“Halloween wraps fear in innocence, as though it were a slightly sour sweet. Let terror, then, be turned into a treat…” – Nicholas Gordon
I love Halloween. Spooky movies are always first on my mind. I watch Hocus Pocus, Practical Magic, Nightmare Before Christmas, and really constantly just keep 31 Days of Halloween on TV. I decorate my home, and read up on things like witches and hags. Last year I didn’t do nearly enough of it, though I did create a serious amount of goodies for a Halloween party as you can see in the instagram post from last year. Really it got me thinking of how to celebrate in Pathfinder, and I recalled the small Allbirth event I brought into our last game. It was more focused on figuring out if the hobgoblin who’d come into town was actually a barghest in disguise, but the festivities were still useful and fun as a backdrop. I’d like to do more in general for holidays, but Halloween always has a special place in my heart. I’ll want to do it right for our Kingmaker game, so I wanted to prep ahead of time and when better to be reading up on it but now. But where to get more information on Allbirth?
Well have you grabbed a copy of the Travel Guide? It’s one of my favorite books from last year with so much creativity contained within, especially on cuisine, couture, and culture! I mention it briefly but there’s an entire section on the holiday of Allbirth. While it was a Lamashtu day of sacrifice that I won’t go into further, we learn that it’s become more to many. Apparently what started with half-orc and goblin youth in Katapesh is spreading across the continent as a holiday of joyful day of tempting tricks, treats, libations, dancing, and of course masquerade. Sounds like Halloween doesn’t it? Well wouldn’t you know, Allbirth is celebrated on the 30th of Lamashan, the 10th month of the calendar. While it’s partially serious, there’s still frivolity as many who consider Lamashtu an ancestor, a mother of monsters. Soon we’ll see alignment disappear and while anyone who has played Rise of the Runelords knows there are those who would do wicked things in Lamashtu’s name, maybe the goddess is changing as views of her peoples change. Nocticula found redemption and maybe other divinities will too, even if one is set to meet an untimely end here soon.
I love that the scene they decided to include shows the party happening at a ruin out in the forest. What a party to be had, or well maybe a horror movie. Still as I mentioned there’s all sort of fun to be had at an Allbirth celebration. Performers play various instruments to fill the night with music. There’s poets reading and plays being performed while fine foods are eaten, especially those hearty and savory stews. Of course there’s sweets and drinks that are syrupy or candied. Apparently the desserts are usually saved for last, to be grabbed as you run out after a typical combat. The combat is sort of an honorary one of Lamashtu and Pazuzu, who were once together until Pazuzu betrayed the mother of monsters. Who fights? Well there’s much dancing to the music, but there’s a competition called the Dance of Beasts. An individual will change one person in a couple, and whoever isn’t chosen gets to choose which of the two they will continue dancing with. Eventually you’ll want to escape the dance floor with your chosen partner. Meanwhile there’s various masks and other decorations, typical sculptures of monsters and demons. Decorations can flow in that vein but also entrails and blood might be on hand for fortune telling rituals. The guide notes these rites are sacred, respected and often performed by an orc or half-orc ritualist. To give those seeking information or those partners eager for privacy off the dance floor sometimes curtains are made of vines and sprigs of box elders. A ruin could be quite the scene for such a party! But ultimately before the desserts can come out, the best dancer and best sculptor are chosen for that Abyssal Heartbreak fight.
The Travel Guide continues with a fashion example, basically a combination of the fashionable and a Halloween costume. I like the particular note that “[t]hough Allbirth began as a holiday for the descendants of Lamashtu, many other ancestries are frequently invited to Allbirth parties (usually wearing costumes that draw from their own culture’s legends).” That is to say, don’t dress up as a goblin because those are real in this world. Technically demons and devils are too, but to most people in the world of Golarion they’re still otherworldly spirits they might never meet. It’s very different if you come dressed up as another mortal culture from your world. Some designers will even loan out their outfits and clothing makers might hold some in reserve so everyone gets to look amazing. This reminds me of pre-colonial and renaissance times where it was common to see nobility hosting parties for their neighborhoods, vassals, etc. and they’d supply food, drink, and costumes. It was good to share the bounty as it were, especially in the face of otherworldly dangers.
Wearing attire like armor or weapons is okay, especially if they’ve seen true combat as that can be eye-catching. There’s also masks meant to hide your true person, often-times a jackal because of Lamashtu so other masks are considered fancier and cool. Notice how this mask has horns? It’s apparently a mask of Vavakia. Vavakia horns are a reminder of the punishment that awaits those who would enslave others, as those mortals are transformed into vavakia. Thus the attire can even be a statement piece. Firebrand Allbirth celebration sounds really interesting… There’s also a highlight on the bottom of the dress/robe as having Belkzen Imagery. There’s some national, personal pride here and Allbirth can be a bit of celebration of history, family legends, and developmental stories that won’t face fear or judgment like one might see with other peoples. Basically what it comes down to is a celebratory expression for these often prejudiced people who have made the holiday their own. I find that incredibly inspirational. Hopefully humans who get invited to such a celebration learn the history and cultural significance.
However, that is just an example from Katapesh. I’d love to see such in other areas, and I hope to do so in my own game although in Kingmaker right now it’s early summer. We’ll get there eventually. Considering the players have chosen to make their kingdom one of openness and acceptance, any may find a home there. Heck, one PC is a gnoll and the other is a hobgoblin. And while Nok-Nok (NPC I won’t spoil here) may be listening to their heroics, who wouldn’t like to celebrate a bit of Allbirth in their own way? It all seems quite fitting of the quote I started the article with. Should you wish to bring an eventful adventure to your Pathfinder game, I fashioned up a few scenarios tailored for an Allbirth party with classic Halloween flavor:
Curse of the Haunted Masquerade
The city of Magnimar has quickly become famous for its extravagant Allbirth masquerade ball. However, this year, the attendees are turning into their costume characters, and the curse is spreading. The partygoers need the help of intrepid adventurers to uncover the curse’s source, hidden deep within the haunted Harrowvale Manor. Along the way, they’ll confront spectral masks, sentient costumes, and haunted mirrors. Can the party guests break the curse before they become permanent residents of this eerie masquerade?
The Ghost Ship Regatta
During the Allbirth festivities in the coastal town of Sandpoint, a ghostly regatta suddenly emerges from the mists, crewed by vengeful apparitions. The adventurers must board spectral vessels and engage in a thrilling race across the haunted waters to determine the fate of the town’s Allbirth celebrations. As they navigate through treacherous spectral storms and contend with ghostly competitors, they’ll need to discover the truth behind the cursed regatta before Sandpoint becomes the ghost ship’s permanent destination.
The Pumpkin King’s Revenge
In the village of Roderic’s Grove, the annual tradition of carving enchanted pumpkins has gone terribly wrong. The pumpkins have grown monstrous and hostile, and a wicked being known as the Pumpkin King has risen from the fields, vowing vengeance on the villagers. The adventurers are tasked with delving into the pumpkin-infested labyrinth beneath the village to confront the Pumpkin King, break the curse, and save Allbirth for Roderic’s Grove.
The Phantom Carnival
The mysterious Carnival of Shadows only appears on Allbirth, and it’s known for its otherworldly wonders. This year, however, the carnival has vanished, and the surrounding town of Restov is now trapped in a never-ending Allbirth night. The adventurers must enter the realm of the Carnival of Shadows, where they’ll encounter bizarre creatures, face twisted games and puzzles, and ultimately discover the carnival’s secret and its connection to the perpetual Allbirth night.
The Cursed Costume Contest
The town of Oregent is renowned for its grand Allbirth costume contest, where the winner receives a legendary prize. However, this year’s contest has attracted a cursed artifact, turning the contestants into their costumes, each with unique, dangerous abilities. The adventurers must infiltrate the contest as participants and use their newfound powers to solve riddles, navigate enchanted obstacle courses, and defeat other cursed contestants. Can they uncover the artifact’s location and save the contestants before Allbirth ends, sealing their fates?
I hope you have some amazing Halloween plans! While I’ve a party to go this weekend – and I’m bringing the cookies shown below – the actual day of Halloween will likely be a night in with treats and reading up on some early release material that may be relevant to Pathfinder… Oh, here’s the cookie recipe! Make some and share at an Allbirth adventure as you invest in with your group!
I wasn’t quite sure what to name my article series when I first started but the idea of showcasing or discussing things that make me excited, that I find new and interesting, or maybe I’m otherwise passionate about seemed to fit with the idea of Investing In something like the Pathfinder 2E mechanic. To use some magic items you have to give that little bit of yourself, which helps make these things even better. I like the metaphor of the community growing and being strengthened in the same way!
I also want to hear what you’re Investing In! Leave me a comment below about what games, modules, systems, products, people, live streams, etc you enjoy! You can also hit me up on social media as silentinfinity. I want to hear what excites you and what you’re passionate about. There’s so much wonderful content, people, groups (I could go on) in this community of ours that the more we invest in and share, the better it becomes!
- Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular 2014, Roger Williams Zoo, photo taken by me
- Halloween 2022 treats, photo taken by me
- Allbirth, full spread images, Travel Guide, Paizo
- Allbirth Fashion, Travel Guide, Paizo
- Season Witch (autumn), Ultimate Wilderness, Paizo, art by Alexandre Chaudret
- Reese’s Cookies, photo taken by me