Tuesday, 19 April 2011

P is for Pie Week

There is no greater event on the Halfling calendar that has been embraced by the Empire and nations abroad than Pie Week! Established as an honorarium to the Halfling goddess of Home and Hearth Esmeralda, the week begins Harvest-Tide, or Erntezeit as it is known in Reikspiel, and often an excuse for gluttony and debauchery by Halfling and Human alike.

The halfling celebration is so popular it has become something of secular holiday in the Empire proper. Pie Week becomes a reason to showcase village, town, or city, drawing crowds from surrounding parts, some distant if truly unique and intriguing. Averland and Stirland attract many travellers during Pie Week due the proximity to "The Moot" or Mootland, the halfling province of the Empire. For example, Bernloch, Averland is famous for cheeses and Pie Week is oft a celebration of pies featuring the best cheeses of the season. Sauerapfel, Mootland is famous for apple pies of grand variety, fresh from the expansive apple groves of the area.

Pie Week to the typical Empire resident is about as close as most get to Halfling culture. It is also the source of a great many prejudices humans have for halflings, seeing the celebration as a peek into the daily gluttonous and lazy lifestyle attributed in stereotypes. The week is also a reminder to many of the origination of Mootland.

Created by Emperor Ludwig the Fat in recognition of the halflings contribution to Empire cuisine, the Mootland was "torn from Averland and Stirland." It is made up of the finest growing regions of both provinces. And the Pie Week celebration of food and harvest is only a sore reminder of the now 1500 year old edict.

Never speak with a halfling during Pie Week. Nothing ever is understood, with all the pie stuffed in their mouths. Hence it is unlikely a halfling to enter into contracts during Pie Week.

As I outlined this entry it began to occur to me that stereotypes from JRR Tolkien find themselves in the greatest of RPGs in- or out-of-print. A long standing debate on Gary Gygax's weak acknowledgments to Tolkien in the infamous Appendix N from D&D or the well known criticisms that Gygax gave Tolkien (the link sums up the debate rather well) seems to cloud this discussion.

However, I see the debate as one that only read The Hobbit less than eight years ago, but has played D&D for decades. My thoughts are squarely in the camp that Gygax just didn't want to acknowledge the obvious: a prototypical dungeon crawl and party is not more clear in the pages of The Hobbit than anywhere else. A wizard, a hobbit, and a half-dozen dwarfs conspire to raid the mountain treasury of a dragon, meeting trolls and elves along the way. How's that not D&D? Or Warhammer Fantasy Role Play.

The races of The Hobbit stretch beyond Tolkien of course, but Tolkien bonded them into what we see in Halflings today: insular, short, hairy, tobacco-smoking, food loving, inhabitants of a pastoral land oblivious to the dangers surrounding them in distant lands. It describes halflings in WFRP and D&D pretty much from Tolkien's text. Games may add flavor, but the pie is always the same.

As Halflings are a core race in WFRP information can be found on them in the core rulebook as well as Sigmar's Heirs, Realms of Sorcery, and Tome of Salvation. The latter detailing many of the Empires holidays and festivals from a religious context. Sigmar's Heirs does a good job of detailing the Mootland and much of the Halfling pantheon of worship.
Posted by caffeinated at 4:00 PM in d10

Guardez L'eau

Blogging A to Z will resume later today with 'P' (and on schedule). My vacation queue complete and my return home left me little time to fill out my outline.

The upside is that my research uncovered some details that I might want to revisit as a separate followup to G is for Gods.

Posted by caffeinated at 12:46 PM in kaffehaus