Garrettstown - Founded during the pre-airship settlement boom, Garrettstown is a bustling hub of trade, right in the heart of the Badlands, Garrettstown is, in many ways, the epitome of a Badlands town. The trade is a little sketchy, and if you steal someone's horse they are still going to draw and quarter you.
Garrettstown has a town council government. When it was originally formed it consisted of the head of the house of the thirty-seven wealthiest households in Garrettstown. The number on the town council has never fluctuated, and it is fixed at thirty-seven by superstition and tradition. In the first year it became a trade outpost, thirty-seven women (and a less well documented five men) drowned in the Wurmdle, and those spirits are said to guild the town council to each be more prudent than the drowned women.
Drownings in the Wurmdle are still regarded with great superstition and fear, and children - especially young girls - are encouraged to stay as far away from the river as possible.
The council is lead by one councilor who is elected by the entire council, and that person changes yearly, and cannot hold the seat again for five years. Major changes in policy take twenty-four votes, but minor ordinances are passed with as little as eighteen (which is not even a majority).
When the first settlers and cartographers headed out into the Badlands to see what was on the other side of the Badlands Mountains, their efforts were routinely stymied by unnavigable mountainside, wild animals and a lack of water. After dozens of failed expeditions, one caravan, following the Wurndle river to its source, found a deep, navigable break in the mountains, allowing for passage through the mountains and to the other side.
Nestled where the Wurndle river comes out of the mountains, the basin quickly became a popular stopping ground for tired travelers. A small trade network cropped up, a few settlers decided that the other side of the mountain was too far when water, a small amount of arable land, and plentiful livestock was enough reason to stay.
The small trade outpost and way point soon became the largest city in the Badlands.
Ivona was at first happy to leave well enough alone, but approximately 100 years ago, when Vohemar was fighting and bargaining for its independence, Ivona occupied Garrettstown, seeing it as a key city to hold in the quest to keep tight reins on the trade with Vohemar.
Although the citizens protested vehemently, their protest mostly took the form of refusing hospitality or quarters to occupying Ivonian troops, essentially bleeding them for supplies, or demanding so high a price it became difficult to afford the occupation. When Vohemar won their independence, it was no longer a strategic target, and, much the poorer for it, Ivona left Garrettstown in peace to form its own government.
As the largest town in the Badlands, Garrettstown was afforded some prestige, but that did not come with any unifying or social power. In fact, many people who live in the smaller, rougher towns and cities consider those who grew up in Garrettstown to be much less hardy and rugged than those from other towns. Regardless, Garrettstown soon formed a town council style of government. It was a holdover from its pre-occupation roots, but it returned with a vengeance.
Garrettstown became more prosperous over the years as a grey market for goods being traded between Ivona and Vohemar cropped up. It certainly doesn't rival the quality of the Boston Market, but it is permanent, and legal.
Founded near the source of the Wurmdle River, Garrettstown has never lacked from clean water to irrigate what few crops they grow and the more numerous livestock they tend to. The river does not actually cut through town, instead traveling just on the outskirts. This is a side effect of the fact the Wurmdle cuts a deep riverbed. There are no shallow or pleasant banks of the Wurmdle near Garrettstown. Even if the city isn't wild, the river is.
Garrettstown is one of the few cities in the Badlands - and even Reial - that uses waterwheel power in addition to steam.
Summers are often pleasant with low moisture, but particularly hot summers lead to occasional drought. The winters can get very cold, as despite being in a basin, the town is still higher up into the mountains than most.
Despite its location in the Badlands, Garrettstown has some elements of a 'big city town' while still retaining its country charm. Stonecrafted buildings, instead of wood, are popular and ornate, instead of being strictly practical.
The population is mostly divided between traders who have market stalls or trade deals with airships or sometimes even their own shop, hospitality for waylaid travelers, and ranching. Farming and the professional skills take a back seat. The population is generally better off than the other Badlands town - with the noted exception of the mana crystal barons of Shasta. Most everyone has enough to eat and a place to sleep without worrying about their day to day sustenance. A few trade giants, ranchers and professionals have risen in wealth and are major players on the town council.
There are a few smaller educational institutions in Garrettstown, although it mostly takes the forms of small schools - and small fifteen or twenty person classes. Basic education in magic, technology (especially waterwheel) and geology are easy to come by.
Mad Madame Mim's - A small school usually taking no more than ten students of any given age, teaches magic, curses and healing. The headmaster (and only teacher) Madame Mim is generally regarded as completely nuts, but most of her students are top notch, probably because they spend most of their education dodging curses and other stray magic.
Wheel Technical Institute - The only true 'college' in Garrettstown. It focuses almost exclusively on waterwheel technology. They have courses in language and geology, but everyone knows the curriculum is third-rate at best. The courses in waterwheel technology are also of limited use, because the technology is not well integrated anywhere else on Reial.
Wammy's House - Owned by the not-particularly-renouned Quillish Wammy, Wammy's House is a first rate orphanage. Although there are a few orphanages owned and operated by Wammy, the Wammy's House is strictly for the training of geniuses who go out in the world and do their part to change the world.