On the continent of Turoza, the majority of mercantile and personal transactions involve the use of coins, but few actually stop to think where their currency comes from, and even fewer know who produces it. Working tirelessly behind closed doors and away from the interfering hands of Turoza’s nations, the Guild of Coiners & Moneyers produce and regulate the currency that is used and trusted across the continent. The Guild of Coiners & Moneyers wields immense power, every time a peasant buys a loaf of bread, or two monarchs buy one another off to keep their kingdoms safe, it is the Guild who has enabled this to happen. Not only that, the Guild operates as a money lender, and in the past they have financed some of the greatest achievements of Turoza's nations, and have even had a hand in aiding one nation to conquer another. The Guild is more than happy to take on the role of creditor to one nation or another, if there is a clear advantage for the Guild in doing so....
The Guild survives and thrives because it is the pan-kingdom authority that is universally trusted to produce coinage of all denominations. Without their activities, the economies of all of Turoza’s nations would collapse, because they are so reliant on the use of coin. Normally, the activities of the Guild go unnoticed, but when a nation or organisation tries to cut ties from the Guild, or become self-sustaining in the production of their own currency, the Guild has no qualms about unleashing the full might of their ire. Supplies coin to a given nation or even a specific location can be stopped very quickly, or the Guild can swamp the local market with irregular or counterfeit coins, which before long economically isolate their victim from the rest of the world. Without the ability to trade, even the mightiest nations crumble. How can a ruler continue to stand when they have been forced to pay their troops in coinage that is worthless?
The Guild is incredibly protective and secretive about what they do, and the production processes that they have in place to produce the continent’s currency. This is partly to minimise the likelihood of anyone producing passable forgeries, but is also to reduce the amount of outside influence, particularly on a national level, effecting their organisation. This means that only members of the Guild are allowed to operate in any function to do with the Guild's activities. The securing of raw materials, minting of coins, distribution and administration are all controlled in house.
Membership of the Guild is not easy to attain. First an individual has to be approached by one of the Guild's recruiters, who comb the cities and settlements of Turoza, scouting out potential applicants. Once an invitation to try to join the Guild has been extended, the applicant then has to undergo a series of rigorous tests to assess their skills. These tests tend to focus on the practical skills needed to efficiently and effectively carry out the minting process, but some applicants whose potential is recognised are given rigorous testing in economic theory to assess their suitability as a potential Guild financier. If an applicant is deemed to have passed the assessment, they are shipped off to one of the Guild's facilities to begin their training. Those who fail the tests are forced to sign a non-disclosure pact relating to the Guild's recruitment procedure, and there have been rumours of applicants being murdered in cold-blood, because they were not deemed to be trustworthy enough to keep silence.
The Guild of Coiners & Moneyers is structured around a tiered system of ranks that members can theoretically progress through from Associate to Principal:
Principal: Head of the Guild who presides over the Council of Masters. Only someone who has reached the rank of Master can be elected to this position, and they hold the title of Principal for 5 years. The same individual can be re-elected to the position of Principal, but they cannot hold consecutive terms
Master: Masters of the Guild are individuals who have been appointed to this position in recognition of outstanding services to the Guild. The number of Masters is fixed to 30 individuals, and the title is held for life. This means that it is only possible to appoint a new Master once a previous incumbent has died. Masters hold a great deal of responsibility in the Guild, and run its operations through the Council of Masters, where all important strategic and operational decisions are made. Masters head up the various functions that are encompassed by the Guild’s activities, from the running of the Guild’s facilities, to the command of their security force.
Officer: This is the Guild’s second rank, and they oversee production in the Guild’s facilities, manage the work of the Associates below them and function as middle managers for the Guild. As well as managing the day-to-day operations, Officers also work in the Guild’s headquarters as part of a bureaucratic corps. This is not restricted purely to administrative activities, but also includes the running of the Guild's money lending and investment portfolio.
Associate: The lowest rank of member in the Guild, Associates have to undergo a rigorous testing procedure to prove that they have the sufficient skills to work in the Guild’s facilities. Associates carry out all of the work that goes into the production of coinage for the whole of Turoza. This does not just include the physical minting of coins, but also procurement of raw materials, distribution of finished products and aspects of security. Seniority amongst Associates is established by how long they have been a member of the Guild. The newest members predominantly work on the production of copper coinage, whilst the most senior Associates work on platinum coinage.
The founding principles of the Guild of Coiners and Moneyers, still adhered to today, are:
- To maintain the integrity of all coinage and money that is produced for use, and to protect it from depreciation.
- To regulate the flow of coinage wherever it is need, and to standardise its usage.
- The promotion of easy free trade to all of the settlements and nations of the continent of Turoza and beyond.
- To act as a facility for the giving of loans to parties that make a strong case to the Guild, whom the Guild feels are trustworthy and where the giving of such a loan would act to the advantage of the Guild.
The Guild of Coiners & Moneyers has 10 bases spread out across the continent of Turoza. One of these bases is the Guild House located in the city of Taqwal
, which acts as their headquarters, and is the base of all of the Guild’s administration and non-industrial activities. The other nine Guild centres are spread across the continent and serve as the production and distribution centres of the Guild’s coinage in their given areas. The locations of these centres is highly classified information within the Guild, and the people who work in these nine production centres live there permanently and are not allowed to leave the facilities except under very highly regulated circumstances. Visitors who manage to find these facilities are rarely ever allowed in, and those that are have to sign a contract giving their word that they will not divulge Guild secrets to the outside world. These contracts are commonly believed to be cursed.
Although it was not part of their founding principles, the Guild has a collection of superb financiers as part of their membership, who work to invest the Guild’s funds into concerns that will generate them a significant amount of income, and who also oversee the moneylending activities, for which the Guild always secures a hefty amount of interest.
In addition, the Guild are part owners of the majority of the mining concerns in Turoza, which not only provides than with a healthy, subsidised supply of raw materials from which to mint coins, but also provides them with income to sustain the Guild’s activities.
The Guild produces the four denominations of coinage that are used throughout Turoza. All of these coins bear the symbols of the Guild, the hammer and scales on their obverse side, and a separate specific symbol on their reverse side. These coins are all minted to be virtually indistinguishable in terms of weight and purity between coins of the same type, with rigorous standardisation and consistency in quality being paramount to the Guild’s activities. This attention to detail and consistency has made them the universally accepted producer of currency in Turoza.
: The lowest denomination produced by the Guild, the copper piece is minted in the distinctive shape of a circle with two semi-circular sections cut out of the coin. The reverse side of the coins bear the emblem of a fish, which has led many to give them the colloquial nickname ‘Fishes’ or ‘Sardines’. The emblem and the nickname do relate back to the 'First Striking', with one copper piece traditionally being enough to a buy a single fish, though prices across Turoza have risen over the intervening years.
: Equivalent to 10 copper pieces, these large round coins bear the emblem of an open hand on their reverses; a reference to the fact that around the date of the 'First Striking' a silver piece was deemed a suitable daily wage for an unskilled labourer. Because of their reverse emblem, they are often referred to as ‘Hands’, and if someone in Turoza asks you to ‘lend them a hand
’, they are asking for a silver piece, not physical help.
: Equivalent to 10 silver pieces, these coins are round in shape, like silver pieces, but are smaller in size, due to the more expensive nature of the gold they are made from. The reverse emblem of gold pieces is that of a mounted knight, meaning that they are often referred to as ‘Knights’ or ‘Cavaliers’. At the time of the 'First Striking', a gold piece would have been enough to buy the services of a single mercenary horseman for a single day, and this remains the daily wage of many mounted troops across Turoza.
: These coins are equivalent to 10 gold pieces, and are the highest denomination minted by the Guild. Although similar in colour to silver pieces, the metal retains its brilliance for far longer, and is much more resistant to wear and tear. Platinum pieces are the smallest coins out of all of the denominations, and are rectangular in shape with the reverse emblem of a crown. This is a reference to the fact that few people saw a platinum piece except royalty at the time of the 'First Striking', something that was as true then as it is now.
The Guild of Coiners & Moneyers originated in the first century of the Settlement Era around the area of the Vermell Peninsula
in the far south of Turoza. The first century of the Settlement Era was one of immense change across the whole continent, with groups of people of all races and ethnicities beginning to root themselves in single permanent locations, rather than keeping to the nomadic lifestyles of their forebears. This meant that for the majority of people in Turoza, the barter based, gift-exchange based, and in some places hunter-gather economies were rapidly becoming insufficient for the needs of the emerging nations and city-states.
It was the lack of clarity and standardisation in the local barter economy that led the blacksmith of the village of Correntdor, nestled in the foothills of the Esbalt Mountains
to come up with a system to facilitate and streamline easy trade within his community. What the blacksmith, Octavi Gold-Scale, invented was coinage. The moment when Octavi invented coinage, known as the 'First Striking' within the Guild, revolutionised the economy of Correntdor, and soon the entire area of the Vermell Peninsula was using a currency-based system of exchange.
Initially, Octavi Gold-Scale was the only producer of coinage, which was sustainable when the system only existed in Correntdor village. As the popularity of his system took off, however, Octavi began to train apprentices in his craft and within five years, the Guild of Coiners & Moneyers was officially formed. The reason behind the forming of the Guild was primarily because Octavi wanted to protect the integrity of what he had created. His system was founded upon the principal that people could guarantee the amount of precious and base metal that made up their coinage, ensuring that its value remained stable. Octavi felt strongly that to share his production process to anyone other than those he could trust not to reveal his method, and had the skills to produce his coinage, would completely destabilise what he had created. With the formation of the Guild in 98S.E., Octavi ensured that the rules of membership would protect his system for time immemorial, and from that day on, only those who were deemed trustworthy enough, and skilful enough were trained in the art of coining.
When the Sultanate of Fashaddon
conquered the Peninsula in the year 107S.E., the concept of currency was exported to the desert kingdom, and with the idea being embedded in the Sultanate’s economy, the idea rapidly spread north to the rest of the continent. Now, the currency that the Guild produces is used in virtually every settlement in Turoza, and even the lowliest copper piece is recognised as an item of intrinsic value in the few areas that do not regularly use coins.
The ubiquity of coinage in Turoza gives the Guild of Coiners and Moneyers an incredible amount of power, as they are in the unique position to manipulate the politics and economics of Turoza’s nation states. The founding principles of the Guild, laid down by Octavi Gold-Scale when it was formed are, some would argue, deliberately vague. This means that the Council of Masters and the Principal can in effect give themselves a mandate to heavily influence the continent of Turoza. On the one hand the Guild can be seen to influence matters in a broadly acceptable way, such as the bankrolling of two large and expensive public works projects, the building of the Tarcan Aqueduct and the Tarcan roadway. The Tarcan Aqueduct project helped to stabilise the Sultanate of Fashaddon, by helping to provide precious water to the rapidly growing towns and cities of the desert kingdom, whilst the construction of the Tarcan roadway drastically increased the ease of trade by land between the northern and the southern kingdoms.
On the other hand, many of the Guild’s activities are harder to justify as they appear to be predominantly protectionist of the Guild’s own position and assets. Some scholars have suggested that the Guild of Coiners and Moneyers was a key player in the destabilisation and then collapse of the Kingdom of Reinhart. When Reinhart tried to introduce their own unique system of coinage in the year 383S.E., to reduce the influence of the Guild in global politics, the Guild deliberately flooded Reinhart’s local economy with debased coinage, worth a fraction of the coins of the regular currency, whilst simultaneously ceasing to ship and distribute the regular coinage in the Kingdom. This led to what is known as the ‘Great Famine’ in Reinhart as the other nations of Turoza stopped trading with them, for fear that their own economies might be similarly corrupted. Unable to buy key agricultural produce, the population of Reinhart began to starve. After two years of economic isolation, and countless thousands dead from starvation, the nobility rose up against King Wulf XII, summarily executed him, and placed his son on the throne with strict instructions to cease all unauthorised minting of coins, and approach the Guild of Coiners & Moneyers to beg forgiveness. Although the Guild did then end the economic isolation of Reinhart, the child King Wulf XIII had so many lingering health problems from the malnutrition and stress he suffered during the Great Famine that within three years he was dead, and the Kingdom of Reinhart descended into the civil war from which it has never recovered.
Since then, the other nations of Turoza have learned to treat the Guild with great respect, and to not try to threaten the monopoly that they hold.
The Guild maintains its own security force drawn from its members, primarily from the Associate rank who act as foot soldiers, with Officers providing on the ground leadership. One of the Masters is appointed to command the security force and they answer directly to the Council of Masters. The Guild has invested significant resources into training and equipping their security force to make them as effective as possible, and even a small number of their soldiers is a force to be reckoned with.
Guild Security maintains a significant presence at each of the Guild’s production facilities around Turoza, as well as in their headquarters in Taqwal. Platoons of Guild Security are dispatched with every shipment of coinage to ensure that it arrives safely at its intended destination, and anyone who attempts to get in the way of shipment, or hijack said shipment is dealt with ruthlessly.