In space, the darkest day of the year is every day. Nonetheless, five of the Combine’s seven major species evolved naturally on home planets before reaching for the stars, and to various degrees remember rituals and holidays that marked the turning point between encroaching and receding night.
Before the war, human secularism confined Christmas celebrations to the quaint symbolism of Santa, mistletoe, and candy canes. Since the mysterious end of the Mohilar threat, certain nufaiths have reshaped the Nativity story of the holiday to their own futuristic ends.
The emotion-averse, nature-loving balla fight to retain a connection to growing seasons. Their solstice holiday, Seedsong, has farmers keen songs of hope to hibernating plants, and to seeds anticipating their next germination. On spaceships, balla gift each other, and trusted outsiders, with plant cuttings, bulbs, and seeds. Unlike the olden days, these can be planted and tended straightaway in a ship’s hydroponics facility. The balla in the illustration holds a bulb it has sung fertility into, offering it as a gift. Don’t recoil when it chirps!
Get ready for trouble on the durugh solstice. On this day of misrule, serfs and peons were permitted to speak freely and satirically castigate their authoritarian betters. During the festival, one is not supposed to remember, much less taken personally, anything a durugh of inferior rank or status says to you, right before he stumbles off to drunkenly vomit. Lasers can expect an investigation conducted on a durugh world during Chaotica, as the holiday is commonly translated, to vibrate with boozy, brawly complications.
Kch-thk of course celebrate by feasting. Their holiday, called Doorbreak, marks the end of a fast with the ritual destruction of pantry doors. Dry, crunchy foods modern Kch-thk would normally eschew in conditions of abundance become a heartfelt connection to the rigors of the past.
Tavak recall the Winter Wars, a series of battles in which warriors of honor vanquished a culture of unrestrained violence and pillage. Orations of epic martial poetry take place over a dozen nights. Gifting ceremonies at the end recapitulate the awarding of spoils to the victorious sword-priesthoods.
None of the solstices of these five cultures sync up. All remain keyed to original dates from the dominant hemisphere of each respective homeworld.
Cybes reject solstice celebrations as obsolete reminders of earthly limitations.
The vas mal, somewhat annoyingly, insist that in their former godlike personas they inspired all mortal religious beliefs and festivals. However they do enjoy a nice Terry’s Chocolate Orange.
Ashen Stars is a gritty space opera game where freelance troubleshooters solve mysteries, fix thorny problems, and explore strange corners of space — all on a contract basis. The game includes streamlined rules for space combat, 14 different types of ship, a rogues’ gallery of NPC threats and hostile species, and a short adventure to get you started. Purchase Ashen Stars in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.