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I've seen quite a number of artistic interpretations of Sigil, the central city of the Planescape setting. A lot of them are really great and do help set the mood -- however, they all seem somewhat off concerning what you'd see walking the actual streets of the city. Streets bend upward too soon (unless Sigil is really small) or too late (unless Sigil is immensely huge, in which case one of its defining characteristics and visual cues loses most of its appeal).

My question is:

Is there a realistic depiction of Planescape's Sigil regarding its horizon? If so, where can we find and see it?

I mean, one that is based, at least loosely, on official data about the city's radius, architecture, average weather, etc? Coming to think of it, how big is Sigil exactly? How long does it take to walk a full circle in it, without using any portals or magic? (Consider these minor, additional questions besides the main one, please. Because that's what they are. :))

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you include or link to inaccurate depictions? (Both for comparison and so that answers can exclude them.) \$\endgroup\$ Aug 28, 2016 at 10:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Sure. Here's an example, and here's another one. \$\endgroup\$
    – OpaCitiZen
    Aug 28, 2016 at 10:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not directly an answer so I'm posting as a comment, but a typical O'Neill Cylinder will have a very similar view. Most of the pictures in that google search are with very sparse buildings, and most are only habitable on a quarter or third of the ring. \$\endgroup\$
    – aslum
    Aug 30, 2016 at 18:18

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According to In the Cage [1] a AD&D 2e source book, Sigil's architecture is described as follows:

Sigil's a city overwhelmed, barnacled, and encrusted with buildings. With a 5-mile diameter and 20-mile circumference (as officially measured by the Harmonium; in actuality, the Lady can enlarge or shrink the city as she wills, at any time), Sigil's huge, but it ain't infinite. Sure, it's big enough to hold new things for the oldest bloods, but the bizarre soon becomes mundane if a cut- ter sees it often enough. Even the view ain't the usual; almost anyplace a cutter stands, if he looks up, he sees buildings. 'Course, smoke and distance obscure the view across the hollow center, creating a gray arc with a few lights.

Despite the city's size, somehow it still always seems crowded. Tiny spaces that might become servants' rooms or pantries in another city are shops and homes in Sigil, where every square inch must house some of the infinite multitudes. Even the buildings crowd each other overhead, and some streets are cut off from the sky entirely, its dim light pinched out by the towering walls.

In the AD&D 2e campaign setting source book "Sigil and Beyond"[2], the designer Zeb Cook describes Sigil's impossible architecture like this (using the in-character voice of a Planar denizen):

Get it right out front: Sigil's an impossible place, especially to primes who go barmy when 2 + 2 don't make 4. A city built on the inside of a tire that hovers over the top of a gods-know-how-tall spike, which rises from a universe shaped like a giant pancake . . . it happens all the time, right? 'Course not, but who cares? Being impossible is part of what makes it fun!

For those logical-minded players, impossibility creates all sorts of questions. There's all sorts of things they could ask, like, "Does Sigil have a night and day?," "Can a berk walk on the outside of the place?," "Where's it get its water from?," and even, "What happens if a cutter jumps off the edge?" Most DMs never, ever, worry about such things because they know it just ain't that important, but some of the Clueless are so touchy about the dark of it all that they'll go barmy just looking around. . .

Cook also addresses the question of Sigil's horizon:

Another important thing to remember when describing Sigil is that the city's curved in the opposite direction from most prime-material worlds. On those worlds, there's a horizon because the surface has a convex curve, and a cutter can only see what lies along a straight line of sight. In Sigil, things curve up, not down. Looking down a long avenue, it'll seem like the street's rising in front of a body, kind of like looking up a long hill. Just to make it more confusing, Sigil curves both in front of and behind that sod on the street, so he might feel like he's standing at the bottom of a big hollow nearly all the time. The Cage's a flaming big city, though, and it's crowded tall with people, buildings, and smog. The average line of sight is rarely more than a few hundred feet unless a body's looking straight up, so it's not like a berk's constantly looking at the curve of a bowl all around him. It might be a few hours before the average prime, new in town, realizes that the world ain't flat.

Notes

[1] Wolfgang Bauer and Rick Swan, In the Cage (Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1995): p. 6.

[2] David "Zeb" Cook, "Sigil and Beyond" in Planescape Campaign Setting (Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1994): p. 58.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Mathematically a circle with a diameter of 5 miles has a circumference of ~15 miles. Does In The Cage mention what's going on with Sigil and/or the Harmonium's measurements such that it wound up with that diameter and circumference? Is that an inner diameter & outer circumference or something? Is Sigil just spatially weird like that? \$\endgroup\$ Aug 28, 2016 at 17:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ You don't even need to go non-Euclidean since Sigil is a tire-shape, not a ring. You could just say that the 5-mile figure is the inner diameter, the diameter of the gap (which would make sense since it's the easiest to measure), and the 20 mile circumference is the distance it would take to walk across the "low" point in a straight line (which would make sense for the same reason). \$\endgroup\$
    – Idran
    Aug 28, 2016 at 21:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ I remember reading that the precise size of Sigil was left deliberately vague so that GMs could adjust it to their own needs - and even that the city's size might fluctuate over time. I wish I could remember where I read that, though. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Aug 29, 2016 at 6:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ You should consider resolving those duplicate accounts. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 30, 2016 at 18:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener No official reason is given. My guess is that the writers mixed up area and circumference: the area of a circle with a 5-mile diameter is about 19.6 square miles, which is close enough to 20 to be plausible. But personally, I like to think that the Lady took exception to the Harmonium's attempts at pinning down a definitive measurement, and secretly changed the size of the city mid-project to throw them off. Probably drove some of them mad as they tried to reconcile the difference. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 31, 2016 at 18:03

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