New Hampshire Staff
Hoblings, Biata, and the Seven Great Guilds
Within the Mists, there is a great Castle, surrounded and interconnected with many guildhalls and protected by a great retaining wall. This is the Great Guildhall, home of Hoblings and Biata of the Shattered Realms. Insulated from the rest of the world, as many cultures of the Realms are, the Guildhall has been built into a large, complex, self-sustaining society based on politics, trade, and education.
The Company of Scribes and Notaries keeps some records of the history of the Guildhall. These records are contradictory and are often simply recorded rumors, not testimony, but they have some commonalities. The Guildhall used to house only Hoblings, and was run by a Great King and his seven advisors. The King left for a reason lost to time and never returned. The Guildhall, then run by the advisors alone, absorbed a great population of traveling Biata refugees from the Mists. Over time, the two races learned to cooperate, and fortified the Guildhall as a refuge from the Mists.
The reason for the King’s departure and disappearance, the role that the Biata had in forming today’s republic, and the details of the melding of these two peoples are all lost to time and speculation. It is a popular, though apocryphal, tale that the reason the King’s seat is never auctioned is because he’s still out there, protecting the Guildhall from the Mists.
Unless a major law is broken and the Fletchers’ Guild decides to investigate, guilds are allowed to govern themselves. Every guild, big or small, elects one “Warden” to act as the face and leader of the guild. No guild has imposed a term limit on their Warden, and it is traditionally held until death or resignation. The amount of power and influence varies from Warden to Warden, but it is always a coveted position.
The King and his seven advisors are gone, but the seven seats of power remain. The laws of the Great Guildhall and other Guildhall-wide decisions are passed with five or more votes. Every year, on the first day of natural snowfall, one of the seven seats is put up for auction on a rotating basis. When a guild wins, that guild’s Warden is promoted to “Councillor”, and that guild is barred from entering the auction until their seat on the council is auctioned again, seven years later. In the event of the death of a Councillor, that guild’s next Warden serves the remainder of the term. In this way, the Council consists of the seven most successful guilds (or, at least, successful at the auction).
The proceeds of these yearly auctions are put aside, to be used throughout the year to fund civil works and defense. Since these funds are available throughout the year to any guild willing to perform beneficial works, each guild has found some way to contribute to the Guildhall as a whole.
The guilds are varied, and include within them nearly every vocation a citizen could take. Even unsavory, secretive, and illegal activities are the business of some guild, though guilds don’t publicise the shadier sides of their offerings. Some vocations fall under the purview of two or more guilds, much to the frustration of the competing guilds. Since the most powerful guilds have been around since time immemorial, their names are often only tangentially related to their actual function.
The Apothecaries’ Guild (dealing in alchemy and chemistry)
The Physicians’ Guild (dealing in healing and doctoring, both magical and mundane)
The Geometers’ Guild (dealing primarily in the Celestial Arts)
The Company of Scribes and Notaries (dealing in contract law and recordkeeping)
The Fletchers’ Guild (dealing in matters of justice, law, and order)
The Carpenters’ Guild (dealing in real estate and the construction of buildings)
The Masons’ Guild (dealing in civil defense)
The Gravediggers’ Association (dealing in mining and funereal rites)
The Wainwrights (dealing in transportation, external trade, and limited exploration into the Mists)
The Clothiers’ Guild (dealing in seamstering, blacksmithing, and cobbling)
The Distillers’ Guild (dealing with farming, hunting, and distilling)
The Order of The Mint (dealing with the research of fair pricing, and fiat currency)
The Couriers’ Guild (dealing in resurrections, mental health services, and counseling)
Since it takes only a few enterprising citizens or a big enough rift in an existing guild to create a new guild, there are many smaller, “splinter” guilds not mentioned here. A splinter guild’s membership is low, with minimal direct influence, so almost all make either overt or de facto alliances with larger guilds. All larger guilds frequently keep a few splinter guilds for a variety of reasons: to allow for greater recruitment and diversity of voices, to subdivide and delegate the duties of the guild, or to allow for a scapegoat or cover organization for clandestine operations. While many splinter guilds exist attached to the thirteen Great Guilds as subsidiaries, very few splinter guilds rise above twenty members. While a splinter guild of ten or so members is easy enough for one of the Great Guilds to keep tabs on without having to directly control them, as the splinter guild expands that task becomes more difficult. Splinter guilds may eventually become absorbed back into the guild which they left or join a different guild. Splinter guilds which become large or prestigious may be systematically forced to join a major guild or disband.
One Guildhall, Two Races
The Biata and Hoblings have forged a society together, but the differences between the two races are still apparent. While both races consider knowledge and resources necessities in the fast-paced Guildhall, they differ on which is the means, and which is the ends.
Hoblings highly value money, material resources, and objects of great artisanry. They strive for a pleasant home, good food, and excellent entertainment. Knowledge, secrets, and rumors are merely tools used to acquire wealth. Trade and commerce are mutually beneficial to all, and with hard work and wise investment come power for you and your Guild.
Biata highly value knowledge, experiences, and personal relationships. They strive to understand the inner workings of the world. There is a world of complexity to unravel: the complexities of the sciences, complexities of the mortal condition, or even the complexities lying in the shadows of the Guildhall, to name but a few. Many Biata recognize that secrets tend to reveal themselves to the wealthy in the Guildhall, but the secret itself is the real treasure. There is no such thing as a bad experience, only an unpleasant one, as every moment contributes to greater understanding. A Biata of the Guildhall wants to experience everything in the world that there is to experience, but that goal can’t be achieved if you don’t have the money and power to do it.
This difference in values is notable, but not absolute. Due to their shared culture, these viewpoints often blend together. Hoblings highly value knowledge, so long as it advances themselves or their Guild. Biata value relationships, but many will readily admit that a relationship is another kind of resource.
Apprenticeships and Upbringing
Young Hoblings work under the guild of their mentor (frequently their parents, but other sorts of apprenticeships are taken by children without appropriate role models) until they come of age. It is expected that an apprentice will eventually sign on with a guild, and while preference is generally given to the mentor’s guild, it is acceptable for an apprentice’s interests to lie elsewhere. An apprentice’s “signing” marks the point in their life where they are considered an adult by society. While Hobling apprentices generally tend to sign around the age of 20, guilds may accept any application at their will. An apprentice’s signing also marks the end of their apprenticeship.
A Young Biata’s upbringing, on the other hand, is usually not as regimented. With long lifespans naturally come sparser birthrates, and there are often two to five adults that watch over a young Biata. These mentors encourage their students to simply experience life. It’s a strong belief among the Biata of the Guildhall that all experiences are valuable; pleasure and pain, success and failure, happiness and misery all have a lesson to teach. Biata tend to dabble more in their early years. Unlike the Hoblings, Biata aren’t considered uneducated if they do not join a guild. However, the advantages of joining a guild are myriad. Many use their experience to serve as informants, politicians, and diplomats, but some simply find joy in a craft and pursue that. Biata are considered to be adults after 91 years of study. After 91 years, a Biata has seen 13 full rotations of the Council, and has studied long enough to no longer need guidance by their elders.
Marriage, Birth, and Celebrations
Marriage, or the joining of two or more people in a close personal relationship, is seen as a product currently offered by the Couriers’ Guild. A lavish, stately party is sometimes contracted by the wealthy as a sign of their wealth and power, but these expensive celebrations aren’t held by most people in the Guildhall.
All guilds encourage their members to report any close personal relationships formed across guild lines to their individual guilds. This process is usually as simple as a few forms, with minimal effect on their professional lives. Those who work for their guilds in a position where that relationship might create a conflict of interest, such as a diplomat, spy, or assassin, recognize this declaration as anathema to their careers. People in those particular fields of work sometimes endeavor to keep their personal relationships secret.
There were two individual attempts in the past to standardize these documents into a “Registry of Marriage”, once by the Couriers’ Guild, and again later by the Company of Scribes and Notaries, but both quickly realized the job was an incredible amount of work with minimal profit to be made, and these projects were abandoned.
Births, on the other hand, are very well documented, being handled exclusively by the Physicians’ Guild by decree of the council. It is a distinctly Biata tradition to hold a celebration when a new child is minted, for the community to meet the child they will collectively raise. In recent years, however, even children born to only Hobling parents have had similar celebrations.
While guilds are free to set their own working schedules for their own workers at will, there are two holidays that are near-universally held across all guilds. The first is Auction Day, held on the first day of natural snowfall, where the position of Councillor may change guilds. The exact day is difficult to predict, despite the best efforts of the Geometers, and work is usually suspended across the Guildhall for that entire day. The second is The Warden’s Birthday, a day usually taken, as a guild, to reflect on the status of the guild over the past year and to plan their direction in the new year. The exact date of this holiday varies between guilds, and changes whenever a Warden dies, but the custom of this yearly “report” is maintained by all of the major guilds.
Dress and Fashion
The guilds used to have specific insignia and colors to represent their members, but the Carpenters and Masons would often use similar symbols to represent their guild. After a series of heated legal battles, including one claim that the Carpenters’ use of the Masons’ gray was a dilution of their brand, the Council decided that guilds can no longer associate their guild to something as universal as an entire color.
Guilds are no longer allowed to require specific uniforms, colors, or insignias of their workers based on their guild affiliation. Unofficially, however, many guild workers will show pride in their guild with an appropriate symbol incorporated into their dress. Many Fletchers will display an arrowhead as a badge, some Wainwrights will emblazon their work with an eight-spoked wheel, etc.
The Economy, Mints, and The Order of The Mint
Unbeknownst to the founding generations of the Guildhall, most other civilizations across the Mists trade in coins of gold, silver, and copper. Due to the Hoblings’ need for fungible trade far outpacing their ability to explore the Mists, the Order of the Mint was formed. The Order of the Mint focuses on researching the common trade rates of all sorts of commodities and keeping an open market for the Guilds to trade goods. They publish their findings on trade rates as their “public service”, often relating to a proprietary currency called the “Mint”. While trade is still done via barter and the traditional coins, Mints are considered the “liquid currency” of the Great Guildhall.
Playing a Hobling or Biata
This is one of the two cultures of Biata in the Shattered Realms. They live in different areas, and are culturally divided similarly to the “Highblood” and “Lowblood” options in the National Packet. This “Lowblood” Biata culture does not have a Homestone, nor the concept of a Homestone. Neither culture knows anything about the other as the campaign begins.
You should consider playing a Hobling if you are interested in being a merchant, a sellsword, or a “venture capitalist”. Extending the political and economic reach of a far-off company of specialists, Hoblings of the Guildhall have unique support in assisting them in exploring the Mists.
You should consider playing a Biata if you are interested in political intrigue, seeking new knowledge, and potentially exploiting it for economic or political benefit. Like the Hoblings, the Biata of the Guildhall also have the ambitions and support of the guilds behind them, but they also have potential conflict with the lost “Highblood” Biata.
Your PC can be of any listed guild; though the Wainwrights offer a clear reason for your PC’s presence, many other guilds will seek to steal that market share from them. If you would like to play a PC of a splinter guild, please contact the plot team in advance.