I know there have been some suggestions on improvements to the townies, for example I believe we will be able to restrict them to certain tasks/professions and I am very much looking forward to this. At the moment, for me, they totally lack any personality besides maybe looking nice or having a name you like.
There are several other features I would like added for townies, for example:
1) I would like townies to improve over time. A baker/cook would make better pies or stews, if involved in fighting a towny would improve in fighting.
2) I would like other professions too, like a bard who hangs around the tavern reciting epic poems dedicated to returning heroes. I had a towny called Walter de la Mare once and I'm sure he was wasted gathering and cooking.
3) Against the grain I'm guessing, but I don't really like heroes - I would like my townies to become the hero. They would be soldiers who have excelled in battle and would level up just the way the visiting heros do. we could even encourage them to become the type of heroes we currently have by building them a tavern room on a mountain for example. We might even have some control over them.
4) I would like townies to have likes and dislikes, one would love apples and pears, while despising pork pies. Another yearns for a yellow hat. Another likes poetry and ends up marrying Walter the bard.
5) I would like to know if they are happy, why they are unhappy and possibly who they like and don't like.
In this way I would care if they died. I might lose my master cook Oliver, or the village idiot Charles. At the moment deaths are just a minor inconvenince.