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STAMTRAL (Duchy of)
Location: Continent of Brun, about 250 miles southeast of Alpha, near the northern end of the Final Range. NW
Area: 998 sq. mi. (2,585 sq. km.).
Languages: Heldannic, Traladaran.
Coinage: Coins from various realms accepted (most in circulation are Alphatian); gems or barter commonly used.
Taxes: 30% income tax collected yearly, plus corvée labour.
Government Type: Independent duchy.
Industries: Agriculture, mining, hunting.
Important Figures: Stano (Duke).
Flora and Fauna: The valley of Stamtral is rich with woods of various types, with oak, sequoia, fir, and spruce being most common. Freshwater ponds and streams throughout the region are home to fish of several types, including trout and salmon. Much of the valley is agricultural land [either natural or cleared forest. Adik.], with potatoes, grains, and legumes as the primary crops. Some grazing animals, such as sheep or cattle, are also present, but these are not abundant due to predators. Wolves, wild boars, bears, panthers, and foxes are all common to the forested regions and northern hills. Some herd animals, such as deer, moose, and elk, also inhabit the region. More dangerous denizens include werewolves, displacer beasts, and yowlers. Humanoid tribes also roam the hills, with orcs, goblins, bugbears and trolls all making their presence known.
Further Reading: CM4 Earthshaker!, previous almanacs.
Description by Adik de Chevas and Arcadius.
Stamtral is a small, unimportant domain nestled in the foothills of the Final Range. Its peasants are poorer than most and they generally struggle to survive in this harsh region.
The Duchy of Stamtral makes up roughly one half of the New Traladara Valley [called the Gremlish Valley by the indigenous people of this region. Adik.], so named by Duke Nevik of Vyolstagrad when his dominion was founded in AC 1001. The valley is an upland region, which rises steadily to the foothills of the Final Range, known locally as the North Hills. Numerous streams flow down from the hills, eventually flowing into the River Stryna or the Moonbeam River [note that the Stryna is itself a tributary of the Moonbean. Adik.]. Together, the two rivers serve as a border with Vyolstagrad to the east. The Moonbeam continues on through Vyolstagrad and Moonland to the sea. Small ponds and lakes also dot the landscape, many of which are quite picturesque. The valley is divided between agricultural land and virgin forest. Some areas still bear scars from the Thyatian occupation of this domain during the Great War.
The main settlement in Stamtral is the keep of Stanograd, which has been rebuilt and improved upon since its destruction at the hands of the Thyatian invaders. The outer walls enclose several shops, smithies, and supply houses, which essentially comprise a small village. The remainder of Stamtral's peasantry live in small hamlets, mining camps, or isolated farms scattered throughout the dominion.
The peasants and serfs of Stamtral are mostly simple folk of Traladaran background, along with a few of Heldannic descent. They earn their living [or simply work to stay living. Arcadius.] by farming the difficult Norwold soil, hunting game in the dangerous forests, or digging iron from the mines in the North Hills. Recently, silver was also found in the hills, causing an influx of speculators and prospectors hoping to strike it rich. Mostly, these are common folk from nearby Vyolstagrad, but some have arrived from more distant parts of Norwold. Duke Stano's military has been keeping a close watch on all such activity. Stamtral has a strong military [for such a small dominion. Adik.] with a large standing army. The army of Stamtral maintains a more than adequate number in defence of Stanograd, while numerous others are busy patrolling the duchy looking for trouble [and frequently making it. Arcadius.]. Those who are not actively patrolling are usually busy with some sort of military drill or another. The Stamtralians' memory of the Thyatian invasion is still vivid, and they are loath to let down their guard. Their focus on military matters is perhaps, in some ways, an atonement for their past failures in this area [or perhaps it is simply necessary, as there are hostile human and non-human tribes in the immediate vicinity. Adik.].
The Stamtralians keep customs similar to those of native Traladarans, with a focus on palm reading, the reading of tea leaves, and other foolish pastimes long since abandoned by educated people [obviously, Adik does not appreciate the value of tradition! Arcadius.]. Mostly, the folk of Stamtral are illiterate and superstitious, if not hardworking. The typical home is a small cottage of wattle-and-daub, or a log cabin, for the more well-off peasants. The faith in the traditional Traladaran Immortals is not strong here. The people mainly believe in their own efforts and abilities, and of course, luck. There is no strong central theocracy in Stamtral [although Duke Stano did hire on a new chaplain in the past year. Arcadius.].
Another group of people also claim this valley as their territory. These are the Gremlish barbarians, a tribe, or assortment of tribes, of wandering humans who inhabit the foothills of the Final Range. These native Norwolders are of Heldannic [or Antalian. Adik.] stock, with a somewhat primitive culture [although they do forge steel weapons. Adik.] who make do by hunting and foraging. Their nomadic wanderings occasionally bring them within the borders of Stamtral or Vyolstagrad, and this has resulted in numerous clashes, although the Gremlish have been allowed to pass through freely, on occasion. Some Gremlish tribesmen have taken to the civilised life [if you can call life here civilised. Adik.] and settled within the duchy. A few men of Stamtral have even taken fair-haired Gremlish women as wives [usually in a trade for some useless trinkets. Adik.]. On other occasions, Stamtral has hired the barbarians as mercenaries, either to combat war parties of humanoids or to raid neighbouring Vyolstagrad [which Duke Stano vigorously denies, of course. Adik.].
The lands now known as the Duchy of Stamtral were originally part of the territory claimed by Nevik of Vyolstagrad. Stano was a loyal lieutenant of Nevik when he received the title of count from King Ericall in AC 1001. Stano led many successful defences against the humanoids and local barbarians that were driven into the hills. The dominion borders were expanded, and forest was cleared for farming. Stano served as the overseer and military commandant of the county's western borderlands. By AC 1005, he was awarded the title of baron, which was endorsed by King Ericall. Then, during the Great War, in AC 1007, a Thyatian expeditionary force occupied and overran this region of Norwold. Count Nevik surrendered Vyolstagrad to the Thyatians, but Baron Stano refused to submit. He harried and harassed the invaders, fighting a guerrilla war that confounded the Thyatian commander. Eventually, the resistance was quelled as the Thyatians burned the countryside and terrorised the populace into submission. Refugees from Stamtral fled into Vyolstagrad and Moonland [or even into the North Hills. Arcadius.]. Stano's keep was besieged, but he continued to hold them off with great stubbornness. Stano's resistance was aided by the humanoid and barbarian hordes to the north, who turned their aggressions on the occupying army. Eventually, the inevitable came, and Stano's keep fell to the Thyatians in a bloody battle. Stano himself was captured and slated for execution. However, during the transfer of prisoners back to Vyolstagrad, the Thyatians were ambushed by a horde of barbarians, and Baron Stano escaped in the ensuing confusion. As it turned, out, the unfortunate [some say hung over from victory celebrations. Adik.] Thyatian field commander was the one executed. The Thyatians finally left Norwold once the Great War ended in AC 1010.
Shortly thereafter, Stano returned to the scorched land of Stamtral, and accompanied by a formidable contingent of mercenaries and other loyal followers, declared himself Duke of Stamtral. Duke Nevik was still reeling from the Thyatian occupation, himself, and could not contest this claim on his lands. Stamtral struggled to rebuild over the next several years, but Stano's keep, dubbed Stanograd, has been impressively restored and expanded upon. Tensions have continued between Stamtral and its parent dominion, with border raids and minor skirmishes being fairly common. However, neither side has been willing to launch an all-out war against the other, so the two duchies coexist in an uneasy peace. Stamtral opted not to join the Norwold Confederacy, seeing no real benefit in such an alliance.
The call to arms of the army of Stamtral is certainly worth taking a look at if you happen to be in Stanograd at the time. The call is an impressive display of pomp and military prowess, involving the entire army of Stamtral attired in their formal uniforms. Even the peasant reserves take part in this annual event, held each summer. Various drills and other precision manoeuvres are performed to the accompaniment of rousing music. Traditionally, lists and other entertainments follow the call to arms, which is widely attended by the peasants of the land.
The North Hills are a rugged and foreboding borderland inhabited by bloodthirsty humanoids and warlike barbarians. The orc and goblin tribes there may hunt you down just for sport [or even worse, for food! Adik.], and hill trolls may tear you apart on sight. The Gremlish barbarians are not much more accommodating to travellers. We recommend that you avoid this part of the duchy.