Friday, January 11, 2019

The Reason for The Season

The Holiday Season just ended and I thought this would be a good opportunity to look at holidays in your games. Festivals in Dungeons and Dragons game seem to be an overlooked aspect of our games. I have made a greater effort to fill this void in my own games. I did this partly to make a more pious seeming society where religion was part of the day to day lives of the NPCs.

Medieval festivals were a status symbol for the wealthy and we all know that the elite were seated at the 'high table'. Feasting often lasted all day and in some cases several days. Some sources cite that medieval workers received 8 weeks off because of festivals and holidays! That is quite a bit of time and 1/6th of the year was spent in these celebrations. I know that I am definitely not representing that in my game world. My poor workers get little to no time off currently but that is all changing now. I am sharing with you the resources I've put together for this endeavor.

Food and Drink: This is a great time to lighten your players' purses by selling them seasonal libations and any interesting foods you can describe. My last festival saw the party enjoying spring pastries with onions, bacon, and cheeses. This is the time you can push interesting drinks to your players too. I always end up creating lore for my game worlds while doing this. I recently had a one eyed, one legged dwarf win the local brewing contest by selling a lambic made with apples of some sort called Grim Jack. One of my players ended up purchasing two casks of this and used one several sessions later to enhance a roleplaying experience.

Games: these were an important part of the medieval festivals. From my research, I've found that their were kids games and adult games.

Adult games included: tug of war, stone throwing (by weight and distance), races, games utilizing balls

So here are my rules for using some of these activities in your 5E games:
Tug-of-War: This can be handled with simple opposed Strength checks. I handled the Strength checks in three ways to see how they would work. First, I just 'paired' the players against their opponent; Second, I set a target difficulty for each increment (12, 15, 18) and the greater number of successes on each side 'won' the increment; and Third, I added the roll totals for each side to determine the winner. This last method was the most time consuming and pulled us out of the experience the most. My players seemed to really enjoy the Second method and st
ated their preference for it. I set a 'distance' of 3 for mine and each round of success moved the other team 1 increment towards the target.

Stone-Throwing: In this game, I used three rock sizes for ammunition. Small- 1d2 damage, range 50', Medium- 1d4 damage, range  30', and Large- 1d6 damage, range 10'. I placed targets at 20', 30', 40', and 50' and gave each target 4 HP. You can assign any prize structure that fits your game.

Golden Bloom:  This game is run by a local druid. 12 flowers of the GM's choice can be used. The druid charges the players a SP to play. He places a GP in one of the flowers and uses Druidcraft to close the buds. He then shuffles them. I gave my players an opposed Perception Vs. Sleight of Hand (+5) to identify the flower. If the matched, they were able to eliminate a single flower. For every 2 points greater than the druid, they could eliminate another flower. I then secretly rolled a d12 and asked them which flower they thought it was.

Field Plowing: This activity involves plowing the longest and straightest furrow in a field. An oxen is hitched to a plow and players make 5 attempts at a DC 15 Strength (plus farming proficiency). Each roll scores points and the competitor with the highest point total wins.

Roll            12       15       18      20    25
Points          1        2        3        4      5

My players have had a good time in activities like this. They can break up the regular pace of a game, give them a chance to explore new areas, and an opportunity to introduce new NPCs. I encourage you to steal my ideas, be creative, and Game On!


1 comment:

  1. I put 23 festivals in my Dungeon Fantasy RPG book "Hall of Judgment," currently being ported over (and in the last 11 days of the Backerkit phase) to Dragon Heresy, 5e, and S&W. The festival is a great time and excuse to introduce new players (or old players new to a city/culture) to the local setting without Summon Exposition.