The Chaosium Digest

The Chaosium Digest supports the role-playing games produced by Chaosium Inc. and all content is fan submitted. Begun in 1994 by Shannon Appelcline who passed it to myself in 2000 and previously distributed via email, this is the newest incarnation of the Chaosium Digest. Enjoy!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Chaosium Digest Classics -- Harvest Festival

by Gidjabolgo gidjabol@hem2.passagen.se
Originally presented in Chaosium Digest v29.01 Wednesday, November 17, 1999

While this article is primarily aimed at Pendragon, it maybe used (albeit with some tweaking) in most rural settings.

For the landed knight, the annual harvest festival offers an opportunity to relax from the stiff formality at court and indulge in the simple pleasures. There will be an outdoor banquet, games, competitions and interesting events. For knights with neighboring manors, a grand feast can be held together, inviting the people from both holdings. This, of course means either that they share the duties of the host, or that they alternate between the locations on different years.
The food served is not luxurious, but abundant, and those who wish can indulge in the robust, dark ale, the roasted pigs and oxen, the honey-coated apples and the sweet raspberry jam on freshly baked bread. If the harvest has been poor, this will naturally reflect on what is offered, but a [Generous] lord might want to sponsor the feast in order to improve his peasant's loyalty. In general, 1FOOD/POP will insure a well-set table.

Traditionally hosted by the lord, he is the one to declare the festivities opened with some words of thanks (or possibly blame) to God/the Gods. He presides over the high table set at the center of the feast, is first served, and on this occasion is also available to his tenants, ready to hear complaints and praise, resolve disputes and grudges and in general show that he cares.

Other duties of the lord is to serve as judge in competitions:
* The best ox, pig and sheep are judged, bringing the winner (or rather the winner's owner) a small token and a fractionof glory.
* Log-tossing, running competitions, wrestling matches and weight-lifting (pick up a heavy stone and carry it for fifty paces, demanding both STR and CON) tournaments are held. There is often a judgement needed here, and it might be tempting for the lord to judge in favor of his soldiers instead ofhis peasants [Just/Selfish]. After all, whose loyalty are you most likely to need? Prizes might be donated by the lord, or might simply be the local glory won.
* For more rustic entertainment, you might want to offer the players "Hunt the greased pig" and "Climb the greased pole".

Naturally, the lord and his personal guests might want to participate in the games. This is really a matter of humility. It is understood that in doing so you enter on the same terms as everybody else. And if the lord's own animals wins the prices and his friends and soldiers wins all the competitions, a certain amount of grumbling is to be anticipated. Remember that your respect for the peasants will affect theirs for you.

What's going on, then?

Well, this is an occasion to renew old friendships and enmities, to show off and to observe. Old men sit on benches talking about how things were better in their days, children run about playing, screaming and giggling, young maids are coquettish and young men cocky. As the night draws closer, the bonfires seems to burn brighter, the ale looses its bite and the maids are getting prettier.

Some things that might happen during the festivities are:
* A little child is lost! His worried mother pleads for help, but roll a die to see if the little rascal (ca 3 years old) has: 1. Hidden out of mischief. 2. Got lost in that forest over there. 3. Been abducted by his mean big brother. 4. Been abducted by his pretty sister's spurned suitor. 5. Fallen asleep under a table. 6. Been abducted in order to be 'heroically' found by his pretty sister's suitor.
* A monster comes from the nearby forest to trash the party! Roll a die to see if it is: 1-2. A wyvern. 3-4. A lion. 5. A large bear. 6. A small giant. Regardless of monster, it is already furious.
* By the end of the night a young woman is screaming "Rape!" but some say she did so only to embarrass the young man who she wanted who did, in fact, not want to. He denies all carnal interest, and his young wife confirms that he is ever faithful, but the girl who screamed wants recompense and justice done.
* The prize-winning pig has escaped from his temporary pen. The previously so proud owner stands devastated before the Lord, his hands holding tightly to the green ribbon signifying his honour, humbly asking for assistance. Anyone up for a tame boar hunt?
* Someone is eating a bit too heartily and chokes on a bone. [Awareness] and [Dexterity] to save him by fortuitously stumbling on the Heimlich maneuver.
* A large burly farmer with bloody knuckles is dragged before you by his visibly pregnant daughter. Urged by her he asks for the help of your physician to see to his son in law. The poor boy is horribly beaten up, and it is revealed that he actually is not the son in law of the farmer. Yet, but before he passed out he managed to promise to marry the girl.
* Fire! Fire! A stubbled field has been ignited by sparks from the bonfires, and the fire is threatening the manor. Gather people and organize a bucket chain and blanket quenchers [Battle] and [Peasants' Loyalty]. Results as follows:
- Double fumble: no one organizes or does anything useful. Two barns with 4 FOOD and twenty sheep, screaming in anguish, burn as does the stable. 2d3 horses killed, including the lord's favorite riding horse. Lower [Peasants'Loyalty] by one.
- Single fumble: you make a mess of the lot, but someone else steps in and saves the day. Nevertheless, two barns with 4 FOOD and twenty sheep, screaming in anguish, burn as does the stable. 1d3 horses killed, but not any one of the expensive ones.
- Double failure: you make a mess of the lot, but someone else steps in and saves the day. Nevertheless, a barn with 4FOOD burns.
- Single success: You lose 2 FOOD and a barn is slightly charred.
- Double success: You save the day, nothing is lost. Check on [Peasants' Loyalty].
- Critical: You save the day, nothing is lost. Raise [Peasants' Loyalty]. In the case of failure or worse, a successful [Orate] and [Folk lore] might mitigate the situation a bit as far as the peasants' loyalty is concerned. "In this hard time ..."
(c) 1999 Orjan Westin
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