[[merchants]]

Mercantile Guild

 by Agata Borkowska, published under Creative Commons

Do you want a bale of silk? Or a barrel of the finest African honey? Yes, we have that. Do you want to know where you can sell it? We can tell you this as well. Do you want to hire mercenaries to protect your shipment? Come right through. Your rival is getting on your nerves? Let's talk in the back room. If you have the right coin, of course.

There isn't a service not offered by the associates of the Mercantile Guild. Some of them just may not be as publicly advertised as others.

Origins

 by VollwertBIT via Creative Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kieler_Hansekogge_2007.jpgThe Guild is barely 70 years old, and as such is still perceived as a novel idea. Many important figures are still opposed to the notion of uniting merchants across countries and to an organisation that's virtually independent from any government. However, with the Free Masons' backing, the Guild persisted.

The first branch was established in Venice, and is now considered the headquarters of the guild, housing archives and the Guildmaster's Office. Over the years, the Guild expanded to the whole Republic of Venice, then to Etruria and France, and the Byzantine Empire. Within 40 years, every European capital had a branch of the Mercantile Guild, and one can find contacts of the Guild in every major city.

King Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine relied on the Mercantile Guild to ensure the best quality of products were brought to their wedding feast in 1152. This set a precedent which many notable persons followed, and thus the Guild gained renowned and solidified its position. Soon enough the Guild became prominent enough to gain control over the Silk Road and major trading routes.

Structure

Photographer: Theodore Scott, shared under Creative Commons - https://www.flickr.com/photos/theodorescott/5095091081/Any merchant, trader or craftsmen can turn to the Guild in the time of need, anyone who can pay can use its services; however the Guild looks more favourably on those who have served it in the past. It is a complex organisation, with members coming from different backgrounds, and its branches are almost separate entities by themselves. Quite often the guild steward of one branch will be unaware of the plans of another, which results in stepping on each other toes and internal rivalry.

In fact, more prominent members of the guild will usually be too preoccupied with the rat race to pay attention or care about conflicts between countries. It may appear that some of them have forgotten about borders and international politics, but that's not quite true. They will pay close attention to what's going on outside the Guild, and immediately consider how it can be used to their advantage. The Guild, as it is now, is powerful and wealthy enough not to be concerned with political machinations.

The Guild approves of people looking for personal gain. It will welcome anyone who has a knack for something - the more unusual the thing is, the better they'll get paid. The Guild will offer or at least point you in the right direction, if you ask about any service you can think of. It is rumoured that the Guild will do anything for money, and will not be ashamed to partake in slavery and other trades that moral, law-abiding citizens frown upon. The Guild seems to be equally uncaring whether their customers are members of the Church or followers of the Old Ways, humans or fae.

The thing that ties them together is a network of contacts and routes. Messengers travel surprisingly fast between the branches, and members of the Guild are more often than not up to date on the news from the world. How they do it, one may never know.

Places of note

  • Venice - the southern edge of St Mark's Square houses the Guild's headquarters and archives.
  • Florence - famous for its goldsmithing. (See Italy's page.)
  • Riga - main provider of amber.
  • Barcelona - notable for its silk trade, despite being completely unrelated to the Silk Road

Ranks

  • Associate (Default) - you've been hired by the guild for a job that matches your skills. You've obtained some income and know a few people.
  • Petty merchant (+1 Rank quirk) - you own a small business, e.g. a stall at the market or a workshop, which gives you some regular income.
  • Trader (+2 Rank quirk) - you know your way around England and France, safe routes and places to stay.
  • Prominent Merchant (Not available at the game's start) - Those who have proven themselves worthy, have access to the less publicised services offered by the Guild.
  • Guild steward - person in charge of a branch of the guild.
  • Guildmaster - the most powerful person in the guild, in charge of the whole organisation.

People of note

  • Lorenzo Contarini - current guildmaster, ruthless and ambitious.
  • Isabella Juana - guild steward from Barcelona, advocating for more moral and honest approach, strongly supported by the Church.
  • T√ľnde - guild's chief Cartographer, a busy-looking person, but always happy to oblige whenever asked about anything.
merchants.txt · Last modified: 2015/10/15 20:09 by gm_agata
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