To Chance with Hell (Planescape)
Lady of Pain
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The Lady of Pain
By “the Editor”
The planes have mysteries cutter, and not all of them have answers. Walk the planes long enough and that’s something you’ll take to heart. Some things just ARE. You don’t question them, you don’t fight them, and you don’t so much as stand in their way. They just exist and you accept it.
Not the lady of pain, no, the Lady of Pain. Her Serenity, Her Dread Majesty, and the ultimate power in Sigil (perhaps anywhere else, it’s reckoned by some). She keeps and controls the portals of the City of Doors, and She bars the powers from entering. Appearing as a tall, robed woman with Her face sprouting a halo and headdress of blades from Her very flesh, She floats silently above the streets of Sigil. She is the protector of Sigil and, by that, all of its inhabitants, not that She likely cares one way or another for anyone in the city. But any threats to Sigil itself or to Her own power and She reacts. During these select few times in Sigil’s history, terrible Her fury has been, and most Cagers prefer to forget such occurrences.
From time to time, She may randomly float down an avenue, passively observing before vanishing around a corner without a trace. Wise bloods look away and avert their eyes, or quickly find business elsewhere. She never speaks; never has in the history of Sigil as far as any know. In the scant few times She’s needed to make Her will known directly She’s done so through one of Her servants, the dabus, as She floats silently behind them, never a mark of emotion crossing Her face. Not that it’s wise to stare into that continence.
She’s not a god, get that straight. She’s something else, more or less; none know the dark of it. But never worship Her, not even in jest. Those who do are found dead; their skin flayed from their bones, seen walking through Sigil when the Lady appears and Her shadow reaches out to strike them. Wherever Her bladed, serrated shadow touches, their body erupts with slashes, wounds and gouges as if from a storm of knives and razors. None have ever survived the touch of Her shadow, nor even been successfully resurrected afterwards. They die, that is certain, for when She acts, She acts with certainty.
The chant even goes that centuries ago, before the Great Upheaval, the Lady penned a true deity into the dead book, Aoskar, the self-proclaimed Portal Father and patron of planewalkers and opportunity. She killed him, simple as that. They say for one reason or another he offended Her, or plotted to take the City of Doors for himself.
Speculation on the true nature of the Lady is rife among scholars, sages, and the common folks of Sigil alike. But answers are never forthcoming from any source. Still, the common chant, most likely all screed without a shred of proof, holds a number of common myths. Some say that the Lady is a mortal who found Sigil and used it to grant Herself immeasurable power. Other rumors hold that She is a renegade, or risen, Tanar’ri lord from the Abyss. Others say that she was hatched from a dabus egg [Whatever that is – The Editor] by Io, the draconic overpower. A few even suggest She may simply be an illusion of the dabus themselves, or their queen, much like that among bees in a hive. Now dead sages, rumored mazed or flayed, have claimed that the Lady is not the ruler of Sigil, but its ultimate prisoner. After all, why else might Sigil be called the Cage? Some have compared the Lady to an overpower, or some unique, but nondivine being, so ancient as to defy mortal definitions. A being who exists to keep Sigil free of any and all divine influences, perhaps in an attempt to balance the planes themselves.
Of course, not a shred of proof exists to shed a light upon the mystery. And those who seek to delve too deeply into the Lady’s secrets tend to vanish without a trace, gone, whisked away on the winds of oblivion.
DM’s Dark: Using the Lady
The Lady of Pain is less an NPC than a setting mechanic. She transcends any game mechanic and has no stats. Should She be directly challenged by PC’s or NPC’s, nothing they do should be capable of hitting or harming Her. Not a wish, not a miracle, not even epic spells. Even the overpowers cannot defy the barriers preventing powers from entering the Cage (not that such beings tend to have interests beyond their sphere of influence anyways). Within Sigil, the Lady of Pain should be considered as close to all powerful as needed. That said, the Lady should not be overexposed or used outside of rare occasions lest She lose the mystique and grandeur that surrounds Her, along with the unknown details of Her history and true connection to Sigil or indeed roll within the multiverse itself.
Those who challenge the Lady are mazed or flayed with no sympathy, malice, or quarter given by Her Serenity. Those who harm Sigil or disrupt the life of the city in grand fashion will suffer the same fate, as will those who seek to delve too deeply into the secrets of the Lady (if they manage to escape insanity in their quest). Some things are beyond the scope of the PC’s in the setting, and interacting with the Lady in all but the most rare and unique fashion should be avoided. At most, a character may see the Lady floating silently down a street in Sigil, or perhaps once in the course of a long and well-developed campaign a PC may witness a flaying or an edict given by the Lady to them or others. Such edicts should be reserved for campaign defining events with major ramifications within Sigil.
Considering all this, the Lady is not omnipotent (not completely, anyways). In terms of the metaplot, certain “weaknesses” have been exploited in the past, and the rare NPC has seemingly come close to gaining some victory over Her, only to ultimately fail (and sometimes with evidence such attempts were merely part of the Lady’s design). In any case, the Lady should always remain above and beyond the ambitions of the PCs.