Village 1: Merrowlyn
Population 150; Neutral
This is the first entry in the 69 Villages project. I’ll admit: 69 villages is a lot to cover. Even if I did 2 a week—which I won’t—it would still take over 8.5 months to complete. But hey, I knew the risks going in, and I’m using a random method that’s supposedly fast (and, if it’s not, this exercise will point out where to make improvements).
So here goes: Village #1, Merrowlyn. I’ll walk through this first one, with my notes in italics following each section.
Merrowlyn (Population 150; Neutral; walled)
Nobles: 9 [9 in ruling house]
Officers: 4 [Indifferent law enforcement]
Clergy: 2 [lesser priests]
Freeholders: 9 [2 cobblers, 1 forester, 1 miller, 1 physician, 1 sage, 1 tavern, 1 woodcrafter, 1 yeoman]
Citizens: 126 [0 hirelings]
Buildings: 33 [1 mansion, 1 church, 10 businesses, 1 municipal, 20 homes]
Spending Limit: 13.56gp (1.26gp + 1.3gp + 11gp)
Crime Rate: 2d6 [each result of "1" indicates a crime; PCs are victims if the 2d6 roll exceeds combined party level]
OK, this takes (almost) no time at all to produce:
- Roll 1d6x50 for population and enter that figure in the “Settlement Area and Population” section of the Medieval Demographics Online tool.
- Roll 1d8 to determine Law Enforcement level and select the corresponding label from the drop-down menu in the “Settlement Officers” section.
- Record the Population Overview, Freeholders, and Settlement Buildings in the format above.
- Roll 1d6 for village alignment (d6: 1-2 Lawful; 3-5 Neutral; 6 Chaotic).
- Roll 1d8; if the result is less than the village’s Law Enforcement level, you got a protective wall.
- Calculate the village Spending Limit by summing 1cp/citizen, 1sp/freeholder and officer, and 1gp/clergy and noble—the result is the maximum gold piece amount of anything available for purchase in the village’s open market. 
- Cross-reference the village’s Law Enforcement level and alignment on the Crime Rate table in last week’s post to figure out what dice to roll to check for crimes.
Merrowlyn is ruled by the Shylton family, headed by Branabas Shylton, an old and cunning man (AL L) of significant influence, despite the family’s modest holdings (3 five-mile hexes). The family recently lost Marla, Branabas’ youngest daughter, to plague, though there have been no other cases reported in the village (suggesting that the illness was of unnatural origin). Shylton’s current plans involve ousting Merrowlyn’s chief constable, who’s suspected of consorting with outlaws. Never one to act without subtlety, Shylton is considering his options, since a heavy hand against the constable could incite the outlaws to retaliate.
Use the various Random Noble Houses tables to figure out what’s up with the ruling family. The quick narrative above is just a summary of the table results (some action verbs required).
Merrowlyn has long supported the king's efforts to expand the realm's borders into the territory of neighbouring enemies. Indeed, under House Shylton's able guidance, the village enjoys much prosperity and is itself expanding. This is a source of pride among the inhabitants, and criticism of Shylton from outsiders is usually met with antagonism. However, not all is well in Merrowlyn. Recent floods have damaged fields and pastures, and (perhaps as a result of the realm's expansion into the wilderness) criminal activity in the surrounding area has increased. In fact, a farmstead on the outskirts of town, badly damaged by recent flooding, is suspected of being a hideout for bandits—the village constable seems strangely unperturbed.
The Background narrative comes from multiple sources. First, I rolled 1d20 on the Random Social Hooks table to see what the inhabitants are like. Next, I rolled 1d6 times on the Modern History events to suggest a local timeline;  in this case, I got 5 events, and then rolled 1d20 for each (in order). Finally, I rolled 1d10 on the “What Goes On?” table from last week’s post to get a general hook that I could turn into an adventure.  All these bits went into a natural-sounding background; my only advice is to write so it’s not obvious where each piece of info comes from.
Full disclosure: this took about an hour of off-and-on puttering to craft, which is more time than I’d expect anyone to spend producing anything this short.
But, in fairness, that included formatting, finding an online dice roller (because—shhhhh!—I was at work), and figuring out a few fiddly bits (like the Spending Limit update how to scale some of the random tables for a single village). PLUS, this was the first village, so, you know, longer. Also, the map, what with colour choices and import settings.
But all that’s figured out now, so the next one should be shorter. My goal is about 20 minutes—in this case, useful means fast, so we’ll see how that goes.
- This method provides one-tenth the value of the calculation suggested last week, and seems more “realistic” for a village-sized settlement. See? I’m already tweaking.
- The Modern History table is designed for an entire kingdom, so I’m scaling it down a bit: for our purposes, roll 1d6 events per village.
- If you decide to expand the hook into an adventure, make sure to use the historical details to aid planning. Plus, they help you ad-lib convincingly at the gaming table.