The Wayfarer's Guild is the main merchant guild of the Kingdom of Prairies Endless, handling the majority of the kingdom's maritime commerce.
HistoryGnomish explorers reached the northwestern coasts of Riccastra shortly after the elves of the Kingdom of Prairies Endless had expanded into the coastal forests bordering their grasslands. The elves realized the advantage of befriending the newcomers. The sea was a powerful potential resource, but the elves had no experience with it, while the gnomes were the decedents of generations of seafarers. The elves invited the gnomes to stay in their land as subjects of the queen. Many gnomes accepted the offer and summoned more of their kindred. Hybrid elvish-gnomish communities sprang up along the coast. The gnomes practiced shipbuilding, fishing and trading, while sharing their knowledge with the elves. The elves shared their knowledge of riding and herding with those gnomes that wanted to venture away from the coast into the interior of the kingdom. About a generation after gnomes started integrating into Prairies Endless, a group of gnomes wanted to continue exploring. They founded the Wayfarer's Guild, with the primary purpose of exploration and the secondary purpose of trade to fund their explorations. The original founders would take turns making standard trade runs along established routes and traveling into the unknown. If the explorations found new settlements or valuable resources, they would establish new trade routes. As time went on they had to devote more of their resources to plying their existing routes, until trade became their main focus. By this point they had become the major domestic trade group in the kingdom, as they tended to be the first guild into a new area. The Wayfarer's Guild became buying out the other shipping entities until by the current day they are basically a monopoly. While it is possible to find merchant ships from other lands trading with the Kingdom of Prairies Endless, all merchant ships under its belong to the Wayfarer's Guild. The guild also has major interests in shipbuilding and a chunk of the fishing industry.
Currant AffairsThe guild is currently one of the most prosperous entities in the Kingdom of Prairies Endless. Its guildmaster is considered one of the twenty most powerful individuals in the kingdom, similar in influence if not in prestige to the high chieftainesses of the constituent tribes. At some point the guild discovered a large uninhabited island out in the middle of the ocean and has been using it as a base of operations for at least four hundred years. As the kingdom's border crisis developed, the Guild, combining business pragmatism and gnomish lack of attachment, suggested evacuating the entire population of the kingdom to the island, which they had named Refuge. This idea was soundly dismissed, but the guild continues to slowly move more functions to Refuge, as well as update plans of a largescale population transfer if their proposal is ever reconsidered. The guild keeps the location of Refuge a closely guarded secret, with only the guild's ships officers knowing the route. Passengers are not normally allowed on the island and on the rare occasions non guildmembers do travel there, the ships take indirect routes with multiple nocturnal course changes. The guild claimed the island in the name of the queen and consider it her possession that each guildmaster controls as a fief. In light of this the guild's master also titles himself the "Lord of Refuge".
MembershipAll merchant sailors in the Kingdom of Prairies Endless are members of the guild. Seafarers in non trade business that are owned by the guild can be members but do not have to be. Employees of the guild's land based interests, such as shipbuilding, are not guildmembers. Refuge has a growing population of people who work for the guild and are a type of associate member, due to being born and raised on the guild's secret base. Racially there is a slight majority of gnomes in the guild, with most of the remaining members being elves with a few humans thrown in. This divide is much more pronounced among the guild leadership with almost all captains being gnomes. The guildmaster has always been a gnome.