Villages can be funny old places rife with local superstitions, strange practises and odd traditions.
Such practises have often been followed for hundreds of years, and are deeply ingrained in the local culture. Luckily—for the GM—such practises are a great way to add flavour and depth to a village. They can even spawn adventures!
Use the table below, to generate the details of a village’s strange traditions.
- The villagers—even the children—all wear jangling necklaces or bracelets. Some are made of bone while others are of silver or even gold. The villagers believe the jewellery’s’ jangling keeps the evil spirits away. All the houses also have wind chines (for the same reason).
- No children are allowed out after dark, without an adult. The villagers will not speak of the reason for this, but if a child does go out alone after sunset panic ensues.
- The local tavern serves an array of fine ales. Each of the regulars has their own named flagon—each with a flip up lid to keep out flies, dust and suchlike. Some are ornate works of art passed down through the generations. Travellers must make do with an array of battered and cheap normal flagons.
- The village has a very large population of cats; every family seems to have at least three or four such pets. Consequently, there are no vermin whatsoever in the village. It is illegal to harm a cat, in the village. Those doing so much seek both owner’s apology and that of the cat!
- When one of their fellows dies, the villagers have a unique set of burial rites. The deceased is laid out amid the menhirs of a nearby stone circle for the birds and other forest predators. Once the skeleton is picked clean, the bones are collected and placed in a central, subterranean ossuary and church. Each family uses their ancestors’ skeletons to create amazing, but macabre, sculptures out of nothing but bone.
- No one is allowed to wear the colour red within the village’s precincts, by order of the local lord. Some villagers may inform on PCs wearing the dreaded colour, while others may breathlessly make the PCs aware of their terrible error. Anyone caught wearing red must pay a handsome fine.
- A decade ago, fire devastated the village. Now, the villagers have an inordinate fear of such an event occurring again. House troughs full of water stand in front of every house, and buckets are close at hand. In the same way as the village has a local militia, it also has a fire brigade of sorts. They run weekly practises, one of which just happens to be in progress when the PCs arrive at the village. The sight of a dozen villagers throwing buckets of water at a seemingly not on fire house may give the PCs cause to wonder if the villagers are entirely sane.
- The villagers are friendly—nauseatingly so—toward adventurers. Nothing is too much trouble for such “honoured” visitors. The PCs receive better service than others in any local businesses and unattached members of the opposite sex literally throw themselves at eligible members of the party.
- The villagers hate members of a certain race—halfling, elf, dwarf or gnome—and want nothing to do with such individuals. Bizarrely, they are also particularly friendly towards the members of another race and treat such folk as honoured guests.
- The villagers have their own local currency and do not accept payment in any other form. The coins they use come from an ancient hoard discovered on the land when the local lord built his manor or castle. If the party want to buy anything in the village—even a drink at the tavern—they must get some of the local currency from the lord’s representative. Surprisingly, the exchange rate is not good…
GM’s Miscellany: Urban Dressing
If you enjoyed the table above and like urban dressing, check out GM’s Miscellany: Urban Dressing! Crammed with over 200 pages of information and charts designed to bring your village, town or city alive, GM’s Miscellany: Urban Dressing is an essential part of any GM’s arsenal.
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