Random Things: Local Beliefs & Festivals

villager.pngLocal Festivals

These random things articles are designed as quick idea generators for time-pressed GMs who want to inject some additional details into their game. Isolated villages and towns inevitably develop their own traditions and customs, these can add a lot of flavour to an RPG but are often sadly ignored.

If you need some inspiration for a local festival just roll a D20 and consult the table below:

1Parade of the Saints. A festival honouring the many local saints and figures of religious authority, small effigies of the saints are mounted on poles and paraded through the village by the inhabitants.
2Rat Hunt. A festival that originated during a time of plague, the village folk take specially trained cats on a hunt for rodents, the person whose cat catche the most is crowned Lord Rat and gains special privilieges for the duration of the festival.
3Blessing of the Sick. A local saint is believed to have bathed someone in the waters of a local spring and healed them, during this festival the local priest re-enacts this ritual, bathing those who are infirm or sick in the local spring waters in the hope that the gods will heal them.
4Bread Rolling. To give thanks for the first flour of the season, local bakers create special hardened loaves and then roll them down a steep hill, although dangerous many locals chase the loaves, believing that catching them brings good fortune.
5Harvest Thanks. Village farmers set aside a tenth of their crop during harvest season, these crops are then fashioned into an image of their deity of the harvest and are burnt as an offering of thanks.
6Warrior's Lament. In honour of an ancient warrior who once saved the village from savage marauders, once a year–on the anniversary of this brave act–the villages best fighter dons the warrior's armour and challenges anyone in the village to beat him in a fair fight. It is believed that anyone triumphing in the challenge will have good fortune for the year ahead.
7Coming of Age. Villagers who are coming of age spend a single night in the haunted forest near the village, whilst most return unharmed ready to resume their lives in the village, others disappear or return with fantastic tales, their hair coloured entirely white.
8Confirmation. Many villages hold to the belief that elves or faeries steal mortal children and replace them with changelings disguised by ancient sorcery, in this village it is a traditional that each new infant is blessed with holy water from the church, should the baby shrink away from the water or scream then it is a sure sign of a changeling.
9Procession of the Summer King. At the height of summer one of the village youths is chosen as the Summer King, a grand procession winds throughout the village before the King is sacrificed to the soil to ensure a bountiful harvest next year. Being chosen as the Summer King is seen as a great honour.
10Festival of the Wilderlings. On one day of the year the villagers throw of the trappings of civilisation, behaving as animals do to bring themselves closer to nature and their own natural gods. Locals dress in furs, smear themselves in dirt and refuse to speak during the festival, any crimes committed during this day are not prosecuted afterwards.
11The Great Hunt. An animal is chosen as the target of the hunt and marked, the local people then form together in a great hunt and attempt to track it down. If the animal escapes then it is a sign the year ahead will be hard, however, if it is caught then a year of prosperity will follow.
12Wisdom of the Foal. When the first foal of the year is born, if it attempts to stand straight away then the coming winter will be mild, otherwise the winter will be severe.
13Frog Feast. In a village where seasonal migrations result in an influx of frogs to local wetlands, the local people celebrate by holding a huge feast where every meal uses the frogs as its main ingredient.
14Rite of Eternal Repose. Fearing the return of spirits or the undead, the deceased in this village are buried face down with their legs broken.
15Exiled. In this village anyone showing signs of disease or anti-social behaviour is exiled to a small island in the middle of a lake, they are allowed to remain there in peace but guards patrol the shores and are authorised to slay them should they attempt to leave.
16Fearful of unwholesome vapours and noxious fumes, twice per day the local apothecary moves through the village, annointing the entrance of each home with scented oils.
17In order that the births of the villages animals might be blessed by the gods, the first animal born is sacrificed to the village fertility gods.
18In this village, accusations of witchcraft are tested by the local priest releasing a frog near the property of the accused. If the frog hops towards the property then the accused is guilty, otherwise they are innocent.
19It is believed that the fey may steal cut strands of hair to make fetches of the villagers, so all clipped hair must be burnt to ash immediately.
20Winter Silver. Local farmers bury a single silver piece at the four corners of their property, it is believed that Jack–the spirit of winter–will take the money and spare their lands from the worst of the winter cold.

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