I have completed a general description of Fairbrook, along with that of key locations within the town, notably the mayor's home, the temple, a general store, a blacksmith's shop, a stable, and an inn/tavern.
I'm setting up Fairbrook as a safe zone, though specific situations arising as the campaign unfolds (attacks, infiltrations, etc.) could change that. But in its normal state, it's a haven. So the actual places within the town are fairly straightforward, though I've tossed a special quirk or two into them to add color. However, I intend for most of the interest of the town itself to come from NPCs. So the locations, as such, inside Fairbrook are largely standard fare.
This said, I have also just begun working on the NPCs. To have a starting point for each one, I've created a foundational template:
Class or Profession:
General Personality [one or two adjectives]:
General Appearance [one or two adjectives]:
Feature or Tic: [one special/unique physical or personality trait]
Allies/Friends/Minions: [name at least one here]
Adversary/Enemy: [name at least one here]
Stats: [class, level, AC, HP, damage, spells, etc.]
I think the most important thing for me, in the template, is the inclusion of one tic, to make each character unique and somewhat memorable, and of at least one friend and one enemy. The latter could potentially become the seeds of conflicts and connections, and thus new story lines (or at least contribute to story lines in some way) further down the road.
I've done something similar with the outlying areas around Fairbrook. Each of the outlying villages has gotten a rough general description, and each wilderness area has gotten a paragraph, that originated (for the most part) with a random wilderness encounter roll to determine a "dominant" inhabitant, to which the following templates were then applied, depending on whether the creature that came up was intelligent or unintelligent:
Area is lair of/home to: [intelligent race or creature]
Allies/Minions: [intelligent race or creature]
Pets: [unintelligent creature]
Vermin: [unintelligent creature]
Adversary: [any creature]
Area is lair of/home to: [unintelligent creature]
Symbiotic creature: [unintelligent creature]
Peaceful cohabitation with: [any creature]
Creature preys on: [any creature]
Creature is hunted by: [any creature]
This too, I think will help me to have some basic, but dynamic relationships already established in each wilderness area from the start, without an exhaustive development of each one. Once it becomes clear that the PCs are going to stay in an area for a while, I can start from these foundations and add more substance and detail. I think these templates could also do double duty for broad stroke outlining of lairs or other small dungeons.
So that's where things stand now. I'm well on my way to completing Tim's six steps, and I think they're working well for me. I just need to finish the notable NPCs (this weekend), and the wilderness areas are all done except for two of them (likely done before this weekend). Then a few lairs/small dungeons and maybe the first level of one substantial dungeon, and some rumors, and I think I could have enough prepped to start by the end of the month.