The Cant

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“If you’re in the dark on the patois of the planar, you’ll never grok what some berk’s rattling his bone-box on about. Pay attention—this could save your life.”

Key Terms to Understand Now

  • Cagestruck. The expression of cluelessness which newcomers to Sigil always exhibit. People are going to call you this a lot. Maybe, one day, you’ll see why.
  • Clueless, The. The folks who just don’t get it. In other words, you. Never call a planar clueless, unless of course you’re itching for a fight.

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People

  • Addle-cove. A not-particularly friendly way to call someone an idiot.
  • Barmies. The insane folks who’ve been “touched” by the impossible bigness of the planes.
  • Basher. Neutral reference to a person, usually a thug or fighter.
  • Berk. fool, especially one who got himself into the mess when he should have known better.
  • Blood. Anyone who’s an expert, sage, or a professional at his work. Calling someone a blood is a mark of high respect.
  • Bubber. A drunk, especially if he, she, or it has fallen on hard times. Bubbers don’t get any sympathy from most folks in Sigil.
  • Cutter. A term that refers to anybody that a person wants. It does suggest a certain amount of resourcefulness or daring, so it’s a lot better than calling somebody a berk.
  • High-up man. This is what everybody in Sigil wants to be: somebody with money and influence. It’s bad form to call one’s self this; it’s a phrase others bestow.
  • Knight of the Post or Knight of the Cross-Trade. A thief, cheat, and liar – clearly not a compliment (unless, of course, that’s what a basher wants to be).
  • Leatherhead. A dolt, a dull or thick-witted fellow. Use it to call somebody an idiot.
  • Lost. Dead.
  • Sod. An unfortunate or poor soul. Use it to show sympathy for an unlucky cutter or use it sarcastically for those who get themselves into their own mess.

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Places

  • Birdcage. A cell, or anything that compares to it.
  • Blinds. The dead-ends of the Mazes, it also means anything impossible or hopeless.
  • Burg. Any town smaller than Sigil, either in size or spirit – at least that’s how folks from Sigil see it. Other bodies don’t always agree.
  • Cage, The. This is a common nickname for Sigil, used by locals.
  • Case. The house or place where a cutter lives.
  • Kip. Any place a cutter can put up his feet and sleep for a night, especially cheap flophouses in the Hive or elsewhere. Landlords of good inns get upset if a fellow calls their place a kip.
  • Leafless tree. The gallows, which is where some berks wind up after they’ve been scragged.
  • Maze, The. The nasty little traps the Lady of Pain creates for would-be dictators. It’s also come to mean any particularly well-deserved punishment.
  • Out-of-Touch. Outside the Outer Planes. A body who’s on the Elemental Plane of Water is “out-of-touch.’’ This vernacular comes from Sigil, which is considered to be the center of the multiverse by those who adopted this phrase.
  • Out-of-Town. Like the phrase above, this one’s used by Sigilians to describe a body who’s on the Outlands.

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Things

  • Bone-box. The mouth, named because of its teeth, fangs, or whatever. “Stop rattling your bonebox,” is telling a berk to lay off the threats or bragging.
  • Bub. Booze, wine, or ale that’s usually cheap and barely drinkable.
  • Chant, The. An expression that means news, local gossip, the facts, the moods, or anything else about what’s happening. “What’s the chant?” is a way of asking what’s latest information a basher’s heard.
  • Cross-Trade. The business of thieving, or anything else illegal or shady.
  • Dark. Anything that’s secret is said to be a dark. “Here’s the dark of it,” is a way of saying “I’ve got a secret and I’ll share it with you.”
  • Garnish. A bribe, as in “Give the irritating petty official a little garnish and he’ll go away.”
  • Jink. The goal of the poor: money or coins. “That’s going to take a lot of jink!” for an expensive bit of garnishing.
  • Music. A price a cutter usually doesn’t want to pay, but has to anyway.
  • Peel. A. swindle, con, or a trick is a peel. It’s often used as a verb. Peeling a Devil is usually a bad idea.
  • Peery. Suspicious and on one’s guard. What a basher should be if he thinks he’s going to get peeled.
  • Scragged. Arrested or caught.

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Phrases

  • Bar that. An almost-polite way to say “shut up” or “don’t talk about that.”
  • Give ’em the laugh. Escape or slip through the clutches of someone. Robbing a Devil’s house and not getting caught is giving him the laugh.
  • Give ’em the rope. What happens to condemned criminals who haven’t manage to give the law the laugh. Usually thieves are the only folks who use this term.
  • Pike it!. A useful, all-purpose phrase, as in, “Take a short stick and pike it, bubber.”
  • Put in the dead-book. Dead. Some people have others “put in the dead-book.’’

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The Cant

Cagestruck! Maded Maded