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    Canonfire :: View topic - Guilds in Greyhawk
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    Guilds in Greyhawk
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    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 01, 2004
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    From: Nyrond

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    Tue May 16, 2006 4:48 pm  
    Guilds in Greyhawk

    Hello All,

    I'm flushing out a city and I need your help again. What kind of guilds could I find in the WoG? I know it sounds remedial, but I'm having trouble finding information. I know there would/could be a weavers, cobblers, leathworkers, wine merchants and candlemakers guilds, but is there any you think would be necessary for a city and/or special to WoG? As always, thanks for your help.

    I Miss the Wild Coast,
    Dwarf from Nyrond
    Master Greytalker

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    Tue May 16, 2006 10:53 pm  

    Leaving aside religious guilds, there are basically two classes of guilds to be concerned about: professional guilds and craft guilds.

    Professional guilds in most places would simply mean the merchant guilds. Smaller towns and cities would tend to have one for the entire place. Larger cities would have more specialized merchant guilds. For example, early 13th century London had five merchant guilds: Pepperers, Mercers, Drapers, Goldsmiths, and Vintners. If you have a large class of other professionals, like doctors or lawyers, who are not part of the churches, then you could add them to this list as well. If lawyers all tend to be clergy of Allitur, Wee Jas, or some other "Law" diety, then you could probably skip the guild for them. Fantasy campaigns like to treat the Mob as a guild, too.

    Craft guilds cover, well, crafts. How many you have depend on how strong you think the merchants and nobles are, as both tend to frown heavily on labor getting organized. Any community large enough to support more than half a dozen or so members of a given trade would likely have such folks desirous of forming a guild. Whether they would be allowed or not is a different story.

    How big of a city are you trying to flesh out? A city of 5000 or so would not have many craft guilds at all, except in really manpower intensive fields like weaving (and even then, only if the cloth merchants couldn't prevent it). A large city like Greyhawk would have a lot of guilds, with most crafts regulated by one.
    Master Greytalker

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    Wed May 17, 2006 4:55 am  

    What Vormaerin said.

    In Ahlissa, there's the additional layer of the Royal Guild of Merchants of Aerdy, which as well as being a merchant's guild, acts as a licencing agency for all other guilds in the realm (presumably with ways to enforce this - probably involving the local watch/military). So, for instance, the Worshipful Company of Spicers of the Port of Prymp can't operate without letters of charter from the Royal Guild (to whom the Spicers would pay an annual tithe). This, in part, accounts for the collossal wealth and power of the Royal Guild.

    Further, the Royal Guild's close ties with the House of Darmen and the Church of Zilchus means that it's members are effectively the bureaucracy/proto-civil service of Ahlissa, which has obvious scope for abuses of power. As such, the Guild would also regulate weights and measures, establish staples and collect excises, tolls and tariffs on trade (passing these on to the local lords where required - though many Darmen nobles would themselves be members of the Royal Guild). The Guild would also issue letters of incorporation to Ahlissan trading costers and merchants (in return for guild fees) and trading permits to foreign traders (in return for tariffs that would probably be pitched to favour local merchants or at least using local merchants as middle men for purchase and sale of goods - the Royal Guild (and most, if not all traders) would be merchantilist/protectionist rather than free market capitalist).

    Note to self - must do a write-up on the RGMA one of these days...

    P.

    Postscript: The Moquollod Consortium is another GH "guild" that's worth mentioning, though it's international nature makes it a little different to either the RGMA or the regular medieval trade/craft guild and more like the Radhanites of the real world (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radhanites) - though more organised (due to their links to the faith of Moqoll).
    The Consortium gets a decent write up in the LGG.
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Jul 22, 2005
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    From: Orland Hills, Illinois

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    Thu May 18, 2006 7:20 am  

    For notes on more local guilds within the city, you could try the WOTCs DMG II, which gives its demographics on guilds in a town (The "There should be 1 porter per X people") and building stats for said guild members. I used to use the Avalon Runequest Cities supplement from the 1980's before this. The DMG II did not have a streamlined approach however, so I had to reverse engineer the numbers so I could plug it into an Excel worksheet. Combine this with the chapter on ordinary NPC's in the Arms and Equipment Guide and population demographics in the regular DMG and you are on your way Happy

    The DMG II broke up guilds into 9 categories. At first I thought some of the guild types were silly, but on second thought they were fine and better described what was in a city, though admittedly in D&D3.5 style. Also they give you the detailed city of Saltmarsh (with all the guild leaders, goverment officials and so on)
    Master Greytalker

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    Thu May 18, 2006 9:07 am  

    Yeah, it does have that sort of thing. THough it produces a city whose organized labor situation would make it the AFL-CIO's wet dream fantasy town.
    Master Greytalker

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    Wed May 24, 2006 10:13 am  
    Faux Guilds

    A long time ago, while still in school and studying the middle ages, i hazily remember reading an interesting article of medieval guilds. The thrust of this article was that what we view today as a "Guild," is not necessarily what they saw.

    In our modern world, with 40 hour work weeks, work/personal differentiations, we see the world very differently than an uneducated medieval city dweller. Most likely the city dweller could not read and had never left the walls of his humble city. He vaguely understood the social contract that was feudilism, which varied dramatically by state/nation/century, and in someplaces, by ruler/week. Besides, being a city dweller, he was somewhat outside of that social contract in many cases.

    Most medieval persons could not hope to rise to the nobility, despite the revisions made by modern movies. By tradition, nobility was something passed on by blood. Yet, there was/is almost always a desire to rise out of miserable situations and stations.

    What they saw was a situation where those who were members of "guilds," got ahead, while non-members starved. Therefore there were many "guilds," though they may not look like guilds to us today. This article claimed that there were many groups/clubs/quasi religious organizations that used the title "guild." In areas where the true economic/political guilds could, they eliminated these groups. Thus, some met in secret and became "secret socieites."

    In looking back, we either do not know of all of these groups, or they do not meet the modern definition of a "guild," and are not viewed as guilds in the economic sense. This may be despite the fact that the participants of the time considered themselves of a guild. It may have been of ragpickers, merchants, alterboys, or descendants of veterans of the battle of agincourt. They may have had economic, military, social, religious or quasi-mystical goals. Many probably had rites, mysticism and such intertwined with their organization. The modern Masons may not be very different that their medieval predecessors.

    The reason I bring this up, is I think it makes for a more interesting guild concept, particularly in a setting like Greyhawk, where broad, world spanning economics are not so much in play. Also, it could be that nearly every member of a small city is a member of some "guild," even if it is a guild of bar flys at the local club. They may have odd rites and rights associated with such a club. They may have secret handshakes, private meetings, and a reverence to the god of commerce or beer.

    A drinking club, which views itself as a Guild, may find that it has the right to restrict what days Guiness may be sold in their Quarter. This is an off the wall example, but I think the point is clear. Inclusion of the Mystical elements could also assist in the creation of appropriate and interesting prestige classes in what would otherwise be a solely economic entity.

    AEG has a Guild supplement out in 3.0, and it may be helpful to you in this endevor. IMO, they include the mystical mechanics, adding certain magical talents to their prestige classes, but fail to address the mystical story elements, reducing it's utility to me.
    GreySage

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    Wed May 24, 2006 10:33 am  

    The purpose of a medieval guild is to provide a monopolistic advantage for skilled trades, ensuring that there are no more master craftsmen than the economy can support and still bear their high prices. They're exclusive by nature. The guild ensures that none of Leonardo's journeymen become masters until Leonardo dies. The guild members own and run the businesses.

    The purpose of a trade union is to combine the bargaining power of as many workers as possible. They're inclusive by nature. They represent the workers, not the owners of the business.

    A foundry worker union would exist to help apprentices and journeymen bargain with the owners of the foundry. A foundry guild would be created by the owners of the foundry to make sure no new foundries were built in the city without their permission.

    The two concepts are pretty antithetical.
    Master Greytalker

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    Wed May 24, 2006 12:47 pm  

    Medieval guilds were also a kind of professional limited Elks' club. They had all manner of religious, social, and charitable features. The merchant gilds often were the repository of political power in charter towns.

    There were a few guilds that were of the trade union sort. Most notably textile worker guilds like the Weavers. They were clear "labor vs ownership" unions. But as rasgon says, the majority of guilds were to create oligopolies. The extent to which they tried to limit membership varied considerably. Some were extremely tight and others being little more than a licensing organization.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Wed May 24, 2006 1:00 pm  

    Hi Folks,

    I appreciate the historical review of guilds in a medieval period, but what I was hoping more for was an idea of anything specific to Greyhawk. In the Saga of the Old City novels, there was the Beggars guild that Gord was part of and I'm looking for something like that. I can't see an Enchanter's Guild or anything like that, but is there anything canon?

    Thanks a Bunch,
    Dwarf from Nyrond
    GreySage

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    Wed May 24, 2006 3:44 pm  

    The Adventure Begins mentions the Union of Merchants and Traders; the Guild of Thieves; the Guild of Assassins; the Architects' and Stonemason's Guild; the United Guild of Blacksmiths, Armorers, Shieldmakers, and Ironworkers; the Federation of Smiths of Pragmatic Metals and Alloys; the Guild of Weaponsmiths; the Guild of Carpenters; the Guild of Performing Artistes,; the Leatherworkers' Guild; Turin's Servant Agency; the Guild of Butchers; the Union of Laborers; the Union of Sewermen and Streetcleaners; the Guild of Jewelers and Gemcutters; the Beggars' Union; the Mintworkers' Guild; the Bardschool; the Nightwatchmen's Guild; the Mercenaries' Guild; the Sages' Guild; the Royal Guild of Merchants of Aerdy; the Union of Moneychangers and Pawnbrokers; the Guild of Cartographers; the Guild of Translators; the Nyrondese Traders' Guild; the City Watch; the Embalmers' and Gravediggers' Guild; the Alliance of Tenha Workers; the Dockers and Wharfmen's Union; the Guild of Wizardry; and the Society of Magi.

    All of them are active in Greyhawk City.
    Master Greytalker

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    Wed May 24, 2006 4:49 pm  

    Rasgon & Vor,

    The purpose of my post, and the article I referenced, is that your definitions of both Guild and Union are modern constructs based on the eventual distillation of the late medieval and later guilds, unions, associations, etc. i.e. it is a modern concept of an old word.

    In the early periods, it was much more hazy, and the cause of the (economic ) benefits to the members was not nearly as clear to or understood by the masses. I think their concept of the Guild is both more applicable and interesting in the Greyhawk setting.
    Master Greytalker

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    Wed May 24, 2006 6:04 pm  

    Not sure what you are getting at. None of the guilds are purely economic organizations, but all of them have some professional function. If they don't (and, often, even if they do), they get suppressed as seditious by the lords. There are lots of kinds of 'societies' that aren't guilds.

    Guilds are more than just a professional organization like the Bar Association. In addition to certifying competence, regulating industry practice, and limiting competition, they also throw parties, provide charity for members in distress and the poor in general, serve as a peer group for all manner of social pressures and supports, and generally are a dominant feature of the members' lives.

    Because of this, they are often as mixed up in religion and politics as they are in professional matters. Its why the Masonic Lodges and the New Orleans Mardi Gras Krewes are an outgrowth of medieval guild nature.

    You can certainly create the Lodges and Krewes without an guild foundation. Nothing says that Rennaissance and post Rennaissance social developments can't be a feature of GH. But those are no longer guilds in any meaningful sense, despite being their descendants.

    The guild is organized to fulfil an economic function *and also* does this other stuff. A group of barflies isn't a guild, its a just a group. You can certainly set up an interesting situation where everyone is a member of a formal or informal group of that sort. The game Paranoia does that quite amusingly. ;)
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Thu May 25, 2006 5:52 am  

    I think I understand some of what Anced_Math is trying to say. I had that minimal high school education on guilds. So when I started looking at DMG II, I was thinking of these groups in purely in economic terms (they set cost for products).
    Some of the groups did not make sense that way. Then I expanded my perception to include the idea of membership ("you can only use a porter from the "porter's union") and quality ("you can only trust our magic, not some slipshod untrained in the Greyhawk method of casting").
    But still things like mercenary, government and religous "guilds" did not make sense at first to me as they are not necessarily only economic. But then I thought about standards (what is the correct information to collect and the method to transcribe a registered birth), ethics(who is a legitimate target for a mercenary), or philosophy and politics("We will not allow outsider deities like Lolth and her ilk, or their temples in our fair city!") would lead to the formation of "open guilds" or "secret societies" in a city. Then the concepts of these other types of "guilds" made much more sense.
    And some probably throw great parties (the public relations never hurts).
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Thu May 25, 2006 6:51 am  

    NathanBrazil wrote:
    And some probably throw great parties (the public relations never hurts).


    ... where they serve up porterhouse with a porter to wash it down Happy
    Master Greytalker

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    Fri May 26, 2006 6:56 pm  

    Quote:
    Not sure what you are getting at. None of the guilds are purely economic organizations, but all of them have some professional function. If they don't (and, often, even if they do), they get suppressed as seditious by the lords. There are lots of kinds of 'societies' that aren't guilds.


    My point was one of nomenclature. You say there is a proffessional or economic component. But my point is that such people, the poor and uneducated, or even the merchant class with some education, dont necessarily understand the distinction. Economics is a modern concept, and the economic guild in it's clean, dictionary form is also modern.

    What the medieval person sees is that belonging to a "guild," provides benefit. The reason I bring this up is that I think it fits much better in GH. The Guild, in its modern text book form has always stuck out to me, a painful appendage to the game. There are very limited inclusions of economics in the game, and the role of guilds in roleplaying is hindered by this, IMO. However, if we somewhat reinvent them along the conception described, they can remain as common, but with less focus on the "professional," and "economic," componenets.

    This does not mean that all are suddenly clubs, but it may be taht some are simply guilds in name; some have a little economic function and lots of "secret society," trappings; some may guilds in the truest form of the term.

    History seems to indicate that the lines were seriously blurred, right on through the renaissance. Also, the benefits were not solely economic, there were often intrinsic rights for guild members.

    I am not really trying to argue historic accuracy, so much as find a definition and form of guilds that blends with the GH setting more thoroughly.

    I think what i described above does that.
    Master Greytalker

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    Fri May 26, 2006 9:40 pm  

    I don't think we really disagree on the important part: that "guilds" are more than just modern professional bodies and this should be reflected in GH. But I do have some quibbles.

    For one thing, the poor and the educated don't have any clubs, guilds, societies, etc normally. You can certainly change that, of course. But it is hard to see what, outside of religion, would serve as much of a motivation for such. And, at least in the real world, most religious groupings of the poor tended to be rather seditious.

    I also rather disagree with the notion that medieval men were such numbskulls that they couldn't grasp the advantages of regulating standards, oligopolistic behavior, and similar such 'economic' behavior. Men desired to form guilds precisely to protect their businesses from unscrupulous competitors and to give themselves additional leverage in disagreements with others.

    Those were the 'benefits' that lead men to form the guilds in the first place. Later, of course, there was the fact that you couldn't practice that trade without being a member of the relevant guild. Acknowledging that, however, does not in any way obviate the fact that these organizations undertook all manner of non business activities: social, charitable, political, and religious.

    The reason for men to associate was professional. What they did once they were associating went way beyond that. It would be very good if that was reflected in more campaigns and published materials, certainly.
    Master Greytalker

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    Sat May 27, 2006 3:54 am  

    Well,

    I think you are right, we dont disagree. My point is that a lot of people, most especially the numbskull group, will not understand why the astute ones formed the guild, and form their own. It might be an odd mixture of guild, club, secret society, and complainers group. But they call themselves a guild, and then by some quirk they dont get shut down. Ten years later, the door sweeper guild is in charge of something important.

    Why I like this is that for me it gives the guild a role in GH. I dont do much in the way of economics in GH, and I dont really want to, other than some broad stroke work. So, a guild has never been a vehicle for one of my adventures, and other as a gathering place, it really has never played a role.

    By expanding its role within the setting beyond just economic, it does take on an important part in my game. I like adventure, but I also like political intrigue. So, for me, this differntiaion from the traditional guild is helpful. Having non-guilds claiming to be Guilds with all the rights and helps explain why odd groups gather every quarter moon, etc.

    YMMV
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