The Guild is at once an enterprise, an organization and an institution. As a business enterprise, the Guild is a collaborative effort between the most wealthy and influential merchants and artisans in Creation, dedicated to the increase of that wealth and influence. As a trade organization, it is the originator and overseer of standards such as weights, measures, value, supply and demand. As a social institution, the Guild links distant lands, employs thousands and creates a sense of community in a large and hostile world.
History of the Guild
The concept of the Guild was born in Realm Year 88, when Great Forks merchant Brem Marst came into contact with a group of merchant-philosophers in the Lap called the Counters. He put the Counters’ philosophical teachings to practical use, and within 10 years, he had solidified the basic structure. The Guild itself was founded in Realm Year 99, supported by the recent formation of the League of Many Rivers, but also by merchant houses from Sijan, Nexus and Chaya. Eighteen years later, the Guild established its permanent headquarters in Nexus and formalized the first Directorate, the head of the pyramidal structure that it had become. It worked its trade-route tendrils throughout the Threshold and solidified its structure, just as the Realm itself was stabilizing on and around the Blessed Isle and beginning to spread.Over the next three centuries, the Guild grew steadily, and local merchant houses and leagues became absorbed into it while nations and city-states became dependent on Guild-delivered goods and news. The constant battles between the Realm and the River League impressed on the Guild the need for military might of its own, and in response, it formed the first affi liated mercenary companies. It established functionally permanent contracts with large standing mercenary companies and became a military power in its own right. The Scarlet Empress permitted strictly limited trade with the Blessed Isle but restricted the areas in which Guild craftsmen and merchants could operate. She disallowed trade in Jade, weapons, armor and rice, and animosity over these restrictions blossomed into a trade war in Realm Year 416. This destructive conflict ended two years later after doing more damage to the surrounding Threshold states and tributaries than to the Guild or the Realm.