A land is reigned by a circle of powerful men who control every aspect of the citizen's life. This cabal changes members often. In reality, the spectres of a small necromantic covent possess and control the people in power. Since they simply possess the bodies, they can leave when old age overcomes their shells and possess a new up-and-coming noble.
In addition to the Thieves' Guilds, there is a hierarchy that all thieves are part of. Rank is based on skill, and can be raised or lowered at any time. The Queen of Thieves, the greatest living thief in the world, is the ruler. Guildmasters answer only to her, and she answers to no one at all.