Villages are small, variable and located in more rural environs, with a population of 100 to 500 people. Roads are often flagged or cobbled for the last mile to the walls. Villages are overseen by a noble who has sworn allegiance to a noble over a Town or section of a city, nearly always the closest, but not always. Villages are more difficult to protect, being smaller and often having fewer resources, so the Noble of a village is often closer to their people and there is a greater degree of dependence. Some Nobles will not live in their Villages, but rather stay in a city and have their lands overseen by a trusted person in the role of a Castellan. Villages will have a small Shrine to at least one of the Realms patrons, and then a shrine to one or two others.
Population is not always the sole measure of a Village. Villages are primarily agricultural, with limited numbers of artisans (typically not more than two or three total, and lacking competition locally). Villages provide support for Towns, with it being rare that a village supports a city.
Villages are often, but not always walled – though they will have a walled and defensible location, one that can handle the defense of many of the citizenry. Wealthy Villages will have stone walls, but most that do have walls will have wooden ones. Villages will often have a large building capable of holding all the “recognized” members of the community, along with some supplies. This recognition is essentially being known or related to someone or bringing something needed and being known by many folks. Strangers are not usually allowed. It will be somewhat fortified and could be a group of caves or other place where a Refuge can be built. This acts as the Village Refuge, and is a primary building for the Village, known to all, and acts as one of the main core buildings alongside the Merchant Barn, the leader’s home, and any Manor.
Villages always have a force of at least 20% of the population that is involved in the Village militia. There will a formal Watch, with a leader on duty, subordinates, and then the majority will be everyday people. Gates, if a wall is present, are opened in the morning, usually a couple hours after dawn, and closed at night, though getting in happens for a few hours after nightfall if it seems safe enough. If there are no gates, then each of the major entries to the Village will have a small Watch Building along the side of the road that serves the same purpose.
Usually, a village that is in trouble must wait for at least two days, more commonly three days, for help or assistance to arrive. Villages are frontier locations, filled with hardy but often frightened folks trying to make a living as best they can in a world that essentially wants to kill them all the time. The vast majority of people in the world live in a Village or smaller settlement, even within the Dread Lands.
The center of life in a village is generally situated around a Manor or Keep, that may or may not be the principal House’s Manor. Most villages owe their security to a Noble who resides in that manor, and that manor Lord is responsible to the people.
Adventurers are welcome in villages if they don’t disturb the peace. Villages that are well established will have at least a Tavern, and most likely a Pub. Some will have a full Inn, though it will always be outside the gates, often about an hour away from the village.
Most villages have a market area. It is not always certain to be open or even available but serves primarily to allow visiting merchants and locals to exchange wares, goods, and crafts. A lot of barter goes on in villages, though coin is always welcome. Village markets are often the places where Peddlers sell their wares, as most major Merchant groups do not go to villages, only Towns and Cities. This makes Peddlers a key source of news, a way to get otherwise hard to find items, and similar things.
Most people on Wyrlde never leave their village or smaller settlement. The demands of daily life and survival and the bonds of family and friends and dangers braved together makes people feel safer and protective of their home.
The typical village will have a Manor, surrounded by some sort of fortification, which is supported by fields, orchards, vineyards, and gardens. Close to or attached to the Manor will be a Granary or other large storage area (depending on what the primary goods of the village are) that will be guarded and manned by folks to collect taxes.
A village will usually have at least one Shrine, though it may not have a Shrinewarden. Shrines may or may not have priests and may not even be consecrated – it is simply that folks wanted a shrine. If the Shrine is staffed, however, there will likely be an almshouse, where folks can get some food during hard times and where the Shrine’s donations are kept.
Every village will have a well, even if it is located near a reliable flowing water source. Larger or wealthier Villages will have a full cistern and water tower.
There will be a leader’s house, for whomever is the commoner leadership of the village (often appointed), and wealthy homes will be present. All of them will have a garden, an outhouse, and a storage space. These houses may not be larger, often just being in better condition or more decorated, but they will have a carriage house and usually a meeting room.
There will be a Hall. It may not be large, but it should likely fit 30 or so people comfortably, for court and official occasions, and the Lord will travel to it on a schedule known in the village.
Larger villages will have a cesspit located away from the main bod of the village and will use it heavily if they are agrarian in basic nature. Mining villages will have a cesspit closer to the mines. Fishing villages will use the offal from the fish in it as well.
The Market will often be set up between the Hall and the Refuge, which will be two separate buildings if the Refuge is a building. Markets will often have some warehouses set up near a river or road, depending on the main way trade is conducted. Warehouses will have some place nearby with a stable and community barn for not only locals but traveling merchantry.
A thriving village will have an Inn, whereas less prosperous ones may only have a Tavern or a few Saloons. They will be located no more than half a day away and no closer than four hours to the village if an Inn, while Taverns and saloons will be on the edge of the village.
All villages need certain common skills to be available. There is going to be a Farrier or Blacksmith, a Charcoalery, a Bakery, a Furrier, likely a Mason, and some form of Clothier who may either buy shoes to bring in or include a Cobbler. Mining villages will often include a Yuzura.
Surrounding the village will be the productive fields. While some few folks will live in scattered farms a day or half day away from the village, the bulk of the village’s population will have fields nearby, so towns are surrounded by grain fields, vegetable fields, orchards, and vineyards no matter the primary purpose, and then have the primary purpose needs added to that in a way that avoids contaminating or endangering the fields. Some fields may be left fallow in the cycle of growing, others may be large areas of pasture left to be seemingly natural. For cattle villages, there will be ponds dotting the area around the pastures, and they will actively avoid allowing the cattle to use any flowing water.
Beyond that is the non-arable lands, such as meadows, pastures for cattle, woodlands, and such.
The second smallest form of Settlement, Hamlets are typically wooden walled compounds that lack formal or direct supervision outside of a noble whose Liege is out of a Village. Hamlets have 100 to 400 people living in them. Some hamlets may be established by independently minded demihumans, semihumans, or halflings. Hamlets will have a shrine to one of the patrons of the Realm, and then a shrine to a Power favored by the locals.
Some Hamlets are called Forts. The inner area of a Hamlet is where the people who live in it retreat and is often the precursor to a Village Refuge.
They are led by a community designated leader, and usually have a population of around one hundred. Most hamlets are also used as a duty station for a contingent of around a platoon of soldiers, guards, and such from the regional City.
Hamlets often have their fields outside of their walls, and most residents will live outside them as well – but there is always space within the hamlet proper for everyone, often through a Commons House, which is the Hamlet version of a Refuge and Merchant space. Hamlets have a one or two-person gate, and rarely have more than one gate. The typical Hamlet has the ability to muster up to a dozen people to augment the soldiers stationed there.
Hamlets sometimes have a Public House, but not often, and the best one can hope for is a public house barn for some place to sleep.
A Steading typically has around 25 to 100 people, usually from a few families that know each other well or are directly related and are overly cautious about strangers, and a formal Steading, or Croft, will have at least 50. Steadings might have a shrine.
Steadings do not usually have any resources to support outsiders – but they almost always know where the closest Inn or Village is found, and many will offer Hospitality (a roof overhead, a meal, and conversation) to people whom they feel safe offering.
Steading gates are usually manned by volunteers, often a single person who always has something better to do and are simple affairs. Steadings do not wall their fields and use basic wooden and earthen construction to fashion barriers to limit attacks by Goblin and Imp raiders.
It cannot be overstressed that Steadings are very tightknit, typically composed of between one and five families, usually extended, and are fiercely independent.
A Steading may be started by a single family in a single isolated building on a cultivated ground or space. This is called a Camp and is the smallest of possible settlements.