A sampling of different holidays and celebrations to serve as a jumping off point for adventure or to sprinkle into your game for a little added flavor.
|1. Wyvern Nights – A misnomer of sorts, Wyvern Nights take place over three consecutive days and nights. Over that time, hawk-sized crimson wyverns migrate along the coast in such numbers they block the sun. Though the creatures are small, they are voracious pack hunters and so only the most foolhardy or desperate venture outdoors. Those with enough sense to fill a thimble stay inside their homes all three days, distracting one another with small gifts and stories of adventure as they wait for the wyverns to move on.|
Adventure Idea – The party is racing against time in an unfamiliar land and learns all too late that Wyvern Nights are upon them. Can they afford to delay by three days or will they find some way to deal with the innumerable carnivorous beasts?
|2. The Bone Parade – Family members of all ages go into the crypts and adorn themselves with the bones of their ancestors. They then spend the day adopting the persona of the loved one whose bones they are wearing, eating their favorite foods and doing their most beloved activities, The day ends with a raucous parade through town and back to the crypt where they lay the bones to rest for another year. |
Adventure Idea – On the night of the bone parade, a necromancer raises the skeletons as the villagers are all in their crypts adorning themselves with bones. Can the party fight their way in, rescue the villagers, and fight their way back out of the crypts in time to stop the necromancer’s final plan?
|3. From Fume to Flame – For one year, a member of the village is sealed inside the twisting lava tubes at the base of the sacred volcano. Once entombed, these blessed individuals breathe in the strange fumes of the volcano and deliver prophecy to the priestesses of the fire goddess. At the end of the year, the prophet is brought to the caldera to deliver their final prophecy – who from the village will replace them. Then, because they are too god-touched and holy to rejoin the village, they are given to the lava to join the chorus of voices whispering truths to their successors. |
Adventure Idea – One of the players receives a request from an old friend to come to the village for a celebration. While there, the current volcano prophet (their old friend) names them as his or her replacement. Can the players escape or rescue their compatriots before they are sealed into the caves?
|4 . Mushroom Festival – The village is famed throughout the region for the quality and wide variety of mushrooms it produces. Whether for culinary, medicinal, or religious purposes, all mushrooms are celebrated at the end of the autumn with a great feast. The even that marks the end of the celebration is the Great Fungus Hunt in which the brave villagers, thoroughly fortified on hallucinogenic mushroom tea, arm themselves and head out into the forest to hunt the local myconids. Some of those villagers will not return, but all know the mushrooms that grow on these lost hunters will be the most potent and flavorful.|
Adventure Idea – The party needs a particular mushroom that only grows in the village. The village is happy to provide this ingredient, however the party must agree to join in on the Great Fungus Hunt to prove they are worthy of it.
|5. Useless-Con – Tinkers from all corners of the world flock to one gnome village once a year to proudly show off their most useless inventions. From self-wetting socks to squirrel saddles, no invention is too stupid to be considered. After several rounds of heated judging in which inventors can denigrate the works of their rivals by showing its practical applications, the Grand Buffoon is chosen. All devices are then sealed away in the Vault of Idiocy, never to darken the world with their presence again. Anyone foolish enough to bring something valuable to society is forcibly removed from the event and soundly beaten.|
Adventure Idea – Turns out the vault contains a very important and useful magical item that was misunderstood by the con-goers decades ago. The players need to retrieve this item but the vault is only open once a year and under the tightest scrutiny.
|6. Barter Week – For one week, the spending of coin is forbidden within city limits and the citizens must barter for everything they need. Whether it’s a pie in exchange for the mending of a shoe or a week of labor for a new hunting dog, there is no limit to what people can offer or accept in trade. Local curmudgeons have been pushing to end this holiday or, at the very least, reduce it to one or two days, but the council will hear none of it. After all, traditions are important, regardless of how inconvenient they are or if no one remembers why they started in the first place.|
Adventure Idea – Unbeknownst to the players, they have arrived in the city two days into Barter Week. Can they resupply or purchase what they need with what they have available? What do they have to offer?
|7. Balloon Day – Over 100 years ago, eccentric wizard Zephra Variscanix had the hairbrained idea to fill a massive skin bladder with hot air and attach it to a special harness, thus allowing her to fly over the bay beneath her village. Every sane person in town knew the idea was doomed from the start but Zephra would not be deterred. On the day of its maiden voyage, Zephra amazed the doubtful onlookers as she launched herself over the edge of a cliff and stayed aloft, buoyed by her floating harness. Unfortunately, there was no way to steer the device and so the stiff breeze that blew in off the bay dashed poor Zephra and her device against the rocks of the cliff. To honor her enterprising spirit, the town holds a balloon festival every year where they commemorate her passing by launching small candle-bearing balloons over the cliff to guide Zephra’s spirit to its eternal rest.|
Adventure Idea – Upon her death, Zephra’s rage over her failure warped her soul and turned her into a banshee/ghost/revenant/etc. that lurks in the caves below the cliff. The Balloon Day festivities keep her soul placated but, due to an incoming storm, the celebration was cancelled. Now restless, Zephra’s dark powers are infecting some villagers with the desire to throw themselves over the cliff. Can the players enter the caves below to defeat Zephra’s spirit before any more villagers toss themselves to the black waters of the bay?
|8. Awakening Day – Once a year, the priests of the Holy Order of Opened Eye supply every family in town with a single use wand. This wand has the ability to awaken (that is, grant intelligence) one object for 24 hours. Some families may use this opportunity to awaken a useful object, such as a cart or a plow, whereas others may seek to awaken a family heirloom that can share stories of their ancestors long, long ago. The newly awaked objects are always loyal, helpful and kind. Mostly. Every now and then something goes awry and the object is irascible and/or prone to violence. When this happens, the village must destroy the offending object regardless of its monetary or sentimental value. Though there is always a chance the process goes poorly, most folks agree the benefit outweighs the risk.|
Adventure Idea – The players need information on the murder of a prisoner and the only “witness” is a bowl of half-eaten gruel in the cell at the time. Can the players locate members of the Holy Order of the Opened Eye and convince them to part ways with one of their wands before the killer escapes justice?
|9. The Walking Times – At the beginning of the spring, the barbarian clans of the eastern steppes gather their belongings and move inland to their warm weather villages. These villages are surrounded by fields, orchards, and all the plenty nature has to offer. The journey takes many days but the people pass the time by singing, dancing, and celebrating the strength of their people to pass through another winter. They will stay in these villages until just after harvest, at which time they will pack up and return to their winter villages where they can supplement their stores with fish and whale meat. In stark contrast to their trek to the warm weather villages, the journey to the winter village is done in total silence. The barbarians fear that if they speak, they risk attracting the attention of evil spirits who will take their talkativeness as a sign the people aren’t taking their upcoming winter struggles seriously.|
Adventure Idea – The players are caught up in the throng of barbarians as they travel to the spring village. They insist the players take part in their celebration, from story telling contests to feats of strength and endurance. Failure to graciously accept this invitation will be taken as a grave insult.
|10. Race Day – Though incredibly difficult to train, the great hummingbirds of the misty jungles are renowned for their speed and agility. Patient, daring jockeys raise these beautiful birds from egg to adulthood, hoping to get the beasts to accept a saddle and rider. The quickest of these giant hummingbirds will be raced on an insanely challenging course that has them carrying a rider through the arches and needle-shaped rocks of the highlands, through the mist-soaked and vine-choked jungles, and into the wide sea caves full of hungry predators. The final leg of the race is a straight mile over open water to the Island of Champions. The winning jockey’s clan is named the ruler of the area for the next year. Sadly, this race is so exhausting that even hummingbirds that make it to the finish line rarely survive long after.|
Adventure Idea – Sabotage! One of the clan’s jockeys has been poisoned and now no one is available to race their hummingbird. Will one of the characters step up and take the reins?