The Golden Cord Organization in Plavithen | World Anvil
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The Golden Cord

The Golden Cord is the world's foremost merchant's guild, but even that description is somewhat inadequate. The Golden Cord has become the de facto standard by which finance and commerce are defined in the world, and so it's not so much that the organization has become above the law so much as it is the law.   It is a hierarchal and large organization, with offices and facilities the world over. Somewhat uniquely, they even manage to operate openly in Vanorax territory.


  • Looped Cord: This is the place where most lowborn members of the Golden Cord start and where most of them stay. They are almost akin to a mix of a large worldwide bank and a certifying organization such as the Better Business Bureau on Earth. It is further subdivided into employees of the Golden Cord itself and vetted merchants. Employees of the Golden Cord at this level are typically those who provide financial and security services. These include competently-trained guards and bankers, experts in currency exchange, and those who provide notary-style services. The merchants at this level are small private businesses that have been vetted for quality of goods and services and reliability and trustworthiness of business practices. They are given a plaque to display in their place of business with the Golden Cord's insignia and are periodically checked to make sure they are living up to the standards the guild sets for them. Most of the members at this level are Lawful Good. They behave honestly, follow through on their commitments and conduct business in a fair and forthright manner. The fees associated with this level of membership are not steep, but they are not negligible, either.
  • First Knot: This is the level of medium-sized merchants, more skilled security specialists, and highly-specialized financial professionals, as well as the front-line management. Here you find for-profit clerics that sell magical services for fixed rates and paladins that provide a much more hardened layer of security when transporting extremely valuable cargo or securing it in place. At this level, perks and services beyond a verified good name become available. The guild hosts networking dinners, grants access to loans and other banking services at attractively-reduced rates (so much so that most First Knot members rely entirely on the Golden Cord for financial services) and transactions with and through The Golden Cord become insured. The guild also provides a lot of charitable events at this level, focusing almost exclusively on the arts. Most members at this levels are Lawful Good, and furthermore, most of them sincerely believe in the organization. Pay is generous and the organization provides a lot of perks to those who work for it or are associated with it. Membership fees at this level are minimal, with the guild asserting that most of what they make from members of this level is through the use of guild services, which is true.
  • Second Knot: This is the entry point for members of the nobility and for lowborn merchants who have achieved truly extraordinary levels of wealth. At this level, the guild's assistance moves from passive to active, with scouts and investment advisors actively working to provide genuine financial opportunities to the second-knot members. In addition, some truly impressive security experts become available at this level. A Second Knot security team could reasonably be expected to escort an incredibly valuable cargo through the most pirate- and bandit-ridden territories on Plavithen and successfully reach their desitination, cargo intact. Looped Cord and First Knot members generally provide discounted goods and services to these members and/or prioritize their business above that of other customers and vendors outside the Golden Cord. Most members at this level are good, but some are neutral. At this point, membership is free.
  • Third Knot: This is the first secret level of the organization, and like all subsequent levels, it is by invitation only. Potential members are watched for at least a year except in rare cases (members of Third Knot or higher's families may be started here). And at this point, the benefits begin to get truly shady. The guild provides services designed to subtly evade taxes, conceal price fixing, facilitate artificial shortages, and otherwise enable dishonest business practices under the auspices of "wealth management." The guild also begins to cater to the vices of its members at this secret level of membership. Married members are given ample opportunities for infidelity and provided with "reputation management" services for free if they take advantage of them. So too are luxury goods of dubious provenance (at appropriately-discounted prices). Illicit intoxicants become available as well, and similar services are provided to conceal their use from those around the member. Much is made of values of privacy, self-determination, and the privileges of affluence that those of lower status do not deserve or understand. "Security" services now include intimidation and smuggling, though members wishing to use these services must do so with a business not publicly affiliated with the Golden Cord. Goodness does not exist in any significant amount at this level, but a significant amount of hedonistic, self-interested neutrality can be found here. Membership at this level provides a small stipend in addition to its other benefits.
  • Fourth Knot: Like the previous tier, this is by invitation only. At this level, all pretense of goodness and nobility is abandoned. Security services include assassins and slavers. Opportunities to sponsor pirate and bandit crews for a share of their spoils are available (and enforced through magical means on the pirates and bandits to prevent double-crossing). More exploitative and destructive vices also become available. Everyone at this level is definitely evil, though some cling to some notion of principles. Simply holding membership at this level provides significant income on its own, but it is never enough.
  • Fifth Knot: The final tier of membership includes access to genuine infernal power. Fifth Knot members are not merely evil, they are the willing servants of Hell itself. They are also wealthy and powerful beyond the dreams of avarice, but their greed is never sated. They receive wealth sufficient to support entire provinces in comfort and safety directly from Hell's own coffers on a regular basis. They are attended by literal fiends.
  • Culture

    One thing to keep in mind when running The Golden Cord: it creates evil by enabling it, not by force.The only time Golden Cord members in the secret tiers need to worry about the Golden Cord itself is if they seek to undermine or expose it or its members. The public tiers receive a lot more scrutiny, but are treated fairly, and the strictness of the rules gradually slackens as members rise in the organization.   The Golden Cord uses the ordinary forces of greed and privilege to corrupt and damn its members, not coercion and manipulation.

    Public Agenda

    The creation and maintenance of reliable and safe commerce worldwide.


    It's unknown just what the actual wealth of the Golden Cord is, but what is known is that it is massive. Their financial resources rival those of empires, and they employ many thousands of individuals all over the civilized parts of Plavithen.
    Consortium, Financial

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