Workshop 002: The Summer of Love

It's Interactive Sunday, and it's time for another RPG Writing Workshop. Join us! But, please read the orientation article if you haven't already, or take a peek at last month's workshop and results to see how it all goes.

The context for today's exercise is a traditional fantasy world with the usual elves and things living in quasi-medieval pseudo-Europe. The book is a setting resource describing the Kingdom of Carrenwald. The section you'll be writing describes Carrenwald's annual Midsummer Fair.

This would be straightforward in a sane contract, but sanity has passed this project by. You've been given a rundown on the facts of the design from the designer, and they're upbeat. The Midsummer Fair is clearly a positive event, overall. Your editor, meanwhile, delivers some distressing news: the publisher has decided that Dark & Gritty Sells this season, and has insisted that the artwork and writing be as gloomy and dismal as humanly possible, emphasizing themes like failure, isolation, abandonment and regret. The art director is already busy lining up illustrators who specialize in charcoal on scratchboard. The writing is up to you.

Note from the editor: "Hey there writer. I'm so sorry. I know it's pretty much impossible to make this fair sound as dark as the publisher wants, so I'll go to bat for you no matter what you come up with. But, please, help me out, and inject as much gloom as possible without screwing with the designer's details. Any darkness you can give me, I can do my best to talk up. I'll owe you one."

The Facts of the Design

All these facts must be included.

  • Carrenwald hosts an annual market fair.
  • It begins on Midsummer's Eve.
  • It's called the Midsummer Fair.
  • It takes place in a field west of the king's tower.
  • The fair attracts the folk of the kingdom.
  • The fair attracts the folk of several neighboring kingdoms.
  • The fair features sporting events/sporting opportunities.
  • The fair features alcoholic beverages.
  • The fair features food.
  • The fair features the music of trumpet-playing musicians.
  • The fair features dancing.
  • The fair features the unique products of Carrenwald.
  • The fair features the unique products of several neighboring kingdoms.
  • Midsummer's Eve is, by tradition, the night on which the Firehand Plague was cured.
  • The King invites skilled physicians to the fair.
  • The King invites miracle-healers to the fair.
  • The King pays the invited physicians and miracle-healers from his own funds.
  • He pays them very well.
  • He invites them and pays them as a celebration of the plague cure.
  • The invited physicians and healers provide free healing to anyone at the fair.
  • Their services include the restoration of missing limbs.
  • Their services include curing disease.
  • Their services include restoring sight to the blind.

Optional Facts

Use or omit these facts as you please, but do not contradict them.

  • The fair features other music beyond that of trumpet-playing musicians.
  • The fair lasts for seven days.
  • Some visitors journey weeks to get to the fair.
  • Confidence artists take advantage of the fair's popularity.
  • Thieves take advantage of the fair's popularity.
  • Last year, the healers cured seven orphan children of blindness.
  • One of the orphans ran off, inspiring search-parties to seek her out.
  • The child was found, safe, delighting in her restored sight, staring in wonder at butterflies.
  • The butterflies of Carrenwald are a brilliant violet color.
  • Two years ago, the healers restored the severed legs of the hero Sir Baleor.
  • Approximately 1 Midsummer Fair in 6 suffers from the early arrival of the heavy summer rains.
  • Despite the rains, these fairs are still beautiful and beloved.
  • When the weather is warm and dry and the children are asleep, overnight orgies are common at the fair.

Pre-Established Facts

The reader already knows everything on this list from prior sections in the same book (or the core setting book to which this is a supplement) but feel free to refer to them as you like, provided you do so in a way that respects the reader's existing knowledge of them. Do not contradict these facts.

  • Carrenwald's monarch is King Volus II.
  • Volus is well-regarded.
  • The king's tower is called the Wooded Tower.
  • Carrenwald is a tiny, forested kingdom.
  • Carrenwald is landlocked, and sits in the center of a continent of many kingdoms, large and small.
  • One of the nearby kingdoms is the Kingdom of Valtis.
  • One of the nearby kingdoms is the Kingdom of Erinar.
  • Carrenwald was ravaged by plague many generations ago, and nearly depopulated.
  • This was in the midst of a cross-continent war between the four schismed churches of the god Olin Firehand, and the kingdoms allied to each church.
  • The threat of the plague had a chilling effect on the war.
  • Sages declared the plague a sign of Firehand's displeasure at the schisms and the war.
  • Hence the plague's name: the Firehand Plague.
  • Wise healers from all four churches got together and found an herbal cure for the plague.
  • Several of the herbs used in the cure grow exclusively in Carrenwald.
  • The healers who cured the Firehand Plague are sometimes called the Council of Healers.
  • The cure is widely credited with healing not only those afflicted, but the spiritual life of the kingdom.
  • The church united, and now proudly proclaims it has known no schism since the curing of the plague also cured the faith.
  • More accurately, it's known no schism that couldn't be quickly murdered out of existence.

Exercise Goals

Write a brief entry (100-200 words) imparting all of the Facts of the Design, while doing your best to fulfill the condition handed down from the publisher's crass attempt at cashing in on a perceived trend: make it gloomy, dark, gritty, emphasizing the themes of failure, isolation, abandonment and regret. Since the standard rules apply (click here to refresh on those), you may not invent any facts to support those themes, so you must support them using only your writing: your use of the language, your choice of words, your choices of structure and emphasis. Write with the Game Master of a traditional fantasy RPG as the target audience. Engage the Game Master’s enthusiasm for including the Midsummer Fair in a campaign. Use any format, tense, perspective, structure, etc. that might serve these purposes.

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Deadline had been 4:00 AM, Mountain (Colorado) Time, 6/13/2018. This exercise has ended. Click here for the roundup!