Although rare, trial by combat remains the exclusive method of succession for gnoll druids as well as many neutral evil druid circles. Commensurate with the philosophy of survival of the fittest, lethal combat leaves no sore losers, but also results in the demise of the circle's ablest leaders. Poisoned daggers and spears remain commonplace especially among gnolls, while others resort to poisoning their foes with tainted drinks and food. Participation in the brutal contest is open to all druids, however only the most powerful accept the deadly invitation. The tournament always begins at noon, preceded by a communal meal of fresh meat sprinkled with myrrh, a symbol of the carnage awaiting the circle. Prior to the actual battle, the combatants engage in a menacing staring match, attempting to intimidate their opponent prior to the commencement of hostilities. Occasionally, the tactic proves highly effective as the demoralized foe withdraws from the contest, immediately disgracing himself in the eyes of his circle but probably saving his life. Once the fight begins, the combat proceeds uninterrupted and without interference until a survivor emerges from the battle. Normally, the winner receives a respite between combats, enabling him to heal any injuries sustained during the bout as well as mentally prepare for the next fight. The tournament continues until only one victor emerges.
Most battles are simple, brutal affairs that occur within the confines of the circle itself, however a few unique variations of violent, but non-lethal combat do exist. A few examples of such combats are presented here.
The Totem Pole: A forty-foot high totem pole stands in the center of the circle. The combatants are not permitted to use magic or wild shape during the combat. The pole possesses some handholds and footholds enabling a druid to climb the pole with a successful Climb check (DC 15). A small item is placed on top of the pole. The first one to grab the object wins the battle.
Key to the Kingdom: Each end of a twenty-foot long leather strap is firmly secured around the waist of each combatant using an ornate wooden lock. The wooden key required to open the lock rests on the ground in the center of the circle. The first person to
open the lock attached to his opponent's waist wins the battle.
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