To Chance with Hell (Planescape)
Society of Sensation
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The Society of Sensation: Knowledge is Power
The Society of Sensation goes by the basic philosophy that to truly understand something, it first must be experienced. With this as their compass, a Sensate travels the planes in the attempt to find new experiences, in the process coming to understand these new concepts. Although many claim them to be simply hedonists, in truth there is much more to this path. A true Sensate will accept any experience short of death, no matter how unpleasant, as they feel that whether a Sensate enjoys an experience has little to do with whether they learn from it. As a result, while one member may be sampling expensive wines imported from an obscure prime world, another at the same time may be testing his perseverance in the depths of an Elemental Plane, yet both do so in the same never-ending pursuit of knowledge.
Philosophy: You can only understand the multiverse by experiencing everything it has to offer.
Home Location: The Gilded Hall in Arborea.
Factol: Cuatha Da‘nanin
Prominent Members: Annali Webspinner, Quleine
Symbol: A navy blue disc with a lighter metallic-blue foreground. Engraved at the top is a blank, genderless face, prominently displaying the nose, eyes and mouth. Below the face, a cupped hand and ear are located. The clear depiction of the human sensory organs symbolizes the unity of the senses.
Related skills: Dungeoneering, Nature. A player may start the game with skill focus with either skill if they choose not to pick a skill related to being a Primer, or Planar.
Faction bonuses with the Society of Sensation will confer abilities such as:
- those that charm, daze, or stun enemies
- those that make it easier to see or target enemies
- those that grant immediate reactions
The Philosophy of the Society of Sensation
The Sensates are based entirely around experience. As they would put it, your senses are the only things that allow you to truly know that something exists. To know an object exists you first must see or feel it. To be able to comprehend a food‘s taste, you must have eaten it. To understand the meanings of a new piece of music, you must have heard it. This makes experience the ultimate teacher, and all knowledge must therefore stem from it. A Sensate can then apply such an explanation to anything that can be thought of, for every physical thing requires the senses to be experienced, and all mental concepts require a connection to physical reality, for without outside inspiration the mind cannot function.
Because of their ideals, the Sensates feel that to gain and build upon personal knowledge, it makes far more sense to actively seek the experiences that life has to offer rather than wait for them to come to you. In a lifetime a Sensate will experience countless smells, sounds and situations, but this will still only be the most minute fraction of what the planes truly have to offer. While every member is encouraged to travel the planes in search of new experience to be found, they are also given complete access to the Sensoriums in Sigil.
The Sensoriums span countless rooms throughout the Civic Festhall, the Sensate base of operations within Sigil, each containing thousands of sensory recorders: small, round stones that are used to store specific occurrences or situations that a Sensate has experienced. Through these, junior Sensates can gain wisdom from various experiences, without having to subject themselves to the dangers or difficulties of experiencing them personally. The sensory recorders cannot be taken beyond the doorway of the Civic Festhall without losing their magically stored contents. This feature was originally designed for security reasons, but caused the faction serious problems when they chose to relocate to their current headquarters, the Gilded Hall of Arborea.
Due to the hands-on style of the Society of Sensation, the life of a Sensate can be a very expensive one. This means that the faction regularly attracts members from the upper classes, who easily have the money to take exotic trips to any of the planes that they care to. This is both a burden and a boon to the faction. On the plus side, a large amount of money becomes available to the Sensates, making them possibly the most financially secure of all factions. They are able to spare no expense in their fantastical productions of many well-known plays, hiring powerful illusionists to supply special effects, and employing the best actors from across the planes. On the downside, many false Sensates are able to creep into the faction, believing that it is purely about decadent pleasure, or at least using the faction‘s facilities to that end. Although many Sensates would like to have these members cast out as the frauds they are, several are also the main benefactors of the faction. Without their financial support, the quality of Sensate productions would plummet.
The Society originally formed prior to the Great Upheaval, simply one out of the multitude of groups and factions filling the Cage to the brim. They started as a mere group of associates who would gather together occasionally for simple amusement to help the monotony and boredom of their lives move more comfortably. They would organize small trips across the planes, or just exchange conversation or tell tales, whatever really interested them at the time. As the years passed, folks gradually began to hear of the group and expressed curiosity. Anyone who was dissatisfied with their life would join for the sensations and occasional adventure it brought. The Society enjoyed an influx of members, and as the faction grew people began to look beyond the immediate implications of their experiences.
Sometime after the Society of Sensation was established, construction began on the Civic Festhall. A small fortune was put into this endeavor, with its huge auditoriums, lecture theaters, and training rooms. Despite the horrific amounts of money being put into the building‘s construction, those who invested in it realized the financial potential that entertaining the masses could provide. Upon its completion, the Festhall was filled every night with entertainments of every style and description. One evening the audience would be enthralled by some of Sigil‘s most prestigious actors performing a well-known tragedy, the next night, the bizarre and breathtaking aerial acrobatics of a troupe of air genasi gymnasts.
As things constantly improved for the Sensates, they willingly allowed all who wished to become a member to join, irrespective of race or background. Clueless who needed something to cling to after leaving the Prime found the Sensates welcoming, and the faction as a whole continued to flourish. Unfortunately, in all of this progression they had become slightly too indiscriminate in their acceptance of members. Many who claimed membership of the Sensates were simply there for the pleasures that the Festhall provided, ignoring the true meanings of the Society‘s beliefs. Others demanded the same entertainments over and over again, never learning to appreciate the uniqueness of each experience. These false Sensates gave the faction the label of hedonists, and although great effort was put into the attempt to rid the faction of such frauds, this problem still plagues the Sensates today.
All the while, other groups and beliefs had been growing, just like the Sensates. In fact the number of factions was beginning to grow almost out of hand; every direction a basher looked, a new philosophy would sprout from the gutter. The Lady eventually intervened in this growing chaos, demanding that there should be no more than fifteen factions in Sigil. Many factions merged, more died out or split between several larger ones, but all the way through, the Sensates persevered. A factol was elected to organize this more focused faction and the Sensates, as ever, continued to grow.
Though not a strong supporter of the Faction War, the Sensates did what they could to maintain peace. In an attempt to stop the rising anarchy, the Sensates joined with the Sons of Mercy and the Harmonium, helping spearhead the assault on the Armory, the headquarters of the Doomguard. Afterwards, when the dust of the war settled, they were forced from Sigil along with all the other factions. The Sensates divided, one-half following Da‘nanin and leaving Sigil, the others remaining in Sigil to help the city recover from the effects of the war. Da‘nanin‘s followers traveled with him to Arborea, where they now reside in the Gilded Hall. The majority who remained in Sigil continued to aid those ravaged by the Faction War, helping the city‘s inhabitants, and running the Civic Festhall as before.
Although the Festhall is no longer officially under their control, the Sensates still practically run it, being fronted by the Entertainer‘s Guild. Annali Webspinner, a bariaur of wide repute in the Cage, has been placed in charge of the Festhall, taking care of its management on a day-to-day basis. She insists that the Festhall must continue in its original aim, and it still provides some of the best entertainment available on the planes. The Gilded Hall, although it actually houses fewer Sensates than the Civic Festhall, is now the seat of Sensate power. From there Factol Da‘nanin orchestrates the political maneuvers of the whole faction, supported by a council of advisors. Although Da‘nanin is technically the leader of all Senates, Annali Webspinner runs the Festhall independently from the rest of the faction, so as not to tempt the Lady‘s wrath.
While the majority of members are still devoted to the core tenets, the Sensates as a faction appear to be taking an increasingly disturbing turn in their ideals. This problem is mainly due to the current factol. Da‘nanin was consort to the former Sensate factol, Erin Montgomery, a priestess of the Celtic goddess of healing, Diancecht. The loss of his lover affected Da‘nanin severely, and Da‘nanin seems to have become a far grimmer, introverted character since then, having taken to brooding for extended periods of time. His deep-set dislike of both Sigil and its ruler is well known throughout the faction, though for the time being he seems to not be acting upon it. This same attitude is slowly affecting those closest to him, as more and more Sensates begin to judge the Lady of Pain as a hypocritical tyrant. Such a development has caused grave concern among the faction high-ups, and many fear that their factol must be stripped of his title if the faction is to remain safe.
The main goal of the Society of Sensation, as ever, is still to teach others the wonders of the planes and how, through only the senses, true knowledge can be found. Although they have politically relocated to Arborea, the presence of the Sensates in Sigil is still a force to be reckoned with. The Lady may have banned the factions filling political functions in Sigil, but the Civic Festhall continues to be used as the primary recruiting center of the Sensates. It still runs the nightly performances that gave it the name it has today, and many claim that under the guidance of Annali Webspinner, the Festhall has grown not only in power, but also in the sheer wonder and diversity of its shows.
One primary concern of the faction is the state of their factol. Da‘nanin has changed drastically since the loss of Factol Montgomery. Though he was originally a kind, open half-elf, his passion for tales of far lands seems to have been snuffed out, replaced by a grim determination. He has taken to long periods of silence, and is growing increasingly harsh in his punishment of those who cross the Sensates, the once welcoming Gilded Hall now being out of bounds to all non-faction-members, on pain of death. He seems to have developed an air of apathy that coils around him, making his underlings edgy when in his presence. Many Sensates accuse Quleine, an alu-fiend and closest confidant of Da‘nanin, of poisoning their factol‘s mind, though due to her standing with the factol few dare to speak out against her openly.
Individual Sensates do what they enjoy most, seeking out new experiences across the multiverse, occasionally returning to recite their tales or record their experiences. They encourage others to embrace their lifestyle as much through friendly debate as by living by example.
The Sensates have always been very popular with the people of Sigil. Their former factol was possibly the most influential and well-loved citizen of the Cage prior to her imprisonment, and the support of her faction still continues, even after her loss. Because of this, the Sensates have great leverage in Sigil, and even though they‘ve been displaced to Arborea, the chances are that the average people would side with them above any other faction.
Among the other factions, the longest-running allies of the Sensates still around are the Free League and the Fraternity of Order. The Free League are generally seen as recruitment stock by most Sensates, though a cannier cutter also realizes that they make indispensable hirelings due to their lack of allegiance to any particular faction. In the case of the Guvners, the Sensates find their ideals fascinatingly intriguing, even if they seem somewhat quaint, and are willing to ally with them if it favors both sides.
The newest ally of the Sensates, a group who they had little interest in before, are the Harmonium. During the Faction War both factions worked closely together in the attempt to keep Sigil stable. With the end of the war it seemed obvious to continue with such close connections, and the factions are well on the way to becoming close partners, despite the fact that the two philosophies seem to have little in common.
As popular as the Sensates appear to be, even they have gained enemies during their time on the planes. They have clashed with the Sodkillers in recent years, and though they despise the Dustmen‘s pessimistic view of life, the most prominent and easily recognizable of threats is the Doomguard. The Doomguard‘s ideas flaunt the very basis of Sensate philosophy, as they implies that planes are merely decaying objects from which nothing can be learned. What‘s worse, the Doomguard have no desire to stop this decay, embracing the entropy that they feel is the purpose of existence. The lack of desire to preserve the planes is possibly what repels the Sensates most of all, as with the loss of any part of the planes, unique experiences will be lost to the Society of Sensation forever. Although the Sinkers do not seem to go out of their way to disrupt the plans of the Sensates any more than most other factions, the Sensates find them distasteful and unpleasant company.