View Full Version : [Festival] Day of Blessings

2004-12-07, 07:08 PM
It's late afternoon as you reach the small, rural town. There are crowds gathered - the local countryside must be emptied for there to be so many people here. They are dressed gaily and carrying flowers and little bits of colored paper. There's a parade going on, with enormous paper-mache heads and figures that resemble the symbols of the gods. A crowd of priests dressed in their finest vestments hold aloft the idol of their choice and chant constantly as they move. It takes several minutes for you to figure out they are chanting the name of each god as they go by.

As an idol passes, a girl hands you a bit of colored paper and asks if you would go out and tie it to one of the strings trailing from the idol. She gives you a broad, gap-toothed smile.

The Day of Blessings is practiced in rural communities in the Kingdom of Mirram and nearby areas. The primary purpose is to draw the attention of the gods and ask that they grant their worshipper's prayers.

Like any festival day, there is a market day in the morning and early afternoon, followed by the parade of idols, a dance of religious ecstasy, the broaching of the Blessing Draught, burning of the paper-mache idols, and finally, a rich feast. It is customary for many people to have religious visions and supernatural experiences.

Those who are dedicated to the worship of a single deity usually take part in the creation of the idols and march with them through the streets, continuously chanting their god's name until they are unable to speak. Groups usually compete to see who makes the most noise, has the most members and has the most elaborate idols. Often the idols are accompanied by bards or musicians singing hymns or playing religious tunes.

Those who revere many deities (this is 80% of the population) line the streets during the parade and may chant the name of each god as the idol passes. If they have a prayer they want granted, they will take a bit of brightly colored ribbon or paper and pray over it for at least an hour. This bit will be tied to the strings trailing the idol and eventually burned up in the bonfire. The idea is the fire will carry the prayer to the heavens.

The celebration takes place on the summer solstice. It should be noted by the DM that the Blessings Draught is made using moonflower blossoms, a known hallucinagin. It is required to fast on this day and refrain from food and liquid until the drinking of the Blessings Draught. Each drinker should make a DC 10 Will save. On a failed save, their sense of reality changes for a d4 hours as they experience a range of mild hallucinations. On a failed save, you also roll again and continue rolling until a successful save is made. Multiple failures mean the subject has a more and more intense "trip". Five failures indicate a full-blown religious vision. Eating before taking the drink reduces the save to DC 5. Participating heavily in the chanting and dancing imposes a -2 each on the roll. Remember that one can voluntarily fail their save, so the particularly faithful may induce a vision-trance.

The casting of arcane spells is expressly forbiddon on this day and traditionally punished by attaching the offender to a scaffolding by their ankles, then carrying them at the rear of the parade for people to jeer at. Divine spells, on the other hand, are cast profusely. It is required that every caster of divine spells use every spell they have prepared in as showy a fashion as possible.

The idols themselves are paper-mache and as big as the people can make and carry. They trail a score or more of strings that are expected to be knotted around prayer tags. Usually there is one idol for the deity's symbol and another showing the face of the god itself. Some ambitious or numerous temples can manage to turn out small dioramas, re-enacting scenes vital to the faith.

For those dedicated to a particular deity, the festival begins at dawn with long prayers and last minute preparations of the idols and parade route. For the rest of the people, the morning is taken up with travel or setting up market booths, or staking out preferred spots for watching the parade. Balconies and the steps in front of favored temples are the best places.

Late morning and early afternoon are used for the market. People buy and sell, gossip and play. Children often run down the streets carrying sticks with sacks on them, yelling the names of the gods in mimicry of their elders.

In midafternoon, the parade begins, starting at the market square and going up and down the main streets. It might repeat the route several times, generally continuing until most of the chanters are too hoarse to do their god glory.

At the end of the parade, the idols are planted in the ground around the central square, and there is a dance that continues until sundown. It is considered very bad form (and very bad luck) not to dance until you are exhausted. Only the infirm and pregnant are excepted. Keep in mind that the summer solstice is usually a hot day, people have been active all day and eaten and drank nothing.

At sundown, the kegs of Blessing Draught are opened. Each person is given a disposable cup (usually a hollowed out shell from a giant nut tree). After every person in attendence has had a drink, they use their cups to build a bonfire in the center of the square. The idols are picked up and the various groups begin chanting once again. In a prearranged order, they throw the idols onto the fires, begging the gods to hear them and answer their prayers. Afterwards, a feast is laid out and people eat until sated.

A note about the visions:
As designed, I have said little about whether the visions and religious portents seen by the participants are "true" or not. This is left up to the DM to determine. The drug used to facilitate the visions can be regarded as either a hallucinagin, or a magical potion that eases contact with divine spirits. In our real world, religious visions have often been linked to hallucinagins or "vulnerable states" such as those brought on by fasting, exertion or heat exposure. To the faithful, these conditions are enablers. Why not more so in a game world?

2004-12-07, 09:37 PM
Don't forget to post to the main thread. ;)