Stirland itself has a reputation as being a rural backwater, though this is somewhat undeserved due to the large number of reasonably-sized towns, and the province's trade with the Dwarfhold of Zhufbar. Its distance from the centres of power in The Empire, and its proximity to Sylvania make most people think ill of the region, though. Its principle exports are Woollen goods, wine, salted fish and woodcrafts.
The northern borders are forested, where the southern reaches of the Great Forest cross the Stir river from Talabecland. The forest thins to the south and east - in the east, it splits into the Hunger Wood and the Grim Wood - the latter of which marking the edge of the infamous Hel Fenn, where Manfred von Carstein was defeated by Count Martin von Krieglitz of Stirland in 2154. The Order of the Raven Knights, Templars of Morr dedicated to the destruction of the Undead, own the small town Siegfriedhof situated near the Hunger Wood at the Sylvanian border.
The western portion of Stirland is dominated by the Stirhügel - a hilly region that was first home to the Styrigen tribe, thousands of years ago, before the Empire. This region is crossed by the Old Dwarf Road and the Nuln Road, and is mostly home to sheepherders who trade in the nearby markets of Flensburg and Wörden. In amongst the foggy vales, however, are the tombs of ancient chieftains of the Styrigen traibes, dug into hillsides and built as turf-covered barrows. Locals consider the tombs cursed, and every nearby village has tales of people who went investigating the tombs and never returned.
Sylvania, to the east, is a place most Stirlanders try to forget about - indeed, even the Elector Count's infamous tax collectors go there only when accompanied by armed guards.
Stirlanders are cautious and superstitious, often mocked by outsiders for their slow pace of life and speech. They themselves are fond of their ancient customs, and of their tendency to take a long view of life. At their best, they're calm, thoughtful and quite meticulous, with a love of long, ribald stories. Their other notable love is of racing - though not the more common foot or horseback racing favoured elsewhere in the Empire. As most Stirland communities are based around the farmland, geese, cows, pigs and other animals are raced against each other in local competitions, with the winner awarded "ribbons and reprieve" - meaning the beast will never be destined for the dinner table.
At their worst, Stirlanders are isolationist, suspicious and hidebound, stubbornly holding onto traditional methods in a manner similar to the Dwarfs. They're slow to befriend, often taking years to accept newcomers into a community.
Stirland communities are full of unusual customs - the practise of drinking hot ale being the most famous one, and the which inspires confusion and disdain in most outsiders.
Stirlanders in the southern and central parts of the province are notable for their dislike of Halflings - resenting the 1500-year-old decision that stole their best farmland and gave it to the "Shorties", and the belief that all Halflings are thieves is stronger here than almost anywhere else in the Empire. Indeed, in the town of Wörden, there is a tradition when celebrating a child's birthday, to make a straw-man the size of a Halfling, and stuff it with treats and candies that he "stole" from the children. Then, it is hung from a tree while blindfolded children beat it with sticks until it breaks and "gives back" the candy. Locals, of course, deny that drunks have occasionally used a real Halfling for this.
The capital, Wurtbad, is a prosperous town of 8,800 people, and is unofficially known as Wine Capital of the Empire, after the Electoral decree that all of Stirland's wine must be sold through the town. Being the political centre of Stirland, the town receives many visitors, and Innkeeping is something of an art amongst the locals, with a great many high-quality taverns and inns. The town is also famous for its hot springs, and many wealthy folk come to Wurtbad "to take the waters". The Count maintains an active secret police force in order to prevent spies and assassins from plying their trades amongst the wealthy and important folk visiting the town.
Police 'Failed Couple Shot in Gangland Execution'; (1) Murdered: His Wife Joan, 51 (2) Contract Killing: John Stirland, 55
Feb 23, 2008; Byline: DAVID WILKES A DAMNING report yesterday revealed how an innocent middle-aged couplewere murdered in a gangland execution...
HAT'S THE WAY TO BEAT THE GLOOM; Telegraph Reporter JANE STIRLAND Has a Passion for Hats and Was Delighted to Find an Exhibition in London Devoted to One of Her Favourite Subjects. Here She Writes of Her Delight at Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones Currently Running at London's Victoria and Albert Museum. She Is Pictured Wearing One of Her Own Inherited from Her Aunt, Mona Stirland, Who Never Left the House without a Hat!
May 14, 2009; Byline: JANE Stirland IN THE midst of recession, a current exhibition at the V& A is a welcome bit of decadence. Hats: An...
FOCUS: Were the Deaths of Four People Triggered by a Man Being Refused a Drink? ; in Nottingham, a Thousand Mourners Attended the Funeral of Jamie Gunn, 19. Miles Away, a Village in Lincolnshire Was Coming to Terms with the Murders of Joan and John Stirland, Who Were Shot Dead in Their Seaside Bungalow. the Crime Writer Brian Cathcart Uncovers Links between the Deaths
Aug 15, 2004; For a 19-year-old described in the press as a doorman, James Gunn was unusually popular and well-connected - at least, if his...