To Chance with Hell (Planescape)
Quick navigation: Main | Races | Factions | The Planes | Sigil | Characters | NPCs | House Rules
The Clerk’s Ward
“Gold and the misers that hoard it lie in The Lady’s Ward, along with the seats of power within the Cage and the means to enforce it as well. But in the Clerk’s Ward lies the bureaucracy that oils the wheels of that great machine called Sigil, and it is within the Clerk’s Ward that the voices of the citizens of the Cage have been always heard. Control what the sources of those voices hear and believe, and you then control what direction that great machine moves, for better or for worse.
“A message and ears to listen to it, is that all that is required for power? No. You must still have a charismatic voice and a face to present that message to the masses. I give of myself freely. I do and say what the people ask of me. The citizens of the Cage call out to me and how can I not act to clean their city of the living filth and refuse heaped upon them from the Prime? I listen and I act.” – Cirily of the Planarists
Where The Lady’s Ward represents the principal seats of power and influence in Sigil that operate under the ostensible authority and permission of Her Serenity, every seat of power requires a bureaucracy. Present in the Clerk’s Ward are those clerks, ministers, and petty officials that carry out, plan and order the points of business that are determined from The Lady’s Ward.
The Clerk’s Ward has, in the past, been referred to as the Ward of Masks. Some archaic references to it still exist, but the term has been defunct for thousands of years. The origin of the name is lost in time, unlike the reasons behind the former name for the Lower Ward as the Prime Ward, itself explained in the details of that ward elsewhere in this volume.
Within the appropriately named Administrator’s District, spireward of Tea Street, the elite of the Clerk’s Ward congregate. Mostly separated from those in the more common Workers District by status as much as money, they enjoy a slightly higher standard of living, typically with servants, personal cooks, and most of their household goods and food delivered for them as needed.
Around the borders of the Administrative District, near the Hall of Information and Hall of Speakers alike, are a number of inns and eating houses, among them the Tear of the Barghest, the Whole Note Inn, and the Portal Jammer. The last of these inns is known mostly for the Mercane spelljamming vessel brought into the city, part by part, and reconstructed to appear as if it crashed into the upper stories of the building. Part of the helm serves as the bar, while other sections serve as rooms available for rent. Adding to its name recognition is its recent business spat with The [[Lady’s Ward]] tavern, the Twelve Factols, over the Jammer’s animated dolls of the late mazed or otherwise dead factols.
Hall of Speakers – The Hall of Speakers was formerly the faction hall of the Sign of One and the forum in which the factions met to spout their arguments over philosophy, city business, and to preach their take on the world to everyone who would listen. More often, those who were there to listen were bound by their own factions to do so in order to wait their own turn to speak.
Externally, the Hall of Speakers is a thing of beauty, a great oblong curved dome, topped by a carved, tall, graceful spire. Other smaller, but equally elegant spires rise from the lower sides of the dome, many of them of different colored stone or magically ornamented. Standing near to the dome rises a great iron statue called the Power of One, depicting a woman smiling and holding aloft a sphere of a Prime world cradled in one hand. Yet another lingering remnant of the now dead faction.
Inside the Hall, the central hollow is filled with a well-tended garden, still cared for by former faction members and paid gardeners employed by the new owners of the structure seeking to keep it as attractive as the Signers kept it in previous years. Beyond the garden, an area previously off limits to non-faction members, stands the private meeting halls of the Sign of One as well as the chambers of former ex-Factol Darius, herself consigned to the Mazes. [Factol Darius, ‘The Veyl’, went to the Mazes and her faction has disintegrated without her leadership. However, she left us not without lingering friends in high places. Friends who owed her debts. Friends such as Bel, the Lord of the First Layer of Baator. If Bel yet considers himself to owe Darius his debt, she may not linger in the Mazes forever. – The Editor]
Additionally, and of great public interest of late, is the oval tomb of the founder of the Sign of One, Rilith. Her remains are said to rest within an urn carved from a single milky pearl. In the past, Signers would gather here to ‘imagine’ the tomb’s existence, keeping it a reality, for they claimed if they ever stopped imagining her as having existed, they too would cease to exist. Contrary to their beliefs perhaps, the tomb still exists, under guard, with none to constantly sit and believe in it.
For years, however, the hall, while ostensibly open for debate by anyone in the public body politic, was used exclusively by members of Sigil’s factions. To combat the seeming powerlessness of the general public in Sigil to speak and have their words actually heard, there stands the Trianym, similar in function, if not at all in form, to the Hall of Speakers. Three brick columns allow for speakers to stand and debate, while three large benches allow for onlookers and spectators to listen and as appropriate hurl coins or refuse at those speaking.
Just a short distance and within easy sight of the Hall of Speakers, stands a great statue, the largest such in Sigil, of a rearing, three eyed Nic’Epona. Called the Trioptic Nic’Epona, or by locals as the Triona, the statue is a genuine thing of beauty. While not actually the property of the Hall of Speakers’ owner, it has long been associated with the Hall for aesthetic reasons. It was long protected and kempt by the members of the defunct faction of the Doomguard, and held a number of portals to the Prime, Elysium, and Mount Celestia within the bound spaces of the platforms before the Tempest of Doors.
Recently now, with the cessation of faction business in the Hall, the new owners have taken to renting out space to the numerous private meeting chambers and even the old council chambers and podium of the speaker. Public interest has remained high in the place, despite it no longer having the task of carrying out the official business of the city government, a task now undertaken by the Sigil Advisory Council.
Most of the lower ranking clerks, craftsman, and common laborers of the ward, those without rank, wealth, or both, tend to settle in the aptly named Workers District. This large district, roughly downward of the blue and green painted Hull Road opposite the Festhall District, is filled largely with small, single family kips and larger but clean and well-kept tenements. The place is orderly enough compared to the Hive, which is too easily within walking distance for most workers, but it lacks the luxuries common to the homes in the Administrators District.
For all the order and cleanliness imposed by law upon the Clerk’s Ward, a blood wouldn’t commonly suspect that in the midst of it all, tucked away in all the order would be a community composed almost entirely of tieflings; and a respectable community at that. The Sandstone District is located between Crystal Dew lane, Founder’s Fence, and the edges of the Slags as they abut near the Clerk’s Ward. The name of the district is derived from the red sandstone paving stones used to line the streets of the district. The tieflings, many of them sick of their reputations, have holed up here among themselves and largely ignore the rest of the ward. Otherwise, the district largely resembles the Workers District in atmosphere and living conditions, if largely differing in the faces on the street.
Hall of Records – What existed once as a private university within Sigil known as Bigby’s College of Academic Arts and was subsequently repossessed by the Fated, now exists as only a pile of rubble atop the cluster of hills it once occupied before the Faction War. Shortly after the war ended and the Fated fled Sigil for their old faction headquarters upon Ysgard, the building and all the vast number of public records, including debt notices, were ransacked by the curious, the greedy, and those seeking to erase their very existence in the records of the purse pickers of Sigil. Nothing remained sacrosanct, and from the vaults of records to the very furniture, the entire building was looted clean.
Years of tunneling beneath the buildings to build secret vaults in which to store the supposedly public records, as well as ex-Factol Rowan Darkwood’s reams of research into Sigil’s past history, left the ground under the entire complex weakened and under the constant threat of collapse. Faced with the danger to the surrounding blocks in the ward, the entire edifice was picked clean of any remaining records or usable goods, and the building was torn to the ground and many of the tunnels purposefully collapsed. Undisclosed parties have since purchased the site, and to date it has yet to be developed, remaining a jumble of brick and marble surrounded by the wooded campus that originally surrounded the Hall.
Despite the demolition of the Hall of Records, the five other largest and most important buildings on the old faction grounds still exist. The Halls of Property Records and Census Records, the Faction Dormitory, Faction Hall, and the Rowan Academy of Training yet stand on the grounds, though each was ransacked in turn just like the Hall of Records. Though presently unoccupied aside from squatters, the campus sits within its walled confines at the intersections of Scholar Row and Crystal Dew Lane in the eastern ends of the Clerk’s Ward near to the Sandstone District on one side and the Administrators District on the other.
Surrounding the Civic Festhall, in the rough triangle of the ward between Crystal Dew Lane, Hull Road, and Thistlewind Way, the Festhall District does its best to enliven the orderly and sometimes bland Clerk’s Ward. Even with the official cessation of organized activity by the Sensates within Sigil, the vast majority of the bloods retain their old positions as a matter of habit, comfort, and ability. In that respect, little has changed in the Festhall District since the Faction War. Shops selling fine wines, curios, and artwork, as well upscale taverns and the like dot the district like many a street in portions of The [[Lady’s Ward]]. The Civic Festhall’s proximity ensures frequent street festivals, live musical performances in the outdoor arenas in the district that can be heard for blocks away, and wandering performers along the wide district streets.
Spireward from the Civic Festhall and further adding to the festive atmosphere of the district is the Lazz School of Vivid Unpleasantness, a more avant-garde center for the graphic and performing arts in Sigil. Former members of the Bleak Cabal and Free League tend to be attracted to the school and its frequent, often controversial performances.
A scant few blocks from the Civic Festhall lies the fenced in kip and surrounding grounds of Jeena Ealy, the former adventurer and famous author of In Darkest Sigil. One of the wards more famous citizens, she found herself elected to the Sigil Advisory Council in large part because of the ward’s citizens themselves. Despite her position, she can still be found in her kip from time to time, though at her advancing age she prefers her own company more than in earlier years.
The Greengage tavern, across the street from the Civic Festhall, caters to Sigil’s gnome and halfling communities; most others have a hard time simply squeezing through the doors. The famous Greengage cider has become such a commodity in the past year that the owner, Marda Farambler, has built a outdoor patio for larger customers to keep up with the booming demand. [And to keep them from packing the inside of her inn. From Pennyroyal’s Orchards to your tankard, she serves a fine cider. – The Editor]
Civic Festhall – Along with the Great Gymnasium and the Hall of Speakers, which all sit within walking distance of each other in adjacent wards, the Civic Festhall stands as one of the most beautiful pieces of architecture within all of Sigil. Like the Great Gymnasium, it has seen little outward change in its operations since the Faction War, despite the disbanding of the Society of Sensation, which built and operated the Festhall.
Situated in the Clerk’s Ward at the corner of Crystal Dew Lane and Festive Way, the elegantly spired and gloriously decorated building has stood for over six hundred years and was built and planned over the course of a further century. The Society of Sensation left nothing to whimsy in the construction of the Festhall. Everything from the mineral veins present in the marble blocks used to construct the outer façade, which details in mosaic the five senses, to the color of the ore used to build the bladed spikes, spires, and flying buttresses that radiate from the building like the spines of a great ocean mollusk was carefully planned. The interior walls with their alternating rough and smooth patches, the tiny carvings playing like crawling vines across the corner of a tile in even the remotest corner of the main hall’s expanse, every bit of the Festhall has something for one to experience and ply the senses with. Nothing was left to chance; all was planned for years as a single great and wondrous artistic expression of the experiences to be had by a cutter in Sigil and across the multiverse.
Once past the elaborate doors of the main entrance, each over ninety feet tall, the grand hall is filled with the scents of a hundred perfumes drifting on the air flowing from any number of people or classrooms throughout the first floor of the building. Off to either side the space is filled with classrooms and lecture halls that concentrate on any of a hundred topics that are never the same two days in a row. Lecture topics may range from mundane topics of academia such as the types of githyanki Astral Carracks over the past century, to a free for all food fight within a closed room with baatezu cuisine just because they threw tanar’ri food the other day.
While the Sensates have officially abandoned Sigil, its members left only in name as most of those running the Festhall today are Sensates. They continue to perform their duties even without the official backing of the faction. [At least the public backing of it anyways. – The Editor] Most of the entertainment and scheduling of performances within the Festhall is arranged by a cutter by the name of Annali Webspinner (Society of Sensation). She still retains the position in the Festhall she had before the Faction War, losing none of her purpose or ideals with the fall of her faction’s power.
Aside from the lecture halls, there are rooms that had previously been reserved for Sensates to use once devoted to training new and old techniques in magic, combat styles, and roguery. All manner of styles and techniques are trained therein, and now since the Faction War they’ve ostensibly been open to the public, though for a charge, and for a lower cost if a blood has donated experiences to the public or the sensoriums before. The sensoriums themselves are one of the key draws of the Festhall, being a collection of experiences encompassing emotions, sights, touches, smells, and tastes. All of the collected experiences are the memories of those same experiences drawn and given freely from a cutter’s mind with the purpose of sharing them with others.
Outside the Festhall and set on adjacent hillsides stand two auditoriums, the Northumber Amphitheatre which is in open air and the Elloweth Theatre which is shielded by a translucent covering of capiz shell to allow in light. Both are used for live performances of musical and theatric presentations, typically in daylight hours. Other concerts, plays, and the like are held within Ren Hall inside the Festhall itself to packed crowds regardless of the price of admission. These larger scale events are held twice a night with staggered styles of performances between evenings.
Also within the Festhall are numerous guest quarters as well as the previously private chambers of former Factol Erin ‘Darkflame’ Montgomery. Since the factol’s disappearance during the Faction War, presumably to one of the Lady’s Mazes, the chambers have lain undisturbed and her former faction members have done their best to keep away prying eyes from this and supposedly deeper chamber within the bowels of the Festhall. Little known except to Sensates, the interior dimensions of the hall are significantly smaller than the outside dimensions would allow for, suggesting unused spaces or chambers concealed to the public. One such chamber is said to be a hall of portals to various planes called the Sanctum Sanctorum at the very heart of the Festhall. There is also rumored to be a now collapsed tunnel that led from that hidden chamber to the depths of the former archives beneath the now destroyed Hall of Records.
Once a common squat for those members of the Harmonium involved in the constant patrols that monitored the Clerk’s Ward, this neighborhood has taken a downturn since most of the faction pulled up their roots and gave the Cage the slip after the Faction War. The pristine streets are still clean, clear, and well lit, but more for the increase in activity of the aasimon who have in fluxed into the district than to the now waning patrols of any city officials of the law.
Here, more than most areas of Sigil, celestials are commonplace and randomly observing a deva or similar being traversing the streets is not shocking, though the higher-ranking celestials tend to congregate among themselves. Indeed more than a few establishments in the area cater only to full-blooded creatures of the upper planes, gently turning away even bariaur as not “good” enough. [Woe be to the fiend who tries to push the issue for a drink inside one of these inns… – The Editor]