The Medieval Fishing Village of Fulapet
Fulepet is a (fictional) medieval fishing village, designed to provide a historically-informed reference. We hope to give writers, and role-playing games storytellers and players, a better understanding of how a medieval fishing village really functioned and felt like.
|Leader||Baron Octo of Sojourn|
|Imports||Salt, Wood, Hemp, Livestock feed, Coal|
|Exports||Fish, Meat (Pig), Iron|
|Province||March of Whelchshire|
|Kingdom||Kingdom of Limnos|
|Demographics||90% Human Limnittes, 5% Human Alithian, 5% Other|
This article is part of the project “Let’s design a medieval village”. If you are not familiar with the project, you can read the project introduction here or you check out all the articles of this series
Following our close look into Eldman’s life, we ascend for a bird’s eye view of the medieval fishing village of Fulepet. Fulepet is a small village, south of the walled
village of Sojourn, and south-east of the large village (almost a market town) of Ravenmouth.
Fulepet (a.k.a. foul pit) takes its name from the large pig farm to the south end of the village which, every summer when the winds blow north, fills the village with the flatulent stench of over a thousand pigs.
Fulepet is located on the south coast of the Welchshire marches, the frontier between the Kingdom of Limnos and the northern wildlands of Alithia. The river Raven separates the two lands, but also provides very fertile ground. The river splits into two branches just before it runs into the ocean, making the area between those two branches – where Fullapet lies – one of the most fertile in the kingdom. On top of that, Raven is a navigable river that runs all the way to the Middle Kingdoms, providing an excellent trade and transportation link for the whole continent, via the port of Ravenmouth.
Fulepet is protected by the castle of Sojourn, which stands high on the hills overlooking the valley south of the river Raven. It is no stranger to raids by sea or land, however. This threat has kept the population of the village, and of the marches, quite low.
Fulepet is situated by the sea, with its small harbour protected by a naturally formed cove. North of the cove, the expansion of the village is halted by a bog, which is considered to be both a blessing and a curse. Although known for its vile smells – the fragrance second only to the local pig farm – it is also a very rich source of bog iron, which is the only available source of metal in area. Although a vein of haematite was discovered recently in the nearby area, it has yet to be exploited.
Fulepet is surrounded by small groves, but the trees in the area are young and mostly used for their acorns, in order to feed the pigs during winter, and as a small-but-steady supply of grey rabbits. Although Fulepet is a fishing village, many of its inhabitants have no rights to fish. They instead rely on parchments of lands given to them by the Baron of the Welchshire Marches, Sir Octo, one of the most decorated knights of the Kingdom of Limnos. Fortunately, the land is immensely fertile and yields good crops of wheat, barley and oats.
50 years ago: Fulepet was initially established as a remote pig farm by Alric, a freeman who was awarded the land for showing exceptional valour in combat. He owns a large area which includes the pig farm, three large fertile fields and two groves. These days, his younger sons do most of the actual farming.
47 years ago: Sir Octo, realising the strategic value of the cove, built the Tower to defend the south coast. The cove is rich with fish, and could provide Sojourn and Ravenmouth with an additional source of food. Sir Octo gave 5 Fishermen and their families the rights to fish in the cove area, and the Tower protects them. Sir Octo also built the warehouse and curing house, in order to preserve and store any surplus fish.
37 years ago: Almost ten years after the establishment of the small fishing community, an epidemic ravaged the lands of Limnos to the east of the Whelchshire Marches. Many refugees sought sanctuary in Sir Octo’s lands. The castle-village of Sojourn quickly reached the maximum population which could be supported within the walled settlement’s defences, and the settlement of Ravenmouth was created. Due to religious differences, some of the refugees asked to be granted land in Fulepet. Sir Octo, a very lenient and understanding Lord, granted their wish and gave them land to build their houses, as well as land to cultivate. In return, he asked for them to build a chapel to their goddess Shelyn. The building of the Temple was started 23 years ago and, due to monetary difficulties, is still in progress.
25 years ago: The discovery of bog iron in the swamp to the north of the village was very fortuitous for the area. Bog iron occurs in the form of impure iron ore nuggets which aggregate from iron-rich water in swamp conditions, and can be scooped or dredged out of the swamp. Alric the pig farmer bought the land for his eldest son, Corbyn, from Sir Octo. The purchase provided the area with precious iron, which has boosted the economy significantly and established Fulepet as a very important settlement in the valley. With the money from the sale, Sir Octo is currently constructing new river fortifications.
The latest addition to the community of Fulepet is Aldhelm and his family, who came also as refugees when their freehold was raided.
Exports: Cured Fish, Meat, Iron
Imports: Salt, Wood, Hemp, Livestock feed, Coal, Spices
Six fishing boats, run by five families owning fishing rights, produce enough fish to provide for Ravenmouth, Sojourn and Fulepet. During the summer months, when fish like salmon move up river to spawn, the excess fish are salted, pickled or smoked at the curing house. The fish coming out from the curing house fetch an excellent price at the Ravenmouth market, but also with passing traders heading up river, or following the trade route by land from Alithia to central Limnos.
With an average of 1200 heads of pigs slaughtered every year, Alric’s farm is by far one of the most successful businesses in the Whelchshire Marches valley. Alric’s pig farm is solely responsible for both the name and the original founding of Fulepet, but it’s also a provider of jobs and commerce for many of the poorest families in the area.
The business’s contribution to the local economy go even further than that, though. Alric’s family funded many of the public projects in the area, such as laying cobbles on the local roads and the excavation of the village’s meadow well. They also funded the only craned and load-bearing pier in the cove, used by passing trading ships to supply the farm with feed, but also used for other trade for Fulepet and beyond.
In addition to the meat produced, the farm produces significant amounts of manure. Alric’s farm uses all they need on their fields as fertiliser, but the remaining is given to the village, to be distributed to the farms at no cost. (Free fertiliser, after all, is not to be sniffed at.)
Corbyn, Alric’s eldest son, apprenticed as a blacksmith at his uncle’s weapon smithing workshop in the capital of Limnos, Potamia. The discovery of iron in the bog to the north of the village allowed him to establish the forge and smithy, at the village’s northern limits. The forge employs local children and adults to gather nodules of bog iron during times of the year when there is little agricultural work. Corbyn then smelts these into iron ingots at the forge. Most of Corbyn’s iron is sold to Sojourn’s weapon smith or exported, while a small amount of the smelted iron is used to create the necessary farming tools for the community.
The bog was formed when the river was still flowing through the valley where Fulepet now stands, several thousand years ago. The river carried dissolved iron deposits from the metal-rich mountains in the middle kingdoms. Although Cobyn is trained as a weapon smith, he is not currently producing any weapons. This will change soon, though, as his son Corbysen is training as the apprentice of Sir Octo’s weapon-smith, Chalkion. Together, they hope to start a father-and-son weaponsmith business and export their product up the river and across the sea.
Fulepet is producing wheat, barley and oats, depending on the season, but its production only partially covers its needs. Fulepet has no mill, though, and farmers have to travel almost half a day to reach Ravenmouth’s water mill, so that they can mill their grain for flour. Nevertheless, for the size of its fields, Fulepet’s land produces a very healthy amount of grain.
There is land around the village that could be converted into fields, but there are multiple limitations, such as the lack of oxen and population. Sir Octo is already planning to sell this land to wealthy freemen like Alric, but doing so means that he must be able to guarantee the safety of the land from raids.
Places of Interest
We’ll be giving you more details about each of these, including some story hooks, in a later article, but here’s a list of the places of interest with a few details to whet your appetite…
Alric’s Pig Farm
In many ways, Alric’s pig farm is the most important building for the village’s economy. The oldest structure in the village, the farm has its own enclosed meadow and stables about 1000 pigs. In addition, it has its own well and facilities to store food for livestock. Alric’s family lives opposite to the farm, in two, humble long-houses, which also host some of the homeless workers who help in the farm’s day-to-day running.
Corbyn’s Forge and Smithy
Corbyn’s forge is the only smelter in Whelchshire, and it used almost exclusively for ore gathered from the bog, which lies just behind the 14 foot tall furnace. Beside the smelter, Corbyn has a small, iron-working workshop, which mostly maintains and forges agricultural and fishing equipment.
Chapel of Shelyn (construction site)
The Chapel of Shelyn, after 23 years, is still under construction. This is mainly because it is exclusively made using contributions from the community. Iranthos, the architect, and 2 other workers live in the wooden cottage beside the temple’s construction site, and work throughout the year. At the current pace, and without any more disruptions due to lack of money or materials, the temple’s main structure should be complete in about 2 years.
When finished, the temple will consist of a main hall with two rows of 6 columns each. The altar will be topped with an 11 foot tall statue of Shelyn, which has been promised in donation by Sir Octo and will be carved in the capital.
The smell of smoke, salt, cloves and vinegar fill the air surrounding the docks. On a daily basis, the Farion and Jenkins families work to produce the tastiest recipes for the fish that are sold far and wide throughout the kingdom, and even in faraway lands. During the evening, food is served outside the curing house by the sea front. Many visiting sailors can be found there, enjoying local delicacies and fine wine made by Torag’s monks in the Sojourn vineyards.
Fulepet’s sandy cove has three piers. Two are made of wood, and used exclusively by the fishermen of the village to moor their boats and move fish into the warehouse.
The third – and newest – of the piers was funded by Alric’s family, in order to make trade by sea easier. The pier is made almost exclusively of stone, and laid with treated lumber to allow heavy loads to be moved from a ship to the main road. The pier is also equipped with a treadwheel crane, which cost twice as much as the total sum for the design and construction of all three piers.
At the very north of the village, Raven’s gate serves as a midway and resupply station for the local guard. It is manned by 3 guards, who ride from Sojourn every 5 days. The north tower has a stable and a kitchen on the ground floor, whilst the first and second floors are given over to guard’s quarters. In the south tower, the guard keeps a small armoury of crossbows, shot and polearms that allows them to arm the local militia if needed – it remains locked at all times. Atop the north tower there is a ballista. The signal fire crowning the south tower can be seen by the tower on Fulepet’s shores, and also by Ravenmouth’s and Castle Sojourn’s watches.
Sir Octo’s Summer House
Sir Octo’s summer house is a wooden villa with a slate roof, surrounded by beautiful gardens and a patio overlooking the cove. It is tended by the housekeeper, Lucia. The villa itself is often used to host dignitaries from foreign nations on their way to the capital, or guests of the lord’s family. During the three-day summer festival, Sir Octo opens up his summer residence to the village, and traditionally 10 pigs are slain and roasted to feed everyone. Lucia is never happy about this, and has been known to still be cleaning the floors from this celebration in October.
The structure referred to as the Watchtower is a massive, five-story, stone tower, which guards the entrance to the cove. The tower was initially designed as part of a fortified structure that would extend its walls southwards to become a coastal keep, but this plan never came into fruition due to financial difficulties. The main building still stands strong, armed with 2 ballistas and enough space to protect the whole population of Fulepet during a raid. The tower also serves as the granary of the village, as well as a small armoury. The village’s three heavy ploughs are also stored here when not in use, and Fulepet’s 4 oxen (2 pairs) are stabled at the base of the tower.
The Haunted Bog
Strange lights are seen on the bog at night, and booming voices have been heard. Haunting, smugglers, or bandits?
50 missing pigs and no wolf in sight
50 pigs disappeared over night from Alric’s farm. Who could have taken them, and how did they manage to leave the scene of the crime with 50 pigs undetected?
The curious case of the smoked trout thief
For the last 2 weeks, every morning Duncan Farion has woken up to find that a single smoked trout is missing – no more or less. But there is only one entrance to the smoking house, and he sleeps just in front of it!
Suggested Resolution: There is, in fact, a small smoke shaft where a Pelican, nesting on top of the Watchtower, has been able to poke his beak inside and steal fish for his young.
Empty nets and bellies
In the middle of summer, high season for fish, the shoals are nowhere to be found. All the fishermen can see is an eerie mist, and a wailing sound floats on the wind. If this situation continues, the whole of the village might be in danger of starvation.
Suggested Resolution: A fish-eating sea monster discovered the same thing that the fishermen knew for a long time now – that fish head up the river Raven to breed – and decided to make the mouth of the river its new home.
Locked in the Tower
After loosing all his crop to a summer wildfire, Benjamin loses his mind and locks himself inside the Watchtower, holding the village’s precious supplies to ransom. The party is called to help open the gates and deal with the crisis. The villagers would like poor old Benjamin in one piece, and back with his loving family.
The body in the bog
While searching for bog iron, one of the kids discovers what seems to be a fully-dressed mummy, preserved for thousands of years. The tall, lithe and well-dressed creature holds a scroll bag with an untouched scroll inside it. The scroll seems to be written in an unknown/ancient language, lost in time. Who are these creatures? Can this be the map to an ancient, uncovered location?
A foreign dignitary from one of the Alithian tribes, hosted by Sir Octo’s family at the manor house, has been abducted. He was planning to sign a trade treaty with the kingdom of Limnos, which was bound to destabilise the delicate balance between the Alithian tribes north of the marches. Heroes are hired to retrieve him, alive if possible.
Suggested Resolution: The dignitary was in fact abducted by a mercenary force operating within Limnos, who is regularly hired whenever the Alithian tribes threaten the realm. They have abducted the dignitary because a trade agreement between the tribe and the Kingdom of Limnos would be very bad for their business.
How did you find the story hookss? Do you have any ideas of others that might fit into Fulepet’s story?
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