Black Age: Resurgence
Ruler: Lord Kenver Locher
Government: Feudal fief
Fortifications: Kerensa’s Hold
Sites of Interest: The Babbling Monolith, the White Fall
Authority Figures: Beryan Teague, Bailiff; Kenan Dobell, Chantry Priest; Melor Keast, Reeve; Sir Talek Annear, Lord Warden of the Lonely Coast.
The Wolf’s Head: Swallowfeld’s only tavern and the social center of the village. Maban Tangye and his inquisitive wife know much of what occurs in the village.
Grist Mill: The childless Kitto and Tecca Joliffe run the mill. Devastated by the tragedy of a stillborn son, there is little joy in their lives.
Kerensa’s Hold: Built by the ferocious warrior woman Kerensa Faull, a garrison commanded by Sir Talek Annear now use this small fortress to patrol the locality.
Swallowfeld Chantry: This simple building is the village’s spiritual heart and home to Kenan Dobell.
Blacksmith: Wind chimes hang thickly from the gables of Myghal Endean’s home.
Vash’s: Swallowfeld’s trading post and the only place in the village selling finished goods of interest to adventurers. A stockade protects the trading post.
Melor’s House: Here dwells the village reeve; his house is the most impressive in the village.
Mellyn Vosper’s House: A small, impeccably kept house.
Hovel: The oft-shunned Sowena dwells in a ramshackle house at the edge of the village.
Babbling Monolith: Set on a hillside to the east of the village, the Babbling Monolith has seemingly stood since time immemorial. Every spring equinox when the sun first strikes the stone, the monolith awakens.
White Falls: The Kilian tumbles down the hills to the west of the village to form the White Fall, a 10 yard high waterfall.
Beryan Teague (Nevarran Adventurer): Once an adventurer, Beryan takers her role as village protector very seriously. If not loved by the villagers, she has earned their respect many times over.
Dog (Mabari): A rare sight, Dog is the only Mabari War Hound known to live on the Lonely Coast. Very protective of the children, no one can claim the right of master to Dog as he views himself as an equal.
Kenan Dobell (Human): A pleasant, but superstitious man.
Kitto Joliffe (Human): Kitto is the village miller. A strong, sour-faced man, Kitto’s desire for a child is well known throughout the village.
Maban Tangye (Human): Welcoming to all, the innkeeper is obsessed with cleanliness and rents his rooms to anyone with coin.
Mellyn Vosper (Dalish Elf): Shy and quiet, Mellyn is the best archer and hunter in the village; she knows the near reaches of the Tangled Wood better than anyone else.
Melor Keast (Elf): The village reeve, Melor is unpopular but honest.
Coalan Endean (Ferelden): The village flirt and an incorrigible letch, the blacksmith lives above his workshop. He is (unsurprisingly) unmarried.
Sir Talek Annear (Noble Human): Commander of Kerensa’s Hold and son of a minor nobleman, Sir Tallek is obsessed with duty and honor. He is a sour individual.
Sowena (Elf): The village children fear this terrible scarred, wizened woman.
Tecca Joliffe (Human): Wife of Kitto, Tecca enjoys showing off her comparative wealth to her neighbors.
Vash (Tal-Vashoth): The only trader in the village, he can produce almost any item from his contacts in Wolverton (given time and coin).
Swallowfeld is a vibrant, bustling place. Its folk (in the main) are loyal to each other and their lord.
Daily life is hard; all members of a family contribute to putting food on the table. The folk at Swallowfeld rise with the sun on their backs and work until after dusk. In the main, the men work in the fields or mine slate and tin for their lord in the nearby mines.
Women carry out many daily tasks including weaving, spinning, repairing clothes, cheese-making, cooking, cleaning, gardening, foraging for nuts and berries, haymaking, child raising, and tending to the family’s animals.
Even children and grandparents work, helping around the home or foraging for nuts, berries, and firewood in the fringes of the Tangled Wood.
Many families own a small flock of sheep and these must be grazed, tended, and shorn. Many also have pigs, a cow or two, and a small flock of chickens (the former often allowed to roam free in the yard).
Swalloweld has a highly developed social order. The peasants form the bottom of that order, overseen by the reeve and protected by the bailiff, guided by the curate.
The reeve, Melor Keast, oversees the day-to-day running of the village. He ensures that Lord Locher receives his due from the harvest and that each villager spends the required amount of time in the mines.
The bailiff, Beryan Teague, is responsible for the militia’s training and leads it monthly drills as well as day-to-day maintenance of the law.
Curate Kenan receives his due from the villagers who look to him for spiritual leadership. He blesses children at birth, marries them as adults, and buries them when they die. He is particularly influential among the superstitious peasants.
The inhabitants of Swallowfeld are predominantly dark-haired, gray-eyed folk. Occasionally, some have light brown or even blonde hair. Eye color can also vary, individuals with blue eyes being relatively common. They are often heavily tanned, a legacy of countless hours spent stooped over their crops.
Peasants rarely have more than two or three sets of homemade rough wool or linen clothes. Men wear coarse tunics and long stockings as well as thick sheepskin cloaks and woolen mittens and hats in the winter (the more valuable of which are fur-lined). Women tend to wear long dresses and stockings. Most clothes are of brown hue or other drab color such as ochre, sienna, or gray. Everyone wears wooden clogs or shoes made of thick leather. Children dress as miniature adults.
A small fenced yard lies between the road and the house. Here, chicken scratch about while behind the house higher fences and a ditch grid a much larger area used to cultivate vegetables and other crops.
Each dwelling comprises a single high-ceiling room, divided into a number of bays, each around 5 yard squares. A raised central hearth dominates the hall and the floor is of hard, beaten earth covered with straw or brush. Few windows pierce the building’s walls to admit light to the interior. Shuttered, but never glazed, they are open during the day to provide ventilation to the often smoky atmosphere. Dwellings also lodge a peasant’s livestock; these are kept at the other end of the house in the byre.
Villagers enjoy a bland diet of bread, porridge, stew, seasonal vegetables, and occasionally meat (normally in the winter when most cattle are slaughtered). Butter and cheese comes from a family’s cow. Many also supplement their diet with fish (fresh, salted, or smoked) and crabmeat. Occasionally, a family feasts on birds killed by children practicing with their slings.
All families have a vegetable garden, often behind their home and surrounded by a wooden fence to keep out scavengers. Here they grow onions, carrots, peas, radishes, and other vegetables. Some such gardens have apple or pear trees. Most families also brew their own (weak) ale and sell any excess to the Wolf’s Head.
Law and Order
Swallowfeld is under the protection and authority of Lord Locher who derives a considerable income from the surrounding fields and mines. Several legal mechanisms regulate the village.
Twice a year (in the first week of the new year and in the week following the summer solstice) the villagers gather for the hallmote. The hallmote – presided over by Reeve Melor Keast – transacts all the legal business, facilitating the trouble-free running of the village’s affairs. Here, the villagers settle land disputes, pay their taxes, formalize matters of inheritance, handle formal grievances between villagers, punish those guilty of minor crimes and so on. Furthermore, the hallmote promulgates the various laws, traditions and customs governing the use of various fields, pastures, and woods of the village. It dictates where animals can be grazed, who should have harvest when, and other vital facets of village life.
The Lord’s Court
Serious breaches of the law such as murder, rape, and assault are heard in the Lord’s Court. The Lord’s Court follows no fixed schedule and convenes as necessary. Lord Locher rarely sits in judgment here, his bailiff, Beryan Teague, hears most proceedings. Justice is swift and harsh, but fair. Miscreants convicted of a crime are rarely incarcerated. Instead, they are fined (heavily) or have their property confiscated. Particularly severe crimes are punishable by execution or mutilation.
Trade and Industry
The villagers engage in a number of trades vital to their survival. The most important of these is farming. Many also work in the mines (normally in winter months) and several operate small fishing boats. A few brave individuals dare to hunt in the Tangled Wood, selling their wares to Vash.
Farming and Agriculture
The land surrounding the village is split up into three large fields which themselves are divided up into many different plots. Most families own small plots in all of the fields, although the exact amount of land is dependant on the family’s wealth. Each small plot is sewn according to the family’s individual needs and so the fields give the overall impression of disorganization and chaos.
The Lochers are the sole owners of the nearby slate and the mines. All the villagers are required to work in the mines for fifteen days a year, although some (normally the poor) the mines are their only source of work.
Several families own and operate small fishing vessels that trawl the closer reaches of the Lonely Coast. Theirs is a dangerous life as squalls and gales often appear with little or no warning.
Most villagers are poor, possessing little coin or jewelry. Consequently, between locals, barter is the preferred form of payment. Coins (normally copper and silver) rarely change hands and then only normally at the Wolf’s Head or Vash’s Trading Post.
Vash’s Trading Post is the only place to buy and sell goods in Swallowfeld. Vash drives a hard bargain, particularly with adventurers or with those who can afford it, simply because he can. If he does not carry a required item he can order it, but it routinely takes months for such items to arrive in the village (unless they can be found in Wolverton).
If one requires weapons or armor made (or repaired) the lecherous smith, Coalan Endean is the man to see. A fine smith, but a man of base tastes, Myghal is happy to undertake commissions for adventurers and the like (but he charges a small premium for such a service).
The Passing Seasons
The weather and the passing seasons rule life in Swallowfeld. While many of the villagers’ tasks are carried out day in and day out – baking bread, feeding livestock, repairing clothes, and so on – some major tasks are carried out only at certain times of the year.
Early Spring: The villagers plough their fields and prepare for the first sowing; lambing begins.
Late Spring: Spring crops are sown and the long process of weeding begins. Much beer is brewed a this time so that it is ready for harvest time.
Early Summer: Sheep are sheared, wool is spun, and the cows, gorged on grass, produce prodigious amounts of milk that is made into butter and cheese.
Late Summer: The wheat harvest is the culmination of the year’s farming. Orchard fruits, wild soft fruits, nuts, mushrooms, and wild berries are gathered and stored away or made into jams or pickles. Hay is made.
Autumn: Root vegetables are harvested and stored. Winter wheat is planted and some trees are felled for firewood or as raw material for repairs and renewal of fences and outbuildings. In late autumn, the barley is ready to be malted and wool and flax are spun.
Winter: Hedges, fences, and outbuildings are maintained or rebuilt, livestock are slaughtered, and beef and mutton hung. Bacon and ham are salt-pickled in brine,, sweet-pickled or dry salted. Many villagers spend extra time working in the mines during the winter.
Festival and Traditions
The villages celebrate a number of festivals, holy days, and local traditions many of which commemorate the changing of the seasons.
Summer Solstice: The villagers mark the summer solstice with a three day celebration. Each day ends with a sumptuous outdoor feast. The Lochers provide the bulk of the provender for this but each family is expected to contribute a token amount of food or drink.
Summer’s End: At summer’s end, the villagers attend a service of thanksgiving for the harvest. Afterwards they gather in the village square at dusk before casting small wooden tokens decorated with lit candles from the bridges into the water.
The Babbling Monolith: Set across Taran’s Run, the Babbling Monolith is an ivy-shrouded remnant of an elder time. Every spring equinox when the sun first strikes the stone, the monolith awakens. Most years, the stone babbles nonsense; occasionally, however, it spouts a cryptic prophecy about the coming year. In thanks for the stone’s proclamation, the village folk have taken to indulging in a nightlong revel, which culminates with the stone speaking to the inebriated villagers.
The Hunt: When the first autumn leaves fall, the villagers commemorate Maban Locher driving out the witch, Morveren from a cave below Din Kershal. One takes the part of Morveren, even dressing the part in what the villagers believe is an authentic witch’s costume. She then hides somewhere in the surrounding area and the villagers hunt her down. Once apprehended, they parade the witch through the village before the celebrations proper begin. Such celebrations last long into the night; few rise early the next day.