After surviving a long, dangerous stint in the untamed regions of the world, the PCs find themselves back in civilisation. Upon entering a settlement, the players decide to scope out the area and get a feel for the local goings-on by talking to inhabitants and gathering information. At this point, they ask “so what are the local rumours around here, anyway?”
The rumours below can serve as flavour text, adding depth and dimension to your campaign, or can serve as plot hooks, suggesting future paths that PCs may wish to follow.
- Aelfric has always been the local idiot, but he’s been carving messages in the woods. The messages are disjointed and nonsensical, but is it really some kind of code?
- The town gravedigger has been losing at cards, but he never seems to run out of coin. Where is he getting it?
- Small rings of toadstools have been cropping up around town. Are they signs of fae activity, or is that just superstition?
- The smith’s son has disappeared. His father maintains the boy ran away, but is the metalworker’s gruff demeanour hiding his hurt, or something else entirely?
- A figure in a black cloak has been seen moving through the woods, carrying a hooded lantern. He flashes it three times, and then vanishes into the shadows.
- Poachers’ pits, huge holes where the unwanted pieces of carcasses are thrown after they’ve been cleaned, are a common sight in the woods. Human bodies have been found among the cast-off hooves and horns, though, and the bodies are never in one piece. Most of them aren’t even complete. Once-friendly communities have begun barring their gates, and outsiders are being met with increased suspicion.
- Foxes have been considered good luck for centuries, but there’s a rumour the curious little beasts may not be all they appear. Black foxes have been stalking through the town, and watching the caravan trails as if they’re looking for something. They almost seem to be listening to nearby conversations. But why?
- Some of the local youth are trying to go off on adventures of their own. Someone may need to intervene before they get into trouble.
- A group of out-of-towners have been asking questions about your group. Are they bards looking for new tales to tell, or are they seeking you out for a more malevolent purpose?
- A sculptor came to town a week or so ago, and and he’s begun work on a new statue. No one’s sure what it is, but he emerges from that shed covered in rock dust and grime every, single day.
- The town is having a yard sale. While merchants are using this as a way to drum up additional business, everyone in town is getting in on the opportunity to rummage, barter and bargain.
- The Riddle and Rhyme contest is fast approaching. Prizes are awarded to those who construct the cleverest riddles, and to those who solve them.
- There’s talk of a bonfire in a few days’ time. The reason why seems uncertain, but perhaps there is no reason except to come together for a night of merriment?
- Plans are underway to renovate the old mill. There’s even talk of importing a new mechanism, so it takes less effort to turn the stones.
- Something has been marking its territory in the woods. Something big, with a particularly pungent aroma.
- The old hanging tree hasn’t been used in years, but someone found a noose swinging from it. Was it a warning?
- Fruits and vegetables have gone missing from orchards and gardens. The owners have set watches, but haven’t caught the thieves.
- Hunters have seen a pair of feral children in the forest. Is someone playing a joke, or is there something else going on?
- A group of local actors are putting on a play. No one’s sure what it’s about yet, but everyone involved in the production says it’s based on a legend most of the town has all but forgotten.
- Someone, or something, has been digging through trash piles and midden heaps. The mess is frustrating, but the townsfolk are more concerned with what is prowling the streets after sundown.
- Whispers & Rumours: Borderland Town: Hundreds of rumours ready for use in virtually any borderland village, town or city.
Neal Litherland is a prolific writer and RPG designer. You can catch up with Neal–and support him–over at his Patreon campaign.