How is the local ruler chosen, and what sort of government is it?
The local ruler of Aiken appears to be a religious matriarchy – with a small group trained and selected to rule from a promising pool. The trainees are kept away from the general population in the castle at the south end of the woods they control and, once selected, the trainees have very little freedom. Since the current ruling matriarch is in her 70s and shows no signs of slowing down, the waiting, tutelage, and screening period for this is long.
When and where are religious services held? What’s it like to attend?
They appear to happen in the large courtyard of the main castle and only the people of the community are allowed to attend them. One does see, on some of these occasions, a cast of characters rarely encountered in other times on the main path through the woods – lone hunters and other mysterious, reclusive figures who appear to live deep in the wood and seldom show themselves otherwise.
The rumor is that the matriarch has been known to use a commune spell during some of these events so that the goddess makes an appearance herself, though this is not said to have happened for many years.
Are there frequent holidays or festivals? What is it like to be there?
I use the old “City State” calendar for the names of the months and there are fairly frequent festivals. Some of these coincide with religious observations and some do not. The non-religious festivals occasionally have been known to have featured strangers who arrive specifically for the events. Why they are there is not always immediately obvious, but some appear to have been expecting them.
What sort of thing could people find out about someone that would make them a pariah? That would make them celebrated?
Stealing and any vandalism is enough to convey pariah status – likewise any other activity seen as threatening to the community. Those marked as troublemakers have a short shelf life and are usually – after being apprehended – never seen again.
In the same sense, service to the community is rarely forgotten.
What’s the most common job for a common person?
Farming, hunting, and food production of some kind.
Who shows up if there’s a fire? A murder? A riot?
There’s a trained, armored guard assigned to the castle and what looks like a detached squad of woodland based guards whose hidden outposts are scattered over the woods to the north and south of the main castle and town. The men who hunt in the woods are also expected to assist these forces at all times. Women working in the open fields are known to have sharp eyes too.
If I’m an upstanding citizen, who do I tell if I find a body? Who does that person answer to?
The guard or the woodland squadron. They answer to the matriarch and her inner circle.
Where do I live? How private is it? Enough to muffle a scream?
You live in one of the two inns or you live in the woods. If you live in the woods, you better have a good reason if they catch you there or some other kind of clout.
Where did I go to school? How prestigious is that?
There are no schools even remotely near Aiken. People have heard vague rumors about a school in the city to the far north, but all it is ever going to be are teachers who take on students and, more or less, hang around and teach in the same place.
How many people care what religion I am? What if I’m an atheist?
They don’t care what you are if you’re not a part of what seems like their indigenous religion led by the matriarch.
What languages do I speak? Common, Ancient, Foreign?
You speak the common tongue.
How easy is it to acquire new magic-user spells?
This is work you do on your own. The magicians you meet are not giving out great stuff for nothing, even the better ones.
Is ‘adventurer’ its own social class? How shitty can I treat commoners (or vice versa)?
It’s more a distinction between “outsider” and “insider” that matters – not only in Aiken but in all the other isolated communities in the campaign. These communities are cut off from one another and tend to be clannish and self-absorbed.
Where can I buy or sell something illegal? (Drugs? Poison? A dead body?)
Aiken is a terrible place for any of that.
Can I auto-buy new equipment while in town or should I ask you to bust out your Ye Olde ShoppeKeep voice?
Finding good stuff in a town like this is certainly problematic. There aren’t “shops” per se. You have to see if any of the farmers or villagers have stuff they want to sell you and their technology level… isn’t very impressive.
Is a rapier v longsword duel considered ridiculous or merely unsporting? for which side?
Things are pretty primitive here. This kind of question assumes a level of civilized ideas that might seem foreign to the people in Aiken.
Any random charts or formalized lists of frivolous shit I can waste my money on?
There’s not a lot of things to waste money on in Aiken.
I stole these questions from “Dandy In the Underworld”…