The main setting of the first arcs story of Tatzelwyrm is Sturreland. What it exactly is, some of its history is and how it is run, I want to explain today.
Before the calamity known as the Great Sundering in Ackarom, the biggest part of what is now west Ackarom was dominated by a large, mountainous, and heavily forested area, spanning from the western end of the Impjasegi all the way to the Siarbeann mountains, that form the western end of Ackarom, and from the southern to the northern coast.
The many mountain ranges and the dense and ancient forest made it almost impossible to traverse and so the old pliranti empire never conquered the region or anything far beyond. The land was known as “the stubborn land”.
After the calamity, when the north-western continent of Osmurak was reduced to a few rocky mountains and a huge saltwater swamp, most survivors fled to west Ackarom, settling either on the shores of the Siarbeann or the northern shores of west Ackarom and the many islands off the coast. These people were led by the last noble houses of Osmurak and soon intermingled with the scattered tribes living on the edges of the stubborn lands.
During the period known as the period of quarrels – when many noble houses waged war on one another for the valuable magical knowledge and blood they had accumulated over generations – as the kingdoms of the refugees expanded, a single branch of a dying noble house went deeper into the stubborn land to settle near a canyon where a river had eaten its way through a mountain range and founded their new house. They were known as the toll keepers who sat on the high castle above the canyon, and soon, they dubbed themselves the Hitollarn house. They ruled over a relatively small area of what is today Sturreland, but collected enough taxes and tolls to quickly rise to wealth.
The house of Hitollarn kept peace with the surrounding areas by marrying their children to the few witches with arcane gifts and so found a new arcane blood pool – a collection of individuals that were loyal to one house and were capable of bestowing the arcane gift upon their children.
As the kingdoms from north and south managed to tame the wild forest, they staked more and more land and so the house Hitollarn made the proposition to unify all the circles of witches and lodges of druids into one singular body, overseeing all of Sturreland and securing its borders as a genuine body of government against the others, with its own seal to gain legitimacy over the newly founded universities. Eventually, after some minor conflicts, all parties agreed and formed the Lodge of Sturreland.
The Lodge’s seal is comprised of a crown symbolizing the Hitollarn, a crow symbolizing the witches, the forest, symbolizing the druids, and a ring of hands, symbolizing the 36 members of the highest circle, the ruling body: the Arch-Druid, the Arch-Druid’s representative, the twelve highest judges, the five generals of the Guardians and Rangers, the ten elders and the seven representatives of mayors, all working hand in hand.
The Lodge of Sturreland is one of the last monolithic governing bodies still having complete control over all laws of their governed region. That means that the Lodge sets all laws on trade, labour, possessions, violence, religion, war and magic, something few nations can still say, since almost everywhere else, at least the Universities have reserved the right to set laws on magic and guilds set laws on trade and labour.
At its current state (1346 after the Great Sundering) Sturreland is 400 miles from north to south and 350 miles from east to west and has around half a million inhabitants. Most of the forest is either undeveloped by human hands or strictly off bounds, guarded by the druids and witches of the Lodge. There are no major cities and only Sosken and Hitollarn Castle could be called centres of civilization. Most of human life clings to the deforested valleys.
The Lodge’s chief exports are grain, metals and lumber, with which they support some of bigger cities close to its borders, like Halonnes, Laeggdunn and Doessenhoff, as well as the network of universities. They are considered one of the key elements in west Ackarom that hinder the establishment of a far and wide trade network, as everyone seeking to travel to the western shores beyond the Siarbeann must travel around Sturreland to either the north or the west, making any possible mountain passes through the Siarbeann inaccessible.
Not a single army has ever conquered Sturreland, although many have tried, because the huge hold the druids and witches would turn the very grass and trees, the birds and beasts into enemies of the invaders.
To this day, the Lodge is mostly organized in local circles of witches and druids that help the local villages by furthering the harvest and keeping them healthy. The group of Members that actively take part in governing decisions is the inner circle, which consists of representatives of every local circle as well as large numbers of mages and all the mayors of towns officially recognized by the Lodge. The Lodge does however reserve the right to exclude the Mayors on grounds of disputes and decisions on laws regarding magic, of which the profane population (and therefore their mayors) have no understanding or insights. The involvement of the entire inner circle in the decisions of the highest circle however is minimal.
I hope this granted you a bit more insight into the world of Tatzelwyrm. Please let me know if there are any other subjects you’d like background lore on.