Greyhawk 636 CY: The Rise of Asmodeus
Sigil, also known as the City of Doors and the Cage, is a ring-shaped city that hovers (presumedly) above the infinite Spire in the center of the Outlands. It is ruled over by the God of the Crossroads, a frighteningly powerful and mysterious figure capable of controlling the city’s portals and preventing deities from entering the city.
The city is said to be the fulcrum point for all of the planes, and as a result whoever can control the city controls the multiverse. This is why the city up until recently has been run by competing factions. Each faction believed that if it controlled Sigil, the Center of All, it would be able to control everything there is. As a result, the God of the Crossroads kept the Factions (and many other power brokers in the city) in balance.
Sigil is shaped like a torus, or a tire, curved both longitudinally and latitudinally but open along the inner circle so that the other side of the city is visible in the “sky.” It is utterly dependent on the portals for all trade, air, water, and resources. The city is often cramped, though at God of the Crossroads’s whim streets and buildings will occasionally shift, appear, and disappear. The air is often polluted, and acid rain is a problem in the city again because of the lack of easy air flow. Sigil does not receive any true sunlight, so without special assistance plants are difficult to grow. Razorvine is a notable exception to this rule as it can be found growing at tremendous rates throughout the city. The city is tended to by the dabus, who repair buildings and trim the razorvine.
There is no ‘outside’ of Sigil and it is sealed against teleportation, planar spells, or any other work-arounds to enter the city including epic magic. It’s portals or nothing. While it is said to be atop the Spire (and some claim to see it hovering there on a clear day), there has never been a successful attempt to climb into Sigil from below. In a similar fashion no one – or almost no one – has ever returned from jumping out of the ‘side’ of Sigil. The side of Sigil appears to lead nowhere, and those foolish souls who jump may fall forever, become erased from existence, or end up in an entirely random plane.
Sigil has no sun or moon; the sky brightens toward noon (known as Peak in Sigil) and darkens until midnight (known as Antipeak), with no apparent source for the lumination.
|Motto/Nickname||City of Doors, The Cage|
|Established||10,000+ years ago|
|Races|| 37% human, 20% planetouched (aasimars, mephlings, neraphim, tieflings, and the like), 10% elves, 10% halflings, 3% dwarves, 20% other
Languages Planar Common, Celestial, Infernal, Baku, Bariaur, Bladeling, Terran, Auran, Ignan, Formian, Gehreleth, Gith, Jannti, Khaasta, Lower Planar Trade, Aquan, Modron, Night Hag, Slaad, Abyssal, Tso, Yugoloth, etc.
|Religions||Ptah, Io, Brahman, Muamman Duathal, Baravar Cloakshadow, Koriel, Diancastra, Zivilyn, Daragor, Shang-ti, Corellon Larethian, Gruumsh, the Lords of the Nine Hells, Odin, Moradin, Garl Glittergold, Primus, Maglubiyet, Zeus, Demon lords, Hermes, Apollo, Diancecht, Pelor, Frigga, Bahamut, Tyr, Athena, Osiris, Sehanine Moonbow, etc.|
|Authority Figures||God of the Crossroads|
It’s been surmised that Sigil’s origins lie deep in the Age before Ages during the age of the Elder Brethren, before the gods or lords of the elder elements came into being. Others claim that the City of Doors was founded over 10,000 years ago by an exiled duke of Hell, unconsciously created by an insane demigod dreaming of an extradimensional prison, or constructed of left over bits of pieces of the Outer Planes just after the time of creation.
The fiends discovered Sigil early in their history, shortly after the beginning of the Blood War, before they began focusing on the corruption of the Prime Material Plane. Initially they tried to use it to launch invasions of one another’s planes, but the God of the Crossroads cast them out until they learned the City of Doors was not theirs to control.
It is said that early in Sigil’s history, before the Crowning of Ra, during the age of the great illithid empire, Sigil was covered in jewels. What happened to these gems is not at all clear.
10,000 years ago (approximately 9870 years before the reign of Factol Hashkar, or about -9,811 CY), the wizard Shekelor stumbled out of a portal from Pandemonium on to Sigil’s streets, having sought the Labyrinth Stone, a gem containing the soul of an even earlier mage whose powers were said to have been so great he nearly defeated the God of the Crossroads.
At some point in the past, Aoskar, god of portals, became the most popular deity worshiped in the City of Doors, becoming so popular that many considered the God of the Crossroads to be a mere aspect of him. God of the Crossroads did nothing about this until one of his servants, the dabus Fell, became one of Aoskar’s priests. Then God of the Crossroads acted, killing Aoskar and casting his corpse into the Astral Plane. Since then, no deities have been permitted in the city.
-873 before Hashkar’s reign (-413 CY). Vartus Timlin, factol of the Expansionists, is Mazed by the God of the Crossroads after 12 factols congregate in the Catacombs near the portal to the Dabus’ realm. (WoW, ItC:GtS)
-855 before Hashkar’s reign (-395 CY). The Fraternity of Order is organized into a Faction. Dating in Sigil is generally counted from the beginning of the reign of each ruler of the Fraternity of Order, as they are Sigil’s primary historians. Dates here are counted using the beginning of the reign of Factol Hashkar, the last ruler of the Fraternity in Sigil, as year 1.(FM, 69)
The Clueless Rebellion was a war fought before the Great Upheaval, back when the Lower Ward was known as the Prime Ward, a place where those native to the Prime Material Plane were herded by the Sodkiller or Incanterium factions so that they didn’t get in the way of the business of those born on other planes. Using a powerful magic item known as the Shadow-Sorcelled Key, the inhabitants of the Prime Ward are said to have opened all the lower-planar portals in the ward at the same time
Circa -770 before Hashkar’s reign. The Planewalker’s Guild is formed in Sigil, established before most of the Factions that survive the Great Upheaval. (TftIS)
-573 before Hashkar’s reign (-114 CY). The first records of the Revolutionary League are made by Factol Jaretta of the Fraternity of Order (The Factol’s Manifesto) A group of adventurers from Sigil travel to Pelion to investigate the remains of an ancient temple. (Dead Gods, page 88)
-504 before Hashkar’s reign (-44 CY). The Great Upheaval. (FM, FW) The 49 factions are ordered by God of the Crossroads to number no more than 15, and must take up positions in governing the city of Sigil. (FM, 81)
The Sodkillers and Sons of Mercy merge to become the Mercykillers. (FM, 102) Free League membership swells to almost 1 million registered members. (FM, 81)
Circa -454 before Hashkar’s reign (7 CY). Membership in the Free League dwindles down to 20,000 by a plague that only affected Indeps. (FM, 81)
Circa -370 before Hashkar’s reign (91 CY). Duke Rowan Darkwood escapes the God of the Crossroads’s Mazes to find himself in the past in the Gatehouse. The Bleak Cabal imprison him as a barmy and rename him Gifad. (FW)
Circa -270 before Hashkar’s reign (191 CY). The Planewalker’s Guild leaves Sigil and sets up operation on the Infinite Staircase. (TftIS)
Circa -174 (187 CY). After agents from the Revolutionary League assassinate the Mercykiller factol, the Fated get the blame. A war erupts that consumes the other 13 factions as well, and by the war’s end, three factions are wiped out entirely. The factions wiped out likely include the Zactars, Ochlocrats, and Incanterium. Replacing them are likely (eventually) the Xaositects, Harmonium, and Sign of One (FM, 114).
Circa -74 (287 CY). The Harmonium establishes itself in Sigil (FM, 90, 152). A war erupts between the Harmonium and Doomguard, with the Doomguard leaving its old position as the city’s guardians to become masters of the City Armory. The Harmonium takes over as Sigil’s police force (FM, 40). Perhaps around this time (“centuries since”), Bigby’s College of Academic Arts was seized by the Fated faction in payment of back taxes, and turned by the Fated into the Hall of Records (FW, 62).
Circa -24 (437 CY). The Ragers, a sect from Ysgard, begins building the Great Arena to become a faction, but are soon kicked out of Sigil. (PSMCA2, 76) Folks once known as Xaosophiles, the Discordant Opposition, and the Ochlocrats became the Xaositects, replacing the Incanterium as a true Faction. (FW, 152)
1 (460 CY). Hashkar become Factol of the Fraternity of Order (FW, 71), replacing Lariset the Inescapeable (FW, 77).
Circa 27th year of Factol Hashkar’s Administration (287 CY). A group of ten unknown merchants fund Chirper’s. (ItC:GtS, 93)
126th Year of Factol Hashkar’s Administration (586 CY). Duke Rowan Darkwood moves to Sigil. (FM, 60) The same day he joins the Fated, Duke Rowan Darkwood suggests that Factol Emma Oakwright step down and name him the new Factol. He does. (FM, 58)
127th Year of Factol Hashkar’s Administration (587 CY). The events of the Planescape: Torment computer game. The Factol’s Manifesto published.
Hashkar 130 (590 CY): A war erupts between Sigil’s factions. At the end of the war, the God of the Crossroads himself appears before the leaders of each faction, telling them, using his dabus as intermediaries, that the city tolerates their faction no longer. The Tempest of Doors during the Faction War is the name given to an event where the God of the Crossroads changed many of the portals’ destinations, breaking normal trade routes.
Shortly after the Faction War, in 591 CY, the lich Vecna escapes from the Demiplane of Dread, riding the mists of Ravenloft and his own fluctuating divinity to enter Sigil; he causes a commotion, uttering the True Words and altering some of the fundamental laws of the multiverse before he is driven out by adventurers from Oerth.
4th edition: A plot to destroy all the major trade portals leading to Sigil is thwarted. A plot by Orcus to smuggle the dismembered corpse of a primordial through Sigil to the Abyssal layer of the King of Ghouls is uncovered. First known mention of the dragon-led organization known as the Guardian of the Gates.
Sigil ordinarily has a population of over a million, but two-thirds of those are transitory, staying in Sigil only on the way to somewhere else, and due to the events of the Faction War the population is currently lower than usual. The city’s current demographics are given as 37% human, 20% planetouched (aasimars, mephlings, neraphim, tieflings, and the like), 10% elves, 10% halflings, 3% dwarves, and 20% other. Bariaurs make up a sizable chunk of the population. Fiends, celestials, modrons, and slaadi are present in the city in large numbers, but few find it pleasant enough to justify staying long. The fiends miss the carnage of the Blood War and the celestials look down on the city’s coarseness and grime. The only ones who call themselves Sigilians or Cagers with pride are the dabus, those faction members born in the city, and a few families who’ve settled in Sigil and made it their home. They tend to look down on others as outsiders and intruders, which helps cement their reputation as arrogant snobs. Some emigrants from the Prime Material decide to stay in Sigil on purpose, but many more are gate-orphans, also known as the Keyless or Marooned, who have entered the Cage through one-way portals and are unable to find their ways back home.
Few souls of the dead venture into Sigil; those that do usually serve deities of neutrality or travel.
God of the Crossroads’s Ward is where half the city’s temples are found. In the Cage mentions temples to (and proxies of) Ptah, Io, Brahman, Muamman Duathal, Baravar Cloakshadow, Koriel, Diancastra, Zivilyn, Daragor, Shang-ti, Corellon Larethian, Gruumsh, the Lords of the Nine, Odin, Moradin, Garl Glittergold, Primus, Maglubiyet, and Zeus all somewhere in that ward.
The Temple of the Abyss is in “the heart of God of the Crossroads’s Ward” and the Temple of Hermes is somewhere in God of the Crossroads’s Ward as well; there’s a portal to Mount Olympus in it.
Faction War, page 10, notes that planewalkers tend to be a pragmatic lot, and so temples that focus on healing tend to be more popular among them than those that do not, and so the temples of Apollo, Diancecht, Pelor, and Frigga have influence and power in the Cage far exceeding the rank and status of the deities they represent.
The Planar Handbook, page 142, says “Down the street stands a faithful reproduction of an Abyssal palace, and tucked into a nearby alley is a white marble shrine to Pelor.” No street name is given, but if the reproduction of the Abyssal palace is the Temple of the Abyss, that would place it in God of the Crossroads’s Ward.
There are shrines to Bahamut, Tyr, Athena, and Osiris in the Tower of the Prophet in God of the Crossroads’s Ward (Expedition to the Demonweb Pits, page 24).
Kingdom of the Ghouls (2009) features a temple of Sehanine Moonbow known as Passion’s Rendezvous, also found in God of the Crossroads’s Ward.
The primary language of Sigil is known as Planar Common, or Planar Trade. The Planewalker’s Handbook indicates that this is the same as the Common tongue spoken on the Prime Material Plane (though with specific slang, called the cant), having been introduced to the planes by explorers from the Prime. It doesn’t specify which world’s Common is the one that became Planar Common, however. Other commonly spoken languages in Sigil include the Lower Planar trade tongue, Archon, Asuras, Baatezu (Infernal), Baku, Bariaur, Bladeling, Dao, Djinni, Efreeti, Eladrin, Formian, Gehreleth, Githyanki, Githzerai, Guardinal, Khaasta, Marid, Mephit, Modron, Nereid, Night Hag, Slaad, Sylph, Tanar’ri (Abyssal), Tso, and Yugoloth. The Celestial tongue (of which Archon, Asuras, Eladrin, and Guardinal may be dialects) is also surely common in Sigil. Note that the genie tongue is known as Jannti, and the elemental tongues are Aquan, Auran, Ignan, and Terran.
The dabus, the God of the Crossroads’s enigmatic workers, speak using illusionary symbols that appear above their heads, spelling out words using rebus puzzles. The God of the Crossroads does not speak at all.
Prior to the Great Upheaval, Sigil was primarily ruled by guilds. Between the Great Upheaval and the Faction War, 15 factions controlled Sigil’s government. After the Faction War in the 130th year of Hashkar’s reign, Sigil has been something of an anarchy, with an Advisory Council doing its best to keep order with little success.
The true ruler of Sigil, however, is and has (as far as anyone knows) always been the God of the Crossroads, a mysterious deity appearing simply as a dark-cloaked man with a staff, with the hood pulled down to shadow the face. He appears and vanishes according to his whim, only interceding in his city’s affairs when the need is dire.
Sigil is divided into six districts, called wards:
The Hive Ward, the slum and the ghetto, home to the poor, the rogues, and the unwanted dregs of the city.
The Lower Ward, an industrial district, clogged up with the smoke from the foundries and from the portals to the Lower Planes.
The Clerk’s Ward, an affluent district, home to most of the city’s lower-rung bureaucrats and middlemen.
The Market and Guildhall Wards are the home to the traders, craftsmen, artisans, guild members and other members of the middle class.
God of the Crossroads’s Ward, the richest and most exclusive section of the city, is home to the elites of society and of its government.
The image of the God of the Crossroads’s cloaked head is the symbol of Sigil.
Sigil is a massive center of planar trade, its markets second only to the City of Brass. Goods and services may flow to the city from any and all other planes, depending on which portals are available to planar merchants. Sigil has no natural resources of its own, though it has a sizable manufacturing economy in the Lower Ward.
Ordinary horses tend to get sick in Sigil’s choked, smoggy atmosphere, so most travel is by sedan chair, walking, or using planar steeds like the Arcadian pony or the nightmare. Some shipping occurs in the foul body of water known as the Ditch, which has a portal on it leading to bodies of water on other planes. Sigil is the City of Doors, so of course it is best known for the portals that may open in any bounded space to anywhere in the multiverse. These portals may be permanent or temporary, and seem to follow predictable schedules for the most part, although they may be destroyed by mortals by breaking the border of the space, or sealed up with magic, and the God of the Crossroads may change their destinations at his whim.
Before the Faction War, the Harmonium were the Sigil’s police force (prior to the Harmonium’s arrival, the Doomguard seem to have served that role, and before the Great Upheaval, the Sodkillers seem to have done it). After the Faction War, the Harmonium abandoned Sigil for their colonies on Arcadia and other planes, and a Mercykiller offshoot called the Sons of Mercy keep order the best they can. With no official authority, however, people don’t automatically obey them without a show of brute force.
Original Source, edited for campaign specific information