Menzoberranzan is a large, elven nation of Drow that worships an ancient pagan religion that revolves around quasi-Wiccan traditions. This nation worships a religion revolving around nature with a male deity at its head. In truth, this is a symbolic position, and the nation is geared toward a matriarchy.

This culture practices a form of ritual sacrifice called the Day of Death and Rebirth. In this custom, a male drop is selected to be king of the drow for the period of 1 month. This "king" is the representative of the male deity on earth and the embodiment of all its virtue. The individual lives in luxury during that time period. At the end of this month, he is ceremoniously placed into a large bipedal structure in the form of the male deity and burned to death. This structure is 30ft high in the shape of a male drow. The god only accepts sacrifices of individuals who come of their own free will. Therefore, society is seemingly male-centric on the surface, highly reverie and honoring them while giving them a sense of control. The sacrificial king willingly gives up his life, believing that he will become one with the deity upon completion of the ritual, just as the many kings before him.

My issue is the construction of such a large object, as it appears that such a device would have been neither practical nor realistic. Although wicker objects are said to be quite strong, they would lose their structural integrity quickly when set on fire. The elf form is human-like, and as sculpture is not stable. The taller they are, the stronger the legs and supports have to be. The more propping up you have to do. It is very difficult to get them upright and the more likely it is that the strain of lifting will cause the structure to fail.

I need this large structure to be able to stand upright and burn efficiently so that the king is sure to die. How can I make this happen?

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    $\begingroup$ Ever heard of The Burning Man? It's an yearly festival where people burn effigees much larger than that. $\endgroup$ – Renan Jul 14 at 12:28
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    $\begingroup$ This is two completely different questions: the building of the Wicker Man and keeping it upright long enough to burn a reasonable amount, an engineering challenge but not an overly large one. And convincing the king to participate which is a story question which we can't really advise on. $\endgroup$ – Ash Jul 14 at 12:55
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    $\begingroup$ @JohnDvorak You need it to stay upright long enough for a good show, the structure collapsing, assuming it largely fails in one go, will probably throw up a huge shower of sparks that will be visible to all and mark an effective end to the ceremony. $\endgroup$ – Ash Jul 14 at 13:03
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    $\begingroup$ @JohnDvorak: A king which is "burned to death" (as in the question) is most definitely not "expected to survive" as in your comment. The querent has obviously read J. G. Frazer's The Golden Bough, haven't they? $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jul 14 at 13:04
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    $\begingroup$ I believe the Burning Man uses a metal (?) frame to reinforce the effigy. But if you can't get a metal frame to fall apart at the right moment, perhaps wood will do perfectly. $\endgroup$ – John Dvorak Jul 14 at 13:11

I think there are a couple of design elements that can help the structural integrity of your Burning Drow.

  1. Plait a single internal structure, using the drow skeleton as a blueprint, as tightly as possible. Except, extend the leg bones well past the feet so they can be buried in the Earth, like stakes driven into the ground. This will let the dense skeleton burn slowly and support the rest of the structure during the fire.
  2. Mix wood types in constructing the Burning Drow. Use hardwoods for structural elements. Use pitchy wood that will burn hot for the cage enclosing the sacrifice.
  3. Have a large bonfire at the base of Wicker Drow so the victim is subjected to the chimney effect and dies quickly.

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