by Nael & Carteeg Struve
In the older days of the Corinesti Traders, a single unified guild had all trading rights and contracts. Since the Trading War of 300 AD, there are only four major guilds unified beside the Speaker in maximizing profit and trading influence throughout the Sargassi Sea and around the shores of Adlatum. The Corinesti Trading Guild is not only a major corporation in Corinesti society, but it is also the government that directs the lives of all Corinesti in the sea. Very few Corinesti have escaped the influence of the Guilds, and if the Guilds’ leadership has their way, the few will be brought back into the fold.
Adventures: There are many places to explore to find new bounty to trade, and many lands in which one can travel to in hopes of gaining favor with potential clients and customers. All of the sea and all shores are ripe with opportunities for business, whether it is to benefit one’s own position, their superiors, or even to harm a competitor. The reasons for adventuring may not be as altruistic are those in a knighthood, but the need for money to feed friends and family can be just as important.
Characteristics: The four guilds are commonly known as the Salvagers, the Traders, the Explorers, and the Harvesters. Each has an equal voice in the Corinesti Government, and the Speaker of the Tides acts as a fifth tie-breaking vote. Each also has a separate duty to perform in the operation of business.
The Harvesters are seabed farmers and hunters, gathering supplies and growing food from the ocean itself. The Salvagers hunt for pre-Drowning artifacts and recover goods from recent or newly discovered shipwrecks. The Traders are those who deal with Airbreathers, bringing goods above-water to trade with land dwellers. Traders also purchase goods from one land and selling them in a distant port, acting as middlemen between nations that do not often directly deal with each other. Explorers venture beyond the Sargassi Sea and away from Adlatum’s shores, searching out new territories.
Although the Guilds focus most of their work in and around the Sargassi Sea, trade with Airbreathers on shores outside of the Sargassi Sea has been consistently conducted, especially in the western Midlands. Corinesti ships are often seen in the Sea of Tears near Midland ports and off the coast of the Vacant Lands as well as throughout the Esorucak Islands and Sargassi ports.
The Guilds keep their own secrets from each other and often squabble over matters where their jurisdictions overlap. They also tend to keep their own matters away from the ears of those in other Guilds or outside of the Guilds entirely. Beyond that, the Guilds operate as a business. The bottom-line is the final detail of importance, and unless profit can be maintained, power is loss.
When profit is gained by one of the Guilds, money is not often distributed to everyone fairly. Those who conduct the most work, those at the bottom of the organizational chart, often live on next to slave wages. The elite who work in the upper levels of management often take these profits to fund further business opportunities or their own accounts.
Alignment: The Trading Guilds have a monopoly of almost all the Corinesti. Very few Corinesti are able to escape its influence. But since the Guilds are all encompassing, there is no restriction on alignment for inclusion. However those who are working in the higher levels of management tend to see things in a more lawful manner than those on the bottom.
Religion: There are no religious requirements within the Guilds, even though Rosmera and Smer-Tio are popular among many families.
Background: Even though the most ancient records point to their having been hundreds of guilds competing for profit and control thousands of years ago, most of Corinesti history was dominated by a single monopoly that ran the vast majority of Corinesti society. Various houses within the Guild competed for Council seats at the head of the Guild from time to time, but the hold the Guild had on all business activity was near absolute. The Council ran the Guild, and the Guild ran the Corinesti. It was this unified Guild that lead the Corinesti into the Sargassi Sea after the Drowning, believing that more business opportunity could be reached operating from the interior of the continent rather than solely around the edges. When warfare against the Nordar became a constant annoyance in the Shattered Sea, most of the Guild’s business retreated to the Sea.
In 290 AD, the Council ran into difficulty due to their own bylaws. The laws on who could be installed as Speaker were designed to allow only one of the elite few to be eligible. Unfortunately, the rules became so restrictive that only one elf was able to take the seat when the time came for a new Speaker, and the Council was unanimous in their hatred for this man, Lias “Wavestrider” Ambrodel. After his appointment, the Council became fractured. What were normally disputes between divisions within the Guilds turned into purposeful sabotage. The Guild broke apart as houses tried seizing control of various Guild assets and forming their own autonomous organizations. By 300 AD, the Corinesti Trade Wars had begun, and economic ruin spread throughout the Corinesti and onto the mainland.
Soon the trade wars came to an end, and the top four guilds agreed to allow each other to remain in existence so long as their leaders had an equal voice in how the overall management of their nation was handled. Each Guild Leader had a seat on the new Council of five. Each one had an equal vote on all matters concerning the Trading Guilds as a whole, and each Guild would be able to run matters internally on their own. In cases where votes ended in a tie, the Speaker would have the fifth and final tie-breaking vote. This was the Speaker’s sole power, officially. However the Speaker has come to be viewed as an important part of public relations and communication with many aboveground organizations.
Since then the Speaker and the Guilds have been striving to repair the damage done by the Trade Wars of 300 AD. Some Corinesti have not forgotten the mess and are struggling to remain outside of the Guilds. Some of these Corinesti have taken up pirating, and others have settled in the Coral Cauldron, forsaking their people’s “grasping and materialistic” natures and becoming monks and mystics. The Guilds hope to bring these dissidents back into line.
The current Speaker of the Tides is Quvaresh Thylosathen. Since the end of the Trade War, the restrictions on who is able to take the seat have been somewhat relaxed.
Races: Very few Gildanesti and humans have been allowed into the Trading Guilds, but there have been honorary exceptions. The rest of the Guilds are populated entirely by Corinesti. No other races have ever been allowed into the Guilds.
Other Classes: If a set of skills can be used for profit, the Corinesti Trading Guilds will find a use for it. As such, even though some classes are not designed for enterprise (such as druids or monks), all classes are welcome to the Guilds.