The city of Mastaria is the single largest city within its borders, as well as the capital and the seat of four out of six soldiering guilds. it lies in its own valley, and from there it has extended its rule for more than a thousand years.
The history of Mastaria and its surrounding region fades into legend and conjecture. Furthermore, due to the instability of laws, history itself seems to change on occasion. However, some facts are known:
Mastaria comes into its own more than a thousand years ago, with the construction of Mastaria’s Wall. It was the brainchild of Archibald, first grandmaster of Oneshot, and was completed after his death. The day construction finished is the day Mastaria celebrates as the true day of foundation. At the time, Mastaria constitutes little beyond its own valley. It struggles continuously to stay a horde of beasts from the mountains off, but the construction of the wall is believed to have changed the battle to their advantage, allowing them to advance and reinforce a front, until the war died down.
A full list of the existing soldiering guilds at the time is not available, as Oneshot’s records only name themselves and The Demons.
The rise of the wall and subsequent turn in the war gave Mastaria the peace it needed to truly realise its potential. Within a few generations, Oneshot records two new soldiering guilds (Plainstar and The 2nd Company) concerned with the southern wars, as well as a number of succesful troll hunters in the north and east.
These wars are against the great clans of the central region, and are noted for taking well over three hundred years to complete. During the early years of these campaigns, one of the clans is assimilated into Mastaria’s service, forming The Knights. They are not recorded until later, though, their formation circumstances and dated mentioned in passing. They evidently do not rise to the prominent position of the true soldiering guilds until late in the campaign. It is campaigns like these that are generally used to separate the various eras of Mastarian history, and the Plains Campaign mark the first of such periods, lasting a little more than three hundred years.
The next period, lasting almost six hundred years begins in the late years of the Plains Campaign, oriented towards eastern exploration and securing the new lands better. Oneshot records few of these projects, remaining focused in the valley against trolls, as well as being politically opposed to extending their influence far beyond Mastaria itself. Their records do speak of noteworthy council decisions, which tells of the slow but steady expansion in the eastern desert, hunting for the mining riches and their diplomacy and eventual domination of the native population. The region is generally seen as peripheral and relatively unimportant, domination simply as a matter of ease and convenience. The population, as a consequence, remain relatively self-ruled, an example that later becomes the model of Mastarian occupation. The period is believed to end with the border expansion halting upon encountering The Sunlit Empire, whom the soldiering guilds, at the time The Demons, Oneshot, The Knights, The Second Company, Vindictive, The Sovenian Bodyguards and Steadfast, decline to engage in open battle.
This directional change results in a long period of instability in the country. Peace between the soldiering guilds break down, and chaos officially sets in when Oneshot closes the gates of Mastaria. They use the leverage of the city to rule the mastarian valley, banning the other soldiering guilds to the outer provinces. The Knights, staying on good foot with Oneshot, remain in the area. As with most other alliances of this period, it is rife with trouble and internal struggling.
This period lasts for about a hundred years, and during this time, the central region is heavily integrated, as five soldiering guilds make their headquarters there. Events of note is the transformation of Steadfast to Five Spears, and their subsequent domination of the western Mastaria, the culmination of The 2nd Company’s decline and The Demons being devoured by The Outriders, whose welcoming as one of the official soldiering guilds is normally considered the end of the period. After this period, the position of City Lord also becomes less of a puppet position, and Mastaria, in the eyes of those thus religiously inclined, speaks with its own voice for the first time.
Following the reunification, Mastaria turns to more colonial pursuit, the attention of the nation turning to the south-west at their newest territorial expansions. The Sunlit Empire is afforded little attention, and they in turn pay little to Mastaria, resulting in a de facto peace among the two powers, though hostility never cease. It is at this time that The Crafters expand their business, creating the first soldiering guild not under independent rule. Their acceptance is at first opposed for just this reason. Following increasing hostilities and more and more encompassing embargoes on behalf of The Crafters, open war breaks out between the Moorhigh Soldiering Guild and its counterparts. Moorhigh, and their associated religious artisans, manage to put a serious dent in the monopolies of Oneshot that has kept it safe for so long. Not only do they manage to shut parts of the city down, despite their best efforts, they also manage to steal a bit of the engineering knowledge otherwise known only to Oneshot. Moorhigh eventually secures a deal with Oneshot, returning parts of the stolen lore in return for Oneshot aknowledging their ownership of the rest, and their support in the question of Moorhigh’s status. The reduced pressure enables Moorhigh to strengthen already solid contacts in the eastern region, and finally manages to sell security and accessibility to The Outriders in exchange for their support. Strong opposition eventually die down, and Moorhigh is grudgingly welcomed to the council.
Following a period of stability and growth, territorially and economically, The Sovenian Bodyguard die out, their position and sources of income slowly taken over by Moorhigh, which does little to increase their reputation. This happens about a hundred years ago, culminating roughly with The Knights giving birth to the soldiering guild Carlton’s Riders, founded by the infamous Friedrich Carlton. Carlton’s Riders enjoy a smooth welcoming into the ranks of the soldiering guilds, filling a hole of elite troops otherwise occupied by the Sovenians. They get little actual say prior to the founding for the Great Expeditionary Force is spproved, and the south-eastern region is finally approached. The original objective is to increase the front against The Sunlit Empire, tensions having been on the rise for a decade at the time, as well as secure new anchor points to make offense easier. Furthermore, they are to establish a secure route through the forest to the south-western region. Both objectives prove exponentially more difficult than expected, and both soon cease to be a priority. Instead, colonization and taming of the region become the top-priority, in order to enable the completion of other objectives. The ongoing struggle gives Carlton’s their first access to dedicated recruitment grounds, as well as a steady source of income.
Mastaria’s political system is surprisingly stable, considering that it is not very clearly defined.
It is governed by the Council of the Greater Mastaria Lands and Holdings, wherein as many seats as is needed is available to the soldiering guilds of the land. Additionally, a City Lord sits there, if the council can agree to one. For a long time, this has happened very often, as certain people learn how to attract the attention of the guilds.
In this capacity, calling them soldiering guilds is a misnomer. The big soldiering guilds are more like enormous administrative institutions, backed by the military power that lends it relevance. Oneshot also runs the University of Observable Science, dedicated to the preservation and development of knowledge pertaining to siege engineering and constructions. The Outriders grew out of a messaging service, and retain this responsibility in most of Mastaria. Finally, Five Spears enroll, train and mobilise tens of thousands every year, dealing with the floods of desertions and appliances that arrive in fall and spring, respectively. The smaller soldiering guilds are more purely militaristic, most notably Carlton’s, but the foundation of Moorhigh is intimately tied up with The Crafters.
The soldiering guilds decide on important issues by voting, and decide on who will be in charge of its completion. Who sits on the council, thus qualifying as a soldiering guild, is not clearly defined anywhere. Typically, no one is ever considered. Most of the new additions have had to fight, tooth and nail, to be allowed in. Carlton’s is an exception, as the City Lord at the time had a tendency of voting in favor of status quo until he could wrestle concessions out of the parties who stood to win. Carlton’s welcome into the council made the tactics more difficult, due to the internal proceedings of the votes.
Most of Mastaria actually remains semi-independent. The soldiering guilds demand free reign, of course, as well as tribute in the form of money, goods and soldiers. The internal systems, however, the regions can largely deal with themselves. The guilds are always ready with advisors, though. The soldiering guilds themselves, as well as the cities in Mastaria, often hire small, independent mercenary companies as city guard or simply extra available swords, so this group often ends up the involuntary mediums of the squabbles between cities and soldiering guilds.
At more than a million inhabitants, Mastaria is by far the largest city in the land. It is by some worshipped as a god and is extremely magical. Most people living in the city agrees that it has a consciousness of its own. If this constitutes divinity or not is debated, but the city shows an uncanny ability to adjust itself. Streets tend to change and shift around, making the Cartographer’s Guild a very lucrative establishment. It is a long-established fact for the soldiering guilds that they can’t count on the size and quality of their buildings in the city, either. When the city is threatened, the compounds tend to expand. In peacetime, they shrink.
Mastaria houses many unique and impressive buildings. The many headquarters of wealthy organisations are all a sight to see.
The four compounds, belonging to Five Spears, The Knights, Oneshot and Moorhigh, are all spectacular in their own way:
A monstrous complex in the north of the city, it encompasses an entire neighborhood where the guildmembers live, work and sleep. The limits of the compound is marked by the patrolling Minutemen, and it includes some rather special sites. For example, the training yard is big enough to house a thousand fighting men at one time and often does. It is where the numerous recruits learn the required skills in fighting and mass combat.
The Honorable Plaza on the outskirts of the compound is far more famous than the rest. This is where The Knights hold the bi-annual recruitment tests, an event that enjoys fame close to that of a holiday among the poor citizens. The two tests encompass just two hundred recruits of the near thousand the guild gets every year. It is usually just a display where the most promising, and sometimes simply most recent, if the year is slow, applicants help The Knights display their power.
Oneshot famously claims the Wall as their compound, though they maintain both their own headquarters and the fortress-like University of Observable Science, the main library of scientific knowledge that Mastaria possesses. It is notoriously well-guarded, Oneshot routinely putting their foremost archers and melee combatants on guard duty there. Though every conceivable method of enhanced learning and research is encouraged within the walls, access to books, teachers and even note paper is strictly controlled. Oneshot maintain their knowledge monopoly by not allowing any of it to leave the library, and it has mostly been effective.
Moorhigh is situated in the Church of Creation, at the center of the Crafter quarter. It mostly resembles an enormous smithy and sculptor’s shop, with multiple forges running at all times and artisans crafting more or less arcane and occult devices. The forges of Moorhigh work day and night to supply the guild with the equipment that cannot be produced anywhere else, which is a great deal of it. Though far outshined by the Church, and less flashy than other compounds, the forges remain an impressive site and, at least during winter, draws many regular visitors.