Shackled to the Age of Worms
Those seeking a relatively cultured nightspot often congregate at Lazare’s House, a cozy gaming parlor situated on the Vein’s central square. In contrast to the ostentatious banners and garish chipped paint on the Emporium across the street, Lazare’s exudes a quiet sense of class with a stylish stone and timber construction and distinctive crooked-peaked roof. Inside, Diamond Lake’s elite match wits over dragonchess, a popular game in which two sides of 42 pieces contest over three 96-square boards representing the sky, the earth, and the underworld. Pieces include the griffon, sylph, oliphant, basilisk, hero, thief, and paladin. Scholars claim that the game is a metaphor for the celestial struggles of fundamental law, chaos, good, and evil. In Diamond Lake, it’s principally another justification for gambling.
A central hearth, constantly stoked to comfortable warmth by the courteous staff, serves as the hub of a roughly circular interior. Along the ring, eight alcoves offer an excellent location for private conversation or even romantic trysts. Each alcove is a half-moon of posh benches encircling a rectangular table bearing a special built-in dragonchess board. Visitors are expected to bring their own pieces, but may rent a house set for 2 gp. This fee effectively keeps out the riff-raff, making Lazare’s a haven for visiting dignitaries and Diamond Lake’s upper class.
A game of dragonchess takes a full hour and is played conversationally. Many casual players prefer the discussions to the game and play accordingly. Others dedicate considerable passion toward memorizing strategies and perfecting surprise traps and feints. To resolve a dragonchess game, both players make an opposed Profession (Gambler) skill check. Characters with 5 or more ranks in bluff, Diplomacy, or Intimidate receive a cumulative +2 synergy bonus on this check for each appropriate skill.
Wagers of up to 100 gp can be found on any given night, but most tend to be of the 5-10 gp variety. Lazare frowns on side bets by non-players, but not so much as to ban the practice. Some of the more avid players (including all of the mine managers and Lazare himself) politely refuse to accept the challenge of anyone who lacks their own dragonchess pieces, valued at 50 gp or more. The game attracts dilettantes and devotees, but the two groups seldom mix.