The Guilds of Efeterthrop
The high society of the city of Efeterthrop is a lively bunch to say the least. Their dedication to chaos and anarchy is unbeatable, so long as they stay in charge.
Efeterthrop is one of those places that may well be a bottomless pit of sin and squalor to most who speak of it, but to those that live and raise their own there they can see no freer place in existence.Those who reside here seem to live by no code at all; laws in the traditional sense are all but unheard of.Once ruled by tyrannical monarchies the people have long since cut ties with such practices.Here, no one yells; 'Thief!' with any expectation of action.It's so common an occurrence many simply write it off as a tourist annoyance.Here you live in life's wake or you get out of the way. This way of life is sustained by one simple fact; you don't cross the guilds and no man help you if you do. To this end most stable families in the city have at least some cursory connection to one guild or another.
Once ruled by a monarchy stretching ages, the guilds came to prominence. Originally the guilds each upheld a single aspect of human decency: stealing from the rich to help balance the poor in the city, or spreading hope as information about the guilds actions. Others would retrieve lost goods and others still would carry out political assignations on behalf of the people.This was all fine and well and the monarchy under such strain failed within a few years; the king driven to the nearby deserts, never to be heard from again.
The guilds established a new rule in which they each diligently tracked each other's actions and would act as a system of checks and balances against one another. This practice today is a system still intact, but the goals of the guilds have taken drastically different form than during their inception.Each of the guilds has carved a piece of Efeterthrop for themselves and the system of checks and balances is a nervous four-way standoff as each guild tests the edges of its borders within the city. The only clue to their original cooperation is the meticulous records they keep on the flow of money in the city and through the guilds.
The guilds each uphold a single aspect of governing the city; as laughable shadows of their original purpose.Each guild, save one, is led by a noble family one of which has been inbred for at least two generations at this point. With rampant idiocy, greed, and/or madness running in most of the guilds it's a wonder they don't collapse.
1. The Exploding Chest: This guild is the most reputable; if you had to pick. Their leader the Progenitor is chosen by rank and serves till death.The Guild of the Exploding Chest acts as a bank for the most transient adventure and wealthy alike. The Bank boast the strongest lock up in the entire region, crafted by dwarves and blessed by clerics, it is said to be impenetrable. Additionally, the guild acts as the local Clergy, worshiping a deity of Commerce as it stores away peoples most precious belongings at a heavy monthly fee. It is important to note that the deity of commerce mentioned has a number of sets of beliefs; the most mobile version preaches the joys of order and society, helping to start new towns and foster cooperation. Whereas this particular sect has chosen a more harsh interpretation where only the chosen of their clergy are fit to rule, that no man is capable of ruling himself properly, only by divine intervention is society attainable.Wars over doctrine are not uncommon in the Gates of the Exploding chest, especially with traveling clerics of the same deity.
2. The Watchers: The Watchers once maintained the galvanizing spirit of the revolution that over through the monarchy. Now they are keepers of secrets as a band of intrepid spies and masters of deceit. For a price anything you want can be yours to know. This guild is led by the family Drakefoot; they have maintained their sanity, but care only a little for the welfare of the people. If there was a police force to speak of this would be it.They oversee many of the guilds activities and make sure that all systems and regulations are followed. There is a system in place for civilians to enter grievances, but only the direst of issues are pursued.
3. The Broken Window: As skilled thieves this guild once stole to maintain the balance of the rich and poor, now they steal for all the guilds to maintain the operating costs of the city in a practice they delightfully call taxes. To thwart their actions is not 'unlawful,' but you, as the victim's savior, take on their responsibility to 'taxes,' with coin or life, witch ever is easier.One may also set up stout defenses against theft, but 'dodging taxes' for too long can become costly.The family Cruxis has developed a cruel sense of irony in their actions often stealing items of sentimental value over others so that the resident will have to come to the guild and buy back their lost heirloom at cost.
4. The Cloaks: The smallest of the guilds, The Cloaks led by the family Glinston, are hired assassins for anyone with the coin. Assassinations are carefully monitored and any such death that would not serve the guilds is declined to the 'customer.'The family Glinston leadership has suffered the most heavily from mental illness.A taste for murder and depravity has tainted their minds for generations; loyal to their own codes and edicts alone they aren't mass murders, but only by a bit.
Finally, all guilds detest any kind of competition for their roles, unsanctioned thievery or deaths are vehemently forbidden and carry stiff fines and penalties within the city walls.The guilds have been known to act out side of the city, but it is rare and only more common to the watchers and cloaks on extended missions.
The King of Satyrs Festival:
In their celebration of the establishment of the guilds a final practice was put into place the King of Satyrs festival.The belief was that while no man among themselves was worthy of becoming king. Maybe someone else, a man chosen of the people might be.To this end the King of Satyrs Festival was installed.The festival lasts for one week during that time the people could choose a King from one of their peers to rule as a true king for the remainder of the week, at the end of that time he could hold the office for the remainder of the year if the populace voted him in by a majority.During that week no man could deny his wishes, and it would be shown quickly weather this man was truly ready to accept the responsibilities of Kingship or would waste the opportunity on wine and women.Sadly, as candidates one after another wasted their short time in office each generally worthlessness as Kings, the practice changed over the years. The people began to forget the true reason for the celebration and the title was, by common folk, renamed The King of Fools.The goal was now to elect a simpleton as king let him whip up the town into frenzy and promptly forget him at the end of the festival. Many still remember the vote, but few participate as it is a waste of time for the most part.With this the guilds continue to spiral deeper in to the depths of depravity, unchecked even by their own fail-safes. At this time in history no one is quite sure how the guilds would react to a true savior king being elected. Would they honor their core edicts, brutally murder the threat to their power, or attempt to manipulate him or her as a puppet? Most don't care to speculate.
1.A foolhardy member of the group unwittingly becomes king for a week, after a particularly shameful public exploit during the festival.Slowly he becomes aware of his pull, in this new found position. Does the party help him restore the city to its glory days or waste his time as all the others.
2.Traveling through the city a party member stops a 'crime' encoring the wrath of their employers or even other guilds. Some crimes include: a mugging, a murder, or a break-in.
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? Responses (8)
Update: Bad format.
Pretty good, guilds that keep the city from descending into anarchy.
A bit rough around the edges, but over all a pretty refreshing point of view. It would be wise to make this a plot centric goal from the start, lest the PCs find themselves tied to a city all of a sudden.
You're right, and it ended up being that way in the end. My PCs got tied down there for months of gameplay. It wasn't planed to be that way, but worked out great in the end
The Hanseatic League on steroids :)
Some really interesting and original names for the guilds too, which is cool. I like this, there is some originality here, despite the familiar refrains. Could use another edit, as it is slightly rough around the edges as Gossamer mentions.
The first plothook of course is quite fitting. The PCs become in essence campaign managers, bodyguards, civic-planners, etc...and have to deal with the countless machinations of the guilds. Nice city-campaign scenario! And who knows, if the PCs manage the impossible, it would be an interesting follow-up campaign with one of the PCs becoming the True Saviour King...now what? :-)
'Here, no one yells; 'Thief!' with any expectation of action.' That line made me pause to chuckle.
Agree with the comments. Token typo:
'Others would retrieve lost goods and others still would carry out political assignations on behalf of the people.'
I assume you meant assassinations :)
Good sub. A nice example of a Kleptocracy.
Seriously, I almost fell out of my chair, Kleptocracy. Simple, hilarious, completely true.