The notion of an unified governing body for the Shrouded Lands is basically laughable. Villages struggle too close to the edge of survival for taxation to be feasible, and the Shroud prohibits the collection of men in groups such as armies for any length of time. What the Shrouded Lands does have are the guilds, whose hub of operation is in Gilderhame. Some inspired soul in years past realized that the steady shrinking of the population of the Shrouded Lands would eventually cause the loss of valuable knowledge. When a blacksmith who knows how to make a certain type of sword passes away without an apprentice, who then will be able to create that sword again?
To that end, the Guilds coordinate the activities of their members. Beyond blacksmiths, whitesmiths, silversmiths, coopers, carpenters, boatbuilders, millers, potters, weavers, loggers, miners, and other practical trades, the Guilds also include explorers and soldiers. Taken together, the guilds do what is necessary to keep life going, by finding masters apprentices, apprentices masters, and scribing copies of old or new techniques, available from the Guild for a modest fee.
The town of Gilderhame on first glance seems to have a higher than average proportion of respectable older men – many guild leaders make their residence here. Indeed, the town is administered by twelve senior guild leaders, who use their connections and skills to maintain the towns higher-than-average population. The soldiers’ guild is also in evidence here, as the militia is well trained and well paid. Gilderhame is as close to a ‘big city’ as exists in the Shrouded Lands, though it would only be a modest village in many other places.
Entertainers are welcome here and can make a modest profit, but rarely encouraged to stay for long for fear that the extra people will attract the Shroud to a town already considered overcrowded by some.
The persistent rumor of a “Thirteenth Guild” of Thieves is considered unfounded and silly – especially as although there are only twelve councilmen, more than twelve guilds are represented in the town – but some rumors just refuse to be eradicated.