Characters begin in the small town of Dunwitch, named (according to local legend) for its founder, a nameless hag and healer who lived out her years as a hermit outside the nearby walled city of Rookroost. Her cures were so efficacious and her protective spells so potent that she soon had a thriving community established around her small forest hut. As the poor woman was nearly deaf and blind in her old age, she never quite realized.
The master of Rookroost named the town when he sent his guards to hang the witch for cursing him with impotence. His proclamation named the town “Dunwitch”, in “honor” of the witch he’d had “done” there. No one else had felt the town needed a name, so this one stuck… at least on a map. That was 30 years or so ago, and the town has grown to a substantial community since then.
Most of the population in Dunwitch are effectively serfs. Many are farmers, expected to grow food to support the city of Rookroost, and legally bound to the land they farm. No one really keeps close track so long as the food arrives regularly in the city’s markets. Many others are foresters, providing the city with meat and firewood. There are still nearby forests, but they are shrinking. By tradition, Dunwitch itself is filled with trees, and the houses and businesses are built around them. The center of town is a small clearing surrounded by immense old-growth trees and a stone circle, at the center of which lies an ancient stone altar. Legend says the witch of Dunwitch performed vile rites and obscene sacrifices there at the dark of the moon, but those legends were started by the man who had her hung, so most residents discount them.
Basic training is available for most adventuring professions, though the residents wouldn’t think of them as “adventuring” professions, just normal lives.
Characters in Dunwitch are, in practical terms, healthy, reasonably well off, and average in most ways. The town doesn’t bother with much government and the city of Rookroost, while ruled by a man best described as a petty and insecure tyrant, mostly ignores the town so long as the food keeps flowing in and the city doesn’t starve. However, no one in the town has any significant knowledge of the wider world (geographically or otherwise). At most, farmers and foresters will have traveled to Rookroost to sell their produce and provender regularly, and the more sophisticated and educated townsfolk make trips to the city for news and specialized materials occasionally. Border control in the area around Rookroost is a mix of very lax internal controls – no one cares where you are going or why, so long as you pay the appropriate tolls – and very strict external controls. No one in the town can recall visitors from outside of the broader Rookroost borders, and those who attempt to leave without approval in advance are never heard from again.
Local Law Enforcement
Tom o' the Seven Sevens
A small volunteer militia of three men keeps order when the locals get overly drunk, and at tax time they are reinforced by a squad from Rookroost. Their leader is Tom o' the Seven Sevens, named for the time someone called his bluff at cards and he laid down his hand of seven sevens, proclaiming “Ha! Beat my seven sevens, can ye?” Tom seems very proud of the story and tells it often, never mentioning who was on the other side of the table for that game.
(Moe, a cleric with the town guard, tells a slightly different story)
Grog and Juliet
His minions are two half-orcs who seem to have a comfortable arrangement with each other, going by the names of Grog and Juliet. Grog is always bragging about the time he won a pair of potions on a bet with a wizard in the city, one a permanent love potion and the other some kind of permanent shapeshifting potion, but never explains what he did with them.
There is a cleric who tends the people’s religious needs, blesses crops, and performs marriages and funerals. He’s sort of unclear on the details of the pantheon but his spells seem to work, and he will teach what he knows to those who aspire to priestly work or the life of a holy warrior. He is the only dwarf anyone in the village has ever seen, calling himself Faran. In his cups – which takes a LOT of dwarven ale – he occasionally mentions a second name, but no one has gotten him drunk enough to hear it properly. Rumor has it there are more dwarves in the city, if you know which taverns to visit, and rumor also has it they speak his name with reverence.
The Old Man of the Forest
There is a druid who tends the stone circle and the remnants of the forest that remain. Like the forest he cares for, he seems bedraggled and worn down, but he says as long as the forest remains in Dunwitch itself, so will he. The village simply calls him “The old man of the forest”, and continually pesters him to train an apprentice.
No one quite remembers when he appeared, but he has been a fixture of the village for a long time.
The half-elven ranger corps
Almost all of the foresters who nominally live in Dunwitch (perhaps better described as visiting the town to resupply with civilized goods and sell the furs and skins they have collected) are half-elves. Oddly, because no one seems to know of any full elves anywhere nearby. The foresters are willing to take apprentices, particularly those with some elven ancestry.
Romeo the Not-yet-wise
Recently, a young man who claims to be a wizard by the name of Romeo has taken up residence in one of the better available homes in Dunwitch; no one is quite sure what he’s doing there, but he can manage minor magic when sober and horrid poetry about lost love when drunk. He is willing to teach enough magic to students to get their career started in return for strong drink, which he sternly admonishes his students to never ever consume before spellcasting.
Thieves and Rogues
No one in Dunwitch will admit to being a thief by profession, but then, no one really has anything worth stealing.
The Stone Circle
In the center of the town is a large stone circle. The inside of the circle serves as a public forum for whatever needs the town may have: weddings, funerals, religious services, a marketplace (once every 7 days or so), a tavern (in the evenings after market days), or just a soup kitchen to catch a quick meal. There is always a large iron pot simmering in the center, with simple food and ale available on the honor system (“Please drop your 5cp here”).
On market days, merchants from Rookroost set up stalls between each of the stones of the outer circle, and the local farmers and foresters can sell their crops, produce, or catch.
During daylight hours on market days, the stone circle serves as a bustling marketplace, surrounded by vendors of all types who bring their wares from the nearby city of Rookroost. Locals also sell their goods here if they would prefer not to take them into Rookroost themselves. Vendors offer mostly simple tools and trades; there is a blacksmith, a tanner, a tinker, and a tailor who make regular appearances. The blacksmith has a broad selection of tools and knives, and a few crude short swords. The tanner has leather goods that can serve as armor (leather or studded leather) but are more intended to protect against dangerous animals than men.
Nevertheless, most miscellaneous tools and adventuring goods can be acquired here. If they are not kept in stock, then by the simple expedient of placing an order with the appropriate merchant for delivery the following week. If the need is more urgent than that, Rookroost is perhaps a day of hard walking away.
The Holy Day Inn
Normally, a town this small would have trouble supporting an inn or tavern. However, the local tradition was to gather around the stone circle in the center of town as dark fell, to share a meal and a drink (which everyone brought for their own family). Speculation amongst the young children is that the tradition rose to allow the residents to take a headcount and make sure no one had gone missing to various dangers during the day’s labors. Older residents suggest there was a lack of cooking tools and that a communal iron pot kept everyone fed with soup and stew until a proper blacksmith set up shop in town. Neither explanation seems entirely germane to the present, but the tradition continues.
In modern form, the Old Man of the Forest serves bread and stew in return for 5cp a head or an hour of simple labor. Faran brews ale (suitable for human consumption) and has built an open-air “bar” to serve it, along with a cunning set of wooden planks that, when laid over the stones, form a series of large tables. There is enough space for the whole town of Dunwitch (standing room only) or all heads of household (seated with room to eat). Those tables are brought out once or twice a month when the whole town gathers.
Otherwise, there’s a pot of stew over an open fire, a tapped keg at the bar, a strongbox with a coin slot (folks are on the honor system to pay), and enough company to drown your sorrows alone or with a small audience most nights.
And a sign with the name of the “tavern” on it, which was probably made as some kind of joke. No one seems to know the punchline.
Rumor has it residents like to tip over cows. That’s about the only other thing to do for fun.
Reading the Map
The official map of Greyhawk places Rookroost north of a riven (the Artonsonara?) that feeds into the Nyr Dyv, an inland sea. In my campaign, Rookroost is located two hexes above and one hex to the left of the point where that river feeds into the Nyr Dyv. Saltmarsh is directly on the shore of the Nyr Dyv and one hex further west. Dunwitch is one hex to the right of Rookroost.