In the Planescape series of novels, RPGs and computer games Sigil, also known as The Cage or The City of Doors is a city often refered to as being the crossroads of the Multiverse. Physicaly the city is on the inner face of a torus (it's on the inside ring of giant donut) and appears to float hundreds of miles above the spire in the centre of the Outer Plane known as the Outlands. The city does not spin in the style of an Arthur C. Clarke spacestation, things just naturaly fall outward: the laws of physics are not entirely as we know them. A side affect of this set up is that if you look up you will see the streets and houses sweeping up, and over your head. Vomiting is a common reaction to a first glimpse of the fair city.

The only way into or out of the city is through the interplanar portals which dot the city. Nothing else, magical or technological, will allow entrance or exit. The profusion of portals are the reasion for the prosperity of the city, you can get anywhere from here and you can ususualy find someone who knows where to find the right portal. The result of this is that much trade and traffic passes through the city.

Added to the convienience of the portals is the fact that the Lady of Pain (an enegmatic and secretive figure) controls everything including the portals, and has decided the city will be neutral ground; no one force may rule Sigil, anyone who tries vanishes...if they are lucky. This means that Tanar'ri and deva, elves and orcs can all visit Sigil to trade or negotiate in the knowledge that it is neutral ground. This is not to say that the Lady is a political ruler, in fact she is hardly seen at all and reports of her actualy speaking are generaly confined to dark nights beside the fire after attacking the ale. If you meet the Lady on a visit to Sigil (you'll recognise her; she's about ten feet tall, floats about five feet off the ground and has a face surrounded by blades) don't talk to her, don't ask her for help and whatever you do don't attack her.

The political wheeling and dealing in Sigil is done by the Factions, essentialy guilds based around philosophies and views of the Multiverse. These groups provide what passes for a governmental structure for the city; things like a police force (the Harmonium), Courts (the Guvners) and a Mortuary (the Dustmen). Most Planewalkers belong to one of the Factions, though this is not mandatory.

A Potted History of the Idea of Sigil

Sigil was first hinted at in the AD&D 1st Edition Manual of the Planes but was only realy came into being with the advent of the AD&D 2nd Edition Campaign Setting called Planescape. This setting, while being marketed as opening to doors to the infinite Multiverse in fact was largely based in the city of Sigil, providing a very detailed street by street picture of this chaotic melting-pot.

With the advent of Dungeons and Dragons 3rd Edition (d20) a new version of the Manual of the Planes was released. This went back to the 1st Edition Manual for feel and outlook but drew on the rich resources created for the Planescape setting. In the new Manual the focus shifted away from Sigil back to the infinite Planes and the infinite scope for adventures that they present. Sigils position was presented as not the be-all-and-end-all of Planar travel but as a valuble nexus of plot-hooks and a jumping-off point for interplanar adventures.

The idea of the city at the centre of the Multiverse is common through much of the genre, similarities in concept exist with Amber and Tanelorn, though it must be said that Sigil is definitely much more alive than eaither of those cities. Though Tanelorn sounds a much nicer place to live ;-)

A sigil, in Perl, is a mystical symbol attached to the front of the variable name.

A course for the Impatient: $ means a variable has a scalar value, @ means we're dealing with an indexed array, % refers to a Hash, that is, an associative array, and * means a typeglob, a horror from the Netherworld that often must not be spoken of aloud.

Only the most powerful technomancers, however, can truly understand the true meaning of sigils in Perl 5. In earlier days, it simply meant what the expression returned: $x[1] returned a scalar value from array, @x[1] returned a single-cell slice array. The hastily thought OO features, which some consider the Gods of Perl unleashed with not too great care, brought confusion, as objects looked like scalar references. However, the Gods have brought us a Vision which says all shall, once again, be well when Perl 6 comes along.

("Sigil" is Wallian-Conwayian techspeak used when talking of Perl6, taken from Perl 6 babble...)

In Chaos Magic theory, a sigil is a representation of a desire used to implant that desire into the subconscious mind. The technique of sigilization can be thought of as a generalized form of spellcasting. It is similar the Satanic Greater Magic described in The Satanic Bible. However, while the target of Satanic magic is another person, the target of sigilization is (generally) oneself.

The method given by Phil Hine in his booklet Oven Ready Chaos (available online) is abbreviated SPLIFF. This stands for

Statement of Intent
State as simply as possible what you would like to achieve. E.g., "It is my will to have a Sony Clie."
Pathways available
Mundane action is not to be ignored. Your goal will be more likely to manifest if give the magic a helping hand.
Link intent
Form the intent into a glyph or other representation. Common ways of doing this are knocking out the repeating letters from the SoI and combining the remaining ones into a picture, doing the same but forming them into a mantra to be chanted, and creating a picture of a desire which you form into a glyph. The final sigil shouldn't resemble the orignal representation.
Intense gnosis/indifferent vacuity
By excitatory (dancing, chanting, sex, etc.) or inhibitory (meditation, hypnosis, concentration, etc.) methods, one passes the sigil to one's unconscious mind. Gnosis, as referred to in chaos magic, is not that of the Gnostics, but rather a state in which the subconscious is receptive to programming, also called psychodrama.
The sigil is said to be implanted at the peak of gnosis, i.e. orgasm, deep trance, interruption.
Forget your sigil. This is to prevent you from interfering with the spell once it been cast. You don't necessarily need to forget the desire, or that you did a working for it, but you certainly shouldn't obsess over it. Do your thing and let the magick do its.

Sigilization is thought to have been pioneered by Austin Osman Spare, but it may have been used as well by the Freemasons. It was popularized by the IOT. This technique is a basis for another popular technique used by Chaos Mages, the creation of servitors. Also popularized by the IOT, a servitor is a spirit who does the magician's bidding.

One last thing: While the basic technique calls for implantation in one's own subconscious, sigils can also be implanted in those of others, as is shown by corporate logos.

Clarion the Guardian clattered down the five wooden steps into the main bar of the Fiend's Salute tavern and boarding house, and strode over to the bar. The slim aasimar looked noticeably bothered, and his long blond hair stuck out from his head like a dandelion clock. His long cream overcoat was splashed with mud up to the waist, and his new leather boots were caked with dirt. Leaning across the counter, he caught the attention of the morning barman, Maurizio. A stout human wearing a rather shabby apron, Maurizio set down the tankard he was cleaning and turned to the new arrival.

"Mo, can you do me a favour?" Clarion asked intently. "If Captain Tarmaneser comes in here looking for me, tell him I'm going to the Armoury. I've got a lead on the Sensorium shooting case."

"Sure thing, Clarion. By the way, Fenris was in earlier. He reckoned he'd got something for you on that case too. He's gone to the Bazaar to check something with Lissandra."

"Thanks, Mo. I'll see if I can catch up with him there."

Clarion scanned the room briefly for other contacts, and then hurried back up the steps to street level. Outside, the road was heaving with people and creatures of all kinds. He had to step around a furious argument between two bariaurs just to get away from the tavern front. As he pressed onward toward the Bazaar, he reflected how the cliché was often true, that adventures began in taverns. Not that this one had; it had begun for Clarion during a debate at the Hall of Speakers. He had finished delivering a speech on deportation, and had immediately been hauled out by Lockjaw Franz to attend a scene-of-crime at the Festhall. One of the Guardians' agents, Carmela, had been found dead in one of the Sensoria, where visitors could go to experience the recorded memories that were the Festhall's speciality. It was clear immediately that she had been killed by an imported weapon - a gun. Firearms did not last long in the strongly magical atmosphere of Sigil, and yet Clarion had never seen a bullet-wound with as little burning around it as this one. The bullet showed no signs of magical alteration, though, and the Harmonium forensic mage had declared the area free of unusual residues. The Guardians aimed to look after everyone, it was said, but in Sigil they had gained a particular reputation for looking after their own. Clarion had been determined from the beginning to find out who had killed Carmela. He wasn't sure what he would do after that. It would depend on the answer he got - which would depend what he found at the Armoury.

As he entered the huge open plaza which held the bulk of the Bazaar, Clarion noted with amusement two newcomers to the city - primes, probably - paying good money to a faction tout to be shown what they could see for nothing. At present they we gazing dizzily upward at the streets curving back overhead to meet on the far side of the ring, several miles away. Some less scrupulous touts would have tipped off pickpockets that this was a good opportunity to relieve the visitors of their small change. This one seemed content to be given the change directly. One of the things which made Clarion's occupation seem so clandestine was the frequent need to deal with people for whom the entire city, and in fact the whole of planar culture, society and politics, was a revelation. Clarion felt he could hardly be more open about his work without putting a brass plaque outside the Salute saying 'Clarion - Celestial Spymaster' and publishing his notebooks in Sigils Aftontidning. Despite his current fame, he still spent much of his time explaining, as the touts here in the Bazaar did, why things didn't fall across the city, and why it was so busy if there were no roads into town. Part of the answer to the second question could be had from a handsome human woman with near-white hair, carrying a leather-bound book on a strap around her neck. Clarion hurried over to her.

"Afternoon, Lissandra. How's business?" he asked politely, concealing his anxiety for information briefly.

"Fine, thanks. What's happened to you, though? You look like you've been wading in a ooze portal."

"Nearly. I spent this morning in the alleys behind the Festhall, sorting through trash. There must have been a localised shower there overnight - it was almost awash."

"Find anything good?"

"I found what I was looking for. Not sure if it's good, though. Have you seen Fenris today?"

"Yes - he was here just before Peak, asking about portals to tech-worlds."

"And what did you tell him?"

"Well, the most recent ones were a couple over by the Foundry. One's been sealed off by the Hardheads, but they don't know about the other one yet. Got any for me?"

"Yes - last night, I saw one that's going to see a lot of use. It's behind Madam Laura's, and unless I'm mistaken, it's a two-way link to Merançon on Haute-Terre - and the key is a sword-fight."

"I can see that being busy, yes," Lissandra smiled, as she copied the details down in pencil into the book she carried. "The unguarded portal I mentioned to Fenris is in Coppersmith Street, two doors left from Screwloose's Nuts and Bolts. I'm not sure what the key is yet - the cutter who saw it working just said that a portal opened and someone threw a glass brick through it. I don't know where it ended up, but the glass brick had buttons on it, he said - sounds like a gizmo to me."

"Me too. Did Fenris say he was going straight there?"

"No - he was going to find you first. I don't suppose he did?"

"Not yet. I'm surprised I didn't see him, because I've just come from the Salute. If you run into him again, let him know I went to the Armoury. I've got a lead on who killed Carmela."

"Will do. Are you paying for all this tout-work, or do I bill your family?"

"Family, I'm afraid. They think this is Important. See you later, Liss."

Planescape setting and Lissandra the Gate-Seeker are copyright Wizards of the Coast, used with tacit permission.

Sigil is also the name of an EPUB editor. It's a bare-bones but very effective piece of software, especially given that it's free as in beer. Its Java roots are quite clear from its inconsistent UI behavior on Mac OS X, but that's not a huge problem. As an example, it opens with a blank EPUB project open, and if you close that - closing the last app window - it automatically quits. So to open an existing EPUB, you have to open the app, then open the desired EPUB, then close the now-superfluous empty project.

This is a sharp tool, in the unix sense. Although it will do the most basic of tasks for you in a very clean way, it will also let you cut yourself with no or only bare minimum warnings. It will let you directly edit the contents.opf file, even through it has a basic metadata editor. Be warned, though - if you have an existing contents.opf and then start using the built-in metadata editor, it will erase all the non-basic entries in your contents.opf and replace them with the few you've put in via the editor. It won't interpret existing entities into the editor dialog; it only knows a few basic field types.

An EPUB is essentially a directory tree containing HTML, CSS, font and image data in a standard form, with some XML thrown in for good measure. The 'empty project' that Sigil throws up is enough to get you a working EPUB, and from there it's relatively easy to start improving on or adding to that.

I do recommend making interim backup copies of your work, though. As with all manual or semi-manual markup language and XML editors, you will inevitably make a change that makes you crazy and need to go back to a known clean state.

Sigil gives you the ability to edit your text in sort-of a WYSIWYG view, but I tend to always use the tag view. It helps produce much cleaner HTML.

If you're curious, I strongly recommend grabbing a free EPUB from the internet - Project Gutenberg has tons - and just opening them in Sigil to get an idea of the various formatting options and directions you can go in, or open a commercial EPUB to get a sense of the kind of metadata that you can put into the contents.opf if you get ambitious.

Sig"il (?), n. [L. sigillum. See Seal a stamp.]

A seal; a signature.


Of talismans and sigils knew the power. Pope.


© Webster 1913.

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