Worldbuilding: Seven Ribbon Village

Worldbuilding is a series of articles where I’m stretching my legs and attempting to define and write a really detailed setting (starting small and getting larger) in an effort to grow as a writer and designer.

It’s difficult. I like things that are difficult. Eventually, I’d love to turn these into a zine series that builds a setting over time, but I’m going to fail in public first!

Seven Ribbon Village

Deep in the valleys and cliffs of the Westland Frontier is a quiet, unassuming village, where some of the world’s greatest swordmasters come from.

A population of a few thousand belays the importance of the martial traditions of this village, and their ties to the deep history of the world around you.

While Seven Ribbon Village is not its true name, it is how nearly everyone in the world at large refers to the home of these swordmasters.


According to the lore and stories of Seven Ribbon Village, the founders of the village were the last of the exiled royal line of Antariav, banished into the Westland Frontier, where they founded a rural settlement, eking out a meager existence while keeping the traditions of the nobility of Imperial Antari alive.


All those raised in Seven Ribbon Village follow particular traditions and cultural rules, derived from the long extinct martial traditions of the royalty of Antariav. While long forgotten after the Imperial Antari fell, these traditions have grown and adjusted to encompass all of Seven Ribbon Village.

All those born and raised in the village receive nominal training in the art of swordsmithing, swordplay, and culture. While none are pressured to become swordbearers, nearly everyone from Seven Ribbon Village is at least capable of defending themselves, as well as maintaining and caring for bladed weapons.

The Weight of a Sword

The most important cultural facet and taboo of Seven Ribbon Village is the prohibition against using any belt, tool, or device to hoist or carry a sword. This is considered to be an immutable rule, and those who break it are disdained by the village, or even exiled.

A long-standing religious belief regarding implements of death in Imperial Antari, the tradition has now morphed to one of ethics and commitment. As the stories and training in Seven Ribbon Village explain it: “If you are willing to carry a sword and take life, you must be willing to be reminded of the weight at all times. To carry death in your hand is a heavy burden.”

  1. Those in Seven Ribbon Village take this ethos seriously, and all those who are committed to swordplay adhere to it. Generally, swords made in seven ribbon village are straight and thin, as their sword techniques focus on speed and precision, in order to avoid weighing down the swordbearers, who often fight with their scabbard and its metal rings in one hand, and their sword in the other (the metal rings in the scabbard are excellent for defensive blocking).

Ribbons and Ranks

All swordbearers in the village gain a red ribbon on their coming of age, which is tied through a ring on the pommel of the sword. 

When a swordbearer defeats an opponent who has a ribbon of a higher rank, they tie that color ribbon through one of the seven rings on their scabbard. As the colors ascend, so does their title and reputation in Seven Ribbon Village.


  1. Red
  2. White
  3. Green
  4. Grey
  5. Yellow
  6. Purple
  7. Blue


  1. Initiate
  2. Practitioner
  3. Warrior
  4. Knight
  5. Paladin
  6. Master
  7. Immortal

Architecture and Buildings

Most of the homes in Seven Ribbon Village are squat, simple affairs, crafted out of stone foundations, with wooden walls and roofs. The village is arranged in the manner of the long buried and forgotten Imperial Palace, with a large stone “gathering hall” at the center, seven streets extending from it to the village edges, and each section of the “pie” being cut by three circular rings. However, the lessons of the fall of Antariav carry deep wounds that have been reflected in how the village has been arranged over the centuries.

Each of the outer ring sections are devoted to smithies, stables, mills, and other tasks that are required to keep the village functioning and moving forward. These buildings are designed to be shuttered and rendered into killing fields, with thick walls to resist fire and attacks, as well as confusing roads and alleys designed to disorient attackers.

The inner ring is where houses, living quarters, and other spaces that need to be protected lie. Easy to understand alleys and routes funnel to the stone gathering hall, where the hall can serve as an easily defensible fortress, with cellars full of food, supplies, and weapons are kept. Hidden tunnels from the center gathering hall exit out into the hills surrounding the town, allowing for escape or flanking maneuvers against enemies.


One might expect the village to be ruled by the best swordbearer, but martial might does not govern Seven Ribbon Village. Instead, the village is overseen by a council of elders, descended from the royal line of Antariav, and who only hold the rank of red. Those who engage in conflict might seek to use their power against the good of the village, and as such, only those who must rely on the people for their power are able to lead.

It’s a precarious system of checks and balances, but the collective history of the village has led to this unusual system working. A swordbearer would not dream of trying to usurp the council, and if one did, they’d find nearly all of Seven Ribbon Village arrayed against them. Likewise, councilmembers who seek only to profit themselves have little to stand on, as swordbearers won’t protect them, and the rest of the council would swiftly eject them.

Food & Drink

Seven Ribbon Village is rural, and as such, feeds themselves mostly on grains, fruit grown in local orchards, and livestock (mostly goats and sheep). Alcohol is strictly regulated in the village (a necessity in a place full of exceptional combatants), and only really used in ceremonial or celebratory circumstances.

Of note, the famous jalia-tuv blackbread is made from unique hardy roots and grains that are grown in the hills surrounding the village. This bread is exceptionally filling, healthy, easy to make, dense but light to carry, and holds its quality for weeks on end. It is a favorite of travelers, wanderings and soldiers, and merchants will often arrive at Seven Ribbon Village to secure grain and roots for export so the bread can be made in further afield in other places.

Of course, it is never quite as good as it is from the bakeries of Seven Ribbon Village.


One thought on “Worldbuilding: Seven Ribbon Village

  1. Really love the depth here and the explanation of how the village is laid out and why. Adds a ton of character to the place! Looking forward to more of these installments.

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