In one of my favorite issues of Savage Sword of Conan, guests get to choose the most beautiful women... to watch have mortal combat on a precarious rope-bridge.
In real-world old Tibet, brothers all married the same woman in order to avoid splitting up vanishingly arable land among patrilineal lines.
My point is that there are many ways to avoid everything is-Tolkienian-fantasy-Europe. I really want to live up to the promise of what I read in the Judge's sections of DCCRPG. I have included a few ideas in the table below.
- This village eats those that cannot recite the Rites of Charbotage. They check for this knowledge on the holy day which will be the day after the PCs arrive. The PCs will discover everyone is wearing frocks of pea-green. Where the frock is your frock?!
- To walk about the village freely, one must marry into the community. Be sure to come back to this village by harvest time. Otherwise, guests are permitted in if they give their weapons over to the town Oblequive (a blind man without pinkies) temporarily, and wear severed lamb legs around their necks. Yes, you buy your own lamb, outsider!
- The village has to sacrifice someone to the great monster nearby each year. Roll a d4: 1) There is a lottery, and the PCs are included; everyone roll your Luck and hope you don't fumble!; 2) someone that the PCs are interested in got hauled in just this morning; 3) the monster wasn't pleased with the last sacrifice; 4) the monster is dead or never existed.
- There is a werewolf (or other horrible skin changer that can pass for human) in this village! Each night it claims a new victim. The village mystic knows who it is, but can't come forward lest they be burned at the stake. Each day, the desperate towns folk have a kangaroo court and off someone that is likely innocent.
- Vanceburg. Roll a d6: 1) the village has a thing that is very important and touching the thing could destroy the world so don't even ask; 2) we insist on male burkas; 3) would you like a cushy job watching this lake for a monster that no one has seen? I'll throw my buxom daughter/strapping son into the mix, too; 4) We all toil in the mud for the people with special cusps so that we too may one day earn our cusps and see the over-world; 5) all of our men are busy sitting on columns, and our women are busy earning more money to buy column segments; 6) No one who wears chartreuse in this town can see anyone wearing mauve, and vice-versa.
- The elderly in this village have a vital part in determining if outsiders are worthy: they attack them wearing naught but warpaint, a shield, and scabbard (with sword). This happens soon after the PCs come into town and the octogenarians have been roused and painted for battle.
- This town seems to be the exact same town you were in last. It is populated by simulacrums that do exactly what their real counterparts do every day. If your party murderhoboed the last town, these simulacrums will be walking around with ghastly and accurate wounds, not knowing how to be dead.
- Children of the corn. Nuff said.
- Robots are everywhere, just sitting or occasionally strolling and tirelessly observing. They watch births, deaths, and rolls in the hay. They move their heads to follow you and zoom their cameras to catch your frustration. They don't respond to language or prods of any kind. If you kill one, more arrive to watch. They sometimes come sit at a table where people are eating. Nobody pays them any heed any more.
- This town seems normal during the day, but under moonlight the inhabitants are revealed to be corporeal undead. Moonlight awakens their hunger too, but there is some rule they have to follow that could save the party. For instance, may they cannot attack any room where somebody is praying. Or maybe they can only eat virgins.
- Anyone who spends enough time here develops a super power. Unfortunately, this seems to soon fade away if you go farther than the local dungeon. The most powerful beings here have taken control as a cabal, but their strength is tenuous, and could be upset by new powerful people.
- This town worships a certain animal. They have oracles that divine the wills of the beasts in question, holidays where they are massaged and paraded around, and mansion-styes for them. Woe betide any outsider caught molesting one of these things. Of course, this probably isn't mentioned until it's too late.
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