Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Falling For Fall

Here in the U.S., post-Labor Day is generally considered the start of the fall season (even if our official calendar disagrees!). Some trees already have turning leaves, the mornings become a bit crisper, and favorite fall ingredients and dishes (apples, pumpkins, etc.) begin to be harvested in earnest.

Autumn is also a great time in-game. Here are a few things to think about as far as incorporating fall into your RPG sessions, and what it brings to your campaign.

Fall Is Party Time

Fall is a time of hard work, as anyone with even a moderately rural background should be able to tell you, but there its also a time of innumerable harvest festivals, dances, and fairs. In my own state of Indiana, it remains the most popular time of year for many of our small towns and villages to hold their Apple Popcorn/Apple Harvest/Harvest Apple/Apple Pumpkin/Pumpkin/Apple Festivals. Characters could very likely run into a lot of towns with an expanded population as folks from the nearby countryside, peddlers, and performers gather for these events.

Fall Is Wrap Time

In autumn, campaigning armies are not yet in their winter quarters, and are likely maneuvering for one more decisive blow before the winter.

Besieging armies will be trying whatever they can to get strongholds and cities to capitulate—winters are hard on besieging armies. There will also be extensive foraging/raiding missions on the surrounding countryside—both to deny the enemy and succor their own forces. Cold and hunger are two of the worst enemies an army can have. Characters could easily be on either side of the siege, and it isn’t hard to see the adventure, diplomacy, and combat possibilities therein.

Fall Is Time to Prepare

Just as animals store up a food supply before the first snows, humans and demihumans will prepare to face a long, harsh winter. The cheerful, idyllic harvest scenes we picture can belie a harsh reality. Storms, wet weather, early frost, invasion, taxes, and the whims of fate can all spell the difference between a successful, thriving harvest and one that won’t see a community through the winter.

It may sound dull, but agriculture is the backbone of many nations and armies (see U.S. Civil War, Shenandoah). People and have died to protect a harvest, and to ensure it is safely delivered. Characters may just learn that firsthand.

Fall Is Different Weather

If your adventuring party has been traipsing through a temperate climate thus far, autumn may be their first indication that outdoor adventuring isn’t all warm nights under clear skies. A nip in the air, chilly overnight temperatures, and early frosts can be indicators to characters that they had better either find winter quarters (wintering in a city can lead to all sorts of adventuring possibilities in and of itself), or properly prepare their equipment. In fact, if you’re looking at introducing a greater level of resource management into your game, fall can be your “training wheels” session before the full severity of winter hits.