Happy Litha, Beltane… solstice. The mead has me thinking about how I’ve been doing a more “realistic” paganism in my game. One of the things is sacrifice. In my setting sacrifice matters. There are various cycles of sacrifice that the are required to appease the gods and ancestral spirits. If they are not performed properly…bad things happen.
In my Swords and Wizardry game the local great druid is a dick. The players have figured out over a period of months that what he wants to keep human habitation in his part of the world to a bare minimum. Several former adventurers had tamed parts of the wilderness and this had attracted peasants looking for their own land. As a result, populations grew, forests were cleared and habitat destroyed. So, he started paying the party to deliver high quality weapons to certain lords, assassinate a certain wizard, support a particular lord. All of that was to sew chaos and discourage the peasants. It worked! The players got kind of pissy when a druid NPC who had been a semi-trusted travelling companion assassinated their employer and the lady love of one of the PC’s. Entangle + Creeping Doom = Eww.
Well, that druid had finally pissed off enough people that a high level vivimancer created a disease to kill the special sacrificial animals that had been set aside for the solstice. Over the last few months leading up to the harvest, there has been no rain and it’s very dry. No magic, including (especially) druid magic had been able to alter the weather. The result has been withered pastures and fields. The Great Druid has gotten exactly what he wanted. Hungry peasants are fleeing the borderlands due to the wars he fomented and the famine that will be coming this winter.
The party has been offered a contract to find him and bring back to the druid grove, alive. The elders of the local grove have determined through scrying that the gods require the blood sacrifice of the great druid. If he is not slain in the proper ritual fashion, then the drought and the famine continues. This will make their newly formed trading town a non-starter. So far, the party has decided they aren’t interested in taking on that fight. We’ll see how that works when it starts costing them triple to feed their troops…