Trophy: Estate Festivals of the Levasti Countryside

Bucolic. Pastoral. Steeped in tradition. The Levasti countryside is one of the most peaceful and beautiful places in the Kalduhr. It’s a land free of the stench of Ambaret and the terrors of Fort Duhrin, a place where you can live in harmony with the land, raise children, and grow old. But the people of the Levasti countryside are no fools—they understand that what they have is special, and that the Kalduhr has a long and terrible history which must always be remembered. They choose to remember this history through the tradition of the “estate festival,” in which the great landowners of the Levasti countryside throw feasts and fetes designed to honor a specific event from the past.

We are putting together a standalone setting book for the Trophy RPG called Trophy Loom. One of the things we’re going to do with this book is include numerous tables that help flesh out the world Trophy takes place in. Keeping with the spirit of Trophy as a community project, we’re going to be crowdsourcing many of the elements that go into these tables.

For this crowdsourcing, we want you to describe an estate festival of the Levasti countryside. Your entry should contain the following key pieces of information.

1. The name of the festival.

2. The historical or mythical event the festival is meant to honor or memorialize.

3. The customs and practices at the festival which reflect or re-enact the historical event.

You can submit as many entries as you wish by posting a reply here. By submitting here, you agree to let us use your contribution in the Trophy Loom book and PDF (you will be credited as a contributor if we use your entry). Submissions should be fairly brief (no more than a few sentences). Here are some examples:

“The Feast of the Serpent’s Fall celebrates an ancient uprising in the Kingdom of Naganeh, when the common people overthrew the snake-men kings who ruled them. The feast is held in the great hall of a Levasti manor house, and the guests are invited to wander the house as they wish in an attempt to find thirteen poisonous adders that have been hidden throughout. Finding an adder entitles a participant to an expensive prize sponsored by the estate holder. At the end of the feast, the thirteen adders are beheaded and buried near the estate’s border.”

“The Betrayal of Two is a festival which recalls a bit of history the powers-that-be in Ambaret would rather forget: that the kingdom was always meant to be ruled by two sovereigns, and that a proper line of succession included pairs of siblings. This short-lived custom ended when Jakehr Ambaret murdered his brother Jakehl before they could take the throne. In order to avoid a succession crisis, the rules were changed so Jakehr could rule alone. This pivotal moment in history is memorialized during the festival when a pair of crowns are presented before a bonfire; one is tossed to the flames while the other is placed on the head of a Jakehr effigy that is then paraded through the countryside.”

“The Twelve Trials of St. Hilder is a beer festival that honors the stoutest Sister that ever roamed the Kalduhr: Hilder, Saint of Brewers. Legends suggest that St. Hilder was traveling through rough territory, sampling and documenting the various local brews, when she encountered a giant who challenged her to a drinking contest. Hilder agreed, having drunk many a man and beast under the table, but realized she may have made a mistake when she saw the giant-sized flagons set before her. Nevertheless, she persisted, and drank twelve full flagons, outlasting the giant, who passed out at her feet. During the festival, celebrants are rewarded with song and coin if they can drink twelve large mugs of the estate holder’s brew without passing out.”

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The Hunting of Torbold

A mythic swine of prodigious size and intellect, Torbold is said to have escaped his master on the road to slaughter and market, dashing into the Summer woods never to be found. Torbold is blamed for missing children and dogs as well as uprooted crops. He is said to have fathered generations of enormous cunning boars who remember humanity’s betrayal of thier ancestor.

Every Fall young swineherds go into the woods to “Hunt”. They never catch anything, indeed, they must not. Instead they drink and wander between the trunks while older herdsman, butchers and village worthies wearing pig masks taunt, trick and frighten the drunken youth in Torbold’s name. Swineherds who make it through the night are brought to a dawn bonfire and the sacrifice of a superannuated hunting dog that is said to appease Torbold and assure he will not recruit pigs from the village herd or savage swineherds when the village pigs are turned loose to forage acorns in Torbold’s woods.

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**1.**l The Forest’s Feast

2. This festival memorializes the mythical first 4 folk who are said to have ventured into the angry olde forest never to return to the village. In all versions of the tale, Adam, Eve, Lilith and Serpent never come back to the village as they left it. Who returns and how varies from village to village - often eating mushrooms to represent what would grow over the spot where the body fell on the forest floor…

3. In villages that say Adam died in the forest, they eat mushroom steaks. In villages that believe Eve died in the forest, they eat mushroom stews. Villages that believe the serpent died in the forest offer hallucinogenic mushrooms with the village elders guiding the experience and helping offer wisdom. None believe Lilith, the Mother of Witches, died in the Olde Forest. Some say She is there still.

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The Fast of Four Stones is a solemn event undertaken in the planting season to ward off pestilence, blight, and famine. It commemorates the Salt Years, a string of poor harvests brought on by a corruption that rendered the soil dry, white, and infertile. The corruption is said to have ended when a set of enchanted stones, recovered at great risk by four heroes, were buried in the Levasti countryside. The Fast begins at sunup on the first day of planting. At sundown, the estate holder buries four white stones in a fallow field. The estate holder then provides a nighttime feast to represent the end of the famine. The food at the feast is simple but abundant. Some scholars argue that the original name of the festival was in fact the Feast of the Four Skulls, and note with curiosity that the fates of the four heroes of the story have evidently been lost to time.

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Mortunt is an evening affair celebrated in rural communities where brewing and gambling are primary pastimes. Now, it’s mostly a night where revelers gather around massive bonfires, drinking and making merry before going off in groups of two or three to “kill death” (or, really, do whatever small groups of young people might do during a night of debauchery). What’s mostly forgotten is the origin of the holiday: a tale of three brothers who, in a state of drunken paranoia, set a bounty on death himself, and were found dead in a ditch the next morning, only to have their deaths “avenged” by their friends in each of the following years. Rumor is that no one’s collected that bounty yet, and so the festival continues.

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The Setting of the Watch in the village of Ripon is more a ritual than a festival as it takes place every evening, as it has done for the 1600 years since the Saxar ravaged the area. Then, the sounding of an ox-horn at sunset called every able bodied villager to stand watch lest the raiders catch them by surprise. Now, it has taken on an almost religious significance … everyone believes that if the watch is not set then the villagers who died protecting Ripon all those centuries ago will rise from their graves to chastise their descendants.

As the sun sets the ‘Horn Blower’, appointed by the village elders for life, marches to the centre of the market square and blows a single note at the North, the East, the South and finally at the West corner. They then go the the eldest of the village elders to blow the final note, signalling that ‘the watch has been set’.

Ripon has prospered over the years, sitting as it does astride the main route North and those breaking their night at one of the inns on the square often troop out to watch the anachronistic ceremony. The current Horn Blower is a garrulous man in his 50’s who takes great pleasure in recounting tales handed down from the almost mythical original holder of his office, known today only as ‘Gramma Old Blow’.

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The Eve of the Broken Loom

Many of the smaller towns in Levasti have a similar tale: a day when the village awoke to the sound of the warps of every loom snapping at once. Most people write this off as silly superstition, but every village has one person, exactly one, who claims to remember the sound of the looms breaking. Old Egortha in one village, Archibold Miller in another. They all remember that sad morning when all the looms broke. They each say it sounded a little different, say they angered a different sister, the little details all change. One thing remains the same in all the versions of the tale: for a full seven years after the warps were fixed, any yarn woven in those looms turned blood red. That red hat Archibold Miller wears to this day was woven in the fifth year of the curse.

Every year, on the eve of that terrible morn, the village sacrifices some small beast and dyes skeins of yarn with the animal’s blood. Then each weaver in the village cuts a single warp on their loom and creates some small token to be left at the altar of one of the sisters.

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The Carnival of Adventurers

The Carnival of Adventurers was created by the tradesmen of the towns of the Levasti countryside to discourage their young people from wandering off in search of adventure after several of their grown children were killed in a far away mysterious forest. The carnival features games, rides, and plays. This event ends with the play Death by Monster which features effigies of a thief, a mage, and a fighter lit on fire by an actor dressed as the monster at the conclusion.

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Parade of the First Snow

Motif: Hunting - Legend has it that the ancestors of the northern Levasti were starving hunters and gatherers when fortune shined upon them and showed large animal prints in the fresh snow. These prints led to a herd of grazing animals which they gorged upon. After this successful hunt, the tribe settled down here. The villagers now show their respect to their ancestors by awaking at daybreak and marching in pairs through the fresh snow in extra large boots shaped like a hoofs.

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Admiration of the Last Leaves

Motif: Circle of life:

This festival occurs when only the last few leaves remain on the rare wych elm tree in autumn. This solemn event is held to remember all of the family members that have passed recently. It also allows the village elders a chance to impart their wisdom on the young, in case they do not last another winter.

The elders sit with their backs against the tree between the roots after a small lunch. Then, they take turns telling the young circled around the tree all of the knowledge and wisdom they can impart before the sun sets. Afterwards, they have a tremendous banquet.

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Welcome to the community @Blaine.c.martin, I’m sure you’ll enjoy your time here.

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Thank you so much! I’m excited to get more involved on the forums!

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Welcome to the community @NCPtarmigan; enjoy the Forums.

(cw - Xenophobia)
Parade of the Stranger

Fascination with outsiders and newcomers is a daily fixation in the rural hamlets and scattered self contained holdings of the countryside and manifests itself in an overwhelming confusion about the nature of other lands and peoples - even, perhaps especially, those within a couple of days walk. Towards the end of Autumn, before the snow falls, but after the harvest, the grim Parade of the Stranger occurs. At dawn young villagers dress as outlandish approximations of foreigners – horns, makeup, tails and strange garb made of wicker – before marching down the road in a cacophonous parade. The “Foreigners” attempt to steal from the houses and farms they pass, taking food and drink left out by their neighbors who scream insults and hurl things at them (wine soaked sweet bread is popular). The parade is also a time of lasciviousness, where under the guise of xenophobia farm folk “steal away” their paramours (even those already pledged to others) and no social approbation attaches to these trysts as the “stranger” is blamed.

The obvious ugliness of this festival hasn’t all been reduced to pageantry and illicit fornication though, and many communities use the day (in a later, evening parade, when inebriation mounts and celebration congeals into communal hatred) to violently drive off strangers, especially hired hands and seasonal harvest laborers. Travelers often get caught in the mob violence, but even long time residents can be attacked as rivalries and jealousies boil over into an accusation that someone’s grandfather was a swineherd from 30 miles down river, or someone’s brother went for soldier thus corrupting the family with “foreign ways”.

[NOT SURE ABOUT THIS ONE - I WORRY IT’S “TOO REAL”]

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A private affair for each family, the celebration of Midwinter’s Hunger, is often enjoyed more by the young than the old. Meant to memorialize winters of ages past where food was scarce, the festivities begin after dinner, where the oldest member of the family fasts as others eat. Then, as the fire dies, they take their place in front of the hearth and a crude obituary is read by the youngest. The family then parades, as if in a funeral, and lays valued things from the year past on the supine elder. All then sit in silence until the embers fade.
It is of course rude to not to bit one’s hardest on the fore-arm, you must show your love.

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Grimhald’s Moot. First called by Grimhald the Cured five hundred years ago, Grimhald’s Moot is held every seven years, drawing residents from every dale and copse and barrow of the Levasti countryside. Each household calls by lot one of their own to stand as their representative at the moot. Young or old, frail or mighty, cunning or meek–none are excluded from the calling. The chosen form a line at the edge of the old forest, their peaceful lands to their backs, and there they remain in silent attention from dusk until dawn, staring into the black. At first light, they return to their homes without utterance, their duties fulfilled. Those who stand at Grimhald’s Moot are forever changed. To be called is both blessing and curse.

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The Flight of the Star Eater is celebrated during the brightest and fullest moon by goblin families abroad and those who work the Levasti vineyards. Hundreds of paper lanterns, crafted in the shape of whales and sharks, are lit and set to drift over the countryside. As the story goes, a great leviathan once swallowed a fallen star, drawn to its heavenly glow. In time, the powerful energies of the star-metal lifted it into the sky, where its bones still float, housing a monastery where goblin scribes protect the records of their civilization from the times of ancient Kalduhr. At festival time, the lanterns are inscribed with prayers, remembrances - and poems of revolution. It is these that make wealthy estate owners uneasy, even more than the vineyard fires caused by stray lanterns which seem to fall closer to their gates each year.

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Harvest of Sai

The people of the Singing Valle of Sai are silent during the summer harvest festival. They memorialize the eradication of the local cicada, whose screams for sustenance still echo around the Valle. The village rests in a cavernous basin blessed with grottos where the golden gooseberry grows. In a bid to increase yields the villagers ringed their crops in oil so the cicadas could not go to ground. In turn the cicadas feasted upon the branches and, when all was barren, both the cicada and the villagers starved.