Before starting the actual campaign, I'll take some time now to provide background for the region, concentrating on the terrain, the use of land and the political situation. This will take some time - I could write a book or so on the subject if I wanted to research and research - though I'll try to cover the highlights.
To begin with, a familiar looking map:
This would be the format of most maps on the blog, showing the elevation of the individual hexes to give a sense of what might be the bottomlands and where the hills are. As you can see, most of the land is quite close to sea level, with much of the region subject to coastal flooding. The land rises towards the south, away from the sea, and there are some low hills and uplands stretching from Lubeck on the right up towards Tonder at the top of the map. Virtually everywhere, however, is less than 100 feet above sea level.
There are three significant rivers, not named on the map. From west to east these debouch into the North Sea (the water in the upper left) near Leer, below Bremen and at Cuxhaven. The first is the Ems, which rises in Westphalia, or the western bulge of modern Germany. The second is the Weser, which rises in the hills of north Hesse, and the third is the Elbe, which rises in distant Bohemia. Of these, the Elbe is easily the largest and most important, and creates an 80-mile estuary which is subject to tides and navigable for the largest ships of the age. At Cuxhaven the estuary is about 8 miles wide.
Note that there are many trade centres: Delfzijl, Winschoten, Engleke, Leer, Oldenburg, Bremen, Luneburg, Hamburg, Lubeck, Cuxhaven, Kiel, Flensborg, Sonderborg and Nakskov ... all of which would have a different table for costs. Easily the most important two are Lubeck and Hamburg, the road between them cutting through the bottom of the Jutland Peninsula (which extends off the map between the North Sea on the west and the Baltic Sea on the East). This 38-mile road is perhaps the busiest road in Europe, and one of the busiest in the world, while Lubeck and Hamburg are points where goods are loaded on and off boats bound for everywhere. The most important bulk cargos are timber, grain, wine, wool, iron goods and fish, but of course everything is carried. Keeping the road open is of primary concern to every power in Europe ... and as such carries a heavy political importance.
In addition, cities like Hamburg, Bremen and Leer trans-ship goods from inland out to the sea ... Hamburg in particular, which ships from central Europe a wide variety of manufactured goods, silver, beer, leather and farm produce, while importing fish, timber, livestock, wool and goods from distant lands like India and the New World. Hamburg is thus a crossroads between inner Europe and the world, and between east and west. It is an immense city, with nearly 150,000 inhabitants. Cuxhaven is comparably small, a town with merely 2,500 people.
Moving onto the next map:
This map shows the divisions between 'civilized' areas and 'wilderness.' There is in fact a great deal of wilderness still within Germany in the 17th century, which though inhabited tends to lack the necessary presence to make said areas 'safe.' Thus areas of moor and woodland is occupied by bandits and various monsters, with lairs throughout and the occasional dungeon (where the land is sufficiently above sea level). The coastland and islands on both sides of the central peninsula are known havens for pirates.
The more heavily inhabited green areas, "mixed cropland & woods," are areas where even the forests and meadows have been civilized to some degree by herders and gamewardens. These areas have a few scattered mansions within them, but most of the agriculturalists are cotters or villeins, persons occupying lands without a lord to rule over them - though with few personal rights and privileges, and often subject to incursion from persons in the wilderlands. The life of a cotter is hard. Still, there are priests throughout these lands as well, operating small churches, and druids living on the edge of the wilder forests, hamlets and thorps not shown on the map, and monasteries and a variety of other military or commercial groups living in small keeps or gatehouses. Perhaps fifty percent of the land is cultivated, and the population density can rise as high as 240 persons per square mile.
The bright yellow-green areas surrounding Hamburg and Bremen are solidly cultivated areas where manor estates exist cheek-by-jowl with one another. They are heavily populated, with numbers up to ten thousand persons per square mile in the cities. Virtually every person not living in Hamburg or Bremen is a landed peasant, living in a restrictive social structure. Cultivation and livestock raising is intense, with every square inch serving the needs of the population.
And the last map:
The political situation in this part of the world reflects the divided structure of states and entities occupying the land. As you can see from the key at the left, there are four 'groupings' of states: the Kingdom of Denmark (& Norway), at the top left of the map; the Holy Roman Empire, a weak general authority made of powerful individual states; the lands occupied by the Kingdom of Sweden, military 'colonies' gained after the Thirty Years' War; and just the edge of the United Provinces of the Netherlands.
These states are all at war with one another to some degree, and in the case of the Swedish territories, at war with itself. That war is being fought by the outer lands (Stade & Verden) against Bremen, which was - and wishes to be again - a free imperial city. As such Bremen has been crushed several times since 1648 by the Queen of Sweden, the unmarried Kristina Augusta, known for her posturing as a man and wearing armor into battle. It is common to find Kristina in this part of the world, preferring to be involved herself as opposed to remaining at court in Stockholm.
While this minor 'civil war' progresses, the King of Denmark, Frederick IV, has designs on the County of Kiel, which it would like to swallow up - in particular, the small county of Tonder, which with Kiel is directly under the authority of the Duke of Holstein-Gottorp, Frederick III. He has plans to marry his daughter Hedwig Eleonora to the Duke of Bremen and Verden, Queen Kristina's cousin ... a marriage the Queen is presently obstructing. Yet despite this Sweden very much would like to keep Kiel and Tonder out of the hands of the Danes, and the two countries have nearly come to blows over this.
Meanwhile ... the lands west of Swedish occupied Germany, the County of Oldenburg, is in the hands of the Brandenburg House, which controls much territory in the north of Germany. Oldenburg would like to see Holstein in a bloody war, which would enable them to consume Stade and Verden ... and as such Oldenburg is providing arms to the rebels in Bremen in the hopes of breaking the Swedish hold there. Brandenburg would rather not have Denmark move further south into Germany, but an all out Swedish-Dane war would be in their favor regarding Further Pomerania (not on the map) which is in Swedish hands and which separates the west territories of Brandenburg from East Prussia, which is also part of the Brandenburg estates. The Brandenburgians slaver like Homer to have those lands.
Meanwhile, Calenburg's interests, along with Hamburg and Lubeck, is to keep an open trade arrangement with the sea, since these areas don't really care who politically controls the land as long as the trade is not disrupted. As such, they tend to promote themselves as arbitrators.
The Holy Roman Emperor at the moment is Ferdinand III, an Austrian, who is more concerned with matters Turkish and Spanish than with these northern problems, and thus leaves the individual states to fend for themselves. His power is minimal at any rate.
Most of the map is Protestant in religion, but the County of East Frisia and the small County of Emsland have a majority Catholic population. The Netherlands is obviously Dutch Huguenot in belief; most of the remainder is firmly Lutheran. The Thirty Years' War has largely ruined Europe's appetite for inter-religious strife, but the Catholics still present an embattled mentality where it comes to being wedged between Oldenburg and Holland. Still, the agreement between those two Protestant countries to leave the Catholics as a 'buffer' makes it the most stable part of the map.
Smuggling goes on apiece just about everywhere as one can imagine.
This covers the basics, I believe. Please ask questions. There's always more to learn.