2 hours ago
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Games of Chance
Faro City lies to the south on a barrier island in the Meropic Ocean. It’s a beach resort for the City and places further north, famous for the hotels and attractions along its boardwalk. It’s infamous for its gambling and its means of government--it’s an aleatocracy, that’s rulers are decided by the outcomes in its gambling establishments.
Win at the tables, and you’re unknowingly entered in a secret game. Win in that game and you'll found yourself congratulated by the smiling men of the Gaming Commission, given expensive accommodations, the run of the town--and a silver chip. Winners are expected to officiate at certain civic events, and to make public appearances. So long as they don’t seriously disrupt the peace, silver level high rollers live like royalty until their winnings dry up, or another high roller is chosen. Typically, this about a week--sometimes a little more, others a little less. Departing high rollers get a draw from an ancient and mysterious card deck. The smiling men insist upon it. Those who refuse disappear. Those who draw--well, you hear stories, both fantastic and macabre.
Some High Rollers have long winning streaks, and at some point the smiling men of the Gaming Commission return and give them a gold chip. Gold level high rollers keep living the high life, and can make decrees with the force of law--so long as they don’t disrupt the prosperity or customs of Faro City. They're obligated to act as magistrates, resolving minor disputes brought to them by citizens and visitors alike. Most stay at the gold level a lunar month, and then they're offered their choice of abdication (and a draw from the ancient and mysterious deck) or a chance at an exclusive, high stakes game.
About this last game, there are only rumors. Some say its stud poker, on a demi-plane where time doesn’t pass, at a table with cardsharps representing Heaven, Hell, and lesser outer planar concerns. Others say the game is a simple one card draw from a deck held by a veiled woman. The exact states are neve specified even in rumor, but everyone is sure it's an unimaginably big score.
Note: Other rumors concern the smiling men of the Gaming Commission. Some say they're alien fortunavores--luck eaters--drawing sustenance from the high rollers and eventual-losers they've trapped in their big beachside honeypot. Others suggest they're probability sorcerers, harnessing the power of the ancient and mysterious deck for some purpose, and the games in Faro City are their recruiting tool. I'd hesitate to put odds on either theory.