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Sigilian Culture: Humanoid Races and Cultures

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Kobold Avenger's picture
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Sigilian Culture: Humanoid Races and Cultures

I'm trying to envisions various humanoid cultures in Sigil. Generally the less common ones (but even some of the common races were sort of glossed over in Planescape), that I feel might need more coverage on how they live in Sigil, and what sort of cultural tendencies that generations of their kind developed living in Sigil. For the most part I'm trying to cover the Sigilians of their races, and not the visitors and recent immigrants. It's a question of things such as:
How has their race handled living in Sigil?
What sort of roles do they tend to have in Sigilian society?
How integrated or separate are they from the rest of Sigil, and perhaps some notes that PC of that race.
What have they contributed to Sigil, and how might they be perceived by the rest?
Where do they live and what sort of neighbourhoods do they have in Sigil?

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Re: Sigilian Culture: Humanoid Races and Cultures

Some of this is inspired by the Goblins of Eberron, but I'm aiming for a more general feel using those Eberron elements, for how Goblins of Sigil are.

Goblins (and Hobgoblins and Bugbears):

Though the three Goblin races are some of the most common races across the multiverse, they've suffered many setbacks and an often unfair reputation for savagery, in some part based on how their kin on many prime worlds are.

It's said at one time across the planes there were many great Goblin civilizations. However their civilizations fell to various calamities and corruption began to take hold, reducing Goblins to the stereotypical societies they now have. It was said that in these ancient times, Goblins were the most common races in Sigil as they lived in all of the Cages wards. But over time, their communities gave way to the increasing number of Humans.

In ancient Goblin culture, they were divided into three castes, with the nobles and leaders being the Hobgoblins, the warriors being the Bugbears, and the various commoners being the Goblins. Depending on the culture, these castes were sometimes rigid, and sometimes very flexible as there certainly were Bugbear mystics and diplomats, and Goblin champions.

Modern Goblinoid culture in Sigil in a few ways does mirror this traditional divide of castes. Though such distinctions means less. Hobgoblins do tend to be the wealthiest and most likely to deal with other races who tend to lead the Goblinoid communities many of them of shrewed merchants and businessmen, Goblins tend to be the workers often assigned to the most unpleasant jobs though it's common to see quite a lot of Goblins with a strong mechanical aptitude, and many Bugbears tend to end up as mercenaries, manual labourers, gang members and bodyguards across Sigil.

Some Sigilians are understandably prejudiced against Goblinoids due to their reputation as thugs and con artists, others do pity them. The most common places one can find Goblins in Sigil are in the Hive, Undersigil and Lower Ward, especially in the ruined wasteland that is the Slags. Many Goblin legends speak of Kadyx once being a guardian spirit of their race that became corrupted when the Slags became the wasteland that it is now. Poverty is common to most Goblins, and they are often seen scavenging for scraps around the Hive. Though more communities of Goblins are appearing in other wards.

Some Goblinoid neighbourhoods aim to rise above the others commonly seen in the Hive. Ancient songs, dances and arts are preserved among these communities that have long faded out in many other places. The cuisine of such Goblins known for its various flavours, some robust, and some sweet are once again becoming more widespread across Sigil. Particular Bugbear and Goblin cuisine happen to be simplier fare that's relatively cheap and popular amongst most Sigilians, Bugbears tending to favour spiced meats that's quick to eat, and Goblins often tending to stalls that sell their popular sweets. Hobgoblins always had the more sophisticated cuisine, but have been able to run successful businesses.

As for the arts of the Goblin cultures, in Sigil they've begun to spread some of their ancient culture to other races, instead of merely keeping among their own as they have for generations. As Hobgoblins were the leaders of Goblin races, they tend to be most bards of the Goblin races. Though some Goblins have picked up on what was traditional for Hobgoblins. Their music is what is known as Dirgesinging, which uses melancholic melodies often from Hobgoblin women, and throat-singing that are usually performed by Hobgoblin and Bugbear men. Goblinoid music often were ballads on ancient ancestors or places of great deeds, long since gone.

Goblinoids were a generally agnostic people, not putting too much faith in the Gods, though there certainly were and are those that follow religions. The religion of Maglubiyet was but one religion that the Goblins followed, but became one of the most strongest religions among the Goblins followed once their civilizations went in decline. The fact is that many Goblins tend to blame Maglubiyet and his pantheon as the primary source of decline among their races, as he encouraged hostility against other races and encouraged interclan warfare. While there are temples of his pantheon in the Hive, that many of the more criminally inclined Goblins tend to give lip-service to, many Goblins tend to look on the Maglubiyite Religion with the same disdain that non-Goblins tend to view it with. Though many Maglubiyites feel most Goblins got it all wrong, and that it's there calling of all Maglubiyites (including non-Goblins, who are most commonly Humans or Orcs) to be strong and disciplined, and to discard the unworthy and distracting. For all the other Goblins that have turned to religion, they tend towards syncretic beliefs often following a combination of the Babylonian, Norse, Celtic and Orisha pantheons. Animism is also a common religion among Goblins, as their ancient cultures had those who called on the spirits, Bugbears often being the most common intermediaries and chosen of such spirits.

Among the factions Goblins tend to look towards the Sensates, Harmonium, Doomguard, Bleak Cabal, Godsmen, Transcendent Order, Fated and Athar as their most favoured. Of the old factions before the Great Upheaval many Goblins belonged to the Vigilant of the Ancients (absorbed into the Harmonium), the Hru'yar'lik (now Fated) and the Lorekeepers of the Many (Sensates now). The Bleak Cabal, Fated and Doomguard tend to be factions of choices among the more cynical of Goblins. The Athar is a common faction among Goblinoids due to the disdain many have toward Magluyites, extending towards other Gods. Most practitioners of the ancient Goblin martial arts tend to be members of the Transcendent Order.

Most Goblins in Sigil do have stronger links to their community and culture than many other races do. The prejudice against Goblins tends to make that link stronger in most Goblins. Though as they've been living among other races all their lives, they've learned to keep out of the way. There are many younger Goblins, who don't tend to see themselves as being that different from other races, which many older Goblins tend to view as becoming "too Human" who barely pay attention to their ancient culture, and can hardly speak the Goblin language at all. And then there's those Goblins who are bitter and feel they must lash out at something, many of them tend to become involved with dangerous gangs. Other races that many Goblins in Sigil tend to get along with are Tieflings, Githzerai, Orcs and Gnomes.

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Re: Sigilian Culture: Humanoid Races and Cultures

Well this certainly is a discussion PS needs. Your goblin entry needs the following additions: a known, well fleshed out goblin hangout, a goblin organization (may be a gang, a guild etc.) and a goblinoid high up. I would think that there are a lot of goblins in Sigil (they multiply fast, right?), but they are not scattered all around the city like other races. Like you mentioned, as their race went to decline, they were forced to the "lower" wards of the city. even in a high tolerance society like Sigil, goblins face prejudice from other races, and are forced to form close knit, crowded neighborhoods in the out of sight areas. I would guess that many goblins would work as cheap labor in the heavy industry of the lower ward. Many goblins move from hive to the lower ward in the morning, and return back in the evening, making the streets that tie the two wards very crowded. Many still live in the workshops that they work in. In short, they form the lowest working class in the city, just one point up the slaves.
This social structure, along with the rising unhappiness with their own religion, would bring about the missionary activities in the goblin neighborhoods. Especially evil deities work hard to tap the young and unhappy goblinoid population. Some good deities also try to find their way in to the goblinoid life. Of course Maglubiyet loyalists are fighting them in word and deed. A lot of religious fighting takes place in the claustrophobic goblinoid districts.

About humanoids in general... I think Sigil lacks its fair share of non humanoids. What sentient non humanoids are there that can exist in Sigil? I am not sure of this.

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Re: Sigilian Culture: Humanoid Races and Cultures

Well Goblins was a good place for me to start, as there needs to be something written about them. It was the sort of thing I wrote in one go, for maybe about 1 hour in the morning. You'll definitely find that there's some ideas based on Eberron's Goblins of Darguun, and their City Goblins and this article on the Goblin Language for a novel I never even read, but is certainly something interesting.

I'll come up with more ideas for Goblins. And right now I'm focused more on them, but Kobolds, Orcs, Gnomes, Elan, Shifters, Ogres, Dark Ones and Skulks are also ones I have in mind in the future, of course even Elves, Dwarves and Halflings need a bit of coverage too. As for sentient non-humanoids, most of the ones I can think of are the many varieties of outsiders, Aberrations, and some magical beasts. But they aren't my immediate concerns, as I'm aiming for more PC-like races, before going into things like Aboleths and Beholders. Also I'm aiming for these to be as Edition/Ruleset-Neutral as possible.

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Re: Sigilian Culture: Humanoid Races and Cultures

I would add lizardfolk and yuanti to that list myself, making the it even longer. We definitely need to break this human hegemony in Sigil. I see it in its current from as: "ohh there is all sorts of strange creatures here. Take that tiefling over there, whose parents are human but his grand grand parent was maybe a fiend. Just like that other human looking guy with the shining halo on his head; he is actually a descendant of an angel... and a human. Then there is this other guy who is also human looking, bu he has some trace of elemental fire in his blood. See? Humans are definitely not the norm here!"

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Re: Sigilian Culture: Humanoid Races and Cultures

Goblin Neighbourhoods

The Slags - Perhaps the most well known of places where Goblins live, this wasteland caused by a brief incident of the Blood War spilling into Sigil is a desolate forsaken place. Kadyx is not the only terror to fear in the Slags, as various Goblin gangs take their claims to each of it's sections. Many of these warring gangs have claimed lineage to ancient Goblin clans from a number of worlds now forgotten. The Threigh'vut gang is one based outside of the Slags from around the Mortuary, they aim to conquer the Slags in the name of deities such as Nerull and various plaguelords. The Shrukk gang lead by a Barghest known as Nellork, believes it was Maglubiyet's will that caused the scouring of the Slags, and believe they must conquer the Slags in his name, while spreading Maglubiyet's religion among the rest of the Hive. Perhaps one of the most dangerous of Goblin gangs are the Bhrikt'urgallosh who have discovered something deep in the Slags, perhaps an ancient Abyssal weapon or a long lost portal to the Far Realm, which have mutated many of their kin. It's said that many of the Bhrikt' are no longer Goblins, but monstrosities such as Dolgaunts and Dolgrims.

The Vat - This Goblin dominated community is located in the Lower Ward along the Ditch and close to the Great Foundry. The Vat is a large community of mainly working class Goblins, struggling to blend into Sigilian society. Gangs aren't as big of a problem in The Vat as the Council of the Revered Elders discourage such gangs and many religions, sometimes to the point of hiring mercenaries to handle such problems. The Council is the loose governing body of this community, highly discourage such behaviour. The Elders have three speakers one of each Goblin race, who are the heads elected by the council, which in turn is mainly composed of the wealthier Hobgoblin merchants in The Vat. More so than any other Goblin neighbourhood, the Hobgoblins are those in charge of everything. Those non-Goblins that can tolerate the noise, and crowded streets of the Vat can easily find places for cheap services and Goblin cuisine.

A few factories of the Lower Ward are located in the Vat, and most of them are exclusively staffed by Goblinoid workers, with Hobgoblin overseers, Goblins tinkering on busy production lines hurriedly assembly anything from kitchen utensils to planar vehicle parts, while the Bugbears do all the heavy lifting. Quality is often brought into question about good from these factories, as it's said that all of them aim for quantity over anything else. A Tiefling journalist known as Ylina, once did an expose on the the bad working conditions on the Factories, and caused quite a stir of resentment among many Goblins and the less successful Hobgoblins of the Vat. The Hobgoblin merchants and overseers tried to spin things more to their favour, with even promises to improve conditions, yet so far nothing has improved.

Life in the Vat is busy and crowded, with the saying that "Work comes before death in the Vat". Houses are large run-down apartment complexes where sometime multiple families all share a room. It's said that the Hobgoblin interests of the Vat do answer to the Lady's Ward, as many of the wealthy Hobgoblins have with far more luxury than the rest of the Vat in modest sized estates guarded by ever watchful Bugbears.

The Three Nations - This large community is located in Undersigil in an area spanning under the Hive all the way to the Guildhall Ward. It perhaps here that Goblin culture in Sigil has been able to develop on it's own the most. Artisans, dancers, craftsmen, seers and more live in the Three Nations. It's said that when the Goblin population of Sigil went into decline in the ancient past, many of them went into Undersigil for safety. Many songs and practices long thought dead are preserved here, and as one of the largest and certainly the oldest Goblin community in Sigil many of people have lived and died with little contact with the rest of the Cage. The rest of Sigil has claims the Three Nations hide many ancient secrets, and it's rumoured that ancient still-living Goblinoid emperors rule there looking for a the time to reclaim the surface. Nearly everyone from the Three Nations discards such claims, but though those non-Goblins who visit here find that it's residents always seem on guard and cautious about outsiders, which they deal with on the necessities of trade.

The Three Nations is a large network of tunnels large and small, with many large alcoves holding buildings from Sigil's ancient past that have sunken into Undersigil over the ages. In places with illumination, it's lit by an assortment of torches, gas lamps, glowing crystals and phosphorescent fungi, often giving it an eerie glow as if it is a place outside of time. A loose assortment of Goblin houses govern most of the Three Nations. Alcoves are the centre of the communities that the Three Nations are built on, and the races of Goblins, Hobgoblins, Bugbears, and rarer varieties such as Norkers and Blues freely mix with each other. Out of all the Goblin communities in Sigil, those from the Three Nations have the hardest time integrating with the outside world. While in recent years more and more of young the Three Nations are going to the City Above, in the past most who went to the surface were shunned. In fact there's quite a lot of tension that still exists between Surface Goblins and Undersigil Goblins.

Many Goblin cultures live in the Three Nations, various religions exist side by side with the followers of Ogham, the Seven Great Seers, Correllon, Maglubiyet, the Orisha, the Vanir, Moradin and more inhabiting it's sunken buildings. But perhaps it's animism that has the greatest hold on the Goblins of the Three Nations, as Shamans hold much of the influence, as the ones consulting many of the ancient power unseen spirits of Sigils ancient past. While the Three Nations is mostly a Goblin community, a sizable number of Orcs, Kobolds, and planetouched live among them. It's said that the tunnels of the Three Nations contain portals that leads to Underdarks and Fey Realms across the multiverse.

At the heart of the Three Nations lies a great machine much like an orrery where many pipes from the rest of Sigil run to. It stands as a significant gap in the centre of the Three Nations as the lost buildings in the area around it is abandoned. The only ones seen are Goblin arcanists, psionic mystics, mechanics and more, studying its many runes and glyphs, and movements of the Dabus who are said to have a nearby warren. A legend among the Three Nations is the Great Machine was once on the surface of Sigil, seen from anywhere in the city, and that it sunk over the ages with the decline.

The Watchtower - This relatively new Goblin community is based out of the Clerks Ward. Built around an old Watchtower that was once the headquarters of a faction that existed before the Great Upheaval. Racial tensions are high around this community as many from the rest of Sigil, simply don't accept that Goblins would live in such place in the middle of the Clerks Ward. There's been plenty of incidents of violence and it's said that the Watchtower has the worse crime in all of the Clerks Ward. Despite all of this the neighbourhood around the Watchtower thrives. To the credit of the Goblins that live there, they are the most open to non-Goblin cultures, but are seen by other Goblins as turning their back on their culture, and trying to trivialize sell out on the parts of Goblin culture they do practice.

The Watchtower is quite a fashionable place among many Sigilians, as it presents an interesting blend of cultures from one that isn't experienced often by many. It's here that some very successful Goblins live, and happens to be a place where Sigilians can learn more of Goblin art and culture, though one that's quite distilled. Goblin inventors with mechanical aptitude are often based out of here, selling both whimsical and practical items here. It's said that everything that was made in the Vat, was invented here first, before it was copied and made for much cheaper there.

Of course the Watchtower isn't all that pleasant as many disgruntled Goblin youths, have made some of the streets around the Clerks Ward dangerous. While nowhere near the brutality and ruthlessness of the Slag gangs, many of them are quite enterprising, often involved in extortion and drugs, and are thought by many to be working their ways up into the bigger gangs around Sigil.

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Re: Sigilian Culture: Humanoid Races and Cultures

I love this. As part of my personal style guide for Planescape, I've been trying to draw as many of the factions as possible with as many non-human women as possible. Blame this:

(Warning: spoilers for Torment. And Morte speaking well... like Morte. Just with rather more cursing then they were allowed to put in the game.)
http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&ct=res&cd=1&ved=0CBEQFjAA&url=...

Anyhow, this syncs up very nicely with what I was doing. I was choosing subjects based on unique visual aspects, but most of those races had hardly been touch on at all as to their place in Sigil, so I'm all for helping out with this whenever I get a free moment. I'd also been hoping to do some writeups on a couple of the more exotic races for using them as PCs in both 3rd and 4th edition, so maybe I can use some of those half written articles as inspiration.

Off the top of my head, I'd been planning sketchs for Medusas, Hags, Trolls, Harpies and Ghouls. Not exactly the sort to creatures that you're looking for right now, but they might be worth looking at in the future.

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Re: Sigilian Culture: Humanoid Races and Cultures

Well K. Avenger, that's what I'm talking about. I could just take it and use it in my campaign as it was written. I'm definitely watching this thread.

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Re: Sigilian Culture: Humanoid Races and Cultures

I might come up with some more later...

Goblin Personalities

Nilek Ar'gu - (N Male Goblin Artificer - Free League) A visionary mechanic, Nilek had his humble beginnings as a factory worker in The Vat. However thanks to his ingenious skills, he's become one of Sigil's bloods. Long ago leaving the cesspool where he started, Nilek has a controlling influence over the Spelljammer docks of the Guildhall hub. Attended by a small army of homunculi constructs, and his Minidrone Modron Familiar, this middle-aged Goblin who's diminutive even by Goblin standards works frantically to improve on spelljammers and other vessels than manage to fit through the large shifting portals that such ships can fly through. Nilek is one completely unmoved by political concerns, and it's been known that he's refitted both the Doomguard's Chaos Ships, and the Harmonium Sky Shield fleets.

Arkhalur Brith - (NE Male Hobgoblin Cleric[Maglubiyet]) Among the most powerful and influential of the Maglubiyite clergy in Sigil, Arkhalur Brith is driven by a mission to spread the religion of his pantheon to the masses. Perhaps one of the most adaptable and unconventional of his religion's clergy, Arkhalur has placed a lower priority on keeping the faith among the Goblin peoples. In many ways it's said that the Goblin community at large has let him down. So Arkhalur has made it his mission to spread his faith among the non-Goblins, and he's been very successful in doing so. With many wealthy associates in his opulent home from the Lady's Ward, he has lured Humans, Planetouched, Orcs, Gith, Halflings and more to the Maglubiyite religion.

Estark Can'gluk - (LG Male Hobgoblin Paladin - Sons of Mercy) In his younger years Estark was a thug who often got himself in a lot of trouble and found himself in the Mercykiller prison more than often. Though throughout the years he grew wiser to what was happening around him, as he learned his way around rival gangs of prisoners. As an enforcer he was involved in many conflicts in the Prison, until he grew tired of such squabbling that he singlehandedly brought many of the prison gangs down. While Nilesia wanted him fed to the Wyrm, Arwyl Swan's Son saw a noble soul in him. Estark came to see world in Arwyl's point of view, learning that everyone has a chance if you give it too them, and soon he became a model prisoner. When the Faction War struck, Estark joined arms with Arwyl's side of the Mercykillers, and was soon recruited into the Sons of Mercy after.

Olania Dhugar - (NG Female Hobgoblin Bard - Sensate) Olania is a rising star among the circles of Sigil's many entertainers. Raised in the Three Nations, she was brought up on many of the ancient tales and songs of the Goblin people. Struggles and hopes of an ancient people that she was determined to leave unforgotten in the City Above. As an accomplished actress and singer, she first performed in a small nomadic troupe that travelled the wards and some of the towns. But it wasn't until she came across Harys Hatchis who discovered her talents that Olania became the star she was destined to be. Blending non-Goblin sensibilities with her Goblin fold traditions she quickly became a success. Now she's often the subject of gossip among many in the Cage, as she's quite commonly seen in the company of many of the rich and powerful. While she is quite well-loved among non-Goblins in Sigil, many in Goblin communities across Sigil take quite a dim view on her.

Turla Gylan - (LN Female Goblin Sorcerer - Fated) One of the Council of Elders in the Vat, Turla is perhaps the most influential Goblin among the Hobgoblin dominated council. This highly opportunistic woman developed strong ties with her faction, often managing to make many of the industries of the Vat free from the taxes of the Fated, while using her influence to bring competitors down. While she currently maintains tenuous connections to the unpopular faction in the post Faction War Sigil, she's was one of the advocates of the return of taxation to the Advisory Council, as a consultant on the state of Sigil's public maintenance.

Jughra Lek'nok - (CG Female Bugbear Warden - Mind's Eye) Jughra came from the Slags, as young girl she lived in fear of a wrathful spirit that haunted the wasteland known as Kadyx. After almost losing her life to the beast when she wandered alone, Jughra fled to small grove hidden in an abandoned basement of the Hive. A spirit reached out to her and showed her an ancient time when Sigil was once a jungle. The jungle still lives despite being built over by the ever changing city, but it is one that's mostly forgotten. Jughra seeks to bring the memory of the living jungle back to Sigil, as all around her she's witnessed the devastation and chains of enslavement that has been brought upon the city. It is not the physical resurgence of the living jungle she seeks to bring, but the healing of spirit by making those remember. As such she's made quite an enemy of the interests who control the Vat.

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Re: Sigilian Culture: Humanoid Races and Cultures

Kobolds of Sigil (Introduction)

The Kobold community of Sigil is a very large and varied community, that is basically invisible in the eyes of most Sigilians. Whether it in be the Hive, the factories of the Lower Ward, the catacombs of Undersigil, or even the servant quarters of the Lady's Ward, Kobolds can be found everywhere in Sigil. But they are barely noticed, and it's said by some that:

"If Sigil wasn't kept by the Dabus, the Kobolds would take over their job. Though it wouldn't it really be a good bleedin' job, if those little blighters took over."

So how is it that Sigilian Kobolds compare to the rest of their kin across the planes? Well for one thing Sigilian Kobolds come from many different clans and lineages, it's reflected in how their scales are a wide variety of different colours. Many are red or blue, some are gold or silver in colour, their appearance reflecting the untold varieties of Dragons across the planes, whether they be Chromatics, Metallics, Gem, Catastrophe and other varieties of dragons. Though it's always one of the biggest mistakes that a non-Kobold makes in assuming a Kobold's disposition is much like their draconic counterpart, as there have been plenty of despicably dishonest Silver Kobolds, and many valiant and noble Red Kobolds.

Legend speaks of the special spawn of the Dragon Powers that hatched and became a loyal companion to each one of them. The most infamous one of these loyal companions is of course Kurtulmak, who was said to be the last thing that hatched from Tiamat's brood. In Sigil Kurtulmak is only one of the powers that Kobolds who have religion tend to worship, as the companion known as the "Twice Named Ascendant One" is another that's followed, in addition to many of the Dragon Gods including Bahamut, Tiamat, Chronepsis and Io.

In Sigil, Kobolds are renowned as hard workers, who are extremely industrious and enthusiastic about their work. They tend to be a large part of the labour force throughout Sigil, seemingly tireless and doing many thankless jobs, as they tend to be paid the least. Some would almost call them slaves based on how lowly they are rewarded or paid. But most Kobolds don't seem to mind the fact. As a people used to living in large often overcrowded clan-based groups, most Kobolds tend to work in groups of six or more. They are quite mechanically proficient, though many of the things they put together tend to held with the cheapest and most unstable of methods.

Kobolds are known to be loyal to those who can hold them in awe, and it's quite trendy in the Lady's Ward to have a staff of Kobold servants among the Golden Lords. Many Kobolds can also be found in the entourage of powerful Dragons living in Sigil, or with Dragonborne thanes that they look up to.

But among all of this there is a small subculture of Kobold rebels, who have taken to forging their own paths outside the influence of others. Many become adventurers and planewalkers of the most determined type, and many become crafty criminals sometimes called "Piranhas" known for swarming attacks were they strip away anything of value and more from their overwhelmed victims.

It's said that the Kobold people have always lived in Sigil for untold eons, it's just that most don't seem to recognize them, when they're scurrying out of the way of larger races. Even in the age of Goblins, they were ignored at best, and treated as annoyances at worst, much like how it is humans. But as ages change in Sigil, it seems to remain the same for the Kobolds.

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Re: Sigilian Culture: Humanoid Races and Cultures

Kobold Neighbourhoods

Kobold-Land - Also known as Miyak-ylak, this neighbourhood in the Hive is one of the most overcrowded in Sigil. Located very close to the Slags, it's residents are a little paranoid of outsiders trying to get into their community, especially based on the horrors of the Slags escaping and the occasional raids by Goblin Gangs from the Slags. Thus Kobold-Land is one of the most dangerous places to be in Sigil if one wanders there unaccompanied by one of it's residents. One wrong step is will bring misfortune as Kobold-Land is saturated with an excessive amount of traps.

Beyond having one of the deadliest security defences in all of Sigil, the residents of Kobold-Land are fairly welcoming once a guest is invited in. It takes up a number of blocks containing large rundown buildings and a large network on tunnels and catacombs down below. As it's a neighbourhood built exclusively for Kobolds, it's a cramped place where most larger races would have trouble find places to stand. Kobold-Land happens to be cramped even by Kobold standards.

Many who live in Kobold-Land make their living by scouring the rest of the Hive and taking anything of use back. There's always a need for more materials there, and anything else is often sold through their small merchant building to the outside world. The residents of Kobold-Land are some of the most reliable scavengers in Sigil, and it's the place to be to find obscure objects and missing items lost in the Hive. Though one of it's more unscrupulous businesses is that the residents of Kobold-Land are more than willing to hire out as Stone-Pirates, and are well known for being able to strip a building clean in the matter of minutes.

The Servant District - This neighbourhood in the Lady's Ward is mostly inhabited by Kobolds. It's perhaps the most affluent of any neighbourhood that Kobolds live in. As it's name suggests, the Servant District is home to many of the serving staff of the rest of the Lady's Ward. Here the houses are of a modest size, completely hidden away by the massive mansions of the rest of the ward. The Kobolds here have enough room to live in compared to the other cramped neighbourhoods, are well fed and well educated, and have a modest wealth.

For the most part life in the Servant District is quite a happy one, as most of it's residents are more than happy about getting a chance to live in the Lady's Ward. A unique subculture has been created in this district, as it's residents have their own forms of cant to describe their duties and the whims of the Golden Lords and Ladies. While the Kobold servants of the Lady's Ward seem to be diligent and loyal, even they have grown cynical of the lords they serve and have made it quite a culture of talking behind their backs and ridiculing them. As the Kobolds are generally ignored by their masters, they've heard a lot about what really goes on in the Lady's Ward. As a result many of them are more than happy to engage in games of spying against all of the Golden Lords. And while they mostly share such chant among themselves, some of the Kobold servants are more than willing to let that information go for the right price.

The Stackhouses - These four massive buildings of the Lower Ward, house many of Kobolds of Sigil. Thousands live in this neighbourhood, and most of them go to work throughout the rest of the Lower Ward. Known for their large smokestacks, these former factories instead have become a home to many of the Lower Ward's workers. While the buildings weren't originally connected to each other, the Kobolds here worked tireless to connect them through a set of bridges at every level, and a large network of tunnels. From the Stackhouses one can travel anywhere through Undersigil, and the Kobolds have made quite a few track cars, trolleys and lifts allowing for easier travel.

It's with such ingenuity that many of the Kobolds here work for a companies and interests involved in transportation systems. Whether it be steam engine driven railcars or more exotic lightning rails, the Kobolds provide much of the construction labour and maintenance duties for such projects across Sigil, and apparently across the planes in some cases.

But it is said that within the tunnels deep below the Stackhouses the Kobolds are working on something in secret from the rest of Sigil. As it's known that many sheets of metal and mechanical parts have been transported to places down below. One theory is that the Kobolds of the Stackhouses are building a massive Colossus Construct down below, which happens to be their master, it's voice demanding it be built so it can one day rise to the streets of Sigil. Most Kobolds will of course nervously laugh when such things are mentioned to them.

The Dragon's Nest - This region in the Market Ward and Undersigil below, is home to a number of draconic races including Dragonborne, Draconians, Dragonspawn, Dracons, Dracotaurs, Spellscales and more. But mostly it belongs to the Kobolds, though a fair number of Dragons are said to live here. But for the most part it's rumour, as many of Sigil's Dragons tend to live in secrecy usually in humanoid form.

Here one can find examples of Kobold culture, songs and artwork, while much of it has it's origins in the elder Draconic culture, it's taken a life of its own with the Kobolds. Kobold culture often tells of struggles against adversity, outwitting others through craftiness, and about the virtues of perseverance. In this part of Sigil, it's a proud culture and here the Kobolds hold on to this culture stronger than the other neighbourhoods. At every street in the Dragon's Nest, merchants all vie for attention of those passing through. Many claiming to sell genuine Draconic artifacts, but mostly selling cheaply crafted trinkets.

This is also where one goes to find Draconic lore of the ancients eons. It's said that the Dragon's Nest was one of Sigil's most ancient neighbourhoods from it's primeval past when most of it's buildings were stone huts, and caves carved out, before something resembling civilization spread across the planes. Down below one can find many ancient Draconic runes carved on the walls of catacombs, and it's here that many Kobolds live and perform ancient rituals to the Dragons said to be their ancestors.

Of the many rituals one of the most well-known is the ritual of the Dragon's Blessing, a transformation ritual that reshapes Kobolds into the Dragon Blessed, or Urds as they are more commonly known as. The Dragon's Nest just happens to be one neighbourhood where the most Urds can be found, as many are seen flying to and from here. While Urds are held in regard amongst the Kobolds perhaps the greatest secret is said to be the bit of lore the Twice Named Ascendant One found in the Dragon's Nest. As the legend goes, he was once a mortal Kobold with the power of the mind over the body, an Egotist who learned to shape his body to his will. It was with his ability to shapeshift, that he discovered a loophole in the laws of reality that allowed him to become ever more powerful from the ancient writings in the Dragon's Nests walls. Soon enough the Twice Named one ascended to Godhood, to become the companion of the great Dragon overpower Io.

Other hidden bits of lore in the Dragon's Nest, are said to allow Kobolds to invoke all of the fearsome powers of their bigger ancestors. Or to give them great insight and aptitude. Some are said to even give some of the blessings of Kobold bloodlines on to other races. However despite all of this most Kobolds lack the understanding to use such rituals and secrets. And because of the nature of the Dragon's Nest with it many races (albeit mostly Draconic ones), they are a more welcoming outsiders, as they supply a steady flow of income to this region. However the Kobold here don't feel the need to serve other races, except as for the sake of being hospitable and respectful for a fair amount of compensation.

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Your depiction of Sigilian kobold culture manages to capture both the city's diversity and its aura of ancient mystery while still grounding the race and making them feel "earthy" and real. In short, I like it.

I wonder what relationship the Twice Named Ascendant One might have with the urd deity Kuraulyek from Monster Mythology. The backstory you gave him is more compelling than Kuraulyek's, though not entirely mutually exclusive (mostly due to the way myths contradict anyway).

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ripvanwormer wrote:
I wonder what relationship the Twice Named Ascendant One might have with the urd deity Kuraulyek from Monster Mythology. The backstory you gave him is more compelling than Kuraulyek's, though not entirely mutually exclusive (mostly due to the way myths contradict anyway).
There's no intentional relationship with the Twice Named Ascendant One and Kuraulyek. In fact the Twice Named Ascendant One is a joke reference to something from the 3/3.5e era WotC Character Optimization Board.

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Oh, Pun-Pun. I missed that. Nice.

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Kobold Personalities

Kheemo - (CN male Kobold Barbarian - Fated) A brawler from Kobold Land, Kheemo rose to prominence in the underground gladiatorial arena circuits across the Cage as one of it's champions. Based on his size and stature as a Kobold it's quite easy for his opponents to underestimate him, but when he invokes his wrath he is unstoppable. It's said that his powers come from five different totem spirits of Dragons who once ruled Sigil in it's ancient primeval past, who one day choose him as a champion after he single-handedly killed a gang of thugs terrorizing the Hive. Kheemo has quite a reputation as one of the figures as part of Sigil's underground fight scene, it's thought that he's very much involved with people such as Harys Hatchis and Zadara into making the underground gladiator scene more mainstream.

Khur'bhu'bhu - (LN male Kobold Ardent - Guvner) While the Fraternity of Order is not what it used to be, in it's retreat to Mechanus, Khu'bhu'bhu stayed behind in Sigil to learn more about ancient loopholes in the laws of reality, such as the ones in which a mortal Kobold became the Twice-Named Ascendant One. While his pursuit was originally the effects of emotions over the effects of living beings and reality, Khu'bhu'bhu has learned of an important axiom in how reality is written by the consensus in the minds of many sentient beings. And thought is in turn are guided by emotions. As emotions can help write how reality behaves, he has classified the many types of emotions in sentient beings. To many of the Guvners still left in Sigil, his work is considered to be quite unorthodox as they view emotions to be an aberration on living beings. But he views emotions as very much something that follows laws of reality. Much of his work has also helped the Bleak Cabal whom he enjoys a beneficial working relation with.

Luukho - (NG male Kobold Avenger of Bahamut - Revolutionary League) This wandering crusader across the wards of Sigil, seeks to free many from the chains of needless greed, and instead lead them to the path of honour and respect for others. Despite his investiture of holy powers from Bahamut himself and his great Adamantine Companion, this black-scaled crusader has never been an officially endorsed member of Bahamut's church. Luukho has been a scourge of both organized criminals and covetous merchants who control the system. It's though by some that Luukho is a legend dreamt up by the oppressed, until they meet a humble Kobold with very little wealth who gives them advice on how best to turn their lives around from those who exploit him. In Luukho's wrath only a few end up dead beneath his blade, instead he prefers to preserve lives letting those he brought down to ruin learn that there is another path beyond the unchecked pursuit of greed.

Ma'khat'kat - (NE female Kobold Cleric of Tiamat) This matron from the Servant District of the Lady's Ward has risen above her station as a servant to the Golden Lords, to reigning alongside them as a significant voice for the clergy of Tiamat. In Sigil the focus of Tiamat's church has never been on the Dragons, but more on Tiamat's portfolio as a Goddess of Greed. Which among the obscenely rich of the Lady's Ward, makes Tiamat a very popular power. Ma'khat'kat resides in the High Priestess quarters of Tiamat's massive temple, where she receives and listens to the concerns of the rich, using her knowledge of their secrets when it suits her for all the right gains. She has often used her knowledge to bring down one Golden Lord, at a request of another for use of a significant favour sometime in the future.

Ta'loror - (N female Kobold Assassin - Athar) This white-scaled Kobold gave a part of her soul away to the Plane of Shadow many years ago. She did so because of her disgust over how religions shaped the lives of various races across the planes, making some less and some more in the eyes of others. Ta'loror holds no love for the ancient Dragons that all Kobolds are said to come from, to her they are nothing more than useless myths created to divide the Kobold people over sides such as Bahamut and Tiamat. As an Assassin who dances through the shadows, she's relentless in her crusade of the powers that have been pulling the Kobold races one way or the other. While most of the Athar have left Sigil for the Spire, she's still in regular contact with many of their factors, seeking to eliminate or ruin many of the clergy that have grown in influence since the Faction War.

Yirlili - (N female Urd-Kobold Sorcerer - Sensate) As one of the Dragon Blessed, Yirlili has a privileged position among Sigil's Kobolds. She underwent the transformation at a young age when it was discovered she had a natural talent for Arcane Magic. As an Urd blessed by the ancient secrets hidden away in the Dragon's Nest, Yirlili seeks to discover all she can about the lost Eon of Wyrms that once happened through out all of Sigil and the multiverse. Yirlili is an explorer who's brought together a cadre of other Kobolds, Dragonborn, Spellscales and more. Her pursuit of the lost eon, has lead her to experience the life of ancient Dragon who lived in that ancient past through a series of runes which unlocked the memories of that life. She now seeks to uncover evidence and the legacies of that ancient Dragon, which is thought to uncover more than anyone has ever known about the Eon of Wyrms.

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The Goblin Quarter described on the Mimir is pretty interesting, similar in some ways to "the Vat" that Kobold Avenger describes, but placed in the Hive Ward instead. There's room for both, of course.

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It's been a while since I've written anything here...

Now on to Gnomes...

Gnomes of Sigil (Introduction)
A race of refugee commoners from the Plane of Faerie or Feywild as it's known on some worlds on the Material Plane, Gnomes are a people scattered across many worlds and planes. On some worlds they are tinkerers and builders of many things both wondrous and dangerous, and in other worlds there are Gnome nations defended by spies and assassins who wield secrets that can bring down kingdoms. These former commoners from the Fey Realms have toiled and struggled through out the eons, and yet they've always remained beneath the notice of most. Among the Fey races Gnomes have never inspired the awe or reputation that Elves and their kin have invoked, though they are still a very significant race among the Fey.

In Sigil Gnomes live as many other races do, working the same jobs and walking the same streets as the others do, yet many can't help but suspect that the Gnomes are up to something. It's suspected among many conspiracy theorists that it's the Gnomish Oligarchs who control much of Sigil from behind the scenes, that they have eyes everywhere and are working towards building a Gnomish empire that stretches across the planes. What leads many to these claims is the fact that Gnomes tend to live in the more affluent wards of Sigil, they tend to be generally close-knit community and as they happen to be quite small many just don't recognize them. But the fact is that Gnomes do live in every ward, and many of them are loners caught up in their own worlds from which they perceive things differently or very peculiar extroverts that do everything to be noticed by others.

Gnome culture is a varied one, as they have many cultures from across the planes. Bytopia may be the most common Outer Plane from which Gnomes come from, but they happen to live in every plane out there. In many environments Gnomes are also altered by the places in which they live, like many Fey races who seem to easily adapt to their environments after a few generations. Some theorize that Gnomes have already adapted physically to Sigil, and it's the way most Gnomes are that they've become suited to Sigil. Yet there does seems to be odd mutations among Sigilian Gnomes, which leads others to speculate they haven't yet adapted to Sigil.

Gnomes who are religious which tend towards many different deities and pantheons. While one of the most common deity worshipped among Gnomes is Garl Glittergold, thought to have once being a legendary king among the Gnomes who had his own Fey Court, there are other deities Gnomes worship such as Baervan Wildwanderer, Callarduran Smoothhands, Urdlen and the rest of that pantheon, as well as Correllon, Grumbar, Gaia, Frey, Gruumsh (especially common among Gnomes who despise the Fey Nobility), the Traveller, the Arborean Court of Stars, many of the Dragon deities and more. Many Gnomes turn towards obscure and non-nonsensical deities, sometimes out of mockery and sometimes because it's the only voice that made any sense to them. Though in general most Gnomes aren't particularly the religious types.

They have a natural aptitude towards deception, lies and trickery, as they possess the power to naturally use illusions this often leads to many Gnomes being a secretive bunch, as they have much to fear and hide from in the streets of Sigil. Gnomes also have an aptitude for the sciences of many studies, as a result many inventors who live in Sigil happen to be Gnomes. Still despite living in Sigil, the Gnomes there have never can still feel their link towards the Fey Realms that they left many eons ago, in many Gnomes this causes them to perceive reality slightly differently than how most races perceive it. These Gnomes that have what some call Waking Visions can see how things work and how they can be twisted, it's something that's said to be the cause of the aptitudes and powers many Gnomes have. This also causes Gnomes to have many idiosyncrasies and sometimes leads to serious insanity among the race.

Beyond the paranoid ramblings of bigoted conspiracy theorist, it's said that Gnomes do have many enemies out their lurking in the shadows of Sigil secretly hunting them one by one. There's been many mysterious disappearances of Gnomes, that are not that uncommon in Sigil, and no bodies are ever found as a result. While there certainly are other races that have old hatreds of Gnomes, most of them have let go such bigotries. What's believed to have caused these disappearances are rumoured to be dark forces from the Fey Realm even worse than the Spriggans and Redcaps that are known to hunt Gnomes. Many believe though that it's not any creature but a curse or an ancient pact from the Fey Realms that affects mainly the Gnomes living in Sigil, causing them to spontaneously disappear. It's the disappearances that leave many Sigilian Gnomes with either the choice of remaining close together yet out of the notice of most races, or out in the open where non-Gnomes can recognize them.

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Kobold Avenger wrote:
there are other deities Gnomes worship such as Baervan Wildwanderer, Callarduran Smoothhands, Urdlen and the rest of that pantheon

I like this entry, but I wanted to mention Nebelun/Gond Wonderbringer here. There's got to be a market in Sigil for gnomish inventiveness.

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Zimrazim wrote:
Kobold Avenger wrote:
there are other deities Gnomes worship such as Baervan Wildwanderer, Callarduran Smoothhands, Urdlen and the rest of that pantheon

I like this entry, but I wanted to mention Nebelun/Gond Wonderbringer here. There's got to be a market in Sigil for gnomish inventiveness.


I didn't want to exhaustively list all of the Gnome deities, even if Gond is also one that certainly appeals to non-Gnomes as I also wanted to present some non-Gnomish deities that might be worshipped by some Gnomes.

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I really like your take on gnomes, which seems like a combination of various interpretations the race has gotten over the years: tinker gnomes, 4th edition gnomes, Pathfinder gnomes, and Eberron gnomes.

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ripvanwormer wrote:
I really like your take on gnomes, which seems like a combination of various interpretations the race has gotten over the years: tinker gnomes, 4th edition gnomes, Pathfinder gnomes, and Eberron gnomes.
Yes that was exactly what I was aiming for including something similar to the curse that afflicts the Gnomes should they no longer have passions, and the idea from one of the Changeling games that Gnome-like Changelings were the tinkerers and workers of the Fey Courts.

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This ties in with a problem I had when I tried to take an Eberron-like spin on the gnomes.

As I always thought gnomes were poorly defined culturally and as I never liked the absent-minded professor role they take up in many campaigns, I was initially intrigued by the Eberron take on gnomes as a vast information-gathering network. I also tied in a lot of elements from the "Irish Traveler" culture wherein they use some deception (and, in the case of gnomes, illusion) to survive in the world.

However, once I did this one of my players accused me of making gnomes into stereotypes of Jews. Even using the comments above
"Gnomes are up to something"
"Conspiracy theorists [believe] that it's the Gnomish Oligarchs who control much of Sigil from behind the scenes, that they have eyes everywhere and are working towards building a Gnomish empire that stretches across the planes."
"Tend to be generally close-knit community"
"They have a natural aptitude towards deception, lies and trickery…being a secretive bunch"
Coupled with the gnomes' short stature and large noses, the player was pretty adamant in his accusation; and to be honest, once I viewed it from his position, I saw his point.

Fortunately, I had taken a lot of notes and still had a reference book or two to show where I got my ideas; so the situation was defused. But I ended up backing away from my initial vision just out of the risk of offending anyone again.

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Re: Sigilian Culture: Humanoid Races and Cultures

The allusions to negative Jewish stereotypes (and possibly a connection to Harold Wilson referring to Swiss bankers as the "gnomes of Zurich") made me a bit uncomfortable, actually. I'd tone down the conspiracy theories, even though they do fit well with the gnomish affinity for illusions. An illusion-wielding race would still have some problems getting people to trust them, but one could delve more into the fey trickster archetype instead.

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Some of the Gnome stereotypes could be construed as being Jewish, but I tend to think that some of those stereotypes could be Chinese too, which I happen to be. I've been trying to introduce different sides to each race, some of them are close to certain ethnic groups, but they also diverge away from them too. Even if previously in this entry there might be allusions on how Goblins have some Arab or Indian stereotypes and Kobolds may have some Filipino or Mexican stereotypes it doesn't represent the whole of it.

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With the exception of Eberron gnomes, I would say that many of the gnomish depictions are far more akin to the Roma, Sinti, and Travellers than to the Jews. The negative stereotype of Jews is that they're hardasses. Doesn't exactly fit the gnomes now, does it? I think "Gypsy" elements also better reflect the gnomes as not being all that well organized in most campaigns, rather than some shadowy cabal. Remember, the primary three classes associated with gnomes are illusionist, rogue, and bard.

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Gnomes were originally the spirits associated to elemental earth, in fact: gnomes, undines, sylphs, and salamanders. Salamanders are in D&D, but sylphs and undines aren't.

Djinn have a longstanding war with efreet, but I know of no traditional foe of the dao; I don't recall the marids having much combat with them. An intraelemental rivalry between the staid dao and the trick-loving gnomes could make for a neat cultural reference. Certainly if gnomes cross paths with dao frequently, they would be a convenient target for capture raids and thus bear a significant portion of the dao's depredations. That would make for traditional ill will.

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With my anecdote above, I was just illustrating that if you aren't careful then people can read things into what you create that weren't what you intended. For example, a lot of people felt that Tolkein 's orcs were respresentations of the Nazis; despite the fact that Tolkein wrote his works prior to their rise to power. (Fortunately, nobody likes either of those groups, so who cares? -- Well, maybe SOME people like orcs)

In my depiction of gnomes, I still had the gnomes as good beings. I just had them using info-gathering and trickery as means of surviving amongst larger, more beligerent species. Nothing horribly wrong with that. It's just that so long as characteristics are applied to broad groups (and so long as groups of people are given monstrous charactures); one has to be careful when using this sort of shorthand when designing cultures and monsters.

If you say that "orcs are all lazy and violent", then you run the risk of someone thinking you are unsubtly saying "All [insert ethnic group] are all lazy and violent".

I just brought it up as a warning. Since then, I've tried to follow the "Star Trek" route where another culture might have some attitribute (logic/violence/greed/etc.) amped up; but I try to include other components that make the culture unique or relatable in some way.

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Jem wrote:
Gnomes were originally the spirits associated to elemental earth, in fact: gnomes, undines, sylphs, and salamanders. Salamanders are in D&D, but sylphs and undines aren't.

Sylphs are described in a number of places, beginning with the original Monster Manual and most recently in the 3rd edition Monster Manual II. They were in second edition too, mentioned a number of places in Planescape; The Planewalker's Handbook mentions that they're one possible ancestor for air genasi. The Inner Planes mentions them as inhabitants of the Elemental Plane of Air, as does the Planescape Monstrous Compendium Appendix III.

Undines are in D&D too, but much more obscure. They were first described in the Dungeons & Dragons Companion Set and made their way from there to 2nd edition in the Mystara Monstrous Compendium Appendix. From there they got brief mentions in The Inner Planes (page 55, mentioning their alliance with the marids) and the Planescape Monstrous Compendium Appendix III (page 9, with the same information). There was also an undine in Gary Gygax's novel Come Endless Darkness; while set in Greyhawk and the planes, that novel wasn't published by TSR, however.

The Inner Planes says the Elemental Plane of Earth is where the real svirfneblin cities can be found. "Fantastic, gigantic complexes that rival even those of the dao (who resent them for it)." Their settlements on the Prime are paltry things in comparison.

That said, the pech are somewhat gnome-like in appearance, and unlike the gnomes they're a true elemental race native to the Elemental Plane of Earth, so in my imagination the pech have the slot given to the gnomes in Paracelsus's cosmology. The nereids, another elemental race, are probably more like Paraclesus's undines than D&D undines are (undines are described as blobs of water, similar to water elementals but with a chaotic alignment).

Quote:
Djinn have a longstanding war with efreet, but I know of no traditional foe of the dao; I don't recall the marids having much combat with them.

Both djinn and marids are said to hate the dao, but they don't have the same great war that the efreet and djinn have. Marids hate both the dao and efreet, but their numbers are few and they tend to be isolated. Dao are said to attack the dao on sight, but their plane is far from the Plane of Earth. Gnomes (primarily svirfneblin, who have a long-standing pact with earth elementals) would certainly have reason to make war on the dao, who would seek to enslave them. The shad are also common victims of the dao, and oppose them for that reason. Any race dedicated to freedom - the phoelarchs, the (celestial) eladrins and asuras, even githzerai and bariaur - would battle the dao on occasion in order to rescue their slaves.

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Gnome Neighbourhoods

The Court of Ruin - This community of Gnomes is based out of the Hive located not too far away from the Slags where many of it's dangers spill out, and over an elaborate network of catacombs where many dangers are said to lurk. The Court of Ruin is where many of the Gnomes ignored by the rest of the Sigilian Gnomes live in. It's was said to be the first Gnomish community of Sigil, in the ancient eons of the past when the Hive wasn't the Hive, and the Fey Courts had their own outposts in Sigil, the Court of the Eternal Season as it was once known was the embassy for many of the Fey Courts back in it's time. But over the years less and less of the Fey Nobles had an interest in maintaining such a place in Sigil, and many departed for the Plane of the Faerie, or settled into demesnes scattered across the Lady's Ward. However many of the former servants and commoners who maintained the Court remained behind despite the wishes of some of the nobles. These servants became the Gnomes of the Court of Ruin, and it was thought that it was from this that the Gnome disappearances started.

In the modern day Court of Ruin, it's a mostly desolate place where the waking visions of the Gnomes who live there are stronger than they are anywhere else in Sigil. They regularly speak with things that aren't there, and many of them barely acknowledge the presence of others around them. Life in the court is harsh and like the rest of the Hive they are quite impoverished, and it's common for many of its residents go between the court and the Gatehouse regularly. But anyone who thinks they can easily victimize the Gnomes because of their lack of grasp in the current reality or the possible curses left behind on the court are in for a big surprise. The Gnomes of the court have access to many powerful magics left behind in the court, and it's fiercely defended by very skilled Gnome warriors and mystics who have many imaginative ways of dealing with hostile interlopers. While traditionally Gnomes have always been suspicious of Goblins and their kin, it's rumoured that in recent years the Gnomes of the Court have been working together Goblin barons who seek to clean out the Slags once and for all, which is thought to be part of the curse levelled upon the court.

The Silver Demesnes - Located in the Lady's Ward, the Silver Demesnes is a neighbourhood where many of the wealthy Gnomes tend to reside in. On the outside the residents of the Silver Demesnes present a welcoming and genial image, noble yet still quite humble. It's known for it's large manors, that still manage to be cramped a little as most of the Desmesnes was built for Gnomes. Many powerful companies live in the Silver Demesnes, including Gnomeway one of the partners of the Planar Trade Consortium, and others such as Mechanical Exports Inc, and the Janus Society. The Silver Demesnes resembles the perfect paradise for many Gnomes it seems, as in the ancient past Gnomes were simply the commoners of the Fey Courts. Over the eons many of them worked and toiled and toiled in the material plane and other worlds till they were able to rival many of the Fey Nobles in the wealth and power. But for all their accomplishments many of the oligarchs of the Silver Demesnes know of forces from the previous multiverse which seeks to destroy Sigil and all that they built.

Some call these forces the Leshay, and their minions come from many forms and are said to be the true source of the disappearances. These Gnomes believe they must oppose these forces in their schemes, and they've welcomed others of many different races to join them in their fight, building a powerful networks of spies and agents across the city. They point to mysterious visitors that have showed up across Sigil that happen to be enemy in disguise. However Gnomes from other parts of Sigil especially the Mirror Streets see the scheming Oligarchs of the Silver Desmesnes as a bunch of delusional fools who are too rich for their own good. As none of the Gnomes from anywhere else have ever came across any evidence of the Oligarchs claims, they assume that the Waking Visions of these Gnomes are held under the sway of one particularly insane individual.

The Clockworks - This region of the Clerks Ward is filled with enough massive gears and many large tubes, some assume that it's part of Mechanus brought into Sigil. The Clockworks is a market and a community where many of the Gnomes who are more technically minded reside in. The Waking Visions of some Gnomes allows them to better perceive how certain things in reality works, which is how many Gnomes become technically adept at many disciplines whether it be mechanics, magic or alchemy. In the Clockworks many mechanical wonders can be seen here, as the Gnomes here work tirelessly on inventing and creating new devices. There are claims that all these accomplishments are merely copies of other peoples works, that these Gnomes can create easily once they closely analyze and examine something. It just happens that many devices can be made for quite cheap in the Clockworks as it's where many go to get affordable versions of anything.

As a result of how quickly many things are put together in the Clockworks, it's said that the Clockworks is one of the most dangerous neighbourhoods in all of the relatively safe Clerks Ward. And it's not because of crime, but rather because of accidents and quite a few killings at the hands of uncontrolled constructs. Still the mechanics of the Clockworks do manage to keep a lot of their inventions in check. Yet there's always the ambitious alchemist or artificer who always wants to experiment on something, as evidenced by the number of desperate applicants waiting in line at the Central Turbine Dome that dominates the centre of the neighbourhood, who promise to compensate them well for their efforts.

The Citadel of Planarography is another massive building that dominates the Clockworks constantly rotating, this citadel is made from the shell of a dead mechanical abomination known as a Anaxim it contains a collection of windows that scry across random planes unpredictably. It's also in here that a Gnomish research council tries to delve into many of the mysteries of the multiverse, and the nature of the Waking Visions and the disappearances that afflict Sigil's Gnomes, refuting and confirming many claims of such mysteries.

The Mirror Streets - This area of the Guildhall Ward is the home of many guilds including Mirror-makers Guild. The Mirror Streets gets it's name from a large array of mirrors that hang from awnings, are built in the sides of walls and are placed everywhere along the sides of the streets. The Mirror Streets builds more than just mirrors, it's a place where Gnomish craftsmanship and culture has a strong hold in Sigil. Here the Frame-makers, Box-makers, Illusionists and Rodent-Wranglers Guild also are based here. The Gnome craftsmen of the Mirror Streets are very honest and serious in their work, but outside of their work, there is the art of illusion crafting, an important one among Gnomes, for the Mirror Streets at night is a collection of bewildering images. The line between reality and illusion becomes blurred.

The residents of the Mirror Streets are what many claim to be the true representatives of the Gnomes of Sigil, being where the remnants of the under-courts of Fey in Sigil went. Many of the fey allies of the Gnomes are found in the Mirror Streets, some illusionary and some very much real. It's said that with the right crafting a master Gnome illusionist can make an illusion very much real. More than a few of their fabrications have taken a life of it's own. And many claim that some myth themselves were crafted on these streets. Many non-Gnomes who wander the Mirror Streets can feel a bit of the Waking Visions that affects many of the Gnomes, and it's because of this many visit the Mirror Streets to perfect the the arts of Illusions and trickery. An impromptu academy of Enchanters, Illusionists, Bards and Psions has been formed by some of the masters of the Mirror-makers Guild.

From a number of empty mirror frames on the streets, there lies portals to the travelling shadow courts across the planes where Gnomish caravans use the Mirror Streets as their central hub of travel between them. Always travelling and always scattered the Gnome shadow courts visit every corner of the planes, sometimes in the open and sometimes quite hidden. During busy times of the great meeting, the Mirror Streets is filled with carts and wagons pulled by Giant Space Hamsters, and even stranger creatures from beyond bound to these travelling Gnomes. Here the Gnomes pass secrets about the going on of the rest of the multiverse.

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Re: Sigilian Culture: Humanoid Races and Cultures

Gnomes were originally the spirits associated to elemental earth, in fact: gnomes, undines, sylphs, and salamanders. Salamanders are in D&D, but sylphs and undines aren't.
Uh, sylphs most certainly are-- they're a fey-like outsider in the 3.0 Monster Manual II.
Undines were never bothered with because we already had nereids, which were considered elemental-kin (like the sylphs and salamanders)

Djinn have a longstanding war with efreet, but I know of no traditional foe of the dao; I don't recall the marids having much combat with them. An intraelemental rivalry between the staid dao and the trick-loving gnomes could make for a neat cultural reference.
The marids do not bother with the efreet or dao, but greatly despise both.

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Re: Sigilian Culture: Humanoid Races and Cultures

Undines exist in Planescape. See my comment above.

Xvarts
The fomorian city of Bealach Cúm traded gnome slaves to the Queen of Air and Darkness in exchange for quickling servants, a common practice in the days before the city's destruction.

The Brood Mothers were the most powerful coven of night hags in those days. They were the original creators of the broodswarms, and it is said they created at least one of the mighty altraloths. They looked on the enormous profit the slave trade was earning the fomorians, and became determined to seize control of it. They visited the gnomish slaves in their dreams and made them an offer: freedom from their fomorian masters. Being night hags as opposed to, say, baatezu, they felt no need to reveal the catch or even their true identities. Their claim on the gnome souls was just as sure. With the aid of their gnome thralls, the Brood Mothers completed a magical working that tore Bealach Cúm from Faerie and into the Plane of Shadow.

The fomorians, former masters of the city, for the most part died, their essences transformed into the undead entities known as slow shadows. A few of them were saved by the night hags, used as raw material for their experiments in the shaping of flesh. The gnomes did not, of course, escape the hags' loving care. The gnomes had already been altered by the fomorians, the process of transforming them into spriggans already began. The hags twisted them further, making their skin the deep blue of annis hags, their eyes a vivid orange that shone even in the dimness of Shadow. These former gnomes had become a new species, variously known as svarts, xvarts, and xivarts. Clever, sneaky, and thoroughly vicious, the Brood Mothers believed this race to be the perfect servants for their particular clientele, and began reestablishing the trade that had been cut off with the detruction of Bealach Cúm.

The Queen of Air and Darkness did accept some of these new slaves, but the Brood Mothers were hardly satisfied with a single client. They sold some back to the fomorians, who sold some to hobgoblin chiefs, but the hags traded most frequently with the Abyss. The Abyss offered goods no other plane could; the manes the hags needed to make the broodswarms that were their signature creation. In the Abyss, the most eager buyer of these shadow-tainted former gnomes was the Prince of Shadows, Graz'zt.

Graz'zt, for his part, found the xvarts delightful minions. Their nondemonic nature allowed him to make use of them in the domains of his enemies, who would quickly sense demonic presences, and on the Material Plane where demons would attract unwanted attention. As they were individually weak, Graz'zt used them as petty spies and saboteurs, but his clever plans ensured that his wicked influence grew wherever the xvarts were sent.

In order to control the wild creatures, Graz'zt recruited the strongest and most intelligent of them to command the rest. Of the many leaders of the xvart, one was cleverer and stronger than any of the rest. With mission after mission a success, whether it was to harass the peoples of the Material Plane or to spy on rival lords of the Abyss, Raxivort soon rose to leadership of all of Graz'zt's xvarts.

At this point, Graz'zt decided it wouldn't do for anyone else to gain any of what had become his signature minions. Raxivort was sent at the head of a guerilla army to the ruins of Bealach Cúm, where after a fast campaign they eliminated the Brood Mothers utterly, ending the planar trade in xvarts. Graz'zt rewarded Raxivort with the title of Master of Slaves, putting all of his thralls under the crafty xvart's command.

Raxivort remained apparently loyal to Graz'zt, his lifespan extended by Graz'zt's demonic power, for centuries. It was only when Graz'zt was defeated by the witch-queen Iggwilv, his weakened essence thrown back to the Abyss, that Raxivort struck, leading Graz'zt's own slave-armies against their master. Even weakened as he was, Graz'zt was no easy prey, and he mustered his loyal supporters. The battle went on for months, but finally Raxivort called a truce and fled to Pandemonium, bringing with him a considerable amount of Graz'zt's treasure. The xvarts who had been under Graz'zt's command were set free; Raxivort had already been nearly godlike to them already, and now their worship transformed Raxivort into a true god.

In the present day, many xvarts across the planes have converted to the growing faith of Raxivort, though older settlements sometimes cling to the old ways. Xvart society is often similar to that of the goblins and kobolds the race is lumped together and shares territory with, although elements of gnomish culture, including the gnomish habits of trickery and deception, remain.

Little Nastrond. This is a "mature" xvart community located in Sigil's Lower Ward for some centuries. It was founded by a frost giant jarl from Niflheim, who built an imposing castle out of stone and unmelting ice in the Lower Ward, bringing with him a small army of xvart slaves in a crude attempt to seize power in the City of Doors. He is long since gone, but the xvarts remained, largely dismantling the castle over the years and using the raw materials, along with scavenged wood, bone, plaster, and other substances, to build a complex network of warrens (sized for xvarts) both above the streets and below them, sandwiched between goblin and kobold neighborhoods (the Vat and the Stackhouses), acting as an intermediary zone where the Lower Ward's hard-working goblins and kobolds intermingle and trade. Little Nastrond's architecture is, at this point, as sophisticated as any in the Lower Ward, though the basic shape of the old frost giant castle is still discernable from a distance. The xvarts here revere various old gods, including the fomorian god Karontor, the hag goddess Cegilune, the gnome god Urdlen, the Norse goddess Hel, the gods of darkness Erebus and Amatsu-Mikaboshi, and the demon king Graz'zt. They're aware that one of their own kind has recently ascended to divinity, but the prevailing mood is skeptical; they fear that Raxivort will shortly be beaten down, as their kind so often has been. Most xvarts in Little Nastrond work in the foundries and smithies of the Lower Ward.

Azzamort. This is a very new xvart neighborhood near the Slags, built in the last century after Raxivort defected from Graz'zt's realm. Some of the xvarts freed from Graz'zt's slavery settled in Sigil's Hive Ward, where the neighborhood of Azzamort was founded. The xvarts here, dwelling in rambling shacks similar to that of most Hive dwellers, have made common cause with ratfolk to fiercely defend their new territory against aggressors, supplementing their incomes with petty thievery.

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Re: Sigilian Culture: Humanoid Races and Cultures

A'Xill, the xill district.

100 years or so ago, the Believers of the Source imported a large number of xill into the neighborhood around the Great Foundry.

Nowadays, the xill are mostly just Sigilians. They have to get new sentient hosts to incubate their young, of course, and they go through a djinn slaver, who gets slaves from a variety of sources including the dao, neogi, and tso. The slaves are sold secretly in a hidden market below the city, operated exclusively by xill.

The xill worship their traditional god Sixin (who is also worshiped by nathri, bladelings, and humans who admire Sixin's role as a hunter), but more and more have been turning to the Greek deity Asclepius, who offers healing that Sixin does not, and whose role as a god of resurrection strikes a chord with the xill, who have begun to believe that xill souls are reincarnations of the victims who incubated them. The Vedic pantheon is also increasingly popular.

The leaders of the xill community include a half-slaad and a half-chasme.

Although they are enemies of the xill on their home plane (more pests, really, than rivals), the nathri have filtered into the xill neighborhood over the decades, and are now as much a part of it as anyone else. They run a haberdashery, work at the Great Foundry, and helped found the Dreamthieves Guild. They are rivals of the goblins.

Since the Tempest of Doors, a portal that once led to the Ethereal Plane now leads to the obscure plane of Dal Quor. The Quori have begun filtering into Sigil, delighted at a path out of their long exile.

The rest of the population is mainly human, tiefling, and genasi, but more and more are willingly being transformed into Inspired by the quori.

The Dreamthieves Guild, founded by nathri and some other psionic dream-travelers, is a small organization (disguised as an exclusive adventurer's club in A'Xill) dedicated to stealing thoughts and memories from the minds of dreamers for the benefit of select clients.

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Re: Sigilian Culture: Humanoid Races and Cultures

The Low Market - In Little Nastrond the xvarts maintain a marketplace that serves the local goblin, kobold, and gnome communities. Despite their urbane nature, there is sometimes tension between the three communities, especially among newer immigrants from the Prime who sometimes settle in the neighborhoods. Thus, a neutral broker is sometimes appreciated. The Low Market also contains a school, built in a tower left over from the frost giant castle, that educates the children of all four neighborhoods. The faculty includes an elder dragonwrought kobold, a bugbear, an annis hag, and an exiled drow.

Nelly Nineteeth - Among the xvarts and ratlings of the slum of Azzamort, a small number of humans and tieflings have also settled. Particularly those on the run from minor fiends and goblins may find the company of xvarts more pleasant than the alternative. The de facto leader of the humans and tieflings of Azzamort is Nelly Nineteeth, a crone whose broken smile gives her her name. What no one knows is that Nelly is actually a night hag, the last survivor of the Broodmother coven who created the xvarts long ago, reduced to poverty and come to Azzamort to watch over her wayward children.

Market of Dreams - Near the neighborhood of A'Xill, merchants set up stalls selling wares collected from dreamscapes. Members of the Sign of One are particularly likely to be found in this section of the Lower Ward, collecting artifacts of the imagination. In Dal Quor, dark forces have begun to take notice of what they consider to be the theft of their rightful property.

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Re: Sigilian Culture: Humanoid Races and Cultures

I might as well finish off my entries on the Gnomes of Sigil.

And anyone is welcome to take on the Lizardfolk or the Dragonborn, as they happen to be races I really don't care enough about to write something about.

Gnome Personalities of Sigil

Estarondic Atherseer - (NE male Gnome Telepathic Psion {Thrallherd} - Signer) Estardondic is an obscenely rich baron, who's said to be the true leader of the Silver Demesnes. He's an arrogant man who believes that all minds exist for him to exert his control over and a holdover of the Sign of One refusing to even recognize the Mind's Eye that his faction has become. Estarondic may in fact be one of the most powerful Psions in Sigil, as he has easily twisted many minds to his crusade against forces that he believes is part of the conspiracy of the Le Shay that's after his secret empire. He can be found in his massive estate plotting with his network of spies, always accompanied by his strange nameless thrall that's said to be a Gnoll-Foromian crossbreed.

Nestanla Fizzlenakker - (LG female Gnome Bard - Sensate) A bard from the Clockworks and a granddaughter of Mithirund Highlurker, Nestanla is an inventor of many unique musical instruments that only she knows how to play herself. In many cases her efforts are trial and error, yet she's managed to create the Hydro-Sextuple-Recurved-Orichalcum-String-Tube a hauntingly beautiful sounding instrument that have drawn all from across Sigil to hear her play. As a musician Nestanla aims to bring peace and unity with her works, but an inclusive version where differences coexist, where she is quite critical of the Hardheads and their allies and their version of peace and unity.

Mithirund Highlurker - (LN male Gnome Artificer - Guvners) One of the community leaders of the the Clockworks, Mithirund is an elderly Gnome who's devoted centuries of his life in pursuit of research into the advancement of mechanical devices and their applications across Sigil. He's managed to create a variety of large scale machines across the Lower Ward to improve the efficiency and production capabilities of many factories. Mithirund can be found always followed by a menagerie of of constructs that follow him wherever he goes. Some say that he stole many of his ideas from the Modrons in the distant past, as many are said to be suspicious of his activities.

Keleenea Lastride - (CE female Gnome Assassin) {She happens the narrator of the Shadow Power Source back in my discussion of 4e power sources} Keleenea is a highly sought after Assassin from the Mirror Streets, who signed a part of her soul away to an ancient force locked away in a long-lost domain in the Plane of Shadows. She's highly skilled in arranging her hits as accidents as a form of fine art, as there's never been one death that's been conclusively linked to her involvement. Her price as an Assassin is also never in currency, as she always asks for things such as secrets, or memories forever lost or strange tasks as the payment for her expertise.

Alycon Nightlaugher - (CN male Chaos Gnome Wizard/Shaman {or just Summoner from the APG if using Pathfinder} - Xaositect) A descendant of a Gnome clan from Limbo, Alycon can be found between the Hive and the Mirror Streets accompanied by his friendly and slightly lecherous multi-tentacled multi-eyed companion that's said to have come from the Far Realms. He seeks to counter the corruption that many forces that the Far Realm by making them understand his reality better and vice versa. His theory is that if the Far Realms and the native reality understand each other better, they will become less toxic to each other. Beyond his studies of the Outside, Alycon also fights criminals as a vigilante with his pseudonatural companion, against crimes he feels are really bad ones. Despite his eccentricities as a vigilante, his help is very much welcomed by the defenceless of Sigil he protects.

Badrathar Spoonfollow - (CG male Gnome Paladin - Anarchist) One of the champions of the Court of Ruin, Badrathar has waking visions of a world where malignant forces roam the remnants of a kingdom where it's people are regularly oppressed by a hive mind of a mad tyrant. Somehow despite his vastly different perception of the reality of Sigil, Badrathar was recruited into an Anarchist cell that aims to seek and find sleeper agents of certain powerful interests in Sigil such as the Planar Trade Consortium. Badrathar might just be on to something as the PTC certainly had it's interests in something located near the Slags, which they've tried to retrieve numerous times despite the opposition of the Court of Ruin. He's known as the crusading fool in other parts of Sigil where he roams.

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Re: Sigilian Culture: Humanoid Races and Cultures

Orcs of Sigil
Orcs are said to be one of the oldest of the mortal races completely based on the Material Plane that still exist in significant numbers. They were a people very close to nature and the spirits as the chosen ones, of many of the primal spirits of the Material Plane. In the ancient eons, the Material Plane was constantly encroached upon by threats from the other Planes, whether it be the Outer Planes, the Inner Planes, the Faerie, Shadow or the Far Realm, and each time it was the Orcs called upon by the spirits to keep such forces in check. But eventually things changed on the Material Plane, the influences of the other planes guided the other races to rise to significance with things such as civilization, technology, magic and more.

Soon the Orcs found that they were no longer as blessed as they were by the spirits as the spirits had to concentrate their efforts on the other races. In some cases across many worlds Orcs tried to hold on to the old ways, while in other worlds they soon found themselves having to embrace the ways of other races. In many cases this introduced conflict, as the Fey and other forces aimed to take the lands they once held, while the Goblins and Humans sought to exploit the Orcs. Defiantly some Orcs rose to civilizations that would rival those of the other races adopting some of their ways, but in many cases this introduced the corrupting influences of many forces such as the Powers.

While the Orcs were originally a people who embraced Animism belief in the Primal Spirits as their primary religion, many Gods now have their influence in the Orcs religions. Gruumsh being the most infamous interloper deity that has exploited Orcs (along with other races) on many worlds. Gods of Destruction and Conflict such Ares, Bane, Magluyiet and Cyric often seeking to do the same to many Orcs. Though many Orcs do also worship deities such as Bahamut, Corellon (popular among those who despise Gruumsh), Sheela Peyroyl, Moradin, Thor, Kord, Guan Yu, Ganeesh, Demeter, Horus, and others. Among the spirits the most common ones that many Orcs call upon are the World Serpent, Grandfather Wolf, World Tree, Old Grandfather, Primal Beast and the Hunters.

In Sigil, the first Orcs were said to arrived in an ancient time when their wasn't any buildings in Sigil, just stones and caves that dotted the torus amongst the tripartite ruins left by older races. Then Sigil became more populated as other races rose to significance across the planes. The Sigilian Orcs soon became civilized, and in many cases communities of Half-Orcs also rose up during this time. For the most part the Sigilian Half-Orcs have always being a separate community, rarely ever integrating with the greater Orc community. In many cases Orcs moved to the higher parts of Undersigil as the city started to become more developed. Living in the castaway buildings of many ancient neighbourhoods in Sigil. As the city began to change, many new primal spirits came to be in Sigil, ones that are unique to Sigil itself, existing nowhere else such as the Alley of Lingering Sighs, the Voice of the Catacombs and the Junkyard Mother. In Sigil there are many neighbourhoods almost empty and avoided by most because they are said to be haunted, that the Orcs have come to live around as guardians.

Though not all Orcs embrace the spirits in such ways, many live like the other people of Sigil on the surface. Often struggling to make a living, because of the fact they are stronger than most other races, it's quite common to see Orcs among the various labourers spread across the city. The Hive, Lower Ward and Guildhall Ward being the most common places that Orcs are found. Many Sigilians still however tend to view the Orc races as being an unsophisticated culture and often simplistic culture. Most of the surface Orcs face the worst of such prejudices from the rest of Sigil, often being marginalized, or in the worst cases abused in orphanages that have existed for years set up for only Orcish children left behind by their parents involved in a lot of dangerous work. Such institutions and the worst of their systematic abuses have come to light in more recent years, as the outcry against them from Sigil's general population is starting to grow, especially among Humans and Half-Orcs.

In Undersigil most of the Orcs live free of many of the problems inflicted among the surface Orcs. It is in Undersigil that many schools of thought about Orcish culture have begun to rise. As mixture of races that live in Undersigil tend to be different from the mixture of races that live in the City Above, Orcish culture down below has taken different forms. In Undersigil, Orcs tend to be more open and welcoming to other races, developing in ways unique to their surface brethren and perhaps the Orcs from the rest of the Multiverse.

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Re: Sigilian Culture: Humanoid Races and Cultures

We definitely need to fit the Kuah-Lij into Sigil (they're from Necromancer Games' Dead Man's Chest and one of the Tome of Horrors-- III I think) That group is so steampunk that it's not even funny. They'd be a perfect Spelljamming race, as well.
Rip, I think you would be best suited for this job. I'm afraid I'm also not well enough versed with the specifics of Sigil to put the Sulwynarii in there, either (I have a good sized colony on Mineral that work for *and in many cases, worship* Crystalle. Of course, at this point that colony's bloodline has been heavily diluted with planetouched and half quasielemental blood.)

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Orc Neighbourhoods

Factory Court - This region of the Lower Ward is where many of Sigils Orcs live and work, it's a desolate place near the Ditch where heavy labour happens. The mortality rate is said to be quite high here among the workers as the conditions are often dangerous and it's where many imports to Sigil are stored and processed here, and where much of the machinery for the rest of the Lower Ward is constructed. The Orcs of Factory Court are perhaps one of the most desperate communities. Some Orcs who are fortunate can become quite wealthy here, mostly having a job to oversee the rest of the workers and industry in this part. There's schools and many institutions here primarily for Orcs, which lead to it's most controversial Orphanage school, an overcrowded academy that was used as a residence for many Orc children. An institution that was shut down a few years ago after a great outcry where it's mostly non-Orc headmasters and staff were known to abuse many of it's children.

Since then there's been quite a movement among Sigil's Orcish communities to do what they can to run and provide for such institutions with as little overt help from the outside as possible. Some feel there's a need to teach Orcs about their culture and ancient ways, and that incidents like the Orphanage school was because of their neglect of their roots, and their obsession with hard work. As a result there's a growing xenophobic movement in this community, as many of the abuses inflicted on the Factory Court have been from non-Orcs who see the as a people that's easy to exploit. One of these movements is a group calling itself the Scro, who are allegedly tied to a similarly named organization spread through out the Prime. But there's also the growing influence of guilds in the Factory Court that include both Orcs and non-Orcs that includes the Labourer's Guild which has been growing across the Lower Ward from the Guildhall Ward.

Ur'gaanesshk - This neighbourhood located in the Guildhall Ward is thought to be one of the most affluent of the Orc communities, and it's where many of the old tribes that have existed from eons ago came to settle in Sigil. What there exists of an Orc cultural centre exists in Ur'gaanesshk as every generation of Lorekeepers in Sigil, have come here to inscribe the histories of their tribes in magical runes on the massive Pillar of Nesshk, which marks the centre of community and is said to be ancient part of Sigil from the time that it was just stone and caves. Touching the Pillar can unleash memories of ancient lifetimes, which is why the Lorekeepers of Nesshk closely guard it with the assistance of Rogue Eidolons and other creations of ancient Orcish lore. It was said that a faction from before the Great Upheaval known as the Pragmatic Order of Thought had their headquarters in this region before they left Sigil to become a sect on the Material Plane.

In Ur'gaanesshk tribes still exist, with names such as the Stonebenders, the Farseers and the Caverunners. Each tribe happens to have a manor and a few blocks that tend to house their more loyal followers, and despite being ancient Orc tribes all of them do count Half-Orcs, Orogs, Tanarukk and other Planetouched as well as Humans as some of their member. Many of the tribes of Ur'gaanesshk are also tied to certain guilds, which are now enjoying more power due to the Lady's decree on the factions. The Stonebenders and the Dwarven Lokhan Clan control the Mason's Guild, the Farseers influence the Mediums Guild and many of the other tribes have interests in the Builder's Guild. Between the tribes rivalries do exist, but the last time there was a major conflict between them was during the Great Upheaval. In more recent times, rivalries between the tribes have been growing, the tribes no longer satisfied by the ritualized duels they've been using to settle such disputes.

The Shale Catacombs - This region of Undersigil encompasses a large area that spans across the Hive and Lower Ward, known for the mostly dark rock-like material that makes up it tunnels and chambers. Most of the Shale Catacombs seems natural, but there are many places where the stone has been worked, and in the part bridging the Hive and Lower Ward, there's a long tunnel of transparent crystalline material that crosses the floor of the Ditch. The Shale Catacombs is home to many other races too, but most of it's residents are Orcs, who've inhabited it before many of the streets and buildings above came to be. With only a little interaction with the City Above the Catacombs have flourished, as it's one of more the most populated areas of Undersigil, with many ancient Orcish traditions preserved from eons ago. Much of these traditions recorded on some of it's labyrinthine tunnels which have drawings etched on it's surface depicting the ancient history of Sigil. Most of these tunnels are avoided as they are thought to be inhabited by territorial spirits who toil away at etching more, but none of this seems to scare away the smugglers who are quite rampant here.

The smugglers in the catacombs bring a lot to the Shale Catacombs and the markets of the Shale Catacombs are where many goods destined for the Gatehouses night market pass through. Despite the fact that the Shale Catacombs is quite well settled there's many dangers to this region, as many dangers from other planes find their way here. Lost and uncontrollable Elementals are often a threat, as they tend to come through many of the portals to the Inner Planes which supply Sigil with the elements it needs to keep it's residents alive. But the Orcs of the Shale Catacombs have dealt with such dangers for eons, as their Shamans are quite adept at keeping them from destroying their communities. However none of this could prepare them for a new threat buried deep within the catacombs endangers the Shale Catacombs, the Three Nations and the rest of Undersigil. An aberrant Abomination brought though a portal by a circle of corrupted Shamans, that's made of corrupted Nature Spirits and Far Realm Malevolence known as a Witchlight Marauder. The elders of the Shale Catacombs have put out the call to warriors and adventurers from around Undersigil, as a large number of it's residents are disappearing either eaten alive or taken as breeding stock for such horrors seeking to multiply it's numbers.

The Streets of Whispers - Especially across the Hive many of Sigil's streets are haunted, left desolate and ruined, most wouldn't dare go down such streets where unseen voices whisper many things. In many of these streets, tribes of Orcs are the only ones who seem to be drawn to such places. These Orcs say that new spirits unique to Sigil and born from Sigil, have come to these places. While they say such spirits are everywhere across the city, it's in these empty streets where they thrive and their voices can be heard above the voices of the rest of Sigil. The Streets of Whispers is the largest of such a cluster of streets, which snakes it's way through the Hive. The tribes of Orcs that are drawn to these places are all small tribes following new and unusual practices which they say these spirits have asked of them. Dressed in a motley collection of rags and junk left around, by the rest of Sigil these Orcs have been slowly constructing buildings and monuments of unusual designs from garbage and the ruins of old buildings.

Others, such as the Xaositects who more than happily brave the Streets of Whispers, find that they can bargain for some potent totems and wonders from the Shamans of these streets in exchange for the price of some even more unlikely materials such as two jars melted together filled with feathers, or a burned book soaked in water and covered in twine. This exchange of oddities results in the monuments of these new spirits spreading throughout the Hive, the forms and shapes of these idols ever-changing monthly at the whims of these new spirits. Among the Streets of Whispers it's most sacred place is citadel made of garbage that stands tall in a junkyard, where the voices of such spirits can be clear to anyone. In the Junkyard Citadel the many disparate tribes and outsiders gather to discern the motives of such spirits, and their plans for the city.

ripvanwormer's picture
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Re: Sigilian Culture: Humanoid Races and Cultures

Kobold, I love your work here. The orcish neighborhoods you've created are all interesting and valuable additions to Sigil. I particularly like the Mirror Streets, the Court of Ruin, Ur'Gaanesshk, and the Streets of Whispers, though all are worthy. I'm interested, given Sigil's cosmopolitan nature, in learning more about the role of other races in primarily orcish neighborhoods. One question: if Gruumsh is an 'interloper deity,' was he originally a mortal orc or something else? Perhaps a fomorian or cyclops?

Hyena, the Kuah-Lij are a pretty intriguing race, human-sized (and proportioned) gnomelike beings from a distant world with a red sun. Despite their 10,000-year-old civilization, they've only been out in the planes in substantial numbers in the past few centuries, since their world became threatened by the aboleth (the book actually says resembling the aboleths, but I see no reason not to just use standard aboleths, as they're common to many worlds and planes and easily capable of staging such an invasion). As a lawful neutral race primarily interested in finding allies against the aquatic threat menacing their world, they'd be a natural fit for the Harmonium, while their technological aptitude would place the majority of Sigilan Kuah-Lij in the Guildhall Ward. After the Faction War, with the Harmonium presence in Sigil sharply reduced, they'd have less reason to visit the City of Doors and probably mostly be there to use the portals between their own world and Arcadia (or other Harmonium-dominant areas such as the gate-town of Fortitude and the Harmonium homeworld of Ortho). There would still be some producing their wares in the Guildhall Ward, but it'd probably be more along the lines of a few shops and homes rather than an entire ethnic neighborhood. They'd fit very well in Kobold Avenger's gnomish neighborhood in the Clerks Ward, the Clockworks, seen by most Sigilians as an odd kind of gnome. In fact, that'd be my preference, since it would add a bit of racial diversity to that locale while perfectly fitting the themes of both neighborhood and race.

"Supposedly their civilization has remained the same for 10,000 years, which I highly doubt. If it's true, though, it sounds like they're long overdue for an extinction. The entropic forces beneath their oceans are just a manifestation of the multiverse bringing to their world something that was artificially kept at bay for far too long. If those aboleths need any help, the Doomguard is there for them." - a Doomguard warrior commenting on the Kuah-Lij.

"Their society is an idyllic one in which harmony prevails and everyone knows their place. If they've been stable for 10,000 years, it sounds like they have valuable advice for Ortho and her colonies, not to mention the technological know-how they could provide. We'd welcome them as elder brothers, and gladly give them aid against the menace threatening their way of life." - a Harmonium warrior commenting on the Kuah-Lij.

One more thing I'd do, just as personal preference, is to make the Kuah-Lij more morally ambiguous. They're lawful neutral, not lawful good, though the Tomb of Horrors III gives precious little indication of anything less than good about them. What if the aboleths had a legitimate grievance against them? The ToH III says they've built underwater cities - perhaps they've disturbed the aboleths' traditional mating grounds or upset the underwater ecology and society to the point that the lives of the aboleths have become intolerable there. In the three centuries since, the Kuah-Lij have waged a perpetual war of extinction against their foes, leaving no opportunity for any diplomacy or understanding between the two species.

I'd also make their society in general more ambiguous. Perhaps they've survived for a hundred centuries not because their culture is impossibly utopian, but by ruthlessly suppressing dissent with secret police. The novel Brave New World comes to mind, with eugenics ensuring that some citizens are bred to be leaders and artisans and others have their intellects artificially retarded so that they will be best suited as labor.

Inventing new neighborhoods in Sigil doesn't require too thorough a knowledge of canon, Hyena, given how vast and largely unmapped (and constantly shifting and changing) the city is. As long as you know the general themes of the city's six wards, you can fit virtually any idea into one of them.

As for the Sulwynarii, "most sulwynarii either integrate themselves into human cultures" according to the Violet Dawn website, so I'd integrate them into mainstream Sigilian society rather than giving them a racially unmixed neighborhood of their own. It's possible that they had a larger presence in Sigil back in their days of glory before they were decimated by the Xxyth, but their old Sigilian homes are doubtless ruined and claimed by other races by now; a Sulwynarii background might be an interesting detail for some sprawling, ancient manor in The Lady's Ward, which might still contain ancient libraries the Sulwynarii seek to reclaim.

Making a group of them followers of Crystalle sounds like a very good way to connect them to the themes of a planar campaign. I'd make virtually all Sigilian Sulwynarii descendants of the colony on the Quasielemental Plane of Mineral, come to Sigil to trade raw materials and crafts from that plane, with perhaps a few others with other origins. As such, they'd primarily be found in the Market and Guildhall Wards, particularly the Guildhall Ward alongside crafters of crystal and metal of other races. They seem mostly human in appearance (and in fact are capable of breeding with them) despite their slightly pointed ears and slightly odd hair and complexions, so I think they'd mostly be mistaken for aasimar by Sigilians; their zealous crusades against evil also makes them very similar to aasimar without the celestial heritage. The Sulwynarii would of course be interested in establishing ties with fiery, crusading celestials like asuras, guardinals, phoenixes, ki-rin, sword archons, and eladrins. The Kuah-Lij would be interested in courting Sulwynarii for help against the aboleths, though there probably aren't enough of them to justify a huge Kuah-Lij presence near their homes. They're lovers of fine food and wines, and "some embrace hedonism," so there should also be a number of Sulwynarii joining the Sensates in the Clerks Ward, just more individuals interested in exploring the world of the senses. While some could conceivably be found in The Lady's Ward, I think it's more interesting if none are there at present, except as diplomats attached to the city's real movers and shakers, or as relatively low-ranking members of the Harmonium, Mercykillers, and Guvners (or their successors post-Faction War) - their glory days are long gone, and while many Sulwynarii doubtless seek to reclaim their old places there (by any means necessary), none have yet succeeded.

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Re: Sigilian Culture: Humanoid Races and Cultures

ripvanwormer wrote:
One question: if Gruumsh is an 'interloper deity,' was he originally a mortal orc or something else? Perhaps a fomorian or cyclops?
Gruumsh could be any of those, or even some sort of Chaotic Evil being that simply came to existence. Much like the origins of many Gods are a mystery, he could be a ascendant Orc warlord or a legendary Fomorian Overlord. The point is that Gruumsh didn't have anything to do with the origins of the Orcish people.

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Re: Sigilian Culture: Humanoid Races and Cultures

Should have gotten to finishing up the stuff on Orcs. Of course not every race is going to be 3 entries.

Orc Personalities

Ma'lithlak Armeegak - (CG female Orc Warden - Anarchist) As a child she was abused by the overseers of the Orphanage Schools that once were spread across the Factory Court. As a young woman she felt powerless and terrified of all the horrors of Sigil, until she felt the presence of some city spirits who told she no longer needed to be a victim anymore and their secrets of the City. Empowered by these spirits, able to bend the streets and razorvine to her will, she started a crusade against the Orphanage Schools destroying their property, freeing the victimized children and revealing the atrocities carried out by its staff who were a secretive Gruumshite cult. Her success brought down all of the Orphanage Schools and made her into a hero of all Sigil's downtrodden when she turned her attentions towards other injustices. Ma'lithlak is especially opposed to slavery and sexual exploitation, as quite a few pedophiles and pimps have found her axe-blade buried in their faces. Most of what she's taken from her enemies she donates to the victimized. Among her allies she counts some of the Ishtaritu (despite her slight distaste of the guild), a network of Goblin spies and merchants, some high priests of Correllon and some secret allies among the tribes of Ur'gaanesshk. Still she has many critics among traditionalists, and has made an enemy out of the Gruumshite church who have threatened her Human partner, and her Half-Orc children.

Ur'ghat Arthugran - (CE male Orc Cleric Templar of Gruumsh) While there is a strong traditionalist sect among the Gruumshite religion, Ur'ghaat is one of the leaders of Sigil's reformists among the Gruumshites. As a cleric that believes the Orcish people have really let down Gruumsh and his pantheon with their weak ways, Ur'ghaat sees opportunities with the other races. Under Ur'ghaat's direction many new converts have seen the way of Gruumsh among the angry and disenfranchised of the Humans, Elven, Dwarven, Goblins, Gnome and Planetouched races. The New Church of Gruumsh seeks to bring down what they see as weak and decaying power structures that have ruled Sigil for generations, and establish a new order ruled by might in which worthy few reign. Many gangs of Gruumshites are said to stalk the streets attacking those they see as vulnerable, and bloody rituals of rage are said to be secretly carried out in basements across the city. Certain factions that once held great power over Sigil such as the Revolutionary League, Free League and Harmonium see the new Gruumshite Church as troubling new threat.

Ih'thaan Blarguu - (NE male Orc Druid/Starpact Warlock) A Druid who embraces corrupted spirits, Ih'thaan was said to be one of the masterminds behind the Orcish doomsday weapons of the Second Inhuman War which raged across the Material Plane many years ago. He's a war criminal who found refuge hidden away in Sigil, after he was hunted by the combined forces the Goblin Democratic Union and the Elven Imperial Navy. In Sigil he was said to have found refuge in the Shale Catacombs, where he managed to contact members forces associated with the Far Realms said to be the I'krl Theocracy, which originally provided him with the rituals for his creations. Ih'thaan seeks to destroy the reliance on the old ways the Orcish races have, that he sees is foolish. One of his greatest accomplishments was to bring a just portion of his Witchlight Marauder creation into Sigil, which he adapted to spread across Undersigil using Orc and Goblin captives to reproduce. He intends to create a better Orcish people through crossbreeding them with such abominations.

Klackgun Mhar'gugug - (N male Orc Battlemind - Fated) Klackgun is an infamous mercenary from the Shale Catacombs who was once said to have been linked to the group calling itself the Scro from the Factory Court. He's known for the strange crystalline veins on the left side of his body, and his humourous demeanour even in the face of conflict. As a warrior of uncanny instincts and many unconventional abilities, he's been involved in many conflicts from the Blood War to the turf wars between many of the unofficial neighbourhood militias in Post-Faction War Sigil. But Klackgun was never one to commit himself strongly to any cause, beyond what could challenge him and reveal more about enhancements. It's part of his belief that he was part of a secret eugenics program to create new guardians of the spirit worlds, as he knows very little of his past beyond growing up as a urchin without any knowledge of his parents or where he came from. Despite this Klackgun doesn't spend his time dwelling on his origins, though many shadowy figures around Sigil have quite an interest in who he is.

Mugurrt Naaghti - (NG male Orc Barbarian) Mugurrt was a minor member of the Stonebenders Tribe from Ur'gaanesshk until the day he foolishly touched the Pillar of Neshhk while he was really drunk. It unleashed something in Mugurrt as an Ancenstral Spirit found him worthy of it's secrets and powers. It seems that Mugurrt closely resembled an ancient champion from the time when the Orcs who would become the Stonebenders made their exodus from the Material Plane to stones and caves of primeval Sigil. Guided by this ancient spirit, Mugurrt seeks to defeat the many unnatural forces that were said to be locked or driven out of Sigil by his ancestors. Mugurrt knows that the signs of strange disappearances and an ever growing number of cysts in the city, all points to a force that's slowly reasserting it's influence over Sigil after many bitter eons of exile. Despite his lack of focus in his past, Mugurrt aims to unlock all this ancient knowledge so that the new tribes of Sigil both Orcish and non-Orcish can have the tools they need to face this threat.

Ak'kalann Raliithees - (LG female Orc Shaman) An Elder from the Streets of Whispers, this matronly figure watches over the Hive on top of a tower built from trash within view of the Junkyard Citadel. She sings to herself as she stirs her cauldron of many ancient herbal remedies, witnessing the creation of many spirits which she marks down in her books written in Dabus rebus. Ak'kalann is said to be the best authority there is on the subject of Sigil's primal spirits. She receives many visitors, though only one at a time that she permits, from younger Orcs looking for guidance to Guvner Archivists looking to record a library's worth of lore on the subject of spirits. Rumours speak that she is far older than she looks, having lived through the Great Upheaval and before. When asked about allegations she humbly denies claiming she isn't a day past 74, as her Ash Vulture companion glares with a gaze that pierces the soul. While it doesn't seem she leaves her tower often, there's been many times she's ventured outside to watch buildings shift, and to aid those lost in Sigil's changing streets.

sciborg2's picture
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Re: Sigilian Culture: Humanoid Races and Cultures

Added the first part of the Kobold portion to the editors' queue. If there are any issues, let me know.

thanks,

Sci

Edit: Decided to add all three parts.

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sciborg2's picture
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Re: Sigilian Culture: Humanoid Races and Cultures

Hey Kobold Avenger - Added some more of these to the editor queue, credited to you of course.

These are great, let me know if there is specific formatting you'd like.

thanks,

Sci

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