Every family in the village has a husband, a wife and 2-4 children. This is just flavor, as all peasants are identical in their abilities, so a family has 4-6 members. During the game, family members will die from either starvation or creatures. When the last family member is dead, a family has been lost and is out of the game.
The initial size of a family is determined randomly. The initial resources of a family depend on the family size. The smaller the family, the more initial resources it has. Larger families use more resources, and thus start with less.
Additionally, there is also player-feedback balancing. When the village fills up, players tend to pick the families that they consider the most desireable first. After half the village has been selected, the remaining families will get additional resources with each pick, to balance out that for whatever reason they are not popular with players. So the worst positioned families will generally start with the most resources.
Every family member needs 1 unit of food in the morning. In other words, food is used up last in a turn, after all actions and creatures have been resolved, before any new orders are issued.
Peasants who cannot find food will grow hungry. They can stand 3 days without food, if their hunger counter goes above that, they starve. The client will display their status as "hungry" (1 day without food), "famished" (2 days) and "starving" (3 days).
Hunger also goes down one step each day where food is available. So a starving peasant who gets food will not immediately go back to normal, he will first go to famished, then to hungry, and then back to normal, one day at a time.
Every family has a diary that every day can be filled with your thoughts. At the end of the game, all the diaries will be revealed and you can experience the story of the village through the eyes of all its players.
Diary entries can be as short or long as you wish, but writing down at least a few thoughts can be very rewarding. You can also use the diary to keep notes to yourself, write down things that you plan, which can be very useful if you are playing multiple games. Just remember that the diary is part of the story of the village, so if you can keep it in an in-character style, like a real diary, it will dramatically increase everyones enjoyment.
Note that you will earn silver coins for every 5th diary entry written in the same game, i.e. for the 5th, the 10th, 15th, etc.
If you miss your turn, a simple AI will play your family so that the turn is not completely lost.
The AI is very simple. It will harvest ready fields, clear up rubble and repair damage. If it still has actions left over after that, it will randomly plant new fields or gather wood from the forest. Rarely, it also upgrades fences to wood walls. It only acts on own ground, never on common. It doesn't attack or take land. It never mans tower or well. It is not very smart and will not prioritize defense or understand when it is running out of food. It is not a replacement for actually playing your turn, but it is better than nothing.