Sigil, City of Doors
“So, where to begin? Sigil, of course – there ain’t no other place worth beginning. Sigil: the City of Doors. This town’s the gateway to everything and everywhere that matters. Step through one door and enter the halls of Ysgard, or turn down a particular alley and discover the Abyss. There are more gateways in Sigil than can be imagined; with all those doors Sigil’s a useful place – and then some.”
-Unidentified Sigil raconteur
The most famous planar metropolis in all existence is the city of Sigil. Built on the inner surface of an enormous ring, Sigil claims to be the true crossroads of the multiverse. The city is ruled by the dreaded Lady of Pain, a mystery credited with enormous power — including the ability to bar divine beings from her realm.
Bards call Sigil the City of Doors due to its large number of portals, but the locals aren’t that poetic. They just call it the Cage, a name suited to a city that’s tough to get into and tough to leave. Not just physically — though unless you know a little something about portals, even that’s a challenge — but emotionally. After all, what could you ever need that you couldn’t find in Sigil? The place has everything and then some. It’s a filthy, noisy place, with smoke-choked alleyways and crowded streets, but Sigil is alive in a way that no other city could ever hope to be.
As befits its paradoxical nature, Sigil is located in the center of an infinite plane, floating above an infinitely tall spire and built inside a gigantic hollow ring of unknown material. The place has no sun or moon and no real “horizon,” and only naïve visitors wonder aloud about what’s on the other side of the ground.
The only way in or out of the Cage is through its interplanar portals. Locals claim that you can get anywhere from Sigil if you know the right portal. While that might be an exaggeration, it isn’t far from the truth.
People coming to Sigil from a Prime Material Plane are often treated as clueless inferiors by the planar elitists who dwell there. They are thus widely referred to as “the Clueless”, “berks” or more charitably, as “Primes”. It is highly recommended that planewalkers new to Sigil employ a guide, known locally as a “tout,” lest they be taken advantage of or mugged. Such guides can be little better themselves, though, either serving to persuade a traveler to the side of their faction or simply robbing their “customer” once their back is turned.
Sigil is divided into six regions, called wards. The wards aren’t ofﬁcial designations—no walls divide them from one another—but everyone knows the difference between one ward and the next, even if they don’t agree on exactlywhere that difference begins and ends. Still, it’s important for visitors to know what’s where, so they don’t wander where they aren’t wanted. In some locales that might earn them awarning, but in others it might get them a knife between the ribs.
The Lady’s Ward
Of the six wards, this is far and away considered the richest and most powrful. 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 power set their cases in The Lady’s Ward and over hald 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 troule in an area that’s home to both the Haronium 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 and a temple celebrating that plane – soars dangerously into the sky. The Barracks are dour and humorless, and the Court is regal and imposing. Naturally, every temple here is designed to display the might and glory of the appropriate deity. 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). This suits the residents just fine, because the rich haven’t ever been fond of the idea of the poor camping on their doorsteps.
The Lower Ward
The Lower Ward has been shrinking over the decades, causing confusion over the actual boundaries of the ward. Most agree that the Great Foundry (headquarters of the Godsmen) is the center of the ward. Radiating out from this are lightless warehouses, smokey 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 chokes the city, brownish-yelow blankets of stinging sulphurous gas that cling to the air and linger as a stench in the clothes for days afterwards. Too long outside in the Lower Ward and a wanderers throat gets raw and their eyes teary. The effects of prolonged exposure make residents of the Lower Ward easy to identify.
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 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, someone likes living in the heart of decay, where anyone’s life is cheaper than the cost of a persons next meal. Life here is seldom boring, but it is 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 adventurer would touch. This is where someone 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.
The Clerk’s Ward
The Clerk’s Ward is the domain of bureucrats, scribes, sages and scholars. Here, life is peaceful and without surprises (well, too many surprises). This ward hosts 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 record of arrest and no taxation.
The streets are well patrolled and the buildings are maintained, making the ward popular with primes and visitors from the upper planes. In fact, their presence adds to the security even more so. Some view the ward as dull, but it is ideal for those looking for a little peace and quiet. Folks common to the Clerk’s Ward include shopkeepers, moneylenders, importers of the exotic goods, go-betweens, sages, wizards, common priests and naturally clerks. They try to lead quiet lives, friendly but not intrusive to their neighbours.
The Guildhall And Market Wards
Both the Guildhall and Market Ward are tiny, both have significant clout and the residents of Sigil could not imagine their city without them. Despite their importance, there isn’t much to tell the two wards apart The things that make them ordinary are just what make them important to the city. Life’s impossible without the basics of food, clothing and the life, and that’s what these wards provide. These are the wards of the mercers and peddlers, where someone can buy the common, useful and everyday things they need for life inside and outside the city.
Of all the areas in the city, this one is the most cosmopolitan. Creatures and beings from all planes, races and walks of life and unlife rub shoulder here, while an unstated and ill-watched truce maintains the peace between all things. By day these stalls and streets are alive with fruit sellers, vegetable stalls, drapers, cutlers, and tinkers. But by night, they’re filled with bards, cookshops, wine peddlers, illusionists and companions.