Friday, February 25, 2011

Hospitality at The Church of the Big Gamble

As discussed previously, at the center of the Dweomer Forest is an isolated group of clerics who utilize their forest locale to conceal their presence, provide food, and elicit the assistance of the animal life.  Today I'd like to discuss their church a little more closely to figure out what goes on behind those ivory walls.

What do we know of the dome?  It is initially described as "the shape of an egg cut lengthwise about 40 feet tall and 60 feet in diameter" though later the dimensions change a bit to "40' x 60' x 18' high."   It has six "one-way" windows made of impenetrable glass-steel, so no looking--or breaking--in.  Its door is enchanted so as to require a dispel magic spell to remove the magical locking effect--Knock is ineffective against it.  This is especially significant when one considers that the recommended character levels for this module are 2-4 whilst Dispel Magic is a 3rd level spell; one needs a 5th level magic-user at least to cast a 3rd level spell.  And then you have to hope that he didn't waste his 3rd level spell allotment on fireball or lightning bolt or any number of other really cool 3rd level spells.  Once you do manage to dispel the locking enchantment, you still have the problem of opening the "solid stone" door, a feat which probably requires a few crow bars and a lot of sweat.   

So, finally, after burning a dispel magic spell and wrestling the "huge stone door" open you'd think that the clerics inside would be there waiting to greet you in some way--especially considering that the wildlife has alerted them to your presence long before you arrived at the doorstep.  But no, you walk into a large, unoccupied room with a dais in it.  If you step on the dais a bell rings which finally signals the inhabitants to come forth and show themselves, right?  Not quite; the residents of the egg-shaped edifice wait for 2-8 rounds (minutes) before the clerics finally enter the room.  If you were an adventurer exploring a domed temple in the middle of a forest, would you wait around for 2-8 minutes before kicking in the door to the next room to find out who (or what) has been summoned?

But alas, after all this waiting around the clerics finally roll out the red carpet.  They will ask the party to have a seat and get some gambling on, all the time chanting such hokey oaths as "oh God of Chance, may the dodecahedrons of fate come up naught-naught."  What follows is a little gambling tournament wherein everyone breaks up into small groups at separate tables and take turns rolling percentile dice (not dodecahedrons [12-siders] as their prayers indicated).  Whomever rolls highest at a table advances to roll dice with the winner from another table in a single-elimination tournament until a final winner is decided.  This game wouldn't go over too big at the tables of Vegas I imagine, but when you're deep in a trackless wilderness, it's probably more entertaining than yet another round of Kumbaya at the campfire.

Given that the church is hidden deep in the woods with no clear path to its doorway, its clergy make a rigorous effort to bend nature to their needs, and are extremely reluctant to engage with people--even those who take the time to dismantle their front door--their stated religious beliefs seem less than sincere.  Lendore being a land of Suel deities, it is obvious that they are playing themselves off as disciples of Norebo though he was not officially defined by TSR when L1 was released.  But just as clearly they are not running a casino as Norebo's temples purportedly function.  The misnamed dice, the simplistic game of chance, and the mishmash of fate, chance, and luck prayers; it takes only a modicum of analysis to conclude that this ritual is a sham.  The gambling is in all probability a ruse meant to confuse and perhaps even mock pesky visitors to this hermitage.  Faldelac and his staff most likely devote their true worship to a god that values the solitude and the freedom of thought that their isolated locale brooks rather than the visceral rush of gambling.  Indeed, the deity actually worshiped by the clerics of the "Big Gamble" most likely feels disdain toward Norebo and his vacuous followers.


Theodric the Obscure said...

Hey Timrod, do you mind if I ask you an off-topic question? What cave is pictured in your background?

Timrod said...

Oh man, sorry for not responding Theodric. Also sorry for the answer I'm about to give: I don't know the provenance of this cave--it was one of the default choices offered by Google blogspot. Again, sorry.

Anonymous said...

The forest's description suggests the influence of Phyton the Woodshaper, the Suel diety of Nature and Agriculture. His faith encourages its followers to improve the lands around them, domesticating the local animals and bringing them under cultivation.

The sect's subtle improvements to the surrounding forest suggest that these clerics have been ordered to withhold the bounty of their wisdom, saving their knowledge for more worthy subjects. Perhaps the people of Restenford have somehow incurred the gods displeasure through their adherence to hostile druidic creeds, alternatively, the Baron's refusal to improve his domains may have triggered the priesthood's withdrawal.

- Sir Wulf

Timrod said...

Nicely done, Sir Wulf.