CRB is a repository of all the creative things that float through my mind about the RPG Pathfinder. Two major features are random character generation and building characters based on the god they worship. Anything that seems like it adds to the creative aspects of the game will pop up from time to time, including location descriptions, adventure ideas and even short stories. CRB won't just be my own creativity, it will open the floor to anyone who has an idea sparked by what I present to you.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Are You Not Entertained

Diversions on Golarion

Illustration by Luis Perez
It is said that the Roman politicians used the events held at the Colosseum to distract the populace from the slow decay of the Empire. Entertainments have been a continued way for the populace to do everything from sate their inner bloodlust to expand their artistic horizons. From sports to concerts to plays how people entertain themselves is an important part of all cultures. In worlds like Golarion entertainers like bards also become adventurers. So today we’re going to – using Golarion as an example – look at some forms of entertainment and characters they might spawn.

The most common pastime for worlds set around the same time period as Golarion are blood sports. Many, many cities – even the more cosmopolitan ones – have an arena in which they hold bloody combats. The town of Arena in The Shackles is named for the structure in which some of the most competitive and violent of these sports is held. Cheliax holds blood sports on the equinoxes and solstices, which they call the Days of Wrath. As a side note any slave or servant may enter these battles to earn their freedom or erasure of debt. Beyond just the straight up fights there are a number of named blood sports. Mig-a-Mug Tug, Hatch-a-Catch, and Knivesies are played in the basement of the Golden Scarab in Katapesh.

Characters that revolve around these blood sports may come from pretty much any class. Depending on the spor,t a brute strength fighter, barbarian or brawler might do well. In a game like knivesies, which requires balance and deft hands, rogues and monks might excel. Making a character that has performed in these bloody battles, and lived to go adventuring can lead to some interesting stories.

Why would one choose to participate in a sport that might kill them? Money or lack there of is a good motivator. In the case of slaves they may be unwilling. And then why would they leave the sport? A fighter who couldn’t stomach it anymore might talk his way out of fights. An escaped pit fighter might be cagey and know nothing but fighting.

Blood sports aren’t the only type of combat events. In some cities staged combats and other sporting events are more common. Serpent’s Run in Magnimar is probably the most well-known non-lethal sporting arena. Dog and horse racing, decathlons, and magic displays are all popular forms of diversions given there. There is also a rodeo, but the bull fights can get a little bloodier. Feats of strength and performed combat are other means of non-lethal events, and I’ve already written about bringing professionalwrestling into your game world.

Characters for these types of entertainments can also come from all walks of life, but some good ideas are rangers who specialize in training and breeding sport animals. Horsemen, falconers, and dog breeders could come from an entertainer’s background. Any character with an athletic talent whether it is the strongman, fighter, or the pinpoint accuracy knife-throwing rogue could do well.

In worlds like Golarion, where gods are a real part of life, worship is also important to our sporting characters. Kurgess the minor deity of bravery, sports, and competition – who was once himself a competitor – is popular among athletic contestants. Marishi, one of the Empyreal Lords, is also popular as the overseer of athletics, contests, and sports. Clerics of either of these two deities may well be competitors themselves, or have worked for a sporting venue.

Sports obviously aren’t our only means of diversion. Just the existence of the bard class alone shows us that artistic performance has and always will be a major form of entertainment for humanity. Kintargo – the setting for the Hell’s Rebels AP – is home to one of the most well-known opera houses on Golarion. The capital of Oppara in Taldor holds not one but two bardic colleges; The Kitharodian Academy, which is the single largest bardic college on Golarion, and The Rhapsodic College. The bards trained at both of these academies use the House of the Immortal Son, a former temple of Aroden that has been turned into an opera house. Many cities including Almas in Andoran have an entire district for the arts including many theatres. Even a town as small as Sandpoint has one to bring art and culture to its people.

Bards are by and large going to be the performers that may also be adventurers. In Tien though, monks or brawlers who learn to perform a form of stage combat – much like that taught by the real world Chinese opera – could also well be performers who travel. Almost every class gets perform as a class skill. A rogue knife juggler or clerics of Shelyn, Hathor, or Seramayiel might perform at one of the theatres around the world.

All in all how we choose to entertain ourselves says something both about us and the culture in which we live. Whether we seek out the most bloody and brutal entertainments or just enjoy measured competition is quite telling. Giving these kinds of details to our players and allowing them to run with them can lead to some very entertaining stories. After all, our form of entertainment is to pretend to be other people. Why not let those other people be entertainers themselves?

What forms of entertainment exist on your worlds? Do your players get to interact with – either viewing or participating in – these events? What kinds of entertainer characters have you made as a player? What kinds of entertainers that weren’t bards?

Role-playing is our form of entertainment and the CRB aims to help bring new layers to your gaming table. If you’re enjoying the CRB, becoming a contributor to my Patreon helps pay the bills so that I can keep writing. You can also give a one-time donation through my Paypal if that suits your needs better. Every bit helps keep the lights on and the ideas flowing.

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The opening illustration was created by the fine artist Luis Perez. You can find him on TwitterTumblr, and on Instagram at luisperezart

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