The occasional mainlander visiting the Sea Haven is bewildered as to how Nimbrese earn livings --they seem to live so simply in a wild woodland realm, and yet they buy and sell jewelry, books, and beautiful but impractical statuettes and other "art objects."
The truth is that life in Nimbral (a land of mild climates and plentiful food, water, and free foraging) is relatively cheap. Some port-dwelling Nimbrese carve furniture of driftwood or sculpt it -- and blocks to build dwellings from -- of stone, or make livings trading some goods for others (because they possess warehouses for storage and the best information as to scarcities elsewhere in the realm). Everyone who dwells near a Nimbran shore scavenges crabs and shellfish from tidal pools and "beach wash."
The majority of port-dwelling Nimbrese are fisherfolk ("wavefarers" in local parlance); they put forth in small boats to net fish or to raise and lower crab-pots and oyster-scoops. The waters around Nimbral hold abundant sea-slake (the hand-length, tasty, strong-smelling brown fish sometimes called "smelt" in Sword Coast lands) and silvereye (a large blue-and-silver sharp-nosed fish with flesh so salty that it keeps for days without needing smoking or salting) year-round. In the warmest months they also yield hansrae (a fat many-finned fish that tastes like beef and has a body the shape and size of the head of an axe) and in the winter chill can produce a few highly flavored shull or "basking turtle," the flavorful, slow, soft-shelled sea-turtle that can grow as large as some small open boats and is best brought in with harpoons and several boats working together.
Fisherfolk of the Sea Haven always carry flails and throw-nets to bring down the large, squawking slate-hued diving seabirds known as "shaurrak," that constantly try to plunder drawn-in fishing nets of fish. When spit-roasted, the smoky-tasting white flesh of shaurrak is prized in the local diet, and the Nimbrese often boil the oily feathers to yield a useful water-repellent oil or sealing gum.
Nimbral has at least two trading caravels capable of reaching the mainland, twice that number of fast, slender coastal ships that can deliver goods and people from port to port or act as an impromptu navy if called upon, about a dozen broad-beamed, wallowing but sturdy old cogs (much smaller than the merchant cogs in general use along the Sword Coast these days), and four dozen or more small fishing boats of various sorts, conditions, and sizes.
Nimbrese dwelling in the forested interiors work with lumber for their furnishing and shelter needs, and they hunt the woodland beasts that still roam the lush forests of Nimbral in profusion, for food and pelts. Such prey (which can sometimes become the hunters of those trying to hunt them) includes many boar, deer, and bears, but the forests of the realm also hold a few owlbears, wolves, nyths, and peryton -- as well as a few rarer and more feared monsters.
A few Nimbrese make their livings taming and then selling captured forest beasts, or they breed horses and ponies in the meadows for sale across the realm. Because such beasts (particularly the largest, strongest horses needed for pulling boats ashore, logs out of the woods, and heaviest carts) are in short supply, prices for trained horses can be 20% higher than in most mainland locales of Faerûn (Player's Handbook standard prices).
Folk of Nimbral use coins of all origins (gleaned from shipwrecks, pirates, visitors, and voyages to the mainland), following the usual values of copper, silver, and gold, but they also pay each other in local gems, mint simple (triangular and pierced) copper coins from native Nimbrian copper, and engage in a lot of barter. "Stone debts" are IOU's scratched on a flat stone and taken to a Herald for witnessing by both parties to a debt; the Herald makes a paper record of the debt and scratches his or her own sign on the obverse face of the stone; when the debt is paid, the Herald shatters the stone in the presence of both parties or their inheritors.
Nimbrese tend to be fatalistic. Drownings at sea and deaths from forest beasts or treefalls happen to many despite precautions taken, and winter chills and ailments claim some folk every year . . . so why worry? The Lords protect us against dragons or other unusual marauders, and all else is simply the way of things, they believe.
Read about the laws and Heralds of Nimbral in the next article!
About the Author
Ed Greenwood is the man who unleashed the Forgotten Realms on an unsuspecting world. He works in libraries, writes fantasy, sf, horror, mystery, and even romance stories (sometimes all in the same novel), but he is still happiest churning out Realmslore, Realmslore, and more Realmslore. There are still a few rooms in his house with space left to pile up papers in . . .