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NORDENHAFEN (Jarldom of)
Location: Continent of Brun, isle in the Great Bay, west of Alpha. NW
Area: 498 sq. mi. (1,290 sq. km.).
Coinage: Barter common; otherwise Alphatian Standard: crown (gp), mirror (sp), judge (cp).
Taxes: 30% of income.
Government Type: Barony, member of the Kingdom of Ostland.
Industries: Fishing, hunting.
Important Figures: Bardeen Longwalker (Baron), Kleng Bloodhand (Pirate).
Flora and Fauna: Nothing really grows on this rocky chunk of Norwold, except small, stunted shrubs and subarctic flowers. Few are the animals that live here, most notably seagulls, puffins and other avians, as well as seals and small fish. Occasionally monsters from the Elemental Plane of Water exit from the whirlpool south of the island and cause trouble, but otherwise no real monstrous wildlife is present here.
Further Reading: CM1 Test of the Warlords, previous almanacs.
Description by Adik de Chevas and Arcadius.
This small rocky island in the middle of the Great Bay is home to a small community of fishers and seafaring Ostlanders. It is not prominent in Norwold's political system, but it's worth noting as a clear example of how a dominion should not be run.
Nordenhafen is a rocky island in the Great Bay, halfway between Alpha and Leeha. It is flat and windswept most of the year, and nothing can grow on its soil except shrubs, and the common flowers of northern Norwold and a few vegetables (those resistant to cold climates). There are, however, many birds that have made nests on the isolated coasts of Nordenhafen through the centuries, and when the fish are not sufficient to sustain them, the islanders hunt down the avians, preying on their eggs as well. Seals are also a common sight here, and they are heavily hunted [especially during winter, when the Great Bay waters freeze near the isle and people can walk on ice and lure the seals outside the water by making holes in the frozen bay. Arcadius.], since their fur is a precious good to sell throughout Norwold.
Nordenhafen's only settlement is its capital, a village of 500 souls that bears the same name as the barony. It is nothing more than a fishers' village surrounded by a wooden palisade, with small thatched houses built with rocks and mud. Only the baron's manor is entirely made of wood [probably the last and only trees that grew on the isle were used to build it. Adik.], and it's a typical Ostlander longhouse. The Seadogs Tavern is the only gathering hall of the whole island, and it is often crowded at night, full of sweating and cursing northmen whose only pastimes are mocking the baron or starting a fight. The remaining 200 inhabitants of Nordenhafen live in small hamlets on the shores of the isle, and occasionally come to the capital when they need tools or edibles.
Nordenhafen's few inhabitants rely solely on their fishing skills to survive, and a few of them also hunt the seals who swim in the Great Bay, selling the by-products to the nearby dominions to earn their living. There are a few craftsmen in Nordenhafen, most notably Ostlanders who came here lured by the baron's promises of wealth. They produce fine boats and small sailing vessels, but since no trees grow on the island, the baron must import the wood from Latela or Panteria. Obviously the costs surpass the profits, but the baron insists in supporting this industry, hoping that one day it will boast the isle's economy [this is but one proof of Baron Bardeen's short-sightedness. Adik.].
This small island was home to a few communities of Heldanners when Bardeen first arrived, and the majority of the actual population is Ostlander, even though there is no real difference between the two stocks. The people of this barony are full of resentment, both towards the baron and the whole Kingdom of Alpha, because they blame them for their misery. Before Bardeen's coming, those few who dwelt here could survive by fishing and hunting seals, but since the arrival of the newcomers, the island's ecosystem has been altered. Now there are too many mouths to feed and not so many sources of food. The result is that most of the food must be imported, and this means the baron must spend a lot of his income to avoid famine. But Baron Bardeen's greed is well known, and instead of lowering the taxes he has raised them, believing he could claim a higher share of the income [he doesn't understand that his subjects cannot keep up with such taxation because the island has no real economic resources to exploit. Adik.].
In order to keep the populace in line, Baron Bardeen uses the Hammer Guard as Nordenhafen's official militia. These are deranged followers of the official faith of the barony, the Church of the Thundering Hammer, a sect of fanatical worshippers of Thor, who go into berserk frenzy every time they enter a fight. It is difficult to keep them in line and prevent them from causing brawls all around the country, but at least the baron doesn't have to pay them [he gives his tithe to the church and the priests provide to the guard's needs. Arcadius.].
Finally, there are now many pirates in Nordenhafen. This is caused by the fact that at the end of the Norwold Wars, the Ostlander raiders that plagued the internal waters of the Great Bay found sanctuary in Bardeen's dominion, and the lord is currently sponsoring their raids in the surrounding nations to get more than his fair share of wealth [unconfirmed rumours tell he allied himself with Ostland at the end of the wars, thus explaining his current boldness. Adik.].
Nordenhafen's history is notoriously devoid of any significant facts. Originally inhabited by Antalians, the isle was always left alone from all those who came to the Great Bay, since it held no particular mineral or animal resources and was too close to the dangerous elemental whirlpool. Then in AC 1003 Bardeen Longwalker, once a proud adventurer and pirate from Ostland, came to Ericall's court to found a new dynasty, pursuing dreams of glory and richness sent him by the Thunderer [in fact, after the jarls of Ostland refused his claim over one of the dominions, he was forced to abandon his country to pursue elsewhere his dream of rulership. Arcadius.]. He convinced many Ostlanders to follow him on his voyage [using the Church of the Thundering Hammer as a tool to persuade others of the foreseen success of his deed. Arcadius.] and so he finally settled the isle without any great effort [aside from the great frost giants' invasion of AC 1004, which caused severe losses in Nordenhafen. Arcadius.], swearing fealty to Ericall and Alphatia.
The isle has experienced unrest in the years of the Great War, when many of its inhabitants pushed to be involved in the battle for Norwold. Some of them wanted to fight on the Heldannic Knights' and the Thyatians' side, while others insisted on remaining loyal to the oath of loyalty made to Ericall. The result was that a civil war nearly broke out in Nordenhafen [although one cannot call a "civil war" simple skirmishes between dozens of furious individuals. Adik.], and the Hammer Guard was so busy keeping peace inside the country that it could not participate in the war.
The fate of this little domain is still unsure, mainly because Baron Bardeen is not a good politician and nobody cares if he will be removed by his own subjects. After his dubious conduct during the Norwold Wars [AC 1016. Ed.] many thought he was on the verge of being replaced by Ericall for his incompetence at stopping the piratical raids inside the Great Bay. The baron surprised his neighbours by swearing fealty to the distant Kingdom of Ostland, a move that probably saved Bardeen's dominion, while allowing Ostland to extend its influence to Norwold at minor cost and risk.
If you like tavern brawls, fierce duels and hostile climate conditions, then Nordenhafen is the place to visit. You will find plenty of opportunities to show your muscles and fight your deal of ravaging berserkers. Also, Nordenhafen is the nearest place to the elemental whirlpool of the Great Bay, and many ships with their sunken hoards are said to lie near the whirlpool. So if you want to take your risks, Nordenhafen is awaiting you.
If you are a civilised person, just miss the whole island, mainly for the same reasons stated above.