Iron Kingdoms 3.5
In Power: Lord Castellan Heiro Mascal and the Bercktown Committee
Population: 420,000 humans (Tordorans outnumber Thurians 5 to 1), 3,000 gobbers, 500 dwarves, 300 trollkin, ~100 ogrun, several hundred Morridane and Khards
Military: Hundreds of naval ships moor in Berck, the headquarters of the Ordic Armada. In addition to the thousands of sailors who call the port city home, Berck is defended by a huge garrison of marines supported by a small contingent of warjacks. Berck also employs five hundred city guards.
Imports: Iron, livestock, hooaga, vegetables, wool Exports: Fish, hemp, sailcloth, textiles, trade items, whale oil, wine
The name Berck derives from the old Tordor word “baire,” meaning an oak grove surrounded by water. The original grove that inspired the city’s name is located on a small hill of the forested Berck Island in the mouth of the Rohannor River nestled beneath the cliffs of a steep gorge. Called the Golden Port, Berck was the historic home of the fabled Tordoran Armada, and many of the city’s first families trace their lineage back to the Dirgenmast captains. The seaward approach is well protected by the spectacular narrow gorge of the Rohannor River over 300 feet high. Today its port houses the Ordic Royal Navy and includes the famous ironhull, the Sprightly. The port is swarming with navy ships and merchantmen and is a crowded harbor, so new quays and dry dock facilities are currently under construction. However, the prohibitive high harbor charges imposed to recoup the cost is actually turning some trade away to Carre Dova and Five Fingers.
The city itself was built at the terminus of a long stretch of cliffs towering over the beach to the north and west in a bowl formed by the Rohannor River delta. Past its crowded piers and docks, the city sprawls landward into this fertile area, and its roads twist up onto the nearby cliffs. Berck’s four main streets radiate from a central diamond to four gateways—Markus Gate, Ferryquay Gate, Shipquay Gate, and Butcher’s Gate—all of which carefully patrolled and scrutinized by the watch for suspicious activities. It should be noted that Berck has a very large weaving industry and is known these days as a major cloth exporter. Indeed, Berck Red broad cloth is famed as far as Rhydden and Mercir.
Berck’s harbor is extremely well guarded since it is Ord’s major shipping, fishing, and trading city. From the Golden Port goods can be easily transported into the heart of Ord and parts beyond via the Rohannor. Every arrival and departure is monitored by the Board of Imports and Exports with help from the city watch and the Bercktown Committee.
Berck is also the ancestral home of several influential castellans, the most powerful of which is the Mateu family. This noble merchant family maintains a stranglehold on local politics. Outwardly Berck has no tolerance for crime, so the Mateus have managed carefully to maintain a lawful façade for generations even while indulging in all sorts of illegitimate dealings and removing any and all obstacles or rivals in their way.
A number of old and expansive Tordoran estates have been constructed upon shelves in the high cliffs—the Mateus included—where they command a magnificent view of the harbor and the Sea of a Thousand Souls. Many of the high estates and lower buildings of Berck have roof tiles of glazed clay causing the entire city to gleam and sparkle when viewed from afar.
Locales of Berck
Dirgenmast Shipwrights: This successful shipbuilding company has no real connection to the ancient Dirgenmast captains. Although noted for sometimes meager wages and difficult working conditions, it is one of the largest employers in Berck. Surviving the training to become a Dirgenmast shipwright is said to be more difficult than becoming an officer in the Ordic Royal Navy. However, the company employs a large number of respected professionals, and they create the largest ships of Ord, primarily clippers and barks, such as the famed five-masted Tordoran Star, the largest clipper ship in the navy.
Many Dirgenmast ships are slated for the navy, but they also work for trading companies such as the Mercarian League and House Mateu. Along with building new ships, the shipwrights repair and service older vessels—although only those made by them. Most of the oldest but best maintained ships in Ordic ports are Dirgenmasts. Their director is Thane Rufio Zaspar, a master shipwright whose grandfather received a noble title decades ago as a reward for his service to the throne. Rufio is an arrogant but personable man noted for a loud booming voice, a love of fine wine, and his habit of describing his ships as if they were seductive women.
Mateu Estate: The seat of Mateu power and influence perches like a hawk on the cliffs above the city. The vast compound is located within a series of concentric walled courtyards around the towering, multi-turreted manor house. The estate is alive with a small army of servants who go about their daily chores in silence, often in fear of the more unpredictable family members. A large staff of armed guards patrols the grounds. The estate has a dark reputation and is avoided by the general population unless specifically summoned by a member of the family.
Mor Cathedral: This Morrowan cathedral is lauded as built upon the holy ground where Asc. Doleth made his last trip into the ocean before his ascension. Being two thousand years ago the claim is certainly more legendary than factual. Nonetheless, this is one of the oldest and most famous cathedrals in Ord and a popular site of pilgrimage. The vicar is Selanda Randazi, leader of her faith’s clergy in Berck and the outlying regions.
The Trident: The Trident is a major naval academy known as the Trident School. The Trident is closely affiliated with the Ordic Naval Engineers. Here the best naval commanders of Ord train in the art of warfare. The school has recently received allegations of losing many of its most promising students to Cygnar as a result of the intense selection process necessary for admission. As such The Trident School is undergoing some revisions at the urging of the castellans and Prince Brogan.
Temple of the Ocean’s Wall: This Menite temple stands northwest of town atop the cliffs but set a little back. Its name is derived from an Ordic legend of Menoth creating the Rohannor gorge as a barrier against the wild ocean. The temple is enormous with the silhouette of a fortress composed of a long central hall and two outlying wings. It is a masterpiece of the stonemason’s art with walls of massive granite block and floors of smooth marble. Congregations gather in the amphitheater outside, set against the backdrop of the cliffs and the ocean beyond. The ranking priest is Sovereign Biagio Benzo, an older stately man of large frame with a long white beard. He is a vocal critic of the lord castellan and also antagonistic toward Vicar Randazi whom he considers a weak-willed compromiser. Nonetheless, he has earned respect in the city by encouraging his congregation to assist with local watch patrols and lending aid to construction projects.