Around the world, cultures celebrate the successful conclusion of their harvest seasons with festivals. Fantasy world often share the same seasons and agricultural practices, so it makes sense that they would have harvest festivals too!
So why not use a fantasy harvest festival to frame a one-shot adventure for those you love (and maybe even that uncle you tolerate)? Swipe any of these festival ideas for your campaign!
A harvest festival helps frame the action in Kobold Press’s new Tales of the Valiant adventure, Trouble at Mossbeard Mill. Perched at the edge of civilization, the town of Moonbright prepares for its annual harvest festival. While in town, your PCs can investigate disturbances around Moonbright, including pesky kobolds, hounds from hell, and vengeful treants.
Zybranna, the Festival of Huts
In the Kingdom of Asif, workers harvest the fields at a breakneck pace over a span of two weeks. Instead of returning home at night, workers erect temporary rectangular structures in the fields to protect them from the elements. The walls of these huts are thin wooden sheets attached to poles at the four corners. The roof is made from leftover plant material gleaned from the fields, commonly palm leaves and bamboo poles.
In solidarity with the field workers, the Asifans who dwell in cities, towns, and villages spend the two weeks sleeping in huts they build near their homes. When the workers return from the fields, harvest in tow, the whole kingdom spends another week celebrating Zybranna. Here, the lowliest peasant and the wealthiest noble celebrate on equal footing.
Try these adventure seeds to introduce Zybranna to your PCs:
- The weather during the harvest season has been unseasonably rainy. Erez Leket, advisor to the king, has learned that a circle of druids is manipulating the weather to cause famine and control the population. Leket wants adventurers to spoil their plots.
- While many vampires require permission to enter a domicile, the temporary nature of the huts means that vampires can freely enter. A hive of vampires is feeding on workers at night, threatening the harvest. The King of Asif is looking for adventurers to eliminate the vampiric threat.
Hana, the Festival of Flowers
In the villages and towns that dot the Yama Mountains, cherry blossoms flower on trees in the early spring. Pilgrims travel from hundreds of miles away to witness the blossoms in full bloom, as priests of the harvest god consider this a good omen for the coming harvest.
Enterprising folk harvest the blossoms, which are then sold to towns and cities adjacent to the mountain range. These blossoms can be muddled with rice flour to create an exotic pink noodle, cooked with sugar and water to make a syrup, and used as a garnish in drinks. Some even surmise they can be used to brew healing and revivify potions.
The cherry blossoms can also be preserved in a variety of methods. Some cooks pickle the blossoms in white vinegar, adding a pink hue and a sour pop to dishes. Cherry blossoms can also be cured in rock salt over several days. The blossoms remain potent for several months post-harvest, while the brine can be used as a salty infusion for dressings and marinades.
Try these adventure seeds to introduce Hana to your PCs:
- An aged chef can no longer make the dangerous trek into the Yama Mountains. She wants adventurers who can purchase cherry blossoms at Hana time and return them to her restaurant before they spoil.
- Pilgrims from a faraway city were leaving the Yama Mountains when they were robbed along the road. The pilgrims promise a significant reward to anyone who returns their possessions. However, the pilgrims are not what they claim to be, and the robbers had noble intentions in recovering pilfered relics of the harvest god.
Karrien, the Festival of Rice
The hearty folk of Banto peninsula, the Bantichi, eat a diet heavy on mushrooms, beans, and rice. As a semi-aquatic grain, rice needs consistent irrigation. The Bantichi claim that the deities of the river and harvest jointly bestowed on their ancestors knowledge of how to irrigate. While clerics doubt whether two deities intervened, given their often adversarial and often hostile relationship, that the Bantichi are indeed highly skilled at rice cultivation.
Approximately five months after planting, the rice is mature enough to harvest. Over six weeks’ time, the Bantichi harvest their rice fields in the same order that they were planted. Once the rice is milled, the farmers return the bounty to their local chieftains, who distribute the food among the people. The distribution is celebrated joyously by the Bantichi as Karrien, the festival of rice.
The farmers’ return with the harvest is a parade from the fields to the villages, with Bantichi joining the procession as the wagons pass their homes. Bantichi children bang on homemade drums and blow simple melodies on reed flutes. When accepting the harvest from the farmers, Bantichi chiefs drop to one knee, signifying their gratitude on behalf of their people.
Once the harvest is delivered, the Bantichi celebrate for three full days. Karrien is a rare occasion where the Bantichi slaughter livestock communally, providing an opportunity for everyone to eat meat. The Bantichi also use their remaining stock of rice to brew rice wine for Karrien, which is distributed to smooth over past grudges. Bantichi elders use the festival to teach moral lessons with a humorous slant, adding levity to the proceedings.
Notably, Karrien is the only time of the year when the Bantichi eat black rice. Once the festival concludes, this rice is forbidden to all but those of angelic ancestry—the aasimar who dominate the Bantichi’s priestly orders.
Try these adventure seeds to introduce Karrien to your PCs:
- In preparation for Karrien, a Bantichi villager is prepared to offer up their cow to the chieftain. However, a neighbor doesn’t want to lose the village’s source of milk, so he stole the cow. The cow tracks lead to monster-infested swamplands, and the chieftain needs adventurers to recover the neighbor and the cow.
- Today is the big day, as the local farmers are scheduled to deliver the rice harvest! The rice wine is brewed, the elders prepared their stories, and the children practiced on drum and flute. When the farmers don’t arrive as anticipated, only brave adventurers can determine their fate before Karrien is canceled.