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Just Surviving Umbril [Sigil's Undercity] Copyright © 1998 of Scott Kelley Edited and adapted by Brannon Hollingsworth & Scott Kelley

Hearsay:Umbril, Sigil's Undercity, is one of the few places in the Cage that an Indep or an Anarchist might call home. Seething below the masses of the Lower and Hive Wards is a complex, diverse and dangerous realm filled with denizens that well-off high-ups refer to as "the dregs of the multiverse". Visitors to Umbril buy, sell, trade, eat, scheme and gamble with these "scum" daily, sometimes to their benefit, but often to their horror and demise. What, you might ask, makes this unusual and shadowy sub-city unique? A lanned planewalker would tell you that the markets and seedier taverns in Sigil provide much of the same services as the dark recess of Umbril and yet there are reasons both bloods and cutters alike go below the sooty streets of the Cage.

Description:The differences between Umbril, also known as the Underground or the Undercity, and the seedy taverns and establishments of Sigil's soot choked streets seem minor (other than the obvious fact that Umbril is below the streets of the Cage). But to some, Umbril can mean the difference between drawing another breath or dangling from the Leafless Tree. You see, a basher could get nearly anything she wants in the Underground just as she could in the streets of Sigil. But what she won't get are all of the hassles, bartering and taxes that go along with a 'surface' purchase. There's no bowing to the Hardheads, the Takers and the Guvners down here! Of course, this also means that Umbril houses more that its share of Anarchists, Indeps, cony-catchers, smugglers and knights of the post, berks ready to dead-book a sod for sneezing at the wrong time.

Many sods would say that one balances out the other, and that knights of the post will peel ya for more than the Takers will tax ya. While this might be true, a true blood with a peery eye can spot a sod with the merchandise that she wants who's also in a hurry to rid themselves of the stash. Then she can get what she wants a "reasonable" price. And, besides, if you're trying give a Mercykiller Justiciar the laugh, you may not care about the price so much as whether or not you can be traced. Because Umbril avoids the hassle of dealing with the Taker taxmen, who more often than not come with Hardhead bashers to back 'em up, this underground city boasts the most intense concentration of illicit business in the city. The traders in the Underground always make some serious jink.

Umbril also offers these bashers one thing that the streets of the city above cannot offer, at least not for long: one of the best spots to hide in the Multiverse. Bards of Sigil sing often of the winding passages of the Undercity, and places where a true knight of the post could out-fox and out-distance even the most peery Harmonium patrol.(Of course, these bards sing these songs very softly when a Hardhead partol sits down at a back table of the kip.)

The Chant:Few in Sigil know how Umbril came to be, although many have spouted their addle-coved screed. Some say that a long lost race of mole-men dug these tunnels long before the Lady ever came to the Cage. Others claim that they are nothing more than long forgotten burrows and warrens of the omnipresent cranium rats of Sigil. Still other berks proclaim that the Underground arose from cast off Mazes, created by the Lady of Pain herself, when she was still learning to wield her awesome might. There are even tales of fiendish armies, working through secret contacts made by yugoloth spies, crafting these winding tunnels beneath Sigil's streets. Tunnels that would provide the perfect military advantage during a future Blood War battle that encompassed the Cage. Some of these leatherheads even spout that this why old A'kin hangs about the Cage, watching these tunnels, making sure that all is ready when 'the time' comes.

Whatever the dark to all of it, there does exist some evidence that part of the tales might be true. According to a few bloods that have claimed to have given both the Lady and her Mazes the laugh, some of the newer, upper levels of the city do indeed resemble the mazes. Nearly all of the passages throughout the Underground have obscure scratches and gouges all along the walls that could possible give credence to the tales of bizarre mole-men and illithid-controlled cranium rats. There are even whispered tales of deeper, darker tunnels that glow with an eerie light all of their own. Places where the walls flicker in the half-light and unreadable, wicked runes can be glimpsed floating in mid air. There are rumors that the bones of fiends and the blood of doomed petitioners make up the mortar of these tunnels, and only the truest of bloods (or barmies) dare traverse them.

The Dark:But the dark of Umbril is much more bizarre and disturbing. Much like the Lady's Mazes, the passages in Umbril are not merely confined to Sigil. In fact, they pass in and out of the many planes through permanently open portals. Halls that appear to be beneath the Lady's streets are actually winding below long forgotten temples of darkness on Baator, connecting to the mind-numbing complexity of Illsensine's Realm beneath the Outlands, or are parts of crumbling citadels that are lost and floating in the Silver Void. There are untold passages that lead to places on the Prime Material Plane; into the Astral, Pandemonium, Elysium, and Acheron as well as into the Realm of Shadow and many other places around the Multiverse.

Moving through the Undercity, a sod would never know that the passages were not just haphazard constructions conforming to Sigil's bizarre form of architecture. Passing through the portals doesn't even tickle and spells and abilities like Warp Sense and Portal Feel that detect portals, and what lies on their far sides, do not work at all. Or rather, they seem to find portals everywhere, making them essentially useless. Furthermore, to planars who can naturally see portals they all seem to get a splitting brain-box when they try. Most bloods write it off to the Will of the Lady - an even trade for all of the perks that the Underground offers them.

The worst part of travelling though the Undercity, however, is the way magic changes so drastically from one tunnel to the next. When a passage enters a new plane, all the magical conditions conform instantly to the nature of the new plane! This is a serious problem for mages, whose spells suddenly become perverted or fail, and for priests who lose and gain spells faster than a Chaosman changes his mind. This doesn't tend to impact spells already cast on a body, like invisibility or protection from evil, but new spells get mangled or lost altogether. And beware summoning spells - a body never knows what she'll get!

Seemingly, the halls and rooms that make up the city have mostly been forgotten by the denizens of the planes they exist upon, which is a lucky break for all of the Underground's inhabitants. Indeed, it seems that the makers of Umbril purposefully choose ancient and abandoned areas in order to expand the city (though not all turned out to be quite as abandoned as they thought). From time to time, a body might encounter a lone creature from its adjacent plane, but chances are that the basher would be so lost by the time they find the tunnels that not even a deep gnome with a map could find his way back. There is one exception, however: the Githyanki. It is said that they know of the passages leading to and from the Astral Plane, and it is also said that they intend to find all of them. For the time being, however, it seems that they are (thankfully) content to do only that - find them.

As far as the everyday sods of the city are concerned, however, their home, while an unusual one, lies below the streets of Sigil. Most bashers have heard stories about the unnatural formation of Umbril, but most just shrug their shoulders and pat their bulging pouches. Fact is, the citizens of the underground don't seem to care that their precious city shifts in and out of the multiverse. They tend to say, "We're still making a pile of jink" and think that's enough! The high-ups of the Undercity have this knowledge, however, and most are preparing for the day when a horde of fiends comes crashing through the halls. They seem to think, though, that the day is a long way off and not worth immediate worry. Now is the time to gather some jink, and sway some beliefs!

Recent Chant:As of late, a few hundred wererats appeared from one of the ill-maintained tunnels in the bowels of the complex. Now, most bloods would not even batt an eye at the appearance of these 'minor' pests, more trouble than they are worth, surely! The only catch is that these wererats work as intelligent, cohesive teams. Not only that, cutters, but these rat-men have spell slingers amongst 'em and are spoutin' chant that sounds like it might come from a Hardhead rally! No blood knows where the tunnel that they came from leads, but as sure as the Lady's hairbrush is tattered, you can bet that more trouble awaits from its murky depths!

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