Ostleheim is ruled by a Kettentrager, or “Chain Bearer.” Leadership of the city passes to the possessor of the Chain of the City, a bulky mark of office that generally changes hands by way of an election, though martial challenges for the title are frequent and bloody affairs. The current Kettentrager of Ostleheim is Minar Hauerbach, whose shrewd business dealings and canny political maneuverings are backed by a ruthlessly tactical mind—a combination of traits almost necessary to maintain order in, and command of, a demesne whose primary cause for notoriety is the staggering number of mercenary companies that call the place home. These companies arose out of Ostleheim's history as a Free City. Located near the center of the Eilstern Demesnes, Ostleheim was a Free City for centuries before being recognized as an independent demesne. Indeed, the city only became a true sovereign state during the Schism—in order to secure Ostleheim’s loyalties to the Demesnes, Eilstern scions codified the new territory as part of the signing of the Treaty of Durant. As the city did not have a structure of local nobility per se, the most prominent citizens of the time were granted perpetual licenses to form companies and keep fighters under arms (with some caveats regarding the size and garrison locations of particularly large bodies of soldiery, and an oath placing all such mercenaries under the Kettentrager should Ostleheim itself be threatened by an outside force). It is worth noting that the licenses were never specifically stated to be non-transferable, and some individuals saw fit to sell their companies to the highest bidder, a practice which continues to the present day.

A number of other cultural elements are similarly odd, and for similar reasons. Without an enforceable structure of hereditary nobility and taxation, taxes were placed on the sale of various goods and services, especially luxuries. By way of example, sumptuary laws are fairly widespread, with fine and brightly colored cloth under a significant tax (or levy, if required). Mercenaries in active duty, or those who have completed twenty years of service in a company, are given dispensation from many of these taxes, and this has led to some truly eye catching displays on the part of Ostleheim fighters, with large hats and baggy clothing artistically slashed to show contrasting colors of material to good effect.