One theme in fantasy games recently is the bringing of non-humans closer thematically to humans. It’s a weird thing, since the draw of playing something that isn’t human is to play something that.. you know… isn’t human. So, for this locale assume that dwarves live many thousands of years. Other differences may come out in descriptions.
The residents of Muddy Hollow are exclusively human, save one. Spanning the range of ages, the elders teach the youth and provide guidance to the adults. A generally jovial people, they very rarely have any contact with outsiders, and very few have seen a non-human (except the one). Any visitors are likely to be met with reserved interest, not in news of the outside but of the visitors themselves. The less human looking, the more suspicion accompanies the interest. Characters that are generally considered monsters (kobolds, orcs, and the like) are treated with fear and will have a terrible time trying to gain the trust of the people.
The area in the center of town is a wide expanse of tough, poorly manicured grass roughly 200 feet in diameter. Used as a recreational center, it is often populated in the warmer seasons by idle lounging couples and small groups of children either learning from an adult or playing games. On rare occasions The Commons serves to host special events like pig chases (usually followed by a roast) or a celebration of the only holiday in Muddy Hollow, Winter’s End.
The buildings surrounding the Commons are all old homes with three wood walls and one stone that faces the direction of the winter winds, making for a strange site as the houses across the Common from one another seem to have been built as mirror images. No one house is within fifty or so feet of another, and there are no shops or taverns. The locals make their own liquor from corn, and there is no concept of personal ownership of property; the locals are bound to react very strangely if the characters offer to buy or sell anything. Coins will likely be perceived as nothing but strange weights that outsiders carry. Attempts at barter can be successful, but the item received must be of some value to farmers (or artful), so items of no apparent value may be highly prized while magic weapons will be valued fairly lowly.
This large building serves as a communal meeting center, and is the focal point of social activity during the colder winter months. The bottom floor one very large room lined on one side with a single long table that can seat almost 100 people, the rest of the room is usually left empty for dancing or other events but can be filled with tables from the nearest houses to seat (crowded) the entire population of Muddy Hollow.
Knowledge (Architecture) DC: 30
This building is many hundreds of years old, and built in the style of an ancient guild of adventurers. In an attempt to legitimize what was seen as aberrant behavior, groups of well armed explorers banned together and formed a charter. The end result of collecting so much power together from people that felt persecuted had the usual outcome. Only two decades after formation a series of ugly battles rocked the guild cities. The guilds were shut down and the buildings dismantle. Why this is here, and who built it, is anyones guess.
As the leader of the community, the dwarf Agrus appears to be an older dwarf, and cares very much for the citizens of Muddy Hollow. Distrustful of visitors he renders whatever aid he can and urges a quick departure. Careful not to arouse suspicion he doesn’t eject visitors but treats anyone that appears to be adventurers with great distrust.
The Story of Muddy Hollow
Many years ago, following the Adventurers Purge the group that helped to found the guild left the cities in horror of what their creation had done, and how the cities had reacted. That’s where they drop out of the history books, but they and their followers came to this unassuming location. They settled down, had families, and eventually died of old age. Their offspring carried on this tradition and Muddy Hollow was born.
Agrus is the dwarven fighter that was a member of that party. He was close friends with all members of the founders of Muddy Hollow, and has lived the centuries watching their offspring multiply. He thinks of the population as the immortal extension of his original friends, and takes any threat to any member of Muddy Hollow as a personal affront and challenge. Angering the fighter of the group that unified all the adventurers in a five hundred mile radius is not a task to be undertaken lightly, though Agrus resorts to violence only after all other options have been exhausted including negotiation and subterfuge.
Muddy Hollow today is filled with humans unaware of the history of the place, they are simply competent farmers with communal mindset. The culture of the community is distinct from whatever culture surrounds it, and is far less inhibited than most adventurers will be comfortable with. Some of the adults refer to everyone in the town as ‘brother’ or ‘sister’ but without religious inflection and apparently oblivious to the subtly incestuous tones.
- The characters are headed to fight someone/thing in the mountains and stumble across the scene of horrific violence. Six humans brutally attacked and mutilated. Discovering nearby farmlands brings them to Muddy Hollow. Relating the finding to Agrus sends him into a conniption. Against his better wishes he hires the adventurers to track down whatever did this, offering a moderate gold reward. He can be bargained up to a big gold reward, but the players instantly lose his trust and respect forever. Whatever did it should be expedient for your game and reasonably challenging.
- The characters are researching some undead or otherwise ancient baddie, and discover that this ancient group once contended with the same creature. Their last known location was ‘over there’ and the players go in search of their burial sites in hopes of finding a clue. Imagine their surprise when they stumble across a primary source; even if that primary source wants nothing to do with them.
- This town can be the starting point of a campaign. The characters are ignorant of the surrounding world, but a group that are coming of age don’t believe as Argus does. They leave despite his wishes and get to discover how big the world really is.
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