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MoonHunter Sayeth 20171222


Game Guru-Thread Shepherd
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Do They Know it's Christmas Time at All?
Calendars, Holidays, and why they are important to games.
This did not auto publishin on 12/21 like it was supposed to.

For a large percentage of us, "It tis The Season".

So I was driving in this "morning" (which is still last night for the rest of you) and heard a song I have not heard for a while.


Very apropos since it was still International Human Solidarity Day. If you search it out, you can find holidays of all sorts.

This time of the year (really, from Halloween to New Years) it is all about "The Holiday". It seems to dominate the lives of so many people (and possibly you). Even if it doesn't, it affects so many others that it does impact you as well.

Recently, many of my site posts and one blog post if you scroll down and one future blogpost in queue have been about time, and how it and history marches on. Side descriptions about the changes in weather can be used to "mark time in a chronicle". However, the best way to mark time is "holidays".

One of my players realized that the "Apple Festival" was happening again in "town". She remembered that the "Apple Festival" was going on when the chronicle started... and it hit her that one game year had passed since they started "adventuring".

She "got it". Eventually the rest of the Troupe did too.

Holidays serve a couple of purposes in a chronicle.

1) The March (of Time): Holidays plus weather are the best way to "narrate time" in a chronicle. It is showing, rather than telling, players/ character time is passing. They also serve as "sign posts" for when you are in the year.

2) Holidays make connections: Gift giving holidays or family holidays give a character a chance to have roleplay moments. It allows them to make connections with NPCs/ orbit characters . "I lit a candle at temple for my family today." "Oh the Gods! I am sorry they are dead." "Dead? No. It is harvest back home... It is first day of St. Malcus's Harvest." or I stop at the market and get some ribbon trinkets for my friends (the PCs)... it is nearly yuletide".

3) Holidays show what is important: Here is the calander and holidays in Arth and Antioch, places where I tend to Fantasy Game.

The Year is 216 days long, with six months of six weeks, with six days each week.

Each month is approximately a season long
Month 1 Lumos Spring Cool Bright
Month 2 Storos Storm Windy/ Rainy
Month 3 Thermos Summer Hot
Month 4 Geos Harvest Indian Summer/ Cold snaps
Month 5 Lemos Fall Cold/ lt snow
Month 6 Fremos Winter Cold and Snow.

Each season's weather starts +/-2 days from the begining of the month. Transition weather starts 1-6 days before that.

The Day (usually 24 hours) is marked by two cycles of elements, one for day, one for night. Dawn (6 am) starts the first cycle. It usually ends at approximately sunset (6pm). Noon occurs at the begining of the 4th cycle. Most people call the cycle either a candlemark, or one hour (which is two European hours).
Light, Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Darkness, is the day cycle
Darkness, Water, Earth, Air, Fire, Light, is the new cycle.

Each of the six weeks start when the primary moon reaches a given state
Week 1 Full Moon
Week 2 Old Gibbon
Week 3 Old Crescent
Week 4 New Moon
Week 5 New Crescent
Week 6 New Gibbon

Each day of the week has an elemental and social association
Day 1 Ibis Magic/ Darkness
Day 2 Arbol Nature/ Fire Unofficial 1/2 day in good weather
Day 3 Tredos Craft/ Earth Half day, except for merchants/ trades
Day 4 Creedos Faith/ Light Half day for most people, allowing worship
Day 5 Armos Art/Love/ Water Half day for non merchants/ tradesmen
Day 6 Mesch Knowledge/ Air

Yes there is no "weekend" but everyone except priests get two half days off together.

Lumos 1 (Day of the Dead) Unofficial holiday. People rest if they can.
Lumos 7-12 Spring Festivals: Community Parties/ Carnivals

Storos 22 Prayer Day: Praying for the end of the storms. It is an outdated holiday, but the only real holiday in Storos.

Thermos 1-6 Holy Week: Days of General Piousness, Subdued festivals, vows, ceremonies, etc.

Thermos 20 Prayer day: Prayer for relief from the heat. Like Storos 22, it is outdated.

Geos 14-20 Harvest days (usually)
Geos 21-27 Harvest Day Festivals - Big Markets everywhere. The biggest are usually on the 27th.

Lemos 16 Day of Spirits/ Masters - Thanksgiving for luck and departed ones.
Lemos 19 Day of Deamons (Halloween/ Masquarades, but not as child friendly)

Fremos 34: Day of Gods- Holy Day of worship and family gatherings
Fremos 35: Day of the People: Day for friendships, family, loved ones. Token gifts are sometimes given.
Fremos 36: Day of the NewYear: PARTY like you were a Dwarventi! Gift giving.

Unofficial Holidays/ Antioch Holidays
Storos 30 Short Day- Today everyone is a Dwarf. Work super hard for half a day and party... well Drink the rest of the day. Practiced in SecondLand and Thirdland.

Lumos 14 GreenDay: Today everyone is a friendly elf, even the Dwarventi. It is time to be frivolous in nature. Play in the park, minor pranks, forgive enemies, renew friends. (ELF DAY). Practiced in SecondLand and Thirdland.

Lumos 17 Heart's Day: Today is the day when romantic energies flow most freely through Arth. Today is the day to be in love, try to be in love, or pretend to be in love. Practiced in Firstland, SecondLand, and Thirdland.

Thermos 13 Greble: A combination of April's Fools day and Halloween. Dress up strangely. Try on a different personality or even sex for today. Be different. It is known as HumanDay by the Elventi and Dwarventi, as this is how they think humans are every day. Practiced in FirstLand and Thirdland, with some people adopting it in SecondLand and Maskland.

Lemos 2: Anniversary of the Last Hobgoblin invasion.
Two hundred and seventy six years ago, the city of Antioch managed to stop "The Great Goblin Horde". Before that time, the Goblin Horde would sweep down every 12 to 24 years, usually sacking or nearly sacking the city and looting everything between The Northern Mountains and Antioch.

Two hundred and seventy six years ago, while the horde managed to breach the city and destroy a good part of it, the militia managed to hold them off from reaching the plyon in the central plaza and killed their leader. The goblins broke rank and left. They have not been back since.

The city has been completely rebuilt since then along "magikal/ scientific" lines. Antioch is the most modern city in all the Eleven Imperium. It has inner walls for defense, a well laid out civic plan, waterways/ sewers, and many other features that other people marvel at.

Every year since then, there is a parade of current and retired militia and guard (the last Elventi vetran is the grand marshall of the parade in his wheeled chair). The last battle is re-ennacted. The goblins are ex-guardsmen in paper mache goblin masks.

There is a street fair (since the central plaza is being used for the re-creation). Those who are goblins, get to "disturb the peace" in the fair, while they are in costume. Most of it is clowning around, but there are mock fights (and a few non-mock fights), chases, and some less savory activity. This is usually done between late morning and the late afternoon recreation. Being a goblin is supposed to be good luck, so many vie for the chance.

note: The real reason the Goblins have not attacked since then is that a temple of monks was blue misted into the pass the Goblins need to boil through to get to Antioch (and Avalon and all parts south). These Shaolin monks defeat these little scourges every few seasons they come down. Otherwise they would of been back 12-24 years later.

Lemos 7-12 Election Week: Guild leaders are elected this week. In Antioch, this is a big deal, as it determines who is on the guild council.

Lemos 15 Last Major Outdoor/ Open air markets.

Fremos 31 Traditional Graduation day for apprentices.

Fremost 33: Largest Market day of Fremos, and some say all year.
note: Arth was "built" so the perfectly matching dates for year, month, lunar position, and so on, is not a lucky accident.

Lots to digest.
3-1) Many Holidays are there to mark the seasons, secular, agricultural, and religions
3-2) Do you have any Religious Characters? Holy Week is one of those events that will remind people who have clerical connections.
3-3) The unofficial or local holidays show what are important to the locals and help add chrome and verisimilitude to the setting.

Now there are a few here that need to be unpacked

Greble - A way for the non-humans to mock the Humans (in that friendly way that won't cause the Humans to rise up in a terrifying mass of angry torch carrying crazy people). Green Day and Short Day are the Human's response to that. Short day coincides with a Old Dwarven holiday. Green Day was something new that the Elven Govenor decided to add, given the existance of Greble and Short Day.

Anniversary of the Last Hobgoblin invasion- a telling bit of history. This event also has roleplaying and adventuring possibilities.

3-4) Holidays are great "educational moments". Anniversaries of historic events or various (apple) festivals, let people know what is historically important and what is locally important ("They grow apples around here? Yes, remember... orchards by the road on the way in... oh yah..." )

4) Themes during the year. You want a romantic subplot, Heart's day sets that up. You need a little religious scuffle... holy week. You want to hit home family (or the character's lack there of)? The End of the year holidays. Political intriqute, Election Week or the week before, is a perfect time.

5) Holidays Impact Activity: Things will be busy or not busy because of a given holiday. You need something immediately, but no stores are open because of the holiday. You get crushed in the market place because everyone else is shopping for things. An office is closed for a X-Mas party when you need a bit of red tape. Just because you are not celebrating a holiday, everyone else's celebration will not impact you.

5b) Holidays can add drama by changing thrings.

6) Holidays as location markers: You can tell you are "not in Kansas anymore" because the holiday changes. You are all expecting "the local christmas" you cross the border and it is "just another tuesday", as they follow a different religion.

7) Confusion Points: The local holiday might not make sense to those passing through. Greble, Short, or Green day might confuse people. Election Day did that for my first round of players who could not figure out that the setting was NOT a local Monarchy and that how could anything vaguely medieval have elections. It was an educational moment.

8) Remember, Holidays can be happening in the background... just don't ignore their side effects. PCs many not be "partaking of the holiday seasons" because they are busy saving the world behind everyone's back. However, this does not mean it won't impact things. Die Hard was set at Christmas. The Holiday party and a few other things were "what they were" because of the holiday.

Holidays are a primary tool to show, don't tell, the march of time through the year. They assist GMs in explaining parts of their setting. They provide extra drama and themes for the chronicle as they change the expected. If your chronicle does not have any holidays or downplays their existance, then you are missing out on many opportunities.
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