Sandstone Strip, Hive Ward
Now there’s a place that even makes me, a blood who’s seen the depths of the Abyss, think twice. Stuck right in the guts of the Hive Ward like a rusty knife, the Liberty of Sandstone Strip is a three-by-three block group of streets where literally anything goes. Think of it as a rotting pustule on the backside of Sigil—unsightly, even for the Hive, and filled to the brim with the foulest sort of scum and villainy. But here’s the dark of it: the Hardheads can’t set foot in there legally, and that makes it a paradise for some, like a sort of reverse Celestia where the crime-ridden alleys serve as heavenly layers.
You want sights? Oh, you’ll see things, all right. The first thing you’ll notice are these statues near the entrance, fashioned from an old sewer outlet. They look like twisted abominations—part human, part fiend, and part beast. Gives the word ‘artistic’ a new, grimy layer of meaning, that does. Dead-ends teeming with shadows; a single, twisted tree that grows not leaves, but daggers. That thing’s as old as some balors I’ve parleyed with. The buildings here sag like they’re shouldering the weight of all the plane’s despair, held together by a foul combination of decrepit mortar and criminal intent. But lemme clue you in: This ain’t a museum tour. The eyes that watch you from darkened windows aren’t curious; they’re calculating how much your organs would fetch on the black market. Or for dinner.
But see, even in a den of vipers, there’s gotta be a king cobra. Enter Bellamy (planar tiefling rogue [he/him] / CE) a real poisonous blood who’s made the Sandstone Strip his personal fiefdom. His trick is balancing power like a juggler, always keeping everyone second-guessing his intentions and plans. Makes you wonder what happens when a Liberty has its own law, eh? One minute you’re safe from the law; next minute, you’re up to your neck in it, only it’s Bellamy’s law, and that’s more capricious than a Xaositect.
You want to hear the tale of how the Liberty became what it is? Now that’s a story soaked in irony, greed, and the kind of political skulduggery that’d impress a yugoloth. See, it starts ages back, when a certain Guvner named Archibald wanted to run some, let’s call ’em, “experiments” without the Hardheads breathin’ down his neck. The berk was into some pretty dodgy stuff, theories about loopholes in the nature of law and chaos that were downright audacious. So, he pulls a few strings, bribes a few factotums, and lo and behold, this tiny part of the Hive gets declared a “liberty” by the Hall of Speakers.
Archibald was happier than a slaad in Limbo, I tell ya. But here’s the rub—the place starts attracting the worst sort of riffraff like jink attracts the Fated. No laws here, see? Word got out fast and Archibald’s “liberty” became a sanctuary for criminals, debtors, and all manner of planar refuse. Oh, the irony! A place designed for the advancement of experimental law becoming a lawless pit. Archibald himself? Vanished, he did. Some say he’s now a petitioner in Mechanus, forever lamenting his flawed theorem.
But here’s where it gets bizarre. A cabal of night hags from the Gray Waste and an anarchist cell from the Revolutionary League got together—don’t ask me how that meeting went down—and they decided to keep it a liberty. Why? Well, they reasoned it serves as a living, breathing example of what happens when law and chaos get all muddled. Plus, it’s a fine spot for their own dark dealings, away from the prying eyes of the Harmonium and the like.
The tale’s passed down like a bad copper, each sod adding his own bit. Some say that a rune from Thassilon is hidden there, a rune of “Freedom” or “Anarchy”; no one really knows. What’s certain is that place is an example, a warning, and a dare, all rolled into one. Just remember, it might be a liberty from Sigil’s laws, but it ain’t free from its own kind of tyranny. You might escape the chains of debt or the Harmonium’s pikes, but you’re walkin’ into a cage of a different sort.
You’re still thinkin’ of going there, ain’t ya? Well, I wouldn’t recommend it, not unless you’ve got a death wish or debts that make a Mercykiller feel pity. But if you do, carry nothing valuable and keep your wits sharper than a vorpal blade. That’s as close to a prayer as you’ll get in the Liberty. Sure, Sigil’s got its rotten spots, but I’ve always said, better the stink you know than the Abyssal layer you don’t. You go into the Liberty, you’re tossin’ the dice with no clue what numbers are comin’ up.
Source: Jon Winter-Holt, inspired by the real world Liberty of the Mint in London. Then the 5e Planescape book came out and the Hive’s Sandstone Strip (Sigil & the Outlands p38) was basically the same kind of idea, so I merged the two.