|The dark ages were rife with looters and jam bands.|
As I reflect on my gaming experience, I think about cool dungeons and other modules, but the ones that were the most visceral were the adventures that took place during festivals. Anyone remember B6 - The Veiled Society? The adventure itself isn't all that awesome but it has some really interesting imagery, not the least of which is the players being introduced to the main factions of the town by virtue of a street brawl that breaks out during the Festival of Lucor ("Bald-headed fool! Do you Torenescu think you own the street?"). When I look back at the modules I loved, B6 always comes back, even though I look at it as a very linear and predictable adventure. It's amazing how powerful some marketing (Oh, come on, those purple cowls looked AWESOME back in 1985) and a dramatic opening can make you forget the mediocrity of the plot. Good lord, I just realized how much I sound like Jerry Bruckheimer there. *facepalm*
|Fire! Entertainment AND Punishment!|
Even if you have the players as spectators to a festival (as in the second part of Three Brides), it's important to give them some kind of investment. Side bets, anyone? Or maybe they know one of the participants and are there for moral support. Maybe they can just make a buck, through legitimate minstrel work (barding? minstrelry?) or illegal thievery. The size of the festival matters here--the Festival of Lucor in Specularum would provide much more cover for illicit action than Pembrooketonshire's Great Games.
So, you can have plot hooks, competition, and money-earning potential at festivals. What else is there?
|I don't even know why I bothered to put a caption here.|
Of course, not all festivals require a nefarious backdrop (all four I mentioned trigger a much more insidious plot). Sometimes a festival is just a festival. Pendragon uses tournaments extensively in the Great Pendragon Campaign (which, I cannot lie, intimidates the hell out me, but you can't deny it's an amazing monstrosity of campaign goodness), which just serve to promote your character's social standing.
Festivals are a great tool. Even if you've only seen the video for "The Safety Dance" or been to a Renaissance Faire once, you can picture what's going on. It's a bit easier to relate to than delving into a slimy moldy dungeon. The opportunities are varied and exciting. I'd love to hear how you've used festivals in your games. Until then, cheers!