Thursday 29 July 2021

The folklore of Faerun: Lathtarl's Lantern

I've been thinking about writing something like this for a while so I thought I'd take the plunge. This is potentially the first in a series of posts where I speculate and create folklore around regions of Faerun, likely just the Sword Coast, since that's a big part of where 5e is set so it's going to be useful to more people. The idea here is to present some rich folktales, legends, art, songs, foodways and other types of folklore into the setting to add a new element to the D&D game. Also D&D is more popular than anything at the moment and I want the views.

Today we start in the tiny fishing village of Lathtarl's Lantern. The village was founded by the pirate Lathtarl, who attracted various slavers, pirates and brigands to the location. 


Every year in the winter the villagers come together to recreate the crashing of Lathtarl's ship against the rocks in the bay. A procession led by a lantern-carrying 'captain' wearing a false beard and bells parades through the streets all the way to the cliff where the ship crashed. Children are dressed as 'rapscallions' in paper hats, representing the sailors who survived the wreck. At the end, a bonfire is lit with driftwood representing the old ship and the children throw their hats into the flames.


The traditional fishing nets are crafted from strong seaweed found along the shore, spun carefully by older artisans who worry the craft is dying out. Each net is given a blessing before it's sold in order to ensure a bountiful fishing haul. The blessing involves sprinkling salt over the net, followed by a splash of vinegar wine called Kalut (a strong delicacy here) and a prayer said to Umberlee. In game terms, the chances of a good catch are increased by 50% with a blessed net. 


A type of dark crusty bread sprinkled with salt. To finish, a copper piece is baked into the middle of the cob to represent good fortune. Salt cobs are a popular food to bake in the summer months when the waft of baking bread wafts through the village, almost enough to mask the smell of sea and pilchards. 


The village is often overrun with a thick fog, making fishing impossible without the aid of magic. Pebble fogging is a tradition where three concentric circles are painted onto pebbles from the beach and tossed into the sea as an offering to Umberlee. The circles are said to represent the sun that has come to burn away the fog. 


As a result of the number of shipwrecks around the coast there is widespread belief of a large hoard of treasure belonging to the legendary halfling captain Old Yoney. The treasure is said to be enough to make a king or queen of anyone able to carry it, but the story goes that should you escape with the treasure in tact you will be hunted by the ghost of Old Yoney and her crew. 


At midnight of a new year many villagers head out to wade in the freezing cold water, believing the act to bring prosperity for the year ahead. The custom has grown less popular due to lizardmen attacks. Sometimes out of towners are hired to protect the waders from would be attackers. 


- Whistling on a boat 

- Taking a pig or mule on a boat 

- Three ravens 

- Spilling Kalut 

- Stepping on a net

- Keeping the smallest fish of the catch 


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