View Full Version : [Tavern] The Loch Daelin Potato Festival

2006-02-14, 08:01 PM
As you crest the rise, you are surprised to see a veritable ocean of tents occupying the next hill between you and the Loch. Temporary dwellings of every shape, size and quality can be seen, and the noise of people shouting and singing reaches you even here. The central area of this gathering is mostly cleared, and what appears to be an auction is going on.

The Loch Daelin potato festival is much the same from year to year - the actual tents may change, but the general organisation of merchants, potato farmers, and others surrounding a central clearing, remains the same. In recent years, people have taken to selling farmwares other than potatoes at the festival, but the serious trade is still reserved for the fine Loch Daelin potatoes and their derivative products.

The central clearing deserves special mention. For the week leading up to the annual fertility rite, a stage is constructed here and used for potato auctions during the day, and various entertainments at night. The actual entertainments depend largely on who manages to fight their way onto the stage first, and how long they can stay there - the truly talented rarely have any difficulty, but amateurs had best be careful since the audience has a ready supply of low-quality potatoes to use as ammunition (1 damage + 1d3 subdual damage, x2 critical, 10 ft range increment). At the end of the week, the stage is demolished and cleared away so that Arealan can perform the fertility ritual in a clear space.

The actual origins of the Loch Daelin potato festival are quite difficult to pin down in history, since the fertility rite at the heart of the festival was originally performed by just one woman, the feral elven druid Arealan. Although people had been farming the fertile land for as long as anyone could remember, it was only some hundred and fifty years ago that a group of shepherds happened on the rite in progress and discovered exactly why their land was so fertile.

Being sociable sorts, the shepherds approached the strange magic woman and offered to share their food. Despite having no common language, the elf and the humans got on well. With a bit of work and a lot of sketching in the dirt, Arealan conveyed the message that she conducted the ritual every year.

The next year, the shepherds returned. They brought with them their friends, their families, and people who didn't believe their story. The group camped out overnight and, sure enough, the next morning Arealan was back. The year after that, an enterprising farmer brought the last of his potato crop and sold them as tasty snacks. The next year, several farmers tried the same thing. Since the area around Loch Daelin is perfect potato country - damp, fertile, and cool - all of them brought potatoes to sell, and the Loch Daelin potato festival was born.

Approximately one hundred and fifty years later, the festival is now a week-long event that culminates in a fertility ritual performed by Arealan in the central area. Although all sorts of other entertainments take place in the run up to the ritual, and merchants of all kinds do a roaring trade from their stalls, the emphasis remains firmly on potatoes and the central stalls and tents are devoted to potato contests (largest, tastiest, strangest shape), potato carving, potato cookery, wholesale potato trading, and so on.

Bardic Knowledge Checks
DC 10 - The villages around Loch Daelin hold an annual potato festival.
DC 20 - The Loch Daelin potato festival is based around an old fertility rite.
DC 25 - The Loch Daelin potato festival is actually a very important time for potato buyers in the area, as the villages around Loch Daelin produce the finest potatoes in the land and traditionally they only do major dealing at the festival.
DC 30 - The fertility rite at the heart of the Loch Daelin potato festival actually draws life energy from the people who attend.

Gather Information Checks or Knowledge: Local Checks (in the Loch Daelin area)
DC 5 - The villages of Loch Daelin hold an annual potato festival, which ends with a rite that makes the land fertile for the next year.
DC 10 - the elven druid who conducts the fertility ritual is called Arealan, and has been watching over the area for longer than anyone can remember.
DC 15 - The potato festival is a lot bigger than the villages. Merchants come from far and wide to try and buy Loch Daelin potatoes and/or sell their wares to the villagers.

DC 15 will get the names of the other major NPCs mentioned below.
DC 20 will get the names of other important merchants, farmers, contest winners, and so on, as determined by the GM.

Knowledge: History Checks
DC 20 - The villlages around Loch Daelin have been holding an annual potato festival for about one hundred and fifty years.

Knowledge: Nature Checks
DC 10 - Wild potatoes are mildly toxic. The ones people eat have been specially cultivated and bred to minimise the poisonous bits.
DC 10 (upon interacting with a Loch Daelin potato) - Loch Daelin potatoes are exceptionally large, tasty, low in toxicity and resistant to disease.

2006-02-14, 08:03 PM
Major NPCs
Arealan (N elf female, Druid 3/Sorcerer 4/Geomancer 6)
Arealan had only been living in the Loch Daelin area for a short while when she was found by the villagers in the middle of her rite. She and her love, Selonor, had come to the area on a quest to slay a great evil that was arising from the lake. Selonor died in the process, his body lost in the depths of Loch Daelin, and Arealan stayed because even the thought of moving away from the site of Selonor's fall nearly drove her mad with grief.
After one hundred and fifty years of annual social contact with the people of the area, Arealan is beginning to come out of her shell. Despite her power, she is still shy and nervous around people she doesn't know, and although she will tackle dire natural and unnatural threats without a second thought, she still doesn't 'cope well' with shouted arguments. Her actual reactions vary from running away in tears to flying into a berserk rage, so only very foolish people push her that far.

Arealan looks extremely outlandish, not least because she has taken to living in Loch Daelin since she grew gills a few years ago. She makes cursory efforts at grooming, and somewhere under the dirt is a pretty elven woman. With antlers. And gills. And a tail. And patches of shiny fish scales all over her body.

Arealan also knows a wide variety of unusual druid spells and rituals, some brought from her distant elven homeland and some that she has created herself in isolation. Occasionally a druid will come to the Loch Daelin potato festival in search of this knowledge - Arealan is fairly generous with her magic, but isn't above sending capable adventurers on some quest of benefit to the region as an exchange.

Starkey (NE gnome male, Rogue 5/Assassin 3/Expert 2, Craft: Distilling +16, Profession: Distiller +14)
One of the highlights of the Loch Daelin potato festival is the smooth, clear vodka distilled from Loch Daelin potatoes by one of the more colourful locals. Starkey is a gnome of particularly unpleasant temperament, and talking to him for longer than it takes to buy a drink makes you a target for his barbed and merciless wit. It is known that he has a chequered past, from which he retired to make vodka from the finest potatoes in the world, but no one in the Loch Daelin area knows the true extent of his crimes, or that the real reason he retired to Loch Daelin was the belief that he could run beyond the reach of the law and the crime lords both. He couldn't, and his compost heap still hides the occasional body of a would-be bounty hunter. Starkey is firmly retired - he has plenty of money squirrelled away from his criminal days, and doesn't need any more - but a particularly interesting job (or annoying client) may yet tempt 'The Gnome Of Death' into one more murder.

Arthur Carver (N human male, Expert 4, Craft: Potato Carving +12)
Arthur is an artistic prodigy. He first entered the potato carving competition when he was fourteen and won easily with an eerily accurate depiction of Arealan. Every year since then, he has entered and he has won. Now he is eighteen, and farmers compete to have him carve their potatoes. The other carvers compete, somewhat jealously, for second place. He has earned his second name rather than inherited it. What does the future hold for this gifted young man? He shows no real interest in anything but carving, and that won't earn him a living in the cold, damp lands of Loch Daelin.

Boris the Smoke (N human male, Adept 1/Expert 2, Craft: Alchemy +7)
Another character of the Loch Daelin region, Boris the Smoke earned his name from the clouds of smoke that periodically bloom from his stone cottage. Boris earns his living making odds and ends for the villages in the area - tindertwigs, sunrods, thunderstones for the children to throw at each other, and so on - but his true passion is potato-based alchemy. So far, he has managed to create nothing useful except a treatment that allows potatoes to be preserved in a rock-solid state. This is extremely useful for preserving the carvings of Arthur Carver, and almost wholly useless for anything else.

2006-02-14, 08:05 PM
Plot Hooks
After over three centuries of life, Arealan is starting to think about a successor. Druids from across the continent are coming to the Loch Daelin potato festival to compete to learn her esoteric magical knowledge. One of the PCs has to dive into this (literal?) nest of vipers so that he can learn magic forgotten by the ages.

If any of the PCs are bounty hunters, Starkey still has a respectable price on his head. Are the PCs willing to kill or kidnap an ex-assassin, who is happy to live out the rest of his days making high-quality spirits? If they are willing, are they able? Starkey is no pushover, his burrow (too cramped for anyone larger than Small size to enter) is riddled with deadly traps, and many powerful people at the potato festival prefer him alive.

Someone is using uncannily perfect images of people to inflict nasty sympathetic curses on them. Tracing these little statuettes leads the PCs to Arthur Carver and the Loch Daelin potato festival. Is this young man more than he seems, or is someone else using his gifts for their own dark schemes?

For comedy: in a bizarre alchemical experiment, Boris has cooked up something really awful and potato-based. Potatoes that magically attract vermin? Potato golems? The potatarrasque? It's up to you.

Signature Items
Loch Daelin Potato
These potatoes are unquestionably the finest potatoes in the country, and are known as delicacies even in foreign lands. As trade goods, they usually go for 1-2 gold pieces per pound at the potato festival, 2-3 gold pieces elsewhere in the same country, with even higher prices further afield. At the GM's option, using Loch Daelin potatoes can add +1 to any sort of cooking roll if they feature prominently in a dish. (Note: Many people have tried cultivating their own Loch Daelin potatoes from the eyes of ones they have bought, but without Arealan's ritual they just aren't the same.)

Starkey's Blend
This vodka is distilled by the master brewer Starkey from Loch Daelin potatoes. It is available at the potato festival for 1 silver for a shot, or 1 gold for a bottle. At other times, Starkey sells his vodka by the bottle for anything from 2-5 gold a go, depending on how much he dislikes the buyer. Generous servings of Starkey's Blend can add +1 to Diplomacy and Gather Information checks if the target appreciates good liquor.

This substance is unique to the Loch Daelin region, and is created according to a bizarre formula by Boris the Smoke. The stuff itself is black and oily, and leaves permanent smeary marks and stains on everything except vegetable matter. When applied to potatoes, Potatorock transmutes them into a stone-like substance with hardness 10 and 10 hit points per inch of thickness. This effect may diminish over time. Potatoes treated with Potatorock are suitable for use as sling stones.

2006-03-05, 08:18 PM
I think you did a good job with the NPC's, and hand in hand with that, the plot hooks that feature them. The moral dilemia over kidnapping and turning over Starkey is fascinating, and the possible complications of Arthur's statuettes is cool too.

I don't know if I'd use the potato festival as presented, but certainly several of the elements could translate well into other places. Overall, I say good job.

The Vorpal Tribble
2006-03-14, 02:00 PM
Oddly enough this is one of my favorites I've read so far. Very simple, rustic setting, but interesting for all that.

Starkey is definetely an interesting villain, and as Blue put it, the players will have to think on what to do with him if they go after him. However, a killer is a killer, and should be tried for his past deeds. Interesting way of disposing of the bodies btw, is this fertilizer used for the potatoes he makes his drink out of?

2006-03-14, 02:53 PM
Interesting way of disposing of the bodies btw, is this fertilizer used for the potatoes he makes his drink out of?

I hadn't thought of that. Probably not, since the potatoes are all grown by the local farmers. I guess Starkey buys his raw materials from them and uses the compost for his roses.

Of course, if it suits the needs of the game ("Loch Daelin potatoes are made from people!") it could always be different.