View Full Version : Holidays of Fantasy Worlds

2016-10-31, 09:49 PM
As I write it is one of my favorite holidays right now: Halloween, a celebration steeped in history and superstition.
And that got me thinking: what about celebrations in worlds where magic and monsters are real? I'm not talking about theming an adventure to match an ongoing season, I mean what about celebrations that take place in the worlds that your characters are saving? How do your fantasy culture celebrate? What superstitions persist in a world of witchcraft, elemental beings, and sorcery?
Feel free to make up cultures or mention any that you use in your own campaign worlds. This is not a debate, but more of a general outline that anyone can share.

Allow me to present mine:
One of the campaigns that I created had a calendar with exactly 364 days in it. This was because the seasons weren't influenced by the planet's orbit around the sun, but rather the four elemental planes orbiting the material plane similar to planets: fire dominated summer, earth brought about autumn, water contributed to winter, and air brought about spring. Similarly, the positive and negative plains contributed to day and night, but on a much lesser degree.
Lastly, four outer plane also contributed: Golden Bells (LG), Pridelands (CG), Wild Hunt (CE), and Final Rest (LE). During each equinox and solstice, one of the outer planes would become coterminous (overlap) with the material world, allowing outsiders to traverse portals that would only open during the three days around the middle month of each season (beginning and end months had 30 days, middle months had 31). As such, four holidays sprang up around these dates:

Golden Joy: Holiday celebrated during the tree days surrounding the winter solstice, it is a celebration of kindness and gift-giving. Families would gather in their homes, have great feasts, and be thankful for all they had. Sometimes, Angelic beings would visit families with gifts for well behaved children, and bless those who suffered.

Renewal: A festival centered around the three days of the spring equinox, Renewal is a celebration of new life. It's both a planting festival, and a time for sports, games, and pranks. It is a tradition for competitions to be held during this time, usually featuring competitions of strength, agility, skill, and artisanship. Sometimes, celestial beings would join these activities, often seeking new competition or a casual fling.

Huntsdays: Sometimes festivals are made to protect citizens. The Huntsdays are a fearful time that occur during the summer solstice when demons prowl the lands. During this time, families go home early, and only dare venture outside if properly disguised as monsters to fool stray demons. Even then, it often takes a few offering to drive the beasts away, and many unwary travelers have been dragged off to their doom by fiends unsatisfied with offerings of sweets.

Black Night: The fall equinox is a time when debts are settled and bargains are made. Black Night heralds the time when devils walk the back alleys making pacts and collecting promised rewards. Be wary of those you cross upon this day, for you may never know what the fine print says, and devils are unscrupulous when it comes to business.

So, anyone else have interesting holidays in their campaign wolds?

2016-11-01, 05:57 AM
One of my homewbrew world's people annually acknowledge the Abolition of Darkness; basically a big battle between a demon and a powerful wizard that resulted in night no longer falling so that the demon couldn't fully exercise its power.

It's a time of mourning and celebrating life, but that's always slightly overshadowed by the worry stemming from the fact that the demon still lives.

2016-11-02, 10:38 PM
I had a story arc built around a holiday named "dorren's day" where 200 years prior the Dwarven king Dorren's stronghold to the north was overrun by the hoards. As his last Stand they managed to get a message to their underground waterfall which traveled down stream to the nearby remote human town of iron hill, a border town built on the northern pass. Ironhill was warned in time to reinforce with a distant kings army to stop the hoards southward advance down into the heavily populated and indefensible Plains. Dorrenshold and it's entire Dwarven bloodline was lost forever but there courage saved the gateway to the lands of men. So the whole realm celebrates in honor of the Dwarven sacrifice.

2016-11-03, 07:09 AM
There is an isolated kingdom of dwarves whose ancestors once occupied a neighboring kingdom. After decades of war, the dwarves in a mass exodus fled northwards. They were granted safe passage by the elves to the northern valleys where they built a new kingdom in quiet isolation. The dwarves cultivated their relationship with the elves, eventually gaining permission to build a road from the distant north to the human kingdoms in the south. Once per year the elves grant passage to a party of dwarves to the city of Belborough in a week-long holiday called the Turning Festival for the autumn equinox. The city swells to nearly twice its size as residents and merchants from neighboring towns, and indeed distant kingdoms, congregate in Belborough. During that week there is trade, celebrations, and games. When the week is over the band of dwarves pack their traded goods on their ox carts to leave to return next year.

2016-11-03, 08:54 AM
Those are neat holidays! I like how the climate cycle is caused by the interaction of planes and the material world rather than more mundane things like the sun or masses of heated air. I've got one holiday from my campaign world: The Festival of Tsagamar.

The Festival of Tsagamar is one of the largest holidays celebrated by the city of Easthaven. Easthaven is a large, independent merchant city, first colonized by dwarves and then merging with a nearby human settlement. 150 years ago, a devastating plague swept through Easthaven, killing hundreds upon hundreds of citizens. The plague was especially lethal to the dwarves nearly exterminating them altogether. As the epidemic spiraled out of control, one brave gnomish researcher named Tsagamar discovered the cure in the gnomish city of Glimmerdwelve. He led a caravan loaded with the cure in a wild race through dangerous terrain, arriving just in time to save the city. Unfortunately, the dwarven population hasn't recovered from the plague, and is now a minority in their own city. Additionally, many of the deeper structures were abandoned, and now there is a tremendous mazework of tunnels beneath the city, harboring pockets of the plague and gods know what else.

The Festival of Tsagamar is a week long affair, since that's how long it took Tsagamar to reach Easthaven from Glimmerdwelve. The first few days, offerings of food are left outside the front door to ward off the plague (but are collected by local temples and redistributed to the poor). A massive market festival starts on day 4, with merchants selling all kinds of flashy and exotic wares, especially cloth, because on day 6 there is a massive 2 day long party beginning with the caravan arriving. Everyone celebrates the plague being driven off, there is music, feasting, and partying at all hours, and the rich and powerful try to outdo one another with their costumes and acts of public generosity.

The party had to infiltrate the house of a very reclusive nobleman, and thus they used the festival as cover to break in while he was away. It was a ton of fun to run, since they ran a distraction and an infiltration at the same time and all the PCs got in the spirit of things. I highly recommend using holidays as backdrops for urban adventures.

Professor Chimp
2016-11-03, 11:02 AM
Well, in my current campaign, has currently arrived at a town that is about to the commemorate the Thriller Night, an event that happened 150 years ago when the town was still a village. A bard necromancer called Misha, son of Jacob, had invaded it with a horde of undead while the town protectors were away, that proceeded to massacre almost all the adults and capture the underage people, forcing them to watch the necrobard's song & dance performances non-stop without food or drink. Eventually the town protectors returned, battled the undead and finally defeated the necrobard when they figured out he wasn't invulnerable to damage if they stopped him from dancing.

The Thriller Night was actually a special Halloween session I held in a previous campaign and the town protectors were my current player's then characters. And yes, it was basically the party doing an loosely adapted version of the Thriller video, complete with necromantic Michael Jackson.

2016-11-03, 07:37 PM
In my homebrew, I have Mourning Day, which is a day to honor the fallen. It's celebrated with a lot of black, lots of toasts to fallen friends and reminiscing, visiting of graves, and at the night of it a big fire in which special herbs are burned, making the faces of the dead appear in the smoke. Sometimes, they talk.

2016-11-05, 12:14 PM
In one setting I did there were 12 gods that created the world. So people separated 12 (well 13) festivals every year. One for each god and designed with respect to that god's domain. The simplest example is that the god of food had a Thanksgiving-like holiday at the end of the harvest season.

Then there was that 13th holiday, Spirits' Day. There was a catastrophic event in the past in which the worldly spirits, formally seen as animals next to the gods, intervened and saved many lives. As thanks the gods added an extra day to the calendar which is not part or any month and is a festival dedicated to the spirits.

Tiktik Ironclaw
2016-11-05, 04:58 PM
Well, besides the deities' actual holy and unholy days, my setting has the Feast of Marcellus in the country of Golimoor. Marcellus Androxes was the last Emperor of Qaine and the first King of Golimoor, being King Arthur's grandfather. About a hundred years ago, the Asgothians were angered by the arrogance of Qaine, and sent an army to take revenge. The prosperous province of Harland and the desert provinces of Nallmor and Mulnor fell, as did the empire's capital, but Marcellus, second son of the emperor, escaped to the rural province of Golimoor, where he united a force of farmers, wood elves, Eilistraeen drow, kobolds, and hobgoblins to stop the horde of Asgothians in the great castle of Camelot, despite being severely outnumbered and racked with dysentery. So the Golimoorites get together every year and have a big feast and revel every summer to celebrate.

2016-11-05, 05:58 PM
I did one where they were supposed to hunt down "demons" which took the form of slaves dressed in demonic attire. The demons are then ritually sacrificed.

You can guess, of course, what the PC's role is in this ritual.