Bögenhafen is a prosperous market centre with a population of roughly 5,000. It sits astride the River Bögen, at the highest point of the river that is still navigable by large sailing vessels. Goods from Altdorf, Marienburg, and Nuln come to Bögenhafen by river and are traded for local wool and wine. Lead and silver are brought down from the mountains and then shipped here for distribution to all parts of the Empire.[1a]
Since Bögenhafen’s interests have always been commercial, the mercantile elite have always run the town. For most of the town’s history, this has meant the Merchants’ Guild and the families that control it. For many generations the guild—and thus the town—was dominated by four merchant families: Haagen, Ruggbroder, Steinhäger, and Teugen. They were able to control the town council and make sure that the politics and trade of Bögenhafen were favourable to the Merchants’ Guild in general and their families in particular.[1a]
The Fall of the Teugens
Things in Bögenhafen changed fourteen years ago when Johannes Teugen took over the family business. Its fortunes had been steadily declining for the previous twenty years but Johannes managed to turn things around in dramatic fashion in only two. The usual rumours circulated—Johannes was using dark magic, he was in league with the Ruinous Powers, and so forth—but in this case there was truth to the gossip. The details of Johannes’ corruption and death never became public, but what is known is that his schemes were discovered and the Teugen family suppressed harshly by witch hunters. Their power in Bögenhafen was broken forever, the state seized their businesses and sold them off, and the remaining family members were carted away by the witch hunters and never seen again.[1a]
These events changed the politics of the town. The Teugen seat on the council was abolished and another seat given the Merchants’ Guild. Although this caused some griping amongst the smaller guilds, there was little they could do about it. For the past twelve years, the Haagen, Ruggbroder, and Steinhäger families, having divided up the Teugen businesses amongst themselves and secured their continued domination of the council, have run Bögenhafen without a challenge to their power.[1a]
Though it technically falls within the Barony of Saponatheim, Bögenhafen is largely left to run itself as long as Baron Wilhelm receives his taxes on time. The Baron lives in Castle Grauenburg, some twenty-five miles north of Bögenhafen, and he rarely visits the town, though he keeps a house here. He lets his tax collectors look after his interests and occupies himself with the sports of nobility: hawking, hunting, and riding.[1b]
Instead of direct rule by a lord, the town council runs Bögenhafen. As is tradition, it has fifteen seats, broken down as follows:
- Five seats for the Merchants’ Guild. One of these seats is reserved for the Guild Master and another for a representative of the Magirius family, the most influential of the minor merchants.
- Three seats (one each) for the Haagen, Ruggbroder, and Steinhäger families.
- One seat for the local church of Sigmar.
- Five seats for each head of the following guilds: Physicians’, Tailors’ and Weavers’, Teamsters’, Stevedores’, and Mourners’.
- One seat to represent the various craft guilds, chosen from amongst the heads of the following: Cartwrights’, Carpenters’, Jewellers’, Metalworkers’, and Masons’.
In theory, the council votes on every important issue, and a simple majority is all that is required for a motion to pass. Oftentimes, however, votes are a mere formality because of the domination of the mercantile interests on the council. If the major merchant families vote along with the Merchants’ Guild, they can muster eight votes and win any motion.[1b]