I thought there had to be a question like this here, but I didn't find one so I figured I would give it a shot.
Within my Dungeons and Dragons campaign I invented a tiny village only with about a dozen houses and maybe twenty to thirty inhabitants, all of them of quite to really old age, assumingly between 60 and 99. The village is very poor and currently there is only one younger inhabitant, the son of the innkeeper, that does all the work around the village, like doing repairs and fishing and stuff. His only reason to keep within the village is to care for his father. But as his father might (wink) die soon, he is likely to leave the village soon after. So my question is, how will the rest of the townsfolk keep themselves alive, if no younger, more viable workforce is around?
Some information about the setting:
- Magic is a thing, even though no one of the townspeople has any magical powers, except for the towns-eldest, that can perform minimal magical actions, like revive a dried plant and the like.
- The village is located next to a lake in the south and a forest in the north
- The village consists of a small Inn, a little chapel, a watermill, a stable and about half a dozen smaller huts and houses.
- All inhabitants are humans, have human powers and traits comparable to average real-world humans at the given age
I considered the following:
The town is in possession of a small vegetable garden, growing basic food like some tomatoes or lettuce, but working there requires vitality that most inhabitants do not have anymore, however, a little garden (presumably about 100 to 150m²) would not be enough to nourish two dozens of people.
2. Hunting, fishing and farm animals
I figured, that old people would never be able to perform some successful hunt for deers or the like. Maybe, as the village is located next to a lake, they could catch some fish with fish traps. But would the strength of a group of retirees suffice to handle it? Also, the village is in possesion of a small pig-enclosure but again, slaughtering them would require quite the effort I guess.
3. Inn keeping
I guess that probably the most promising thought would be to keep the Inn going. Passing travellers could find a rest in the old Inn and would bring valuable money. A travelling salesman passes by every two weeks, so they could buy some goods from him.
I fear that the only reasonable way to keep alive would be for them to migrate to another town or village nearby, but I would love to find some way for them to stay at their beloved birthplace.
To give you some impression, here is a kind of map/image I drew of how I imagine the town to look like:
Why are there no more young people?
The village itself is quite apart from bigger cities, so the younger population left to the bigger seaport towns in the south, to find more people of their age, seeking for like-minded friends and possible mates.
Another reason might be the increase of dangerous creatures in the forests that happend after some (I don't want do spoil to much, in case one of my PC's might read this post) dark incident. Some of the younger folk might have felt adventurous and tried explore the forest, died due to attacks of infested goblins, or search revenge for killed or injured relatives, stolen goods and the like.
The Powers of the Eldest
As requested, I have put some more thought in the character of the villages eldest. Conchifera Archae is the head of the village. Her real age is unknown, but due to some elvish roots, she is much older than any other inhabitants of the village. Rumors go, she might be more than 200 years old, but nobody can assure and she keeps it secret. Her character is best to describe as generous, patient and very wise. To be more technical, her alignment is somewhere between neutral and lawful good. Classwise, she has druidic traits. Her magical powers can be well pictured by the following druidic cantrips (taken from D&D3.5 SRD) of which she can cast one per day. (If anything contradicts the rules in a major way, feel free to tell me, as I am still learning how to play, but stay focused on the main problem, as this is not https://rpg.stackexchange.com/)
- Cure minor wounds: Cure 1 point of damage
- Detect poison: Gain knowledge wether (and how) a creature, object or area was poisoned
- Purify Food and Drink: Makes rotten, spoiled or poisonous Food and water suitable for consummation. (This one might be useful) Can restore foot up to the amount that one single adult consumes within a day.
I am willing to take additional abilities into account, as long as they do not seem to much overpowered. Think about what magical powers your granny would have, if she could ;)