This being the holiday season, I got to thinking about another one of my deficiencies when I GM. I seem to fail to incorporate holidays and festivals into my game world. As a whole, we tend to rarely consider them in a game world. Part of that might be because we usually fail to notice the passage of time. After all when is the last time your character aged?
Why is this even important? It is important because without these events, the game world is going to feel boring and sterile. In most games, intelligent beings tend to be social creatures. They tend to interact and have social relations. They have a society and various holidays and festivals are part of their social identity.
Let us look at one such common event, a person’s birthday. Almost everyone tends to celebrate it in one way or another, even if that way is to try to ignore it. There are many customs associated with a birthday. There is the getting of gifts from people. There is birthday party, where friends and/or family celebrate the person’s birth. There is the birthday cake with candles, upon which a birthday wish is taken while blowing out candles.
If we move to a gaming environment, we can be faced with all sorts of role playing possibilities. The party is in a strange land and they are befriended by a tribe. The tribal chieftain’s daughter is having a birthday. What are the customs of the tribe? Are they the same as we expect? Do we give gifts? Do we receive gifts? Is there a ceremony that the party is supposed to take part in? The answers to these questions can make for good role playing. Let’s assume the party doesn’t know that they are supposed to give gifts to the chieftain on his daughter’s birthday. How will that affect their relationship to the tribe? Will they no longer be friends?
Let’s take a look at another example. Maybe the party has just returned from an adventure. Maybe it’s time for the “Night of Fools”, where people are expected to dress up in costumes and make fools of themselves and other people. Now image that as a backdrop for some type of intrigue! Even if the intrigue is simple, the party now has to deal with all the merry makers. Try tracking down the woman in a peacock costume, I dare say that might be to be trouble for the party.
Even without problems, ceremonies and festivals can provide background for the campaign and make the game world to be a little more alive. Player will feel like their characters in habit a dynamic world, and not one that stays the same forever.