Friday, June 23, 2017

The Festival of Sunderthread

Every year, the same routine. We get within a month or so of my birthday, and I become an increasingly ridiculous font of hyperbolic braggadocio, that it's a wonder I have any remaining friends.

That's right; it's time for the Festival of Killstring.

They really went all-out for this year's announcements.

Okay, I'll bite. What the heck is "The Festival of Killstring?"

The short answer is that it's a stupid, goofy way to remind myself and others of the date. People had been asking me for reminders as my birthday crept close, and it felt super-egotistical to be all "hey, you should remember this date & maybe buy me stuff," so I opted to steer into the siliness, hard.

It quickly spiraled out of my control.

Soon, it became a platform for making ludicrous claims:
  • The sun comes closer to the Earth in summer in order to attend the Festival
  • Americans light up the sky with fireworks in commemoration
  • The Steam Summer Sale was invented to make gift-giving easier during the festival season
  • Convention season is an ongoing celebration of Killstring's hobbies during the festival
  • ... and so on
This quickly escalated into a running joke, where anything remotely pleasant, celebratory, or monumental was attributed to the Festival, granting me what I really wanted - indulgence from those around me as I spew forth patently false, hyperbolic, nonsensical claims1.

You're a goofball, great. Why do I care?

Two reasons:

  1. First, if the blog's been erratic, now you know why - it's festival season
  2. Because this is a stellar idea to plunder for your own stories
Seriously. Fictional holidays are one of my favorite things across media. They tell us a ton about people, their everyday life, local traditions, culture, history, etc. When there's a holiday, someone thought "this is a big enough deal to institutionalize," and then did so. Festivals tell us a lot about a setting.

So what does this balderdash tell us about the setting? Let's look at this foolishness through a couple different lenses.

God-King Sunderthread2; Legend in His Own Time

Sunderthread is a living legend. Across centuries of rulership, he's defeated enemies, expanded trade, and built infrastructure. Plenty of kingdoms have immortal rulers, but Calestren is particularly fond of theirs. So fond, in fact, that the God-King's tendency to go on a bender around the anniversary of the kingdom's founding has become an institutionalized tradition, with parades, feasts, festivals, you name it. 

The festivities last for a full three months; a season-long carnival that floods the capital with tourists, merchants, and opportunities. Security is ramped up, as the influx of new faces makes stopping petty crime a Sisyphean ordeal, and halting major attacks a top priority.

After all, it's the god-king's vacation. Let's not make him work.

The Legend of Sunderthread

Sunderthread is a local legend. According to local lore, he slew monsters, built the old castle with his bare hands, and parlayed with the other god-critters to keep the locals safe. Whether or not there ever was a historical "Sunderthread" is a topic of much debate; but from the stained-glass windows in classical architecture, to kitschy souvenirs, his likeness isn't hard to find across Calestren.

Of particular interest to the locals are those myths portraying the God-King's tendency to go on month-long benders; this practice is still commemorated today, with the Festival of Sunderthread. Starting a full month before the anniversary of the city's founding, and lasting a full month afterwards, the Festical is a season-long carnival that floods the capital with tourists, merchants, and opportunities. Security is ramped up, as the influx of new faces makes stopping petty crime a Sisyphean ordeal, and halting major attacks a top priority.

Half the local economy is based on this festival; officials aren't cheap about outsourcing.

Immortal Wizard Sunderthread: Best of the Mad Kings

Every major city has an immortal wizard representing it on the Grand Council. And many of those wizards - in a trend entirely too common for such powerful creatures - are irrevocably mad. And Sunderthread may be the worst of the bunch.

Or the best, depending on your perspective.

On one hand, he makes impossible claims; especially as regards the "auspicious" day of his birth. On the other hand, he very rarely sets the city on fire, and seems to generally mean well. If all wizards are mad - and it seems they must be - better delusional than megalomaniacal.

So to that end, the festival of Sunderthread is the city's way of giving back.

Originally started as a way to pacify the creature, eventually it turned into an odd sort of tribute. Local traditions include attributing literally anything positive, pleasant, or noteworthy to the wizard, who often expresses confusion at being credited for things even he knows he couldn't have done. Yet, it's being attributed to him, so it must be true. If so, he should be gracious.

Thus did the festival of Sunderthread sprawl into the colossal undertaking it is today;  a game of one-upsmanship between the wizard and his citizens.

In conclusion

There's a couple different ways that one could take this; I hope it spawns some ideas. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some tribute to receive ;)

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1 - No lie, it can get pretty bad.

2 - Seemed like a nice play on words. Obviously, use whatever you like.