While not absolute, most settlements on Wyrlde are located along, across, or very near a river, usually a navigable one with a strong flow. This is especially critical for Villages and larger places, as the rivers are what power the mills.
Wyrlde is deeply agrarian, with farming and ranching making up about 80% of the daily work life of most people. The peculiar structure of nobility allows for much of this to move through the markets of the large settlements fairly easily, aided by the extensive and broad approach to transportation such as Skyships and the Train for more easily spoiled produce and the Riverboats for the rest. The greatest challenge is tithes, taxes, and levies.
Cities can generally only produce enough food for about a third to half of its population, with the rest coming from the towns, villages, and hamlets that are seen a supporting it and dependent upon it.
The Cities hold that power through two main functions, both dependent on the Nobility: Protection and the Tanjin, or schools, that are required to be set up any time a population in each area has more than thirty children.
Cities do not do a real census, relying instead on the reports of those who are assigned to support and uphold the local laws as well as oversee the guards and provide protection. Each city has the ability to send up to one regiment out to defend each Village.
Steadings and Hamlets are often the least well protected, and many will have an Arbiter who will travel broadly to try and encourage young, newly married couples to move and relocate, even possibly promising them some small startup funds.
This is because that kind of work is essential to the survival of everyone, and all the aspects of life feed into the overarching pursuit of security in a world where Goblins do not hesitate to attack, or Imps seek to infiltrate.
The Cities of Wyrlde are generally the largest settlements, often located near a river. With a population of at least 5,000 people, a city is usually grown by simple population growth, and are therefore the oldest settlements in an area.
Cities have thirty-foot-high, ten-foot-thick walls that are crenellated, made of stone, wood, and fill (often trash). They are solid, with broad plinths at the bottom to discourage laddering and siege towers. The base city, which most try to emulate in some way, is Sibola, with its ten rings and massive seventy-year wall. It remains the only city to have never had a direct Imp or Goblin incursion.
They are manned by a standing guard that will vary but is usually around 10% of the population in some form or other. Guard posts will always have a supervisor on duty, and usually have a team of ten to twenty men-at-arms.
Most cities have at least three gates, some will have four. Cities with Ports will have a wall pulled away from the port, making the Port itself a bit of a free zone.
Cities do not barter – one cannot pay one’s taxes with bartered goods.
The Towns of Wyrlde are medium sized, located typically 90 to 120 miles out from a City. There are several Towns in any given Imperial Realm. Towns will have a local Noble in charge, appointed and sworn to a given Liege, usually the head ruler of an area. The Noble will be responsible for ensuring the town is safe, that crops come in, that needed supplies are brought in, that trade moves and products are shipped out.
There is always at least 50 miles between any town and any other village or city, as 30 miles is considered a single day’s travel by a fast horse, but also far enough that there won’t be interference from other nobles.
Towns are often walled, usually with wood or stone construction. These walls are at least ten feet high, and usually about five feet thick (stone, rubble, or doubled tree trunks, usually a mixture). They are patrolled at the top, and occasionally will have earthworks meant to delay or harass attackers in case of siege.
Adventurers are welcome in towns if they don’t disturb the peace. Just inside the Gate to each town will have an Inn, and a Pub. All Towns have a full market, usually a designated street or two for varying sellers of wares, most of whom live in their shops. Towns use coinage far more than barter, and barter is frowned on unless they know they person.
Towns are the heart and soul of an area. They set the tone for the villages that come to trade there, they act as the major trade marketplaces, and they usually have the ability to provide the things needed while smaller settlements do not. Towns are formally designated, and one aspect is that they are responsible for a broad area – it is the task of a Town’s leadership to “tame” the region around it as best they can, and to protect the people in that area from the dangers and disruptions that exist.
As noted in the section on Taxes, Towns have taxes to support the tithe to the Cities, but also for their local needs.
Towns are a day’s ride away from help, essentially, and there is always a force of at least 15% of the population that is able to be mustered in the town guard. There will always be a leader on duty, subordinates, and then the majority will be everyday people. Gates 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.
Villages are small, variable and located typically 60 miles out from a Town or City. 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. 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.
There is always at least 50 miles between any town and any other village or city, as 30 miles is considered a single day’s travel by a fast horse, but also far enough that there won’t be interference from other nobles. 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 are at least a day’s ride away from help, essentially, and there is always a force of at least 20% of the population that is involved in the Village guard. There will always be a leader on duty, subordinates, and then the majority will be everyday people. Gates 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.
This also means that 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.
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.
The center of life in a village is generally situated around a Manor, 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 Peddler’s 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 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. 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 50 people, usually from a few families that know each other well or are directly related and are overly cautious about strangers.
Steadings do not usually have any resources to support outsiders – but they almost always know where the closest Inn or Village is.
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.