Ravenloft: Prisoners of the Mist

Public (OOC) => Roleplay and Gameplay Resources => Ravenloft Setting => Topic started by: Heretic on April 23, 2009, 05:14:13 AM

Title: Holidays and Festivals - The Core & Elsewhere
Post by: Heretic on April 23, 2009, 05:14:13 AM
Holidays and Festivals Celebrated throughout the Core and elsewhere.


The Core
Barovia (http://www.nwnravenloft.com/forum/index.php?topic=15877.msg181568#msg181568)
Dementlieu (http://www.nwnravenloft.com/forum/index.php?topic=15877.msg181584#msg181584)
Falkovnia (http://www.nwnravenloft.com/forum/index.php?topic=15877.msg181587#msg181587)
Hazlan (http://www.nwnravenloft.com/forum/index.php?topic=15877.msg181586#msg181586)
Invidia (http://www.nwnravenloft.com/forum/index.php?topic=15877.msg181599#msg181599)
Kartakass (http://www.nwnravenloft.com/forum/index.php?topic=15877.msg181591#msg181591)
Mordent (http://www.nwnravenloft.com/forum/index.php?topic=15877.msg181593#msg181593)
Markovia (http://www.nwnravenloft.com/forum/index.php?topic=15877.msg181600#msg181600)
Necropolis (http://www.nwnravenloft.com/forum/index.php?topic=15877.msg181602#msg181602)
Nova Vaasa (http://www.nwnravenloft.com/forum/index.php?topic=15877.msg181595#msg181595)
Sithicus (http://www.nwnravenloft.com/forum/index.php?topic=15877.msg181605#msg181605)
Tepest (http://www.nwnravenloft.com/forum/index.php?topic=15877.msg181608#msg181608)
Verbrek (http://www.nwnravenloft.com/forum/index.php?topic=15877.msg181609#msg181609)

Rokushima Táiyoo (http://www.nwnravenloft.com/forum/index.php?topic=15877.msg181610#msg181610)
Title: Holidays and Festivals - Barovia
Post by: Heretic on April 23, 2009, 05:23:17 AM
Fanton Griswold's Day: First full moon of the new year. (Barovia, Tepest, Falkovnia, G’Henna) Fanton Griswold is mostly a children's tale used by parents to scare their children into behaving.  ("If you don't do as mother tells you, Fanton Griswold will come for your face!"). On Fanton Griswold's Day, however, no one in the superstitious countries of the middle Core speaks the dreaded name in vain.  Griswold is a legendary figure who supposedly bet his face against untold riches to a hag that he could slay a vengeful dragon.  Griswold lost, and the hag tore away his face and set him to wander the lands. On the first full moon of the new year, he plods through the snow of each village, looking for a new house to enter. On these nights, a family must plug up its chimney and surround its house with a ring of salt. Of course, the price of salt generally goes up around the new year as a result. Those families who cannot afford the precious mineral must plug their chimneys and wait up all night for three sharp raps on their door. They must respond at the door with three long raps and two short ones. A thumping in the chimney will follow as Griswold attempts to climb down.  If the chimney is plugged, Griswold will give up and move on to the next house. The legend says that if Griswold manages to get into the house, he will steal the faces of any children who are present. Enough occurrences of knocks on doors and sounds in the chimney have actually occurred in Barovia and Falkovnian villages to keep the population steadfast in their observance of this grim night's rituals. 

Quote from: On Fanton Griswold
Tales of a faceless bogeyman that steals the faces of any children it comes across are told throughout the Balinoks. This horrific creature is one of the most widely known and feared bogeymen in Ravenloft. Its actions are inscrutable even by the standards of other fey. It journeys out from its secret lair—the Castle of Bones, hidden in the most inhospitable part of the Balinoks—only once or twice a year, dragging a huge sack behind it. In many ways it seems a festive figure, dressed in the green, brown and red garb of a minstrel, a long-nosed mask, and broad-brimmed, feathered hat. The creature ignores all other creatures on its long journeys, responding with a sudden, vicious attack only if others interfere with its sack or mask. No matter how long the journey, Fanton Griswold always reaches his target village just before midnight on the night of the full moon. Once there, he searches for a suitable house, full of laughter and happiness. If the house has not been ringed with salt, the bogeyman moves up to the front door, still dragging his enormous sack behind him. He raps loudly on the door three times. If the people inside the house don’t quickly respond with three long and two short knocks, Griswold is free to enter. Otherwise, he moves to the chimney, quickly scaling down it if it hasn’t been blocked. Once inside, Griswold strides over to any children present, ignoring anyone else, and tears off his mask—revealing the terrible, faceless form beneath it. He steals the face of the nearest child and slaps it across his own head like a rubber mask. Then he tears away the faces of any other children present, throws them into his sack, and vanishes into the night.

Betrothal festival: Sometime in February. This festival is traditionally when the males of Barovia come to the homes of their beloved asking her father permission to wed his daughter. In response the father can send the youth on a quest to recover some trivial item such as a raven feather or a clean glass from the Blood of the vine tavern. Other who do not wish their daughter wed will send the youth on a impossible quest such as to gather werewolve's tooth or get a letter signed by Strahd himself. By Barovian law if the youth does complete his ask the father must allow the wedding. (RP opportunities as lovestruck youths will hire help to finish tasks and win their loves hand)

Day of Silent Hope: February 3. A visitor to Barovia on this date might barely know that any particular event is being commemorated. To an ethnic Gundarakite, however, this day is an important reminder of why hope is worth maintaining in the face of tyranny. When Duke Gundar was assassinated on this day in 736, the Gundarakites experienced a brief, but liberating sense of freedom. Their joy was cut short when Lord Strahd annexed the lands of the former Gundarak, and Barovian boyars and burgomeisters moved in to rule over the natives. Gundarakites use this day to privately remember what freedom felt like. Within the confines of their homes, they pray for the strength to live through this time of oppression so that they might again see themselves free of tyranny. Whether praying to Nerull or the Morninglord, this helps maintain the guttering flame of hope they keep deep within their breast for the coming year.

Obviously, the Barovian boyars and burgomeisters do not approve of such an event. Used to keeping secrets from their overlords, however, the Gundarakites are remarkably adept at ensuring no indication of the day’s activities is seen by the Barovians. As such, little action has been taken to date to stop this day of prayer.

Festival of the rising sun/spring festival: Spring equinox. A mostly religious festival for the Morninglordians celebrating the end of winter and the birth of spring. A time of gift giving and opening of ones home to visitors during the day. A dangerous time as well as many vampires will try to gain welcome  into homes at sunset using this custom.   

The festival of the Joining: The week within the Summer solstice. The Traditional time of weddings and joyous revelry. Over the course of the week those who have proven themselves on Betrothal day marry their loves in noon time ceremonies and spend the rest of the day feasting and drinking. Drinking contests among the males of the joined families are the norm and great casks of plum wine and barely beer made over the last season are taped and drunk. This is one of the few times outsiders are allowed to celebrate with native Barovians as long as they bring lavish gifts for the bride and groom. Party crashers are dealt with in the most harsh manner possible. As the day draws to a close about two hours before sunset outsiders are sent home and two by two married couples make their way into the chest high ripe wheat. In a way of making an offering to the earth they make love in the fields to bring love and new life to the land.

Barovian liberation day: Late summer. A fiercely patriotic holiday for Barovians celebrating the victory of Strahd the first over the Goblin King. No outsiders are allowed to partake in the festivities and woe to those who try to enter towns such as Barovia and Vallaki  on these days. Many outsiders find themselves strung up from the highest tree or burned alive at the stake by zealous natives.

Summer’s End: September 1-7. For one week, the buildings of the Village of Barovia are decorated with red, orange, and yellow streamers, signifying the colors of autumn and the ending of another summer. On the final day, there is a large feast where everyone gathers in the town square, where tables are set up and everyone eats together. The festival is held in late summer/early fall, when there is still plenty of light. Everyone is still inside before dark (not even this yearly celebration can keep the villagers in Barovia out past dusk), but many households join together to continue the revelries inside.

Day of remembrance: Fall equinox. A dark day for Barovians when songs for the dead as sung and offering are placed on the graves of those who have died in the past year. It is said the ghosts and zombies of those who are not honored this way come back the next year to haunt those wh  o have forgoten about them. (Basicly halloween/day of the dead for Barovians.)

Winter solstice festival/Barovian New year: December 14th through 24th. Bonfires and songs to keep away the darkest part of the year. A time of feasts and togetherness. A very sad time for the Mistlead as they have no family in Barovia.
Krofburg's Harvest Day Festival: Fall equinox. A celebration in which the latest and best from the last years' vintage are served, along with a strong black beer, locally known as Stout Heart, and roast pig stuffed with black bread, apples and nuts.
Title: Holidays and Festivals - Dementlieu
Post by: Heretic on April 23, 2009, 08:10:35 AM
Lucine Carnival: February 20-23 (Dementlieu, Mordent). Every year, the Lucine Carnival attracts people from domains far and wide. It takes place mainly in Dementlieu, as name suggests, but lesser celebrations are also held in Mordent. In Dementlieu it engages workers from all the guilds of Port–a–Lucine. During the year, the merchants’ guild imports silk and other textiles from surrounding domains, including the purchase of highquality wool from the shepherds of Lamordia. They sell these textiles to the weavers, who work day and night for weeks to create shirts and costumes of amazing quality. Elaborate motifs in gold and silver, resembling flowers or jewels, adorn many clothes, along with light fuseaux (pants), pompous brocades and soft cloaks. The goldsmiths’ guild provides pieces of art manufactured with the utmost care, like bracelets, earrings and necklaces. With the aid of the blacksmiths, they work on metallic masks. In the days before the Carnival women and bakers (both in Dementlieu and Mordent) make nemen, a traditional sweet made of almonds and grain, and shrapfses, a kind of pancake enriched with sugar and spices and unusually crunchy. To undertake all of these activities artisans are sometimes hired from neighboring domains.

Two specialists play an important role in the carnival. One is the famous Lumen Company from Chateaufaux that organizes Port-a-Lucine’s lighting. They are so skillful in placing and arranging rows of lanterns and oil lamps that the light they provide seems both magical and natural. The spiral structure of the city streets allows them to arrange these lights like an enormous web centering on the Guild Halls at its core. If the city is seen from a high place, such as the lighthouse, this lighting provides a breathtaking vista. The other specialists involved are the Faira no Shoukans from Rokushima Táiyoo (see Fireworks’ New Year Feast). They bring a variety of explosives, and illuminate the festival with fireworks that take the shape of beasts and dragons in the night sky.

Rose Day: March 9 (Dementlieu, Richemulot, Mordent, Necropolis/Darkon) Rose Day is a day for romance. On Rose Day, it is traditional for young men to present tokens of affection to young ladies. It is considered unlucky for a man not to give a gift, or for a young lady not to receive one. It is also considered unlucky if a woman gives a man a gift on Rose Day. Roses are considered an especially lucky gift. Further, on Rose Day it is traditional to place garlands of flowers over the door and windows of one’s home. On Rose Day, many cities and villages hold community dances in the evening, a holdover from the ancient origins of the holiday. This holiday is a favorite in Dementlieu, where the wealthy frequently exchange slightly risqué gifts such as wine and lingerie.

Semaine de la Mode: April 1-6. The Semaine de la Mode (or Fashion Week) is an event held every year in the ballroom of the Grand Hotel in Port-a-Lucine. During this week the famous and beautiful gather for a series of presentations where gorgeous women from Dementlieu and nearby domains exhibit the styles and clothes that will set the trend for the coming year. Famous couturiers (dressmakers) include Ezio Figari, Jacques Sole, and Catherina Bonaerotto, who is responsible for giving rise to the use of unique hats among the women of high society. Governor Chief Conseiller (Counselor) Dominic d’Honaire is an active sponsor of this event, and is always in the first row watching with enthusiasm when the models make their appearance.

Dominic has, in the past, been found in compromising positions with the models during the event. Among the current crop of beautiful ladies who take part in the twice-daily modeling galas is Josephina Antonette Dugarrie, the Reigne Primtemps (Spring Queen) for the last sixteen years. Many women have wondered at the everlasting beauty of Josephina, which by all accounts has not lessened since the day she was first voted Spring Queen, in 736. Some have stirred emotions by claiming that their own beauty seems to have been lost since Josephina began appearing at the Semaine de la Mode. Others spread rumors that she has been to Ludendorf where expert doctors have conducted sensitive operations on her face, or that she wears special makeup. More sinister whisperings imply that Josephina has rarely, if ever, been seen during the day.

Summer’s Night: (Lamordia, Dementlieu, Falkovnia, Mordent). This holiday, which started in Lamordia, has spread slowly to its bordering domains. This holiday started in Lamordia as a celebration of the warmest day of summer, and is said to keep winter’s grasp away for a longer time. People in Lamordia celebrate this holiday by shedding their bland and dark garments and wearing light and bright colored clothing, as well as having a festival dedicated to the time of summer (and to a lesser degree surviving the harsh Lamordian blizzard that is winter). Before the festival, women go out during the day and collect bright flowers with which to weave a mask. They ignore white flowers and darker blooms, preferring bright colors to match their clothes. The men also gather flowers and form crowns from them, however their colors are limited to whites and dark hues.

For the duration of the celebration the men represent the time of winter and the women are a representation of the summer season. Near twilight, people gather in a forest meadow away from the village and begin the celebration with a traditional dance, which represents the summer conquering the winter. Many feel this traditional dance must be done or the summer will no longer continue and winter will arrive abruptly. Others believe in this to a lesser degree, believing that there will be an early winter if the dance is not performed. In the surrounding domains this holiday has spread to, the superstitious elements have been lost (though the dance is still performed), and it has become more of a midsummer’s festival during which masks are worn. In these other domains the masks can range from elaborate feathered monstrosities in Dementlieu to painted wooden masks in Falkovnia.

White Day: September 23 (Dementlieu, Richemulot, Mordent, Necropolis). White Day is the counterpart to Rose Day (see March 9). On White Day, it is young ladies who are to present young men with gifts. As with Rose Day, it is considered unlucky for a woman not to give a gift, or for a young man not to receive one. As before, it is believed to be unlucky for a man to give a woman a gift of White Day. A box of white candies is considered an especially lucky gift. Further, on White Day, it is traditional to decorate the door and window-frames of one’s home with white streamers. As with Rose Day, many communities hold evening dances to celebrate this holiday. White Day is particularly popular in Dementlieu, where the Masque de Couer, a prominent yearly masquerade, is held.

Primeur: November, 3rd Thursday. (Dementlieu, Richemulot). Primeur is the first day when the wine of the past year is ready to drink. A holiday more for nobility, each noble attempts to be the first to offer his friends the newest wine. As part of the tradition, there is a race of wagons from the nearby wine farms to the noble estates, each driver trying to get an advantage over his rivals by any means. Often terrible accidents happen during this race and the precious liquid is spilled, but such setbacks are nothing compared to the social gain of being this year’s Primeur King or Queen.

Title: Holidays and Festivals - Hazlan
Post by: Heretic on April 23, 2009, 08:13:27 AM
Flaming Horse Festival: July 27. This is the only major festivity permitted in Hazlan, and is a result of Hazlik’s life in his homeland of Thay, where the fire god Kossuth is worshipped. In the lead-up to this day, a wooden horse is built in every town by skilled craftsmen, with the finest wood available. Artificers works on these horses, placing iron cylinders throughout the wooden constructions containing pockets full of flammable oils. On the day of the celebration, endurance contests for the men and boys of the village are organized, and the community eats meals together in the common-houses. At night, the artificers set alight the cylinders placed within the wooden horses, giving the impression that the mane, the tail and the hooves of the horse are burning. Eventually, the entire horse is in flames, forming a large bonfire around which celebrations continue into the night.
Title: Holidays and Festivals - Falkovnia
Post by: Heretic on April 23, 2009, 08:31:38 AM
Census Eve: February 28, once every three years (Falkovnia, Invidia). This is the evening before Census Day (see below). Due to the foreboding nature of the Census (when members of a family may not return), the tradition of a Census Eve dinner is widely followed amongst Falkovnian communities. The meal is usually one of the best a Falkovnian will ever have, with foodstuffs and wines that have been secreted away for this night finally used. Old oaths are renewed, and births and marriages over the last few years are celebrated again. Drakov has let this practice continue, despite the fragment of hope it brings to his citizens, as it usually leads to many long lost criminals returning home to celebrate with their family, who can be swiftly snapped up by alert Talon patrols.

Census Day: March 1, once every three years (Falkovnia, Invidia). One of the constant reminders of Lord Drakov’s influence over his people is Census Day, a day of pride for the Lord of Falkovnia, and of fear for all his subjects. The taking of the infamous Census has been conducted on this date every three years (due to the length of time it takes to process the reports from each Census) ever since its induction in the year 701. The 18th and most current Census was taken in 752. Drakov initiated the Census after his first failed invasion of Darkon in 700, to determine the number of fit troops that might be available for use in his campaigns against the wizard-king. It has since become his personal inventory of the masses he commands.

Falkovnian citizens hear of the Census’ imminence at the beginning of the appointed year, the news spreading across the Core lands like wildfire. The reason for its importance is simple. On this day, every Falkovnian is judged and told how they will serve their lord for the next three years of their life. On the morning of the Census, each citizen must report to their hometown in Falkovnia (or, if born in another domain, to the closest Falkovnian troops barracks) to register their details. These include name, occupation (whether soldier, bureaucrat, trader or slave), hometown, sex, age, race, and rank under Drakov’s laws. The ranks, in order of social status, are General, Captain, Lieutenant, Soldier, Trader, Ward of the State, Foreigner, Criminal and Enemy of the State. Visitors to Falkovnian ruled lands may come to realize that there is very little difference between the status of “Foreigner” and “Criminal”. This is also the day when new births—if not already registered—are recorded, and the branding with Drakov’s Falcon takes place. The most dangerous offense a citizen can commit is to not turn up to the Census. If a citizen fails to present himself or herself, they are summarily condemned with the rank of Criminal.

At the dawning of the next day (March 2nd), a report is drawn up to be presented to the local Captain, including a list of all Criminals. The local militia hunts down these criminals, and if found, they are presented before their Captain for suitable punishment. If they remain elusive after ten days, however, they become an Enemy of the State and are hunted by the Talons. This is a job they perform exceedingly well—they will hunt as long as necessary to catch their prey, and, in most cases, no Enemies live to register for the next Census.

Bleak Morning (I): April 21. Bleak Morning is an unofficial day of mourning in Falkovnia. The dates remembered are those on which Vlad Drakov initiated attacks on Darkon, and horribly failed. Each day is regarded as a day of the dead, as almost every family in Falkovnia has lost at least one relative on the battlefields. Drakov has forbidden his populace from any outward show of mourning on these days, as they remind him of his defeat. Most Falkovnians, however, hold short, somber sermons in the privacy of their homes or with families to venerate the dead, and pray, against all probability, that Vlad will not send their sons out to war again. Several bards have written songs and dirges especially for these days. The most infamous is a satiric song, ‘My Friends Are Dead But Still They Dance’. It is accompanied, when performed, by stiff, jerky dancing. The song is most popular with Falkovnian children, but even they are wise enough not to sing it in the face of the Talons.

Bleak Morning (II): August 14.

Bleak Morning (III): August 26.

Bleak Morning (IV): September 1.

Bleak Morning (V): October 6.

Day of the Hawk: December 20. Though Vlad’s real birthday was lost forever in the journey from Krynn to Ravenloft, the ruler of Falkovnia and his Talons have chosen a specific day to commemorate his birth. This day was orchestrated some years ago by the head of the Talons, in order to serve as a monument to the greatness of their ruler. Though the folk of the land are loathe to celebrate such an event as Drakov’s birthday, they are forced to go along with the celebrations by the Talons. Across all of Falkovnia, this day is a holiday. People shut their shops down so that they can watch or join the parade devoted to Drakov. No one has to work this day. Some places are forced to shut down by the Talons in order to watch one of the parades. For Drakov, the day begins at his castle, Draccipetri. Supplicants seeking for a favor from Drakov, or looking to increase boost their image in his eyes, gather and wait to speak with him. These people generally come with gifts, which may include gold, information or even women. A limited number of these people get to speak with Drakov for a short time. Drakov listens, and if he is not pleased with what he hears then the gift-bearer may end up as part of the night’s entertainment. Later in the morning, Drakov performs a symbolic branding of several children that have been born since the last Census. Privileged families will often actively seek to have their child branded personally by Drakov.

A little after midday, parades are conducted all over Falkovnia, usually marching through the main road of each town or city. The parades are generally a solemn, dismal affair, as the people are forced to attend by the Talons of every village and town in Falkovnia. Banners are flown, crude floats are made, and fake battles are conducted using wooden weaponry. The Talons watch over the parade, being careful to look for anyone making a mockery of their ruler. In Lekar, Drakov himself joins the parade as it nears its end, and those that make an effort in the parades are sometimes rewarded handsomely later by the Hawk himself. As the celebrations in the towns die down, a special evening is prepared for Drakov. As many as forty people are impaled on tall, thick stakes within the walls of Draccipetri, and on this night he calls in a small chamber orchestra to accompany their screams. If Vlad does not particularly enjoy the evening, it is possible that the actual orchestra may become part of the bloody entertainment.
Title: Holidays and Festivals - Kartakass
Post by: Heretic on April 23, 2009, 08:54:14 AM
Meistersinger Contest: June, Summer Solstice. This day serves both a political and a social purpose in the domain of Kartakass. Not only is it a celebration of music and song for the people of the villages of Kartakass, it elects the Meistersinger for the coming year in each village. It is a birthright of all born in Kartakass to challenge for the position of Meistersinger. The event actually begins the night before the summer solstice, when the Meistersinger throws an extravagant masquerade at his or her place of residence. Invitations are issued to many of the wealthy residents, but any bards who wish to attend may do so without a written invitation. Within the major townships of Skald and Harmonia, costumes at this masquerade can be extremely elaborate and expensive. Vast quantities of meekulbrau can be found at the party in almost any village. The purpose of the gathering is to allow intending challengers to the current Meistersinger to sign up for the competition to follow on the summer solstice. It is the birthright of any Kartakan citizen to challenge the Meistersinger at the annual contest, but in reality the expensive costumes and aristocratic nature of the parties in the larger towns means that poorer bards are unable to sign up for the contest. Of course, most Kartakans would also suggest that a poor bard is an unlikely candidate to be able to defeat a Meistersinger! After signing up, the contestant must sing a prelude to the guests, to preview their singing abilities.

Singing Tree Day: July 12 (Kartakass, Sithicus). On this day, many people from Skald, Harmonia, and other communities travel to a massive and ancient hollow oak tree that stands in the woods west of Skald. All of the pilgrims first gather outside Skald where, with the aid of some volunteers, the two meistersingers give to all the new participants a flask of meekulbrau and a scroll containing a mora. People who have taken part in a previous Singing Tree Day keep their empty flasks, filling them from a barrel provided by the Meistersinger of Skald, and their scroll. At midday, they form a procession to the main square of the Skald and then, after an opening song (sung by everyone) they depart, guided by the meistersingers of Skald and Harmonia (dressed in green and brown). During the subsequent 3-hour march all chant some suitable mora. As they enter the glade in which the tree stands, Skald’s Meistersinger calls up the god of music, Milil, and all the spirits of the forest to bless the gathering. At the same time, Harmonia’s Meistersinger plants a sapling of meekulbern, praying that it enriches the earth as music enriches mortal life. Everyone then drinks from his or her flask, and camps in the glade. Around 4 PM a traditional singing contest begins. Every singer sings the mora on his or her scroll, and the crowd elects a winner and five runners-up. A small piece of bark from the sacred tree is given to each runner-up. Usually, they fix it to a string, making a pendant that is rumored to empower mora related to the forest. The winner, in addition, receives three leaves from the tree and is expected to enter the tree’s hollow. There, the winner improvises a mora. A popular belief holds that, if correctly interpreted, the song will give hints on the bounty of the weather and the crops of the next year, since it is reputed to be inspired by the tree, a spirit of the land.

Attending scholars are charged with the task of writing the song down. Finally, the two Meistersingers read the text of the mora, and break up the gathering. Werebeasts often hide among the crowd to feed on loiterers. A similar  occurrence, called “Prophecy Day”, takes place in Sithicus. Two elven burgomasters lead the procession to the Prophet Tree, offering cider to all the participants. After ceremonies similar to the Kartakan ones, they ask the participants for a volunteer. This volunteer will be chained to the Prophet Tree, charged to sing its vaticination. If the next year will be bountiful and prosperous the elf will intone a neat sweet melody. Otherwise the song that is sung will be a mournful dirge, similar to the one previously used by Lord Soth to close the borders of Sithicus. Since the singer cannot stop his voice while he’s singing, if the song is of the latter type the singer may go mad. Thus, while it is risky to chain someone to the tree, it is the only way to for the burgomaster to ensure a prediction. Regardless of the outcome of the prediction, the volunteer is regarded as a hero by all.

Title: Holidays and Festivals - Mordent
Post by: Heretic on April 23, 2009, 09:08:16 AM
Good Trollings Day: August 1. Good Trollings Day (referring to its use in fishing, not in the monster) is a time of celebration in Mordentshire. For a period of two weeks, the very best fish that are pulled out of the Sea of Sorrows are saved in tanks, and on August 1st, they are thrown back into the sea. The exact reason for this is unknown, but it is a ritual that has been performed for almost 200 years, and the inhabitants of Mordentshire are not about to break tradition now. After the very best are given back to the sea, the people of town feast on fish and vegetables, and a type of alcohol flavored with boiled seaweed. The feast is held on the docks, and small candles held in paper globes illuminate the festivities.
Title: Holidays and Festivals - Nova Vaasa
Post by: Heretic on April 23, 2009, 09:18:06 AM
Bolshnik Day: This date marks the birthday of Prince Othmar of the Bolshnik family, the most powerful in Nova Vaasa. In Kantora, where the Bolshniks live, the morning celebrations involve a parade of the family’s cavalry and militia, as they march to Castle Stonegard for inspection by the Prince. The event, however, which drives most of the activity on this day, is Prince Othmar’s gracious reduction of the sales tax from 100% to a paltry 25% on this day alone. This has a massive impact on the markets of the cities, with merchants trading at a frenzied pace as they try and take advantage of the “low” tax rate. Horse trading in particular is popular, with many breeders bringing their youngest foals to market especially for this day. Prince Othmar also sponsors a competition for the finest horse of the market, as judged by the Captain of the Prince’s cavalry. It is a great honor for a horse breeder to have one of their horses selected by the Captain, and usually dramatically increases the asking price for their horses.

Night of Bright Truths: June, first full moon. The Night of Bright Truths is the evening on which Nova Vaasans believe the moon to be the brightest of the entire year. This is a night when Bane is closely watching those who rule Nova Vaasa, ensuring that the divine right of rulers is maintained, and that none are overstepping their power. As Bane is considered to be paying close attention to his followers on this night, it is also believed that no lies can be told. This makes the Night of Bright Truths an important political day for Nova Vaasans. A council of nobles, representing each of the five ruling families, meets in Kantora on this night to discuss and resolve important issues. Although only one of a series of regular meetings, many decisions are actively delayed until this night in order to ensure that the most honest and responsible outcome is reached. Among the rest of the people of Nova Vaasa, this night is usually considered a night for family to gather and talk of the past year, noting the lessons they have learned and the goals they have achieved. This is done to humbly inform Bane of the many ways in which they have improved themselves, thereby increasing their station in life. This is also a favorite night for young men to propose to their potential future brides. It is said to guarantee the couple a long and fruitful marriage if the lady says yes on a night when no lies can be told.

Night of Dark Deeds: December, first new moon. For Nova Vaasans, this day is the exact opposite of the Night of Bright Truths (see June). On this evening, Bane is the most distant he will be all year. Interestingly, this has remarkably different effects on different sections of the community. In general, people consider it unwise to believe anyone on this night. Business people will refuse to make decisions, no one will ask for advice, and any rumors spread will be dismissed as nothing but rabble-rousing. The council of nobles does not meet during the week either side of the Night of Dark Deeds, for fear of the night’s lies tainting their acumen. No one is ever asked to make a vow or a promise on this day, as it is taken to mean nothing without the eyes of Bane watching over the pledge. Families will often gather together in their homes on this night, as on the Night of Bright Truths, but instead they choose to remain silent, preferring the solemn quiet to the possibility of lies being uttered to family members. While some fear this time of year, and the untruths it brings, others revel in the absence of the watchful eye of Bane. During the night, taverns and gambling houses are filled with people wishing to take advantage of the situation. Houses of ill repute often serve unexpected clientele, and the streets become fighting grounds for those who have repressed their anger in the face of Bane, but are all too eager to take action on this night. Unsurprisingly, the crime rate soars in the cities of Nova Vaasa on the Night of Dark Deeds. It would seem that for some, the pleasure of indulging their vices extends much further than drinking and gambling, as the number of murders on this night usually exceeds the number in any other month of the year.

Title: Holidays and Festivals - Invidia
Post by: Heretic on April 23, 2009, 09:38:33 AM
Dancio: September 14 (Invidia, Richemulot) This day is devoted to the art of dancing with context to romance and passion. Typically it is celebrated mainly among the upper classes, but other citizens also enjoy this day in a different style. Large social functions, such as balls, are held inviting an array of local people and others from surrounding domains. The festivities start early in the morning and continue well into the night. The balls are elegant and regal affairs, with awards given for best couple, best dressed, and other categories. The host is expected to provide the prizes for those honored with awards. All guests are expected to participate in the dancing, which includes waltzes and other formal ballroom styles. The host will sometimes have a theme for the gathering, such as Masquerade or Fairy Tale. Among the poorer classes, other forms of celebration take place. The taverns throughout these domains prepare feasts of food and wine and serve on the street, where dancers perform around blazing fires. Unlike the refined steps among the aristocracy, the dances performed here are generally rowdy, taking a more energetic form. The atmosphere is friendlier than at the formal affairs, and the celebrations usually continue into the night, until the alcohol disappears. The date falls on the birthday of the head of Richemulot’s Dance Academy, Hellene Kougler, who founded the tradition.

She introduced the celebration to Invidia shortly after Bakholis’ death (730), where the event caught on with a passion. Hellene, however, was not the true founder of this day. She first observed the event when accompanying a group of Vistani. Once she had recorded what she saw, she brought it back to Richemulot, where she introduced the concept to the aristocracy of that domain. The Vistani celebrate this day in a similar fashion, and with exceptional intensity. The Vistani sometimes become so involved with their dancing that they dance themselves into hallucination, or until they collapse.

Harvest Festival: Late September/October. (Karina, Invidia) Invidia has increasingly become known for its fine quality wine and other exotic drinks. As the popularity of its produce has grown, so has the size of the annual Karina Harvest Festival. Taking place over the week before the first full moon in October, the population of Karina more than doubles for the duration of the event. The Festival is a grand event, which encompasses most of East Karina. Essentially, the week is spent drinking and celebrating the end of the Invidian harvest, while partaking in the vast array of alcoholic beverages the region produces. As the city is usually overflowing during the occasion, the celebrations are literally held anywhere, spilling out onto the streets from wine gardens, or at temporary marquees where winegrowers try to convince drinkers of the superiority of their drink. Several events are held during the Festival. On the third day, a wine-tasting contest is held, with the most respected vintners of the area judging the winner in various categories. The winners invariably run out of produce by the end of the Festival four days later. Weddings are often scheduled during the Festival, and when this occurs it is usually permissible for any onlooker to join the celebrations. In some of the seedier locations of Karina, drinking contests are held among rowdy groups of inebriated men. The vilest event on the carnival’s calendar is the annual Dog Fights, organized by Nathan Timothy (and some of his associates). Held somewhere in the Falkovnian quarter, the location of the fights is always a closely kept secret, and is attended largely by a contingent of werewolves from the nearby Verbrek. The event involves the pitting of defenseless humans against trained attack dogs, the audience watching with sickening excitement at the battle.(For additional information on the Harvest Festival and the Dog Fights, see The Evil Eye.)
Title: Holidays and Festivals - Markovia
Post by: Heretic on April 23, 2009, 09:42:07 AM
Winter’s Moon: December (last full moon). The inhabitants of Markovia know pain, perhaps better than any others. The creatures that Lord Markov has created wander the domain, existing in squalor and often agony. They do, however, have their moments of contentment and happiness, and one of those moments is during Winter’s Moon, a festival held on the last full moon of the year. At sundown, groups of Markovians gather together around a large bonfire and cry towards the heavens, showing that they are strong. After a half-hour of crying to the sky, they feast on the woodland creatures they have hunted and dance around the fire. Many compete in feats of strength and endurance. The celebration lasts well into the morning, by which time most participants have collapsed from the exhaustion of the celebration. To outsiders, the celebration would seem strange, primitive, and brutal, but to the Markovians, it is a wonderful night.
Title: Holidays and Festivals - Necropolis
Post by: Heretic on April 23, 2009, 09:51:41 AM
Remembrance January, first new moon. The holiday of Remembrance was created by the Eternal Order. The day serves several purposes. Officially, it is a celebration that the dead had not returned in the previous year, and a way of warding them for the coming year. Unofficially, it simply serves as a way of beginning the year with a somewhat joyous occasion. The actual church celebration begins at sundown on the night of the first new moon of a year, when the dead are supposed to be close to the land. During the day beforehand, people put up decorations of paper skeletons and tissue ghosts, bake breads and sweets in the shapes of skulls, take offerings of food, flowers, or other items to the graves of relatives, and children create masks to wear during the celebrations. Jack-o-Lanterns are also carved, due to their supposed power over the dead and undead. (Some of these may manifest unexpected powers—see DRAGON Magazine #252.) In the urban areas, great masquerades are often held to commemorate the day, while in rural areas people may privately reminisce, or gather the family for a luncheon picnic among the graves of relatives, symbolically inviting them to dine with them. When sundown arrives, people go to the local Church of the Eternal Order for an all-night vigil, praying to the various powers of death, the dead, the undead, and ancestors to hold back the spirits of the deceased for one more year. Since the time of the Requiem, this holiday has become less popular among some in the community, as has the Eternal Order. In other areas, the religious aspect has been de-emphasized and is considered more of a secular holiday. Oddly enough, despite the macabre flavor of the holiday, it is one of the few times in the Land of Mists where the undead are quieter than usual. Whether this is due to the influence and rituals of the holiday or simple coincidence is unknown.

Festival of the Dead November 12. In the time before Azalin used his doomsday device and devastated the land, the residents of Darkon spent much time honoring the dead, due to their belief that they would one day rise up and reclaim the land for their own. Since Darkon’s transformation into Necropolis, the nature of much of the honoring has changed somewhat, due to the belief that the Ascension has already begun. Originally a celebration initiated by the Eternal Order, this festival was designed to give thanks to the dead for both the protection they offered the people of Darkon (as evidenced by the dead rising against Falkovnian attacks), and for not yet reclaiming the land of the living for their own. The day was spent in a large town gathering, where residents would wear grotesque masks to represent the dead, and would celebrate with music, drink and revelry for many hours. The celebrations had to end by sundown, however, so that none of the living walked the streets after nightfall. The Eternal Order preached that since the living and the dead could not celebrate together in one place, the living would celebrate during the daylight hours, while the dead would consume the night with their own celebrations. Paintings on the walls of temples of the Eternal Order sometimes depict this event, with fetid corpses wearing human masks, and celebrating with torture and death. The events of the Grim Harvest, however, have changed the way this holiday is celebrated. As the Eternal Order slowly loses its power without the force of King Azalin to support it, the people are slowly beginning to disregard the original premise of the holiday. The people are beginning to celebrate into the night, ignoring the original reason for remaining indoors at that time. This effect is less notable the closer one gets to the Falkovnian border. There, where the dead have risen yet again to defend the lands since the Grim Harvest, respect for the dead has continued almost unabated, so in towns like Nartok the holiday has been virtually unaffected.

Darkest Night: December, Winter Solstice. Like the Festival of the Dead, this occasion is a result of the legends regarding the Hour of Ascension, where the dead rise up to reclaim the land. Unlike the Festival of the Dead, this day is marked by fear rather than celebration. On Darkest Night, the moon does not rise over Necropolis. It is said that on this night, the dead are closer to the land of the living than at any other time of the year. The Eternal Order preaches that if the dead have not been properly honored over the past year, this is the most likely time at which they will reclaim the land from the living. In order to avoid attracting the attention of the dead, on this night all lights across Necropolis must be extinguished. Not one candle may burn during the night, lest the dead use it to lead them to the living world. Since the Requiem in 750, this day has become even more feared by the people of Necropolis. Despite the declining power of the Church of the Eternal Order, this night continues to be commemorated with great fervor, as it is the anniversary of the wave of energy that destroyed Il Aluk. Many residents see this event as the Hour of Ascension itself, and that it was just the start of the dead’s reclamation of their lands. As such, the years since have seen even greater adherence to the tradition, with many households even covering reflective surfaces to avoid reflecting the dim starlight of the night. Those who lost friends or family in the destruction of Il Aluk also use this night to sit in silent remembrance of their lives. (For additional information on Darkest Night, see the Requiem: The Grim Harvest boxed set.)
Title: Holidays and Festivals - Sithicus
Post by: Heretic on April 23, 2009, 10:15:02 AM
New Year’s Day: March 1. March 1st is celebrated by the Elves that have made it through the harsh Sithicus winter alive. The elves pray and fast during the day, giving thanks to the gods and expressing hope for the coming new year. They also mourn and remember those they lost during the previous year. This origin of this holiday is the formation of the domain of Sithicus itself, which occurred during the month of March.
Title: Holidays and Festivals - Tepest
Post by: Heretic on April 23, 2009, 11:07:11 AM
Cloudberry Harvest: September Cloudberries are a type of fruit gathered by Tepestani to make the sweet cloudberry wine. The natives have found cloudberries almost impossible to farm, so the harvest period involves excursions into the forests of Tepest to find the wild growths of the cloudberry bush. Unfortunately, cloudberries are most often found in remote locations, on steep hillsides near the lakes and rivers of the region. Even more unfortunately, the end of fall marks the peak of goblin raids and attacks as they attempt to store food for the coming winter, so there is much danger for the harvesters. As a result, the harvesters always work in groups during the day, usually with one of the stronger men of the village to guard. It is a rare year, however, when someone is not lost to the troublesome goblins. The completion of the harvest is marked by a daylong festival in the village, celebrating not only the harvest end, but the last great gathering before winter sets in. The day is spend tying bright ribbons around the village, and beginning the crush of the harvest of cloudberries. After the day’s joviality, the town gathers in the evening for a slightly more serious affair. In front of a large fire, a captured goblin is sacrificed by one of the harvesters. This is both a sacrifice to the gods to ensure a good harvest next year, and a memorial to those who lost their lives during this year’s harvest. Often, the person chosen to make the sacrifice is one who was close to a victim of the harvest goblin attacks. After the last screams of the goblin have ceased, the townspeople eat together, and drink the first bottles of last year’s cloudberry wine. It is said that if the previous year’s harvest produces a high-quality wine, the coming winter will be milder and easier to bear. Many have noted that a good wine can warm many cold winter’s nights, so there is probably a lot of truth to this belief!
Title: Holidays and Festivals - Verbrek
Post by: Heretic on April 23, 2009, 11:11:51 AM
Noctis Lupus: June or July, during full moon. Noctis Lupus is a holy day devoted to the Wolf God. The god embodies ferocity and fighting and the day’s activities follow similar lines. During the day, the werewolves who celebrate this occasion hold competitions with each other. Each pack will hold its own celebrations, although sometimes more than one pack may get together for the nighttime revelries. The competitions during the day include various forms of fighting between the werewolves, and occasional fight with captured humans. One favorite sport played on this holy day involves splitting the pack up into four teams. Four goals are set up on a field, one facing each of the compass points. A skull of one of their brethren is used to represent their god. The team to get the skull between their goal is honored or blessed by the god. As night falls, the werewolves gather around a site chosen and prepared earlier. A huge bonfire is constructed, and nearby trees are decorated with runes and pictographs. Some of these are prayers to the Wolf God, while others depict the life of the werewolves. There is always one tree chosen as the totem (sacred pillar) for the night which is decorated from top to bottom with furs, feathers and skins. The werewolves of the pack socialize until a few hours before midnight, when the music is commenced. Harsh drumbeats are fervently played by some of the werewolves. The werewolves use peculiar instruments, including dead trees which have been hollowed out and turned into some sort of drum. The werewolves start dancing around the fire, chanting, screaming, roaring, and howling at the moon. As midnight passes, an elder or dominant werewolf will make a sacrifice of a small animal (but it may be something larger, such as a stag or human). The dominant werewolf will do this by ripping out the throat of the sacrifice, and filling a sacred bowl with the victim’s blood. The bowl is blessed by one of the priests, and then passed around for each to drink from. Another special event this night is the Moon Dance.

The dance is an offering of body and soul to their god, who is symbolized by the moon. Five werewolves are chosen to perform the Moon Dance. This bloody ritual is conducted by taken long strips of leather, and placing them through gashes under the skin of the nominated dancers. The other end of the leather strap is tied loosely around the totem pole, allowing the dancer to move easily around the tree. The werewolves then dance around and around the totem until they are disconnected from the pole by the leather or (worse) their flesh tearing, or until they collapse from exhaustion. On rare occasions, they may reach sunrise. While the dance continues, the rest of the werewolves will watch or celebrate by indulging their passions for blood and violence. This may include killing or hunting other smaller animals, and sometimes an unlucky human captive will be their plaything for the evening. Alfred Timothy and his family will always lead the rites and celebrations for their own pack. Typically, Timothy will use the area of the Circle for their celebrations.
Title: Holidays and Festivals - Rokushima Táiyoo
Post by: Heretic on April 23, 2009, 11:13:36 AM
Fireworks’ New Year Feast: January 1. The inhabitants of this domain believe that explosives and fireworks cast away evil spirits, especially on New Year’s Eve. On the day that opens the new year, in this domain smokepowder is as precious as gold, since virtually every individual, even infants and the elderly, welcome the New Year in such a fashion. From midnight on New Year’s Eve to the next one, the sound of exploding fireworks fills the air, and the entire domain seems to shiver. Wandering companies of smokepowder experts take care of organizing fireworks spectacles. The Faira no Shoukans (or “summoners of flames”) have for generations provided the best fireworks in all of Rokushima Táiyoo. Their skills have been demonstrated by producing anything from a bright cascade in the void, to a terrifying, fiery dragon. During other times of the year, the Faira no Shoukans have been known to appear in other domains.