For much of its life, the village of Arcmoor was a sleepy place, far removed from the doings of heroes, kings and warlords. All that changed, however, when an orcish horde was destroyed near the village by the hero Therald Arcmoor. Therald died at the moment of his greatest triumph, and his death—strangely—heralded great change in the village. A shrine raised in his honour has grown increasingly popular of late and Arcmoor is slowly being transformed from a sleepy backwater into a popular destination for pilgrims, visiting warriors and the like.
Ringing day and night, the many bells of Carillon echo through the village, a nearly constant tolling that serves as both protection from, and reminder of, the danger lurking beyond the village’s borders. Deep in the otherwise idyllic Elysian Valley that is otherwise an endless bounty for the so-called village of bells, something sinister—the Hush—lurks and plots harm to the hunters who inhabit and visit Carillon. Fortunately, the noise of the bells—from the village’s central bell tower, hanging on every home’s doors, even sewn onto clothes or worn as jewellery—keeps the Hush away; thus the villagers trade peace for safety.
Poxmire’s disease-ravaged residents choose lingering death over execution. The secluded island village is the destination for those who have incurable, contagious ailments, and those who cannot (or refuse to) pay for curative magic. As is the nature of such places of exile, Poxmire serves as a convenient place to also send fallen political rivals and the like. A sizeable donation to the appropriate temple is enough for a declaration that a foe’s malady cannot be treated.
Laid low by a witch’s curse, life in the once-prosperous village of Aubade is lived in reverse. At dawn, the streets empty, residents remaining hidden inside during the daylight hours and avoiding the sun’s caress. At night, lamps lining the village’s cobblestone streets blaze to life, and the residents emerge to tend their fields and work their nets on the lake as best they can.
Aubade by Tommi Salama
Gloya’s Bridge is a village swathed in secrets. Wearing masks and veils in the streets is normal, giving a chance at unparalleled anonymity and the freedom to indulge in a variety of entertainments with minimal restrictions. Those who want a second chance flock here, in no small part because an unconventional order offers a chance for criminals to leave their pasts behind and be recognised as reformed. Yet, not everyone has the will to reform or the patience to prove it, and the work of the Merciful Order is not enough for all the foes dogging some troubled souls. The offer of a new life for anyone is an important promise to many in Gloya’s Bridge, but the richest patriarch has designs on a new, firmer order. And deep below the surface, a conspiracy threatens to dim or even extinguish this beacon of hope as it gathers the hidden secrets of dangerous and troubled people who have come here from across the region.
Brackendale was once a bustling borderland village beset by savage humanoids lurking in the nearby woods and hills. Then, the village was a busy place and wandering adventurers, sellswords and mercenaries were a common sight on its streets. The arrival of the Six—a band of adventurers charged with securing the village’s environs—changed all that. Their annihilation of the goblin and orc raiders along with the completion of extensive defensives work brought peace and security to Brackendale.
But peace it seems had a price. With nothing to hunt adventurers passed by without stopping at the village; the village traders and merchants sold less and less each year and most now barely scrape a living. Now disgruntled villagers resent the adventurers that once brought peace to their little village.
Eschewing the deep, dark homes of their ancestors, the survivors of the reputedly cursed dwarven clan of Azacral now dwell amid the stark beauty of high, windswept hills. But life is not idyllic for the dwarves as their ancient enemy—tribes of half-mad, homicidal trolls— ever lurk nearby. While the majority tend herds of sheep and goats with the aid of their domesticated wolves, an unknowing, accidental threat lurks within the village—a threat that could return herald the return of the ancient slaughter and bloody death that birthed the village a century ago.
Five years ago, the bandits won. They overwhelmed the village of Hornwall, killed its citizens and looted their treasures. Then, they settled down. The bandits of Hornwall now reside within the very defences meant to keep them out. They have given up the sword and taken up the ploughshare, exchanging a life of danger for one of safety. The villagers hide their secret well, but bodies keep appearing—floating in on the current, dug up by dogs and even emerging from the thawing winter snows. And the citizens who wish to return to the old ways are murdered in their sleep by their loved ones and business owners who wish to keep the past dead and buried. If passing travellers learn the truth, they have a choice. Forgive and forget? Or avenge the uncaring dead and leave Hornwall nothing but ashes.