Sigil (Dungeons & Dragons)

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Sigil (/ˈsɪɡɪl/) is a fictional city and the center of the Planescape campaign setting[1] for the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game.


Sigil was originally created for Planescape as the setting's "home base". According to Steve Winter in 30 Years of Adventure: A Celebration of Dungeons & Dragons, "A movable base, like a vessel of some sort (or an artifact, which was the original idea for the means of traversing the planes) wouldn't do it. It had to be a place that characters could come home to when they needed to, and it had to be central to the nature of the setting."[2] Sigil's fifteen factions were created because, "Vampire: The Masquerade was a particularly hot game at [the] time and one of the ideas in it that we really liked was the clans. Jim Ward wanted to be sure that players had something to identify with and to give them a sense of belonging in this alien venue [Sigil]."[2]

Scott Haring, in his review of the Planescape Campaign Setting for Pyramid, described Sigil as "a strange city with doors to every plane and every reality, and inhabitants from all those planes and realities living together in (more or less) harmony."[3] Trenton Webb of British RPG magazine Arcane calls the city "splendidly bizarre" and declares that "Sigil, The Lady of Pain's citadel, is an elegant gaming construct, yet it can often feel a little hollow", feeling that life in Sigil should be "a swirl of plots, factions and sedition that leaves players' heads spinning, wounds bleeding and experience points tally in overdrive".[4]

Publication history[edit]

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition (1989–1999)[edit]

Sigil is first described in the Planescape Campaign Setting boxed set, released in 1994.[5] It is also featured prominently in some later Planescape rulebooks, including In the Cage: A Guide to Sigil (1995),[6] The Factol's Manifesto (1995),[7] and Uncaged: Faces of Sigil (1996),[8] as well as in many adventures, such as The Eternal Boundary (1994),[9] Harbinger House (1995),[10] and Faction War (1998).[11]

Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition (2003–2008)[edit]

A short description of Sigil is in this edition's Dungeon Master's Guide (2003).[12] Information on Sigil can also be found in various 3.0 and 3.5 sourcebooks, such as the Manual of the Planes and the Planar Handbook. A small reference to Sigil also appears in the Epic Level Handbook aside other planar metropolis such as Tu'narath.

Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition (2008–2014)[edit]

Sigil is described in the 4th edition Manual of the Planes[13] and expanded upon in Dungeon Master's Guide 2. The City of Doors, unlike many planes, remains almost completely unchanged from earlier editions.

Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition (2014–)[edit]

Sigil is briefly mentioned in Appendix C of the 5th edition's Player's Handbook.[14] There is also some information on Sigil in Dungeon Master's Guide at the end of Chapter 2.[15]

In the game[edit]

The main setting [in Planescape], a city "at the center of the multiverse" called Sigil, was run by groups called factions. The factions each had a different outlook on the universe. Thus, by joining one of the factions, or simply by dealing with them as players, you were compelled to think and sometimes even argue about the nature of reality.

Sigil is located above the tall Spire at the center of the Outlands.[17] It has the shape of a torus;[17][18] the city itself is located on the inner surface of the ring. There is no sky, simply an all-pervasive light that waxes and wanes to create day and night. Sigil cannot be entered or exited save via portals; although this makes it quite safe from any would-be invader, it also makes it a prison of sorts for those not possessing a portal key. Thus, sometimes Sigil is called "The Cage".[19] Though Sigil is pseudo-geographically located "at the center of the planes" (where it is positioned atop the infinitely tall Spire), scholars argue that this is impossible since the planes are infinite in all dimensions, and therefore there can never truly be a center to any or all of them; thus, Sigil is of no special importance. Curiously, from the Outlands one can see Sigil atop the supposedly infinite Spire.

Sigil contains innumerable portals that can lead to anywhere in the Dungeons & Dragons cosmology:[20] any bounded opening (a doorway, an arch, a barrel hoop, a picture frame) could possibly be a portal to another plane, or to another point in Sigil itself. Thus, the city is a paradox: it touches all planes at once, yet ultimately belongs to none; from these characteristics it draws its other name: "The City of Doors".[12]

Sigil is ruled by the Lady of Pain.[17][21] Sigil is also highly morphic, allowing its leader to alter the city at her whim.[22]

Theoretically, Sigil is a completely neutral ground: no wars are waged there and no armies pass through. Furthermore, no powers (such as deities) are allowed to enter the city[17][23] (though some have broken this rule).

In other media[edit]

Sigil is also the setting for the 1999 video game Planescape: Torment,[24] in which the player is the immortal "Nameless One."[25] The team chose to place the game around a central fixture of Planescape, the city of Sigil, and the game begins with the character waking up on a cold stone slab in the Mortuary of Sigil, with no idea of who he is, what he is doing there or how he died.[26] In an interview with RPGWatch, Chris Avellone commented on the use of Sigil as the game's main setting, saying "We felt Sigil was the part of Planescape we really had to get right from the outset in case we made more games. It's the signature city, but... we did sacrifice other planar locations so that we could do it."[27]


Sigil as depicted in Planescape: Torment was praised by Evan Narcisse from Kotaku as one of the richest science fiction and fantasy worlds in video games.[28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Harding, Chris (24 December 1999). "Planescape: Torment". The Adrenaline Vault. Retrieved 5 December 2008.[dead link]
  2. ^ a b Winter, Steve (October 2004). "Planescape". 30 Years of Adventure: A Celebration of Dungeons & Dragons (hardcover). Wizards of the Coast. pp. 140–149. ISBN 0-7869-3498-0.
  3. ^ Haring, Scott (August 1994). "Pyramid Pick: Planescape". Pyramid. Steve Jackson Games. #8. Retrieved 2008-02-26.
  4. ^ Webb, Trenton (July 1996). "Games Reviews". Arcane. Future Publishing (8): 70.
  5. ^ Cook, David "Zeb" (1994). Planescape Campaign Setting. TSR. ISBN 1-56076-834-7.
  6. ^ Baur, Wolfgang; Swan, Rick (1995). In the Cage: A Guide to Sigil. TSR. ISBN 0-7869-0111-X.
  7. ^ Hein, Dori Jean; Beach, Tim; Salsbury, J.M. (1995). The Factol's Manifesto. TSR, Inc. ISBN 0-7869-0141-1.
  8. ^ Vallese, Ray (1996). Uncaged: Faces of Sigil. TSR. ISBN 0-7869-0385-6.
  9. ^ Baker III, L. Richard (1994). The Eternal Boundary. TSR. ISBN 1-56076-843-6.
  10. ^ Slavicsek, Bill (1995). Harbinger House. TSR. ISBN 0-7869-0154-3.
  11. ^ Cook, Monte; Vallese, Ray (1998). Faction War. TSR. ISBN 0-7869-1203-0.
  12. ^ a b Cook, Monte; Williams, Skip; Tweet, Jonathan; Adkison, Peter; Baker, Richard; Collins, Andy; Noonan, David (July 2003). "5: Campaigns". Dungeon Master's Guide (hardcover) (3.5 ed.). Wizards of the Coast. pp. 166–167. ISBN 0-7869-2889-1.
  13. ^ "Manual of the Plane Excerpts: Table of Contents" (PDF). Wizards of the Coast. 5 December 2008. Retrieved 5 December 2008.
  14. ^ Player's Handbook (5th ed.). Wizards of the Coast. 2014. p. 302. ISBN 978-0-7869-6560-1.
  15. ^ Dungeon Master's Guide (5th ed.). Wizards of the Coast. 2014. p. 67. ISBN 978-0-7869-6562-5.
  16. ^ Cook, Monte. "Planescapin'". Monte's Journal. Archived from the original on 7 August 2009. Retrieved 5 December 2008.
  17. ^ a b c d "Sigil". Planewalker Encyclopedia. Planewalker. Archived from the original on 31 August 2008. Retrieved 5 December 2008.
  18. ^ "Sigil Maps". Shadowland. Retrieved 5 December 2008.
  19. ^ "Planescapte: Torment Preview". RPG Vault. 13 July 1999. Archived from the original on 27 January 2010. Retrieved 5 December 2008.
  20. ^ Rausch, Allen (18 August 2004). "A History of D&D Video Games – Part IV". Gamespy. Retrieved 5 December 2008.
  21. ^ Carbonell, Curtis D. (2019). "Chapter 3: Dungeons and Dragons Multiverse". Dread Trident: Tabletop Role-Playing Games and the Modern Fantastic. Liverpool: Oxford University Press. pp. 98–100. ISBN 978-1-78962-468-7. OCLC 1129971339.
  22. ^ "The Sigil Papers and Map". Planewalker. Archived from the original on September 25, 2008. Retrieved 5 December 2008.
  23. ^ Dragon and Dungeon, editors (September 2007). "Unsolved Mysteries of D&D". Dragon. XXXII (4): 26–35. {{cite journal}}: |first= has generic name (help)
  24. ^ Carr, Diane. "Play Dead: Genre and Affect in Silent Hill and Planescape Torment". Game Studies. Retrieved 5 December 2008.
  25. ^ Schiesel, Seth (27 April 2000). "GAME THEORY; A Universe Where Ideas Can Trump Actions". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 December 2008.
  26. ^ "Planescape Torment - Reincarnation and amnesia-together again". Archived from the original on August 6, 2003.
  27. ^ Avellone, Chris (1 August 2007). "Tales of Torment, Part 2". RPGWatch. Archived from the original on 17 February 2009. Retrieved 5 December 2008.
  28. ^ Narcisse, Evan (February 7, 2018). "The Richest Scifi and Fantasy Worlds in Video Games". Gizmodo. Retrieved October 31, 2020.