"The hand that rattles the Cage is the hand that rules the world..."
-- Cager proverb

Copyright 1999 by Jon Winter, art by Jeremiah Golden

( Planar / neuter illithid / psionicist 14 / Communal / LN )


One of the best-known and most-feared landlords of Sigil's many taverns is Lithoss, the mind flayer barkeep of the Pentacle. To those that know Lithoss, it's also one of the most trustworthy and generous, a trait rarely associated with its kind. The blood is also a force to be reckoned with in philosophical circles too, for it is a high-up in the resurging Communal sect.

Some observers puzzle at this, wondering how a race as notoriously selfish as the illithids could spawn a being who advocates sharing of power, knowledge and possessions. They forget (or are unaware of), however, the nature of illithid society. When a mind flayer dies, if judged worthy by racial standards, its brain is added to the collective mind pool that acts as elder, mentor and often quasi-power over the community. This final act of sacrifice of individuality marks the race as special in the scheme of things, and the mindset of the illithids is better predisposed toward Communal philosophy than you might expect.

Lithoss certainly ain't afraid to practice what he preaches. While a pragmatist (Of course drinks ain't free at the Pentacle! Until the whole Cager economy converts to the Communal way of thought that ain't practical), Lithoss shares what he can. The Pentacle spellbook is a prime example of this; the tavern has an open-book policy where mages who stay are invited to scribe spells they know into the tavern's communal spell book. In return, they can browse the tome and copy a spell or two they might not have seen before. Over the years this tome (called "the Goin") has filled many, many pages indeed; so much so that the book's guardian, the imp Charcoe, has become quite a well-known personality in the Cage. Not well-liked, mind...

Cage Rattlers:--
Charcoe, Magnum Opus.
Uncaged: Faces of Sigil:--
Lissandra the Gate-seeker (p.60).
The Communals are detailed on the Mimir.

The Pentacle tavern itself has a long and chequered past, which are better explained more fully another time. Suffice to say, the five-cornered building has a higher concentration of portals to planes of the Great Ring and beyond than most spots in the Cage, and and due to some strange quirk of fate or design, spells on conjuration and summoning can be cast through these doorways. Rumours claim variously the Lady's whim, a pact with a power of magic, or a secret artifact allow this usually-strict rule of magic in Sigil to be waived in the Pentacle.

The obvious consequence of this is that the tavern's a perfect place for wizards to attract or entrap extra-planar servants at relatively low risk to themselves. And summon them they do, in abundance! Portals to nearly all of the planes of the Ring are known to be found in here, and it's a cert that there are many more the management keep secret. It's a situation that Lissandra the Gateseeker finds frustrating, but she's been ejected from the premises more than once for poking her sticky beak too deeply into things.

Another noted planewalker, Magnum Opus, seems to be a darling of Lithoss, however. It's a rare month when the medusa isn't seen in the tavern, heavily veiled, of course, and slipping into some backroom or other. Chant goes there's a portal to Nessus lurking in some dark corner of the Pentacle. The tanar'ri Rule-of-Three has been seeking it for some time, now, but with the heavy security and strict glare of Lithoss' milky white eyes he's yet to be successful.

While Lithoss has many dealings with wizards and priests, what ain't so widely known is that it's neither of those classes itself. In fact, the mind flayer is a psychic or considerable power. It could be the psychoportive powers of the basher that maintain the portals, some whisper, but that seems rather unlikely, because the Pentacle has existed far longer than Lithoss has been there. Then again, you can never tell with psionicists; they're a sneaky bunch in the extreme. One school of conspiracy-lovers have Lithoss pinned down as the original Factol of the Communals, still alive and very different in form due to extensive use of psionic powers. That's probably just a fanciful theory. Probably.

Cage Rattlers
Consult the Mimir Again