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The Townsfolk idea is also interesting (specially considering the many Leadership-like feats), but I'd suggest adding some development ideas to the NPCs. Things like: Keira is an herbalist and apothecary. She is also the wife to Hank the Lumberjack, and her husband's company is missing. Hank may be found and rescued (a DM may put him anywhere in the adventure), or maybe they find just the body and bring back his wedding ring. Keira might ask a cleric PC to perform a funeral, and pay by providing local herblore to the PCs (a +2 circumstance bonus on Knowledge (nature) and Survival checks to identify and procure plants in the local region). Later she might name her child after a PC, or even find solace in his/her arms.
Please pretty please make sure to include at least one extremely excited local boy/girl that idolizes the PCs and offers to accompany the as a hireling-sans-payment or apprentice. Make him/her try to emulate the PCs' habits (if the rogue is brooding, the apprentice knits a cowl off his/her extra shirts for extra broodening).