Although Velitrium is geographically a large kingdom, the majority of its population is concentrated in its cities, towns and villages with only a small percentage occupying isolated farmsteads. Most farmers, tenant or free, live in, or close to a village or town and go out every day to work their fields. Those families that do occupy single farmsteads tend to be large and extended, or live clustered near other similar steads. The few that are truly isolated are almost always fortified, usually with wooden stockades and thorn barriers and have some type of log and stone block house.
Most towns are walled and fortified, as are the cities. Some of the larger villages are stockaded and most villages either have a keep, tower or blockhouse for refuge, or, they are affiliated with a Manor house.
A Manor house, home to a Lord, landed Knight or other lessor noble, is usually well fortified and able to fend off all but a major attack. They are not, for the most part, castles, though a few are. But they always have a stronghold or keep that is large enough for the family, retainers, servants and surrounding families to seek shelter in. Typically a Manor house is surrounded by a cluster of houses and out buildings that can be quite extensive. Though not always listed on the maps as a village, most of them are.
All this discussion of defenses and safety makes Velitrium sound like a dangerous place to live. It can be, but most of the time and in most of the kingdom, it is quite safe.
The lands around a settlement, for a distance of one to three miles, is heavily developed and intensely farmed. The areas nearer to town are for the herds while the further lands are for orchards and crops.. During daylight hours this area is a buzz with activity, but at night they are empty, intermittently patrolled by the Rangers or, rarely, the Watch. The land beyond the agricultural area, that lies between one settled area and another, cannot truly be called wilderness. Here are found the few lone farmsteads and an occasional roadside inn. These areas are also patrolled by the Rangers and on occasion they are swept by units of soldiers looking to flush out brigands and escaped slaves, dangerous beasts, etc. In the thickly settled regions of the Kingdom, around the cities, most of the central valley south of Velitrium City, etc. the distance between the farmed areas is quite small, the transition from one settlements farming area to anothers may not even be noticeable to a traveler. Further afield though, the distance grows from a mile or two to as much as twenty or thirty on the edge of the valley. The area between is criss-crossed with roads, cart tracks and trails of varying degrees of quality. The main roads, and every settlement has access to one somewhere near by, are generally in pretty good shape. They are almost always dirt, in some swampy areas they are built up with logs or causeways of stone, and the undergrowth and trees are kept cut back from fifty to a hundred and fifty feet for visibility and security. King Urien has made a concerted effort to have bridges or proper fords built at all river and stream crossings. When ever feasible the wooden bridges have been replaced with stone The road beds are wide enough, in most places, for two carts to pass.
Most cart tracks are just that. One cart wide, no cutbacks and rarely having any bridges or proper fords. Generally the cart tracks are made by the farmers working their way out into the fields. Trails are usually wide enough for foot traffic or mounted men to go single file.
Because of these geographic features, communities tend to be close knit with everyone knowing everyone else and their business. Even between neighboring communities people are either known personally or by reputation. Typically, in a village a person will always be recognized and known. In a Barony, or small town, an individual can expect to almost always be recognized on sight and to always be known of. In a County, or large town, an individual can expect to be frequently recognized and almost always known of.
What this means is, in your home area a character can expect some one to know something about them. “You’re Rolf, from down Whitby way, your father is the miller, right?” and in a strange area you can expect, “You’re not from these parts, are ya?” If your not too far afield one can say, “I’m Rolf, my father is the miller in Whitby.” And reasonably expect someone to have heard of you or your family.
Keep these things in mind when setting up your characters. You have a home somewhere in the Valley, unless you are a visitor from the Desert Kingdoms, a Jhensari, an escaped slave or from Khun Dhagra. This means you have friends, family and a history that other people will know about. You are not obligated to select the Dependent Disadvantage, though it is appropriate for the game, but put some effort into generating your background. Give me an idea what kind of family history your looking at and I will provide some place names and additional information as needed. Did you come from a rural village, a large town or one of the cities? Was your family poor tenant farmers, free farmers, craftsmen, merchants, etc. Consult with your GM before creating a background of noble birth or elevated status. Remember, the sons and daughters of Nobles have duties and obligations that will prevent them from doing much in the way of adventuring!
What was my home like?
The answer to that question depends primarily on whether your character grew up in a town or city or in the countryside.
Though styles vary throughout the valley, as do building materials, the scenes above are meant as examples of lifestyles throughout Velitrium