Cross their Palms with Silver
Being a Colourful Festival of the Fortune Tellers, Reliable and Otherwise, of Sigil's Great Bazaar


* Xamon * M'Lora * Serendipity * Sussanoss * Axarax * Memorabilia *

Voila Says:

"Cross my Palm with Silver, Blood?...The Barmy Mimir

...I'll tell you what's in store." It's a common enough phrase in the markets of many burgs, but in Sigil, the City of Doors, it holds a more powerful meaning. The Cage ain't just any old city see, it's the frontier town of all the planes at once. It's a magical place where lifelines collide and fortunes are won and lost.

Once they've lost the star-gazy look in their eyes, even the most Clueless of sods realise this. So, when a withered old crone in the Bazaar offers to tell them their fortune for the price of a bowl of soup, it's not an offer many Primes refuse. Perhaps they should do...


Xamon the Palmist
(Planar / male amnizu baatezu / Guvner / LE)

If you were told that Xamon was a baatezu, you'd be wary, yes? If you also know he was an amnizu, and a conniving one at that, you'd be on your way pretty sharp, right? How Xamon manages to keep his business afloat then, is a mystery.

The amnizu's a palmist fortune teller, for what it's worth. Of course, it ain't that simple, cutter. Or maybe that's it. See, most palmists read the lines on your hands, and tell you your fortune from the way they crisscross and branch. Seems a little tenuous, perhaps, but I'm assured it works. There are lines for everything, berk; life, love, jink, you name it, and there's some barmy crease of your hand that represents it (assuming you've actually got hands, though the chant is that tentacles will do just as well).

What happens, then if you've got lines which predict bad things? Maybe your life line's short, and your head line's shallow. Does this mean you'll die young and be an addle-cove? According to Xamon, yes. For those of us who do possess these unlucky palm marks however, help is at hand. For a modest garnish of jink, Xamon will alter those offending lines on your palm. With a knife.

The baatezu assures clients it doesn't hurt too much (though if the screams from the dark recesses of his tent were anything to go by, that's an out-and-out lie), and that they'll be able to hold things again within a week. Small price to pay, you'd think, for a lifetime of secure bliss. Well, maybe. See cutter, it seems to depend on how much you're willing to garnish the fiend as to how good your future gets. You'd better pray he doesn't 'slip' while he's chiselling away at your flesh. For all you know, the sodding amnizu might be making things worse; after all, there's no palm-carving schools in Sigil. Where'd he learn his trade? It's probably best not to ask.

The chant also goes that Xamon practices phrenology; that's fortune-telling by reading the bumps on a cutter's head. You guessed it already: for a fee the bloodthirsty baatezu'll sort a sod out with a few more choice-placed lumps, with a hammer. Kind blood, ain't he? You know, there's probably not a baatezu who enjoys his line of work more.

Fee: From 1 gold upwards, paid before the carving starts. It's not recommended to give less than ten.

M'lora the Nostalgic
(Prime/ female grell / Godsman / Neutral)

M'Lora's wigwam stands near the edge of the Bazaar, away from the cat-calls of the merchants and drone of the crowds. It's entrance slit is usually slightly ajar, and the pungent scents of foreign planes waft out. A couple of burly tieflings stand guard, keeping M'Lora's clients outside the tent in a queue (perhaps to make her services look more popular to passing bodies).

The tieflings'll even warn Clueless sods not to be afraid of M'Lora, because as they say: "she ain't your normal-looking type, berk." In fact, she's a grell. To the uninformed, grell are domineering colonial creatures that look like nothing so much as disembodied levitating brains with sharp beaks and tentacles. Don't be embarrassed if you're shocked by the sight at first; it surprises most bloods.

M'Lora might not look like an average fortune teller, and indeed the fortunes she tell's are far from average too. See, she doesn't deal with telling a cutter their past or future. That's too simple for her, and too transient. As an ardent Believer of the Source, M'Lora uses her prophetic talents to delve into past or future *lives* of the client. In this way she can give the inquirer insight into their origins and destiny on a much longer time-scale than that offered by most other soothsayers.

Why would a blood want to know what he did in his previous life, or indeed, what's in store in the next? If you're asking that, berk, you don't see the picture like the Godsmen see it.

If you understand your past life (regression, they call it) then you know why you are where you are. M'Lora can delve into the lost memories of petitioners, uncover darks that past selves knew, and even unlock psychic talents and magical potential in mortals. How? The secret's within each of her clients. She claims, in her chirping, whistling voice, that a cutter follows a life line that encounters the same themes time and time again. Apparently if you're on an ancient quest now then it's more than likely that in a previous life you followed a similar path. The experiences you've lived, memories you had and powers you learned are usually stored subconsciously, or lost to the present mind. M'Lora can find them.

What of future lives? Well, most bloods have a long-term vision. It's useful to know where you're headed: eternity-long torture in Baator, or a cushy number as an elf or Arborea? It puts a body's mind at rest. If the client doesn't like the look of her destiny, then M'Lora says it's not too late to change things. Many's the cutter who's turned over a new leaf after glimpsing her next life.

Fee: 5 silvers to 10 gold, depending upon the difficulty of the task. Petitioners' memories are the most expensive to dredge, as are latent psionic powers.

Serendipity the Crone
(Planar / female night hag / Sign of One / NE)

She says her name's Serendipity, but most right-thinking bashers dub the epithet 'the Crone' to the end of her innocent-sounding name. Well, as soon as they're out of her earshot, at least. Serendipity's a night hag, and one of the ugly ones. She's got warts on her warts, and then coarse black hairs growing on top of them! Her faces is as gnarled and wrinkled as a gehreleth's boot, and her breath smells as bad, too. Still, for all her faults, it has to be said she provides a very much sought-after service.

Chant is that she tried to make it big on the larvae trade, like most hags, but never managed to sell a single one. That's not because they were of poor quality, but because she was simply so hideous-looking that she scared her customers away! Again, that story's never told when she's even on the same plane, because she's got good enough hearing and a nasty enough temper for a blood to worry about. She came to Sigil, fell in with the Sign of One, and learned to hide her features under a veil. She doesn't much show her face, except to scare away would-be trouble-makers. To this day, she's not once been peeled.

Serendipity's a Signer, which means she reckons the whole sodding multiverse revolves around her head. Mind you, that's an attitude shared by many night hags. The difference between them and Serendipity is that she's got a heart. Or at least, she's got a heart if you garnish her well. She's set herself up as a fortune-teller, and has an astounding array of devices she uses to tell the future. Well, that's what it looks like, anyway. The dark is that she's got a pet mimic who changes form to suit whatever she wants; be it a giant crystal ball, a scrying pool, or a brazier of incense.

For a modest fee, she'll tell a cutter what his fortune is. Now read that sentence again. She won't foretell it, she'll tell it. She imagines a real nice future for the basher, and then it comes true. She's usually a bit vague though (possibly to leave room for manipulations afterwards, should she be so inclined), and it's a cert that paying more gets a happier ending.

The hag's been accused of cheating and using magic or psionics to divine the future for clients, but she vigorously denies that's the case. She dreams then all up herself, she says, and she's proud of the fact. Of course, in most places she'd be branded a knight of the cross trade, but in Sigil, imagination's got as much clout as any magic spell. Funny thing, that.

Fee: Anything from 2 gold and up.

Sussanoss of Sooths
(Prime / neuter illithid / Merkhant (sect) / Neutral)

Sussanoss is a paranoid creature, to be sure. It lairs in the Bazaar, in a caravan of stone carved from the Underdark of some Prime world, and rarely leaves the safety of that place. It's usually safely barred away inside the windowless tomb during what passes for day in the Cage, and only opens up it's soothsaying shop at night. Perhaps it fears the light, or maybe the creature's foreseen its own death on a bright day in Sigil (not that that's worry most cutters, the weather's so bad).

The illithid (woe betide any Clueless who calls the barmy creature a 'Mind Flayer') is an accurate soothsayer. It uses it's considerable racial psionic powers to delve into the futures of it's visitors. It rarely charges much money for this service, however, and often waives the fee altogether. It's a good soothsayer, too, and often predicts unforeseen troubles ahead of unexpected boons, for the client, if he takes the right actions.

This is strange, considering Sussanoss is a Merkhant, right? The Gold-Hounds don't ever give anything away for free, do they? To understand the illithid's uncharacteristic generosity, you've got to consider to what uses it puts the information it gleams from cutters and their futures.

See, Sussanoss ain't in it for the money at the front end. It sells the darks it tells the clients (and some that it doesn't tell them too) to enterprising bloods like Shemeshka the Marauder or Estavan of the Planar Trade Consortium. Both of these knights of the post know a good deal when they see it, and pay Sussanoss handsomely to learn things that nobody else yet knows, uncover the outcome of plots learned 'accidentally' by the mind flayer, and hear chants that haven't yet surfaced. Since the illithid can only pry a limited amount of dark out of each of the cutters it scans, it tells sooths for as many sods as possible (dragging them in for free tellings if need be).The Barmy Mimir

The creature works like a thing possessed, picking up bits of dark here and there, trying to understand the intentions and futures of as many bodies as possible, in order to build up a big picture of the future. Such a thing would be eminently marketable, and thus would fetch the illithid a lot of jink.

The chant also goes that the creature's got it's own ulterior motive. It's foreseen that one of its own clients will be an assassin that will strike a slaying blow. The illithid assesses each potential cutter before they gets a chance to be a danger (when they're passing by on the street, sometimes) and entices those in who might harbour malicious intent. These unlucky sods get paralysed by the mind flayer's mental blast, then the monster eats their brains while they're still alive. Such are the ways of self-defence in the illithid world, and indeed, in Sigil.

Fee: A silver piece, maximum, or even free!

Axarax the Augur
(Planar / neuter observer (see PSMCII) / Harmonium / LN)

It's no great dark that Axarax uses magical and psychic powers combined to tell futures. A body'd probably guess that when she first clapped eyes on the strange augur: it's a beholder. Most bloods talk of Axarax as if it's a female (though that's a moot point, since all beholder-kin are actually sexless). Still, that's the way 'she' comes across, at least.

Axarax is, above all, startlingly accurate in her predictions. While most soothsayers are vague at best (and downright backward at worst), the observer tells it like she sees it. With so many eyes, it's hard to imagine her seeing it wrong. Unlike many other fortune tellers, Axarax gives precise times, dates, places, names, everything in fact; so long as a cutter asks for it. Want she doesn't do is offer spurious information, and by that she means you've got to ask an exact question in order to get an exact answer.

It's also part of the fortune-telling process that a cutter must give Axarax his real name, home plane, trade, date of birth, and other personal information. For the secretive types this is often too great a price. The greatest cost, however, comes from the fact that Axarax ain't just a Harmonium officer; she's one of the best. Her crime detection and prevention rates win her accolades throughout the faction. How? She detects crimes before they've even occurred!

It's all obvious when you think about it, cutter. If Axarax sees that one of her clients is about to commit a crime, she tips off the Hardheads, who then send a patrol to the right place at the right time, and just 'happen' to catch the criminal. Axarax is so sneaky that she'll even spot potential crimes committed by the associates of her clients, or those that involve the clients as bystanders or victims.

The Cage is a lot safer because of Axarax. Thank her for that, but be careful that you've got a clean conscience (and be sure that you'll continue to live on the straight-and-narrow) should you desire a really accurate fortune!

Fee: One silver piece, flat rate, no negotiating.

(Planar / male githzerai (true form: neuter gray slaad) / Sensate / CN)

Of all the fortune tellers in the Bazaar, Memorabilia's probably the most expensive. Why? Because the service he provides is one of the most specialised, and most useful. The face Memorabilia presents to the world is a false one; the sallow-skinned githzerai cutter is actually a grey slaad. It's just that the humanoid form draws less attention when the frog-being's out on a gathering mission.

Gathering what, you ask? Fortunes. Memorabilia steals the fates of the fortunate, and sells them to the unlucky. The slaad's gifted with a natural ability to watch the future of a cutter unfold out in front of him, and it seems to be able to gather these panoramas up and spirit them away from their rightful owners. Memorabilia's often found lurking around gambling dens, watching the punters. If he spots one with a golden touch, he'll follow the sod when she leaves the place, accost her in a dark alley, and make off with her destiny.

The githzerai/slaad has a stall in the Bazaar that moves around more than a skittish bariaur; it seems the creature's not happy staying in the same surroundings for long. Maybe he misses Limbo, or maybe he's on the run from the Hardheads; whatever it is Memorabilia can be a hard blood to locate at times.

The Fate-Thief's services are sought by those whose luck seems destined to be miserable, or those who've an ominous feeling about what their lives hold in store for them. If you've just bobbed the Dark Eight, and are (justifiably) afraid that their assassins are on your case, then it'd be a good investment to garnish Memorabilia so he'll fix you up with a lucky cutter's fate. You might even survive a few weeks longer! When the slaad sells a fortune, it takes the customer's future for safekeeping. While it's possible to get a refund if the new future doesn't turn out as expected, it's quite possible the slaad could have already sold it to another client. Let the buyer beware!

Memorabilia can find fates to order, but that tends to take time and cost more. A cutter in a hurry can buy a pre-stolen future (the slaad keeps them wrapped up in silk handkerchiefs in a leather satchel he always carries), but the quality tends to be variable. While things might run smooth in the short term, it's quite possible that long-term bad luck could set in. It's also possible for the slaad to attach a miserable future to the enemy of a client. This costs around ten times the normal price (which is already very variable).

Fortune-theft isn't against any laws in the Cage as such (after all, it's not every cutter who's even aware that it's possible!) but it's a cert the Guvners'd make it illegal if they knew it occurred. As for the sod's who've lost their future, it's not usually too pleasant. They tend to find their lives become aimless; nothing unexpected ever happens to them. They're never lucky, nor unlucky, as if the mechanics of chance pass them by each time. Many turn to drinking, drugs or adventure to provide thrills, but often even that's not enough. Some are strong enough to forge their fortune anew, but it takes inspiration and hard graft to remake a forgotten fate.

Fee: From 10 jinx and up (even into the thousands). It's often pot luck, though the quality of the future being bought does influence the price.

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Copyright 1996, 2000 Jon Winter

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