Name of Guild: Order of the Mace
Headquarters: Kingdom of Rhomas
Members: Approximately 3,284; not including those who have retired.
Found Date: 3,487A
Description: The Order of the Mace was not originally founded as a guild but as a way for the rich to entertain themselves with their slaves. It progressively grew into what it is today. From the deserts of the Etoilin to the arenas of Rhomas. From the lowly slaves and criminals fighting for their very lives and freedom, to the young nobles wanting to create themselves a name, the Order of the Mace prospers and entertains the masses.
Originally founded by a group of slavers, the order of the mace was nothing more than a group of rich merchants who bought slaves to fight in a tent outside of certain cities. When the death toll rose to exceptional levels and certain, known people, were kidnapped and used in these ‘clothpits’, authorities acted and banned the fights within their borders. They were forced to travel outside of their home kingdoms and setup fights out the outskirts of the Etoilin Desert were few authorities had power.
History: Originally this order was not even a licensed guild. They were banned in three countries, and the founders of the concept were actually wanted men in one kingdom. Yet still they did what they did because they found entertainment and money in the business of blood.
In the centuries after the Golden Age of Prosperity, times began to become humble in certain parts of the land. Wars were few and the desire to release frustration without going to war with your neighbor was building. Few wanted the wars to return, few wanted to participate in the bloodshed having lost family to brutal battles throughout history.
Five men, rich men, gathered around an oaken table with the warm spring breeze blowing ideas to fruition. One commented on how he had a few slaves who were lackluster in their work and how he was thinking of hanging them for the others to see and bear witness to those who did not obey. Another spoke of a young gentlemen caller that kept bothering his daughter and how he wished he could set him against his guards without fear of retribution from the crown. The third man, quiet and scheming always, asked them why they didn’t just throw them in a pit to fight for their freedom or for approval. His two brothers sitting in agreement beside him. Edwin Mace has hit on an idea that they knew they could turn into something big. After all it is said that a true mans heart is displayed when they have everything to loose and only their life to gain.
The idea of the pits was made. Over the next three years these three men brokered many fights in what they had dubbed the clothpits. Clothpits were large menagerie tents that could fit a hundred people who could sit or stand to watch these men fight for their lives. Inside the tents the fights could not be seen from the outside and people who wished to watch the fights had to pay an entrance fee to view the spectacles. A twenty foot ring was marked out in the middle where the fighters would battle each other. Rules were set for first blood, submission by the looser where they would give up, and of course by death. There were no other rules except no weapons were allowed in the clothpits except those carried by the guards and the brokers.
The more the fights were banned and frowned upon by the ruling castes the more the fights were sought after by the populace and those rich enough to hire the group for special bouts in the privacy of their own estates. The group began to prosper with these private showings, getting fighters from different merchants and nobles to fight for prestige was common to see who had the better fighter.
The brutality of it was later discouraged from the crown and soon banned from the borders of most kingdoms as they were seen more as cock fights among men and simple slaughter of the wounded, sick, and undesirable. Slaves of the rich didn’t see it this way but the crown and religious faculty did. They were banned and sent south to peddle their flesh trade on the border of the Etolin desert were no kings ruled, and the Lemieans agreed to ignore the petty murder of outsiders as long as it was done far from their homes and the dead were properly cared for.
Clothpits were raised and the word spread that they would continue to have bouts of combat open to all to see. At this point the fights had grown from men fighting it out fisticuffs to using simple weapons and wearing basic armor. This was seen as more for show as the armor did little to protect and the weapons were only useful against unarmored opponents.
When the death toll began to rise even higher and the fights began to become bloodier and bloodier, the group sat back and rethought their purpose. They were loosing money as the owners of the fighters would refuse certain fights if they knew their opponent’s fighter was known for being exceptionally brutal. This led them to an idea. They approached every kingdom they could that would listen. Remove the ban on their fighting pits and they would agree to set up rules that would minimize the death toll.
Most refused to listen to their idea but the Kingdom of Rhomas was intrigued. He saw how much money and power exchanged hands at the swing of a sword. They agreed to a certain number of royalties per fight, as well as allowing the group to use their jail house as recruitment for fighters. The deal was simple, depending on the severity of the crime they could agree to fight for a certain number of bouts, regardless of winning or losing, and be set free. A lot of the criminals who agreed to this who were repeat offenders ended up signing on as permanent fighters for the group to stay out of trouble. The idea of permanent fighters who were paid to fight changed the way the clothpits were run.
The agreement was made and rules were set. Slaves were allowed to still perform within the pits but were given freedom after a certain amount of fights won or years performed. The crown offered up prisoners of war, criminals, and allowed volunteers to enter into the games at their own whim with full understanding of the consequences.
It was agreed that certain prisoners were allowed to fight in the games for shorter sentences. As long as they were not serious criminals, no murderers or having done crimes against the crown itself. They were offered a series of successful fights for their freedom. Some prisoners of war, as long as they were not officials, were allowed to fight but usually given an extended period in which they had to fight. But if they survived until their time was up, they were set free and allowed to return home.
The guild was then born from the work of criminals wanting to stay out of jail. In a moment of nostalgia, the guild was dubbed the Order of the Mace, in honor of the Mace brothers who had the vision to begin this venture those many years ago. The Caer of Rhomas agreed to build an arena for these fights to be seen by everyone, for a small fee. A portion of the entry fee, fighter fee, as well as any betting that went on within the arena was given to the crown. This spawned an increase in fighters vying for status, they were seen as public stars and were soon popular and sought after by women and invited to many evenings with the rich and nobility. These arenas soon became popular and private investors began building one in every city in the kingdom, with the crowns approval of course.
Every win increased the larder of a gladiator. If they were indentured then their masters would take a portion or all of their winnings. Whose who were criminals gave all of their winnings to the brokers of their fights and when their agreed upon fights were won they would be released as free and given a small portion of their winnings as tidings to do good deeds. Small in comparison to their masters and the crown, but a coin a win after so man years adds up. When they are set free they are given these winnings and set out as freemen.
The people, having lost their citizen rights, and slaves and prisoners of war having none, had no choice about becoming a gladiator, if they had the physical and emotional make-up necessary for the profession. Some freemen, however, voluntarily chose the profession and bound themselves body and soul to the owner of a gladiatorial troupe by swearing an oath “to endure branding, chains, flogging or death by the sword” and to do whatever the master ordered. It has been estimated that to date, about half of the gladiators are volunteers, who took on the status of a slave for an agreed-upon period of time.
The games have expanded to one of rules were death is only allowed during certain events. Any other time the submission of an opponent must be given before the fight is won or if one fighter can not continue on. If a fighter refuses to give up yet can not continue the fight the crown usually issues forth a cry of verdict from the officiating council. They will determine whether or not death is suitable for the fight and call it from there. If they deem it not worthy of continuing and the death of the fighter, they will declare it by the lowering of a thumb. The other fighter must then finish the kill for a victory.
Weapons and armor have been implemented fully into the training of these fighters. Some of the best retired military minds have sought private ventures into training gladiators. This makes for a more skilled sight to see, and when they are set free, those who are young enough are often sought after by guilds to either train their guards or to be hired into mercenary camps for their skill. Even a slave’s life can improve should they have an initiative.
Gladiators could earn the status of a hero among the populace that continued to watch the events. (Like many modern day athletes.) Even though most gladiators’ status was barely better than a slave, criminal, or property, many citizens, businessmen, knights, and even nobles fought in the arena for the Order of the Mace. This was due to the popularity and status that went along with a winner of the sands.
They are treated like a prize horse, fed three meals a day, given medical treatment if they were favored and skilled, and given training with certain weapons to further their growth and skill in the arena. While this was rare, it was only done for those of exceptional skill and talent as well as those who willingly entered the arena.
Every win increased the larder of a gladiator. If they were indentured then their masters would take a portion or all of their winnings. Whose who were criminals gave all of their winnings to the brokers of their fights and when their agreed upon fights were won they would be released as free and given a small portion of their winnings as tidings to do good deeds.
The Order of the Mace has expanded to having an arena in every city of Rhomas, with each city having its own groups of owners and fighters trained in different ways. Once a year, an event is called to the capital were all the arena’s best troupes’ gathers in one place to fight for rights of superiority among the others. The winning troupe holds a title for a year as being the master of all the troupes and holds a golden crown of feather leaves that they display every game. This holds political power as well as prestige as the fighters from the troupe who holds the crown is hired more for games and events of entertainment.
The politics of the order soon began to bleed over into the politics of money. The order could be hired for games to be held for certain festivals or events. This brought some form of popularity to the one holding the games. While still run by the Order of the Mace, the sponsor of the games was seen as a giver to the people. This was then returned with favors and votes. If a rich merchant held the games it helped their business by the people desiring to return the favor by using them for their services.