Fate's Tangled Weave
By 1600, the nascent nation of Vendel had established a league of Guilds to control their assets, which stretched across northern Théah; the league served as the de facto rulers of the nation. The War of the Cross only increased their influence, and when Eisen splintered, the Vendel quickly stepped in to fill the vacuum. In the space of a few decades, they had become one of the most powerful nations in the world.
The Vodacce, of course, did not take the threat lying down.
As Vendel money — the Guilder — became a common currency and Vendel merchants began appearing in every port, the Vodacce began a quiet trading war against their rivals. They raised prices, closed ports, and used their trade monopoly with the Crescent Empire to drive the Vendel back. The outcome of this conflict is still unclear: as things currently stand, Vendel controls the north and Vodacce controls the south.
Now the Guilder is the most popular form of currency in Théah. The only countries that do not recognize it are Ussura, Castille and Vodacce. In fact, creation of the Guilder has brought the Vendel/Vodacce trade war to a new extreme. If the Castillians or Ussurans officially accept the Guilder’s worth within their borders, it could mean the end of the war.
The Merchants’ League’s structure is divided into nine “Chairs” and 91 “seats.” The Chairs are reserved for the Guilds who created the League, save for one held by an Eisen who inherited it from the old Eisen Imperator when he died. The seats are put up for auction every year — for sale to the highest bidder.
A few of the many guilds of the Vendel League are detailed below.
The Blacksmith’s Guild
The Blacksmith’s Guild holds a long tradition of quality craftsmanship, and works hand-in-hand with the Miner’s Guild to develop new smelting and forging techniques. The Blacksmith’s guild commands a great deal of respect, and its members’ skills are sought after and ahead of their time.
The Carpenter’s Guild
Members of the Carpenter’s Guild consider their work as much art as labor. Products from the Carpenter’s Guild not only meet the most stringent of construction demands, they are highly aesthetically pleasing as well.
The Jenny’s Guild is one of the youngest, yet most widespread, profitable, and beloved of the Guilds. Its members are well-trained in the art of public relations, and the Guild’s mistress has labored long campaigned hard to make brothels an acceptable place of leisure.
The Merchant’s Guild
The Merchant’s Guild is the largest and most profitable of the Guilds, dealing with trade and bringing new products to market.
The Miner’s Guild
The Miner’s Guild has a much higher ratio of non-Vendel members than any other Guild, save perhaps the Jenny’s Guild. The Guild owns mine deeds across Théah, but most foreign rulers do not allow the Vendel a great deal of access to their resources.
The Printer’s Guild produces scores of books and newspapers every day, and their sheer numbers makes competing with them difficult.
The Sailor’s Guild can be a traveler’s best friend or worst enemy.
The Swordsman’s Guild is present in every nation, and holds uncontested sway in Vendel.
The Tailor’s Guild
The Tailor’s Guild has Montaigne to thank for its rapid rise to prominence. In fact, due to the sway that fashion holds over large portions of the Montaigne populace, the Tailor’s Guild makes more than triple the take from that nation as it does from any other. Members are instructed to actively compete against one another, engaging in feats of one-upmanship; if one style or cut grows too popular for too long, Tailors often will intentionally divert the eyes of fashion towards something else they find exciting and new.