The Grand County of Averland
Elector: Grand Countess Ludmila von Alptraum (age 77); named heir Baroness Marlene (eldest daughter); electoral threat: Marius Leitdorf.
Other Noble Families: The Leitdorfs, powerful ruling family of Wuppertal. Headed by ‘Mad’ Marius Leitdorf, this family has designs on the electoral seat. Lord Marius himself is something of an unstable character hence the ‘Mad’ prefix. Sometimes he is sullen and morose, at other times he locks himself away in his chamber for days at a time and would speak to no one, and yet at other times he is given to bouts of rage. Marius’s taste for fine silks, velvet, and exquisitely fashioned clothing is legendary and his opponents (wrongly) class him as an ineffective fop. He maybe given to unpredictable moods but he is a fine swordsman, poet, painter, engineer and inventor. Marius has had many lessons from the great Tilean fencer, Francesco Carmagnola, and fights with both sword and long-bladed dagger. In fact Marius is a great patron of everything Tilean and has several influential Tilean friends. Marius Leitdorf is also one of the heads of the League of the Hammer (see below.)
Geography: The River Aver marks the province’s northern border and the Upper Reik marks the southern border. The River Aver is particularly notable for its strong blue colour and vigorous, foaming waters. It also travels through the Moot and into the Black Mountains. Occasionally barges and riverboats carry passengers from Nuln to the Dwarf stronghold of Karak-Varn in the mountains.
Averland benefits from a mild climate and lots of idyllic rolling hills perfect for extensive wine growing. On the south side of the River Aver and the north side of the Upper Reik can be seen many of the province’s bountiful vineyards. It isn’t only the nobility that capitalizes on the lucrative wine production but also the holy orders. Sigmarite abbots especially have long been processing wine in their monasteries and some own the most productive vineyards in the entire province. Many nobles also own castle estates near to the vineyards.
This extensive cultivation has seen Averland’s landscape change over the centuries. There used to be many thick forests and boggy marshland. Now the Averlanders have drained many of the marshlands to create ponds, which are now ideal for fishing. Some of the wealthiest nobles own estates with huge ponds; the Pond District of Averheim is especially sought after as the place to live in the town among many nobles and merchants.
In the southeast of the province lie three ruined towers known simply by Averlanders as the ‘Three Towers’. Learned people know them to be of Elven origin and very ancient whilst everyone else sees them as three, grim, ruined towers that are best avoided. The pervading view is that strange malignant powers lurk there.
Historical Notes: Before and during Sigmar’s reign the main tribe of the Averland region were the Averingi. Under the great chief Alric the tribe became powerful and rich, mostly because of their adaptability and their ready use of bows in a time when the favoured missile weapon of the day was the javelin and francisca. When Sigmar came Alric pledged allegiance to him and joined his army for the final battle in Black Fire Pass. Alric’s loyalty was dually rewarded with the governorship of Averland in the new fledgling Empire.
In 1707 the future of Averland looked decidedly bleak. From out of Black Fire Pass came the huge green horde of Gorbad Ironclaw from Iron Rock Fort in the Badlands. Averland was totally unprepared for this threat and forces arrayed against the horde were brushed aside with frightening ease. Many farmsteads and wine villages were razed to the ground and even Averheim itself was sacked, but not before a hard battle. The Orcs, satisfied with the destruction, went immediately on to Nuln where a large portion of that great city was also sacked. At the Battle of Solland’s Crown the Orc Warlord slew the Elector of Solland and took his Runefang. At the Battle of Grunberg Gorbad was finally stopped when he suffered a serious wound at the hand of the Count of Wissenburg, who was himself badly wounded. Thus ended the last of the great Orc invasions to plague the Empire, for the moment. The rest is history as Solland became Wisssenland and its Counts became vassals of the Electors of Nuln. Averland recovered quickly and if anything the destruction of some parts of the province by the Orc horde paved way for renewed cultivation and the people prospered.
From TEW to present day: The political situation in the Empire worsened during this time frame (approximately ten years) and enemies both external and internal beset the Emperor. Chaos gradually wormed its way into many of the electoral courts, including Altdorf’ s, and succeeded in not only bringing up old antipathies but also creating new ones. But Chaos was merely the catalyst for what would happen next. The Empire was far from unified in the first place and the opportunity to be rid of some enemies was too much for many of the Electors to pass over, Chaos just encouraged this process. All-out civil war was the inevitable result with many choosing sides on basis of religion, i.e. Sigmarites against Ulricans. No one could claim neutrality. You were either for the Emperor or against him.
For Grand Countess Ludmila von Alptraum, a follower of the Old Faith, this was a difficult decision. She had always been loyal to the Imperial Court but she had always known that she wasn’ t popular because the dominant Sigmarites suspected her family of having Ulrican sympathies. Countess von Alptraum did not in the end have to make a decision. An Imperial plenipotentiary from Altdorf contacted Marius Leitdorf and told him that if he gave wholehearted support to the Emperor, and attack the Von Alptraums and their Ulrican supporters, he would be given the Electorship of Averland. Marius needed little encouragement in mobilising the forces of the League of the Hammer to begin the campaign. He always knew that the time would come to rule and the time was now. The Elector of Averland, supported by the League of the Vine, moved to counter this threat. But instead of preparing for a siege they confronted Marius’ s forces in the open where they were outclassed by the superior weaponry and armour of the predominantly Sigmarite force, which was also supported by large numbers of Tilean condottieres (evidently Marius benefited from his various alliances with Tilean nobles).
Meanwhile another war was raging in the southeast of the province between the League of Weinberg and the forces of the Abbot of Rebstock. Both sides had been bitter enemies and as soon as war had broken out between Averheim and Marius Leitdorf, the Abbot’ s forces were mobilised to crush the upstart league on their doorstep. The Abbot had always been allied to the League of the Hammer and the League of Weinberg had always opposed rule by Averheim. This being the case, the League of Weinberg had to be removed. Although the battles were fierce and the league did have some successes they could not in the end prevail. Thus Marius became the Elector Count of Averland and the Abbot of Rebstock increased his empire in the south.
Relations with the Emperor: Averland has no pretensions to the Imperial crown and has no interest in extending its provincial boundaries. It is, however, concerned with maintaining what it already has and will fight any nobles both from within its own boundaries and those from rival provinces intent on stealing its wealth. Generally Averland is far too concerned with the intrigues in its own borders, especially between Averheim, the League of the Hammer, and the League of Weinberg, than to bother itself with external matters. But if, as is likely, Marius Leitdorf succeeds Ludmila to the Electorship then the politics of Averland is certain to change too. Would he expand Averland’ s borders?
Relations with Neighbouring Provinces: Averland enjoys reasonably good relations with Nuln as it relies on the city-state for its superb pikemen and artillery. In the past, however, this wasn’ t always the case as Averland tried to secure the burgeoning town (as it was then) for itself because it lay on the lucrative Reik trade route. But now this is impossible, as the town has grown into a powerful city with an equally powerful army.
Not surprisingly relations with the Moot are good. Trade is brisk with wine exports and imports of Halfling foodstuffs. Some Halflings live in Averheim and a few of the villages near to the Moot border where they can find ready employment in wine production and, of course, in the kitchens. They stay clear of going further south not least because it is a little too far from the Moot and they tend to believe the stories about ‘mad Sigmarites’ living in the south.
Relations with Stirland are strained at times because of the robber barons who seem to be allowed to roam free on the Averland border where they raid and pillage villages and small towns and take their spoils back to their strongholds. Naturally these occurrences are blamed on common bandits and the ubiquitous Goblinoids and mutants. However, a loose conglomeration of noble families and villages in the north of Averland, called the League of the Vine, has since been successful over the last twenty years at preventing most of these raids even to the point of penetrating into Stirland and razing several castles to the ground, which the local Stirland authorities are far from happy about. The worst of these conflicts is over but it is not finished.
Sylvania is seen, like the rest of the Empire, as a place of ill omen and no one willingly goes there. Those Averlanders that do invariably choose to go the long way round via Nuln and then along the River Stir and then to Waldenhof, Sylvania’ s capital.
The relationship between Averland and the Border Princes is primarily built upon mutual defence: the Averlanders (with the aid in no small part of the Knights of the Fiery Heart) promise to keep Black Fire Pass free of Goblinoids and other nasties while the northern Border Princes city of Kircheburg promises likewise.
Non-Humans: Averheim and Wuppertal, being the largest towns in the province, are known to have small numbers of Dwarfs. They are more often than not travellers from Karak-Varn, and other Imperial Dwarf strongholds, who have stopped in those towns on their way to Nuln and beyond. But this isn’ t to say that a few stay in Averland to offer their services. The kind of Dwarfs favoured are naturally those who can build or forge weapons and armour or are good fighters – where they either become bodyguards for the nobility or join the mercenary contingents.
As in most areas of the Empire, Wood Elves are few if non-existent in Averland. There are few densely forested regions, having being cleared away for agriculture and the establishment of new settlements. To this end there are no areas in Averland that Wood Elves call home. Any Wood Elves in the province are most likely to be adventurers. However, some may look to stay for a few years if the fancy takes them before moving on, as Averland is a picturesque province and the wine is favourable even to their taste.
Halflings are more common in the northern parts of the province, as the Moot is so close, where they find employment in the vineyards and the kitchens of nobles. Quite a few prefer to work in Averland and then go back to their homes in the Moot, effectively commuting.
Religion: Sigmar is worshipped predominately by the urban classes, especially the middle class and the nobility. The strongest support for Sigmar lies along the Upper Reik in the League of the Hammer. Here, especially in the town of Wuppertal, Sigmar’ s worship approaches that of the fanatical and often lawbreakers are held to account before a priest than to a secular judge. Those accused of a crime can then opt for the Trial by Ordeal and if he succeeds it is judged that Sigmar finds the defendant not guilty and allowed to go free. Joseph the Reverent of Wuppertal is known to be extremely harsh in passing judgement on wrongdoers, especially those accused of blasphemy who can only expect to have their tongues cut out.
The Old Faith is popular among the poor and the agricultural classes seeing as most of Averland’ s trade is reliant on the production of wine (Taal is also a popular deity among these people). The most prominent follower of the Old Faith in the province is none other than the Grand Countess herself. This naturally sometimes puts her at odds with the dominant Sigmarite nobility of Averheim who view the Old Faith as a primitive and backward religion fit for only the peasants.
Other religions play second fiddle to Sigmar and the Old Faith. Verena is popular among the rich intellectual class of Loningbruck where the largest temple of the town is dedicated to the goddess of justice and wisdom. Ulric is perhaps worshipped by a few communities on the foothills of the Black Mountains where wolves prey on their cattle and where Goblinoids attack from time to time. Of course, as always, Ranald has his adherents in the bustling towns. Because Averland relies heavily on mercenaries for its protection, the Tileans among them have brought with them their observance of the Myrmidian faith. Chapels dedicated to the war goddess can be found in Averheim and Wuppertal.
Military: Averland has no real military tradition that, for example, the Reikland or Nuln has. It isn’ t massively populated and can only call upon small numbers of militia in times of war. However, it is a rich province and relies on two things for its protection: mercenaries and leagues. The former primarily protects Averland from immediate threat, such as Goblinoids and any rampaging bands of beastmen and mutants, whereas the leagues, backed up of course by the mercenaries, protect Averland’ s mercantile interests as well as defence against the overbearing Imperial nobility.
The mercenaries are overwhelmingly Tilean. These highly skilled condottiere hail from several regions in the Tilean City-States and among them are handgunners, crossbowmen, archers, and a few men-at-arms and knights. There are also some Estalian swordsmen from Bilbali and pikemen from Nuln. The mercenaries have proven to be highly effective at keeping the peace not only against Goblinoids and beastmen but also against human armies over the years.
There are several leagues in Averland and one of the most notable is the League of Weinberg. It comprises of several towns, including many villages, in the southeast of the province and was set up originally to counter the Goblinoid threat of the Black Mountains. This concern for mutual defence paid dividends as the towns pooled their resources to train and equip an army to protect their borders from any unwanted incursions. Later, as the threat from the mountains subsided, the League of Weinberg found itself under the scrutiny of the Elector of Averland, who did not like having a powerful conglomeration of towns on his doorstep, and ordered that the league be broken up. But this only served to heighten the league’ s resistance and stubbornness and unsurprisingly, despite the best efforts of the Emperor, Averland was plunged into civil war. The initial phase of the war lasted for four years and afterwards there were long periods of peace and then protracted periods of war with neither side gaining the upper hand. Finally both sides were exhausted and the Elector was forced to recognise the League of Weinberg’ s integrity or risk further bloodshed and the ultimate break up of Averland itself.
Another important league is the League of the Hammer founded in the early 24th century by Sigmarite warriors and priests after victory against the Incursions of Chaos. They had seen the horrors of Chaos firsthand and wanted to create a fief that would be resistant to it. It is roughly identical to the League of Weinberg in composition and lies along the Upper Reik. The town of Wuppertal is one of the chief places for the League and its most vocal champion is Marius Leitdorf. Like him, the League of the Hammer is entirely Sigmarite and is an alliance of towns and villages dedicated to protecting their rights, primarily from Averheim. The alliance has become worryingly powerful as far as Grand Countess Ludmila von Alptraum is concerned and she is afraid that when she dies, which can only be soon (she is 77 years old), her daughter will be passed over for Marius Leitdorf and the Emperor will probably endorse him too.
A holy Sigmarite order of knights lies near to the League of Weinberg. This too was in response to the Goblinoid invasion of 1707. It was Count Theophilus von Reinwald, a renowned wine merchant, who rebuilt his castle estate called Rebstock, after Gorbad had finished sacking it, and, after finally coming to the conclusion that the region was too dangerous, gave it to the Cult of Sigmar. Thus Sigmarite monks occupied the castle and started up the wine production again. Within a few years warriors came to the castle to serve as guards. Rebstock became an important stopover for pilgrims as they retraced Sigmar’ s steps to Black Fire Pass. It was the Chaplain, Quintus Diehl, who laid down the law by which the soldiers of the castle would live their lives and after a minor, but substantial, Goblinoid incursion the soldiers were recognised by the Grand Theogonist as a holy military order and was named the Order of St Alric (after the famous Averingi chief). Today, the order still exists to expel invaders from the south but it has also been a slight pain in the side of the League of Weinberg and several times over the years the two have clashed in bloody confrontations. The Order is seen by the League as governmental interference under the aegis of Sigmar and is not very popular. Indeed, the Abbot of Rebstock is a sworn enemy of the League as he more or less admitted that he desired their land to expand his business empire.
Military Colours: The traditional colours of Averland have always been black and yellow but as is the want of the nobility to be exclusive they tend to either add their own additions or ignore the pattern altogether and use completely different colours. This certainly holds true for the League of the Hammer, which favours blue and white diamond patterns, while the League of Weinberg, not wholly going against tradition, chooses red and yellow stripes. The League of the Vine, however, sticks rigidly to tradition as its troops wear the black and yellow.
Gazetteer: Settlements in italics are unofficial.