A Heaping Helping of Fluff Please!

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So here I am, scrolling through the boards and letting my Ramen Noodles get cold from a case of "too-many-threads-itis" when something strikes me as missing. Not from the boards, from my "fluff". Warning, this is a long set up for what I think is an important, but simple development request.

I'm sitting here thinking "the 5 button laser-mouse I got for Christmas is starting to not work right" and it hits me like a ton of bricks: Christmas, Easter, Lent, and Holidays, observances, and festivals in general. Holy crap! They never talked about in D&D books (well most of the time anyway). Every society, religion, and even evil dark cult in the history of the world has traditional and ceremonial observances - it kinda makes the world go round with some religions and cultures. Why don't we ever really cover this stuff in our game books? I love the 4e pantheon descriptions, but wow is it ever vague. I mean Pelor teaches us these 3 simple things - blah, blah, and blah. But what's it like for the average day-to-day worshiper? Do peasants only go to the temple of Bahamut on Sunday? Does Kord have any specific prayers in his name? "Oh mighty Kord, who art in the Astral Sea, Hallowed be thy Sword..." eh...anyway you get the picture.

I realize of course that it's vague for a couple reasons:
1. Space restrictions (makin' books is expensive yo).
2. Creative freedom (washing your feet 100 times per day in the name of Melora would certainly turn me away from choosing her if that was the case).

OK, enough rambling, my point here is: Can we get some developmental fluff going? What holidays and observances of the various faiths in 4e do YOU plan on using to add flavor to your games? It doesn't matter if it's "Official" or anything like that, I'm just interested in seeing how you guys would use the gods to really capture the setting of the game (hopefully without it being the only focus of course)
This is the only one I have off the top of my head that I use in my campaigns.

The Wild Hunt- Occurs on the last night of summer. Obad-Hai (who is a semi-exarch demigod of Melora now) leads vicious fey on a run through the world. Every mortal person hides on this night, and anyone caught outside is in danger of being torn apart, or worse, taken by the fey. Even in the strongest cities people leave food and strong drink outside (to hopefully distract the war-band), lock their doors tight, and hold their children close.

I like this thread, it has possibilities, I'll post more in a little bit.
This is the only one I have off the top of my head that I use in my campaigns.

The Wild Hunt- Occurs on the last night of summer. Obad-Hai (who is a semi-exarch demigod of Melora now) leads vicious fey on a run through the world. Every mortal person hides on this night, and anyone caught outside is in danger of being torn apart, or worse, taken by the fey. Even in the strongest cities people leave food and strong drink outside (to hopefully distract the war-band), lock their doors tight, and hold their children close.

I like this thread, it has possibilities, I'll post more in a little bit.

Is that really neutral?
Could be balanced out with a day on the start of a harvest, or the start of spring, where the fey come and help out those that give them food. A balance of creation and destruction, good and evil.

Some holidays for historical reasons would be rather fun to see, such as independence days, days of important battles, or other events.

The birthday of the current king/queen/leader type would probably be one as well, I imagine. If they are evil, then they can force people to fight to the death for their pleasure. It's still a holiday tho!

I think Discworld had a day where masters of the craft were picking apprentices. I suspect that this would be highly regional, but there could be some celebration or ritual, because the guys are going from boyhood to manhood.
Normally I try to avoid posting things that are intellectual properties that I intend to publish at a later date, but below is a modified version of something I created long ago:

The festival of Amoraine:
This halfling festival is a great feast that celebrates the heroic hunter Amora, who after a terrible winter set out to hunt alone to feed his village. After stalking and killing a great Dire Boar, Amora stopped to pay hommage to the departed spirit of the boar and offered prayers of thanks to Melora. Little did Amora know that celestial agents of Melora witnessed his reverance and blessed the body of the boar. When Amora returned to his village and the village women cut into the boar to gut and clean it, no ichor came out, and rather a bounty of grains, breads, wines and fruits spilled forth - and kindly fey and celestial spirits came out from the wood to celebrate and rejoice with the villagers. Each year at the end of winter in the very first week of spring, many halfling villagers send out a hunting party and gather food for a great feast to honor the wild goddess Melora and the miracle she bestowed upon the hero Amora.

*Note that this story is a modified version of early writings of mine in which I have changed names and several themes to fit the 4e setting and to preserve the original tale for my future publications.
First, think various natural phenomena ceremonies could be built around. Solar, lunar, and astrological cycles. summer Solstice, winter Solstice, spring Equinox, fall Equinox, full moons, new moons, solar eclipse, lunar eclipse, a repeating comet cycle.

Then, you have more anthropological and historical stuff relating to key events or people. Birth of a hero/thinker/leader, death of a hero/thinker/leader, completion of a great city, destruction of a city, discovering of an artifact, rememberance of a great battle or treaty.

There is also still repeated occurances that involve reverence of an existing idea, organization, behavior, ethos, or ruler (in the sense of title and role, not person). Valentine's day as a day of love, a day of thanksgiving, a day of Family, a day of luck bringing, a period of spiritual reflection, honoring the helpful rulership of some monarchy.

In some way, creating holidays IG by IG people shows their aspiration to instill more of that quality into the populace. An oppressive regime may want frequent "Honor your all mighty King" days, a church of insight and inner knowledge may try to institute a "don't use material objects" day, or bundle of hamlets and village may start a "Harvest Festival" to promote prosperity and a strong sense of community.

Sound good to you?
Sound good to you?

Lot's of great examples here to build on. I'm interested in seeing more of how would YOU tie them in to your game (specific examples, and how they relate to the 4e pantheon).
Sorry, I should have mentioned that, since Obad-Hai is not one of the pantheon anymore (he got bumped by Melora) I decided to drop the whole agriculture/nature thing and make him the god of the hunt. His whole existance is the symbol of the raw unfeeling world that is nature. Nature is not green in leaf, it is red in claw. He's not evil, just merciless and darwinian to an extreme.
Wait for the sourcebooks. I know that the 3.5 FRCS had a great deal of this kind of fluff.
Wait for the sourcebooks. I know that the 3.5 FRCS had a great deal of this kind of fluff.

But making up our own fluff was the whole point ;)
Anyhoo...I would love to see the fluff from the books that are sure to come, but in the meantime, I was hoping to see what creative fluff other players have bouncing around their skulls.
I'm interested in seeing more of how would YOU tie them in to your game (specific examples, and how they relate to the 4e pantheon).

Specific examples, you say? Ask and you shall receive.

This is the calendar of one city-state in my upcoming campaign; they are fervent Pelor worshipers, and all of their holidays are based around His religion.

------------------------

Pelor's Holy Calendar

Assume a 380 day year, broken up into 12 months of 24 days each and 4 of 23 days each; month names are Accipio, Abitio, Vernus, Requiescat, Falacer, Cataplus, Aestivus, Solis, Auctumnus, Obaratus, Sterculius, Volturnus, Algidus, Caligio, Hibernus, and Aeacus. The week is 9 days long, and Pelorites spend a day at Temple every 8 days; it isn’t the same day every week to ensure that no one is always missing work on the Holy Day.

1 Accipio--The Dawn of the Year. Pelorites leave small offerings at local temples for those less fortunate, to begin the year on a positive note.

14 Accipio--Feast of St. Cuthbert (Holy Day of Obligation).

1 Abitio—Day of Investiture. New priests and clerics of Pelor take their oaths on this day; all Pelorian temples are open around-the-sundial to welcome well-wishers.

7 Abitio to 8 Vernus--Month of Illumination. Pelorites rise at dawn and sleep at dusk (regardless of whether they'd wake or rest before or after these times) and may not eat or work when it is dark.

9 Vernus--Feast of St. Pholtus (Holy Day of Obligation).

10 Vernus--Feast of St. Celestian (Holy Day of Obligation).

11 Vernus--Feast of St. Ayailla (Holy Day of Obligation).

22 Vernus--Hours of Noon. Pelorites rich and poor come together for a three-hour period of prayer and feasting, celebrating the abundance of spring and thanking Pelor for providing for them.

1 Falacer--Induction Day. Pelorites believe that children should be named and inducted into the Church only during the summer, when Pelor’s power (and protection) is strongest, so any children born after 24 Solis the preceding year are named, inducted, and baptized on this day.

9 Falacer--Feast of St. Elishar (Holy Day of Obligation).

22 Cataplus--Feast of St. Syeret (Holy Day of Obligation).

4 Aestivus--Feast of St. Nilthina (Holy Day of Obligation).

17 Aestivus--Day of Unity. Pelorites are encouraged to visit temples of other good deities and show Pelor's solidarity with all beings of honor and goodness regardless of faith.

19 Aestivus--Feast of St. Aurifar (Holy Day of Obligation).

20 Aestivus--Feast of St. Tamara (Holy Day of Obligation).

24 Aestivus--Summer Solstice. All Pelorites are required to give more freely of their possessions (not give away everything, but a bartender might give several rounds on the house, etc.) and give any servants, hirelings, etc. a small boon. Worshipers wear their absolute finest clothing, priests prominently display holy symbols, and orange or yellow banners are hung from all windows.

13 Solis--Feast of St. Stronmaus (Holy Day of Obligation).

16 Solis to 22 Solis--Days of Sacred Reflection. Pelorites meditate on the paragons of Celestia (starting from Barachiel, paragon of the Silver Heaven, and moving through to Zaphkiel, paragon of the Illuminated Heaven) and try to emulate their virtue. By the end of the week, Pelorites are expected to have paid back any debts, forgiven any slights against them, and seeked forgiveness for any wrongs they have committed.

20 Auctumnus-3 Sterculius--Days of Service. During this period, Pelorites over the age of 14 are expected to either make a pilgrimage to a holy site, go on a crusade against creatures of evil, or attempt to convert others to the faith. Most go on a pilgrimage to a holy site, but many also favor a crusade, as during this time clerics and paladins of Pelor are very likely to support and/or accompany them.

22 Volturnus to 1 Algidus--Harvest Days. Pelorites help their communities, for no pay or recompense, to do any work that must be completed before winter, whether harvesting crops or building shelters.

4 Algidus--Day of the Avatar. On this date thousands of years ago, the first mortal to join Pelor as an Exarch ascended; this day is celebrated by honoring those who have given exceptional service to the Church in the past year, and preaching about the history of the Church.

First New Moon in Caligio--Night of the Sun. Pelorites keep a vigil all night to remind themselves, by the deep moonless darkness, of the gifts the sun gives which will soon be lacking in the depths of winter.

First Full Moon in Hibernus--Holy Day of the Moon. Pelorites honor deities and demigods of the moon for helping Pelor light the world during the dark of winter.

14 Hibernus—Day of Knighthood. Pelor’s paladins of the Ordo Templis are invested on this day, in time for them to protect against the worst horrors of deep winter.

24 Hibernus--Feast of the Winter Sun. Pelorites, who normally eat less and are morose during the winter months, partake of plenty and attend revels to remind themselves that Pelor is always with them despite the cold and darkness.

20 Aeacus--Diem Memoriam. As the year draws to a close, Pelorites remember all those who have died in Pelor's service.
------------------------

Pelor's Holy Calendar

WOW. You really put a LOT of thought into that. I'm assuming that faith will play a major part in your campaigns?
WOW. You really put a LOT of thought into that. I'm assuming that faith will play a major part in your campaigns?

It might, it might not. I just really like world-building, so I usually come up with calendars, holidays, cultural factors, etc. even if the PCs will never see them, because they give the world an underlying structure--and it helps with "winging it" quite a bit.

I can put up some other holy calendars when I get home if you'd like me to.
I stole this holiday from a Dungeon Magazine sidequest adventure called The Night of the Straw Men (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/duad/20080507).

The superstitious folk of the hamlet of Steeplefall and the surrounding countryside celebrate a strange holiday called the Day of the Straw Men. All day, each villager carries around a small, crude, humanoid figure crafted from straw, whispering to it the sins he or she committed during the past year. At dusk, the villagers gather in the town square and throw their dolls into a bonfire, burning away the sins to either make a fresh start of things or make room for another year’s worth of debauchery (depending upon one’s personal outlook). Penitents then often meet with a village priest (to discuss spiritual matters) and/or the mayor (for more secular concerns), both of whom sit in chairs atop a raised wooden platform not far from the bonfire. Most of this is common knowledge, and the villagers freely explain the custom to outsiders. Thus, a PC may learn all the above details with a mere DC 3 Gather Information or Knowledge (local) check

I intergrated it into my campaign's religion, instead of just having it be a small hamlet's superstition.

The adventure itself is a 3.5 mini quest for 1st level characters, but it looks like it could be easily adapted to 4th ed.
I've snatched a bit of fluff for my homebrew from a "Core Beleifs: St. Cuthbert" article, which appeared in Dragon Magazine #358.

Cuthbert is a traveling priest of the Church of Romula. He is of common appearance, an elderly man, white haired with a long moustache, wearing a crumpled green hat and russet clothing. He carries what appears to be a plain wooden cudgel; according to popular rumor however, this simple weapon is anything but. His most decorative item is a medallion overlaid in silver and a starburst of rubies set within. The medallion is not so much a display of wealth as is is a way for the cleric to carry wealth that can be easily distributed when necessary, such as by donating a few gems to a struggling community.

Cuthbert of the Cudgel (as he is often known) is a curmudgeon of an old man --set in his ways, certain he knows best, and quick to gripe about the shortcomings of others. Despite this, he is benign, holding an unwavering dedication to goodness and lawfulness. His no-nonsense attitude appeals to the commoners and frontier folk whose hard lives he touches in his many travels throughout the land. Plainspoken and intolerant of backsliding, he is a stern disciplinarian in a world where evil lurks just out of sight. Common sense and honesty are the basis of good character, and if these virtues were more common, everyone would be better off. He is a practical man who gets the job done, for nothing is worth doing if not done well, whether that means raising a barn or crushing an orc's skull.

Cuthbert travels widely throughout the many rural communities of Alphere, espousing the virtues of common sense, zeal, honesty and truth. A simple shepherd, accepting of all races and creeds, he teaches by example that hard work, truth, forthrightness, and discipline are the keys to just rewards in this life and the next. Lies, sloth, and moral weakness lead to wickedness and failure. He is a stern paternal figure, stingy in praise and quick to lecture but doing so out of love and concern for his friends.


I've taken the fluff for my own use but preserved the author's wording. In my homebrew, Cuthbert is not a deity, but acts as the sort of patron saint for an order of knighthood.

The Core Beliefs series is highly recommened for anyone who is interested in what DirgeChoir is proposing in this thread. The articles do an excellent job of describing the various holy texts, aphorisms, holidays, and myths of the various "core" religions in 3.5.

For anyone who might be interested, here's a list of the articles and the issues they appeared in:

Core Beliefs by Sean K. Reynolds
#338: Boccob
#342: Olidammara
#346: Pelor
#348: Vecna
#350: Wee Jas
#354: Heironeous
#356: Hextor
#358: St. Cuthbert

Back issues should be available from paizo.com, normally for cover price (around $8.00).
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I'll have to see if I can dig up a few old copies of Dragon. I got in a financial bind a few years back and quit picking it up...I forgot just how much I would be missing it.