The Outlands

Introduction

Sigil and the Outlands house the majority of Planars and are the most info packed of all the places is in the multiverse. In the following sections I will talk about magic in the Outlands, its Realms and Locations.

The Outlands

The term Outlands describes the disk which sits in midst of the great ring of the Outer Planes. In the middle of the Outlands stands the Spire, an infinitely tall spire at whose peak floats the taurus city Sigil.

The outlands are the Plane of true neutrality and this would make a body think its the most boring one but that is definitely not the case berk. The Pane is the most liked and visited because its the only one where everyone can go.

One couldn’t even call it’s landscape boring as it changes the closer you get to the border, reflecting the closest Plane.

Due to the Gates between Outlands and the Planes of the great Ring there are multiple so called Gate Citys at the border to each of the Planes with more Settlements everywhere across the Plane.

Magic in the Outlands

The Outlands have a neutralizing effect on all which also means magic. The closer you get to the centre the more magic won’t work. So at the outer ring everything works fine but close to the center you won’t even get a cantrip going.

Due to this the Outlands are a popular meeting place for the most powerful being as there is no danger of a combat close to the centre.

How diminished your magic at a point is never clear as the borders for it are always shifting so at the border regions of the zones you may be able to cast a 7th level spell one day and not on the other.

Notable Realms of the Outlands

In the following section I will write short bits about the most popular Realms of the Outlands that any Planar would realistically know about or has even visited themselves.

Tir Na Og

"The Land of Youth" is the largest of the realms in the Land, and home to most powers of the Celtic pantheon. The realm is di-vided into lesser areas, where particular powers are dominant. There are no cities in Tir na Og, only villages and lone homesteads. The petitioners there live in rural contentment, supporting themselves mainly through hunting, fanning, and weaving.

Tir Na Og is roughly halfway between the Spire and Bytopia.

The Norns

This realm can be reached only by crossing a wilder-ness more savage than most. It's a tiny realm, but one that possesses great power. Here the Norns of Norse lore huddle among the roots of the plane-spanning Yggdrasil. The canopy is so thick that the realm's like a great cavern. The few petitioners here are unhappy shades waiting to hear from the Norns. These powers huddle round the Well of Urd to read the fates of men and gods. Sometimes a prime or a planar'll consult them, but it's bad business to learn one's future before it's time. 

Their Realm is close to the Gate Town F?unel, which is closest to the Beastlands.

Sheely Peryrolm’s Realm

This area is small; indeed, everything about it is undersized, as befits a power of the halflings. There are no cities or towns here, only a single, extensive orchard and a large halfling farm, partially above ground, but mostly below. The petitioners here are all halflings, tending the great orchard and farm.

The Realm is halfway to the border and sits between Elysium and the Beastlands.

The Dwarven Mountain

So named for the breed of its petitioners and its powers, this realm lies under the influence of Dugmaren Brightmantle, Dumathoin, and Vergadain. The whole realm takes the form of a gigantic rocky mountain. The powers take no interest in the mountain's surface, so there are random petitioner and planar settlements on its slope that have little to do with the realm. Inside, the mountain is honeycombed with caverns. Those nearest the peak are the domain of Vergadain, which is notorious for its gaming halls and rumored treasure houses, as befits a god of luck and wealth. Further down is the domain of Dug-maren. There, the caverns are a wild disarray of furnaces, forges, smelters, villages, and libraries filled with esoteric tomes on metallurgy and other iron crafts. The deepest part of the realm is claimed by Dumathoin. This area is nothing but cold caverns and mines coiling around great veins of ore. It is rumored that the petitioners of this domain spend their days and nights secretly singing the chants that cause the veins to swell and grow. Very little is actually smelted, for the petitioners here prize metal only in its natural state. The petitioners here are all dwarves, if a sod couldn't guess, although there's more than a few run ins with folks from the realms of Gzemnid Ilsensine, and others on the surface.

The Realm sits between Ysgard and Limbo is only about a quarter of the distance from border to spire removed starting from the border.

Semuanya’s Bog

The far shore of Tir fo Thuinn barely rises above the plane's equivalent of sea level, becoming a nest for lizard men and other bog lovers. The petitioners found here are truly unique: lizard men, all. It's a mostly deserted realm, although some independent-minded planars, including more than one desperate outlaw, have set their kip here.

The Realm sits halfway along border and centre and is between Carceri and the Gray Waste.

Gzemnid and Ilsensine’s Realm

No blood knows if these two powers share one realm or if they just lack the imagination to make their realms different. Both rule over caverns that run deeper than even the dwarf realm, and all the tunnels merge together. Things foul and dangerous are supposed to stalk the halls, and most bashers figure there's secret portals to the Lower Planes here. Certainly, the darker fiends of the Lower Planes take residence in these realms when business brings them to the Outlands.Gzemnid's realm is a dangerous and deadly maze. Illusions, distortions, and subtle charms predominate here to match the beholder god's nature. There's no settlements – a petitioner's got to go it on his own, setting up his own nest somewhere in the passages. The petitioners themselves are an unpleasant lot: a few beholders and a goodly number of thieves. They're willing to make deals, but they're always on the watch for their own rewards. Ilsensine's realm is the more dangerous of the two. The illithid god exists here only because it conspires against Good, Evil, Law, and Chaos alike. Planar adventurers don't like to go here because the place pulses with a mind-wracking drone that burns in a basher's head. Nor are they welcome, since the ruling power prefers those whom it can control. Still, it's said that here a cutter can learn nearly anything that transpires on another plane – if he can stay sane long enough to find Ilsensine and ask the question. It's quite possible that Ilsensine maintains realms on other planes, or that it's a god-brain whose neurons flow to the other planes, much like the roots of Yggdrasil.

The Realm is close to both Pandemonium and Limbo by a roughly equal amount and its rather close to the border.

The Palace of Judgement

This realm is a single massive palace, along with its appropriate bureaucracies, granaries, stables, and side-palaces. The entire realm is enclosed in a wall of red brick, patrolled by vigilant petitioners. This is the realm of Yen-Wang-Yeh, judge of the Ten Law Courts and king of the Eighteen Hells. Here, all those petitioners under the sway of the Celestial Bureaucracy are received, judged, and consigned to their appropriate planes and realms. The Palace of Judgment's a unique case. There's conduits there to every realm of the Celestial Bureaucracy (the pantheon of high-ups who call themselves Chinese): Acheron, Gehenna, Mechanus, Mount Celestia, and the Prime Material Plane are just a few. These pipes are used to shoot petitioners along to their justly deserved places (so figure the ones to the Lower Planes get used a bit more than those to the Upper Planes). Therefore, the petitioners there aren't only petitioners of the Outlands. If any newly dead sod falls under the Celestial Bureaucracy's purview, then he's got to come here first, so there's petitioners destined for every plane walking around the Palace. Those that are judged and assigned to be kept on the Outlands usually wind up as clerks and petty bureaucrats for the whole operation. The Palace is big, too. The chant is there's 9,001 rooms behind its walls. Probably the only being who knows for sure is Yen-Wang-Yeh himself

The Palace sits halfway between Centre and the Border to the Abyss.

Tvashtri’s Laboratory

This realm borders the Dwarven Mountain. A cutter might even mistake it for part of Dugmaren Brightmantle's domain. It looks like an endless workshop filled with columns, pipes, catwalks, brightly polished devices of all types, and near-endless book stacks that disappear into darkness. Libraries are jammed next to armories, forges next to kitchens. It's the realm of Tvashtri, god of artifice and science. Here, the petitioners spend their days inventing and building. Most are human, but there's a good number of gnomes hard at work, too. It's the place to go for the best gear a cutter could need, although some say the magic's better in Tir na Og or the Dwarven Mountain.

Thoth’s Estate

Thoth's realm is a big one. It's a collection of several villages and towns that dot the banks of the Ma'at, that rises out of Semuanya's Bog and flows through Thoth's realm. A basher's got to watch out for crocodiles and crocodile-like creatures here. At the center of the realm is Thebestys, the great city of Thoth, and at its center is the Great Library. A cutter is supposed to be able to find the answer to anything here, if he can just find the right scroll. The petitioners are a normal lot, living ordinary lives along the river.

The Realm is quarter removed from the Border and sits between Acheron and Mechanus.

The Hidden Realm

It's a laugh to say this realm's well known, since no sod can ever seem to find it. Most bloods figure it's really a demiplane somehow attached to the Outlands. By report, it's the home of the giant deity, Annam. Most tale tellers say it's a completely barren mountain with a single crystal tower at the top. That's where Annam sits, surrounded by a thousand-piece orrery of the multiverse that spins in perfect time, all around him. The way they tell it, he's a lonely, sad god, but that may just be dressing for the sake of the story.

The Mausoleum of Chronepsis

This realm is a compact one, as it's got no petitioners and only one inhabitant – Chronepsis, the dragon god of fate. His realm is a great cavern in the mountains near the Dwarven Mountain. Here he rests, surrounded by hourglasses that slowly dribble out the sands of life for every dragon and dragon-kin of the multiverse.

The Court of Light

This is the realm of Shekinester, the naga goddess. It's relatively close to the Palace of Judgment. Her petitioners are nagas of all types, although the worst and best wind up on other planes. Only a leatherhead comes here, as old Shekinester's an unpredictable power. A cutter never knows just what aspect her realm's going to reflect – Weaver, Empowerer, or Preserver. It's also risky going to her realm because her petitioners just might decide a berk's got to be "initiated" into some mystery, and that can be an unpleasant process. On the other hand, there's a lure to these mysteries, because a few of the berks that return from here have insights denied to other bloods.

There's more realms than just these on the Outlands, but most of them are so small that they hardly count, or they're so bizarre that a body can't make any sense of them. This ain't to say that the entire land is filled with realms; there's also empty spaces between the lands. 'Course, "empty's" not the right description. These boundaries are filled with the towns and cities of planars, and there's quite a few cursed petitioners who don't have a power to call their lord. The empty lands are mostly dry plains, not lush but not desert – a balance between too little and too much. One blood said it reminded her of a place called the Great Plains on some prime-material world.

Petitioners of the Outlands

Every plane's got its quirks, and these show up fairly obviously in its petitioners. The miserable wretches of Gehenna don't know charity, while the fervent of Arcadia are fanatic in their pursuit of evil. Meanwhile, the petitioners of Ysgard madly battle each other for glory every day. Though there are far fewer petitioners of the Outlands (it's not in most mortals' nature to be truly neutral), they reflect their home plane, too. Their lives are the balance, the fulcrum between good and evil, law and chaos. 

Some folks think Outlander petitioners would naturally refuse to take sides in any dispute, but that's not the case. The petitioners of the Outlands don't mind getting involved at all – in fact, the problem is keeping them from getting too involved

Here's the chant: Ask a petitioner of the Outlands to do one thing and he does two. If he gives you advice, he's just as likely to advise your enemy. See, the petitioners there have this feeling that every action they take affecting the balance of good and evil (or law and chaos) must be offset by an equal action to the opposite side. Being dutiful petitioners, that's just what they try to do.

So, a basher's got to wonder just what this means. Suppose a petitioner gives directions to PlagueMort. Does that mean he's got to find somebody and give them directions to Glorium, just to balance things out? No, there's no law, chaos, good, or evil inherent in giving directions. However, if an Outlander petitioner smuggles a body away from the hunting fiends of Plague-Mort – a good act by most standards – then he's going to feel compelled to fix the balance. That same petitioner might raise the alarm as soon as the sod's out of town, or he might betray the next berk that's hunted by the fiends. A petitioner's balancing doesn't have to be done immediately. Pure fact is, most of them carry little tallies of their deeds, sometimes in their heads and sometimes in little books.

What's this mean for a cutter who's got to deal with such folk? Well, most planars try not to ask too much of an Outlander petitioner; a body never knows when he's going to tip the balance, after all. When that cutter asks for something he knows is good, evil, lawful, or chaotic, he's a wise one to expect some kind of backfire. If he hires an Outlander petitioner-mercenary to help him raid the Fated's headquarters in Sigil, he's a leatherhead to expect the mere to sneak in quiet. The petitioner's more likely to bellow out their arrival – just to balance things out between the two groups. 'Course, the petitioner might not do anything now and balance accounts out at some other time, with some other person. Or, he might be balancing the scales now – a body never knows for sure. How they decide when to fix the balance is something no blood's ever figured out. Ask a petitioner and he can't or won't tell, either. Folks in Sigil figure the Outlanders just like to torment others, keeping them on hooks – will they act this time or won't they? It might be true, as more than enough berks get burned up with the suspense.

This business leads to other surprises from the Outlanders. Sometimes they do things that seem like downright meanness, like lying or hurting a body for no visible reason. Ask them about it and they're just "paying back the balance." 'Course, other times they'll do things that, if a body didn't know better, would just be barmy generosity. An Outlander might suddenly offer advice, give information, or cut his prices without explanation. Fact is, it's all done from the balance book they make, and folks who make the Outlands their home just get used to it.

Outlander Spell Keys

Only a few spells are jumbled by the neutral nature of the Outlands, yet every cutter who can cast a spell gets all put out if his one favorite is among them. That's why there's spell keys, ways to work around those obstacles. Recovering that special spell's just a matter of learning the right key. 'Course, keys aren't something every wizard just rattles his bone-box about. It don't pay to shed too much light on the dark. After all, a berk just might be giving aid to his enemy. No, a blood's got to discover the keys he needs by himself. A factol might share a few with his brothers or sisters, but a cutter's got to figure there's a price for such help. A little garnish in the right places might buy a few keys, but the cost could get high. A canny fellow might bob another wizard into revealing a few, but that's hard – most wizards hoard their knowledge like precious gems. 

There's only a few keys to learn, as whole groups of spells use the same key. All the Outlander keys work on the principle of balance: Something must be done, offered, or exchanged, at least symbolically, for a spell to work. The key is invoked or used at the time of casting, and it has to be employed each time the affected spell is cast.

Outlander Power Keys

It's likely that power keys for various priest spells exist on the Outlands. Just the same, power keys aren't something a berk can just drop a little jink on and learn. He can't get the dark of them from factols, and most other priests won't share the one or two power keys they might know, either. Power keys have got to be earned and even then there's no promise a cutter's going to get one.

Features of the Outlands

If a cutter's going to get along on the Outlands, she's got to know her way around. A blood wants adventure and danger in life, and that only happens by exploring. The thing is, she needs a place to explore. Now, the planes are vast and there's lots of danger out there, so there's no loss of places a body can explore and risk her hide in. 

But that cutter's got to have more than just dangerous places to explore. She's got to have places to eat, sleep, and get healed after a long day of adventuring. Maybe that cutter needs a space to accumulate experience, somewhere she can explore and live to talk about it, too. Safety in the whirling ring of the storm is what that berk needs, and that's part of what the Outlands give. 'Course, it ain't all quiet gardens and fine sweetmeats, either. Just like on the Great Ring, a berk's got to know where she's welcome and where not to rattle the doors. It can be just as dangerous here as in the deepest pits of Baator. 

Here's the chant: Folks often make a big mistake in thinking about the Outlands. They figure the essence of the plane is true neutrality, and that means nothing happens. Leatherheads! True neutrality means there's a balance of everything. For every good there's an evil, and for every land of order there's a swirling morass of chaos, but that can make for a lot more action than a body'll find in the most chaotic planes. That's the dark of the Outlands. 

This section describes some of those lands. While this is the gazetteer of the land, it doesn't even try to describe every place the characters could go, only a few of the more interesting possibilities for adventure. Some of these are gate-towns on the verge of slipping off to adjacent planes, while others are the more dangerous or even useful realms on the plane.

Automata (Border Town to Mechanus)

Nobody ever gets lost in Automata – it just ain't possible because everything's so orderly. The streets are a perfect grid, and even the houses are set at perfect intervals. A cross-trading knight could set a clock by the timing of the watch patrols. Everyone rises with the sun and retires when it sets, which splits the day into two equal halves of light and dark.

Automata's got about a thousand bodies packed behind its rectangular walls. There are six gates into town – two on each of the long walls and one on each of the ends. Inside, every block's got a definite purpose. Some are nothing but houses while others are workshops, and a few are devoted to the government – more than are really needed in a burg this size, but then Automata's got a lot of laws.

The one thing that doesn't fit into this perfect order is the blocks themselves. A cutter'd figure that blocks of the same type'd be set together, but it ain't so. Everything's scattered all over Automata; workshop blocks are next to mansions, which are next to stables, which are next to the armory, and so on. Ask a body here about it and they'll just shrug, saying you don't see the grand pattern of things. "Such are the mysteries of order." 

Remember that Automata is order and that means there's laws for everything. A sod's got to watch where he steps, what he says, what he drinks, and even when he drinks. A cutter can't buy ale after the third hour and shops can't open before the first. No merchant holds a sale unless it's approved by the Council, which means nobody holds a sale unless everyone does. There's no haggling on prices, no credit, and no bartering. A berk'd better have funds when he comes into town, because there's no place for beggars here, either. 

Automata ain't perfect order, though. It's got an underside that isn't seen by the common traveler, as it's literally underground. Beneath Automata there's a network of passages, chambers, apartments, and even streets that house the hidden life of the burg. Here, the petitioners of the Outlands even the balance between law and chaos. Crime, violence, disorder, and revelry echo through the tunnels. There's rumors of a hidden gladiator arena where games are fought to the death, festhalls where every vice can be found, even conclaves of conspirators led by fiends. This is where the bodies of Automata go at night, after the laws have sent them to bed. 

Although the agents of Mechanus have a firm grip on the surface town, the wild undercity keeps Automata firmly planted on the Outlands. 'Course, the proxies of Primus the modron-lord would love to shut down the criminal side of Automata because, once it falls, the burg's shift into Mechanus would be assured.

Bedlam (Border Town to Pandemonium)

Bedlam's one of those burgs that defies description. Imagine a town where 5,000 strangers each decided to build their own places without talking to one another – the result's the sprawl of Bedlam. The town's usually described as a fan set on the side of a hill (called Maurash by the locals). The base of the fan rests at the bottom of Maurash, converging at the entrance to Pandemonium. The gate, a twisted arch of iron and stone, rises above the shacks clustered nearby. Eight dusty roads intersect in a tangle before the arch and then spread like the ribs of the fan, up Maurash's slopes. 

Here's a subtle detail: The farther up the hill a cutter goes, the saner-looking the buildings become. Halfway up the slope, the ramshackle shacks assume a semblance of order and become walled compounds, each still isolated but at least protected. Ultimately, at the top of the hill, in the center of the fan, is a Citadel – a small section of town surrounded by a curtain wall and lined with defensive towers. Here's where a cutter's going to find the least addled and best organized citizens in the burg. 

As a blood might guess, Bedlam's just about turned stag on the Outlands. Hrava's only got to spread his madness a little farther and the whole place'll slide through the gate and merge with Pandemonium.

Curst (Border Town to Carceri)

Curst is centered around the symbol of its rejection, the four-pillared arch to Carceri. Made of living razorvine, the black-petaled gate stands at the center of the town square. The five main streets of the city form concentric circles around the square, and the entire town is enclosed by a well-maintained wall that forms the boundary of the sixth ring. Razorvine covers the inside of this wall, as if to keep the inhabitants from climbing out. Four gates, aligned with the four posts of the arch to Carceri, allow entrance into the city. 

Each ring of Curst houses structures that serve a separate function. The outermost ring, within the razorvine-covered wall, holds houses, taverns, stables, and inns. The next ring in contains nothing but the workshops of craftsmen. In the third ring are the houses of merchants, along with their warehouses and stores. The fourth ring in accommodates the homes of those with such wealth and title that they no longer work. Finally, around the square are clustered the few buildings of Curst's administration: the burgher's house, the treasury, the watch barracks, and the town jail. 

The buildings of Curst are black and colorless, devoid of humor or warmth. Razorvine – a minor irritant in Sigil – is predominant here, covering walls, trees, and even creeping into streets. It's not the most notable feature, though. Fact is, travelers never fail to comment on the guard policies at the gates. Unlike other towns, little effort is made to screen those who come in. Those leaving Curst, on the other hand, are required to state reasons for wanting to go elsewhere and show proof they can make it. 

Unlike many other gates to the Lower Planes, the four-sided arch at Curst is seldom used by folks leaving Carceri. Perhaps it's the nature of those in the dark plane to feel trapped and unable to leave, and perhaps the gate is too hard to find. Whatever the cause, Blood War incursions here are rare and never expand beyond the town.

Curst's still fairly solidly planted on the Outlands, although it's showing more and more of Carceri's grim character. There's still enough bodies in town who haven't given up hope for atonement and forgiveness. So long as they hold out, Curst'll remain on the Outlands.

Glorium (Border Town to Ysgard)

 Glorium's nestled on the shore of a great fiord, with its back to the craggy peaks that lead to the Dwarven Mountain. All told, the burg's pretty small – just a collection of longhouses, smokehouses, workshops, and shipsheds of the 300 or so folks that live here. Glorium doesn't bother with walls or stockades, as nature forms a natural defense in the walls of the fjord. There's only one road out, a rough track that leads into the mountains. That trail crosses glaciers and skirts cliffs to get to a back door of the dwarf realm, and it doesn't see much traffic. The only other way into Glorium is by sailing a ship up a little-known tributary of the River Oceanus. 

Glorium's gate situation is a bit more unusual than most. First off, it's got two. The best known one leads out of town, near the mouth of the fiord. There, a berk'll find a big swirling maelstrom, an arch of sorts. To get to Ysgard, all a cutter's got to do is sail his ship right down its maw. Twice a day the Water-gate (as the locals call it) reverses itself and a cutter can then come through from the other side. Glorium's other gate is one of Yggdrasil's roots. This path's found in the mountains behind the town. There, a cutter'll find the arching gap of a cave mouth, and somewhere inside the cavern is one of Yggdrasil's planespanning roots. The problem is there's lots of side passages, some of which lead to unpleasant places like Ilsensine's realm or Gzemnid's Maze. 

Most sods in Glorium spend their lives fishing and hunting. Some farming gets thrown in, but it's not enough to stake a living on. They conduct only a little business with the dwarf realm, mostly because the track leading to the mountains is too difficult to traverse and carry much in the way of trade. In general, the local petitioners are a proud lot, touchy about things like courtesy and respect. While they're not as battle-crazed as the bashers on Ysgard (their resurrection's not a possibility), they'll not eagerly turn the other cheek either. Most of the time in Glorium, a sod gets challenged to duel until first blood is drawn or unconsciousness occurs – it does make for lively visits.

Folks in Glorium know their town's drifting toward Ysgard as they pick up more and more of the habits of that plane. Still, knowing that doesn't seem to matter to them. In fact, Ysgard looks appealing to most of the Glorium petitioners.

Plague-Mort (Border Town to the Abyss)

Plague-Mort is a gray set of ruins, ill-kept hovels, and open sewers huddled around the grand and gilded spires of the Arch-Lector's residence. Its streets are ridden with grime and disease, and the air is usually filled with late-autumn chill and the sound of hacking coughs. Little grows here, and what does is feeding on the life's blood of something best kept dark. Weeds, bloodthorns, and viper vines are the most common forms of vegetation. 

The best part of town is Merchant's Row, an old street that maintains a set of glittering facades. Street stalls and small shops sell dubious goods and suspect meats. A blood should keep a sharp eye out for militiamen practicing a bit of the cross-trade. The weapons sold in the Row are of very high quality, and most prices are lower than usual. Merchant's Row is always crowded because it's a safe haven where no blood may be shed by unspoken agreement between the town's power players. 

The gate to the Abyss is the leftmost of three arches leading into the Arch-Lector's residence at the center of town. It leads to the Plain of Infinite Portals. Enough of the Abyssal stench of death and betrayal bleeds over to affect magic in Plague-Mort. All necromancy spells function at maximum effectiveness within its walls, and saving throws against their effects are made with a – 3 penalty.

Ribcage (Border Town to Baator)

Ribcage Is a good-sized city with over 35,000 bodies in it, all squeezed into the narrow Vale of the Spine. Mountains tower and curve over it like rib bones, giving the place its name. There's precious little greenery inside or outside, giving the place the color of cold stone. It's walled, towered, and citadeled with enough guards and watchmen to protect any other dust-up twice the size. Officials will tell a berk it's to protect the city from attack, but as a cutter walks down the street and feels dozens of eyes watching him from every shadow, he can pretty well see it's not the outside they're keeping tabs on. 

Actually, Ribcage doesn't look like such a terrible burg to live in. The streets are paved with stone and are fairly clean, the layout's orderly, and most of the houses are well tended, if a little dour. The bodies hung from the gibbets over the main gate serve as notice to the criminal element, so a bubber's not likely to get thumped in an alley. In general, folks speak well of their neighbors. 

It all looks pretty good until a basher notices the soldiers lounging at nearly every corner, and learns that the transgression of some of those executed "criminals" was only that they protested the living conditions a little too loudly. The dark of it is that folks live in fear and hatred of their neighbors, because the sod who expresses himself a bit too liberally may be asked to explain his point of view to Paracs's guards, even though he wasn't talking to them in the first place. 

Ribcage Is divided into the Citadel and five city wards. The Citadel's the home of Lord Paracs. It's also the site of the armory, the bodyguard barracks, and the city treasury. A gate to Baator's there, too, though a cutter wouldn't call it part of the Citadel. It's in its own walled-off section that can be reached only thorough the Citadel. In fact, the whole place is walled and towered to separate it from the rest of the city. In the shadow of the Citadel's walls is the Senate and the other city buildings not claimed by Paracs. That way, nobody forgets who's really in charge. 

The five wards of the city aren't divided according to a pattern, they're just the blocks that each influential family could grab. They're like fiefs in some of those medieval prime-material worlds. If it weren't for Lord Paracs, they'd have divided the city with walls long ago. As it is there's unofficial checkpoints where a cutter gets looked over by the bashers of this family or that. 

Most of the houses here are made of stone carved from the Vale of the Spine. The majority of them are two stories high, with a single entrance that leads to an inner courtyard. The amount of decoration on the entrance shows the wealth and power of the owner. In the outer wards, the homes are smaller and cheaper, and sometimes they're just wooden shacks. 

While the high-ups do well for themselves, the common folk of Ribcage suffer. Lord Paracs's household guard patrols the streets, ready to deal with any "troublemakers." Taxes are oppressive and there's always garnish to be paid. The quiet joke goes that it's an "assurance" against accidents – don't pay and a sod's assured of an accident. The city's laws are designed to keep the five families in power and everybody else out. 'Course, the rulers have to be careful; too much law and the city might rise in popular revolt. As it is, there's sometimes small riots that are quickly and brutally crushed.

Then there's the slaves of Ribcage. Most of them are criminals serving out their sentence, but a sod also can be enslaved to pay a debt. Once a berk becomes a slave, it's not easy breaking free, so a cutter's got to be careful of knights who'll lure him into debt, just to call it in. "Borrow money, borrow chains," goes the old line. 

Still, most folks in Ribcage struggle to live happy and well, and they do so mostly by getting a powerful friend. Commoners get ahead by getting a senatorial ally. Bribes, favors, and flattery all flow freely here. 

Being so close to the Cursed Gate, a cutter'd think Ribcage was in danger of drifting into Baator. That might be, but not with Lord Paracs's help. He hates and fears domination by the baatezu as much as any good-hearted man would. It'd mean a loss of his power, and he's not about to sit for that! There's often agents of Baator in town, but they have short lives when Paracs's guards find them. 

Xaos (Border Town to Limbo)

Every day, every second, things could be different. Those with strong will impose their own order on the town. The weak-willed eat with frantic speed, before their soup changes to lead. What's life like in a town where a cutter could change in a glance? Marriage bonds vanish, allies and enemies can no longer recognize each other. Every day, every minute, the bodies of soXa have to create their world all over again. Who does one hate? Who does one trust? A stream of water becomes molten fire, then shifts to a fish-filled river. Little streams of pure Chaos leak from the gate. Houses are built where people want them and damn all others. Streets cross each other at random. There's no social contract, no pretending to all fit together. The whole mass spreads out like a writhing mass of spaghetti dropped on the floor. Somewhere in the tangles is the gate to Limbo, but its location is never the same. It washes over the town, warping distance and meaning, sense and matter. Wherever it sits, the gate radiates out the raw energy of Chaos. Today it's at the edge of town, tomorrow jammed like a broken knife in the heart. It's a town without order, ready to slip away any day. Forward, never straight.

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