Sunday 4 May 2014

Svetlana's Village

This is a bit more background for my Pathfinder character, Svetlana. If you haven’t already read it, the main background is here.

‘Village’ probably isn’t quite the right word for Svetlana’s home town. The surrounding lands are a mixture of woodlands and land ideal for farming and the village itself is the most central point between the farms and hunting cabins. It began as a place where people gathered; a meeting point, rather than a village. A school for the younger children; a workshop and forge for building and repairing; a pub for socialising; a bakery; a village shop; houses. The village grew.

It will never be a particularly busy place – it is not on any main road or river route and only exists because of the farming and hunting communities – but survives very well. A track leads south-west to the nearest town and then continues on to Restov; other paths lead to other, similarly isolated villages. There is no dedicated priest, no temple but there is a shrine to Erastil that is looked after and visited daily. No dedicated priest means no healing, so mortality – and particularly infant mortality – is high. To compensate, families tend to be large.

Bored teens often feel frustrated with the slow pace of life so it is not unusual for them to head out for adventure. Restov is the usual destination and some make successful lives for themselves. Others come home, disillusioned with the outside world and ready to settle. Some simply vanish.

Post to the village is intermittent, arriving as and when someone is travelling that way. And despite its isolation, people do travel through: clerics, druids and tinkers most frequently and very, very occasionally a hedge knight or other group out to seek a fortune in the wilderness beyond.

Being primarily a loose collection of farms (mostly crop but some dairy), the village doesn’t need much by way of formal bureaucracy and leadership but is guided by a mayor, usually an older individual whose physical capabilities have declined. It is a fairly informal arrangement, which may explain why Svetlana isn’t always very good at treating people in positions of political power with the deference they are used to.

The pub/inn run by Svetlana’s family is called ‘The Burning Tree’. A blackened beam within is claimed to be a remnant of the large oak from whence came the name. The story goes that the oak used to be the gathering point from where hunting parties would head out. One day a storm came in, turning the bright sky to night. The darkness and heavy rain caused the party who were out to lose each other, so they each tried to head back to the oak but couldn’t see the way. In desperation, one ranger threw a prayer to Erastil, begging for their safety. In that moment, a strike of lightening flared and lit the tree as a beacon, burning powerfully enough to withstand the rain and guiding the party safely out of the woods. Two of those it rescued used the tree’s remains to build a pub that has stood ever since.

Also central to the village is the forge/workshop, a collection of buildings including space for carpentry and smithing. With the woods well-stocked for hunters, a fletcher manages to earn a living and he works in this courtyard area alongside the various craftsmen who primarily build, mend and maintain farming and domestic goods and equipment. Svetlana’s school days were spent here as often as the woodlands, in order that the children understand their role in the local environment.

As well as the fields and woodland that surrounds the village for as far as can be seen, there is a green around the well that serves the village. This is popular with parents of younger children who are not yet trusted to wander off by themselves – the area is open and easily visible from most of the buildings, meaning children can be watched by everyone and are less likely to fall into danger.

The biggest place for the children to gather is the school. It had been run by Dmitri Solovyov alone for some years until, realising he didn’t have enough time to teach some of his more able pupils who wished to stay in school, he wrote to an academy he knew of in New Stetvon to request assistance. Two sisters answered his call, Renata and Olesya Chorkina. Their initial attitude was perhaps less than friendly; they felt they were doing a favour in coming to this backwater and teaching country bumpkins. However, they did grow into life in the village and their initial snobbery was forgiven, with Dmitri marrying Renata. After their arrival, Dmitri focussed on teaching the newest pupils and, once they had mastered the skills required, they passed into Renata’s class. Only those with an interest in academics and parents who could spare them made it to study with Olesya – these pupils are more likely to move away and pursue other careers in the cities of Brevoy. Classes are also taken from time to time by those Druids and Clerics (most commonly those of Erastil) that come through the town and are willing to do so.

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