I had planned on posting this at a bit more relevant date, but small children with bronchitis derailed that dream. But I think it’s too cool not to discuss.
As I’ve mentioned before, one of the cool things about running a real world inspired setting (in our case, late-17th century Europe) is that you occasionally stumble over some really cool things that can inspire fantastic adventure ideas.
One of the PCs in my witch hunter game is a Jesuit priest from an estranged order in Spain. So one of the first things I did, in addition to assembling a working calendar including lunar cycles and events (werewolves, yo!) was to include as many obscure Catholic holidays as I could. All the more obscure because I’m not Catholic. So as the cadre traveled from Frankfurt to Polch for their latest adventure, they stumbled right across November 30th: St. Andrew’s Day.
Have you ever heard of St. Andrew’s Day? Of course you have. It’s just me, living in my bubble. But indulge me please, because if I had spent five minutes reading the wiki entry instead of just dotting the date down on a calendar and moving on to bigger and better things, I would have proved my worth as a GM.
Saint Andrew is the patron saint of Cyprus, Scotland, Greece, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople (that’s a mouthful!), San Andres Island, Colombia and Saint Andrew, Barbados. November 30th is a feasting day (or night, in Germany) dedicated to him.
Now, the very fact that a decent chunk of Eastern Europe loves St. Andrew should send up all sorts of red flags. But me? Bubble. So let’s journey through the glory that is the modern day Cliff-Notes of Everything, shall we? Let’s just skip over the drunken Scots and get right to those red blooded Romanians, yes?
One of the elements that came from the Roman and Thracian celebrations concerned wolves. During this night, wolves are allowed to eat all the animals they want. It is said that they can speak, too, but anyone that hears them will soon die.
Ok, if you can’t spin a one night game session out of that, you might as well just give it up, right? But it doesn’t stop there.
The best known tradition connected to this night concerns matrimony and premonitory dreams. Single girls must put under their pillow a branch of sweet basil. If someone takes the plants in their dreams, that means the girl will marry soon.
So basically its an Incubus’ holiday. In fact, the whole night before St. Andrew’s Day throughout a sizable chunk of Europe is all about dreaming up husbands and matchmaking. Back to Romania…
it is customary for young women to put 41 grains of wheat beneath their pillow before they go to sleep, and if they dream that someone is coming to steal their grains that means that they are going to get married next year. Also in some other parts of the country the young women light a candle from the Easter and bring it, at midnight, to a fountain. They ask St. Andrew to let them glimpse their future husband.
So there you have it. Talking wolves that denote terrible omens (the Romanian version of England’s Black Dog) and dream magic. What more could you ask for in a day? The Witch Hunters think they are in the clear because they survived Halloween? Are those poor sorry fools in for a surprise.
If nothing else, St. Andrew’s Day gives you the opportunity to build a Thanksgiving themed adventure for your European-centric characters, albeit with wolves instead of turkeys, but is that really a negative? Let’s brainstorm a few adventure hooks:
- Manwolves retain their human intelligence and capabilities on St. Andrew’s Eve. Many meet in cabals on that night to discuss terms of territory.
- Incarnate werewolves are especially vulnerable on St. Andrew’s Eve. If the night falls on the full moon, they may not use their Infectious Personality Power. If killed under these circumstances, they are permanently destroyed. This is well known to the Crusaders Inviolate as well as the Unseen Hunt. Unfortunately, it’s also well known to the Incarnates, who make a special point to go to ground during the last week of November.
- On any encounter with wolves on St. Andrew’s Eve, roll a d10 for each Witch Hunter. On a 1 or 2, the wolf speaks to the character. This speech is only heard by the character in question, and forecasts his doom in the next coming year. The character receives the Cursed Flaw and may not be rid of it until a year has passed. The player should be encouraged to avoid wolves on that night thereafter.
- A noble family is cursed and haunted by an incubus. Each St. Andrew’s Eve, it returns to the family estate, stalking the grounds in the form of a monstrous wolf. It invades the sleep of a daughter and feeds upon her essence, leaving the girl to wane and die in the coming months. So far, the family has lost three daughters of five. The lord has outlawed celebrations of St. Andrew in his lands, hoping that by somehow that will break the curse. The incubus is but a tool, however, as the curse was laid by a powerful witch who lives in the forests nearby. Her son was cut down by the lord and his men while on a hunting party some three years ago. So now, she takes one of his children each year. The incubus delivers a fragment of the dying daughter’s essence to the witch each year, which she is working into a rite that will usher in an even darker fate to the lord and his family once the fifth daughter is dead. Twist: the fourth and fifth daughters are twins who have come of age this year. Either one or both could be targeted by the demon.
- As the witch hunters pass through a town, a young woman recognizes one of them from her prophetic dream. She and her friends are excited, for they believe that the vision granted by St. Andrew is coming true. If the witch hunter spurns her advances, she is heartbroken. One of her friends advises her to pay a visit to an isolated pagan priestess, who secretly has ties to the Sisterhood of the Dark Coven or is an old adversary of one of the witch hunters with a score to settle. She gives the girl a love potion…
I’m sure you can come up with more. That’s what the comments section is for.