Holidays

This was supposed to be a Thanksgiving post, but life happened. I started it on November 27, and then holiday guests arrived in the middle of writing it.

I haven’t posted much lately due to the approaching Thanksgiving holiday here in the US.  I have a bit more house cleaning to do, and if I can succeed in not destroying the washing machine this year, it should be a rousing success.

The cleaning and prep for this event however has made me ponder a bit on holidays in Roleplaying Games.

My experience is that holidays are usually treated as footnotes when it comes to tabletop rpgs. Every setting, either purchased or homegrown, always has them, but in play, they either never show up, or are mere excuses to have someone out of the house while you plunder it.

In MMORPGs, they turn into a rush to get the new shiny. But at least they seem to be more than a mention.

The rare occasions in tabletop games when this is not the case is usually the result of a specific theme for a one shot game. The zombie apocalypse games so many people run on or near Halloween, or as I’ve seen more commonly the last decade, around Christmas.

I am now setting a goal to have holidays in my games from now on that matter to the players. That are important to the setting, in more than a simple “And the harvest festival had passed a fortnight gone.” in the description for whatever is happening.

<Returns to the post a week later after the house is empty of guests again>

Anyhow, were was I? Oh yes…

I keep trying to include holidays in my settings that are important to the PCs. This is more likely to happen if they are heavily invested in the setting, having friends, contacts, enemies that they can’t just walk in and kill without penalty, or concern.

Enter the Festival of the Ancestors.

This festival varies in length depending on location, no less than one day, usually no more than a week. During this festival special rites are performed to keep deceased relatives content. This usually involves offerings of food or other sacrifices. If someone with necromantic (in the original information gathering meaning) abilities is available they will be sought out and consulted as to what the dead desire. While some treat this as a solemn occasion, others treat it as an opportunity to party. And the dead, if they can be questioned, are just as diverse. Some want to see their relatives having a good time, and others want reverential treatment.

This is also the most common time for quests for vengeance to be started, though nobody is foolish enough to actually finish such a quest during this holiday.