of the city, the air in Sigil is perfectly breathable, constantly refreshed by its portals to the plane of Air. Water is provided similarly, with streams, fountains, and aquifers replenished by portals to a variety of water sources of differing levels of quality across the planes; known sources include the River Oceanus, the River Styx, the plane of Water, the Gates of the Moon, Ossa, and Lunia. Despite the ready availability of water, however, concerns about quality and source lead most citizens of Sigil to drink ale, beer, and other more reliable liquids.
Despite the thin air and closed system, Sigil certainly has its own weather system as well, though like much of the city, the mechanism behind it is still unknown. In most of the city, the conditions tend to be fairly temperate, with the sky usually overcast enough to make the far side of the city almost indistinguishable. The Lower Ward is the exception, due to the numerous forges and portals to warmer planes; enough so that leather drapery is quite popular on sedan chairs passing through that ward, both to keep the heat out and to minimize risk from floating ash and embers. Outside the Clerk's and Lady's Wards, the air quality tends to be quite poor, with smog an everpresent risk to health. - consumption is a commonly-seen disorder for those that work outside in the rest of the city. Though the occasional rainstorm does tend to clear the air, it carries its own pollution with it. Rain in Sigil tends to be quite dirty or oily, leaving a thin film on most substances exposed to it. Even more rare, though not unheard of, is snow or sleet, but these tend to be about as unclean. There are no seasons as such in Sigil, and weather tends to be fairly random from day to day.
As in many places in the planes, there is no true sun in Sigil. Instead, the city is lit from some sort of light emanation from the center of the ring, a light whose intensity rises and fades in a 24-hour cycle. Time is kept in Sigil relative to "Peak", the point of brightest light (about the same as noon on a prime world), and "Antipeak", the point of greatest darkness (about the same as midnight). Due to the numerous races present within the city, for the sake of convenience (and simpler clocks), hours are not numbered or named in Sigil; rather, all people refer to time until or after peak or antipeak. The 24-hour clocks standing in the higher-class sections of the city reflect this; they're not numbered, but rather shaded from black to white and back. The length of the day and of each period, though slightly varying from day to day (never off by more than 15 minutes in either direction), does so in no discernable pattern or cycle.
The official ruler of the city is the Lady of Pain, the mysterious being that watches over the city and ensures its protection and defense. She is served by a retinue of dabus, strange creatures of which little is known that are only found within Sigil, and it is through these beings that the edicts of the Lady are communicated. The relationship between the Lady and the dabus is unknown, much as most facts about the Lady.
The Lady's Laws
- 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.
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.
See also: Laws of Sigil
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.
Much of the early history of Sigil is murky, long since lost to time. It is commonly believed that the tanar'ri were the first to discover the city during the 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.
See also: cant
By and large, Sigilian culture hinges on the city's status as a nexus of the multiverse. The nature of the city gives it the strange dual position of both reliance on others and a feeling of superiority over outsiders. Unlike nearly every other city, there are literally no natural resources to Sigil, nor are there any native races or traditions (Dabus aside, as they have little to no interaction with the citizenry beyond performing their work on behalf of the Lady). Everything the city needs and everything it is comes from outside. As a result, what little there is contributing to the city's identity comes from those few things unique to Sigil. Architecture in Sigil varies widely from building to building, but the blades that adorn most buildings are an iconic feature of the Cage, and their resemblance to the Lady's headdress is likely no coincidence. With almost no native plantlife or wildlife and no native traditions, there is no uniquely Sigilian cuisine (even heartwine is rarely found within Sigil), but many Sigilian chefs pride themselves on their ability to "improve" upon dishes from across the planes. Indeed, most elements of art and culture are extremely self-focused, with the majority being created by Sigilians for Sigilians.
This, however, does not apply to the current writing community of Sigil. Thanks in no small part to the encouragement of the Society of Sensation, the variety of artwork within Sigil is almost staggering in comparison. Writing especially; within the last 20 years, the books of Jenna Ealy have led to a mass resurgence of writing as a pursuit not just for the high class, but for those of all backgrounds. Though originally focused purely in Sigilian nonfiction that obviously cribbed in great deal from Ealy's style, the novelist scene blossomed greatly soon after the publication of the Factol's Manifesto, a now-banned work detailing the inner secrets of the 15 factions that led to the institution of the Guvners' "accuracy panels", which all nonfiction works are now required to receive approval from prior to publication. While interest in Sigilian-based nonfiction dropped after this (though an underground community still trafficks in unapproved "dirty secrets of Sigil"-style works in the vein of the Manifesto), overall interest in the craft was unaffected, both spawning a massive wave of non-Sigilian nonfiction, and bringing the art of long-form fiction, once seen as a past time for the idle rich that needn't concern themselves with reality, on equal footing amongst the general populace for the first time in ages.
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.
See the specific ward articles for more detail.
See the specific ward articles.
- Faction War, pp.8-31
- Factol's Manifesto, pgs.60,81,114,152
- In the Cage: A Guide to Sigil
- Planar Handbook, pp.141-146
- The Strange Saga of Duke Rowan Darkwood