Thieves & Kings
The Mangai is the joint association of all Argothic guilds. Its primary function is to regulate guilds, settle any disputes between them, and make any recommendations it deems appropriate concerning guild rights and privileges to the governments of Argoth. A crucial function of the Mangai is its exclusive right to sponsor and organize all fairs and markets in towns and settlements., appropriate fees being paid to whomever governs the settlement for this right. The Mangai recoups its investment by charging fees (usually 1sp per day) to all who wish to sell their wares in the markets and fairs. The Mangai holds triennial conventions, attended by synics and/or guildmasters of every Argothic guild. This convention moves from one town to another; the next is scheduled for Fairhaven in 1051 TR.
The traditional symbol for The Mangai, is a powder blue flag, meant to be a peace banner, symbolizing a desire to trade. The banner is seen wherever the Mangai is based, and is widely used by merchants meeting potential traders on the roads. In Argothic heraldry, this color is reserved for the sole use of the Mangai.
In Argoth, virtually all significant commercial and professional activities fall within the monopolies of powerful guilds. There are traditionally three ranks within each Guild; Apprentice, Journeyman, and Master. Becoming an Apprentice is deemed a privilige, with most fostered over to other families for training, where they serve for room and board for 5-7 years, before promotion to Journeyman. A Journeyman is entitled to a small wage, and they serve for a period of 3-5 years before they can apply to their local guild hall for a franchise. New franchises cost somewhere between two to ten years income as a Master, and are usually granted.
There are two kinds of Masters; Bonded Master and a Freemaster. A Freemaster holds their franchise as a free license from his guild to hold their business wherever they may. A Bonded Master works, under contract, for a wealthy patron or institution. Both types pay ten percent (10%) of their net income to their guild as dues. Depending on the availability of resources, or the appeal of local institutions (such as a nobleman seeking a new blacksmith), the guild will offer loans to establish a new franchise, or salvage an old one. However, most of the time “free enterprise” is the rule. In times of hardship (business burns down, or the business is robbed), the guild might provide assistance to him.
Among the various guilds (both craft guilds and merchant guilds), each Master holds a single vote at meetings. From among themselves, they often elect a GuildMaster who are responsible for the day-to-day operations of their chapter, and with the exception of very wealthy guilds continue to be practicing craftsmen. They often receive a stipend from their guild coffers for their service. The given rules for how each guild operates, depends on its own personality and the individuals running it.
Apothecaries’ Guild : This guild has a monopoly over the growing, gathering, mixing, buying and selling of herbs, medicines, potions and the like. Many apothecaries limit their practices to the buying, preparations and selling of wares in a shop, obtaining essential herbs and ingredients from guild journeymen or other gatherers. Apothecaries do a great deal of business with the Physician’s Guild, who are not (technically) permitted to concoct their own medicines. They also provide some members of the Guild of Arcane Lore with materials. Most apothecaries will purchase raw herbs for about one-third their market price.
Arcane Lore, Guild of : This is more of a loose professional association than a guild; the only entrance requirement is a demonstrable personal talent in magic, alchemy, or one of the other arcane arts. There are numerous secret societies and orders whose members practice the hidden arts; the Guild of Arcane Lore is simply an organization through which some practitioners occasionally represent themselves to the outside world. The guild grants no franchises, and there is no fixed structure; there may be apprentices and journeymen, but such is at the discretion of the individual Masters. While individual Masters might enter the employ outsiders, the guild itself sells no contracts; members may come and go as they please. In general, lands that are controlled by magic users, are far more organized and structured, as a means of controlling their own power, while borderlands and wilderness communities are far less controlling. This is a weak guild with numerous powerful members.
Chandlers Guild : The chandlers have a monopoly on the production and sale of candles, lamps, and the like. A recent development has involved the Chandlers in operating “general stores”, where hundreds of items, purchased from other guilds, are sold at slightly higher prices. Most cities have at least one of these establishments, and they have proven popular among caravans and ship’s masters for provisioning.
A rising tradition among apprentices, is to offer their services in the evenings as “Lighters”; guiding visitors to their community for a fee, usually a few coppers, which they turn back over to their Masters, though most allow their apprentices to keep a portion for themselves. Most Lighters can be found lurking around the entry gates and roads to communities, or waiting by inns and tavern entrances, and are easily identified by the tall staff they carry with a hanging iron or brass oil lantern.
Charcoaler’s Guild : This guild has a monopoly in the sale of charcoal, coal, and in urban communities, firewood. Coal is rare on Argoth and particularly expensive, but is used by the wealthy to heat their homes; most folk use firewood. Metalsmiths and Weaponsmiths have a constant need of supply from this guild, and are often their primary customers.
Clothier’s Guild : This is one of the largest guilds on Argoth. A master clothier will know all the arts of tailor, glover, draper, and haberdasher, although he will specialize in only one or two of these. A typical clothier will be a large establishment, employing dozens of journeymen and apprentices, catering to the middle and upper classes. Some nobles maintain bonded workshops; some masters operate a small, specialized shop. There is a widespread disregard for the clothiers’ monopoly since most of the population makes their own rags, but the wide-scale violation through the sale of clothing without a license will impel the guild to litigation.
Courtesan’s Guild : The guild whose members are skilled in the arts of pleasure. Courtesans should not be thought of as ordinary prostitutes; they offer a wide range of services in their franchised houses, which bear names such as “House of the Seven Joys” and “Floating World of Three Heavens”. The guild acquires most of its apprentices through brokers, often purchasing attractive teenage boys and girls from their impoverished families. In some cases, this is often a fate better than what otherwise might await them. After two to four years of instruction in the erotic and other arts, the “apprentice” is either sold outside the guild, or is considered ready to entertain guests. Often at this stage, the child is “bonded” to the House’s headmistress, and after a number of years, their “contract” is considered fully paid off, and the fully qualified courtesan will be free to establish their own “franchise”, if they so desire it. Many never succeed in paying off their contracts, and few ever open their own House. A “free” courtesan often remains in their House, receiving a fair share of their earnings . Most courtesans “retire” at around age thirty with a tidy nest-egg and a few wealthy patrons of their own to support their lifestyle. Some join the priesthoods of various cults, while others marry some patron or another that is looking for a talented consort to keep them happy.
Costs for an evening depend upon the services desired. Clients are expected to behave themselves with decorum or they will be banned from the guild Houses. Some leeway in price is allowed for the favorites of the individual courtesans, but minimum standards must still be maintained. “Pillow Money”, is usually left by the client in the lobby, since none would ever speak of such a crude matter. The amount paid will often determine the welcome received next time (if any); most Houses employ several competent mercenary “bouncers”. A courtesan is always expensive (10-100 gp per visit is common), and the great ladies of the profession can command fabulous remuneration.
Embalmer’s Guild : The embalmer’s guild has a monopoly on the preparation, for remuneration, of corpses for burial. Some temples and nobles bury their own dead; many will, however, obtain assistance from the guild. The guild’s customers tend to be from the middle class. Most simplefolk are quietly buried in unmarked graves (or tossed in the river or down a hole). Services can be expensive, ranging from 20-500 gps.
Glassworker’s Guild : This guild has the monopoly over the production of glass products. Since the methods of manufacture are not widely known, glassworkers are occasionally accused of employing some form of magic in their work. Elves are well known for their skills at glassmaking, a fact which only adds mystery to the art. Glass windows are far too expensive for most citizens; the master glassworker is likely to earn a reasonably good living by producing exquisite glass pottery, stained glass, and windows for the nobles and churches of Argoth.
Harper’s, College of : The Harpers have a monopoly over the arts relating to the production and sale of musical instruments. Almost all Harpers are accomplished musicians and will earn a good living as a Journeyman, when they are called minstrels, bards or skalds. The instruments will be carefully crafted by master harpers, assisted by apprentices and journeymen learning their trades. The most common musical instruments in Argoth are the harp, flute, drum, horn and lute. There are five official harper’s halls in Argoth, at _Azadmere (Kingdom of Azadmere), Elshavel (Kingdom of Evael), Phaedra, Katarre and Freeport. Admission to the colleges is by audition (often flavoured by local politics). The Azadmere hall is exclusively for Khuzan (dwarves), while Elshavel is considered the finest place to study, and most Harpers aspire to attend. It is exceedingly rare for a non-elf to be invited; the Sindarin are without a doubt the best at this respected art. Advanced masters of the art are often said to “… weave their tales and songs with spells, by caress of string, by gentle rhythm to touch men’s souls and banish afar the troubles to which flesh, and bones and aching hearts are heir…”. The truly great luthiers are able to make instruments of seemingly arcane capabilities.
The average Journeyman plays an important role in the conveyance of news, tales, legends and oral history, of which the College is a major repository. Bonded on short contracts to a noble’s court, or simply travelling from village to village, bards are able to find a reasonably good living even among the more wild folk of the wilderness.In especially great demand are the minstrels who have recently come from far away places and folk, who can bring hardly credible songs and tales of unheard of places and great wonders of the worlds and even more distant planes beyond. Northern skalds are known for the epic tales of heroes and gods. Elves, who rarely play for outsiders, are beloved for their scarcely understood, but beautiful renditions of of their own enchanted pasts. Harpers are often commissioned by various temples to compose new religious songs and chants.
Heralds, College of : The College of Heralds is closely associated with the nobility which supplies, directly and indirectly, many of its members. Heralding is one of the few professions which are not deemed beneath the dignity of the nobility. All young nobles are, in fact, required to learn the fundamentals of heraldry as a part of their training, usually between the ages of ten and thirteen. Young sons and daughters of the nobility who are not likely to inherit anything when they come of age, form the majority of College entrants and often progress rapidly through the ranks. Most heralds are bonded to land-holding nobles, responsible for keeping the records of the family arms, geneologies, and much of the daily instruction for the clan’s children.
Heralds also play an important role as ambassadors, being skilled in the etiquette of diplomacy and warfare. In this role, they are afforded a great deal political neutrality. When a major battle is to be joined, the heralds from opposing camps (who may well be personal friends) will meet to exchange formalities, and possibly to conduct last minute negotiations. Assuming no accommodations are made, they will arrange such details as the time of commencement of hostilities, and possibly break off, terms for surrender, and the treatment of captives. Opposing heralds will often watch the battle from the same vantage point, free from any harm.
Colleges are the places in which heralds receive advanced training, and are vitally important repositories for all of Argoth’s heraldic records (both geneological and those having to do with the marshalling of arms). The Enclave of the Golden Orb located in the coty of Phaedra is the governing house; it holds in its archives the official records for all of Argoth, and is the chief residence for the Sunrise King of Arms, the title for the Chief Herald. There are several other Colleges in Argoth; “Enclave of the Holy Oak” (Brionne), “Grey Whale College of Arms” (Kvigmar), “Silver Harp Palace” (Elshavel), “Tower of the Unicorn” (Archona), “Violet Mantle Palace” (Freeport), and “White Mountain Lodge” (Azadmere). College grounds are considered inviolate by law; even heads of state are forbidden to enter them without an invitation.
On Argoth, only nobles, religious fighting-orders and standing armies may receive a grant of arms; only the College of Arms may make such a grant. An application for arms may be made, with or without a request for a particular design, at any of the regional colleges. Since no two matriculations may be identical, all grants must be referred through the central archives at Phaedra. If a holder of a grant of arms travels beyond the Argoth Isles they must add a scalloped azure border to their shield. Grants of arms can take upwards of four months to be granted, and cost 500gps or more, half paid in advance. There are various penalties across Argoth for displaying a false set of arms.
Hideworker’s Guild : This guild has the monopoly over the curing of all types of hides, including furs, and leather-working. A master hideworker’s establishment may be a tannery, usually located on the outskirts of town because of the stench of the urine used in the curing process, or a retail workshop where cured hides are made into various leather products such as belts, whips, harnesses, and waterskins. Cobblers producing leather boots, sandals, and shoes also belongs to this guild. Leather-crafting which involves horses (bridles, saddles, etc.) is a monopoly of the Ostler’s Guild. A tannery will purchase raw hides and furs from anyone although most are obtained from local manors and the Mercantyler’s Guild.
Innkeeper’s Guild : The Innkeeper’s Guild has a monopoly on the operation of any tavern, inn, or similar establishment. Guildsmen will usually make their own ales, but wine and food is generally purchased from other sources. An Inn will usually have a stable attached, owned and operated by a Freemaster Ostler, in partnership with the Innkeeper, or owned by the innkeeper and operated by a Bonded-Master Ostler in his employ.
A “tankard” will contain (if full) one pint; a “goblet”, one-half pint. A hot meal traditionally consists of a bowl of soup or stew, possibly some meat, and a half-loaf of bread. A cold meal is likely to be bread and cheese. Deluxe meals consist meat roasts, eggs, cream and other rich foods. Some inns have private two-room suites. Most inns offer packed provisions (usually bread and cheese) for two meals for a cost of 1 sp, but these must be eaten off premises. A wineskin of one gallon capacity can be filled with ale, cider, beer or wine as well for travellers. Most larger inns have small breweries attached where barrels of local beverages can be purchased.
Jeweller’s Guild : A master jeweller will be familiar with the arts of the jeweller, goldsmith, and silversmith but his shop will often specialize in only one of the three. A guild member will typically purchase metals and gems from the Miner’s Guild, but may freely buy from anyone. Very few master jewellers can match the prowess of the Khuzan, Evael or even the Gnomes; their work demands high prices. Most content themselves with more modest art s and with the sale of the occasional elder piece that falls into their hands. This guild also holds the monopoly over engraving, and make seals to order; a few are bonded as coinmakers to national mints.
Lexigrapher’s Guild : This guild has the monoploy in the manufacture and sale of vellum, parchment, scrolls, inks, quills, and books. There is nothing close to paper in Argoth. The guild buys calfskin for vellum and lambskin for parchment from tanneries; both are expensive. Some guild members confine their activity to manufacturing these products, others operate retail shops where they are sold. Some lexigraphers sell maps and various manuscripts. Although they do not have the monopoly over the art of writing, some scribes belong to this guild and they will provide competent writing services to those who need it; Most common Argoth citizens can read and write very little.
Litigant’s Guild : The Litigant’s Guild handle legal transactions on behalf of various clients; they do not hold a monopoly, just the expertise in most legal matters. The nobility views the trade with some distaste, but Litigants are in demand among the middle classes who must employ their skills to wedge open their position in society. Litigants will represent their clients in matters of real estate, contracts, trade agreements, and such, in and out of court, (usually before some noble). Members of the guild often hold a position of influence in the administration of towns, and are rarely tolerated in rural areas where justice is meted out by the local landholder whose legal expertise is unlikely to go beyond basic common fief law, customs and common sense.
Locksmith’s Guild : The monopoly of this guild involves the manufacture, installation and repair of locks, keys and similar items. They produce lockboxes and safes and are often consulted in the design and placement of secret doors, trapdoors and complex mechanisms like portcullis and drawbridges.
Mason’s Guild : This si perhaps the most respected guild in Argoth. Commoners and nobles alike are in awe of skilled mason-architects who design and construct large buildings, bridges, ports, and mills. Some masons are expert architects, highly paid and honoured; most are competent quarrymen, stonelayers, and stonecutters. Most towns require that construction within its walls be done by this guild and nearly all fortifications, manor houses, keeps and castles involve mason participation in their design, building and repair. The Mason’s Guild has a strict monopoly over all stone quarrying and in the preparation of stone. Brick manufacture and construction is almost unheard of on Argoth. A quarry may be owned and operated by a single master freemason, but most larger operations are jointly run by two or more masters. Partnership with outside investment is common, particularly with noble needs for good quality stone. The best stone in Argoth is found in the hills north of ruins of Telen, and remains difficult to acquire since the fall of the Coranik Empire. Most stone is acquired locally from common pits, and manual labour is done by unguilded locals, hired on a daily basis, as needed.
Mercantyler’s Guild : The monopoly of this guild is somewhat ambiguous. In general, Mercantylers are involved in the trading of goods at a profit, acting either as the actual buyers and sellers of merchandise, or as an intermediary. One or more masters will be involved in organizing caravans, ship cargoes, and being responsible for the hiring of wagons, vessels, guards, porters and drivers. To reduce their risks, mercantylers will often pay for such services with an offer of a portion of the gross proceeds when a cargo is sold; around 25% of the gross value of the goods transported is usually allowed for such expenses.
Enforcing a monopoly over all trading activity would be impossible, but guild masters tend to deal only with one another, giving them a de-facto stranglehold over the purchase and sale of goods. All major halls have a Mercantyler’s Hall in which guild members, and only guildmembers, may operate. Non-guild members can only participate in this private market by hiring a mercantyler as an agent for a fee or a commission.
To further insure that the guild will remain at the center of most economic activity on Argoth, they have acquired an additional monopoly which is rigidly enforced; only Mercantylers may practice usury, the changing and loan of money for profit. Some Mercantylers specialize in this trade, and charge high interest rates based closely on risk, collateral and social standing. Nobles customarily enjoy the benefit of low rates.
When foreign coinage is exchanged, a commission of 20% is normal, but negotiable. Userers also issue promissory notes, the closest thing to paper money on Argoth. There are not nearly enough coins in circulation on Argoth to facilitate the cost of goods being traded; nearly all large payments are made through these notes. A userer’s note is redeemed in full when returned to them; a guild master in another city will often redeem a collegues’ notes, at a discount of 5-20%. Discounts for foreign or suspicious notes can be ruinously higher. Mercantylers often trade in bars and ingots of raw metal.
Metalsmith’s Guild : This guild has a monopoly over all metalworking except weaponcrafting, coinmaking and activities of the Jewller’s Guild. A master metalworker may be bonded to a noble household, or own and operate a large workshop in town, but most masters are small village smiths. The city of Shiran was noted for its especially quality metalwork, but most of its smiths scattered with the destruction of that town. Most metal items (shovels, scythes, hammers, horseshoes, axes and cauldrons) are made from iron or steel. Copper, brass, bronze and pewter are used for most tableware and cooking utensils; their higher prices reflect this.
Miller’s Guild : This is one of the most important guilds on Argoth; they have the monopoly on the ownership of all mills and milling. Since grains are the staple crop and bread the most important food on Argoth, the activities of this guild are of paramount importance. Local fiefholders have often sought to usurp the guild’s monopoly by building their own mills, but the mason’s guild will not build them, millers refuse to operate them, and every illicit mill has eventually failed.
Mills are used for grinding grain; most manors have at least one mill. There are thousands of mills on Argoth, the majority being water-powered, although some mills exist in the west, particularly around Freeport. Each mill is owned by the guild, but a tax is usually paid to the local landholder. The mills are awarded as franchises to guild masters, who pay a stiff 20% levy to offset the cost of the original cost of the facility. A freemaster miller will normally receive around 10% of his milled flour, most of which he sells. Some millers own large commercial ovens and use part of their flour to bake bread which is sold to the local community.
Miner’s Guild : One of the most powerful and wealthiest guilds on Argoth. The Miner’s Guild hold the monopoly on mining and smelting. The guild owns and operates a few mines (the source of its fabulous wealth), notably in the north-east mountains around Brak, and north of Archona, but most miners are bonded to mines owned by the royalty of various realms. Mining rights in most of these realms are held by the king. An earl or baron whose lands include a silver mine is usually out of luck; the mine and its revenues are not his.
It is this arrangement which has made the Miner’s Guild powerful; to protect miners from jealous nobles, most monarchs have granted them unique and special priviledges. These include; the right to prospect on any lands, other than in temple domains, orchards, gardens, or highways; the right to cut timber, with or without the local lord’s permission, to use in their mines and forges; the right to hold their own courts of law; the right to protect anyone employed at their mine; and in most cases, a complete freedom from taxes, tolls, and military service. In fact, any person who flees to a king’s mine, and is employed there for at least two years, automatically becomes a “freeman”, a source of much aggravation among the nobility, who accuse the guild of impressing “their” servants as cheap labour. Impressment is possible, even likely in certain circumstances, but miners are well paid.
It should be noted, not a few master miners, who specialize in prospecting new ore deposits, have mysteriously vanished; most are believed to have been the victim of local nobles who wished to prevent the opening of a new mine on their lands. In the Lord’s Alliance and the Duchy of Shem mines are owned by local landholders; the guild has less power in these regions, but miners are still well paid. Silver, tin, copper, iron, lead, and salt are the most common metals and minerals mined in Argoth. Gold is mined in the northern mountains, but only by the Khuzan of Azadmere.
Most ores are smelted in small foundries and forges set up at or near the mine to avoid excessive transport of bulk ores. Such foundries are never popular among local nobility since they consume vast stretches of timber for fuel. The value of metals depends closely to its purity, usually around 85-95%. Dwarves are known to get purity levels consistently higher.
Ostler’s Guild : Sometimes called the Liveryman’s Guild, Ostlers have a monopoly over the breeding, care and sale of horses. A master ostler will be an expert farrier, horse-veterinarian, stablemaster, and tackmaster. Some ostlers will specialize; a breeder of “…sturdy and noble horses…” commands high prices for his stock. Any competent ostler is highly respected and well paid. Most noble households find a bonded master ostler indispensible. Many franchises are attached to inns in partnership with or bonded to the innkeeper. Freemasters are found wherever horses are raced. There is invariably a fenced “Ostler’s Common” outside each town where horses are grazed. Individual ostlers also own private pastures near their stable-yards. Shoeing of horses is also done by this guild, using horseshoes purchased from the Metalsmith’s Guild.
Perfumer’s Guild : The monopoly of this guild covers the manufacture and sale of soap, perfume, incense and like products. Some temples have a special dispensation to make such stuff themselves, but most have contracts with the local perfumer. The guild is highly secretive about its arts. The perfumers of Freeport are famous for their subtle essences, which are widely exported.
Physician’s, Society of : The variation in expertise among the members of this guild is extreme. Some “masters” are primitive and incompetent quacks, but usually cheap; others are skilled surgeons (who would not be found wanting in a modern Terran hospital), and command very high fees. Most physicians confine their talents to general practice and the treatment of minor ailments.
The guild is loosely organized. Any master may take on as many apprentices as they wish, although some deference to the guild is generally made. Very little thought is given to maintaining standards, but of course, if a physician maims too many people of influence, they are likely to be expelled or banished, assuming he survives any revenge taken by the harmed family. Many physicians maintain ties to the church of Amalthea, Goddess of Community and Healing; it is widely believed they dabble in divine magic. Generally, physicians are highly respected and earn good incomes. A decision to bond a physician to a wealthy household is entirely their own; most remain independent.
Pilot’s Guild : A pilot is a skilled navigator who directs ships from one port to another. While a ship’s captain decides the ultimate destination, it is the pilot who charts and steers the course to be followed. Since the pilot’s function is the most skilled aboard any vessel, they are usually paid more than anyone else, with the possible exception of an owner-captain. All ocean-going vessels over 30’ are required to carry a master pilot. They are also employed as harbour masters in all major ports. When navigating a river, a local pilot is usually required, and pilots familiar with reefs, sand banks and similar features may be available in a nearby port. Fishing vessels, operating to and from the same port, are considered exempt.
The Pilot’s Guild is very well-organized and powerful. Because of an extensive, specialized knowledge of its masters, it is world-wide in scope. Master pilots are given immunity, even by most pirates; it is almost universally taboo to harm them; they are simply much too valuable and vital to sea trade.Every master compiles their knowledge in a private rutter, containing his accumulated knowledge along with some gathered from other pilots. A pilot’s rutter is carefully guarded and is often the most valuable item aboard ship; its loss could easily lead to disaster. The unauthorized possession of a rutter carries the penalty of immediate execution, but the high value of the volumes is an enormous temptation among thieves. A sizable reward is often available to anyone who returns a “lost” rutter to a guild hall.
Pilot’s training is very secretive, alternating between the guildhall, where theory is taught and practical training at sea with a master. Master pilots have wide discretionary powers with regard to taking on apprentices> apprenticeship usually involves nine years of rigourous training. The rank of journeyman pilot does not exist. The pilot of a merchantman usually works for a share of the gross. Veteran pilots can also be a captain, and a good pilot can become quite wealthy, owning their own ship, though the rough seas around Argoth claim most before they can die in their beds.
Potter’s Guild : The guild with a monopoly over the manufacture and sale of ceramics. They will buy clay and other materials to produce pots, vases, urns, jars and any number of similar artifacts. The master potters of Corannos were renowned for their skills and artistry, until the destruction of that city. Many of its potters fled to Khorbul, and today, this city continues to practice many of their lost traditions.
Salter’s Guild : Salters have a monopoly on the retailing of salt, an essential mineral since it is the principal method of preserving food on Argoth. A msater salter will own a shop in town, where bulk salt can be purchased and also a variety of pickled and salted preserved foods. Mining of salt is done by the Miner’s Guild; transportation of salt is done by the Mercantyler’s Guild, where it can be sold by a master salter, who will mark it up for resale. In coastal regions, some salters have sought to circumvent the other guild monopolies by producing sea-salt through evaporation of seawater in salt pans; the process is expensive and not very successful. Rock salt tastes better, and is more in demand.
Seaman’s Guild : Anyone hiring a ship’s crew for a vessel of over 30’ in length must do so from the Seaman’s Guild. If the guild cannot provide sufficient hands, unguilded labour is used on a temporary basis. The ranks of the guild are; Apprentice (Deck Boy), Ordinary Seaman (OS), Able-Bodied Seaman (AB), and Master Mariner (Master). Promotion from one rank to the next usually requires a minimum of two years service at sea; time spent ashore between voyages does not count, unless assigned to a vessel while in port. Promotion to Master Mariner requires the recommendation of at least two other Masters, and the passing of an oral examination by the guild.
It should be noted that actual membership in the Seaman’s Guild is not a requirement for a Ship’s Captain. Captains are appointed directly by the ship’s owner, and as such might be completely ignorant of maritime affairs. Sometimes a Master Mariner is appointed to be a ship’s captain, and sometimes a master pilot might be so honoured. A large ship will likely have a ship’s captain, a master pilot with one 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 is responsible for the day-to-day operation and maintenance of the ship, commanding all seamen aboard, and overseeing all their duties. In these tasks, he is often assisted by a veteran AB (Bosun).
Because a Seaman often doesn’t serve under a single Master, or on the same vessel, throughout his career, an elaborate procedure to keep track of his status. When a seaman is discharged from a ship after a voyage, the master mariner must report the details of his service to the local guildhall. When a seaman has acquired sufficient time to be promoted he receives an elaborate tattoo on his left arm. The tattoo for the rank of OS is a red dolphin; that for the rank of AB is a black anchor behind the dolphin; finally the entire image is enclosed within a two-inch blue circle when one achieves the rank of Master Mariner. The penalty for bearing a false tattoo is amputation of the offending limb. As a result, any one missing their left arm, regardless of how it was lost, will not be employed as a seaman, though some become pirates or serve on fishing vessels.
Shipwright’s Guild : A master shipwright is fully qualified in the arts of vessel design, construction, and outfitting. His yard will make all the ships, boats and maritime accessories required in his market area. A freemaster’s yard (no town has more than one), may produce sturdy, sea-going ships, or be limited to the production of small river-craft, cordage and fishing-nets. While this monopoly does not cover rope, shipwrights produce the best cordage. Some master shipwrights are bonded to the ships they serve on as ship’s carpenters.
Tentmaker’s Guild : Tentmakers have a monopoly on the production of tents and awnings, making pavillions for travelling nobles and stall covers for street vendors. Their basic product is canvas which they weave from flax and sell to shipwrights, mercantylers, and chandlers. Some tentmakers manufacture sails and deck tents for ships; some specialize in renting tents and stalls to those attending fairs and tournaments. A tent sells for around 3sp per square foot. Hence, a pavillion tent, the kind most common at fairs and tournaments, 10’ x 10’ (floor area) would cost about 30gp. Tents decorated with heraldic or other symbols usually cost more.
Thespian’s Guild : A small, exotic, eccentric guild which trains and cares for actors and performing artists whose arts are not within the jurisdiction of the Harper’s Guild. A master thespian will be the head of a,touring company, likely a playwright, actor, impressario, juggler, or acrobat. Most guild members are apprentices and journeymen who will never head their own companies. Companies are capable of staging elaborate performances, of varying quality, and may have harpers travelling with them in a loose partnership. A company will play to a noble’s household for a negotiated fee, or in public for thrown offerings, hopefully coins. The arrival of a company to town, timed whenever possible to match local fairs, often generates a carnival atmosphere.
The various touring companies tend to specialize as to their subject matter; some perform religious or educational plays under the tacit sponsorship of one or more holy orders. There are considered some twenty-seven (27) basic dramatic themes, dating from antiquity, which are constantly being reworked by masters of the “classical” schools. The traditional forms are very stylized, mime and puppetry being also well known. Since most performances are observed by pious members of various holy orders, and the nobility, most are also conservative than expected.
Timberwright’s Guild : This guild has a monopoly on all commercial logging on Argoth. Timber rights are held by most landholders; they are free to cut lumber for their own personal use, and that of their tenants. However, if timber is to be sold for commercial profit, a license must be acquired from the local landholder; the guild has the exclusive right to cut and sell timber for a profit. Master timberwrights will usually acquire a license to cut timber, paying the landholder “stumpage fees” (from 10-30%) of the final selling price of all their timber cut. Some timberwrights prefer to obtain their timber from wilderness forests though this is not necessarily cheaper, due to the costs of transporting timber from remote locations. The primary customers of this guild are shipwrights, masons, woodcrafters and charcoalers. Miners generally have the right to cut their own timber, but often employ a bonded master timberwright for his expertise.
Weaponcrafter’s Guild : The weaponcrafter’s guild has the monopoly over the design, manufacture and sale of all weapons and armour, although the making of bows and arrows among the commoners is quite popular. This guild is one of the most skilled and respected, especially among the nobility which it primarily serves. A master weaponcrafter will either own and operate a free franchise in town, or be bonded to a noble’s household. Most armies have weaponcrafters serving with them. The Khuzdul are renowned for their skill, but their arms are rare and valuable.
Woodcrafter’s Guild : A master woodcrafter has the skills of cooper, joiner, cabinet maker, wainwright, and carpenter. The journeymen and apprentices under a freemaster will produce a large variety of wooden objects; the guild is one of the largest on Argoth. Master woodcrafters are often bonded to assist stonemasons when wooden construction is required. Depending on the craftsman and customer, prices can be either below normal, or twenty times as expensive, especially with regard to furnishings.
Charter of the Mangai
The document delineating the rights and privileges of the Mangai. The charter was modeled on laws pertaining on the continent of Lythia, and was first proclaimed as law in the city of Corannos in 421 TR. The principles of the Charter had already been established for almost a century by the Court of Penticles. While the Charter is, officially, legislation amendable only by the governments of the various states that have adopted it, in practice, they will usually make any changes advised by the Mangai as a matter of course.
The Court of Pentacles
Established in 349 TR in the Coranik Empire during the reign of Leontius the Eternal, the Court of Pentacles was, at first, an economic advisory body to the developing Imperium. Continually evolving, its financial influence spread over the whole of Argoth as it gradually came to represent the interests of the “middle class”. Effectively mediating between the governments and the nascent guild “system”, the Court became an international organization and proved it could best administer most commerce. In 412 TR, it was renamed the Mangai.
The origin of the Court of Pentacles was to provide the economic advisory council for the Coranik Empire. The influence of this organization has since spread across Kethira, and by 470 TR, it had grown into the form it has today – the intermediary between the guilds and national governments. In 493 TR, the Charter of the Mangai, a document of imperial legislation was ratified, and within ten years was accepted among the nations across Argoth as law. This charter recognized the right of the Court of Pentacles (now the Mangai ) to regulate the guilds, settle disputes between them, and make recommendations regarding guild business to the governments approving the charter. It also granted the Mangai the monopoly over organizing fairs and markets in towns and villages.
The charter provides for tri-annual conventions, attended by syndics and Guildmasters from every guild. Until recently, these had been held in Corannos, until the fall of that city in TR 1003. This established a practice of rotating the site of the convention between various cities, which introduced more voices and ideas into the organization.
The main economic power of the Iberian City-States, has had the result of chapters in Antonica, Phaedra, and Katarre of becoming the dominant factions in the Mangai. Katarre possesses the most stable, organized and largest influence over its own local government.
Membership of the Council of the Mangai is comprised of the Guildmasters of all the guilds. This combined body regulates guild activities in Kethira, and all factors and masters, bonded or free, may attend meetings of the Council; they may speak freely, but have no authority to vote, though they do have an influence over their own Guildmasters.