Bremen

Overview

Bremen is a small settlement on the northern bank of the Shaengarne River and the western shore of Maer Dualdon; the largest lake in Icewind Dale. Bremen is the most westerly of the Ten Towns and more isolated because it is separated from the rest by lake and river.

History

The settlement of Barammyn (meaning Hold of Trust in dwarvish) was first established as a trademeet in 1210 DR by the dwarves of Clan Silverstream (a branch of Clan Battlehammer) to enable trade between Ironmaster and Valladrul. It was only populated for brief periods (mostly during high summer) and only during those years with good weather.

It wasnt until 1235 DR that Bremen became a occupied all year round, when a number of migrant from the lands north of Illusk sought to escape the oncoming Black Horde. Chased by the orcs, the refugees made it through Icewind Pass just before the snowstorms came and smothered their pursuers.

Most of the human settlers chose to live between the lakes of Icewind Dale, but a few found the dwarfmade settlement of Barammyn and decided to stay. When the dwarves of Clan Silverstream emerged from their tunnels, they were shocked to find their summer homes full of humans (normally they would have to clear it of orcs, goblins, and other humanoid pests). The humans and dwarves came to a beneficial arrangement and over time the dwarves of Clan Silverstream decided to live here permanently while the name of Barammyn was corrupted by the humans to Bremen.

Today Bremen is a wealthy and friendly settlement that thrives on the trade with Ironmaster and the other Ten Towns.

Politics

Who Rules: Speaker Dorbulgruf Shalescar makes decisions for Bremen on behalf of the townsfolk at the Council of Speakers. His decisions count as the rule of law for the majority of the population, although individuals are by no means bound to obey him unless he enforces such edicts with the use of the militia.

Who Really Rules: Clan Silverstream have long been the true power in Bremen, and the majority of past Speakers have been from this clan. Dorbulgruf Shalescar used his contacts in Ironmaster to improve the wealth and prosperity of Bremen and as a result was made Speaker, but he never makes a decision without consulting the elder dwarves of Clan Silverstream resident in Bremen.

Now that Dorbulgruf is beginning to lose his wits, the dwarves have noticed they are able to influence him more easily and are using that to push their own agenda. It helps that Clan Silverstream owns all the houses in the immediate vicinity of the Town Hall, giving them direct access to the Speaker at all times.

Heraldry: A gold circle on a white field, with a horizontal blue band extending to the left under the circle, and a flaring blue triangle opening away from the circle on the right. The gold circle represents treasure found in the wake of local floods, the blue band is the Shaengarne River, the blue triangle is Maer Dualdon, and the white field represents snow.

Plots: Like all the other Ten Towns, Bremen has a rivalry with those settlements that it competes with directly for fishing and scrimshaw resources. This means Bremen has a longstanding rivalry with Lonelywood, Targos, and Termalaine and will generally oppose any proposals from the Speakers of those towns, or any proposals they support.

Life and Society

Nobility

There is no real concept of nobility in the Ten Towns and this extends to Bremen. People are afforded respect and status because of their hard work and wealth not because of a title or birthright.

The Speaker is the only person that could be consider noble, he holds a position of power in the settlement, able to make decisions on behalf of the entire town. However, the position of Speaker is not inherited and usually the wealthiest, most powerful, or most influential person in Bremen is appointed Speaker.

The current Speaker is Dorbulgruf Shalescar who has held the position for the past 47 years and was appointed due to his connections with Ironmaster and the increased trade he brings to Bremen.

Clan Silverstream: While not considered nobility in Bremen, Clan Silverstream is a branch of Clan Battlehammer and can rely upon the support of Bruenor and the dwarves of Valladrul in any conflict. Traditionally the Speaker of Bremen is appointed from Clan Silverstream to reinforce the connection with the dwarves of Valladrul.

The collective power of Clan Silverstream is enough to make the people of Bremen treat them with an extra degree of respect.

Commoners

Like most of the Ten Towns, life in Bremen revolves around fishing the Maer Dualdon for knucklehead trout. People fish from the banks of Maer Dualdon, while those that own private fishing boats or are chosen to crew one of the larger community fishing vessels go out onto the lake to catch greater numbers of the fish. Independent fisherment are required by law to donate a tenth of their catch to the town.

Fishing takes place most of the year round, because volcanic vents in the depths of Maer Dualdon keep it from freezing over except in the months of Hammer and Alturiak (and even then some desperate individuals will venture onto the lake and cut holes in the ice to fish).

The best and largest skulls of the fish (known as knucklehead ivory) are bought by skilled scrimshanders who carve them into unusual sculptures that are much sought after in southern lands and sold to traders from Luskan and Ironmaster. The remaining bones are usually boiled down or buried to increase soil fertility. 

Bremen is unusual because it is the only one of the Ten Towns to engage in agriculture. The Shaengarne River regularly floods and deposits a fertile layer of silt atop the plains around Bremen, this is used for planting onions and tuber crops during the brief growing period of Icewind Dale.

Bremen also has a strange obsession with “treasure hunting” where young children, visitors, and desperate individuals will dig the flood plains, search the river banks, or pan the Shaengarne River itself to find the treasure deposited in Maer Dualdon by the other towns which eventually flows into the river. This is usually just flotsam including knucklehead ivory, bones, broken weapons and tools, but occasionally jewellery is found and on several occasions gold nuggets (which have prompted a gold rush in the dale).

Due to the harsh climate in Icewind Dale everyone works to survive, there is little in the way of an economy and few services exist. Fishermen go out to fish, while the women farm the fields or tend the house, and the children go treasure hunting by the river. People work from dawn until dusk and hopefully make enough to survive.

People in Bremen are friendly enough due to the need for trade with Ironmaster and the Ten Towns in order to survive. The communal spirit in Bremen means that everyone willingly donates a tithe of their food to the town stores, which are used to feed everyone in times of hardship.

Defence

Bremen, like most of the Ten Towns, is unwalled. Its primary defence is the nearby lake, allowing the citizens of Bremen a means of escape should the town be threatened. Whenever barbarians or goblinoids are spotted in sufficient numbers heading towards the town, the people get onto fishing boats and sail to nearby Targos or across the lake and walk to Bremen. 

This defence method has been repeated many times over the years, and has proven to be very effective. Those that cannot reach the boats simply flee along the coastline or hide in the cellars dug into the foundations of most houses.

Militia: Bremen has a standing militia of 9 people. These individuals are armed with a blade and some animal hide and placed in towers around the settlement to keep a watch for danger. These 9 humans (the dwarves of Clan Silverstream do not join the militia) are the most capable scouts and warriors in Bremen and are paid a retainer (in fish and roots) to serve 8 hours a day on watch duty. 

In times of need the militia can be expanded to include everyone in Bremen with some experience of combat, this usually swells the ranks to about 30 individuals (including the 9 veterans).

Clan Silverstream: Clan Silverstream totals 28 adult members in Bremen, with a dozen more in Valladrul. They dwell live in Bremen and are glad to be part of the community, but they look after their own first and foremost. All 28 members of Clan Silverstream are capable of wielding weapons with enough skill to defeat a goblinoid or Reghedman in single combat, and every single member possesses an axe or sword, and shield. 

The dwarves of Clan Silverstream are an effective fighting force, and they have turned away many a barbarian raiding party. In the event of an attack the dwarves move to their compound of stone houses in the centre of town near the Town Hall and defend it against all attackers. Those humans unable to reach a boat or retreat along the coastline will often head to the Town Hall and are welcomed by the dwarves as long as they join in the defence.

Economy

The economy of Bremen is lively compared to the majority of the Ten Towns.

The abundant knucklehead fish stocks in Maer Dualdon provide enough food for the people of Bremen most years, and the scrimshanders of Bremen are skilled enough to fetch a steady in southern markets. Fishermen also net the River Shaengarne trying to catch salmon in Kythorn as they swim upstream to spawn in Maer Dualdon.

Bremen’s fertile flood plains allow it to grow onions and tuber crops that fetch a high (relatively for Icewind Dale) in the rest of the Ten Towns.

The “treasures” of the River Shaengarne are usually worth little to those outside Icewind Dale, but the broken tools, weapons, and other items can often be repaired and reused. Very occasionally however, the treasure hunters discover a rare find such as the fine blade of dead adventurer, or nuggets of ore, gemstones, jewellery, etc. These finds can change the fortunes of a family for many years.

Bremen is one of the gateways to Icewind Dale, with river barges from Ironmaster arriving in the summer months to trade with the dwarves of Clan Silverstream on behalf of the dwarves of Valldrul. These merchants trade food and ironworks for scrimshaw and whatever “treasures” the locals have found. This wealth then flows to Bryn Shander and the rest of the Ten Towns in trade for the specialist goods of each settlement (wood, iron, gems, etc).

Fishing Fleet: The town of Bremen owns two of the larger, twin masted cogs that citizens may crew for a share of the catch (although fully 50% of the fish caught on the cog goes towards the town stores).

Defence

Like all the Ten Towns, the defence of Bremen is a cooperative affair. Every able bodied person is expected to take up whatever arms they possess in defence of the town during times of crisis. There are only a score of individuals with any martial training, and few of those have serviceable weapons or armour, the majority of the population are untrained and possess cooking knives and thick woolen clothing.

Clan Silverstream number 12 adult individuals, and all of those are capable warriors with good quality weapons and armour. The presence of Clan Silverstream in Bremen is a major reason why the Reghed barbarians do not attack very often during their annual migration.

Officially the Speaker is responsible for the defence of the town, and in the Town Hall are a selection of axes, swords, and shields that certain individuals are permitted to use when the horns sound. Five men are paid an annual stipend (in fish) to man the Town Hall tower and keep a watch for barbarians and other threats (such as wandering monsters) and blow the horn to alert the townsfolk. The Hornblowers rotate every night, serving twice a tenday.

Important Sites

Buried Treasures: This inn caters to visiting treasure hunters from the other Ten Towns or from those visiting Icewind Dale, and to traders from Ironmaster and Luskan. The inn is usually deserted during the winter months (few dare to pan the river when the water is cold enough to kill a grown man in minutes).

The current owner of Buried Treasures is a toothless, middle-aged man by the name of Mulgar who declared himself owner about 4 years ago after the previous owner vanished. Whispers say that Mulgar spends his nights digging in the cellars beneath the Buried Treasures Inn, searching for treasures abandoned by dwarves over a hundred years ago during one of the many goblinoid attacks, how else could Mulgar afford to keep the inn open.

Fish Houses: These warehouses are owned by the town of Bremen (the administration and operation of these buildings is organised by the Speaker). It is here that the communal food stores (most of which is knucklehead trout, with some salmon in Kythorn) are stored in large pits sunk deep into the frozen ground. Every citizen must donate ten percent of their food produced each day to the Fish Houses (something that the civic minded folk of Bremen are happy to do).

Five Tavern Centre: The five taverns here were originally established as a headquarters and warehouse by the Five Brothers trade coster. Unfortunately the trade coster lasted less than two winters before all but one of the founding members were finished by gangrene, malnutrition, yeti, and exposure. The remaining member was driven half mad after eating putrid fish and decided to turn the compound into five taverns.

After the last founder’s death the taverns have passed into independent hands and now all compete with one another for the limited business that passes through Bremen. The five inns are known as Stones, Even Keel, River’s Mouth, Grumpy Moose, and Black Bearded Brother.

Shaengarne River: The mouth of the Shaengarne River lies half a mile due south of Bremen and is a major site of activity. Maer Dualdon empties into the Shaengarne, carrying with it knucklehead trout and the discarded flotsam from all the towns around the lake. During Kythorn, salmon from the sea swim upriver to spawn in Maer Dualdon, which locals try to catch using nets.

Every spring, as the ice begins to melt and the rivers and lakes begin to swell, the River Shaengarne bursts its banks and the flood water washes the flood plains clear while depositing another fertile layer of silt. Centuries of river silt has turned the flood plains north and south of the Shaengarne River into some of the only farmland in Icewind Dale. During the short growing seasons (Flamerule and Eleasias) the women of Bremen can be found planting and harvesting onions and other tuber crops while their children search for treasure.

The Shaengarne River is also a major trade route for Icewind Dale, with caravans from Ironmaster dragging their barges up-river to Bremen from Kythorn to Marpenoth to trade with the inhabitants for food and weapons from the dwarves of Valladrul.

The Shaengarne River freezes in Hammer (although not completely), and begins to thaw in Mirtul. In summer, herds of reindeer migrate along the coast and the river on their way south, the Reghed barbarians follow them and the Shaengarne marks the southern boundary of their route.

Town Hall: This is one of the few remaining original dwarven made buildings in Bremen (the rest had their stone scavenged to form the foundations of numerous other buildings), it was originally intended to house visiting caravans from Ironmaster, but now serves as the Town Hall and residence of the Speaker of Bremen.

There are rumours of secret passages in the Town Hall, these are entirely true and were (and still are) used by the dwarves of Valladrul to enter Bremen without having to cross the Maer Dualdon or the Shaengarne River. These tunnels lead all the way back to the entrance of Valladrul.

Speaker Dorbulgruf Shalescar knows about these tunnels (as did the dwarves of Clan Silverstream that served as Speaker before him), but his addled brain is starting to forget important facts, including the location and existence of the secret tunnels.

Wet Rock: This islet sticks out of the head of the Shaengarne River, about 15 ft by 20 ft in size and 5 ft above the water. It is dry most years but during bad floods it occasionally becomes submerged by several inches of water. The rock is abandoned most of the time, but on occasion hermits build a shack here until the floodwaters wash it away. It has also been used as a form of punishment, with the guilty party tied to the ground and left to the elements.

Important NPCs

Speaker Dorbulgruf Shalescar (N, Dwarf – Shield, Expert 3): Dorbulgruf Shalescar was once a dwarf from Ironmaster, a successful prospector with a “nose for ore”. While delving deep under Ironmaster there was a tunnel collapse and Dorbrulgruf’s right foot was crushed.

Less mobile than he was, Dorbulgruf decided to swap a life in the mines for life as a trader. On his first journey to Icewind Dale, Dorbulgruf decided to carve a life for himself on the frontier. That was almost a century ago and Dorbulgruf is now well into his 3rd century of life.

Dorbul has used his connections with Ironmaster to improve trade between the two settlements, and this has seen him rise to the position of Speaker. Unfortunately as he has aged Dorbul’s wits have become addled, no one has yet noticed though because his calm and steady demeanour has masked his increasingly vacant expression.

Grynsk Berylbore (N, Dwarf – Shield, Expert 1): Grynsk Berylbore is a grizzled old dwarf commoner who arrived in Icewind Dale 30 years ago on a caravan from Luskan. He purchased a home and several boats and had designs on a monopoly of the knucklehead trout fishing trade in Bremen.

Storms, bad luck, and Grynsk’s personality problems mean that his dreams have failed, but he still owns 4 single masted fishing boats; the Burly Ram, the Pronged Goat, the Horny Billy, and the Steady Gruff. Grynsk drinks too much, charges too much to rent his boat, and forgets or changes agreements too often. He has few friends, increasing numbers of enemies, and is increasingly disappointed in how his life has turned out.

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