Post Greyhawk Wars: 585 CY
Before detailing Brewfest, it must be noted that every four years, public elections are held for positions on the Public Council of Greyhawk. Election day is on Harvester 28th, the day immediately before Brewfest. The madness this day generates cannot be imagined.
Only the first and last days of Brewfest (Starday and Freeday) are public holidays in the City of Greyhawk, meaning that no one can be coerced to work, and public revelry is encouraged by the government. However, many citizens take this fall celebration of the last harvest completely to heart, and public intoxication is common – perhaps too much so, as even some members of the Greyhawk Militia and City Watch have been known to perform their duties during this time while drunk.
Brewfest has long been noted for the intense beverage competition held in the guildhouse of the Greyhawk Guild of Ostlers and Brewers the entire week. As Greyhawk is a cosmopolitan city
with vast trade connections, any sort of ale, beer, mead, wine, spirit, liqueur, or other alcoholic drink made anywhere in the Flanaess can be entered into one of dozens of categories there, to be judged by senior members of the aforenamed guild. All entries are tested by magic for poisons, though special categories exist for nonlethal drinks whose effects border on venomous. The city takes on a circus atmosphere and the streets are filled with actors, jugglers, acrobats, animal and monster trainers (with their best “pets”), and grinning adventurers showing off their latest trophies. Even Rhennee and Shack Towners are welcome. Businesses and inns are decorated with corn shocks, wheat and barley sheaves, ripe gourds, and more, and cups of free ale and cider are handed out everywhere. Church services on Godsday are usually very short.
The festival is celebrated in Elmshire, Hardby, Narwell, and Safeton, too, though with a different character in each town. In Elmshire, Brewfest is a time for cheery feasts, music, and dancing; drinking is light to moderate. The whole week is taken as a restful, carefree holiday, and halflings from Greyhawk and elsewhere are free to join in. Godsday is the height of the celebration, but church services are lively and often held outdoors.
In Hardby, widespread fistfights bordering on full riots involving drunken soldiers, sailors, and longshoremen are common at this time, and “Ale Bay” (a large outdoor stockade built each year to hold drunks) is filled to overflowing. During Brewfest, the town is noisy, exciting,
colorful, and ignorant of all social mores and decorum (not that it had much of either to begin with). The town hits bottom during the Freedaynight parade; the Starday after is an unofficial holiday, as most townspeople must work off dreadful hangovers.
Narwell’s crime rate soars during Brewfest as many drunks are beaten and robbed, but caravan traffic is left largely alone by bandits who likely have come to town to celebrate with everyone else. Ale-brewing contests between dozens of local brewers are staged nightly, and horse races and athletic feats are heavily attended by day.
Safeton’s guards are rotated for a day or two of liberty during Brewfest, but the garrison remains on constant alert in case orcs appear. The holiday atmosphere here is as violent as in Hardby, but with a dark, nervous, ugly edge that lacks the laughter and ease of the latter. “Orc hunts” are often held at night, with gangs of drunk and/or armed citizens roving through town, looking for anyone who faintly resembles a humanoid. In the past few years, someone has spiced things up during Brewfest by releasing captured goblins or orcs within the town walls; the humanoids must fight for their lives against frenzied mobs. For a humanoid to escape a gruesome fate here is rare, but not unknown.
The Lord Mayor and Directing Oligarchy of Greyhawk have two important meetings during this time. The fourth seasonal diplomats-anddirectors meeting is on Brewfest 1st (Starday); see “Needfest” for details. This is usually the most festive such meeting, though once in a while a diplomat or director drinks more than is wise and says something that causes considerable trouble.
The fourth and last quarterly Grand Council of Greyhawk Guilds formerly met on Patchwall 1st, right after Brewfest. Time and again, this proved to be a tactical mistake, as more than one of the guildmasters would arrive either drunk or in the depths of a hangover. In 585 CY, Nerof Gasgal finally relented and moved the Grand Council to Patchwall 3rd, a Moonday, to everyone’s relief. The guildmasters and Directors gather at the Lord Mayor’s Palace. For more, see “Needfest,” above.
On Patchwall 8th, the second Starday after Brewfest, the Lord Mayor and Directing Oligarchy convene the annual Greyhawk Council of Mayors and Manorial Lords, established after the Greyhawk Wars (see “Politics & Government of Greyhawk”). Here gather the recognized leaders of Elmshire, Hardby, Safeton, Narwell, and representatives from smaller communities like Grossettgrottell, Two Ford, One Ford, Greysmere, Karakast, the mining towns in the Cairn Hills, and other communities in the Gnarley Forest and northern Wild Coast, all to talk over their problems with Nerof Gasgal and the other Directors. These meetings can be tense when discussion of the Orcish Empire arises. just as troublesome to the Lord Mayor is the presence of the Gynarch of Hardby, who manipulated events to gain a seat on the council despite unsubtle attempts to exclude her and deal only with the commanders of the Mountaineer Militia and Hardby Marines, who also attend. The Gynarch and Nerof Gasgal appear to absolutely hate each other, though they are unfailingly polite in public.