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(12/1/03 5:46 pm)
Machiavelli and the CRM
So my players are evolving their philosophy on strategy: they figure why fight when someone else can do it...

Basically, they want to get the Water Temple to attack the Outer Fane using their knowledge of Tharizdun. IMC, the priests of the CRM have really no real understanding who or what Tharizdun is, but are in fact worshiping a fictitious Elder Elemental Eye (I'm not sure how many people have used this, which is why I explain here) as a sick test to see which element is indeed greater in strength. The conflict and animosity that is inherant in their struggle is fuel for Tharizdun's return (I think of Gods as nothing without followers and this IMC is one sick way to do so...what's worse is the fact that they don't even know it). Those that remain once the struggle has concluded itself will be "promoted" to higher positions of power and prestige. The players want to basically tell the Water Temple clerics (the only Temple left standing) that they were lied to about the God they believed in the hopes of getting them good and mad at the Doomdreamers.

So my question is, can this work? I know that the Bugbears could be possibly swayed, but I'm not so sure about the Water Temple. The way I see it is that they have achieved their goal: domination of the CRM and will accordingly be rewarded with the "Prize." I'm not sure how news of their faith will really affect their overall allegience. If anyone can think of a good reason, please let me know as I want to reward my PCs for finally using the terrain against the enemy and thinking outside the "let's charge forth with valor and smite our enemies" box.

(12/1/03 7:09 pm)
Re: Machiavelli and the CRM
I think it's definitely a reasonable attempt by your players, and it is really a very good question. I've thought about it before myself and have come to a similar mindset about the EEE and Tharizdun and the people of the CRM (indeed of most of the OF as well). Only the Doomdreamers know for a fact the truth about the EEE.

The response I have to help you is that Tharizdun is so powerful, that he clouds all attempts to perceive the truth about the EEE. Remember that it took all other gods to imprison him. They couldn't even destroy him. He is still able to grant high level spells imprisoned. I say that it is definitely within his power to cloud all divinations about the connection between the EEE and Big T. For example, if the cleric in your party uses the commune spell to ask about this, the answer will be Unknown, or something similarly non-committal.

An alternative is that the clerics just don't believe them. After all, where would their spells come from? They pray to the EEE and someone else grants the power? What kind of ludicrous suggestion is that? Would the cleric of Pelor believe Kelashein if she told him that Pelor is really just a front for Heironeous and doesn't really exist? Abyss no!

(12/2/03 9:57 am)
Re: Machiavelli and the CRM
Right, that is what I pretty much had assumed: self denial by the Water Temple. I'm just wondering if there is a way to do it with the dynamics of the Water Temple in mind (i.e. Nibool isn't too happy about the current leadership)...might their be an angle their?

Some ideas:
1. The party goes to talk with the Temple about a possible alliance, but the OF has already been their, promising rewards to the "Faithful" that destroy the PCs. Maybe Nibool anticipates this and meets the party before they get to the Temple to arrange another deal (he already left them to die at the Fire Temple), so that he can reap the rewards of the OF.

2. The party stumbles on some Water Temple emissaries who demonstrate how little they care about EEE, so that the party doesn't get ambushed when they go to parley.

I'm just thinking out loud, but I really want to avoid the classic grand melee and reward my players for even showing initiative to do something as underhanded as...well...the Priests of Tharizdun:) Anyone have any ideas how I can make them happy without making the story seem contrived?

THANKS in advance!

(12/2/03 2:21 pm)
Re: Machiavelli and the CRM
ok some thoughts (no attempts to help or hinder just put some info out, but personally I think what your PC's are up to is worth a try)

1) Insanity. A good portion of these clerics are insane. It can be hard to talk to someone who believes things without logical reason. (a good thing that carries this to the party is the first handout).

2) Spells. The EEE clerics can cast divine magic. This is a good piece of proof that thier god exists. (even though he doesn't).

3) New god. I like the idea that a god is nothing without beleivers. However how is Tharzidun so mighty without a large base of believers? Perhaps it is because his worshipers are actually quite plentiful even if they don't know who it is they truely worship. I like the idea that the demon gods (Lloth, etc) get their power though him therefore making him mighty. Due to the worship of the EEE would a new god be created through enough worpship? If a god is nothing without worship, then enough worship of something that doesn't exist may make it exist?

(12/2/03 6:10 pm)
Re: Machiavelli and the CRM
I think it's a great idea, and your players should certainly be rewarded if they can pull it off. The cultists of the EEE are insane and Chaotic Evil. Loyalty is hard to come by among insane, CE people, so I could see the PCs talking them into attacking the Outer Fane. It will simply depend on what angle they play: trying to convince them that the EEE isn't real might not be the best way. Probably the best would be to appeal to their greed and power-lust.

Basically, I'd let the PCs go in and try to convince the Water Temple to help. Give them a shot at it, maybe make a couple of Diplomacy and/or Bluff rolls, and if they don't convince -you- well enough, then they didn't convince the Water Clerics either. And as you pointed out yourself, the various factions within the Temple could certainly have different agendas... if Kelashein turns them down, Nilbool is all the more likely to try to work with them. So even if they botch the diplomacy by telling the Truth (insane CE cultists dont' want to hear that!), they might still have a chance to pull it out, ally with -someone-, and get some of the fighting out of the way.

I say: go for it, and be thankful that you have players who don't automatically just try to hack through every NPC they meet.

(12/3/03 1:31 pm)
Re: Machiavelli and the CRM
I seem to remember reading that the Koa-Toa in the water temple actually do know about Tharzidun, and their people know about Tharzidun - for they remember the days before he was imprisoned.
They might actually be thrilled to learn that the Dark One is close to being released.
I would have them play along with the PC's just far enough to betray them - of all the temples I've always thought that the inhuman temples of Earth & Water were the elast likely to be upset by the true "secret" of the Cult.

Just cause your players want to try it doesn't mean it has to suceed - remember the bulk of the beings in the water temple are NOT human & don't think like humans. When you add in insanity they won't necessarily have what would eem to the PC's to be a "rational reaction" to the news.

I would expect a race of Evil creatures to EXPECT to be lied to. They are evil, they sacrifice creatures to their evil gods, why would they be upset to find out an even MORE evil god was testing them to see if they could join up with a more powerful evil temple.

If the elemental temples were neutral I could see the party's plan working - but no. really, no, I don't think you shoudl have the water tmeple work that way.
By now - too - the Outer Fane should be all over attacking the party - once they take out 2 temple Hederack should be worried & probably sending assassins as well as bulking up the Water Temple forces.

Just my 2 Cents.

(12/3/03 2:07 pm)
Re: Machiavelli and the CRM
Yeah, the Outer Fane has already tried multiple times to "off" the party (Bethe, Ukemil), so they are sending the invisible stalkers with the Nagas to the Water Temple in the hopes of sandwiching them between two enemy forces (they can track them quite easily with Amulet of Inescapable Location).

What I think I'm going to do is let them talk and then ambush them after they leave in peace (frustrated no doubt). However, the water naga and Nibool will intervene and promise to help if the PCs help them "off" their own mortal enemies in a wierd free for all deathmatch. What do you guys think?

BTW, Thanks for all of your help guys!

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