Civic Festhall (Planescape)

From Karriviki

Civic Festhall entrance
Civic festhall

The Civic Festhall is the headquarters of the Society of Sensation, and one of the cornerstones of the Clerk's Ward. Located at the corner of Crystal Dew Lane and Festive Way in the center of the eponymous Festhall District, this building has served as a center for art and culture since its construction was completed in Hashkar -477. It also provides classes and seminars on any number of topics, held and presented by members of the faction for the benefit of any that might seek adventure and experience on the planes.

Standing nearly 1000 feet tall, the Festhall is one of the most significant buildings in the skyline of its ward, visible as far as the Market Ward and the Hive. Its outer facade is constructed of a granite composed of 50 different minerals, each of its own texture, its windows are made of pure rock crystal, and its floors a marble veined in colors across the entire spectrum; Sensates claim that materials of each plane and a thousand different Prime worlds went into its century-long construction. Close to a third of the Festhall, plus the two satellite buildings, are open to the public, holding galleries, museums, display houses, restaurants, taverns — presentations of all varieties of artistic expression, including the public Sensorium taking up an entire corner of the first floor. The remaining space within the Festhall is occupied by faction quarters, private training halls, and the faction Sensorium.

The most prominent portions of the Festhall (besides the sensoriums) are the three public theaters, each active year-round. The largest, Ren Hall, is located in the rear of the building; named for an ancient Prime hero important to the history of the Sensates, it holds performances twice a night, usually light pieces that require more elaborate features including associated music, magical aid, and sensory enhancers such as odor or taste. Elloweth Theater in the clockwise building, named for the faction's first factol, is a smaller affair, used for the subtler performances. Elloweth usually hosts four shows a week, two daytime and two night. In the daytime, its shows are most often poetry or essay readings or similar, its translucent capiz shell dome filtering more than enough light for such without the need for magic. At night, it offers dramatic performances, interpretative dance, and other quieter performances less appropriate (and admittedly, less popular) than the massive showy affairs in Ren. Finally, Northumber Amphitheater in the anticlockwise building is an open air playhouse holding the contests and outdoor musical performances hosted by the faction. It holds three shows a day most days, though occasionally (such as the rare magic duel or fireworks show) shows are held at night, when one can better make out the spectacle.

The Sensoriums

Sensoriums are rooms within the Civic Festhall where folk's can record or experience a certain event or sensation. The Festhall features a Sensate Sensorium and a Public Sensorium, the former usable only by Sensates - even a spot of garnish won't help.

Experiences to be had in the Sensate Sensorium are fully detailed, overwhelming events, usually the potent recordings of other Sensates. Factol Montgomery's instituted a new policy by which many of her junior Sensates glean needed sensations via the sensoriums. She's also mandated that all Sensates in Sigil must record any new sensations they encounter so that others may benefit from their experiences. Furthering the collective experiences of the Sensates in this manner is also an important means of moving up in the ranks of the faction. Use of the sensorium costs nothing for Sensates.

The Public Sensorium's a different matter. It's a crowded place, despite being open 24 hours a day. More than 200 rooms are available on each of the 20-plus floors in this part of the Festhall. Most are individual rooms offering sensations that last from 5 to 10 minutes and cost about 10 gold pieces. A number of dual sensoriums, open to two people at a time and lasting half an hour, cost 20 pieces per body. A berk with limitless budget or a party whishing to experience the same recorded event can rent one of the deluxe sensoriums. These cost 100 gold pieces per user, last for four hours, and must be reserved a week in advance. Adventuring groups often record their experiences at the Public Sensoriums and replay them as training sessions, particularly if a foray's been unsuccessful. Some groups even use the rooms to prepare for trips that'll take them to strange or hostile environments.

Regardless of the sensorium used, the procedure's basically the same. After requesting a specific sensation or experience, a body (or group) enters a sensorium. The client focuses his thoughts while holding onto a recorder - a small, round stone made of many semiprecious minerals that contains the full force of the experience. The festhall owns literally millions of recorders. A sensate remains nearby to help the client concentrate. Slowly the magic encoded in the stone unfolds, and the berk - particularly a first time user - is likely to be blown away by the experience. The room loses all reality; nothing exists for the person save the sensation that engulfs him. Some sods grow addicted to experiences without risk, by the Sensates restrict use of the sensoriums to three times a day.