Osterbija is an old state. Formed out of three duchies that rose in the wake of the collapsing Helian Empire, the Osterbs were an ethnic group with a common language and similar cultural norms who came to inhabit what they call "the bowl," or the heartland of Osterbija, set deep within the Karthakasel Divide.
Osterbija has long been a combination of Southwestern style feudalism and Orredinian religious ideas, combined with the strange, pseudo-republican ideals common to the North. They do not hold to the Solar Kingdom model, but they do accept the rough structure of the theory, with their own modifications and cultural distinctions. Osterbija is an Elective Monarchy, in which the Three Duchies, and their Elector-Dukes, vote on who will be the new monarch each time the previous one dies. This system was laid down in the Code of Nemecek — essentially a constitution penned by the first great King of the rocky land.
The country of Osterbija is a fortress. Though Tenja is the lock upon its door, its walls are the huge and intraversable Karthakasels. People with years of experience navigating the endless goat-trails and narrow pathways through its winding corridors still die every day just trying to move about in the outer country. While the inlands are sweet, fertile rolling hills inhabited only by sheep and cattle, the hills are swarming with wolves, manticores, and worse — The Sarturi, renegade worshippers of the God of Blood and Fire, who seek only to spill the blood of fat lowlanders, so as to share their hoarded ichor with the parched lands of their own homes.
The Osterbs themselves are a hard people, perhaps because of the peaceful lands they occupy, rather than in spite of them. Theirs is an oasis of fertility in a sea of dead, barren steppe and mountain. To the East is Dace, to the North is Ruscovy, to the West is the Kaselreich, to the South is Kalmacia. They are a people, in their minds at least, besieged on all sides.
The chief contribution of the Osterbijan people to war is twofold. Firstly, the Gusars. A type of light cavalry, known for their dash, their fanciful dress, and for wearing little armor, and carrying long hollow lances. Though no match for heavy cavalry, they are fast, agile, and cultivate a "bandit" mentality that makes them excellent both at scouting for enemies, and taking advantage of weaknesses in the enemy lines. Their chief use is not in pitched battle, but in the preceding and following phases, when they can harry an enemy unceasingly with their swift horses and bows, or else run down any number of fleeing men without mercy. An interesting facet of the military culture of Osterbija is that the Gusars are (technically) controlled by the state, there is only one guild licensed to pronounce anyone a Gusar, and it is nationalized. as a result, the Gusars, though they frequently serve as mercenaries in foreign lands, always do so under the auspices of the state.
Secondly, the Sivski, or "The Greys," are a kind of soldier who do not see much use outside of Osterbija itself. In a country where enduring sieges is such an essential part of survival, some men train their entire lives for it. Only at the age of forty (when their hair begins to grey,) are they accepted into the ranks of the esteemed Order of the Greys, and only on the recommendation of at least two other men. These men are not knights. They neither learn, nor practice fighting from horseback. These men's only purpose in life is to defend the walls of fortresses, or the breaches thereof. They are known for fighting in extremely heavy armor that does not protect the back, and for their use of war-flails, pikes, hand-gonnes, and maces. The garrison of Tenja is traditionally made up of 2,000 Greys, and then twice again that number of Levies from the rest of the County.