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    Canonfire :: View topic - The Church of Kelanen and Gladiatorial Combat
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    The Church of Kelanen and Gladiatorial Combat
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    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Sep 20, 2001
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    Sun Mar 29, 2015 7:49 pm  
    The Church of Kelanen and Gladiatorial Combat

    The characters in my campaign played through the Shadows Over Istivin trilogy from Dungeon magazine, and managed to cure old Baldram of the Chapterhouse of the Star (the Church of Kelanen). So he's returned to martial greatness again.

    The master of the Istivin arena is trying to set up an epic (and surely, for him, lucrative) combat between the most famous local heroes. He's enlisted the aid of one of the PCs, whose formed a romantic relationship with Quentyn, Baldram's protege, to persuade Baldram to fight in this epic contest in the arena.

    I'm curious what others think about how the Church of Kelanen would respond to this. Would gladiatorial combat be considered a holy performance that ennobles swordsmanship and blades? or a heretical mockery of true combat?

    I suspect it's one or the other, but am of two minds on this.

    What do others think?
    GreySage

    Joined: Aug 03, 2001
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    Mon Mar 30, 2015 1:45 am  

    Since Kelanen isn't a lawful god, I don't think he'd be a huge stickler about what constitutes a valid expression of the swordsman's art. He's as much the patron of gladiators as he is of knights and mercenaries and jugglers and sword-swallowers and swordsmiths. I don't see him being offended by any use of swords apart from letting them rust or not learning how to use them properly.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Mon Mar 30, 2015 9:36 am  

    Kelanen might insist that both combatants use swords and equal armor, though. Some weapons have a distinct advantage over swords, and others are at a distinct disadvantage. Kelanen would want the fight to be a fair display of swordsmanship, not a battle with a forgone conclusion due to weapon and armor choices.

    Now the choice as to WHICH sword to use would be up to the contestants...
    Adept Greytalker

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    Mon Mar 30, 2015 2:11 pm  

    These are all good points. Right now, I'm considering having Baldram consent to the contest as a reminder to the populace of the heroism of the Chapterhouse during the giant invasion; perhaps his protege Quentyn will be opposed, seeing it as cheapening the mystique of the church.

    I agree that equal armor seems like an appropriate rule for the battle, but I wonder about both combatants having to use swords. Might not Baldram prefer to show the supremacy of swordsmanship over other melee weapons?
    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: Mar 05, 2007
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    From: The Pomarj

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    Mon Mar 30, 2015 2:36 pm  

    edmundscott wrote:
    Might not Baldram prefer to show the supremacy of swordsmanship over other melee weapons?


    Perhaps during a "service" the parishioner/contestants would use only swords. However, it may be possible for a "exhibition game" of sorts, against other priesthoods, or maybe even as an attempt to gain more followers, by displaying the superiority of the sword.

    As I recall, Kelanen in Neutral in alignment. So, I imagine he would not be bothered by a contest to display the beauty of swordcraft. Like Rasgon said, he'd probably only take offense at failing to properly care for a sword, letting it rust, etc.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Mon Mar 30, 2015 6:08 pm  

    The trick is, swordsmanship is not an easy task to master.

    Any idiot can pick up an axe, club, or mace and be effective enough. Give them a shield for defense and away they go.

    Swordsmanship is unique in that the weapon is both offense AND defense... which requires significantly more skill than just bashing away with an impact weapon.

    But give the other guy a net and Mr. Swordsman is in BIG trouble.
    Black Hand of Oblivion

    Joined: Feb 16, 2003
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    Tue Mar 31, 2015 1:29 am  

    I'd leave off the jugglers and sword swallowers from rasgon's list. Kelanen is not the god of street performers. Those are Olidamarra's folk.
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    GreySage

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    Tue Mar 31, 2015 3:45 pm  

    "Oh, no," grumbled Theodore the Bull. "That guy again."

    Jhaeros was acutely aware of the contemptuous glares he had been earning since he started attending services to the Prince of Swords, but the glares hadn't been enough to stop him from coming. He sat by himself on one of the back benches and waited for the priest to arrive.

    "Who does he think he is?" Theodore had been complaining about Jhaeros more and more of late. His gripes had begun as fairly subtle hints—subtle for Theodore, anyway—but if this went on at the same rate they would soon become physical. "Kelanen is a god of warriors, not capering fools."

    Jhaeros decided he had had enough. "I earn my livelihood from my skill with swords. Why shouldn't I honor Prince Kelanen? I need him on my side as much as any of you."

    That did it. Eight angry faces turned to regard the juggler directly. "Your 'skill' is a mockery of the true swordsman's art," said Milton the Shark. "And your presence at the sacred rites of Kelanen is an insult."

    "Both to the god, and to us," said Maisie the Fang.

    "You're not welcome here," said Jaiden. "Go to one of Olidammara's revels with the other tricksters."

    "I don't perform tricks," said Jhaeros. "There's no illusion or deception in my art. I keep nine razor-sharp blades in the air without injuring myself or my audience. I honor my tools and I honor the god who watches over them. Is that so wrong?"

    "You're a fool," growled Theodore. "And you make us look like fools by association. This is a gathering of swordsmen, not a jester's guild. Away with you."

    "I'm sorry if my skills don't bring me as much honor as the art of stabbing someone repeatedly in the bowels so that they die in agony, blood, and feces," said Jhaeros, making it clear he had heard about Theodore's last duel. "But as I don't drink or steal, I find myself as alienated at Olidammara's orgies as I am here. Swords are my life, so please allow me to honor my god in peace. As for you, perhaps the cult of Erythnul would be more to your liking."

    His face turning purple, Theodore drew the bastard sword hanging from his side. "I'll honor the Prince of Swords with your blood today, clown. Draw one of those shiny toys you call swords and we'll see who the god favors."

    Seven faces watched Jhaeros carefully. They made no move to restrain Theodore. "You heard him," said Pegleg Raven. "Prove you deserve to be here."

    Jhaeros sighed and unfastened the case in which he kept his juggling swords. He had scarcely picked one up when Theodore's blade whooshed toward his face. Jhaeros jumped aside at the last moment, using his sword to parry while his free hand drew a second blade. He tossed it a hair's breath from Theodore's ear, dancing around the larger man to catch it while a third sword spun through the air, and a fourth. Theodore attempted to knock the whirling blades aside with a swing of his bastard sword, but Jhaeros kept the Bull's movements limited with stinging, bruising slaps with the flat of one blade or another. Soon Theodore was trapped within a cage of flying swords, at least eight in the air at any one time while the ninth managed to parry all of the Bull's swings.

    "I've been performing with my swords for over twenty years," said Jhaeros, his voice ringing with decades of experience in commanding a crowd's attention. "Did you really think that my skills were less than yours just because I don't use them to create widows and orphans?" Theodore roared but found himself unable to move as Jhaeros began tossing his swords still closer to the Bull's vulnerable skin. "I wouldn't," said Jhaeros, "Assuming you're fond of having ears."

    The other seven parishioners watched with open mouths.

    "Enough," said the priest. Nine heads swiveled toward him, and Jhaeros neatly caught all of his swords and put them away in the next few breaths. Distracted as they all were by the duel, no one had noticed the priest come in.

    The priest wore a hood that concealed most of his features, but now he let it drop, revealing the silvery scar that marred his handsome features from eye to chin.

    Nine jaws remained slack. "My lord," said Jhaeros, kneeling first. The others swiftly followed.

    "Rise," said Kelanen, tracing Jhaeros's face with one of his fingers. A silvery line glowed on the juggler's face for a moment before vanishing. "Rise, my true priest."

    Jhaeros stood, and Kelanen vanished.

    "Better sit down," said Jhaeros to the parishioners. "I'm about to begin tonight's ceremony."

    Jhaeros would serve as a priest of Kelanen for another thirty years. As his fame spread, the Prince of Swords' faithful began to think twice before trying to keep street performers out of their services.
    Black Hand of Oblivion

    Joined: Feb 16, 2003
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    Wed Apr 01, 2015 1:53 am  

    Very nice, but you really are just reinforcing my point in this way:


    (Psst! He's not really a cook!)
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    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Sat Aug 15, 2015 9:39 am  

    I organized an unofficial meta-church (the Church of Swords) of PC worshipers of Kelanen back during LG. I then tied Kelanen to at least 1 gladiatorial fight clubs in the BK/Dyvers (the Circle of Crimson Stone). My primary LG PC ended up being one of the most devout Kelanites in LG history; off-stage, we had her acquire Replier after she was retired from the campaign. As she was NG and the sword CN, they did not get along; she hid it deep in the Fellreev Forest until a worth wielder was sent to her by Kelanen (one who could defeat her in one-on-one combat without buffs).

    Replier's previous owner was an unnamed blackguard of Iuz that my PC killed off screen. He found it in Steelbone Meadows and it likely belonged to another unnamed character, one who was probably a high ranking lieutenant of one of the bandit warlords in attendance of the Brewfest gathering of 584 CY and who was slain during the massacre. However, come to think of it, since Replier is CN, it would make for a cool story if Guardian General Hok had had Replier (and might help explain why he was able to survive displeasing the Horned Society). However, as Hok is written about in canon quite a bit, with no mention of Replier, I'd stick with it being owned by one of his lieutenants who died during the massacre.

    Anyhow, the above backstory was done to help set up IUZ8-02 Final Words in which Iuz attempts to procure the 9 swords to help increase his divine rank.

    For Iuz8-02, I wrote up the rules for the 1-on-1 combat required to convince my retired PC to give Replier to the PCs. This is probably the most canon Kelanen gladiatorial combat rules as they were published in the adventure.

    HONORABLE DUEL
    If the heroes must duel Breeanna for Replier, then she
    insists on a few rules.
    • The PC must wield a sword.
    • No magic (she can provide a masterwork sword for the
    PC of any non-exotic type), including magic items,
    buff spells, alchemical aids (such as weapon
    capsules), etc. As a member of the Circle of Crimson
    Stone, she is used to fighting without magic. The
    hero MUST divest themselves of all their magic
    items to fight her honorably (she removes all of her
    items, puts away her ioun stones, etc.).
    • She casts zone of truth, asking her fellow combatant to
    not resist the spell (i.e. intentionally fail the saving
    throw) so that she may be sure that they are not
    cheating. If it makes the hero feel better, she fails the
    saving throw as well on purpose and reveals which
    magic items she still wears (ring of mind shielding and
    gemstone of light fortification).
    • She cannot remove her gemstone of light fortification as it
    is embedded into her body. If the PC has a similar
    item, she understands.
    • No weird expendable favors may be used unless they
    are from Kelanen (she has some she can call on, but
    she does not, except the non-expendable ones she
    has earned from Kelanen [such as her smite
    abilities]).
    • She expects the fighter to not hold back (i.e., lethal
    damage is fine. If she dies, she figures that is
    Kelanen’s will).
    • If the PC has buff spells up that they cannot dispel,
    then Breeanna suggests that they wait until the
    spells have expired. Only a hero that is willing to live
    and die by the sword alone is worthy of facing her in
    single combat. If the PCs use mindblank to fool her,
    so be it (be sure to note that the PC who faces her is a
    coward on their AR).
    • If the PC makes use of a marshall ally, Brighthorn
    activates his motivate Dexterity ability before the
    fight, giving Breeanna a +10 to her Initiative.

    Just in case you are curious:
    BREEANNA WINDSTRIDER CR14*
    Female high-elf barbarian 2/fighter 2/ranger 2/rogue
    3/contemplative 2/pious templar 4
    NG (undetectable alignment [ring of mind shielding])
    Medium humanoid (high-elf)
    Note CR lowered by 1 due to lack of magic items.

    Yes, she was a pink ninja, but she was my pink ninja.
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