I've been detailing parts of the Hold of the Sea Princes for my campaign—drawing on Mike Bridges's excellent Unconquered Hold of the Sea Princes article in Oerth Journal 32 and hope to learn how you treat guilds in your campaigns. (So much the better if any of them are / have been based in Keoland, Gradsul, or the former March / Duchy of Monmurg.)
My question arose while developing Poniard, which I've decided is a predominantly Neutral Large Town with a population of 4,500 (predominantly human, SOfz, with small numbers of halflings, elves, dwarves, gnomes, half-elves, half-orcs, and others—in that order).
In terms of government, I've followed Bridges in separating out the Commodore of Flotsom Island and the Count of Poniard from the Portreeve (a.k.a., mayor) of Poniard, His Honorable Worship, Telkes Tor, who is the second eldest of the Mercánte Tor. (IMC, mercántes are merchant bankers and just below the princes and other Seolder nobles. Seolder was Jason Farina's old term for people from the Hold.) The Count nominates the portreeve, and a majority of the four-member town council approves (i.e., rubber stamps) the nominee. (The Portreeve’s vote counts as two.)
I'm presently populating the town council. By venerable tradition, one member is the harbormaster, who is almost always the high priest of Xerbo.
The other three councilors are elected by the Poniard citizenry. (To be a citizen, one must own property and reside in Poniard for at least five years.)
I've detailed one of them, Lenka Ren Moreth, the widow of the Count's third son and a wealthy merchant from the Kingdom of Shar. She came to Poniard in CY 574 with her father (now deceased) and brother, and has continued her father's opening of trade between Shar, the Mercánte Tor, and other parts of Flotsom Island.
I'm momentarily stuck on the final two councilors but think they should be guild masters. I'm thinking of making one be the master of the Guild of Stonemasons but am unsure which guild to select for the second position. (Contenders include Mariners, Sailmakers, and Weavers.)
Thus, my post—and final question: what guilds are most influential IYC, and why?
Thus, my post—and final question: what guilds are most influential IYC, and why?
Well, my campaign is usually based in the northern Vesve forest, but Sir Xaris has brought his favorite guild with him to his demesne in the Principality of Ulek. The Witch is Dead, Merchants, Mercenaries, and Adventurers Guild is headquartered in Perrenland, but has expanded its operations southward and eastward through the Highfolk, Furyondy/Veluna, and the northern Sheldomar Valley. The Principality of Ulek is their furthest venture yet.
The Witch is Dead (as it is commonly known) is a guild that facilitates the movement of groups of people across lands they frequent. They offer rest and resupply for their members at their chapter houses, contacts, job offers, etc. They even provide a small amount of insurance for losses, injury, or death based upon the amount of dues a member has paid up to the point of loss.
They do not use magic to determine an applicant or member's alignment, but will refuse to deal with any potential member that has a reputation for blatant disregard for laws or unnecessary violence. They will never provide mercenaries to both sides of a conflict.
This is the way I developed the guild mentioned in the original B2, The Keep on the Borderlands module.
Historically speaking, guilds are town based. Presuming there are at least two separate businesses following a trade, there is likely a guild for it in that town. So each town of any size will have a lot of guilds, and those guilds will likely be in touch with similar guilds in nearby towns. Guild members tend to send kids off to other guild members for apprenticeship, and marry within their guild or related guilds in nearby towns.
Which guilds are most influential in a given town will depend HEAVILY on what sort of industries are big in the town. For example, in Greyhawk, being centrally located means trade is the big game in town, and therefore the merchant's guild is the most influential, even holding several seats on the city council.In Hardby, merchants are quite influential, but so are the various shipbuilding guilds - sailmakers, the ropewalk, carpenters, etc. A town that grew up around mining and metalworking will probably be dominated by a mining guild and/or the appropriate metalworking or smithing guild. A town with a lot of wool production nearby might be heavily influenced by the weaver's guild.
Of course, certain guilds are ubiquitous. You'll almost always have a tailor's guild, a blacksmith's guild, merchants, brewer, miller, and so on. Masons will depend on reliable sources of stone; carpenters on a reliable source of suitable wood. Not enough of a resource means there likely won't be enough people in the trade to justify a full guild.
Now for the fun part. Adventurers. A formal 'adventurer's guild' like the one in Greyhawk is quite rare. Thieves' guilds are almost always underground affairs, more gangs than institutions with significant political influence like in Greyhawk. Likewise, assassin guilds are generally pretty informal, although due to the nature of their profession they do trend more political than thieves. Where these guilds exist publicly and have actual political influence they tend to be among the more powerful guilds in the area.
I haven't thought too much about this one beyond the City of Greyhawk, but I can say that the Greyhawk Thieves' Guild is the most prominent one in my version of the setting. Amyalla Reorsa is a member in good standing of the Guild, and I've written a few short stories on Greyhawk Resources featuring Nerof Gasgal and other guildmembers, as well as a legal charter of the Guild's operations for a postfest here at Canonfire.
The motto of the Greyhawk Guild of Thieves is "Steal everything of value that isn't nailed down. If you have a crowbar, be sure to steal everything of value that is nailed down." Unlike what the City of Greyhawk boxed set claims, locals are just as likely to be targeted by the Guild as any foreigner, and paying protection doesn't shield you from robbery altogether. Paying protection merely ensures that the Guild doesn't go out of its way to target you. Actively refusing to pay protection means that the Guild's leaders specifically encourage their members to come after you, and they won't be inclined to restrain themselves!
Another prominent Greyhawk guild is, of course, the Merchants' Guild. They are notoriously stingy when it comes to non-profitable activities, and are not known for things like their patronage of the arts or sciences. As a result, Greyhawk's universities are somewhat second-rate compared to those of older Flanaess states, and the Free City is a notorious cultural backwater with little in the way of significant plays, poems, artworks or literature compared to other realms. The Guild of Performing Artistes is perhaps the weakest one in the entire city, being little more than a waystation and glorified flophouse for foreign performers who come to Greyhawk to cash in for a while before they go on their way.
Ren O' the Star was one of the few exceptions...and that same patronage fatally undermined his leadership of the Merchants' Guild, as did his massive gambling debts and his overall weak and inept leadership style. Being a flamboyant dandy can impress sophisticated international clients as a way of expanding your access to new markets...but it doesn't do much to keep unsentimental and hard-nosed merchants in line. Hence why the merchants got a serious case of buyer's remorse after they elected Ren.
IMC, Monmurg and Port Toli vie for having the best shipwrights of the Hold and hence host its most powerful shipwright guilds: Monmurg's shipwrights derive from the ancient naval fortress of Port Remdi (which now constitutes a district of Monmurg). Port Toli, despite being sacked several times over the centuries—per Samwise's classic, The Rhola and the Toli - The Battle for Jeklea Bay, robustly reestablished shipbuilding since 445 CY, when the free captains of the nascent Sea Princes took it from Keoland.
For Poniard, which afaik was created by fans (LGH?), I've been wondering / imagining if it's renowned for sailmaking, which would might suggest that its plantations grow cotton, flax, and/or hemp, among other crops (e.g., coffee, indigo, sugar cane, and myriad kinds of tropical fruit).
Thanks James. This was helpful. In case it helps others, here is a list of the guilds, noble houses, and churches of Sasserine as told by James Jacobs in Dungeon 139, pages 51-55.
Also, this list is not comprehensive: the article also describes a few other kinds of organizations (e.g., the embassy of the Scarlet Brotherhood and various front organizations; the arena and other places of entertainment; etc.)
Azure Cathedral (Osprem, Procan & Xerbo), A2
Church of the Whirling Fury (Gwynharwyf), C2
Dawnhouse (Pelor), P6
House of Kord, K4
Shrine of St. Worgul (Olidammara), O1
Temple of Fharlanghn, F2
Temple of St. Cuthbert, C3
Temple of Wee Jas, W8
You cannot post new topics in this forum You cannot reply to topics in this forum You cannot edit your posts in this forum You cannot delete your posts in this forum You cannot vote in polls in this forum
Canonfire! is a production of the Thursday Group in assocation with GREYtalk and Canonfire! Enterprises