The Gassy Gnoll: Holiday Spirit – What are your campaign holidays?

As we work our way through this holiday-heavy month, I’m left wondering why we don’t see holidays as often in our RPG worlds. On Earth, as a species, humankind has always been happy to find a reason to celebrate. However, our campaign worlds whether historical, fantastic, modern, or futuristic don’t seem to share that gift. ancient and medieval times, we would have feasts around planting or harvesting the crops. The winter and summer solstice were big reasons to party as well. And though the calendars may have been different around the world, the end of one year and beginning of the next was always a time for drinking and merriment. I’m sure if you looked at many of the potential or prophesied apocalyptic events through the ages that there was usually some heavy celebrating when it didn’t happen.

Even birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, and deaths were occasions to be marked by too much food and drink. I can’t imagine a monarch or leader anywhere who wouldn’t want to be thought of fondly by their subjects by encouraging such activities in their honor (so long as they were the ones doing the MOST partying).

And it shouldn’t be limited to the fantasy genre. There are plenty of classic holiday movies that we can point to (National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation anybody?), but I find it sad that e only futuristic film I can remember a party in was with the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi. There have to be other examples however… It’s a part of the human condition to want to celebrate!

So why don’t we see more opportunities for such revelry in our games?

I think my PCs work too hard and deserve a break now and then. Why not entertain the idea of a mystery at a party or a celebration that gets out of hand and introduces some new plot twist (like the “Our Mrs Reynolds” episode of Firefly when Mal wakes up married)?

What kinds of partying trouble can our PCs (and NPCs) get into just because it’s *that* day of the year? That could even be a theme in your campaign, with a party happening every time the adventurers show up in a new town. They arrive and it’s “The Mayor’s birthday” or “So and so got married” or “It’s the 10th anniversary of So and so’s death”… Can you imagine their faces when they show up in town and get roped into yet another celebration? They may start avoiding civilization!

Curious gnolls want to know…

What holidays have you introduced into your campaigns? Let’s start a list and share it so other GMs can riff or improvise on those themes! Leave comments below and I’ll pull everything together into a post for the New Year!

And in the meantime, I’ll take this opportunity to wish everybody a very happy and safe holidays! May you and yours enjoy your time together and hopefully get some gaming in!

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7 comments to The Gassy Gnoll: Holiday Spirit – What are your campaign holidays?

  • Scott’s old ‘Huge ruined pile’ blog (not the wordpress one, the blogspot one, which has been swiped by a squatter) had a great list of his campaign’s holidays — not much detail but some inspired names anyway. The one that stuck in my mind was ‘Ultima Yule,’ which I adopted for my own campaign — no idea if it has any resemblance to what he had in mind. Ultima Thule in Telengard is the winter solstice holiday, with Roman-style Saturnalia and viking-style drinking. But also with duels. Last year one of the PCs got to duel a berserker on Ultima Yule. (I guess I just liked the combination of the actual holiday Yule and the legendary Ultima Thule and the suggestion of the Ultima CRPG.)

    Otherwise I just make up holidays to account for the Paladin and/or Cleric being absent from a session when that happens in real life, and distort whatever real-world holiday is near. So Easter could be ‘Oester Feaster,’ a celebration of Zombiism, Veteran’s Day might be a ‘Ragnarok Practice,’ when soldiers have carte blanche to break the law, etc., but these have not actually come up in the game.

    • Fitz

      @Mike Monaco – Thanks for the suggestions!! And I figure many holidays will come and go without the PCs ever knowing about it, but occasionally… once in a blue moon… it’s time for a party. 🙂

  • I am currently writing a campaign that happens on an mostly unknown island inhabited by the offspring of former fugitives. Those – of course – celebrate the day their ancestors landed on the island.

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