Tuesday, February 23, 2010

World Building, Villages

Back in October I wrote about Villages . The few things I would add are villagers are the masters of 'making do'. They do not have the crafting experts, the best healing or bravest fighting men, but they have a way of getting things done. If a tool breaks in the village a craftsman might only come around once a month to fix things. They need to work those fields so they find a way. Maybe the farmer just uses the tool as is or he binds the handle with some rope and a branch to support it.

Villagers fall sick or injure themselves depending on your campaign. I doubt there is a healing cleric in every village. In my campaign there is a church/temple/abbey/shrine within a day's walk or more from a cluster of villages. The priests do a circuit of the villages every so often to do any ceremonies that might need done. The big the three are the birth of a child, a marriage ceremony or the death of someone. And as long as the villagers pay their tributes to the priests they don't care much about what goes on in the villages. So healing is handled by healing women who are experts in the local herbal lore. Their ways work they just take a lot longer.

Defending the village is very important to my campaign because there is always some critter or group trying to make trouble. Most of the villages have a simple stockade around them, but it does little to keep an organized force from invading. The village usually has a semi-trained militia, men and women who are armed with typical villager weapons, but there might be a few who are ex-soldiers, ex-mercenaries or ex-adventurers who have some swagger to their swing.

Whatever the case, the villagers know how to survive on less. That's why these villages continue to stand after sickness, invasion and drought. When the adventuring party comes traipsing through the village I doubt it is the first time these people have ever seen this. They know how to appease the players. They know how to act like gracious hosts and acts like they have nothing to possibly get a coin or two of charity. They know to send a runner to the local knight to inform them of the players. And the villagers know sometimes they need to just leave. Everything they have can be replaced and sometimes they just need to wait things out.


  1. Well said. The villagers operate on the "you just have to be realistic" principle. They just need to survive. Leave it to knights and adventurers to fight and kill the monsters, the villager just need to drive them off. Invading army? Hide until they are driven off (or they settle down to stay). Stay alive and things will work out.

    Practical, clever and hardworking, that is how villagers muddle through.

  2. Very well said indeed.

    When there's only so much to go around, the ability to improvise and to manufacture is essential.

    Village abandonment used to happen routinely in medieval Europe, be it due to plague, laws demanding more grazing for sheep or depopulation due to famine or war.

  3. Thanks to both of you. I sometimes like to start players out as villagers who have to make due and watching them stuggle with it without having the ability to buy or hack your problem away.

  4. Good Post. The village is a very important setting for most campaigns. And they can be so much more than just a place to get supplies.

    Adaen of Bridgewater