Six Finger Guild
Influential Guilds (Official)
Not all power resides in the halls of the government, or within the houses of the wealthy merchants. There are folk who have risen above the backbreaking work of the fields. These are the craftsmen that work to produce both mundane goods and luxuries. Groups of craftsmen band together to form guilds. They are very protective of their secrets and territory. They will not tolerate competition from freelancers within the city walls. A guild will certainly make efforts to stamp out a competing guild, which results in little overlap in guild knowledge. Guilds have high standards for prospective members. Naturally, nepotism is rampant.
Local guildsmen have an advantage in the town economy. While they are required to pay taxes to the government and dues to the guild, they are the only ones permitted to freely sell their goods within the township. Non–local goods are subject to import duties or other restrictions. If the guilds from several cities were to pool their influence, market prices would increase by a considerable amount, however, only the Seafarer’s Guild has ever attempted such an action.
Below, some of the more important guilds are outlined. The members of these guilds, and their leaders, can be an abundant source of information for resourceful characters.
Alchemists – A true Alchemist deals in magical potions, elixirs, enchanted candles, scrolls, and books. Alchemists are familiar enough with magic to identify most magical constructions (although they may charge you an arm and a leg.) Apothecaries are essentially pharmacists, specializing in non-magical concoctions. They produce potions, salves, powders, and drugs that may heal or harm. Herbalists deal in natural herbs, exotic spice, tea and coffee. Often a shop owner will sell a little of everything, but specialty shops (that only deal in coffee) are known.
Animal Handlers – Any good sized city has an outfit that will provide shelter for beast of burden used by the cities inhabitants. The Handlers Guild will sell the beasts as well as board them for any length of time. Handlers sometimes own ranches and breed their own stock, but most purchase livestock from farms and ranches well outside the cities. The guild can also provide simple veterinary services for a small fee. Many caravan masters use the guild on a regular basis.
Barbers – Members of the Barbers Society form a unique brotherhood, they all exhibit great skill in the healing arts. Barber halls are run just as any other business, with a list of services provided at a relatively low cost. The secret techniques used by the barbers can heal wounds at a phenomenal rate and cure most diseases. There are constant rumors that the society is a front for some religious fraction or another, however, members neither preach a faith nor demand prayer from their clients.
Bakers – The Bakers’ Guild has close ties with the guild of millers. In many instanced there will be a bakery in close proximity to the mill. In any town, a bakery may not be the center of a daily routine, but it will certainly be a routine stop. Since the bakers’ guild cannot prevent anyone from baking their own bread, bakers can only survive in large cities where people will take advantage of the extravagance of a bakery. Bakers are not very influential, but since they are one of the daily waypoints for many people, bakers are in a position to know a great deal about their neighborhood and its residents.
Butchers – A butcher is an expert at the slaughter of animals and the preparation of meat. Every meat product can be found at a butcher shop: beef, pork, mutton, venison, poultry, snake, and other exotic meats. Like bakers, butchers are in a position to be respected for whom and what they know. Butchers have dealings with several other guilds (tanners and chandlers) on a regular basis, and tend to be well connected.
Brewer – The Brewers’ Guild controls the production of beer, which is a principal part of everyone’s evening meal. In villages, most families brew their own beer so the guild has power only in the larger towns and cities. Breweries tend to be small family owned operations, making less than 50 barrels of beer a year. A large city can easily support a dozen breweries.
Carpenters – The members of the guild are experts at crafting wood. A fully qualified carpenter can make any wooden item. They have all the skills needed to make furniture, build cabinets, or build houses. Ordinarily quite a large guild in any city, this is doubly true in a port with a shipyard. Because of this, this organization may a lot of influence over other guilds.
Cartmasters – Not often thought of as a guild, cartmen are an essential part of any city’s well being. Goods must be moved from warehouses and docks to shops and other points of departure. Even though this may not be an influential or powerful guild, they are in an enviable position of knowing who is buying and selling, since the bulk of a city’s goods are handled by these tradesmen.
Cartographers – The Great Brotherhood of Cartographers regulates the production and sail of maps and charts. The guild is mostly concerned with the accuracy and reliability of the maps that are produced. Cartographers are constantly querying sailors and travelers about where they have been. While the guild can be influenced by local politics, the maps it produces meet high expectations.
Chandlers – The Guild of Chandlers have a virtual monopoly on the production and sale of candles, lamps, and the like. They also make soap and soap powers. A recent development has involved the chandlers in operating a “general store” where hundreds of items, purchased from others, are sold at slightly higher prices. Chandlers also tend to deal in items of unusual character, including the more common magical items, such as the light globes, which are so popular. Every city has at least one such establishment.
Clothiers – The Clothiers’ Guild regulates the design, construction, and sale of clothing. For those who can afford it, a tailor or seamstress will produce custom fit clothing in the latest fashion. People with less money can make their own. Most people posses only four or five sets of clothing including a fine outfit for special occasions. The wealthy discard clothing when it goes out of fashion – everyone else wears their clothes until they fall apart.
Cobbler – The Shoemakers’ Guild controls the production of shoes. The cobblers provide most leather shoes, boots, sandals, and slippers. There are enough nasty little creatures around (sand snakes, pincer beetles, and thorn plants) that foot protection is a requirement. Even the poor will cover their feet, even in hand-me-down footware. Only the poor wrap their feet in rags.
Coopers – A cooper is an expert woodworker who specializes in the manufacture of watertight barrels. Barrels of all sizes and shapes are available. Small casks are used for rum and other potable liquids. Huge tuns are used for wine. Barrels are even used to store grain for long voyages. In port cities, a cooperage tends to be rather large and very busy. Barrels are the only reliable way to keep goods dry, which is especially important to ocean–going merchants.
Fishmonger – Dealers in fish of all sorts are part of the Fishmongers Guild. While some fishmongers own and operate fishing boats, most simply buy fresh fish from other fishermen. Fish shops are rarely located far from the dock, however most fishmongers cart their wares to the bazaar for sale to the public. Mongers carry river and sea fish as well as shellfish and some crustaceans.
Glassblowers – The Order of Glassblowers have a monopoly over the production and sale of glass products. Since the methods of glass manufacture are not widely known, their monopoly is easily enforced. The master glassblower is likely to earn a reasonably good living by producing bottles, jars, bowls and cups. The elite market includes exquisite glassware, stained glass, and Windows.
Grocer – Vendors of foodstuffs, which do not fall under the categories of butcher, fishmonger, or baker, belong to the Grocers’ Guild. A grocer will buy food from local suppliers, select the best products, and cart them to the bazaar for sale. Grocers carry fresh vegetables and fruits, pasta, Vlam of various grades, and common cooking herbs and spices. Leftover food, which is often spoiled, is sometimes given away to the poor.
Heralds – It is commonly believed that the House of Heralds is a single organization that has branches in all of the great cities. It would be consideraly easier for Heralds if this belief were true. Each city has its own collection of Heralds. The apparent unity of Heralds is due to the Heraldric Coda which is an ancient book that describes the House of Heralds. The origional author is a mystery, it could have been one man or a group, it may have been written all at once or penned over many years. Freshly made Coda are copied verbatum from older publications, by fledgling heralds.
The Heralds oversee and manage the process of granting noble titles. Since titles are not intrinsically inherited, the Heralds have considerable power over the nobility. Heralds also serve as diplomatic messengers. In fact, a Herald is given free passage even in times of war. The privileges granted to a Herald is not without a price – he may not marry, nor own property more than he can carry, and he is expressly prohibited from joining the nobility. Heralds are honest to a fault and completely trustworthy. No Herald would act as a spy. Even under torture, no Herald would tell what he has seen inside the enemy walls. It is even rumored that a herald’s sterling character is enforced by powerful magic. All Heralds wear the White Shield tattoo over their heart. The traditional herald garb is a white tunic with a red sash. They never wear armor, nor carry any weapon larger than a dagger.
Jeweler – The Jewelers Guild is considered the wealthiest of all the guilds. (Never mind if it is true or not.) Most jewelers content themselves with creating rings, armbands, bracelets, and chains of gold or silver. More skillful jewelers make setting to hold gems such as diamonds, rubies, and emeralds. Only the most skilled jewelers have the skills necessary to cleave natural gemstones into the glittering, faceted jewels.
Masons – The Guild of Masons includes craftsmen who work with brick, stone, marble, and other materials that are joined with mortar. The guild includes both layers, sculptors (who make common decorative pieces) and cutters. Masons are also experts in the use of QuickStone. The Masons could be one of the most powerful and influential guilds in any city. These craftsmen are literally the forgers of government’s presence. Without the co–operation of this guild, fortifications and similar extensions of power don’t get built.
Merchants – The Merchants Guild is responsible for assembling, scheduling, and maintenance of the caravans that transport goods from one city to another. Caravans usually sell spot for both passengers and cargo, the caravan owner usually owns at least half the cargo being transported. Caravans can buy goods at a destination and return with them, or they may sell the animals and return with only crates of gold. Merchant caravans assume some amount of risks, raiders are prevalent and orc tribes sometimes hunt down the merchants.
Millers – This is one of the most important guilds. Since various grains are the staple crop and bread the most important food, the activities of this guild are of paramount importance. Most mills are used only for grinding grain. Very few are capable of grinding both grain and corn. The majority of mills are water–powered, although some windmills exist along the coast. A master miller will normally receive 5–15% of the flour he mills most of which he will sell.
Printers – The Printers’ Guild controls the production of machine printed materials such as books, broadsheets, decrees, and notices. The press machine consists of large metal slabs, a wooden plate and several large weights. The text of a printing is painted in reverse on a smooth wooden plate. Once the text is finished, the wood between the lettering is carved away leaving the text raised a bit. The plate is coated with ink and inserted into the machine. A sheet of paper is placed on top of the plate and the upper slab is lowered into place. Heavy weights are dropped on the mechanism. The weight presses the paper into the plate and the ink into the paper. The system is much faster than duplicating the text by hand, and a many pages can be made from a single carving. The printers’ guild is a relatively new one, but it is gaining influence quickly.
Perfumers’ Guild – The members of this guild deal in the manufacture and sale of soap, perfume, incense and similar products. Most temples buy incense from the local perfumery, but some make their own. The perfumers are highly secretive about their art, but often seek to purchase rare extracts for use in their craft.
Potter – The Potters Guild controls the creation of ceramic items. A master potter may be known for his decorative work such as fluted vases. The potters’ real income will come from the everyday items that he makes: cups, bowls, plates, jugs, and urns.
Sail-makers – The members of the Great Order of Sail-makers are specialized weavers with specific knowledge about ship sails. The great sheets of canvas that power the sea-going ships are somewhat specialized in nature. Often sails must be custom fitted to each ship at great expense. It should be fairly obvious that the guild exists only in port cities.
Salters – The Salters’ Guild maintains a monopoly in the retailing of salt, an essential mineral since it is the principal non-magical method of preserving food. A master salter will own a shop in town, where bulk salt can be purchased. The salter will also offer a variety of pickled or salt preserved foods. Mining of salt is done by the Miner’s Guild; once carted to the towns it can only be sold to a master salter to be marked up for resale.
Seafarer’s – Anyone wishing to hire a crew for anything larger than a fishing boat must do his business at the Seafarer’s Guild. It should be noted that the captain of a ship might not be a member of the guild. A captain is appointed directly by the ship owner and may be completely ignorant of maritime affairs. A large ship is likely to have a captain, a master pilot, an apprentice pilot, and a master mariner. The captain is the owner’s agent, deciding on such matters as ports of call, cargoes carried and transportation rates. The master mariner will be responsible for daily operation and maintenance of the ship, commanding all seamen aboard, and overseeing all duties they perform. In these tasks he will be assisted by a boatswain (bosun), a veteran mariner.
The ranks of the guild are deckhand, apprentice, seaman, mariner and master mariner. Promotion from one rank to the next generally requires a minimum of two years at sea; time spent ashore between voyages is not counted, but time spent in port, while signed on to a vessel, is applicable. In addition, promotion from mariner to master mariner requires the recommendation of at least two other master mariners and the passing of an oral examination administered by the guild. Because a seaman does not always serve under a single master, or on the same vessel, throughout his career, an elaborate procedure is used to keep track of his status. When a sailor is discharged from a ship, the master mariner must report the details of his service to the local guildhall. When a sailor has acquired sufficient time to be promoted he receives a specific tattoo on his left arm. The tattoo for the rank of apprentice is a red dolphin; that for the rank of seaman is black anchor positioned below the dolphin; the image is contained within a two inch blue circle when he achieves the rank of mariner. As a final mark of rank, master mariners have a blue gull positioned below the circle. The penalty for bearing a false tattoo is the amputation of the offending limb. As a result, a person with his left arm missing, regardless of how it was lost, will not be employed as a sailor, but may be found on pirate vessels or fishing boats.
Shipwrights – Any port city worth travelling to must be home to good shipwrights. They are experts at the design and construction of ships, barges, and other craft. Given the cost of building a new ship, the shipwrights can convey considerable pressure on political issues.
Smiths – Smiths are workers in metal. They have the skills necessary to melt and shape metal, join different metals, and create common implements and tools. In a village or small town, a Smith might produce tools, weapons, and armor. He might work in common metals, silver, and gold. In larger towns and cities Smiths will be more specialized, in fact their may even be different guilds for different types of work. The blacksmith will make tools and common objects; he is most often restricted to work only with iron and steel. A silversmith will work in silver and related alloys (including gold) to make eating utensils, cups and goblets. Weaponcrafters have domain over the creation of weapons and armor. The various guilds of smiths will often cooperate with one another despite their rivalry.
Smelter – Similar to a Smith, a Smelter is a worker in metal. However, he is not concerned with the shaping of the metal, he is involved in its creation. Raw mined ores are brought together under high temperatures to remove impurities and create various alloys. Smelter operations generally produce ingots of metal for others to shape into useful products.
Tanners – Not necessarily an influential or powerful guild, tanners are always present in any town. Tanners turn the hides of animals into various grades of leather. The process of the tanner’s art is very smelly and tanneries are far from the center of town.
Vintners – The craft of the Vintners Guild is the making of wine. All wine products are created from the fermentation of sugar. Most wine is created from grapes. Various other fruits can be used to make drinks with more distinctive flavors. Vintners have also developed the process of distillation so that liquors can be produced. Rum and a weak whiskey are the most readily produced beverages.
Weaponcrafters – The Guild of Weaponcrafters holds the monopoly over the design, manufacture and sale of all weapons and armor, although the making of bows and arrows by rural commoners is permitted. Highly respected for his skill, a master weaponcrafter will either own and operate a free franchise in town or be bonded to a titled household. Most armies have weaponcrafters serving with them. Prices for weapons and armor are high due to the degree of expertise involved in their manufacture. Dwarves usually make excellent work but they tend to do so at a slow pace.
Weavers – The weavers’ guild controls the supply of cloth to the public and the other guilds. While many members of the guild actually weave the cloth themselves, many also buy cloth from farmsteads and villages in the surrounding area. Any widow can support herself if she can work a loom. Imported cloth must be purchased by a local weaver and then resold. Though the guilds is not a very visible in most cities, the Weavers are numerous and influential.