Guide to Tolaran Guilds Organization in Saleh'Alire | World Anvil

Guide to Tolaran Guilds

The backbone of Saethar'Kori- and, perhaps, all of Tolara

Saleh'Alire » Introduction Organizations Guilds

The horizon before us is the creation of a noble society wherein those who ply a trade may finally prosper surely and securely within those trades- and where none may take them from their backs without a fight again. And so, from here-on, let all our pantries be full with Pepper!
Kerra Gauthier, Founder and First Master of the Merchant's Guild; 5718

Ascending from the disorganization of early life in Tolara, and a desperate need for uniformity among chaos, Guilds have been around since some of the earliest moments of the continent's settlement. Initially these organizations operated as semi-informal brotherhoods dedicated to specific industries and professions. After the signing of the the Astrantia Charter in 6428, however, they were formally codified.   The Astrantia Charter didn't only solidify the structure of the Guilds and implement a cohesive system among them, however. It also granted them continental authority over their respective fields, in addition to givint them special permissions and authority across Tolara. Likewise, the region of Gwyn Tira'Kie itself remained a neutral region beneath the control of the Guilds collectively- making them an independant (and very powerful) group of entities on the continent that could easily rival any of the Kingdoms. This was important, as th Tolaran Standard was adopted at the same time, the manufacture of which was given to the Guilds as an integral neutral political party.   Today Guilds are an important staple of everyday life and trade; there are very few major cities on the continent without at least one established Guild Hall (or all seven) within their borders, and Tolarans can hardly throw a stone in any given place without hitting at least three people who belong to one- and at least two industries controlled by them.  

Power & Purpose

  What is perhaps unique about Tolara Guilds is the position of power and privilege they enjoy on the continent; they not only have more power in some regions than the Governments themselves, but they also operate completely independently of any single Tolaran Government- as well as the various Merchant Companies and Exploration Troupes that exist within Tolara; some Companies or Troupes, of course, may be members of relevant Guilds. But where these groups are the source of various trades, products, or services... It is the Guilds themselves who ultimately control them.  
In other words: Guilds ultimately determine who may create, sell, participate in, or practice such things- as well as where, when, for how long, and even at what price. Despite the counterintuitive nature of giving these organizations such power, however, they've been incredibly beneficial to the Tolaran economy for a number of reasons, and serve a wide variety of necessary functions across the bulk of the continent.
I enlisted in the Guild because no one else was paying me what I was worth. The Guild ensures I always get my due.
— Disgruntled Jeweler
  The first reason is one concerning quality and uniformity; Guilds often accept nothing less than the best, and have long since established a rigorous baseline of quality against which all products and services within Tolara are measured. This not only ensures the quality of their respective fields, but also assures the Tolaran people at least some mediocum of consistency in trade, even in the furthest and least explored reaches of Talaina'Vao.  
We all have the same vested interests we're together working towards ... So if you're a Guildie? Then treat your comrades right. That's all there is to it.   Anything less is a disgrace on all of us- the entire Guild. And we won't be tolerating it in our Hall.
— Guild Merchant
The second reason Guilds exist, is to encourage friendly competition- followed by encouraging fair trade and improved trading conditions within Tolara, as well as overseas. This is done through open dialogue, fair assessment of value, and transparency about business practices and decisions (one of many requirements set in stone by the Astrantia Charter). As a result they not only control prices for their own fields of specialty, but also establish alliances and strike deals with other Guilds and nations. These relationships benefits the Tolaran people by establishing fair, stable prices for various goods and services.
  Finally is the need to both preserve and extend the life of their fields; while certainly not all of them, many Guilds have founded schools- usually Colleges or Academies- since their inception. This serves not only to solidify the prestige of the skills and industries which each Guild represents, but also serves to pass the art and mysteries of their specializations on to the next generation. Additionally, many Guild members will take on students directly, individually, for much the same reasons. This is an individual choice on the part of each Master, however. It is still the schools which each Guild founds, which are highest valued.  
I'm vested in three different Guilds now ... That's a lot of dues to pay and quotas to fiil; my head's practically under water, so I have to keep working. I don't have another choice any more.
— Struggling Artisan, Merchant, and Arcanist

Organization & Structure

  Tolaran Guilds are divided into two types. First are the core Guilds themselves: Merchants, Artisans, Flaconers, and Explorers. Each of these act as a sort of umbrella, and handles a general category of profession or trade. They are further internally divided up into what are known as Quarters- or interior organizations that are each dedicated to specific trades beneath the Guild's scope of control. For instance, if a Jeweler is a member of the Artisan's Guild, he would be a member of the Jeweler's Quarter.   Regardless of what type of Guild one is examining, the foundation of all Guilds is an organised group of people who've formed solid associations with one another. These associations are based on their type of craft or product they specialize in, or the type of services they offer; in many cases these members have sworn socially or religiously binding oaths to support fair trade, back one another in feuds or in business ventures, and support one another in adversity.   The Arcanists and Priests, as well as the Shadow Guilds, however, make up a secondary set of non-core Guilds. These serve "higher callings"- often focussing on ideals instead of mere professions or trades. They have also sworn no such oaths unless they are an additional member of a relevant Core Guild that requires one, and are not technically obligated to uphold any such requirements for fair play and fair trade. Their internal organization may likewise be variable as well, depending on the Guild and its location.

Explorer's Guild

Founded in 5715, the Explorer's Guild consists largely of professional "for hire" mercenaries, slayers, privateers, and explorers. But their Quarters also include mapmakers, archivists, and other traveling professionals of various related stripes.

Merchant Guild

The second, founded in 5718, the Quarters of the Merchant's Guild consist variably of goods peddlers specializing either in the shipping or selling of trade goods- whether local or exotic; most buy their wares from the other Guilds, but some are also members of those Guilds themselves.

Artisan's Guild

Established in 5719, the Artisan's Guild consists of various crafters- most of whom manufacture the various goods for sale by Tradesmen; with the exception of Herbalists and Alchemists (who are members of the Flaconer's Guild) most crafts maintain their own individual Quarters within the Guild.

Flaconer's Guild

Flaconers had originally belonged to the Artisan's Guild but split from it in 5786 due to various trade differences, along with a desire to work alongside others of more similar professions. Today their ranks oddly include people such as Herbalists, Doctors and Midwives, plus the more typical Elixarmakers, Brewers, and related types.

Shadow Guilds

The first Shadow Guild was established in 5770 with the rise of the Eris'kan Kingdom. Now, consisting of smugglers, thieves, and other unsavory types, Shadow Guilds are often informally backed by the ruling power of whichever kingdom originates them. Yet they rarely act entirely without impunity, however, and are the most secretive least known or spoken about of the Tolaran Guilds.

Priest's Guild

Established in 5876 shortly after the Ilerian migration out of Eris'ka, the Priest's Guild was a direct response to the events of The Ferenian Migration. Despite its title, however, it consists not just of Priests of the various faiths- but also of Clerics, Divine Champions, and various additional Clergymen.

Arcanist's Guild

Since its founding in 6156, the Arcanist's Guild has been dedicated to the Arcane and all that it encompasses. Many of its members are also behind the founding of various magical Academies across Tolara- including the College of the Five Stars, located within the Imperial Kingdom of Di'kae Milona.

Universal Ranks & Offices

We're not like other Guilds ... I'm ... More like a kind of guide, I guess; I lead it, and direct it, and inspire it ... I don't order. We're called to much higher purposes than that, here.
— High Priest Sybolt Lager, Priest's Guild Master
  While all guild members are considered equals and are allotted a say in all Guild matters, these institutions still follow an incredibly strict hierarchy in terms of rank. In all cases, ranks are unanimously based on one's experience within their profession or craft- and only those members who have proven their competence, mastery, and knowledge of their craft may hold the various officer ranks which exist within a Guild.  
▼ Seeker Rank ▼
Seekers are the lowest membership rank of any Guild. Collectively they're students who seek out a Guild in order to learn a trade, but who have no prior experience or education in the trade (whether by way of schooling, or through other methods of obtaining knowledge these members receive none of the benefits of Guild membership and must complete at least five years of menial labor for the guild before being allowed to advance to the Apprentice rank within it.
▼ Apprentice Rank ▼
Those with prior (but minimal) education or experience within a trade are allowed to join their trade's Guild as Apprentices instead of Seekers. Like Seekers, however, Apprentices have none of the benefits of Guild membership- but they are allowed to learn minimal trade techniques within their chosen Quarter, under the guidance of a Master; they must complete at least three years of Apprenticeship before being allowed to advance to the Novice rank.
▼ Novice Rank ▼
Those who can prove a mastery of basic trade techniques and knowledge can obtain the rank of Novice after the prerequisite years spent as an Apprentice; Novice members have access to lower level Guild perks, and have a minor voice in Guild decisions. Additionally, they have the option of training further under a Master in order to complete their training and ascend to the Journeyman rank within their respective Guilds.
▼ Journeyman Rank ▼
Journeymen are those guild members who have completed all of their training with a Master, and have shown exceptional mastery and knowledge of their trade. They have full Guild rights- including a full voice in Guild decisions and the ability to take Guild provided work contracts, open their own independent businesses, use the Guild's imagery in their advertisements and maker's marks, work out of any of their respective Guildhalls in Tolara, and many others. Additionally, Journeymen are eligible for election to the Marshall and Book Keeper offices within their Guild.
▼ Master Rank ▼
Masters are a Guild's most respected teachers. Their job is to take on students and train them not only in their trade, but also in the Guild's bylaws and expectations. As a result, only the most experienced members may be eligible for the Master rank; the member must have a minimum of twenty years experience in their craft- as well as proving an exceptional knowledge and skill in both the basic and advanced techniques of their trade.
▼ Marshal Office ▼
Marshals are essentially the law bearers and peace keepers; they're elected members who are responsible for assuring the quality of products sold (or services provided by) Guild Members in their region, disciplining those who fail to meet the quality standards, settling conflict between members, and related duties. Additionally, Marshals are eligible for election to the office of Grand Marshals after five years of consistent service.
▼ Grand Marshal Office ▼
Like Marshals, Grand Marshals also act as law bearers and peace keepers within the Guild. Their duties include the normal scope of Marshal duties (assuring product or service quality, disciplining those who fail to meet the quality standards, settling conflict between members, and related duties), but are expanded to include additional ones- such as ensuring the Guild's bylaws are kept by its members, and imposing fines on those who don't.
▼ Book Keeper Office ▼
A Guild’s Book Keepers are responsible for keeping all the records of their respective Guilds. This predominantly includes recording the names, quarters, ranks, and offices of the Guild’s members, as well as collecting and recording membership fees. However, their duties also extend to keeping record of active Guildhalls, recording the Guild’s history and bylaws, recording and tracking the Guild’s general funds, keeping an inventory of Guild supplies, and so on and so forth.
▼ Quarter Master Office ▼
Quarter Masters are the elected leaders of each Guild’s individual Quarters (should they have them). These Guild officers are responsible for handling the affairs of the Quarter they preside over, raising funds and securing contracts for their Quarters, ensuring Quarter members have all the appropriate supplies, and more; to be elected as a Quarter Master, a member must first have proven his knowledge and skill in his trade and achieved the rank of Master. Additionally, they must have also previously served as the Guild’s Marshal, Grand Marshal, and Book Keeper- and shown exceptional judgment and leadership ability.
▼ Guild Master Office ▼
Guild Masters are the elected leaders of each Guild. These individuals are responsible for holding council, making the final Guild decisions, performing the membership testing, negotiating with other Guilds and nations, establishing Bylaws, and other duties of leadership; to be eligible for the office of Grand Master, the member must not only have proven his knowledge and skill in his trade and achieved the rank of Master, but also previously served as the Guild’s Marshal, Grand Marshal, and Book Keeper- and shown exceptional judgment and leadership ability.
  Some ranks may take decades to master- or, in the case of some crafts, even centuries. Meaning moving up in the ranks of a Guild can be incredibly slow depending on what exactly one chooses to dedicate themselves to (and exactly how dedicated they are.

Cover image: Encyclopedias by James L.W


Author's Notes

▼ Please Read Before You Comment ▼
I absolutely love getting feedback on my setting and its worldbuilding. I love it even more when people poke and prod at it, and ask questions about the things I've built within it. I want both. I actively encourage both. And it makes me incredibly giddy whenever I get either. However, there's a time and a place for critique in particular- mostly when I've actually asked for it (which usually happens in World Anvil's discord server). And when I do ask for critique, there are two major things I politely request that you do not include in your commentary:   ➤ The first is any sort of critique on the way I've chosen to organize or format something; Saleh'Alire is not a narrative world written for reader enjoyment... It's is a living campaign setting for Dungeons and Dragons. To that end, it's written and organized for my players and I, specifically for ease of use during gameplay- and our organization needs are sometimes very different than others'. They are especially diferent, often-times, from how things "should be organized" for reader enjoyment.   ➤ Secondly, is any critique about sentence phrasing and structure, word choice, and so on; unless you've specifically found a typo, or you know for a provable fact I've blatantly misued a word, or something is legitimately unclear explicitly because I've worded it too strangely? Then respectfully: Don't comment on it; as a native English speaker of the SAE dialect, language critique in particular will almost always be unwelcome unless it's absolutely necessary. This is especially true if English is not you first language to begin with. My native dialect is criticized enough as it is for being "wrong", even by fellow native English speakers ... I really don't want to deal with the additional linguistic elitism of "formal english" from Second-Language speakers (no offense intended).   That being said: If you want to ask questions, speculate, or just ramble? Go for it! I love talking about my setting and I'm always happy to answer any questions you have, or entertain any thoughts about it. Praise, of course, is always welcome too (even if it's just a casual "this is great", it still means a lot to authors)- and if you love it, please don't forget to actually show that love by liking it and sharing it around. Because I genuinely do enjoy watching people explore and interact with my setting, and ask questions about it, and I'd definitely love to hear from you... Just be respectful about it, yeah?

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