Grum and the Grummers are a mashing-together of people from all different cultures. It was originally a small settlement and haven for those brilliant minds in Nuum who were for whatever reason unable or unwilling to practice channeling. In the magic-obsessed nation of Nuum, they were undervalued and unappreciated due to not being able to channel, and looked down on as menial workers. The settlement gained a reputation for its freedom and independence, as well as the intellectual and technological brilliance of the original settlers, drawing immigrants from the surrounding nations. Its population also swelled considerably during times of war or dissent in other nations, as people who desired peace, freedom, or just a change of lifestyle sought somewhere else to call home. The original settlers had a bitterness for those who practiced channeling and thought non-magical technology was "low" or "worthless", and this bitterness always remained in Grum to some extent. The settlement eventually grew into the magic-shunning clockwork/steam-tech nation that it is today.
Almost all Grummers venerate learning. Their national past time is learning something new to be able to impress their friends and neighbors. The other past time is arguing about the relative benefits of esoteric and mundane knowledge, as The College differentiates between them. These arguments have split families and towns, and have been the cause of many a tavern brawl.
The cultural mind of Grum is split in two, with half being the level-headed and industrious people that have built their country from the ground up, and the other half being the wildly speculative and outlandish dreamers that keep the nation's spirit alive. While both would claim that they do not need the other half, in actuality without both the society would collapse. Despite this, fights often break out between the factions. Within Grum, the cultures of other nations live among the refugees and immigrants who have made Grum their home. While many have become typical Grummers after a generation or so, other have kept pieces of their ancestry alive.
While the official name is The College of Esoteric and Mundane Knowledge Encompassing All Epistemological Things, it is simply known as The College, both in Grum and outside. It was formally created by the Seventh King of Grum, but has existed since the forming of Grum. The King, Eldric the Second, however, decided that The College needed an official presence in Grum and a name to match (he was a bit long-winded), so he granted a two-square mile area of land at the bend of the Verday River to belong to the College. Along the south and west banks are the Schools of Mundane Knowledge, while the north and east banks belong to the Esoteric Schools. The School of Gearwork, Steam, and Human Power occupy various man-made islands in the Verday, and is generally claimed by both the Mundane and Esoteric schools.
The School of Gearwork, Steam, and Human Power is by far the most prestigious school in The College, and it is the pride and joy of Grum City. For one week out of the year (usually during the Spring Equinox), the city holds a festival, celebrating the discoveries of steam and clockwork. During this time is when most of the Tinker titles of the year are granted. Travelers come from all over Grum to visit the city to see the latest inventions and uses of steam and clockwork.
The capital of Grum is the Grum City, sprawling along the Verday River in central Grum. It was the site of the original settlement, but has since been extensively rebuilt, due to a rather catastrophic fire that was caused by the School of Gearwork, Steam, and Human Power in the third century of its history (and hence why it occupies the river now). Since moving to the islands, the buildings have been rebuilt a number of times, but the damage hasn't spread to the rest of the city. These was one spectacular explosion that managed to spread fire to two adjacent islands, but other than that the damage is local.
Law, Politics, and Education
The law in Grum is geared toward protecting individual thought and invention. Slavery of any kind is strictly forbidden, and masters and parents are required to have their apprentices and children attend school until the age of 12. At age 12, children take an aptitude test, which decides if they will continue school until the age of 16, or be sent to a vocational school until 14. These tests are blind and the results are binding - no family can purchase their way into one school or the other.
Typically, school is only for a halfday for most children, who are then apprenticed either to their parents or another master. If a child enters vocational school, they will typically be assigned a vocation, although some are allowed to gather general knowledge. Often those that gather general knowledge will enter politics.
In order to keep the peace, Grum has developed a highly trained army, although they are called Peacekeepers. They are usually sons and daughters that weren't quite bright enough to enter The College, but have taken an oath to stay neutral and keep the peace. Most are located within Grum City, but towns typically have one or two retired or semi-retired Peacekeepers. in order to remain neutral, the School of Peacekeeping is located away from The College, and considered a separate entity so it doesn't have to choose a side.
Occasionally, hostilities will break out between the factions. These are closer to feuds than a war, but it's not uncommon for one side to sabotage the experiments or invention of the other side. However, these feuds, while long lasting, rarely have prolonged conflict, as both sides are generally distracted by scholarly pursuits eventually.
Grum has developed a class structure over the years to help maintain and support the spirit of learning and invention. They don't have a traditional ruling class, but instead have a meritocracy, where the highest title granted in the land also comes with a guaranteed income and lands. There are a few families that have managed to carve out what are almost fiefdoms in Grum, where most of the people who live in the area will come to the family with the problems out of respect for their knowledge and intellect.
Tinker is a granted title, much like knight in Ivial. It is granted by the king or queen, and conveys land and prestige to a learned person. The title and lands are not hereditary, and pass back to the crown upon the death of Tinker. This title is generally granted to somebody who has proved that they can contribute to society through experimentation and study, and grants them a certain amount of income so that they may do so without worry.
Minder is a sometimes hereditary title. A Minder is someone who has general scientific knowledge, but doesn't possess the spark of genius necessary to be a Tinker. They are often teachers and mentors. Young Minders are often assigned to a Tinker, both to learn and look after the Tinker, who are often thought to be too distracted by scholary things to run their own estates. Many Minder families are attached to Tinker estates.
Itinerants are wandering scholars who will often trade food and lodging for a night's discussion about their expertise.
Engineer is a title granted to a Master Crafter. This title is granted by peer voting of the crafter's guild, and is only give to those at the very highest reaches of the craft. Engineers are often called upon by Tinkers to help create inventions and experiments, and the presence of an Engineer will by law stop any feud for a minimum of 10 days. Often this is enough to distract those involved into finding something else to do.