The Feast of Gold: Dragon Wood and Santa Cora

13th Age - Happy Feast of GoldFeast of Gold Public Service Announcement: The Crusader wants to get his Feast of Gold celebrations underway, but there’s some unfinished business to attend to. There are fewer than 25 pre-order opportunities left for 13th Age. These Escalation Editions are running around First Triumph, getting underfoot and generally being irritating.

Give the Crusader the holiday gift of peace of mind! Encourage your friends and gaming group members to snap up these few remaining pre-order copies. (Or have them buy one for you!) They’ll get to enjoy all the great benefits you see here.

Bonus: If we hit 1,000 sales of 13th Age before Christmas, the Crusader says he won’t punch us in the mouth.

And now, 13th Age convention GM and Nightfall scribe Mac Sample presents his take on what the Feast of Gold might be, and how it’s celebrated in the Dragon Empire…

While the Feast of Gold is celebrated across the Dragon Empire, no one celebrates it quite like they do in the Dragon Wood. Sure the trappings are there: the “golden” horn from which gifts are retrieved, the traditional fight between a candle-clad or magically-lit dragon and a shadowy figure, and of course the Pyre at the end. While the rich cities and villages around the sea do this symbolically as an act of family or community, for the People facing the cold winters and constant threats in the Dragon Wood the feast’s acts are far more literal.

In a small town just north of Starport, they welcome all visitors and outsiders for the Feast of Gold. On the first evening they shower them with gifts: Enchanted cloaks that can light on command, fine magical weapons that sing the songs of the Great Gold Wyrm, and more food than such a small place could be expected to produce. This all pours forth, seemingly endlessly, from a vessel fashioned of Koru Behemoth shell. As the feast goes on, wine flows freer, and outsiders who visit rarely recall the events that lead to the next morning.

As dawn breaks the next morning, it breaks on a large pit, cleverly concealed the night before. Inside the pit are the outsiders, with their magical cloaks and weapons. Various monsters and wildlife that have been kept at bay by the firelights and revelry now have easy access to hungover outsiders, and many will certainly die. Some may successfully defend themselves, though strangely none of the locals leave their houses to watch this spectacle until after dark.

As night falls — as it does quickly and early in that season and part of the world — the locals begin to toss oil-soaked wood into the pit,. They pile it high, almost high enough that a brave man could climb out, were he not weakened by his hangover and the fighting. Finally, with a solemn hymn and a plea that the harvests be good, and a prayer in remembrance to those who die to keep the town safe, a lantern is thrown on the pyre, and the night sky lights up with the force of the blaze.

In Santa Cora the Feast of Gold loses a letter and becomes the Fast of Gold. For an entire cycle of one moon, the people of Santa Cora consume no food and drink during the day, and at night eat only the temple biscuits and drink pure water. On the final night they too reenact the symbolic battle between the Wyrm and the Abyss, ending with the fall and the block: though they do it with a fantastic magical display. Over the water, magicians on loan from Horizon create impossible illusions and depictions in the night sky, both abstract and almost lifelike, of the struggle.

Gifts are traditionally loaded into a vast golden horn cast special for this event, positioned outside the grand Cathedral’s gate. The horn is then opened to the neediest first to come and take a gift, then after that to anyone who would care to take one. Inevitably the Cathedral ends up with gifts left over — a testament to the city’s generosity, perhaps. The extra gifts are usually added to the Cathedral’s vault, to be used in a time of need. The High Priestess traditionally comes forth herself to take a single gift, and she always makes an effort to wear or use it on the spot.

Santa Cora’s Pyre is increasingly controversial, as many trees from the Wildwood are felled to make the huge wood dragonboat that the Pyre demands. The boat is loaded with aromatic oils and the wood and leaves of a thousand different plants. Some are selected because they produce rich smells, while others produce fantastic visions. Much of the wood is fresh cut and still green to maximize the smoke that billows forth from the pyreboat. The boat is towed out into the center of the Santa Cora Estuary, and set ablaze by an archer from atop the Grand Cathedral. The smoke billows forth from the Pyre and fills the streets, with the various herbs and woods granting the lucky few visions, but generally promoting a relaxed close to the holiday.

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