Friday, July 17, 2009

Holidays in D&D: Part Seven - The Conclusion!

So ends my series on the use of holidays and festivals in D&D. I may revisit the topic in the future, but for now I've got a shopping list of potential posting topics that I'm eager to get going on. Here is a recap of my posts in the series so far for ease of navigation.

Part One: The first part of a piece of short fiction detailing the Festival of Adventurers, a totally usable celebration in any campaign.

Part Two: An outline of the good sides and bad sides to holding festivals and celebrating holidays in your D&D campaign.

Part Three: A continuation of the short fiction and a description of four types of holidays, namely traditional holidays, religious celebrations, treating your PC's as guests of honor, and birthday parties (for players and characters).

Part Four: The fiction continues with the opening meeting to the Festival of Adventurers.

Part Five: The second to last part of the fiction, in which our heroes make their way through the streets to the Temple of Pelor to have their first team meeting.

Part Six: A ready-to-use encounter in any 3.5 D&D - the Masquerade Ball. Put your players through a series of skill challenges to see who will be lucky and talented enough to bring someone home after a night of wine and dancing.

Our last part is the final installment of the short fiction I've been accompanying this series with, wherin the adventurers have the rules of the Labyrinth explained to them. I used this fiction as a launching point for an urban campaign I ran a while back, making heavy use of the city of Saltmarsh as laid out in the Dungeon Master's Guide II.


- - -

As if on cue, there is a light knock on the door, before it opens. You can make out a short figure bowing graciously before Father Balthazar, before striding happily into the room and climbing up on a small foot-stool to see you all over the table. Before you is a short gnome, standing just over three feet. His appearance is almost laughable, as he wears very extravagant purple robes with yellow stars stitched in, and a similarly styled tall pointed wizard’s hat with a wide brim. His mustache curls in an otherworldly fashion, and he walks with a carved walking stick that looks more for show then practical use. The top of the staff looks to be carved in the shape of a toad, but upon closer inspection, the rust colored frog seems to be alive, sitting atop the staff, rather then as a part of it.

The man looks down for a second, the brim of the hat shading his eyes. For a moment there is silence.

"WELCOME!" The man exclaims suddenly in a high, nasally voice, throwing his arms up into the air. Colored lights dance around the room, and the shock is so great that he wakes even his sleeping toad, which jumps off of the staff, landing in the center of the table, croaking loudly at you. "Team Chimera! Welcome, welcome, welcome! May I introduce myself, I am..." he take an overly dramatic pause here, as if making sure he has your absolute attention, "Maekor The Magnificent!" He beams a smile at you, as his frog croaks again. "Yes, yes, I'm sure you've heard of me. Now then, I am Chief Mage of the Adventurers Guild and will be your team's guide for the next three days through the Festival. Lucky you! Now then... the rules..."

He places his hands down on the table, as a shadow falls over the window, darkening the room. His face becomes faintly illuminated as if by some ghostlike candle. His face becomes almost comically spooky, as he lowers his voice as much as possible, to intensify the mood. "You are only a few minutes away from facing our greatest creation... the labyrinth. Heed my words, ye who would enter there. Or perish within..." He pauses. "Well, sort of." He reaches into a side pouch, pulling out a long scroll, spreading it out on the table. You can see written upon it a small list, and in very intricate handwriting "The Rules" is written across the top.

"Now then, listen carefully." He clears his throat and begins to recite from the scroll. "Welcome to the Festival of Adventurers insert team name here! I am insert name here your guide for the festival. Before you stand many challenges, as you have seen on your festival schedule. Sign ups for all such events will take place following the first team event, the Labyrinth, pause for dramatic tension. As to the first event which I’m sure you’re all worried about, first let me say, lay your worries to rest. We will have guild member wizards watching your progression through the labyrinth, and should it look like anything may deal you a lethal blow, you will be swiftly teleported to safety. That out of the way, lets move to the rules. To win the labyrinth, your team must be the first of the four teams competing to reach the flag, and remove it from the pole in the center of the labyrinth. Along the way however you will have four types of challenges to face."

He pauses here, taking a breath, and continues.

"First, there are monsters within the maze. Yes, monsters. These monsters have either been captured by the guild, or are guild member mages in disguise. This will test your physical prowess in battle. Second, there are traps within the maze. Each team has been fitted with at least one trap finder, so use them well. Third, there will be riddle crystals. Should you use a riddle crystal successfully; good fortune of some kind will befall your team. To activate a riddle crystal someone must physically touch it while at least half of the team is within five feet of it. It will give you detailed instructions following it’s activation. Finally, while you do start out in your personal quadrant of the maze, you may have to deal with the three other teams in the maze. You may use any means necessary to overcome these teams, and as stated before, should any blow look like it will kill you, you will be swiftly teleported to safety."

He smiles at you and continues.

"The labyrinth itself has been constructed of spiked briars, so passage through or over the walls is not suggested. The druids of Oak Island have been kind enough to enchant some of the briars with poison, though you will not know which. So again, climb at your own risk. Familiars and Animal Companions are allowed within the maze; however they are not permitted to pull the flag from the pole in the center. Beating monsters, overcoming traps, answering riddles, and getting rid of the other teams is not required to pull the flag, however you will be given points based on everything you overcome, which will rank you not just against the three teams you’re up against but every other team in the tournament. The team that pulls the flag will be given a year’s free membership into the Adventurers Guild and minor prizes, while the team that scores the highest, second highest, and third highest in point totals will be given the grand prizes."

"Stop here and ask for questions."

He wraps the scroll up and looks to all of you, slightly out of breath. "Any questions? None? Wonderful!"

You make your way through the streets, passing by the familiar shops and sights. You make mental notes of all the places you will have to see once you're not being bustled around from one place to another. Maekor the Magnificent notices your interest and falls back a little ways to walk beside you all.

"I know you haven't really had much time to explore yet, but once you're done in the Labyrinth you'll have a lot of free time for the rest of the night. This was our big first day event, and tonight will be filled with celebration. I suggest findin' a nice shady spot to sit after you're done, and checking out everything in your packet. There's a map of the city, some coupons and a schedule of events. Then tomorrow and the day after we'll get into all the smaller events, and things like that. You'll have plenty of time to explore. And a'course I'll find ya tomorrow mornin' to take ya around to whatever you wanna go to, or ta give ya advice on what ta do."

He smiles at you, walking ahead. Every so often you pass by a member of the Adventurer's Guild who will bow or tip their hat to Maekor. You start to get the feeling that he may actually be the Chief Mage or at least hold some position of authority to have so many people recognize him. You also begin to see the large mob of people you saw before, only now the other festival goers are broken up into groups of four, walking down the streets or sitting in a tavern, similarly with a member of the guild, talking them through rules, or pointing out things on the map.

Eventually you cross the bridge back onto Oak Island. It is much more deserted now. A few individuals stand around, most of them being from the adventurers guild, in addition to what seem to be a few teams standing at a distance from you and each other, watching the maze intently and discussing amongst themselves. From within the maze you can hear a ferocious roar, a large pop, and the echo of laughter. A guildmember approaches Maekor and after bowing slightly, addresses him.

"Master Maekor..."
Maekor clears his throat. "Err... Master Maekor the Magnificent, is this team Chimera?" The two walk away briefly in quiet discussion before Maekor returns to you.

"Two of the teams are in the final chamber, so you have about ten minutes to do any last preparations." He points over to a series of small tables. "If you desire, you can purchase some basic equipment there. Once you hear the horn blow, you should report to starting gate two. Good luck!" He smiles at you and walks over to join a small group of guildmembers.

Soon, a bell tolls, and you know it is time to begin...

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