From the frozen ice of the northern glaciers to the arid rocky shield of the southern outlands, there are heroes to be found all over Norsinovia and more often than not they take the form of explorers:
Many long years before the first settlers beached their ships on Norsinovia’s shores, civilizations and nations flourished, fell, and were forgotten across all regions of the continent. Occasionally, remnants and ruins of these long gone eras surface and wait for someone to stumble upon them. Ancient treasures await those with the skills and fortitude to retrieve them and for this reason many have chosen to live the life of an explorer.
Explorers are usually strong willed adventurous folk eager to forge a new path through the many unmapped regions of Norsinovia. The best explorers are resourceful and inventive, able to handle themselves in a wide variety of stressful situations that might otherwise overcome an ordinary man or woman. In almost all cases, explorers make their chief pursuit searching out and investigating Norsinovia’s many ancient ruins and tombs for the valuables contained within them. For this reason and others, explorers are commonly known throughout Norsinovia as Delvers, Treasure Moles, Venturists, and sometimes just plain thieves. Finding a ruin that will pay out is hardly a guaranteed way to make coin, however, and more often than not explorers find a living in contracting their services out to investigate someone else’s ‘claim’.
In the rough law of Norsinovia, an individual can stake a speculative claim on any piece of land not already under other jurisdiction. However, without developing the claim through exploration, excavation, or habitation the land, and any valuable rights therein, remains open to other claimants. Due to this rather vague interpretation of the nature of a claim, and the remoteness of most claim land, the business of Explorers tends to be a rough one.
Claims are frequently the locations and subjects of arguments with bloody outcomes. Reputable explorers must be wary of brigands who excel less at searching ruins and more at killing and looting those who do. It is a profession full of secrecy and intrigue and no small amount of politics. Settlements of all sizes, eager to grow fat off of the revenue and trade associated with high bounty claims, frequently look for ways to tether newly found claims to their communities either by association, financing, or at the very least taxation. More often than not such strictures are only as effective as there is means to enforce them.
The dangers do not end with the avarice of men, however. The ruins themselves often prove deadly to all but the most experienced of explorers. Cave-ins, flooding, and pitfalls are just a few of the ways unwary delvers have met their end. Some of the more elaborate ruins still contain working traps and tricks designed to keep out would-be looters and have seen countless expeditions without a single soul returning alive or sane.
And so the explorers of Norsinovia have come to represent a different breed of individual, and their exploits and travels are sung in taverns and tap-houses throughout the land.
The Norsinovan governmental structure, derived from the Einovan, is based on a city state model in which the regulation, taxation, and protection of a region, known as a lannsberg (pronounced: lance-burg), is handled from regional centers, usually the largest city in the region. These centers represent themselves at a national council, the Raeglsdag (pronounced: ree-gul-stag), where state wide matters are concerned.
At any meeting of the Raeglsdag each lannsberg is represented by a party of three members. The representatives are most often the lannsberg’s head of state and closest advisors, but can be anyone specifically selected for the role by the lannsberg’s head of state.
The Raeglsdag meets three times a year at one of the lannsbergs, rotating through each on a lottery determined schedule. For this reason, each lannsberg is required to build and maintain a council building, or Raegl Hall, for the purpose of hosting the Raeglsdag. Failure to do so can result in sanctions against that lannsberg.
Topics debated at each meeting can include trade matters, legal disputes, tax use, public works, military deployment and more. It is at these meetings that the lannsbergs will come together in joint ventures that benefit the nation as a whole.
In cases of disputes between two city states, the Raeglsdag votes and the lannsbergs are bound by the decision. If a vote is locked, the matter is defered to the next council meeting. In locked vote situations that require urgent resolution, the council takes a second vote determining which lannsberg is furthest from the issue at hand, unduely influenced, or otherwise compromised. That lannsberg’s votes are then omitted from the original lock and the stalemate is broken. In the unlikely case that the second vote is also deadlocked, the deciding vote is given to the meeting’s host city.
Lannsbergs are large regions of land administered and protected by a single leadership entity. The system by which each lannsberg accomplishes this can vary. Most regions are governed by a hereditery noble class, though some lannsbergs in Einovia have made the transition to elected officials through peaceful or violent means. Uniformly by tradition, the leader of a lannsberg is called the Lannsk (pronounced: Lansk).
The areas of responsibility for each lannsberg are many. Law, policing, taxation, public works, and all other facets of daily life in a Lannsberg are put at the feet of the Lannsk. The Lannsk is also responsible for raising a portion of fighting men to contribute to a national army should war break out.
The borders of the lannsbergs are patrolled irregularly by guardsmen looking for activity deemed illegal or unlawful. The most frequent criminal activity is poaching of game across the borders. However, border crossings on major travelling roads often have waystations where officers of the Lannsk can levy taxes, question suspicious travellers, or even deny entry to the lannsberg. These stations often double as remote post and parcel offices for people not close to one of the major cities.
Currently, there are three lannsbergs in Norsinovia: Norsfall, Lasthagen, and West Sageland
The lannsberg of Nyvaarden (pronounced NEE-vahr-den) occupies the south-eastern coast of Norsinovia and much of the fertile farmland along the roads heading west to the interior. Nyvaarden’s capitol city is Vilsborg on the coast, the first settlement and now also the largest city on the continent.
Here the Lannsk resides at Reed House, a large fortified mansion in the center of the city. Vilsborg is ostensibly a democratic lannsberg, with the majority of its important officials selected by popular vote, however politics and power have infected the state and the people now have a hard time telling where their elected officials allegiances truly lie.
One powerful interest in the city is Vilsborg University, the largest institute of learning and study in Norsinovia. It is rumoured that if the University does not want an individual elected they can ensure his or her political failure. There are in fact many rumours surrounding the faculty and reach of the University.
The lannsberg of Norslund (pron. NORZ-lawnd) encompases much of the more northernly territory of Norsinovia bordering the Silverway River and the North Drifts. Norslund’s main trade is in animal pelts and meat, oil (mainly rendered from the whaling in the arctic flows), and ice cut for transport south to the more populated areas of Nyvaarden and further west to Ostlund.
Kohlhagen is the lannsberg’s state center, a ramshackle frontier town that grew into a city despite itself. Many of Kohlhagen’s buildings are still built from wood rather than brick or stone and Kohlhagen’s governing house is a grand wooden hall of fine timber and artistic carving. Kohlhagen’s system of governing is a strange mixture of hereditary right and competition. Four families in Kohlhagen bear the right to rule (The Grafsbergs, The Velsohns, The Estgelds, and The Kleinders) but only one family can lead during a generation.
When the Lannsk of Kohlhagen dies or abdicates his or her position, the Norslund Trials take place. One man or woman from each family is presented as a possible successor to the Lannsk and a series of competitive trials are taken to determine who will lead. Steps have been taken to ensure the validity and sanctity of the trials, however no small amount of trickery and cheating takes place regardless.
The lannsberg of Ostlund makes up most of the western borders of Norsinovia with Nyvaarden on its eastern side and the Sage mountains to the west. Ostland’s major trade commodities are livestock, building materials (wood, stone, marble, clay), and the ores of iron and copper. The edge of settled territory, Ostlund attracts the most explorers and fortune hunters. Many a tavern in the city of Einfarrow, Ostlund’s capitol, are filled with men and women looking to make the next big discovery.
Ostlund is the last of the lannsbergs to cling to the hereditary model of lannsk leadership. All the leaders of Ostlund have been related by blood to the explorer and commander Sedrig Dunfarrow. It was he who charted this expanse of land in the days before the war with the Outlanders to the south and he who founded Einfarrow after the war’s conclusion. The current lannsk of Ostlund is Leif Dunfarrow, a resonable but weary leader who has come to rely heavily on his advisors though he hates to admit it.
The Norsinovan currency is broken down as follows:
1 Novan (gold) = 24 Vestas
1 Vesta (silver) = 9 Barques
1 Barque (copper) = 3 Krones
1 Krone (copper plated steel) = 40 Erlings (brass)
Novan: The novan coin is a golden coin roughly 1 inch in diameter. On one side it is struck with an image of the Norsinovan coat of arms. The other side is struck with the mark of one of the three official mints plus the year of minting. Novans are often referred to as ‘coats’.
Vesta: The vesta coin is a silver coin roughly 1.5 inches in diameter. On one side it is struck with an image of a sailing ship, on the other with the mark of one of the three official mints plus the year of minting. Vestas are often referred to as ‘silver ships’ or ‘ships’.
Barque: The barque coin is a copper coin of roughly 3/4 inch diameter. On one side it is struck with an image of a sword and shield and the dates of the Norsinovan war against the Outlanders. On the opposite side it is struck with one of the three official mint marks and the year of minting. Barques are often referred to as “soldiers”.
Krone: The krone coin is a copper plated steel coin 1 inch in diameter. On one side it is struck with an image of four crowns signifying the four noble families of Lasthagen. On the opposite side it is struck with the Lasthagen mint’s official mark and the date of minting. The krone is mostly only used within Lasthagen, but is accepted as legal currency in the other provinces. The krone is commonly referred to as a “royal”.
Erling: The erling is a brass coin roughly 1/2 inch in diameter. On one side it has the image of a sea ossey (a stubby little bird of questionable flight capability but skillful swimming prowess). On the opposite side it has the mark of one of the three official mints and the date of minting. It is commonly referred to as a ‘bird’.