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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Do festivals have a place in your D&D world?

Phryne at the Festival of Poseidon in Eleusin

Looking  back at ancient cultures is an excellent way to find inspiration for your  D&D campaign. I can't think of a better time to talk about festivals in a game world than the day before The United States Thanksgiving.

Slipping a few festivals into a campaign worlds calendar can add a touch of realism and flavor to  a setting without allot of  Game master overhead. All a GM needs is a date on the calendar a name for a festival, observances, and a reason for the festival.

Lets look at the  "Apaturia"

  1. Celebrated in Athens and most of  the  Ionian towns, perhaps even as far back as 1100 BC.
  2. It involved the "phratry" which were social divisions in the Greek tribes, the  best description I can find is "clans."
  3.  The festival was to enroll new phratry members, who could then become citizens *
  • The festival was three days, during what to us would be  Late October Early November.
  • The  first day was a large meal
  • Affairs among the phratry were discussed.
  • The second day Animal sacrifice
  • The third day  prospective new members would bring  animals to sacrifice for admission to the phratry. 
  • Also on the third day fathers would present newborn sons and  swear to their legitimacy so that the sons could be added to the citizens registry.
To me this one example is so gameable!

A simple hook:
The  players need to be in a local city during this festival because they  know the child of a prominent local merchant is in fact not legitimate. In fact the child was fathered by dark priest looking to set an ancient chain of prophesies into motion.

But the festival is huge.
How do they find the man?
How do they convince him of the child's true nature? Once they do convince him what the hell do they do about it?
Do they even have to do anything or can they hang back and wait to see what happens?
Will the dark priest be there in person or via proxy to make sure his plan goes  as he would like?
Further:
All the phratry  will be there discussing business and goings on, so there is bound to be some  work brewing for adventurer types. Leaders of  these different groups might not get along, there might be assassinations to  arrange, or  debts to collect. Any  manner of  human intrigues could be going on.

As you can see there are many adventure opportunities that could spring up from  any  given festival  or holiday that a GM can work into a calendar.

There are plenty of historical reasons for people to gather and have  pretty  interesting celebrations. It dos not always have to be the summoning of a tentacled dark lord for a dimension beyond that gets people dancing around a fire.

Some more examples from history to steal:
Bacchanalia festivals of Bachuss the Greek wine god. Cause Aint no party like a Bachuss party an Bacchanalia festivals don't stop.

Here is a list of Norse holidays
Here is a list of roman festivals and Holidays.
Here is a list of Hindu festivals which  honestly are some of the most gameable / interesting  things on earth. Here is another list, because the  subject could absorb a life time of study  all by it's self. A few internet searches do not do it justice.

For real if a GM can't pull a game out of .....
"Holi or Phagwah is a popular spring festival. Holi commemorates the slaying of the demoness Holika by Lord Vishnu's devotee Prahlad. Thus, the festival's name is derived from the Sanskrit words "Holika Dahanam", which literally mean "Holika's slaying"
My blog will not help them.


And again


Holi, The Festival of Colors, India  ...Totally Gameable


Take a look at some of these ancient festivals and holidays with an eye towards  a campaign world. Keep in mind that any gathering of people can contain any number of subplots and subtexts.

Obby Oss carnivals in Padstowe

Hope this is FOOD for thought .
Enjoy your holiday
and leave any comments you  might have in the gravy boat below.


*(once again please forgive any  historic mistakes in this writing , I'm not a scholar of Ancient Greek culture, I'm just a guy who plays games looking for inspirations. I will happily take things from real history and warp them beyond recognition for a good game.)