A point of light in a sea of uncharted darkness and wilderness, the small town of South Hildberg remains a place untouched by savageness and despair. Such is the relative safety in South Hildberg that after almost one-hundred years of history since it was settled they have not yet built any kind of defensive structure. There is not even a palisade fence to stop uninvited guests from storming the town. Not that there is any need. In its history, there have only been two occasions in which a group of burglars or bandits attacked. In both cases, bandits attacked the town’s storage of foods and grains and escaped before any type of confrontation. Both crimes caused a great deal of hardship as the town is barely self-sufficient and a reduction in the stored grains may well mean a terrible winter. But the case remains that those events are rare enough that no one has bothered doing anything about it.
But times are changing and the land around South Hildberg is not as safe as it was before. Travelers and passers-by tell tales of strange sights on the roads. Creatures never seen before and bandits stalking caravans looking for the best moment to rain fire on them. People report these incidents as close as an hour away from town. It may only be a matter of time until another attack occurs. Despite the worrying signs that things may go south soon, people in South Hildberg appear uninterested in such foreign affairs. They have had it so easy that they have no reason to believe things might change. Nor do they have a point of reference as to the evil nature of some despicable individuals. In a strange way, they are hostages to their privileged way of life. Their pampered lives now prevent the necessary caution that other peoples have.
South Hildberg is a small town by the South Road next to a stream. Many travelers pass through here when they travel north to the capital. The town is self-sufficient and sells a small number of goods to travelers. Most people in town work hard and do their best to benefit their close-knit community. The town has a small population of a little over one-hundred people. The majority of them work in farms and plantations while the rest attend the few shops in town.
1. Manor House
The largest building in South Hildberg is the townspeaker’s house. All adults in town vote to elect a Townspeaker when it is needed. Usually, the person stays in charge for a large period of time. The person with the title can inhabit the large manor with their family. It is expected that they leave when they are voted out.
Townspeaker Beatrix. She is a middle-aged robust woman with curly black hair. Beatrix has been the Townspeaker for 13 years and there are no plans to vote her out as of now. She lives with her husband and three children, two of whom are adults now. Contrary to most in town, she hears the gossip the travelers bring and is worried that something might happen in town soon. She does not want to leave the manor house and will do the necessary to prolong her stay.
Goal. She wants to ensure that the surrounding areas are safe and that the farms will not be attacked. She is inclined to allocate a portion of the town’s budget to hire sellswords to patrol the area or investigate the roads.
Instinct. She reacts with violence if her seat is threatened.
Flaw. She is a coward. If the town is under attack, she closes the doors of the manor house and does not let anyone in.
2. General Store
Close to the manor house is the only store in the area. The store sells all kinds of goods and tools. Most of its merchandise is geared towards farming and raising cattle. They have a few crude weapons and ammunition in their inventory that has been there for decades. Merchants often come here because Old Benny sells the tobacco and fabrics that other townsfolk manufacture.
Old Benny “wolftooth”. The sole owner of the store is a sexagenarian man with white hair and hunched back. He likes to talk and tell anecdotes. He was a city guard in the capital in his youth, then a farmer for a time, and now a store owner. Old Benny is called wolftooth because he once slew a wolf in the forest in his youth. His eldest son is almost twenty and is usually around in the shop carrying heavy stuff or making deliveries to nearby farms.
Goal. Old Benny thinks his son is immature and ill-prepared to take over the shop. He wants to teach him real-life lessons so he builds a strong character. He offers a few gold coins to adventurers if they take the boy with them for a few interesting experiences.
Instinct. Old Benny never sets a price first when haggling. If the offer the other party makes is too high, he rolls his eyes.
Flaw. Old Benny scolds his son too much and has caused the boy to develop an inferiority complex.
3. Hilda’s Home
Mrs. Hilda has a seamstress workshop in her house and employs five other ladies in town. The room features a large loom and a few smaller looms. They buy thread and materials from farmers and produce beautiful fabrics and sheets. Mrs. Hilda sells most of these in town but others go to the outside market through the general store or when she manages to sell them directly to travelers. They also dye fabrics with different colors and then wash the fabrics in the river. When this happens the river turns whatever color she is washing.
Seamstress Hilda. Mrs. Hilda is a thirty-year-old widow with a little girl from her late husband. Her husband died in a hunting accident and she never remarried. If visited, the house is in disarray and no one is working. It is revealed that a man broke into the workshop a few nights ago and stole some valuable yarn balls and three elaborate quilts. Mrs. Hilda reported this crime to the Townspeaker but she is yet to take any serious action.
Goal. Mrs. Hilda wants to retrieve her stolen belongings. Some travelers report that a man that matches Mrs. Hilda’s description of the burglar was seen recently in a small rural town to the east. She offers a sizable sum to whoever can recover the missing pieces.
Instinct. Mrs. Hilda looks over people’s clothes and examines the fabrics. This makes her look strangely close to whomever she inspects.
Flaw. Mrs. Hilda works her employees too hard and they resent her for this. One of them claims that an ex-employee might have been the one who robbed her.
4. Pilgu’s Place
The only gnome household in South Hildberg. They live by the river and fish for a living. Jon and his wife, Amanda, have six children and love the community. Both of them were in South Hildberg when it was first settled and were part of the original party. Thanks to their long lifespans they have seen the town grow since its inception.
Jon Pilgu, the fisherman. Jon is the man of the house and is usually out fishing since before dawn. He uses a variety of strange fishing rods with clockwork machinery only he understands. The use of river nets is also common for the Pilgu’s. They used to only fish what was necessary for them and nothing more. But, recently, the Townspeaker demanded he fished more and just sell the remainder to merchants through the general store. Jon Pilgu dislikes this because he claims that overfishing might kill the stream’s fauna and that they should be more careful.
Goal. Jon Pilgu has requested an audience with Townspeaker Beatrix for weeks now but she will not see him. He wants her to backtrack the previous command so that they can keep the stream profitable.
Instinct. Jon Pilgu fiddles with small mechanical objects when he speaks to other people.
Flaw. Blinded by the truth, Pilgu often says things without thinking about how they might hurt others.
5. The Injured Knight
The smallest house near the top of the northern plateau is the house of an old, retired knight. The house, while small, is luxurious and features a small wheat plantation.
Sir Xadri d’Allero. He is a plump thirty-year-old man that used to be a member of the royal guard in the capital. Sir Xadri was knighted after his feats in a battle fifteen years ago, near the northern border of the kingdom. He suffered a terrible injury to his left thigh that left him crippled. He is still a good swordsman and practices every day but his footwork is now an impossible task that prevents him to fight properly. He was retired with a generous monthly stipend and decided to move south to a calm place.
Goal. Sir Xadri wants to train children in the community so that they may defend the town in times of need. Other people are not so convinced of this idea and that is why he only has two pupils.
Instinct. Sir Xadri touches his beard and mustache when he talks.
Flaw. He is impatient and thus a bad teacher.
6. The Tired Ox Tavern
The only place of leisure in South Hildberg is the tavern. A dull-faced tavern keeper behind the bar keeps glasses and bellies full. No one produces ale in town so they buy it from travelers once a week. The prices are good and there is usually a person or two to talk to.
Playful Adiestre. They are the minstrel and artist that entertains customers and travelers. They hear rumors all day and are well informed as to the events in nearby settlements and the roads. If they see a group of adventurers in the tavern, they approach and talk to them to hear the latest news before offering to sing a song or tell a story.
Goal. Playful Adiestre recently heard about a small orc clan that ambushed travelers on the eastern road. They have tried to alert others in town but no one cares. And the townspeaker will never agree to grant an audience to a lowly minstrel such as them.
Instinct. If they listen to a person make an involuntary rhyme, they play some notes in the lute and re-chants the rhyme.
Flaw. Playful Adiestre is too nosy for their own good.
7. The Broken Mill
In one of the southern plateaus is a large building with a grain mill. A few peasant boys work here for Frasuri, the miller. The mill is a source of flour and income for the town but the mill malfunctioned two weeks ago and it is still unusable. The heavy millstone broke its bindings and now they cannot lift it to fix the contraption.
Frasuri, the miller. Frasuri is a slim man with think red hair. One kid in the mill also has red hair. It is his son. Frasuri is a one-dimensional hard-working man who speaks little and spends most of his time at the mill. He is at odds with the current malfunction of the mill.
Goal. The broken wooden harness that holds the heavy millstone in place is not easy to replace. It is made with a special type of hardwood that only the wood elves to the west know how to handle. Frasuri offers a good sum of gold for an escort to the forest to have the elves fix the harness.
Instinct. He speaks little and spits when a person mentions the townspeaker. He has nothing against Beatrix, however. It was her predecessor who at some point had a squabble with Frasuri.
Flaw. Frasuri’s determination in his work has led him to abandon his family.
8. The Missing Sheep
One house near the southeast end of South Hildberg belongs to a family of shepherds. They own a large pack of sheep that stay around the house in an improvised pen.
Shepherd Hu. He is an enthusiastic middle-aged man who raises sheep for a living alongside his wife Julia. They explain that sheep have disappeared in times. They disappeared one at a time on different occasions over the past two months. But last week, six sheep disappeared from the pen overnight. They have heard tales of orc clans on the roads and fear that the orcs have reached South Hildberg and now feed off their sheep.
Goal. The Shepherd offers a few gold coins to either retrieve the sheep or get rid of whoever took them.
Instinct. He interrupts people talking by bleating to nearby sheep. He thinks they understand him.
Flaw. His love for their sheep makes him consider them people and he would risk his life for the welfare of their sheep.
9. Forgotten Guards
The small house next to the road that leaves to the south is a small barracks building for four guards from the capital. The capital appointed them as representatives of the crown to keep the peace. Their orders are to stay in South Hildberg until they are relieved from charge two years later. However, it has been three years since the four of them are here. They do not dare abandon their posts to go to the capital to find out what happened out of fear of being court-martialed. They have sent letters and other people but so far their claims have fallen on deaf ears.
Yuro d’Erel. He is the appointed officer though his rank is only a step above foot soldier. Hence, his inability to solve his predicament by outranking an officer in the capital. He grows desperate as time goes on but is determined to stay at his post to demonstrate their loyalty. One of the other soldiers wants to return to the capital and face consequences there.
Goal. Yuro wants to keep trying to establish communication with his senior officers in the capital. He has a letter with a request to return and offers a few gold coins to a group of adventurers if they can deliver it personally and return with a written response.
Instinct. Yuro tends to insult people he deems unlawful.
Flaw. Yuro is an impulsive gambler who often loses his stipend to ridiculous bets.
10. Old Shasa’s Quest
A large house with a semi-turret is the home of ancient Shasa, or as many call her “Nanny Shasa”. Her eldest son Gustaf is in charge of everything. The family owns two farms outside of town and employs scores of people.
Nanny Shasa. She is the oldest human in South Hildberg with 97 years of age. Nanny is bedridden but she is sometimes around town in a wheelchair in the company of Anika, her grandchild. Nanny Shasa knows she will soon part and has one last wish, but she will only share it with a group of strong adventurers.
Goal. It turns out that the old woman was once of the adventurous sort. She explains that east of town, almost a day away, there is a large hill with three pine trees on the top. A hidden entrance in between the trees leads down into the earth into a strange structure as old as time. She once took a magical ring from that dungeon and had it for years. A decade later, when her adventuring days were over, she went and put it back. Now she wants to hold it one last time before she dies. She does not share any details about the nature of the ring.
Instinct. Nanny Shasa tends to digress in endless stories and anecdotes from her life.
Flaw. The old woman is dishonest. She keeps to herself that the never had the ring. Back then, she and her adventuring party were almost all slaughtered by the terrible creatures in the dungeon.
11. Chapel of the Immortals
A small building on a tall plateau is the only house of prayer in South Hildberg. Inside, three altars to different immortal beings wait in the silence of the largely empty chamber. Some of them feature lit candles and incense sticks. People from the town gather in this location once a week for a generic service that incorporates prayers and signs from the three entities.
Acolyte Burei. He is a middle-aged man in religious attire who spends his time in the chapel reading books and talking with religious townsfolk. He is in a strange position trying to please believers from three different faiths. Acolyte Burei is familiar with theology and does a fair job. People frequent the chapel just to talk to him. He remains an acolyte because none of the three churches will appoint a priest that follows more than one deity.
Goal. Acolyte Burei wishes to add some books to the chapel’s library. He has a list of books that can be bought in the capital but he needs someone to do it.
Instinct. Acolyte interrupts people with sayings or refrains from one of the many theological traditions he is proficient with.
Flaw. Burei is afraid to embrace a single religion and be promoted to priesthood.
12. Expensive Smoke
This medium-sized home features a tobacco plantation. A person proficient in magic detects the presence of growth-inducing magic in the tobacco plants. The relatively small plantation is capable of yielding harvests far larger than its size would suggest. The farm does not sell tobacco or cigars directly to customers. All merchandise is available at the general store (Area 2).
Cora. She is the owner of the tobacco plantation. She is a stout-framed woman with strong wide legs. She is usually among her plants harvesting or planting tobacco. Her brother was a mage apprentice and helped her with the growth spells for the farm but he passed away two years ago and the magic in the plants starts to fail.
Goal. Cora needs a mage or druid to renew the growth spells in her plants. She knows there is a reclusive druid in the forest to the northwest but she has not been able to find him. She offers a few gold coins and a box of the best cigars in town in exchange for escorting her to said individual.
Instinct. Cora chews on tobacco all the time. She spits chewed tobacco at the most uncomfortable moments.
Flaw. Cora is bad with people. She is rude and difficult to follow when talking.
13. The Perfect Beets
A family of five who owns a small plantation next to their house and a larger one outside of town. They specialize in growing large beets of different colors. Once a year, during the spring festival in the capital, they bring their best and largest beets to a vegetable competition. They usually win with their beets.
Killian, the farmer. He is a robust, strong, tall man with a thick beard. He treats his beets with the utmost care and knows everything there is to know about vegetables, herbs, and plants in general. A druid by hobby.
Goal. Killian is out of a special ingredient in his beet fertilizer. Without it, the beets will not grow giant. The ingredient is the juice and inside flesh of the owlbear’s viscera. He needs a group of particularly valiant individuals to retrieve this component.
Instinct. Killian pulls out a beet from his pocket and bites it when listening to people.
Flaw. Killian boasts about his fighting prowess and offers to accompany the adventurers to hunt the owlbear. He is just a hobbyist who cannot swing a sword.
These are the general features of South Hildberg. It is located near the south border of the province, three days from the capital.
Population. There are 124 permanent residents in town. The majority of them are human with the only exception being the Pilgus.
Exports. South Hildberg does not export a large quantity of commodities. They only things they sell are tobacco, fabrics and clothes, and some fish products.
Terrain. Fertile green lands surround South Hildberg for miles. Patches of forest and vegetation thrive all year round. The town features some areas at different heights but it lacks any kind of defensive structure.
Smells and Sounds. The smell of greenery, flowers, and a wisp of tobacco are always in the air. The murky river water brings with it a mild salty smell. The sound of the river and people working in their shops or farms are common.