Sigil is the place in the multiverse you gotta go if you’re ever on the Planes. But don’t go thinking it’s some amazing place berk. It’s filthy, wet and filled with noise and the ever growing razorvines.
But don’t go thinking it’s just some shitty pit. It’s way better then the lower planes and is more populous then the upper planes and it has a diversity you can only see in a neutral Plane.
And thats the point, everyone comes here. There is no other place where you can see a fiend and angel enjoy a drink together. Of course they don’t like each other but no one dares defy the Laws of the Lady of pain.
Well maybe its a lie that everyone goes to sigil, because the Powers can’t. Why can’t there you may ask, well because the Lady says so. That’s also why all the powers send their proxies to sigil to ever so slightly shift the body's minds to make sigil shift to their realm.
But don’t think it’s some open war between priests in the streets of sigil. Their battles are kept dark and short so the Lady or Dabus do not care too much.
Because there's a rough peace here, Sigil's the place to do all types of business. Need to meet with the enemy, but can't find safe ground? Need to swap hostages from the Blood War? Got a treasure too suspicious to sell on the open market? Need some information about the enemy? Come to Sigil! Just remember to always keep your back to the wall.
So that's it: Sigil the Wondrous, Sigil the Dangerous, Sigil the Impossible. It's a city where a cutter can be anything he wants, where he can find the answer to every need. All it takes is asking the right questions. 'Course, a berk's better off not asking if he can't deal with the answers, because sometimes what a sod wants to know ain't what he learns…
Like it's been said before, Sigil's the City of Doors, the seam through space where a thousand pathways caress and couple before plunging back into the planes. The right gate keys and the right doors unlock the mysteries of her form and reveal to a cutter all the possibilities Sigils got to offer. Pass through a door properly and a basher's enfolded in the brilliant glory of Mount Celestia, but use her the wrong way and a berk'll plunge into the icy clutches of Baator, or worse.
The only truth is: Step through a keyed portal and a cutter will end up somewhere.
Pure fact is there's only one way in or out of Sigil, and that's through the portals that link it to everywhere. Sigil can't be entered by a gate spell, and although a berk can reach the Outlands through the Astral Plane, Sigil itself is shielded, so tricks like the astral spell don't work. The Cage can't be entered or spied upon by astral travelers, either. At the same time, Sigil's not completely cut off from the Astral Plane. Spells requiring an astral connection (like raise dead) still work; it's only the actual passing or viewing that's obstructed.
In Sigil, all portals anchor themselves on doors, arches, or openings of some type. Suitable apertures include windows, arches, sewer entrances, even wardrobes and chests – pretty much anything a cutter can step through might be a portal. They're always big enough for a normal being to fit through, even though he might have to duck or worm through the opening to do it.
Most randomly occurring, non-permanent portals to other planes are doors in deserted back alleys in the worst parts of town, or at least it seems like they're always in the worst parts of town. That's because there's a spell, surelock, that can shield areas from portals. High-up folks got the jink to pay for these, keeping their cases and neighborhoods free of portals – and safe from intruders -while poor folks don't. (The biggest concentration of portals has got to be in the Hive, probably the worst of the worst parts of town.) If a cutter's looking for a permanent portal to a specific plane, he might check out the area near the faction headquarters whose primary plane of influence is the one he wants – most factions maintain or guard a fixed door to their favorite universe.
Every blood knows a true seeing spell's a means to look at a thing and know it's a portal – the only time a detect magic spell can reveal one is when it's actually working. Short of wandering the streets with a true seeing spell in operation, though, the special spell warp sense is the best means of finding a portal. Warp sense's got an advantage over true seeing, too, since it gives some idea of where the other end's going to be. Most of the factions can teach a wizard the way of this spell, provided he's in good standing with his factol.
Portals are two-way deals. Step through one way and a cutter can step back the other, if he's still got the gate key to open the door. This means that folks can get into the Cage as easy as they can leave, so there's no guarantee that running for the safety of Sigil's going to keep a sod safe from his enemies. 'Course, the Lady of Pain can always shut doors to folks as she pleases, but most often this means that portals don't work for any of the powers. Sometimes she locks out other threats to her realm, yet she doesn't do that very often because for the most part she doesn't care who or what comes through the doors, so long as they don't make too much trouble. Player characters, unless they're very bad news, can figure the doors'll be there for them, to come and go through as they please.
There's three kinds of portals – permanent, temporary, and shifting – but whatever the type, a cutter's got to have a gate key before the portal will do anything.
Permanent portals are the most straightforward. Both ends – the opening in Sigil and the receiving end on another plane – don't change. Every time a cutter steps through, he knows just where he's going to end up.
Temporary portals appear, get used once or twice, and then disappear.
Shifting portals are the most wicked of the lot, because just when a berk gets to thinking he can depend on them, they change. Sometimes it's the Sigil end that shifts, moving from doorway to doorway in the city, and sometimes it's the other end, out on the planes, that moves. There's only one thing constant about them: The portals don't shift randomly -that'd make them no different from a temporary portal. Instead, they move from point to point in a pattern of their own. A shifting portal might cling to the arched entrance of the Hive for three days, then move to a grated outflow of the sewers for a week, before settling on the gate to a petty merchant's house for a day. After this it would repeat the cycle all over again. Outside the Cage, a portal might appear outside Malbolge on Baator for three days, then jump to Arcadia for another week, and then return to Baator, to run the sequence all over again.
In Sigil, bloods with an ear for the chant'll keep elaborate logs of every appearance, every shift. For some portals the patterns easy, a few changes over a few days. For others the pattern's like a code that's never broken. A sod can see it's there, but he can't read the message.
Keeping the Peace
n a place where almost anything and everything can mingle, tempers can run high. It's a tough bit for a lesser baatezu to stand aside, just to let the procession of a greater tanar'ri pass down the street – a fiend don't forget the way of the Blood War so easily. 'Course, it's no easier for good creatures, either. There's lots of times an agathion can't see past the fact that a berk just ain't good-aligned. Then there's the factions. Each one's got its own plans, and most times those plans don't include any rivals. Add to all this the good old-fashioned cross-trade and the Cage's got all the potential to be total anarchy. That'd suit the Revolutionary League and probably the Xaositects well, but it don't do other sods much good.
Sigil isn't anarchy, though, and there's a number of things that keep it from the brink. The dark of things in Sigil's pretty common knowledge to the natives, but the Clueless are just going to have to learn by keeping their eyes and ears open.
Here's what keeps the order in the City of Doors: the Lady of Pain, her Mazes, and the dabus.
The Lady of Pain
The high-up man in Sigil, the one who ultimately watches over the Cage, is the Lady of Pain. She's not a woman and she's not human – nobody's quite sure what she is. The best guess is she's a power, probably a greater power, but there's also a theory that she's a reformed tanar'ri lord, if such a thing's possible. Whatever else she is, she's the Lady of Pain, and given that, most other facts are extraneous.
For the most part the Lady (as she's called) keeps distant from the squalid hurly-burly of the Cage. She doesn't have a house, a palace, or a temple. Nobody worships her, and with good reason: Those that say prayers to her name get found with their skins flayed off – a big discouragement to others.
Sometimes she's seen drifting through the streets, the edge of her gown just brushing over the cobblestones. She never speaks. Those who try interfering with her erupt in horrid gashes at just the touch of her gaze. Wise bloods find business elsewhere on those rare times she passes down the way. Eventually, her image fades and she vanishes into nothingness. Natives of Sigil view her with fearful awe, as she's the uncaring protector of their home
The Mazes are the grandest of all Sigils punishments, and the Lady of Pain saves them for the worst threats to her power. They're a part and yet not a part of the city, and no sane basher wants to go there. The Mazes are the Lady's special birdcages for the would-be power mongers of Sigil.
The Mazes are just that: mazes. There's a difference between them and some of the more confused sections of the Cage, of course, or they'd not be much of a punishment. For starters, they aren't exactly part of Sigil. When the Lady creates a new part of the Mazes, a small piece of the city – an alley or a courtyard, for example – copies itself and becomes a tiny little demiplane. A portal of her making then carries the copy into the heart of the Deep Ethereal. There, it grows into an endless twisting maze that's got no beginning or end. It just doubles back forever on itself. (Actually, the Guvners insist that the Mazes are still part of Sigil, even though they're in the Ethereal, so even their location is a mind-maze.
A sod sentenced to the Mazes never knows it until it's too late. Sometimes they form around him just as he's passing through some particularly deserted part of the city; he turns a corner and the next intersection's not the way he remembers it, and by that time it's too late. Those that figure the Lady's after them – the ambitious and the cunning – try clever ways to avoid her traps. Some of them never leave their palaces so they never enter a blind alley, and others only travel with groups so they're never caught alone, but it never works. A basher walks down an empty hall in his house, only to discover a maze of rooms that didn't exist before. And sooner or later a berk turns his back to his friends, and when he looks back they're all gone. The Mazes'll always get a sod, no matter how careful he is.
Just spitting her rivals into the Deep Ethereal Isn't enough for the Lady of Pain, either. Each little chunk of the Mazes that's kicked out is sealed one way from planar travel – things can get in with a spell, but things can't get back out. For instance, food and water always appear so the prisoner won't starve. But worst of all, those in the Mazes know there's a way out, as the Lady of Pain always leaves a single portal back to Sigil hidden somewhere. Maybe it's so the dabus can check on things if needed, and maybe it's just to torture the sod who's trapped there.
'Course, since that portal's there, it's not impossible to escape the Mazes – hard, yes, but not impossible. Maybe a berk gets lucky and finds the portal. Maybe his friends have got the jink to mount a rescue. After all, they only have to find where the portal opens in Sigil or else track down the demiplane in the Deep Ethereal. How hard can that be?
The dabus are both servants and lords of Sigil. They're unique to the Cage, never found anywhere else in the planes. In other words, the dabus never leave Sigil. From this, bloods figure the dabus are actually living manifestations of the city, which makes sense since the beings maintain most of the infrastructure that makes the city work.
Most of the time the dabus are found repairing what's broken in Sigil. They keep the sewers and catacombs beneath the streets from crumbling, they cut back the razorvine when it grows too rampant, they patch the cobblestone streets, and they repair the crumbling facades of the city's buildings. To most, the dabus are nothing more than cryptic workmen.
However, some berks discover another side of their duties, because the dabus also work as agents of the Lady of Pain. Sometimes they appear to punish those knights who've gotten too forward in their plans, and sometimes they arrive in force to put down riots, but they're not concerned with normal crime. It's the factions that are left to deal with the thieves and murderers in Sigil. The dabus only show up when there's a threat to their Lady, and that's usually a sign that another one of the Mazes is about to appear.
The Code of Conduct
So what's a blood got to do to avoid the Lady's attention? What are the laws of Sigil?
There aren't many.
Sigils a place where anyone and anything can happen, and a lot of it does. The Lady of Pain's not interested in the petty squabbles of day-today affairs. A murder here, a mugging there – that's not her concern because the Harmonium can take care of it. The Lady of Pain only takes action against threats to the security of Sigil, and that means her security. The things she won't tolerate include a berk trying to break open the portals so a power can enter, finding a way around her astral barrier, slaughtering the dabus, tearing the city down stone by stone, or inciting general rebellion against her rule. These aren't the deeds most bashers are likely to try, so most often the Lady just exists in her peaceful fierceness.
It is possible to get put in her dead-book for less than Sigil-shattering deeds, though. All a berk's got to do is make the folks of Sigil question the Lady's power. Too many killings or crimes'll make the folks of Sigil nervous and fearful, and they'll start wondering if she's got the means to protect them. Given that, it's no surprise that the dabus start looking real hard for the criminal. Lasting power comes from keeping the population happy.
It'd seem natural that the factions would always be threatening the Lady's power, too. After all, each one's got their own idea of just what's proper and right for Sigil, and these are ideas that don't always include the Lady of Pain at the top of things. Fact is, if they go too far she'll crack them like beetles. Now, the factols are wise enough to see that Sigil's a safe haven from their enemies, besides being the best way to get around, and no faction wants to get itself spun out of Sigil. Philosophies who foolishly challenge the Lady's power get Mazes all their own. Given the choice of not holding a given idea or winding up in the Mazes, it's easy to see why some philosophies have died off. The most often told tales about the Communals, sods who held that everything belonged to everyone, including the Lady's share of the power. One day, everyone in the Communal headquarters (the City Provisioner's) vanished. The best guess is they were all trapped into one Maze in the Ethereal Plane. Pretty quick, no cutter admitted being a Communal, but it's said there's still a small colony of true believers out on the Astral somewhere.
Given that example, it's no surprise the factions police their own.
Making and Spending Money
A city can't survive unless it has things a body wants. Some places, like Ironridge, have gold, gems, and ore. Others, like Xaos, are homes to famous artists. Curst draws mercenaries and Ribcage only creates pain, but every burg has something to offer.
Sigil's no different in that respect. The Cage has got its specialties, along with its secrets. 'Course, Sigil's not like every other town out there, either. For one thing, it's got no natural resources, unless a sod counts razorvine. Nobody comes to Sigil for its minerals, lumber, or produce. All these things come from elsewhere. The city's constantly importing even the most basic commodities: meat, grain, vegetables, fruit, wood, iron, and stone. To do that, Sigil's got to have something to sell.
Not surprisingly, it's the portals that keep the Cage from starvation. Sure, a cutter's free to travel through them without the slightest bit of garnish, but those portals go everywhere, and that means everywhere passes through the City of Doors sooner or later. Sigil's the one place that reaches the entire multiverse. Not only do bodies of all stripes pass through the streets – chasing business, pleasure, and adventure – but goods from everywhere go along for the ride. Looking for a job or a good time, or both? Looking for bronzewood from Oerth? Need fire wine from Toril? Want the feathers of a phoenix? Sure a cutter could wander out on the Great Ring and beyond, but it's a lot easier to pass through Sigil first.
So, the first business in Sigil is putting up the travelers. In another world and time it might be called tourism, but here it's just accommodating the travelers – and what an assortment they are! It's not just a matter of having the best inn – a landlord's got to specialize. Is he going to run a kip that caters to humans or fiends? There's stable-inns for bariaur, fire-pits for efreet, the boisterous taverns favored by Arborean einheriar, and more. Everybody coming here expects to find the comforts of home, and smart landlords in Sigil ain't about to disappoint them.
All these folks lead to the second order of business in the Cage: trade. Everything from anywhere's got the potential to pass through Sigil, so it makes sense that there's merchants buying and selling it all right here. There's the Great Bazaar, where stallkeepers from a hundred worlds set up shop. There's backstreet merchants who'll get a blood anything – for the right jink. There's respectable and shady, too, and a cutter's got to be careful of what he buys. After all, there's a lot of cross-trading knights out there, waiting to bob and peel with false goods any basher they can.
With all the merchants to serve the travelers, other folks have set up shop here, too. Wizards in particular find Sigil's a good place to practice their trade. A lot of swag that's interesting to them, magical and nonmagical, passes through the Cage. Then there's mercenaries of all stripes, who come because the merchants need bodyguards, bill collectors, and damn fools willing to risk their necks bringing back a hordling's tusk. These folks breed more needs and services in turn, until the whole thing starts feeding on itself.
Sigil's got another unique property to offer folks from other planes besides its portals, and that's its location for making magic. Swords, armor, and the like that're made in Sigil lose fewer of their magical bonuses than things made on most other planes. A sword made here loses only one plus out on the Great Ring. Compare that to a perfect blade from Mechanus – on most other planes it'll lose at least two pluses. About the only other plane that's any better for making magic is the Astral, but that's overrun by githyanki…
Sigil does a fair trade in the forging and selling of magical items, but that doesn't mean there's magic shops on every corner, hawking rows of potions, scrolls, and blades. Instead, there's a fair number of "collectors" who'll have a small shelf of minor magic made by craftsmen in the city. A cutter should be warned, though, that prices are high. That cutter best not hope to find anything really amazing either; weapons that good just don't get put up for sale.
When it comes to currency, Sigil's got a real "go for it" attitude. The merchants have worked hard to make it easy to spend jink. They'll accept standard coinage from most any place, so long as it's gold and silver. A gold coin from Toril's not much different from one of Oerth's gold pieces.
The Roles of Factions in Sigil
For the factions, the best way to stay in the Lady's good graces is to run part of the city. This is something most factions try to do, though some are more successful than others. A Guvner believes in laws, so it's a lot easier for him to work the courts than, say, an Anarchist, who doesn't believe in the system at all.
Now, no faction fully trusts another, no matter how noble or trustworthy their goals might seem, and everybody wants a play in the game. That's why the city offices are so divided. The Doomguard doesn't want the Harmonium to have the final say, and the Guvners and the Xaositects both have different ideas about what's good for Sigil. The solution, then, is for every faction to have a role. Some are official, like the Guvners' control of the courts. Others, like the Anarchists' refuge for the unfit, fill a needed but unrecognized role in the city's life. Each of these parts is defined below. Only the Outsiders are left out; the poor Clueless have no real role in Sigil's life.
Depending upon who a body asks, the Lost are either loyal supporters of the Lady or vile spies. They've got no official position in Sigil, but they figure it's their job to watch the doings of the various priests in the city. Anytime some yapping cleric starts to become too powerful, the Athar'll act. Sometimes they spread rumors to bring the priest down a bit, other times they strike more directly. In an odd way, the Athar and Godsmen often work together.
Believers of the Source
Like the Athar, the Godsmen don't have authorized jobs in the government. From the Great Foundry, they take it upon themselves to be the peace keepers of Sigil. After all, everyone could become divine, and it would be a shame to put a potential power in the dead-book before it reaches its destiny. They consider their sacred duty to keep the peace between warring faiths (and they'll use swords to do it if they must). At least until a sod proves to a Godsman that he's no power in the making, he can expect a fair shake from the believers.
The Bleak Cabal
For a group with such a miserable outlook on life, the Bleakers are the most charitable faction in Sigil. These cutters have taken it upon themselves to run an almshouse for the sick and insane. Not that it's a great place – the Bleakers have some pretty strange ideas about treatment – but at least a sod can get a hot meal and a bed from them.
This faction controls the City Armory, and with good reason: As far as they can see, there's no better symbol of decay than weapons of destruction and death. It makes sense, too, because by controlling the Armory they're also keeping the tools of order out of the hands of their rivals in the Harmonium. 'Course, no other faction's going to let these bloods police the city, anyway – a gang devoted to entropy ain't exactly going to promote law and order.
The Dead have a job that suits them well, and one that nobody else is keen on anyway. In the Mortuary, they're the ones who dispose of Sigil's deceased. The Cage doesn't have space for graveyards or crypts, so the bodies of her citizens get dispatched to other planes. These portals lead directly to mortuaries and other places of death on each plane, and those on the other side are expecting nothing but dead bodies to come through, so those cutters who somehow manage to sneak through any of these doors are in for a nasty bit when they pass through. The Dustmen handle all this work, and for the most part nobody minds. Then again, there's always the suspicion that the faction's keeping a few back and reviving them for its own purposes…
The Takers handle the most hated and needed task in the city: They control the Hall of Records – a vital piece of city administration. They record property deeds, births, and deaths (when some sod bothers to notify them). This isn't what makes them hated though. They're also the tax collectors, a job nobody thanks them for. With their "I got it, you don't" attitude, the Takers are perfect for the job. Now, having all this jink could be trouble for the other factions, so they all keep the balance by trying to pay as little as possible. If things get too bad, any faction can always appeal to the Guvners – their control of the courts gives them the means to keep the Fated's greed under control, and the rest paying their taxes.
The fraternity of Order
The Guvners are a natural to act as judges and advocates. They believe in laws and don't like breaking them. The Guvners run the city courts, from the small ward courts to the High Court of the city. They also make the best advocates for pleading cases, so either way their faction tends to win, which keeps it fair. Their absolute belief in Law makes them chillingly legalistic. Still, the Xaositects and Harmonium are both happy the Guvners don't get the power to create laws, only enforce them.
The free League
Buying and selling is what keeps Sigil alive, and the Indeps are there to make sure there's always good trade in the city's markets. Their job's not official, but these cutters still make sure that every small merchant's getting a fair chance. They don't like the high-up guilds fixing prices, strangling competition, peeling their partners, or hiring bashers to beat up rivals. Since they don't have an official rank, the Indeps use criers, rumors, and "friendly advice" to keep the markets more-or-less honest. If they must, they'll bring a case to the Guvners, but they don't like relying on others.
The Hardheads, always sure their’s is the only way, have muscled themselves into control of the City Barracks, which means the City Watch is theirs. Members of the faction take it upon themselves to arrest those they think are breaking the laws. Their hardliner view of order means they're pretty eager to crush crime, but their laws and Sigil's laws don't always match, so they often arrest people who aren't really acting illegally. Fortunately, a sod arrested by the Harmonium's tried by the Guvners, who are strict about what's legal and what's not. With the Doomguard controlling the Armory, the real tools to run Sigil the Hardhead way are kept out of the Harmonium's hands. That suits everybody but them just fine.
The Red Death has a job which it performs with relish: punishment. Now, the Mercykillers'd much prefer to hunt down, try, and punish criminals themselves, but that's not something the other factions are too keen on. The faction is too rigid in its views, and telling a Mercykiller to pike it is just not an option. Still, they're well suited to the task of running the Prison and carrying out sentences. After all, what happens to a criminal who's been arrested, tried, and sentenced is only just, and who better to administer justice than the Mercykillers?
The Revolutionary League
The Anarchists don't have an official role and aren't even organized enough to have an unofficial one. Still, their belief in pulling down the system does have a twisted virtue in the works of the city: They're a haven for those who don't – indeed, can't – fit into the plan. Anarchists are proud of the fact their kind can be found anywhere, lurking in the streets as harmless-seeming clerks or wand-wielding wizards lending a hand to loners in trouble. These bloods keep Sigil alive and trying, or at least that's how they see it.
The Sign of One
The Signers' confidence that each berk's the center of his own universe makes them probably the only folks who can actually govern Sigil … as much as the Cage can be governed. They run the Hall of Speakers, where the high-ups meet to make the laws of the city, and they settle feuds, handle treaties, and do all the other legislative things that keep Sigil running. 'Course, the Signers aren't the only ones on the Council – every faction and power bloc's got representatives – but the Signers are the only ones who can preside over the sessions. Knowing every cutter's the center of things, the Signers make sure that everyone gets their say, and that's the only way to keep the sessions meeting. Other factions may not like the Signers, but they respect the faction's ability to keep city business on the table.
The society of Sensations
The Sensates don't have an official role either, but every blood knows the city'd go mad without them. In their endless quest to experience everything, the Sensates make sure that there's plenty entertainments and diversions flowing through Sigil. Here's the dark that makes it important: What basher wants to be around when a lesser baatezu gets bored? Sound bad? Now multiply that disaster by tanar'ri, modron, tiefling, prime, bariaur, djinni, yugoloth, and more. Thanks to the Sensates, there should be something, somewhere in Sigil, that'll suit every taste. Pleasure is the balm that keeps Sigil from fevered rage.
The Transcendent Order
The most universally accepted of all the factions, the Ciphers are natural advisers. They want the perfect union of thought and action, and they embody the qualities that other factions lack. To the Guvners, the Ciphers are the compassion missing from the coldly legalistic courts. To the Harmonium they try to lend tolerance, to the Mercykillers they preach order, for the Xaositects they're the voice of stability, and so on. Their advice usually gets ignored, and some basher'll take a poke at a Cipher for his troubles, but that's the play of things and they're ready to deal with it.
Chaosmen have no claim, no stake in the city. Too capricious for ruling, too uncontrolled to judge others, too free to follow orders, the Xaositects, from their hole at the center of the Hive, are the voices of the dispossessed. They don't just -represent those poor sods who don't have anything – the Chaosmen become them. Security, warmth, sustenance, none of these things matter. The Chaosmen lurk on the edges of order, eager to pull down the case that's just been built. Along with the Anarchists, these wild addle-coves are part of what makes Sigil alive and constantly changing. Perversely, their attempts to tear everything down is part of what keeps the city constantly building.
A few services of Sigil
There's a fair business in locals willing to lead a cutter around town, either to show off the sights or take him to some place specific – whichever he needs. While there's no central guide agency, touts are found at most marketplaces and gathered around the most frequently used portals. 'Course, sometimes a cutter's taking his chances with a tout – most are trying to get a cutter to a specific tavern or inn because that's what the landlord pays them to do. A few'll settle for quick money by peeling the customer or mugging him outright. Wise bloods are always peery of anyone who's too eager to help.
These are the official versions of guides. A factotum works for a specific faction, and it's his job to see that important visitors get what they need, stay out of trouble, and don't see what they shouldn't. They'll do more than just guide a body around. They also know their way through the ins and outs of Sigil's politics.
These are Sigil's version of a taxi service. There's not too many horses in the city, so most things are carried on the backs of others. A cutter can arrange for a sedan chair at the Great Bazaar and most of the important buildings, like the Festhall. Each chair can carry two normal-sized folks and is carried by four burly types, not necessarily human. There are some places, like the Hive, where sedan chairs won't go.
The ever-vigilant Harmonium keeps the peace – or their idea of it – with foot patrols. Now, a Harmonium guardsman's view of things is that everyone should obey his orders, which are generally lawful and good. Arguing or trying to explain one's self is a sign of defiance, which in itself is cause enough to arrest a berk. It's no surprise that when the watch sees something they don't like, most all of the locals – not just the guilty – make themselves scarce.
The best way to get a message across town is to deliver it personally, but most basher's don't have the time or luxury for that, so they have to use some other means. A high-up man sends a servant, and a craftsman will make his apprentice do it, but most folks don't have either, so they find a courier. Unlike guides, most couriers are fairly reliable sorts -nobody with a public service job wants a dissatisfied tiefling looking for them. Besides, a courier makes his money delivering messages and knows he's an easy target to blame if things go wrong. Even so, no batch of couriers are perfectly honest, so there's always the chance something important might get lost or read by other eyes. All said, the best thing to do is to not go telling the dark of things to just anyone by writing it down and handing it to a stranger.
With so many hours of darkness and gloom, and no system of city street lights, light boys are a common service. These are usually street urchins who've gotten hold of a continual light wand (probably by bashing some bubbed up wizard in a dark alley). Light boys are useful for more than just light, since most of them know a particular neighborhood pretty well and can act as unofficial guides or touts.
Primes spend a lot of time sitting in taverns, it seems, and there's nothing wrong with a common alehouse. There's a lot more that can be found in Sigil, though. First off, all these folks from the planes have different tastes, and some taverns'll cater to just one. There's taverns, dark and low, with a definite fiendish bend, made to appeal to those bashers from the Lower Planes. There's imitation mead halls for the einheriar of Ysgard, and humorless ones for the rigid thinkers of Mechanus. Some are boisterous with good times, others are riotous with sullen tempers. Taverns can also vary by the type of drink served; there's nothing that says every tavern has to serve the same selection of ale and wine. Not only are there alehouses and wine cellars, but then there's differences even within those.
The difference between an inn and a tavern is usually that an inn offers more lodging and less drink. If taverns serve drinks to suit particular customers, inns cater even more specifically to the tastes of planar travelers. Aside from common human-type inns, there's the stable inns of the bariaur, pleasure-stocked inns that cater to the Sensates, communal githzerai halls, flaming pits for visitors from the City of Brass, and even black-draped halls devoted to the tanar'ri or baatezu. Of the last, a cutter's best not knowing what they're like unless he's got a lot of friends with him. A berk can be in for a rude shock if he just wanders through the door without checking on the clientele first.
There aren't many stables in Sigil, since most people get around the city on foot or by sedan chair. Still, there's a need for a few stables to put up most any kind of creature. This particular business is so small that the grooms can't choose to specialize in one type of animal or another, so a cutter doesn't need to be as particular about where he stables his mount as he does about where he drinks. Nevertheless, it pays to be watchful of what's stabled next to what. It doesn't do nobody any good to put a einheriar's pegasi in the stall next to a fiend's nightmare.
There's more than just the Great Bazaar in Sigil; a city this large can't rely on a single marketplace. Scattered throughout the Cage are places where a cutter can buy and sell all sorts of things.
All the markets are either day or night markets. Common day markets deal mostly in food and house-wares, the stuff every sod needs for daily living. 'Course, with a population like Sigil's, even the food gets strange. There's the regular meats, vegetables, and fruits that primes chew on, and then there's stuff to satisfy more exotic tastes. Slabs of quivering jelly-like things that a sod doesn't really want to know about can be bought, and there's fruits gathered from poisonous jungles on the Prime Material Plane, heaps of rare rock to suit the palates of earth elementals, steaming cauldrons of molten slag for the wandering mephit – and that's just food; there's day markets for all sorts of other things, too. Some markets specialize in a single craft like goldwork or weaving. Others offer a wondrous variety of wares from other planes. Over in the Hive, a few shops are run by thieves. It's said a basher can go there and buy back anything that was stolen from him the night before, and at only a tenth of it's true value.
The night markets offer a different variety of goods. Gone are the pots, rugs, piles of fruit, and bolts of cloth. From the shadows appear all the sellers of entertainment and pleasure. Food stalls, jugglers, musicians, prophets, and bawds all offer their wares. Those shopping in the dark hours seek excitement, distraction, and solace, and the night markets – fascinating and deadly – are only too eager to please. A cutter's got to be careful so that his misfortunes don't become another body's pleasure.
It's easy for somebody like an Outsider to get the idea that Sigil's just a scramble of places without any rhyme or reason to where they are. After all, the architecture doesn't make sense, streets are laid out in every direction, and there's not even an uptown, downtown, edge of town, or city center to guide a body. Natives of Sigil know, though, that there's different parts of town, that the city's divided into wards.
Now, the wards aren't official. In other words, there's no map in the Hall of Records that shows the line where one ward ends and another begins. (The closest thing to it is the map of Sigil, included in this boxed set.) Everybody sort of knows where the boundaries meet, yet depending on where he stands, a cutter could ask two folks what ward he's in and get two different answers. Nothing's officially organized or done by wards, either. For instance, nobody votes for anybody by ward (but then common citizens don't get to vote for anybody, anyway).
Wards are used to help find things and people. A basher looking for a good armorer goes to the Guildhall Ward, and barmies are usually found in the Hive Ward. Wards also are used to give directions ("The Golden Bariaur Inn? It's on the third street after the big statue in The Lady's Ward."). Wards can be used to judge folks, too; having a case in The Lady's Ward suggests a cutter's got power, even if some other berk's got a bigger place in the Lower Ward.
Ask a local and she'll likely say there's six wards in Sigil: The Lady's Ward, the Hive Ward, the Lower Ward, the Guildhall Ward, the Market Ward, and the Clerk's Ward. Some folk's argue that the Hive shouldn't be included because it's gotten smaller over the years, but most folks stick with the six because it's traditional. A few scholars with nothing better to do point out the relationship to the Rule of Threes (six and three and all that), but this is probably nothing but wind to justify their calling.
Within each ward are one or more faction headquarters. These buildings are more than just the centers of a given faction – they're like islands for adven-turing types. The faction headquarters attract travelers from other planes, and those travelers in turn attract businesses to serve them. Furthermore, those shops are going to take on the character of their big neighbor. Around the Civic Festhall where the Sensates cluster, player characters will find more alehouses, more wine shops, more importers of exotic goods. In the streets around the Harmonium's barracks, there are few businesses catering to customers from the Lower Planes.
Thus, clustered in the blocks around each headquarters, a cutter's going to find taverns, inns, markets, and shops suited to the needs of adventurers, including the player characters. This will always include at least two taverns and two inns, a stable, and at least one market that sells goods found on standard equipment lists. Since getting around is important to the factions, permanent portals tend to be concentrated around the headquarters' buildings. In fact, many headquarters are actually built around portals to the factions' plane of major influence.
The Lady’s Ward
It's always The Lady's Ward, not the Lady's Ward, because they're talking about the Lady of Pain here. Not that she's got a house there, or that she appears there more than anywhere else; the ward's named so because the greatest instruments of her might are found there. Of the six wards, this is far and away considered the richest and most powerful. Within its boundaries are the City Barracks, the Court, the Prison, and the Armory – things that make for real wealth and power. Folks with both money and clout set their cases in The Lady's Ward, and over half the city's temples are based there. The Lady's Ward is the quietest and most orderly in the city, because only a leatherhead'd make trouble in an area that's home to both the Harmonium and the Mercykillers.
Not surprisingly, the buildings in this ward reflect the power and wealth of their owners. The Prison's a dominating, grim structure while the Temple of the Abyss – a cross between a portal to and a temple celebrating that plane – soars dangerously into the sky. The Barracks are dour and humor-less, and the Court is regal and imposing. Naturally, every temple here is designed to display the might and glory of its high-up man. It's as if the multiverse itself had been mined of it's monuments, and all of them were placed here.
For all it's majesty, The Lady's Ward is still cold and lifeless. The regular hurly-burly of street life is missing, as too many folks are afraid of the Harmonium and the Mercykillers (and not without good reason). That suits the residents just fine, because the rich haven't ever been fond of the idea of the poor camping on their doorstep. The life that goes on there, which is actually much more than it seems, is carefully hidden behind iron-gated walls and discreet facades. For the cutter that finds her way inside, there's great balls where rivals circle each other, where grand plots are hatched over lavish dinners, and where secret affairs are hidden far from sight…
Hey, don't confuse power with security, berk! The ward's far from honest, although a cross-trading knight who's nipping purses on the street'll get scragged in an instant. Just like their prey, the criminals of that ward think on a grand scale. The risks are great, but so are the rewards, and only the finest of burglars can worm through the magical protections and alarms that safeguard the ward's treasures. And only the wisest of thieves can avoid the revenge that is sure to follow such a job. Nerve and luck are needed in equal measure.
'Course, housebreakers are small fish compared to the real criminals. The corruption and graft in The Lady's Ward make a jewel robbery look petty. See, the high-up men who live here know the way of things – whom to squeeze just when and for how much. Behind the image of respectability may be the secret face of a hidden crime lord.
The Prison. The Mercykillers' headquarters looks like everything a berk fears: It's a mass of grim stone and spikes, surrounded by broad avenues. Sometimes a cutter'll hear a faint wail from within, and when he does he doesn't stop walking. There's things a sod just don't want to know about. If there's one up-side to the area, it's that the street-crime rate here is virtually nonexistent. There's not a cross-trading body around who's going to ply his skills under the very noses of the Mercykillers. There's too many rumors of them deciding they can arrest, try, and punish a berk themselves, especially if their headquarters is close and convenient. Rigidly honest folk who've got the money and no vices at all set their cases in the blocks around the prison. The businesses around the Prison seem as gray and humorless as the cage, itself. The taverns are quiet, well-ordered places where nobody makes trouble, as only a barmy'd attract the attention of the Mercykiller squad drinking at the next table. The inns are spartan, with no hint of the temptations that some of the other establishments in Sigil offer. The markets are scrupulously honest, so the prices are higher here than just about anywhere else.
The City Court. Of all the places in The Lady's Ward, this area's got the most life. Everybody, it seems, comes here sooner or later. Because it's got a public function, the Guvner's headquarters is divided into public and private halls. In the public halls, a cutter's going to find criminals, citizens, witnesses, advocates, clerks, accusers, and Mercykiller and Harmonium guards. It seems like disorganized chaos, but the Guvners have everything scheduled and timed out. In the private parts of the Court, a body doesn't find anyone but Guvners and their guests. There, the judges meet to discuss cases and reach their decisions, often referring to the immense library of laws the faction's assembled
Outside the Court there's a number of taverns and inns to serve those attending trials. In comparison to other places in The Lady's Ward, they're pretty lively. In comparison to places elsewhere in the city, they're damned quiet. The taverns serve anybody, from thief to Hardhead, and there can't help but be a little life there. Most of the alehouses do extra business selling meals to prisoners or running wine and beer to the back rooms of the Court.
The Armory. Home to the Doomguard, this headquarters is in the seediest part of the ward. In fact, some folks argue it's really part of the grimy Lower Ward. Like most of the other buildings in The Lady's Ward, it's huge and dominating. All the windows are covered with stone grates, and razorvine covers the lower walls. The heavy iron gates make it clear that the Doomguard's got the weapons and intends to keep them. However, some of the shops in the neighborhood specialize in custom-made weaponry that a blood can drop a lot of jink on, if she knows the right words to get her into the back room
The streets around the Armory are quiet, but that stillness hides a lot of sinister activity. So close to the Lower Ward, this area's the toehold of thieves and rogues seeking entrance to The Lady's Ward. It's also a popular area for the wealthy to mingle with the lower classes and for mercenaries and assassins to meet their employers.
The City Barracks. At the opposite end of the ward from the Armory is the headquarters of the Harmonium, the City Barracks. It's a long, low two-story structure that forms a quadrangle around an immense parade ground. Unlike many other faction headquarters, the Barracks were built to look strong without inspiring terror. The Harmonium really wants people to like them and believe in their cause (and they'll use force to get that result if they have to). Given their attitude, it's no surprise the streets around there are the most deserted of all the ward. There's very few businesses in the Harmonium district, mainly because any merchant who doesn't conform to Harmonium standards gets himself arrested. Sure, he's usually released by the Guvners, but who wants to go through that all the time? The taverns and inns in the area all closely follow the Harmonium official line.
The Lower Ward
It's argued that this area of the city isn't a proper ward at all, an argument that ignores the fact there's no definitions of wards to be found anywhere. Certainly the Lower Ward's been shrinking over the decades. Old-timers remember when it included the City Armory and the Mortuary. (Younger folks and newcomers place these in The Lady's Ward and the Hive Ward, respectively.) This creates a little confusion between young and old. Whatever the boundaries are, most sods agree that the Great Foundry is the center of the ward. Radiating out from this are lightless warehouses, smoky mills, ringing forges, and a host of other small workshops. In this district are concentrated most of the city's craftsmen.
The ward got its name from the number of portals to the Lower Planes that're found here. These doorways have affected the nature of the place, so there seems to be more smoke, steam, and cinders in the air than there should be. The Lower Ward's the source of most of the foul industrial smogs that sometimes choke the city, brownish-yellow blankets of stinging sulphurous gas that cling to the air and linger as a stench in clothes for days afterwards. Too long outside in the Lower Ward and a cutter's throat gets raw and his eyes teary. After a while, his skin absorbs enough crud to take on a sickly tone. His eyes grow hollowed and dark, his hair pale. The Lower Ward's the only spot from which a berk can be placed just by his appearance.
Folks in the Lower Ward tend to be secretive and stubborn. Most of the craftsmen feel like they've got trade secrets, and they're always peery of strangers, even customers. Their moods aren't helped by the number of lower-planar types that haunt the dives and flophouses tucked in back alleys, or by the barmies who slip out of the Hive by night to prowl. The Harmonium patrols aren't strong here, and most folks expect they've got to take care of themselves.
The Great Foundry. This is the headquarters of the Godsmen. The foundry's a dirty sprawling complex of workshops, warehouses, storage yards, and furnaces. The Gods-men work it nonstop. By day it belches smoke and steam, and by night the district's lit by its fires. The products of the foundry, petty metal goods needed by everyone throughout Sigil and beyond, are the Godsmen's major source of jink. They make tools, hinges, pots, nails, and anything else that can be fashioned out of iron. Their skills are not great; very little of their wares are fancy work, but it's all strong and serviceable.
The streets around the foundry are a jumbled weave of workshops and worker's taverns. They're not luxurious or particularly clean; when a cutter's been at the forge all day, he tracks in a lot of grime. Drinking and dealing are both serious business. There's always somebody haggling over the price of goods. Other deals get cut there, too, for that's the neighborhood where men and fiends meet. Their dark talk doesn't get whispered outside these doors.
The Shattered Temple. The faction headquarters of the Athar stand at the heart of a zone of destruction several blocks across. They've only repaired what little they had to in order to make the temple useable, preferring the broken look of the place. (They are the Lost, after all.) The area's been a ruin for a long time, as anyone who knows anything about Sigil can testify, but there's no clear hint as to what caused it. The best guess is that it involved the Lady of Pain and a conflict with a rival power. That would explain the broken temple, once belonging to the power Aoskar, which is now the Athars' home. Whatever the cause, the area's considered ill-omened by most, and nobody has ever built there since. Only a bunch like the Lost would ignore these superstitions.
Still, even they can't overcome other folks' fears. The few Athar merchants who've tried rebuilding in the blasted zone have all gone out of business for lack of customers – only other Athar'd even consider dealing with the berks. Wagoners stop at the very edge of the ruins, porters with sedan chairs won't enter, and moneylenders refuse to give out loans to those foolish enough to ignore the tradition. While all this makes good security for the Athar, it's lousy for business.
Yet there's always a way to turn trouble into profit, folks figure. Packed at the outer edges of the ruin are a whole host of shops and inns catering to the Lost and their visitors. These form a ring of gaudy nightlife around the ruin. Over the years, the reputation of the area's grown enough to attract even wealthy lords looking for a little low-life fun.
The Hive Ward
On the ring of Sigil, this ward runs from the edges of the Shattered Temple to beyond the walls of the Hive, the Xaositect headquarters that give the ward its name. Embraced within the ward, among other sites, are the Mortuary and the Gatehouse. The Hive Ward is physically synonymous with the chaotic sprawl and the tangled slum that surrounds it. Indeed, it's almost impossible to be sure where the faction headquarters end and the true slum begins.
Life in the Hive is the worst of all places unless, of course, a berk likes living in the heart of decay, where anyone's life is cheaper than the cost of a cutter's next meal. Life here is seldom boring, but it's also short and deadly. Honest work is scarce, so people live by whatever means they can. For most, that means stealing or signing on for dangerous jobs that no sane basher'd touch. This is where a cutter goes when he needs bodies for a staged riot, if he wants to raise a company of ill-trained fighters, or if he wants an assassin willing to risk all on a desperate job.
There's high-ups and bloods within the Hive, too. They're smart and careful. They know how to hide from their enemies and conceal their wealth behind seamy facades. (Those that can't do so just don't make it that high.) They're the master thieves and the most unscrupulous of adventurers.
Not everybody in the Hive's evil and sinister, though. The ward holds more than its share of noble folks, too: folks broken by Sigil or their enemies. There's poets and bards waiting for their break, wizards who've spent their fortunes researching some impossible dream, and out-of-town warriors who went out on the town and woke up broke. Then there's the barmies – the mad and insane who can't confront the reality of the planes. They're all found in the Hive.
Proper business is pretty thin in the ward, but there's still things bought and sold. Thieves and fences ply their wares here, as do pawnbrokers and moneylenders. There's secret slave markets, too. For entertainment, there's dives that sell the cheapest bub possible, and gladiatorial pits where a basher can stake her life against another's. None of it's glamorous, and there's always an air of desperation to a body's doings here.
The Mortuary. The Dustmen's headquarters is a collection of windowless vaults that rise like a giant's mausoleum above the surrounding shacks. They're all dark, catacombed, vaulted, and chambered halls filled with sods living on the lives of others. Grim traffic trundles down the silent lanes to its doors -creaking wagons of the dead, driven by the skull-faced, their eyes hollow, their cheeks sunken from the years of their ashen work. The bodies pass through the doors and then beyond. Behind the doors of the Mortuary is one of the largest concentrations of portals in Sigil. There's doorways to everywhere, or at least one to every plane, including the Prime Material and most of its worlds. There, the Dustmen and their undead assistants send the city's corpses to other worlds where they belong. As mentioned, the other sides of these portals open into places made especially for the dead, so any cutter who decides to use one of them might end up stepping right into a crematorium or some other place where he'll be lost for certain. Long story made short: These portals are not for getting around the multiverse, berk.
The streets around the Mortuary are the province of the unclean, those in Sigil who'll do the jobs nobody else will touch: collecting the dead, butchering meat, nursing the diseased, anything objectionable to others. Some are proud of their victory over superstition, while others have been broken by the scorn of those they work for. They lead desperate lives in their shanties and shacks, isolated from each other as much as the rest of the world.
There are few taverns, inns, or shops around the Mortuary. It's not a place for thriving businesses, but that doesn't mean there aren't any services an adventurer needs here. The outcasts'll almost always open their cases to strangers, for both jink and company. It won't be warm and there's precious few smiles, but a cutter can get what he needs.
The Gatehouse. At the very edge of the Hive, the most desperate and wretched part of the whole ward is the Gatehouse, home of the Bleak Cabal. It's like the boundary between sanity and despair, and who better to man that than the faction that's given up all hope. In common folklore it's said to sit on the border to the Mazes, but the real chant is the Mazes can appear anywhere. Still, the Gatehouse sits at the edge of the Hive Headquarters, which is close enough to the Mazes for most honest souls.
The Gatehouse is an arched tower with sprawling wings, where the Bleakers minister to the mad and lost. They're kind to their charges, but their treatments are unorthodox. "Give up the illusion of meanings," they advise their patients. "Accept that which doesn't make sense and then peace'll come." Some folks say the Bleakers do more sinister things in there, in the parts of their headquarters where other folks aren't allowed. 'Course, that gets said about every faction, by enemies hoping to put fear into others. Still, haunting, unnatural moans and screams echo throughout the ward, and there's no saying whether they come from the hospital wings or from somewhere deeper within.
Where The Lady's Ward is order and calm, the streets around the Bleakers' headquarters are thriving chaos. Lined outside the Gatehouse there's sad parents lined up to commit their children, sad children with their old parents, and many-a poor sod needing to be committed for his strange visions – manic dreams of fortune, crazed appetites for power, and lunatic promises of cosmic destiny. There's also rogues from the heart of the Hive, selling the fruits of their trade, and dives where information flows for the price of a drink. Hawkers offer "true and authentic maps" to all the portals of Sigil. Just remember, a cutter gets what he pays for…
The Hive. This is it: faction headquarters, ward name, and slum all bundled up in one simple name. The Hive's the heart and headquarters of the Xaositects, the harbingers of chaos. The headquarters of the Chaosmen is like no other. There's no one building that holds all the faction's secrets and powers. It's broken up, scattered, sprawled through the tangled alleys of the slum. Hive (Headquarters) and Hive (Ward) are one, but Hive and Hive are also many. A cutter goes to one shack for healing, to another for food, and to still a third to meet with his factol.
The shanties aren't all what they seem on the outside, either. There's genuine wonders to be found inside some of them, wild collections of things that make no sense to one sod and shed light on the meaning of life to another. What else's a berk to expect from the Xaositects?
Unlike other places, folks in the slum of the Hive are far from despairing. They're too busy fighting and struggling for life. Maybe they're the greatest capitalists in all of Sigil. They see all around them what happens to those who get ahead and what happens to those who slip behind in the game, which only makes them all the more determined to stay in the race. Treat him well and a Hiver can be a loyal ally. Turn stag on him and a berk will regret it forever.
The Hive's got every service a cutter's likely to need. Most of it's not the best quality – the bub's cheap, the weapons are plain but usable, and the servants are insolent – but it's all there. Exotic goods from other worlds may be rare, but there's always a hand willing to go get them for a fee. There's plenty of entertainment, too. There's bodies who'll do anything for jink: perform gladiator fights, magic duels, death-defying stunts, and more. A lot of folks from the Lower Planes mingle here, like tanar'ri, yugoloths, and baatezu to name a few. It's no surprise that the Blood War's secretly fought in these very alleys.
The Clerk's Ward
The Lady's Ward may be the most powerful and prestigious, but cutters from the Clerk's Ward proudly point out that it's their ward that keeps the city running. This is the domain of bureaucrats, scribes, sages, and scholars. Here, life is peaceful and without surprises – or without too many surprises, at least. It's the perfect burgomaster's neighborhood.
Pure fact is, the claim ain't too far from the truth. This ward's got the Hall of Records and the Hall of Speakers, the instruments and voice of the city's daily life. Without these there'd be no law, no proof of ownership, no listing of citizens, no tracking of debts, no records of arrest, and no taxation. (It's no wonder folks in other wards sneer at this lot.)
Folks in the Clerk's Ward try hard to achieve "normalcy." The streets are well patrolled and the buildings are maintained. There's less duplicity here than in the two-faced world of The Lady's Ward and less danger than in the turbulent Hive. Travelers from the Lower Planes don't visit here too often, but the ward's popular with primes and upper-planar types. In fact, their presence adds even more security to the place. Some folks would say the ward is dull, but it's dullness that attracts a sod who's looking for a little peace and quiet for the night.
Folks common to the Clerk's Ward include shopkeepers, moneylenders, importers of exotic goods, go-betweens, sages, wizards, common priests, and – naturally – clerks. They try to lead quiet lives, friendly but not intrusive to their neighbors. Scattered among them are more intriguing types who favor untroubled surroundings, like mercenaries resting between campaigns, devas in disguise, and even lone thieves who enjoy the discrete privacy of the area.
The Hall of Records. This is the headquarters of the Fated. The building once was a college, but the Fated foreclosed on a slightly overdue debt and made it their home. After selling off the library (they didn't need it), the Fated settled into the broken campus and made it theirs. It wasn't long before they convinced the Speakers that the city needed to keep proper books, and who better to do it than the Fated, with all that shelf space? Now the Hall of Records is the center of Sigil's financial world. Foreign merchants file their bills of credit here, moneylenders set the official exchange rates, landlords register their property deeds, tax rolls are revised, and debtors' defaults are posted for the public to see. In another part of the Hall, records of the Court are filed in huge, dusty stacks, while elsewhere the proclamations of the Speakers are carefully copied for posting. The Fated run the City Mint, too, although almost every other faction closely supervises their work. In the private sections of the headquarters, the factol supervises the work on The Secret History of Sigil, a collection of all the Fated's doings and all the secrets their followers have learned.
The businesses that cluster around the Hall mirror life behind those walls. The great merchanthouses of Sigil maintain well-appointed townhouses in the district, where the ground floors hum with industry and the families live upstairs. The few respectable counting houses in Sigil do their business here as well. There are even fledgling "assurance companies," willing to protect a merchant's investment for a fee.
All this money attracts other business, too. Fancy inns cater to the merchant princes who sometimes come to town, while slightly less sumptuous places tend to the needs of their followers. Services are clean and efficient, though not spectacular. Food and lodging prices are both costly. Bodyguards, wizards, and mercenaries can be hired in most taverns, as can thieves. There's often a merchant looking for guards to accompany him to some far off plane, and sometimes there's special high-paying jobs for those willing to take the risk. Nothing is done without haggling or loud complaints over the cost of everything. The wealthy intend to stay that way, even if it means misery and hardship for others.
The Civic Festhall. The Civic Festhall is a combination concert hall, opera house, museum, art gallery, tavern, wine shop, and faction headquarters, mixed in with a few other services that are best left undescribed. This mash of services makes sense, given that the place is run by the Sensates. Their desire to experience everything includes the arts, but also much, much more. There's tall tales to be told about what happens in the back halls of the Sensate headquarters…
But all that's just whispers to the folks who come here for the shows and excitement. They're here to have a good time – a safe, cultured good time with just enough daring to make them feel dangerous. Not that the folks who come here are at any particular risk. Aside from the cutpurses and peelers, there's no real danger in the streets around the Sen-sate headquarters. In fact, true Sensates make for other parts of town for the "true" experiences.
With the Civic Festhall as an anchor, the district around it has attracted a number of artistic businesses. There's dealers in artistic curiosities from all the worlds of the multiverse. There's taverns noted for the bards that play there. Other businesses have the finest wines, the best food, or the best of many other comforts. Jongleurs wander down the streets, portable puppet theaters are set up at the intersections, fire eaters belch their talents from the alleys, and wizards craft beautiful illusions for the crowds. Even stranger beings from the hinterlands get into the show, acting for coins or using their strange powers to dazzle the multitudes.
Those that live and work in this district – the showmen, the actors, the musicians, and the mountebanks – are all just a hair's breath above disreputable, or at least that's what other folks say. The good folk of the district'll point out their entertainments are honest products of training and skill. 'Course, the idea that a strolling singer or comedic actor has to work hard just sits foreign with most other berks.
The Hall of Speakers. The Sign of One's headquarters is a marked contrast to the normally dour, heavy and dark buildings chosen by many other factions, especially the Harmonium. The Hall of Speakers is a soaring, almost graceful structure that rises like a spire over the neighborhood. This is the seat of everyday government in Sigil. Here the factols and plebeians meet to debate the few laws and ordinances of the city. More often than not, the Speaker's Podium is a forefront of the war between the factions. On a regular day, the factol of the Xaositects is likely to propose getting rid of the Harmonium guard, which instantly gains the support of the Doomguard, since the move is sure to promote chaos and decay. The Harmonium counters by demanding the arrest of the Xaositect factol, promising the Mercykillers that they can administer the punishment. On and on it goes, as factions attempt to recruit political allies, until somebody – usually the Guvners – manages to kill the whole issue on a point of order. The chant is, real lawmaking in Sigil's a rare event
It makes sense that this place is the Signers' headquarters. Where can a berk be any more at the center of his own multiverse than on the Speaker's Podium? Unlike the other factions, where all the speaking's left to the factol, the Signers like to rotate their followers through the Speaker's chores, giving each a chance to address all of Sigil. 'Course, the factol always makes sure he's the one speaking anytime there's an important vote (this is his multiverse more than anybody else's, after all).
Most of the Hall of Speakers is open to the public for a fee. The Hall's got council chambers, meeting rooms, private apartments, and more; these can be leased for official uses. The heart of the Hall is private faction territory, however. Here, the Signer's hold their own sessions and plot their many-branching courses, but how they agree on anything is anybody's guess. It can be pretty tough for so many centers of the multiverse to agree on even the smallest issue.
The streets around the Hall are noteworthy in that the lodgings are expensive and the drink strong. There's little in the way of entertainments, and the choice of adventurer services – armorers, weapon-smiths, map dealers, etc. – is limited. There are a fair number of street-corner criers and scribes for hire.
The Guildhall and Market Wards
Although the Lower Ward is far bigger, it's the one folks argue is vanishing. That should give a cutter some idea of the clout of these two wards. Each of them is tiny, but folks in Sigil can't imagine the city without them.
Still, for all their supposed importance, there's not much to tell the two wards apart. The things that make them so ordinary are just what make them important to the city. Life's impossible with the basics of food, clothing, and the like, and that's what these wards provide. These are the wards of the mercers, greengrocers, provisioners, rug sellers, tinkers, and peddlers. This is where a cutter can buy all the common, useful, and everyday things he needs for life inside and outside the city. This is where a basher can find the great permanent portals to the other trade cities of the planes. Of all the areas in the city, this one is the most cosmopolitan. There's no greater preponderance of beings from one plane or another here; everything, from aasimons to tanar'ri, mingles here, and there's an unstated and ill-watched truce between all things that come to this ward.
The streets here are alive, day and night, with commerce, but just what's being bought and sold changes with the hours. Who wants to buy fruit in the blackness of night, when a cutter can't see the rotten produce that's being passed off on him? Who can take their entertainment during the day when there's too much work to be done earning a living? Hence, by day the market's alive with fruit sellers, vegetable stalls, drapers, cutlers, and tinkers. And by night it's filled with bards, cookshops, wine peddlers, illusionists, and companions. There's something for everyone here.
The Great Gymnasium. This is a gymnasium in the grand old sense: It's got baths, steam rooms, massage tables, an exercise field, pools, lounges, and even a portico where the teachers of the Transcendent Order instruct their students. All of this is enclosed in a great compound of goldveined black marble. The Gymnasium is open to all, but only on the Ciphers' terms.
Compared to other parts of Sigil, life here is deliberately unhurried. The Transcendent Order (whose faction headquarters these are) believes understanding can only come with a calm mind, so they do their best to keep the pressures and concerns of the outside world at bay. Those who enter must leave weapons and magic behind. No spells can be cast there, nor are beings with innate powers allowed to exercise their talents. 'Course, none of these rules apply to the Ciphers, although these edicts are generally followed by most of them, too. Nor are the rules perfectly obeyed by visitors. There are always little incidents to disturb the perfect calm of the place, disturbances the Ciphers have to put down.
Because of the rules and services here, the Gymnasium serves two purposes. First, it's a place for citizens to relax and forget the cares of the world. Noise, pressure, even social class can be forgotten. Second, the Great Gymnasium serves as a neutral ground for hostile parties. Many a truce, treaty, and pact have been negotiated in the steam rooms and baths. Like every other part of Sigil, the Great Gymnasium is vital to the functioning of the city. If it didn't exist already, it'd have to be created.
The streets around the Great Gymnasium are host to a score of smaller competitors, so the whole district is noted for its baths and spas. Some are general while others cater to particular races or planes. With the baths come inns and food shops, many of which offer nothing put healthful exotica.
The Great Bazaar. This plaza's the headquarters of the Free League, and it just fits that their case ain't even a building. The Great Bazaar's a huge square filled with caravan tents and rickety merchant stalls. The air's rich with smells of flowers, meats, fruits, animals, and sewage. Walk through the crowded aisles and a cutter's assaulted by calls to examine, smell, feel, and – most of all – buy the wares of every merchant he passes. Anything on a general equipment list can be bought here, even things too big to actually bring to Sigil. Need a galley for the River Oceanus and a blood'll find a merchant here willing to sell him one.
Not that everyone's honest and forthright, though. A basher's got to be a smart shopper to take care he don't get peeled by some dishonest trader. Buy something that's supposedly waiting out on the planes and a sod better have ways of making sure it's really there. The other thing a berk's got to be cautious about is the pickpockets and cutpurses that roam the market. It takes money to shop in the bazaar, and where there's money, there's thieves. But those are the risks every cutter takes.
The Free League's headquarters hold a loose affiliation of traders and merchants that come and go as they please. There's always somebody providing each service the faction needs, but one week a cutter might have to go to a rug dealer near the central fountain for information on where to find a portal, and the next week he'll have to visit a passing tinker who's set up on the edge of the ward. It's all a matter of a wink here and a nod there, the business of knowing the right people, and knowing the right questions to ask. 'Course, a cutter's expected to do the same for others, too. The Free League's more like a brotherhood ready to lend a hand to its members than a rigid organization.
It's hard to say exactly where the Great Bazaar ends. The wheeling and dealing spills over into side streets as peddlers vie for spaces to show their wares. The folks in this neighborhood are always ready to make a deal or haggle over a price. Taverns hum with pitches of hucksters, and there are large inns capable of housing and stabling entire caravans. Open-air cafes serve anybody who comes along, and that's the best place for creature-watching; everybody, except the most reclusive rich, comes here sooner or later.