|Common Names||Calembergers, Waldmarkers, Sabre Rattlers, Pelt Lovers, War Hawks|
|Social Classes||Aristocrats, Army Marshals/Generals, Tacticians, Politicians, Knights, Hunters, Foresters|
|Major Cities||City of Calemberg, Lutherstadt, Charlotteburg, Drachenburg, Koningsberg|
The Wirtem are an Ailor Culture originating from an older tribe which existed on the Regalian Archipelago centuries before the Cataclysm. Creating the powerful Wirtemcaller Kingdom which dominated the eastern side of the region, the Wirtem eventually collapsed following a myriad of internal and external crises that pushed them to the limits. With the arrival of the Regalian Empire, the Wirtem pledged their fealty to the Emperors, fighting to regain their homelands in the latter years of the Skagger Wars. Following these battles, the Wirtem were guided by House Cadar, becoming famous for their military discipline and honorable conduct. Today, the Wirtem remain one of the dominant cultures within the Regalian Empire, serving as a bastion of monarchist nationalism and Unionist devotion.
To be a Wirtem is to be obsessed with a standard of dignity, discipline, and honorability that most have abandoned in favor of living a life of indulgence and casual indifference to good conduct. The Wirtem see themselves as the bulwark of respectability and decency in a world that seemingly grows more mad and chaotic by the year, believing strongly in the need for rigidness and stability. The Wirtem love the military and the state; symbolism, pomp, and parades; artistic expressions of victory, civility, and class; authority and hierarchy; but above all a strong cohesive defense of all that is good which expresses the virtues of civilization.
A Culture Without Insults
The Wirtem are known as the “Culture that does not insult”, because the Wirtem strongly believe that insulting others with words is a barbaric way of interacting that debases the dignity of others. Crude words are considered self-defiling in such a way that, if a Wirtem person were to insult someone, regardless of how that insult affected the target, the Wirtem would be degraded far more in the eyes of Wirtem society. This does not mean that the Wirtem are without spite or retribution. A Wirtem might viciously block someone’s promotion by fixing numbers against them, or a Wirtem woman might recommend a dress to an enemy before using that same fabric texture to dress up an event or tent that this enemy would visit. The Wirtem are not above getting back at others, but always insist on doing it without name-calling, bullying, or degrading someone with words.
Honor Above Everything
Wirtem Honor is also exceptionally important to them. A Wirtem soldier never attacks an unarmed foe, never attacks from behind, and always offers mercy to those who have surrendered or laid down their arms. A Wirtem never besmirches the honor and respectability of women outside of wedlock, nor offends the good name of the Imperial Family, the Empire, the Everwatcher, or even their feudal or noble lord even if they do not like them. The Wirtem have a strong duelling culture where arguments and differences of opinion are settled in the duelling arena. Equally common however are the “Bier-recht”, where those who are on opposing sides of issues invite each other to the local beer-hall to drink a Wirtem beer together, to remind them that strife and conflict drive wedges in society and invite chaos and instability.
Dignity in Life and Death
The Wirtem are immensely focused on the concept of dignity for all, mostly themselves, but also others. This permeates in art, clothing, speech, interactions with other races, and the way they treat each other. The Wirtem believe that even the lowest of serfs and prisoners up to the highest lord has a right to be treated with dignity and respect, even if they are a severe criminal on death row. This does not mean a Wirtem would aid such a criminal to escape, but to respect the sanctity of the last hours of their life and make it comfortable, while avoiding any ridicule of disgrace onto the criminal. A Wirtem will be the first to cover an indecently disrobed person with their coat, and the first to hide the mud stains on a lady’s dress to avoid her embarrassment in public, even if they are just strangers. Finally, the Wirtem believe very strongly in the idea that one should never speak ill of the dead, or degrade the legacy of those who have passed away with gossip or propaganda.
The Wirtem speak three different languages, none of which are mutually understandable, but have similar sounding vocabulary. To other cultures and races these languages all sound the same, but among them, the dialects are so thick that they cannot be understood across language boundaries. The most commonly spoken Wirtem language is Calem, which is spoken in the majority of the Regalian Archipelago and regions inhabited by the Wirtem people. Calem is based on modern-day German. The second most common Wirtem language is Öbern, which is spoken by the Calderliga people of the Regalian Archipelago and some parts of Dragenthal, this language being based on real-world Swabian German or Pfalz German. The smallest of the Wirtem languages is Hinterwälder which is spoken in the borderlands with Drixagh, a deep frontier language based on Bavarian/Austrian German. The Wirtem once spoke a language called Issisch, but this has become a dead language with no native speakers.
Wirtem consider names incredibly important, and first names are often chosen as an homage to someone. It is very common for children to be named after their parents or grandparents, but names sourced from war heroes, politicians, and even old pre-Unionist Wirtem Pagan Gods are common. Surnames are often based on the occupation of their parents, as most parents induce their children in the same occupation they have worked in their entire life. As such, it is very common for a Wirtem family’s surname to for example be “Müller”, meaning miller, and for such a family to have been millers for eight generations back. The prefix “von” in surnames is usually only reserved for aristocrats and nobles, or at the very least someone of moderate to substantial wealth. For nobility, it is practically mandatory for the surname to have this additional “von” suffix that defines where their family has descended from, with some going a step further to add an optional “zu” suffix that defines where they currently rule. If a family’s surname for example is “von Obersee”, their surname would become something like “von Obersee zu Pferdenwald”, zu meaning at Pferdenwald.
Examples of Male-coded Wirtem Names: Günter, Uwe, Walter, Karl, Heinrich, Franz, Elias, Jonas, Noah, Felix, Lukas, Stefan, Jürgen, Bjorn, Otto. Hugo, Maximillian, Axel, Friedrich.
Examples of Female-coded Wirtem Names: Susanne, Anne, Antonia, Monika, Ylona, Ursula, Christina, Mia, Emma, Christina, Klara, Lina, Marie, Mathilda, Adelheid, Lara, Agathe.
Examples of non-Gendered Wirtem Names: Baden, Edel, Voss, Ellis, Yves, Engel, Ella, Faron, Maria, Eike, Aspen, Vix, Rainer, Valentin, Nixie, Zelda, Romy, Eev, Emer
Examples of Wirtem Names based on Historical Figures:
- Teomar or Teo or Theomarich, named after Emperor Theomar I
- Heinrich or Heinz, named after any of the Henri Emperors
- Allamar or Allamarich, named after Emperor Allamaria I
- Allest or Alest, named after Emperor Allestrain I
- Karloman or Karlo, named after Arch-Chancellor Caldomir I
- Ellia or Elianne or Ella, named after Arch-Chancellor Ellenore I
- Valdis or Vlaas or Valm, named after Arch-Chancellor Vlaas I
- Alina or Antonina or Aliandre, named after Arch-Chancellor Aliandre I
Religion to the Wirtem people is the standard by which they measure their morality to the world. The Wirtem strongly believe that without religion, there is no morality or ethics, and that without the Everwatcher, there is no peace and stability in the world. It should as such not be surprising that practically every Wirtem person is a Unionist, though of varying degrees of piety. Unionist themes can be found in many Wirtem customs, traditions, and norms, and as such has become totally integrated and part of their identity. It is exceedingly rare to see any Wirtem person that is Agnostic, let alone Atheist. Calemberg, where the Wirtem are the most numerous, has the most Unionist Temples per head of population (with fourteen Grand Temples in the City of Calemberg proper), and is also the center of the Vierzehn Sect of Unionism that takes a more hard-line view of the other (non-Ailor) Races. That being said, the majority of the Wirtem people are just Dogmatic Unionists without overt Sect loyalties.
Families and Romance
A typical Wirtem family follows the Unionist nucleus, meaning a father, mother, and as many children as the Everwatcher wills. Wirtem children leave their parental home early, often as soon as the moment they become young adults, and have a very structured and disciplined childhood where they are given an early sense of responsibility with physical labor and household chores. Each Wirtem family tries very hard to be self-sufficient in their daily needs, with many having their own chickens for eggs and vegetable gardens. Wirtem homes are often austere and lacking excessive decorative frivolities, except when it comes to Unionist shrines.
Wirtem are perhaps the most disapproving of unusual households or family compositions. Unions such as those of a same-sex orientation, polygamous, or unmarried lovers are looked down upon. It is important to note that they are not impossible to have, there is just a societal expectation among the Wirtem people that this kind of life must be lived behind closed doors, and the Wirtem people go through extremes to upkeep a facade of uniform normality, even to the point of engaging in fraud-weddings just to keep gossip away from them. The worst a Wirtem can experience is to be the gossip of town, or to draw undue attention.
Romance among the Wirtem people is extremely restrained and painfully slow. Each family has their own traditional way of engaging in romance, but a common trend is arranged marriages and marriages of political convenience. This is equally doled out on both male and female children, with both sexes expected to contribute to the family’s fortunes and name by submitting to their parent’s design.
Wirtem families are generally patriarchal with a strong male leadership, though matriarchal families are not unheard of. Still, because a woman in a strong position of leadership is considered unusual, such women usually govern from the shadows. In Wirtem society, women and men both have very strict expectations and occupations that belong only to them, and the Wirtem strongly oppose mixing of the sexes. The Wirtem have a strong law-enforced separation of the sexes in for example bath houses but also in lounges. Women are expected to sit on the veranda or the schnapp salons, while men are expected to sit in the dim-lit smoking lounges and kaffee houses. The only places where men and women mix are on the streets and in parks, as well as in Unionist Temples. Societal occupations for men lean more to the physical and military, while occupations for women lean more to the elegant and delicate. Men and women have been politicians before, notably House Cadar which always seemed to produce strong-headed female rulers, though they always nuanced their authority with their consorts acting as a public figurehead.
The concept of gender-expectation among the Wirtem is so severe, that the concept of gender non-conformity causes distress or discomfort in them. The Wirtem are so concerned about non-conformity causing chaos and instability in society that they find the idea of a person re-defining their gender or changing their sex uncomfortable and would prefer not to acknowledge it. A Wirtem would never repress or attack such a person, as their culture is strictly anti-bullying and believes strongly in the right of everyone to have a dignified life. These ethics sometimes cause the Wirtem to completely ignore the existence of these non-conformists, pretending to see through them and not being able to hear them.
The Wirtem people fall on the right-leaning side of politics, usually strongly in the corner of the Nationalists and Pious political factions. Their politics is strongly guided by religion, and more specifically what the Creed demands the faithful do, and what the Emperor asks the faithful to achieve. The Wirtem are generally anti-progressive, but perhaps not in a way one would expect. The Wirtem are not wholly against progress (after all, the Wirtem have in time contributed to great leaps forward in Regalian society). However, they always frame this progress through a slow bureaucratic process where each level of society has had their say, and more importantly, time to become comfortable with the change. Wirtem are traditionalists who hold onto the past more out of sentiment than rationale, and must be allowed to become comfortable with an impending change before they can accept it. As such, Wirtem are sometimes misunderstood as obstructionist, while they just attempt to make sure that any transition from the old to the new runs smoothly and without any chaos. It should also be stated that the Wirtem are pro-centralization, meaning they approve of anything that involves making the government of the Regalian State stronger at the expense of the individual liberties of the Nobles, though still heavily believe in the class divide as eternal and necessary.
The Wirtem people are fanatically loyal to the institution of the Regalian Imperial Family, even more-so since the Kade Ascension, due to the long history of cooperation between the Kade and Cadar families (Cadar being one of the Five Families that was important and respectable in the Calemberg region), and the fact that the Wirtem people are diametrically opposed to Ithanians, who fielded the most Ivrae Emperors, while Anglian Emperors are more culturally inclined to the Wirtem people. The Wirtem people support the crown in all endeavors and strongly land on the pro-absolute monarchist view of politics, believing any infringement or reduction of the Emperor’s power in politics is arrogant and selfish. The Wirtem believe that ultimately, due to him being the Vessel of the Everwatcher, the Emperor is always right and righteous in his intentions, but is bound and gagged by the excesses and selfishness of some of the (non-Wirtem) nobles.
World view represents a more loose collection of ideals, customs and traditions that were not specific enough to deserve their own section, but are still thematically relevant. These are useful to help frame certain interactions between the Wirtem people and others, and will show up again in further culture expansion.
- The Wirtem people believe in restrained expressions even in private, but especially in public. A Wirtem is more likely to share their feelings with their Celate confessor or diary than even their family, as appearances matter a lot. Public expressions of fraternity or love are considered vulgar.
- The Wirtem people dress to impress, but also to cover. The idea of exposed skin is considered vulgar in Wirtem society. This doesn’t mean all Wirtem are perpetually un-sexy, and in fact many of them have learned to appreciate form-fitting dress-code and shape accentuation with accessories to develop a classy sense of style.
- The Wirtem people love art, but are very traditionalist about it. Traditional scenes of nature and warfare are common, while statues of Heroes and past Emperors can be found in most public buildings. The only kind of art that the Wirtem despise is mockery cabaret or theatre.
- The Wirtem people are not hateful, but suspicious of other races. At any turn in history, the Wirtem people have been severely damaged by other races, from the Slizzar murdering vast swathes of their nobility, to theAltalar enslaving their ancestors, to the Kathar sacrificing their prisoners of war, a grave insult to the Wirtem people. As such, the Wirtem are not overtly disgusted by other races and promote their extermination, as much as they expect to be stabbed in the back by them.
- The Wirtem people believe that the other Ailor cultures lack their sophistication and development. There is some connection with Anglian, Dressolini, and Imperial, however the Wirtem culture is diametrically opposed to the Daendroque, Ithanian, and Velheim cultures. Ithanian and Velheim cultures are especially despised, the former for up-ending societal stability with its penchant for radicalism, and the latter for centuries of warfare and barbarism.
- The Wirtem culture is the only true slavery-hating culture among the Ailor cultures. While slavery is legal in Wirtem-inhabited lands, no Wirtem person would ever own a slave or condone a slave existing in their vincinity, as they believe the institution of slavery inflicts one of the greatest indignities sufferable on others.
- The Wirtem people are strictly autocratic and pro-nobility. The institution of nobility is something all Wirtem people strive for to earn, and many of them as such serve in positions hoping for their liege lord or lady’s prestige to rub off on them. The greatest dream any Wirtem could have, is to have a job at the Imperial Palace and to serve the Emperor in esteem.
- The Wirtem people are inherently hateful towards Magic and the Occult, believing all of it to be transgressions against the grace of the Everwatcher. Among the Wirtem, to be Occult, is to be outcast from society and to suffer eternal penance for corruption. To a Wirtem, to become Occult is their worst nightmare, and as such the Wirtem expend excessive effort to keep the Occult away from them. Even the very act of speaking about Occult matters is considered a thought-crime to some Wirtem people, inviting a quick trip to their Celate confessor to purify their soul.
The Calderliga originate from a group of Wirtem who fled into northern Dragenthal following the collapse of the Wirtemcaller Kingdom, where they became influenced by the economically-minded House van Sherbune, thus shifting their cultural identity to one of trade dominance instead of military dominance. Since then, the Calderliga have become a far more urbanized people, with their notable differenced from the Wirtem outlined below:
- The Calderliga believe that their lives can be valued in financial means, and are willing to concede on their principles if it means earning more wealth for themselves.
- Calderliga families operate in a syndicate style of rule like the merchant guilds they apart of, with all adult members of the family having equal say in matters of the family. While a head of household still exists, they lead by consent, and often only act as a tiebreaker if gridlock arises.
- Calderliga still maintain most Wirtem gender norms, but it is far more acceptable for women to hold positions of authority, such as the head of household or governmental offices. Roughly one in five Calderliga families have a matriarch as the head.
- Calderliga Unionists seek forgiveness for their sins by donating large amounts of money to the Celeries or Emperor directly, rather than going through military service. Many Temples in Wirtem society are in fact funded by the Calderliga.
- Almost all Calderliga live in the urbanized cities around the Regal Sea, with the countryside around these cities occupied predominately by Wirtem and Heartland Ceardian villagers.
- The Calderliga are not as hateful to the Occult and Magic as the Wirtem, but still remain suspicious of them. The Calderliga prefer the Aelrrigan Order approach to Magic, believing it to be corrupting and in need of strict control to prevent any disasters from unfolding.
The Genevaud originate from a group of Wirtem who colonized the Genevaud Alps before the fall the the Wirtemcaller Kingdom, where they became far more isolated from the word around them, forming a confederation of Cantons which remains to this day. The Genevaud were one of the last groups of people to join the Regalian Empire, only joining after a diplomatic effort led by Arch-Chancellor Vlaas Kade. Below is a list of differences between the Genevaud and the mainline Wirtem:
- Most Genevaud are Vierzehn Unionists, as their isolated society is far less tolerant of non-Ailor and non-Unionists. Genevaud are also the most zealous of Unionists, something which is only rivalled by the Etosians of the Evintarian Schism.
- Unlike the Wirtem, the Genevaud do not refrain from insults if they find the target deserving of them, believing in correcting slights when they happen instead of carrying around the spite with them.
- The Genevaud are super blunt in their speech, believing that flowery words are used by con-men and charlatans trying to deceive ordinary folk.
- Due to the Alpine climate of the region, Genevaud fashion is far more accustomed to the colder weather. A notable Genevaud fashion is the Lederhosen, which is worn during various Unionist holidays throughout the year.
- Yodeling is a cultural pastime of the Genevaud, which has its origins in long-distance communication within the many valleys of the Genevaud Alps. A coming of age tradition has both men and women climbing the summit of a local mountain and yodeling into the wind, announcing their adulthood to the world.
Very little is known about Wirtem history before the Cataclysm, as most of their records were destroyed by the Skagger Horde before the arrival of the Regalian Empire to their borders. It is assumed that the Wirtem were a descendant branch of the Proto-Velheim that arrived from Old Ceardia in the ancient past, much like the other Ailor tribes from the early Regalian Archipelago. As with these other tribes, slaving raids by the Allorn Empire necessitated a need to organize into smaller states, such as the Regalian Kingdom in the west. The Wirtemcaller Kingdom as it became known as, was the eastern equivalent of the Regalians in the Archipelago, both in size and power. Scholars are not sure precisely when the Wirtemcaller Kings rose to power, but it is assumed that the founding date was no earlier than 500 BC, though some believe 400 BC is more accurate. Regardless, the historical record from the Wirtemcaller era remains a distant memory, known only by a few scant oral traditions regarding old Pagan Gods, religious crusades against tribes to the north, and minor correspondences between the Regalian and Wirtemcaller Kings.
The Wirtem return to the historical record following the Cataclysm, when Unionist missionaries began to travel around the Regalian Archipelago to spread the new religion of Theomar I. Rather than the proud state of the past, the Wirtemcaller Kingdom had been on the decline since 40 AC, when the death of the young, childless Wirtemcaller King triggered a succession crisis between rival cadet branches. On top of internal conflicts, the Skagger Horde has begun to raid the northern borders of the Wirtem a decade later, prompting the slow decay of the kingdom’s borders. 98 AC would see the two surviving Wirtemcaller Princes offered up as living sacrifices to the Union of Air by the Skaggers, and soon after the death of the last Wirtemcaller King in 105 AC, the kingdom dissolved into dozens of microstates, forced to weather the storm of Skagger raiding from the north.
Hope was not all lost however, as the Wirtem found an ally in Hector Cadar, head of one of the Five Families from the Regalian Empire. Marching an army of Regalian forces into ex-Wirtemcaller territory in 110 AC, Cadar managed to convince the Wirtem to join the Empire freely, and take back their territories from the Skagger with him at the head. The Wirtem agreed to this arrangement, and large swatches of marcher lords swore fealty to the Regalian Emperors, utilizing their military tactics from the former kingdom to wage a lightning-quick war against the Skaggers, completing their conquest by 132 AC. Following the reclamation, Cadar worked with Arch-Chancellor Vlaas Kade to subdivide the former Wirtemcaller territory into the modern day provinces of Greater Calemberg, with Calemberg being the name of an old Wirtemcaller fortification which Cadar claimed as their base of operations during the final years of the Skagger Wars.
The next century saw the Wirtem integrate closer with the Regalian Empire, starting off by instructing two Regalian Emperors into their culture: Lilienmar III and Allamaria I. The successful reign of Allamaria put the Wirtem on prominent standing within Regalian society, with the newly established Regalian Marshalry comprising of many Wirtem generals as instructors for the wider Empire. Indeed, the Wirtem became known as the military culture of the Regalian Empire, with the Cadar Marshalry seeing actions around wider Aloria, subjugating smaller Ailor states through marshal prowess.
Unfortunately, the days of House Cadar were not to last. During the Purple Bleeding of 214 AC, several Wirtem states broke off from the wider Regalian Empire following the voiding of all Imperial debts by Arch-Chancellor Cedmir I. Founding the Hintercalem Kingdom, these Wirtem separatists demanded rights equal to that of the Ithanian Sovereignty, answering to the Emperor only. Unwilling to allow such divisions to happen in the Empire’s heartland, Melissandre Cadar, the first (and only) female Grand Admiral of the Regalian Military, raised an army alongside fourteen of her most talented marshals. In what became known as the Hintercalem War, the separatist force was defeated, but at the cost of the Grand Admiral’s own life. Melissandre’s death had come as a shock to her marshals, who began to search for a Cadar heir to take up the Calemberg Lordship, as she remained childless following the death of her consort, and had no siblings. Some hoped that the marriage of Emperor Allestrain I to Eolaria Cadar, Melissandre’s cousin through her father, would have created a contingency plan had the mainline gone extinct. However, Eoalaria and Allestrain both died in combat a few years earlier, thus preventing even an Ivrae from taking the Calemberg Lordship by succession. In the end, one of Melissandre’s marshals, Niven Typhonus, marched into the City of Calemberg to claim the titles for his family, starting the rule of House Typhonus in Calemberg.
The next century saw the Wirtem carry on the legacy of Cadar through institutions such as the Calemberg Union at the Imperial Court, which was diametrically opposed to the Ithanian Lobby, and the Regalian Military, which continued to train future generations of military tacticians to command the Imperial Army and Navy. Since the Kade Dynasty ascended to the Imperial Throne in 304 AC, the Wirtem have produced two elected Chancellors as successors to the old heads of government: Ulric Typhonus and Dietrich von Drachenburg. With these achievements, the Wirtem continue to remain as representatives of honor within the Regalian Empire, aiming to use the legacy of their ancient history to help steer the future course of society.
The Wirtem are widely known by the Crow Eagle, which was the Wirtemcaller Kingdom’s coat of arms, and remains a popular crest animal for Wirtem nobility. Other symbols include the White Calemberger Fox, whose pelts are a frequent occurrence on Wirtem fashion, and the Crown Dragons, which was the crest animal of House Cadar.
- Following Mellisandre Cadar’s death, the position of Grand Admiral has been held by members of House von Treppewitz, known for being at the forefront of military innovation. Their most recent achievement to date has been the Muskete firearm, which makes up a specialized unit of the Regalian Army overseen by the current head of the family, Duke Klaus von Treppewitz (who is also the husband of 3rd Princess Amalia Kade).
- Recently, parts of western Calemberg joined with areas of eastern Dragenthal to form the Waldmark Lordship, a new administrative region to represent the cultural borderlands between the Wirtem and the Heartland Ceardians. Despite this division, the Waldmarkers and Calembergers remain on good terms, with the Wirtem from both areas creating a friendly rivalry to better themselves.
- Recent history has seen many border skirmishes between the Velheim of Drixagh and the Wirtem. However, the last fighting between them ended with the creation of Hadrian’s Mountain Chain, an alleged Dragon-created geographical border that stood where a fortified wall of the same name once stood. Since then, no military action has occured between the two, although both sides always warn the other that they are prepared for any invasions.