Monday, August 3, 2009

Festivals, Fairs and Tournaments : The Event of Events

Over at Chgowiz's Blog he has unofficially dubbed August the month of carnivals, fairs, and festivals. I think it's a great idea and Rob reminded me of the times I ran festivals in my campaign. The campaign I ran was pseudo Arthurian style. Everyone played knights of some sort. Rob was a Roman knight by the name of Hawk, another player was a Templar Knight, Geoffrey, and his girlfriend, Delaquain; I created a female branch of the Templars, The Order of St. Joan. Another knight was Saxon, Brommel, and still had his roots in the pagan world. There were a cast of others, but these were the main four that stayed throughout the stop and start campaign of three plus years.

One of my favorite things to do in a campaign is have a community 'billboard' with announcements and advertisements. From the first session, the big announcement on the board was the King's Grand Festival celebrating his ascension to the throne ten years ago. So during the first few sessions the characters were discovering who they were, explored the political and geographical lay of the land with the King's Festival always in the background. I developed multiple storylines for each character so when the festival arrived the stage was set for several of the stories to conclude or twist into a whole different direction. It became the event for events.

One storyline that really got going was the rivalry between Hawk and Geoffrey. Geoffrey, a disliked Templar and Hawk, an amiable Baron's knight, were verbally jabbing at one another for several sessions, but because of their positions they could not just outright clobber one another without some type of reason. During the tournament they met on the jousting field. Both were worked up for this encounter and both had been waiting for weeks. After a few passes Hawk got the roll he wanted and unhorsed Geoffrey. The result was Hawk became more popular in taverns and Geoffrey was even mocked further by patrons riding the benches in the taverns and falling off them.

Delaquain's special power was she could meditate and go into the nether world where all the different planes of existence overlapped. She was hunting an assassin or group of assassins targeting the archbishop. She had the ability to see a person's true motives. Along the way she met this group of rowdy young men who were drunk and flirted with her yet they always seemed to know where she was going. They helped her track down the assassin. When Delaquain searched the netherworld for the assassin she saw the true shape of the rowdy young men, they were all young dragons transformed into humans.

During the tournament, the Baron announced Hawk's engagement to his daughter. To the surprise of Hawk. He intended to marry her, but had not committed to it yet. Hawk being a ladies' man was also seeing the baron's daughter's hand servant who announced that same night, after a tryst, that she was pregnant.

Brommel lived in a village of Saxons that was granted amnesty by the king. Normally all Saxons are considered outlaw. Brommel represented the Saxons well, but the night before a huge joust with a baron's son who made it clear all Saxons were only good as fertilizer, disappeared. It was that night when Brommel discovered that he was half-fey and one of the few that remained of their kind. They granted him the status of Moon Knight which came with some interesting powers, but the one drawback was each time he would travel into the fey realm and then return he would age in years instead of days.

To run a festival you need more than colorful banners and a few games of skill. What makes the festival memorable is what happens when the games and formal feasts are done for the day. With all the storylines interweaving through the festival I created local customs and side celebrations to give it more color, to show off the different baronies and cultures. It gave the players a chance to make allies or enemies. The festival became a catalyst for the good portion of the campaign.

1 comment:

  1. Tim campaigns really shined when he ran tournaments and fairs. And the community billboards stuff really works. Not only he did it in his campaign but we co-DMed a couple of times and he did for my Majestic Wilderlands. The players really ate it up.