Temple of Our Lady of Chance
The Church of Ekwayla, or the Temple of Our Lady of Chance, worships the goddess of Chance and Gambling- Ekwayla. Though she is known through most of Zoltar, she is relatively unknown in other parts of the world. Similarly, within Zoltar, she is mostly known for the country of Paqwana, which was built around the place said to have been her birthplace during the Age of Fallen Kingdoms.
In her days before becoming mortal, Ekwayla was… less than responsible. And so her church has few tenants. The ones it has are as follows:
”Life is a gamble, and like gambles the only ones worth making are the big ones. So live life to the fullest.”
”A gamble where one side loses nothing is no gamble at all. The stakes should always be fair.”
”The chance of the dice can lose you everything. But it’s the will of your opponent that keeps you there to lose. Do not take everything from a man, there’s no honor in it.”
Relatively noble words, though she was known to either break these tenants or stretch them when it suited her purposes. The worship of Ekwayla is similarly loose. She is frequently invoked whenever a person wishes for a bit of extra luck. It is known that Ekwayla favors just causes over evil ones. She will smile on those who try to do good works. Those who attempt to do evil in her name will often find their plans foiled through the most unusual happenstance. Within Paqwana, Ekwayla is the primary deity worshipped. Ceremonies of Ekwayla are generally quite random. Sermons are chosen from their books at random. Grand tournaments of games are held with great prizes for the winners. The High Temple of Our Lady of Chance is located in the center of Lakshun, capital of Paqwana. It is home to a vast gambling den, where men can while away their day worshipping Ekwayla to the clatter of dice and the exchange of coin. The church takes a modest cut of winnings to use as overhead. The church actually eschews wealth for wealth’s sake. Acquiring wealth is a side effect of gambling, not the goal to which one strives. One should strive toward higher purpose. If you need money, Ekwayla will provide. Money comes and goes very easily for the priests of Ekwayla.
 Church Organization
 The Hand
“To swing your sword is to take a chance with your life. The only prize truly worth gambling for.”
The Hand consists of the armies of Ekwayla. The hand is what you play out onto the field to win the game. These are the warriors, the standing force of Ekwayla’s worship. Ekwayla isn’t interested in true aggression, but sometimes you need a sword to make sure your opponent sticks to their end of the bargain. They are generally known as champions of justice, to those who have won, and tyrannical thugs to those who have lost. The ranks of the hand are called “Wheels”, after a game of chance where you spin a wheel to win a prize. It’s said that in the early days of her godhood, no one wanted to lead Ekwayla’s army. So she set up wheels of chance. The best prize on the wheel was to spin on another wheel with better prizes on it. On the fourth such wheel up, one of the prizes was “General of the Glorious Hand of Ekwayla”. The organization has stuck ever since.
- The First Wheel consists of the rank-and-file foot soldiers. There are some ranks within the first wheel; Soldier, Lieutenant, Senior Lieutenant, etc. None of them have direct command however. All comers who wish to be in the army are welcomed to the First Wheel after six months of intensive basic training.
- The Second Wheel consists of basic officers. The ranks are Captain and Grand Captain. Promotion to the Second Wheel is determined by lots for those who have proven themselves in battle. A minimum of four exemplary performances in battle are required before you are qualified for the after battle promotion draw. If you do not win, it is known that Ekwayla has found some fault in you, and you are reset, requiring four more battles to draw again. Becoming a Grand Captain likewise requires 10 exemplary performances, which qualifies you to participate in the lots. Winning the lots qualifies you for a small dicing tournament. Losers at the tournaments must again perform in 10 new battles.
- At the third wheel, membership drastically drops. All members of the Third Wheel are taken from the ranks of Grand Captains, chosen to spend a year in seminary, and thus become ordained priests. This Wheel consists of those being groomed for greater command. The Ranks are Knight-Priest, Greater Knight, and Grand Knight. Promotion into the Third Wheel requires a current Grand Knight to sponsor you in a card tournament. The losers of the tournament are demoted to Captain, though they are automatically qualified to draw lots. The sponsors of the losers are required to perform penance, as determined by the Knight Commander. Each Grand Knight may sponsor up to three potentials, and the tournament inducts the first, second, and third place winners. Rank within the Third Wheel is determined by an ongoing tournament which tracks success and failure both on the battlefield and in weekly card or dice games. Yearly, the best of these players are promoted, the worst are demoted. Each rank holds its own version of the tournament. Seeding is generally decided by your position in the previous tournament (First place having a higher seed than third place, for instance).
- The fourth wheel consists of the three Grand Knight Commanders. These three have ultimate control over the means by which the armies are exerted. The Grand High Cleric may decide what the armies are doing, but the Commanders decide how it is to be done. A new Grand Knight Commander is only chosen when the previous one dies or retires. The highest three competitors in the Grand Knight tournament are presented to the Grand High Cleric. The one who has successfully sponsored the most successful Knight Priest candidates is given two bonus points. The Grand High Cleric then throws darts until one candidate has five points more than his competitors. Close choosings have sometimes gone for days. Once a candidate has been shown to be the favored of Ekwayla, the Grand High Cleric presents that candidate to the remaining Grand Knight Commanders. They have the final say on who is promoted. It is considered very ill luck to promote one who is not shown to have Ekwayla’s favor by the aforementioned trial, but it is also not unheard of for the Grand High Cleric to be corrupt and choose for reasons other than chance.
 The Community
“All praise to Ekwayla, may the dice ever roll in our favor.”
The Community is the core priesthood of The Temple of our Lady of Chance. They are the most available to the public, offering counseling and assistance when requested. Everyone has access to the Community, it makes the game more fair and more challenging. There are 12 ranks within the priesthood, as follows: Acolyte, Pursuant, Anointed, Priest, Beacon, Bishop, High Priest, Demagogue, Cleric, High Cleric, and Grand High Cleric. Each rank carries a commensurate level of authority, up to the Grand High Cleric who heads the entire church. As examples: You must be a priest to minister to people. Beacons are entrusted with running events, such as weddings or contests. Only High Priest and above can ordain Priests. Demagogues are charged with challenging claims of ill luck or cheating. A council of High Clerics is the ultimate authority on justice within the church. The day to day responsibilities are numerous, as the church is quite embedded into the politics of Paqwana.
With the exception of the Grand High Cleric, rank within the church is largely determined by competitions of chance. Everything from “Blind taste test competition” to throwing simple dice can be used as a trial. Unlike the military branch, the church sees the favor of Ekwayla as paramount over the application of skill, so their tests tend to be less skillful. However, there is definitely recognition of good works and talent; usually given in the form of handicaps during a contest. For example, if there is a competition for promotion to Bishop, the one who had held the highest stakes tournament during the year might be given an extra point or two in the competition.
Every 3 years the Grand High Cleric can be challenged for his position. The two choose good deeds to wager, in a game of one-upsmanship until one or the other breaks and demands the roll. Ekwayla will smile favor on the one whose bet she prefers. Once the dice have been rolled, the winner becomes the Grand High Priest. They may then choose any number of the deeds they bid and assign them to their followers to accomplish (Tradition demands that these tasks be given to a Beacon or higher, though some tasks thought easy enough are sometimes given to Anointed). The loser must immediately leave the temple and accomplish all of their bids on their own. This is usually called the Lucky Pilgrimage.
 The Deck
“You can’t draw a great hand if nobody put the right deck together.”
The Deck is the logistical core of the Church of Ekwayla. The deck is where you get the resources you need to win. These are the crafters, merchants, servants, and other sundries which keep the large church moving. Organization within the deck is much looser than within the other branches. As the current Master Builder is fond of saying “No one truly knows what’s in the deck, but trust to your chance and she’ll get you what you need”. The Master Builder is the unmitigated ruler of the deck, overseeing its day-to-day operation and ensuring that when the Hand or Community requires something it is readily available. By custom, the Master Builder is allowed to impose trials before handing over valuable commodities. Usually these are games of chance, or tests of one’s luck. It’s said that obtaining a holy relic from the Master Builder is like trying to dice with Ekwayla herself. The Master Builder generally relies on three Builders: the Builder of Commerce (Merchants, traders, etc.), the Builder of Comforts (Servants, menial labor), and the Builder of Goods (blacksmiths, weavers, crafters, etc.). These positions change whenever one person or another proves themselves more worthy, but not very often. Trade and crafting are considered to be such tests of skill and luck that there are very few contests of chance to advance within the deck. Another of the current Master Builder’s favored sayings; “The deck is built how it’s built. You don’t shuffle the deck every time you draw a card.”