What is Norumbega?
When you look at early maps of the American north-east, right up until we started calling them colonies, there is a tiny marking along the coast called "Norumbega". To this day, nobody knows for certain what it is, but the rumor is that when the vikings first came to Newfoundland, they found the harsh environment of Baffin Island ("Helluland") untenable, and traveled south through deep woods ("Markland"), until they reached the promised "Vinland". There, they established Norumbega, a great city with halls of gold and fertile earth and an overwhelming sense of peace. It's a city that vanished after colonisation, either through war, or natural disaster, or (more likely) cultural assimilation.
The idea of Norumbega was an understandably enticing one towards the middle and end of the Viking Age. In Vinland, they could work the soil more easily, catch fish from the shore without danger. The hills and valleys formed natural fortresses, and there could be long stretches of time without the need for violence. Like all pilgrimages, those who sought out Vinland were truly hoping to make a change. Around this time in the 11th and 12th centuries, Christianity was spreading through Norse culture, and the old guard found themselves dying out, traditions kept on only in little bits and pieces. The search for Vinland, for Norumbega, represented a chance to start fresh for some, and to bring the old way to a place where it would not be touched.
Norumbega is also a tabletop role-playing game that I'm writing about that search, and I'll be keeping track of what I'm writing right here.
In the game, players will take on the role of the leaders of a settlement, trekking from the icy Helluland towards the promise of Vinland in the south. They act as scouts, trailblazers, and protectors as they find a path towards their new home. This journey may take years, but the knowledge that finding this land will keep their families safe is what makes it worth taking.
As players progress through the lands in Norumbega, from the icy Helluland, to the wooded Markland, to the open fields of green in Vinland, the world around them will change dramatically. They'll have to make choices about how they react to it. As they head south, the needs of the settlers will change, religions will take rise, they'll meet colonisers and the native skraeling, and each of the characters will be forced to grapple with question: is hanging onto the old ways really worth it?