Gayland’s Secret

This past Mythical Journey’s event included an interesting personal incident. Townsfolk blamed Gayland for murder and ordered him held without trial under threat of death. After unwarranted (literally) confinement, and a bit of torture, the situation felt like something that would happen to a villein. Or maybe a plot from an Elise Peters book (the wonderful Brother Cadfael series). I chose to have Gayland react to the situation in a way that seemed fitting for a low class bonded farmer. Someone used to being ruled by arbitrary whims of those of higher social status. It made a whole new spin on the character.

The ‘arrest’ lead to thinking about Gayland’s Secret, which until now seemed a bit weak. The character was constructed as ‘simple farmer’. The vast majority of farmers in the middle ages were villein. Although the modern use of villein is about someone with evil intentions which move a narrative, originally it meant socially a low class. Villeins were bonded to work the land as their rent. Bonded in the literal sense as they could not leave the land unless their lord took them to war.

Gayland is a villein. Bonded to the land, never leaving save in times of war. In the world of Pendan it would make sense that the land lord would be taking him to fight for Arkenstone’s defense against raiders. Something that Gayland has apparently survived and learned some skills with small arms, armor, and spears. Being a villein is a more compelling secret which puts him in legal jeopardy. Each time he makes the journey from his home to Eldyrwood (each time there’s an event) he is breaking the law. Although the rewards so far have justified the risk, so there’s a compelling reason for him to continue to do so.

It would be really interesting if the land lord realized not only that he was missing, but that he was profiting from his adventures. Sending someone to collect Gayland might make an interesting adventure. Or a good way to retire a character.

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