The Hero's Welcome
When a hero comes along...One of the major perks of being an adventurer with the Kartovian Exploration Society is participating in their traditions for those going on adventures, and returning from them. Whilst smaller quests (such as fetching a lost child from a park) skip the formalities, adventurers and exploration parties returning from long journeys are greeted by the entire Society (or at least those that are present at that given time). Feasts are thrown, drinks are offered freely, stories are told - and most importantly, the heroes of the day are given a chance to laud one of their own with praise beyond praises. The tradition of welcoming wanderers back has ancient roots dating well before the Society's formation, but it was only with the Society that it became a formal and codified ritual. Any expedition lasting longer than a week or that involves particular danger earns the right to have their return celebrated. It is not just a party; it is the Society's thanks to the brave explorers, their apology for the hardships endured, and a fantastic way for them to share the experience with less-experienced adventurers without those adventurers being too intimidated to ask. Even the most tragic returns are welcomed in accordance to the Hero's Welcome. If a party are returned as corpses, the tradition becomes more funerary; a celebration of the life they lived, and the beginning of an investigation into what went wrong. If only a few return (or if one returns alone), then the tradition is again changed, for the mourning heroes will require distractions and healing of the non-magical, non-medicinal kind. The welcoming ceremonies are not just for show: they have legitimate therapeutical benefits, and have been regularly considered a form of aftercare.
I mean, when it's like this.. it's worth stealing their tradition, even if it's technically stealing. All heroes deserve this.
Other organisations involving excursions have begun to mimic the Society's traditions in recent years, beginning with the Eagle's Shadows and Thrinda's Arcanium. The former have a far more morose version of it; instead of sharing stories, drinking loudly, and partying all night long, the Shadows treat returned travellers with a great deal of care, ensuring their wounds are healed and they are not left alone to suffer under the burdens of what they have seen and done. For them, this is because their work is typically far darker in nature. By comparison, the Arcanium has been known to cause such dramatic parties in celebration of a group's return (especially if the excursion was extraplanar) that the whole of the Sylvancliffs can tell - and often times, they boisterously join in!
Why can't we just have nice things for once?
Not all welcoming ceremonies go well. The tradition is well-known enough by now that malevolent spirits from a given party's adventure often bide their time and lurk in secrecy, waiting until the Questseekers and other officials are already too drunk to interfere easily and then striking with intent to kill. An unfortunate amount of explorers have been killed in these violent attacks. Thankfully, security has recently been drastically improving - the Society has been glad to waste fewer diamonds on Resurrection spells. The Keykeeper Syndicate do often see these ceremonies as a challenge, and attempt to involve themselves in as an annoying a way as possible. This ranges from kidnapping adventurers just before their entrance to stealing the objective of any given quest. The Society's Iskaldhan branch invites witches to their welcoming ceremonies and encourages them to practice their curses on the invading Keykeepers, who very much anger the Witch-Tribes; the other branches retain more standard security measures.
Who on Istralar tries to define a party? Just tell the Codices it's a party.
As noted both in the quote and above, the Hero's Welcome is largely an immense party or celebration held specifically for returning adventurers. By Society standards, these occasions are held within Society HQ - whether that be the primary branch in the Vostene Republic, or one of the distant ones elsewhere. Typically, higher-ranked members of the Society will attempt to attend if possible, and all low-ranked members tend to wish to be there just to experience the environment. One of the major events that happens at each welcoming ceremony is that the "Heroes" in question are asked to nominate the most valuable member of their expedition (and cannot simply nominate themselves). Whilst this does often cause some measure of squabbling, it does also allow the entire room to hear and weigh the actions of the explorers, and to know just what challenges they came up against. It's also considered a brilliant team-building exercise; when adventurers are forced to consider the value their comrades added, they tend to appreciate those comrades more.
A number of nobles copy the Hero's Welcome without even realising it. That's sort of where the tradition began, actually, all those years ago - nobles being grateful for their quests being done, and hosting feasts and such. I think our version is far better! Less stuffy expectations of behaviour, more topless goblin shots.