Claysaw is a major Gardish realm, known as the site of many border clashes with neighboring Arcland. Claysawans have a reputation for being poor, uneducated, uncouth, and violent, which obscures a complex culture of honor, clan loyalty, and military tradition.
Claysaw is ostensibly a democracy, with leaders elected by popular vote for short terms. The revelation that Speaker Rabson was in fact Ganterobisth, a brass dragon who had played the role of Speaker in various human disguises for hundreds of years, threw the people of Claysaw firmly into the rebel camp during the Human’s Revolution. Much bloody fighting ensued, during which Ganterobisth was forced out. Anti-dragon rebels held control of Claysaw until the very end of the Revolution, when the present system of government was instituted.
The role of Speaker continues to be a democratically elected post – now held by a human, Jemma Helm. But the Speaker now has few actual powers under the law. Any action she takes can be vetoed or even reversed by the Princess of Claysaw, a new role created specifically for the brass dragon Giternmytorax.
During the secession crisis, Princess Giternmytorax was briefly forced to evacuate Claysaw. She returned a year later, only after the Serene See stepped in to enforce the peace it brokered between the dragons and the rulers of the rebelling realms.
Giternmytorax is now back in power. Despite this, elections for Speaker and other official posts have always been hotly contested and much debated. Virtually every government position except for Princess and Mayor of Clemburg is an elected one, and terms of office are usually capped at two years. However, except for the Speaker, there are no term limits.
Claysaw is located in the west of Gard, including part of the Granite Mountains. The Granite Mountains are also claimed by Arcland, Gard’s rival. Claysawans, unlike their Lestechano neighbors to the south, aggressively assert their own territorial claims and frequently clash with Arcish partisans in the hills. The Emperor of Gard does not approve of these skirmishes, but by now they are a Claysawan tradition.
Claysaw’s western border is somewhere in the Granite Mountains, but the exact border is always changing due to fighting with Arcland. To the east of Claysaw is the Almond Sea. To the south is Lestecha and a short border with Pecsmuth. To the northeast is Eustace, and to the north west are a number of smaller, minor realms.
The parts of Claysaw not in the mountains are a mix of hills and plains. The realm is geographically large, but small in population, as family farms tend to be the norm. There are a few cities in Claysaw, though. Clemburg is the largest, on the shore of the Almond Sea. And in central Claysaw, the capital city of Lifewell is a major destination for pilgrimage and tourism, as it contains one of the holiest sites to Lotheria in the world.
The culture of Claysaw is one that emphasizes independence, honor, and freedom from outside influence. Most Claysawans are fiercely loyal to their family or clan, and to the land of Claysaw when it comes to defending it against outside threats. And these loyalties are almost constantly called upon. Clan feuds lasting many years are not uncommon, and clashes with Arcland over the mountains to the west are perpetual. In addition, while most Claysawans criticize the rest of Gard at every opportunity, they also consider it an honor to join the Imperial army or navy.
There is little in the way of “high” art or culture in Claysaw. Claysawans consider painting, theater, and fancy dancing to be pretentious. They do have a musical tradition, but it mostly consists of fiddle and banjo music that the rest of Gard finds irritating.
Claysawans also disdain most forms of formal education. Parents are expected to teach their children how to read and write, how to practice a trade, how to fight, and their own clan history. Most book learning is considered useless for ordinary folk. Priests should learn holy scriptures, lawyers should learn the law, and so forth, but in general, highly educated people are treated warily. People who actually own written manuscripts longer than a deed to a farm are viewed with suspicion. Such people said to trying to hoard knowledge. Therefore, they are often called by the disparaging name of “bookwyrm”.
On the other hand, storytelling and oral lore are very important in the realm. News travels surprisingly quickly in Claysaw, considering its underdeveloped roads. Gossip about famous people is especially eagerly snatched up and retransmitted.
Strangers to Claysaw stereotype Claysawans as hicks or borderlander ruffians. But of course, the people of Claysaw are not actually of lower intelligence than people from any other parcel of land. And rumors that Claysawans engage in inappropriate practices with farm animals are extremely offensive, though they persist in faraway places like Rushtide and Maxow.
In the years since the failure of the Archmages’ rebellion, the people of Claysaw have become mistrustful towards outsiders from other realms, even those they formerly got along with. The loss felt like betrayal. Travelers from other realms passing through Claysaw would be wise to keep their wits about them. They won’t be attacked, necessarily. But every unfamiliar accent is a sign of further foreign influence into the realm, and every new law a sign of a creeping conspiracy to deprive Claysawans of their liberty. Sales of guns and swords have skyrocketed.
Lifewell, Claysaw’s largest city, also contains one of the world’s holiest shrines to Lotheria, so Liberty’s Angel is widely worshiped. Other important Claysawan gods are Avillion, Hylaeos, and Uar, but most other gods have some followers in Claysaw as well.
Exene is a notable exception to this. She does have a few worshipers, but those are mostly people who misunderstand her title of “Patternweaver” and think she is a goddess of seamstresses. Because book learning is so looked-down upon in Claysaw, many popular myths about the deities there seem to be completely invented.
Technically, evil gods are banned from worship in Claysaw, but outside of the cities this is completely unenforced. Some clans worship Yetzahara mixed with more beneficent gods. There is at least one clan in the mountains completely devoted to Wynang.
Humans are a majority in Claysaw, but dwarves are a close second. Claysawan dwarves share a culture with Claysawan humans, though they are much more likely to live in the mountains than in the farms. There are also a few orc clans, though not as many as in Lestecha. Other races can be found there too, though elves are exceptionally few.