Friday, August 19, 2011

Crystals and Curses: What's Faldelac up to Today?

I see you Faldelac!
Faldelac, aforementioned High Priest at the Church of the Big Charade, has the great (mis)pleasure of possessing an Amulet of Inescapable Location.   I'd never heard of this particular magical item before but there it is on page 137 of the DMG: it's a cursed item that makes the wearer significantly easier to track via crystal balls and other scrying type magic.  On top of this, it poses as an implement that is supposed to prevent exactly these sorts of activities. Now, in 100% of the D&D I've ever played such a potent artifact of diabolic magic would have been... completely and utterly insignificant.  Seriously, it would have been on par with a cursed silver piece that was really only worth 1/21 of a gold piece.  Given that Faldelac is such a remote character in this module, I would have  dismissed the amulet's presence as nothing more than a bizarre curiosity in this module--except that another Prominent Denizen of Lendore actually has a crystal ball: everyone's favorite sorcerer Pelltar is in possession of a Crystal Ball of Clairaudience.  All of a sudden the ol' cursed amulet becomes a loaded Chekhov's gun

So what is the connection between Pelltar and Faldelac?  Maybe poor, lonely Pelltar is keeping track of Faldie's actions to satisfy his voyeuristic urges.  And perhaps, then, Faldelac's occasional trips into Restenford are in attempt to get Pelltar out of his boudoir.  Or are they requests to get Pelltar to remove the cursed item?  A response to orders given by Pelltar via crystal ball?  Do crystal balls even work that way?  No, sadly, they don't.   A Crystal Ball of Telepathy might achieve that end, but Pelltar's crystal ball allows him only to see and hear what's going on.  The only meddling it allows is the casting of certain detection-type spells.  But still, if Pelltar has reason to keep an eye (and ear) on Faldelac, whatever backstory exists between them might help to explain why Faldelac and his secret cult of hotties live in an impregnable fake casino hidden deep in the woods.

This raises another point; is Faldelac even aware that someone, Pelltar or otherwise, is watching him?  According to the DMG description of Crystal Balls, spellcasters have a chance of detecting scrying equivalent to their percent chance to detect invisible creatures.  Faldelac, according to the Detection of Invisibility Table on page 60, as a 10th level cleric with a 14 Intelligence, would have a 15% chance of detecting scrying.   Not great, but if it happens frequently then he's probably picked up on it by now.  Does he realize, then, that his magic amulet is not doing its job; as mentioned above it gives the misleading impression that it prevents scrying. Is he aware that it is actually cursed?  Or does he just assume that it is just less effective than he hoped? In any event, this amulet presents a rather odd chink in the otherwise aloof defenses of the enigmatic character that is High Priest Faldelac.