Thursday, February 10, 2011

MyD20 Lite: Guilds...

Good Evening, All:

In working on MyD20 Lite Referee's Guide, I started gathering together information regarding guilds in a fantasy setting, in the hopes that it would make for a good addition to the book. I've included the basics of what I've found below. A version of this text will likely appear in the final book. I may also include a sample stat block for use with such organizations, much like I've shown elsewhere on this blog and utilized in the Hammersong's Legacy Campaign Setting.

For more information on guilds in a fantasy setting, I've found references to the following products that might be helpful: Guilds by AEG, Guildcraft by Bastion Press and Guilds & Adventurers by Mystic Eye. If you have any other suggestions, comments or concerns, I'm open to them as always.

Much like the medieval guilds that inspire them, guilds in most fantasy settings evolve primarily to protect local and regional trade within specific occupations. Guilds are best described as exclusive, regimented organizations created to preserve the rights and privileges of their members separately and distinctly from the local government. In a world where individuals are often defined by their occupation and livelihood, the union of local craftsmen and merchants offers a degree of economic protection that the law of the land does not always provide. Thus, guilds fill an important role in urban life.

Most guilds in fantasy settings fall into one of two categories: merchant guilds and craft guilds. Traders form merchant guilds for the mutual protection of their horses, wagons, and goods when traveling. Many townships have been founded when a merchant guild obtains a charter to do so from the local sovereign or governing body, so that caravans would be protected at the end of a day's travel along trade routes between major markets.

Groups of artisans and craftsmen engaged in the same occupation associate themselves together as craft guilds for protection and mutual aid. As the craft guilds rise in power within the local government, they tend to enforce a monopoly, denying the ability to practice their craft without being a member of the guild. In this way, the craft guild could protect their local business from outside trade.

While guilds are often portrayed in fantasy settings as protecting their own members, they also provide protection for consumers (such as the average adventuring party) as well. Craft guilds often have regulations on the quality of work produced by their membership, and may even require that all works be examined and approved by the guild before they can be sold. Prices are regulated (though rarely fixed), at least within a given city or region, so that local merchants are not able to drastically under-sell one another. Guilds often promote laws and decrees that forbid foreign artisans from selling their work within the guild's domain. Secrets regarding the production processes of a guild are guarded from discovery, and those who sell such secrets or train others in forbidden techniques are often hunted down and slain for such actions. Within a guild, monopolies are maintained through the control of the number of masters, and resources are protected to avoid impacting the guild members' ability to perform their craft.

In addition to the obvious trade-related services, guilds also perform other services for its members. They provide funeral expenses for poorer members and aid to survivors of disasters, provide dowries for the daughters of poorer members, provide assistance for the care of sick or injured members, build and/or support shrines and temples dedicated to a guild's patron deities, monitor the impact of members who indulge in non-ethical behavior such as gambling or usury, and promote education among the families of their membership.

In some instances, guilds are required to perform public services, such as taking turns with one another policing the streets or constructing public buildings and walls to defend the city.

Guild Ranks
Although there are exceptions, most guilds are organized into different ranks, or levels of membership and authority. These are typically, from lowest to highest: apprentice, journeyman, master and Guildmaster.

Apprentice: Most apprentices live with a master and his family, as the apprentice's parents have paid to have their child taken on. Apprentices work for free and are subject to the whims and teachings of their master. During their apprenticeship they are often not allowed to marry. This learning period might vary from 2-7 years depending on the craft. The apprentice's training included the rudiments of the trade. When the apprentice has mastered the basics of the guild's craft, they may be promoted to journeyman.

Journeyman: Journeymen are entitle to earn a salary as they continue to work in service to the guild. In addition to their day-to-day work, a journeyman must produce a masterpiece that will satisfy the Guildmaster of their mastery of the craft and hopefully earn the rank of master. The journeyman must work on his own time to produce this masterpiece, using his own tools and raw materials he has purchased himself. Once the work is completed, the journeyman may receive a vote of acceptance, so long as the economy is sufficient to support the addition of a new master. If times are tight, a journeyman may not receive their vote of acceptance immediately.

Master: Once the masterpiece is complete, the Guildmaster has approved it, and the guild has voted to accept the journeyman as a master, he then joins the ranks of the masters and enjoys all the rights and responsibilities of that position.

Guildmaster: While a guild can have many masters, it can typically only have one Guildmaster. Often a person of political and social importance given his role in the guild, the Guildmaster often sets or guides the policies of the guild and their enforcement. While a guild is still subject to the law of the land and the decrees of the local sovereign or governing body, within those strictures, the Guildmaster often possesses great power.

With Regards,

1 comment:

James said...

Nice. Your Referee's Guide is shaping up to be a great general resource rather than just a guide of mechanics for MyD20 Lite.