(Starting a New Company) Only shieldbro has traits, but they are completely awesome ones at that! Although, the starting stats across all three are pretty high in general.
Mapwise, there are only three ports: 2 clustered in the southeast, and one right in the centre (of the map, but west of the other settlements). Only three blast furnaces and two ore smelters though, with only the southwestern-most citadel having both. Trading is rather worthwhile since there's quite a number of goods available (amber in the two southern ports, and also a salt+gem mine near the middle port), but it's quite a pain to travel anywhere due to limited road connectivity.
Noble houses are nicely balanced out: 6/8/5, each taking a horizontal slice of a third of the map.