Dungeons and Dragons - Spirit Festival
A Festive Occasion for the Whole Family
Festivals and carnivals tend to have a commonplace when it comes to a lot of D&D campaigns. There's just something about celebrating something in a fantasy setting that
This is a Spirit Festival that I put into one of my campaigns that I feel can add some fun to any sort of campaign, whether it's for D&D, Pathfinder, or whatever other tabletop RPG you happen to play. This Spirit Festival uses a lot of Asian themes, so if you would like to add that sort of flair to your campaign, I got your back. Feel free to change up anything such as the location or events as you see fit so it fits with your campaign. I'll be outlining it the way I ran it as well as the setting I had it in.
The Spirit Festival is a staple festival in the city of Beiru. Beiru in itself is a city that lies to the eastern coast, known to attract a crowd of visitors and tourists from all over the continent. The city has a wide array of entertainment branching from kabuki theaters to gambling dens. The city amenities are quite popular as well such as the cozy tea houses and bustling taverns. Beiru is surrounded by a dense forest with a snowy mountain that peeks over the treetop. Many of those attuned to the magical arts can feel a warming sensation of spirits and energy that wander through and around the city. During the day, Beiru is a beautiful scenic city with lush pink trees and large monuments and landmarks such as a grand waterfall, temples and shrines, and giant red gate. Most notorious would be the natural hot springs throughout the city that are rumored to mend magical energy. By night, Beiru becomes enveloped in a thick fog that becomes even thicker in the surrounding forest. Illuminating through the fog however are fire spirits that are playful and willing guides through the city. Spirits come out during the night, enjoying the night life much like any living person.
The Spirit Festival draws in a large crowd, more than Beiru usually gets. The Spirit Festival spans over a course of 4 days and 4 nights, each day having two set events. The Spirit Festival is held to commemorate not just spirits that wander the realm, but the dearly departed that have passed on. Those who have died are honored during the festival, often being the main reason why so many from all over come for the festival. The Spirit Festival allows many to help guide their deceased loved ones onto the afterlife and sending them with a proper farewell. Adventurers from all over are more than welcome to join in on the events as well as any normal civilian. Not all events need to be attended, but for the best experience it is highly advised. Through all of the events, participants can either work together as a team or individually. I personally find it best that they all work together.
Day Event: Competition of Susanoo
The Competition of Susanoo is a contest of might. Who in the land are able to best some dangerous beasts? Who are able to be supreme in the face of adversity? Competitors are brought into the dense forest outside of Beiru and are let loose to find and hunt monsters. Each monster someone defeats will total up a certain amount of points. As the Dungeon Master, the points are equal to the creature's Challenge Rating (round up if necessary) and you will be keeping track of it in secret. The Dungeon Master can make this competition last as long as they would like, I personally made it a total of 12 combat rounds just to not drag it out for too long. The person or team with the most points will win money, a magic item, and a stay in the most notorious inn/ryokan in Beiru for the remainder of the festival. I homebrewed a magic item for the prize and you are more than welcomed to homebrew your own as well. My homebrew magic item was a sword called the Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi.
Night Event: Sailing of the Lotus
The Sailing of the Lotus is a peaceful event where all participants line up along the river that cuts through Beiru. Each person holding a lotus flower. The lotus flower is said to draw in the spirits and signal to them that they are welcomed to the city. As the lotus flowers drift down the river, participants can walk with their flower until it drifts off to the ocean.
Day Event: Riddles of Amaterasu
The Riddles of Amaterasu is a contest of wit. Are you able to crack the code and figure out the answer? This event is held inside a cave in the nearby mountain. Inside of the cave is complete ice and glacial stones. There are three chambers/parts to this event.
The First Chamber of this event is held in a icy room with a door surrounded by unlit torches. A riddle is inscribed on the door that reads:
I have many tongues but cannot taste
By me, most things are turned to waste
I crack and snap, yet I stay whole
I may take the largest toll
I assisted all of the first men
And I will pay them back again
Around me, people snuggle and sleep
Yet run when I am released from my keep
I jump around and leap and bound
This creature's weakness can be found
The answer to this first riddle is: FIRE. What participants would need to do is light a torch on fire then present it to the door.
The Second Chamber is held into a really small dimly lit room. In this room is another door surrounded by 13 unlit lanterns. On the door has the following inscribed:
五 六 一
O 四 八
七 二 三
Participants can perform a history or intelligence check to translate the symbols into:
5 6 1
0 4 8
7 2 3
The answer to this riddle is: 12. This is because no matter however way you add the numbers in a straight line, the sum is always going to be 12. What participants would need to do after solving this riddle is light the twelfth lantern and the door will open for them.
The last room is much larger than the previous rooms with large icy pillars and what appear to be 13 statues of beautiful women dressed in kimonos. One of the walls of this room is made of reflective ice which looks very much like a mirror. Etched into the mirror-like wall is the following riddle:
My uses are many and I can show you no lies,
Yet magicians can use me, for tricks I disguise.
If I am whole, I can make one into two.
Though if you break me, I can make more than a few.
Take heed, for those who seek to destroy me,
A curse of 7 years, upon them I shall be.
Vanity will trap you in my unbroken gaze,
Yet I am powerless under a simple haze.
Face me against my own and a secret I will bestow,
A world on repeat, with an end I don't know.
I do not wear any color of my own,
Yet I can give you a rainbow, if one I am shown.
Stare at me and I will stare back,
stare long enough I show what you lack.
Find me with a careful eye,
tell me, what am I?
The answer to this riddle is: REFLECTION. Participants will need to remember the answer to all of the other chambers in order to solve this final room. If a participant looks at the reflective ice on the wall they will notice numbers etched into the necks of the statues that are not there if they were to look at them normally. Participants would need to light the statue with the number 12 on it on fire. If a participant lights the wrong statue on fire, the statue will spring to life and attack revealing itself to be a yuki-onna, a Japanese ice maiden yokai. Upon being set on fire, if it's the wrong statue, the yuki-onna will take a reaction to deal Xd10 cold damage to the person attempting to set it on fire (X is equal to the number that is etched on their neck). When the right statue is set on fire, a hole in the wall will slide open and the participant will be out. The winner(s) of this event will gain money and a magic item. I homebrewed a magic item for the prize which is a magic mirror called the Yata-no-Kagami which allows someone attuned to it the ability to use Detect Magic while looking into the mirror.
Night Event: Divine Dance of the Three Kingdoms
The Divine Dance of the Three Kingdoms is a very interactive activity. Starting off what appears to be a traditional dance that tells of an ancient land struck with war between nations. Each nation is denoted by a color and creature such as the Green Dragon, Red Tiger, and Blue Phoenix. After a bit of the dance, a magical dust will be sprinkled on all of the participants watching, changing their clothing color to match a nation. The main point of this event is to have a color reign as the majority which means a lot of conflicting Performance, Acrobatics, or Athletic checks depending on who you would like to go about it. Whoever wins the check will be able to change their opposition's clothing color to theirs. Likewise, if they lose, their clothing color is changed to their oppositions. It's a giant dance battle. I found it best that you divide up your players into different colors so they try to battle each other for the best color. The color/nation with the majority will gain some money in the form of lucky red envelopes.
Day Event: Flight of the Origami Winds
This is another peaceful event in which all participants are given a magical sheet of paper, which is essentially the magic item Paper Bird. Participants can fold the paper into any creature or person they would like and can write a dream, goal, or message they want. After doing so, they can release the paper into the wind, coloring the sky with beautiful origami and sending a message to the world.
Night Event: Tsukuyomi's Scavenge
The night event, however, is another competition in which participants are going on a scavenger hunt. Those who are participating are given the list of items that they would need to find early in the day so they are able to research potential whereabouts and tactics to gain their items. Because this event takes place at night, there will be a thick fog. Participants can attempt to persuade a fire spirit, or onibi, to help light the way for them through the fog. Participants will need to find the following items:
Talisman from a Jiang-shi
Fruit from the Jinmenju
Webbing from a Jorogumo
Horn or tuft of hair from the Qilin
Water from a Kappa's head
You are more than welcome to add or change any items, I found that these five items were enough of a challenge for my players. Here are some clues and hints you can give to your players if they are researching the creatures in question.
The Jiang-Shi is a hopping Chinese vampire often found in the mountains, forest, or in underground facilities. Most have a talisman on their forehead which prevents their naturally violent nature. Therefore taking the talisman will awaken the Jiang-Shi and cause it to attack. However, the Jiang-Shi does have a weakness in the form of ringing a bell. Ringing a bell near the Jiang-Shi will stun it for some time. However, the Jiang-Shi will pursue the person that holds their talisman.
The Jinmenju is a strange yokai in the form of a tree, blending in with other forestry. Though it may look like any normal tree, the fruit that it bears have human faces. The fruit can and will laugh at anyone attempting to grab them. The Jinmenju can attempt to shake off anyone that is climbing it. Upon gazing at a fruit, the participant will have to roll and succeed on a DC14 Charisma Saving Throw or they will be frightened, drop the fruit and run away from it.
The Jorogumo is a Japanese spider yokai that has the guise of a beautiful woman that has a lair in the treetops or mountains. The Jorogumo can either be persuaded, intimidated, talk to, or tricked into giving some webbing. However, if the Jorogumo knows she is being tricked or threatened, she will summon spiders to attack and will also reveal her true spider form.
The Qilin is a rather docile and generous creature that roams wherever it senses strong magical energy. As long as it knows someone is pure of heart, it will remain as such. Otherwise, if a malevolent person approaches it, the Qilin will retaliate and attack. Getting the horn or some hair will be easy as long as someone of benevolent nature is trying to do it.
Lastly the Kappa is a simple yokai often found near bodies of water. The kappa has a bowl-shaped head that can hold water. Though many Kappa can be cowardly, other can be very violent and attack especially if someone is trying to get the water from their heads. The way to get the Kappa to be useless and get the water from its head is to trick it to bow. Luckily, most Kappa are not very intelligent.
The participant(s) who get all of the items first and present it to the city mayor will win money and a magic item. I homebrewed a magic item in the form of a necklace called the Yasakani-no-Magatama. The Yasakani-no-Magatama allows its wearer after attuning to it the ability to peer into the spirit realm.
Day Event: Feast of Kami
To celebrate the ending of the Spirit Festival, the Feast of Kami is a large city-wide banquet that anyone can participate in if they just want to eat some good food. The local chefs and restaurants churn out mass volumes of food just to make sure everyone is able to get something in their body. This is a major event for the local chefs and restaurants as they hope they can attract more customers. Optionally, you can make this into a large food fight akin to the Carnival of Ivrea.
Night Event: Sending of the Lanterns
The final event of the Spirit Festival. Every participant is given a paper lantern. They are able to attach any memento to the lantern, light the candle sitting inside and release it. All of the lanterns will float through and above the city. The spirits that have gathered in the city will float and guide the lanterns further and further away. If a memento of a loved one was attached to the lantern, their spirit, for just a moment, will appear and wave goodbye. As the last lanterns fade into the distance, so does the Spirit Festival close.