Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Government District Guild Houses

The House of Four Winds is a two storey brick townhouse, decorated with bright yellow wood trim and carnations blooming in small window gardens. Owned by the Four Winds Guild, which makes its fortune in the salt trade, the House is the base of guild operations and the home of Grand Parliament councilor Obidiah Dragonbane. Obidiah is a retired lawyer and acknowledged expert of Stormhaven history. A passionate collector of legal texts, Obidiah has an extensive library of scrolls, tablets, and tomes in his guild office. Ironically, the guards drawn from the Four Winds Guild are among the city’s most corrupt, a situation that Obidiah is said to be working to remedy.

The Underwriters’ House is the largest guild house in Stormhaven, an expansive two storey stone mansion decorated with gargoyles, delicate pillars, and windows of shimmering, stained glass. A high, rough stone wall topped with iron spikes as long as daggers surrounds the mansion. The only access is through a wrought iron gate manned at all times by two pike men. Underwriters’ House is the headquarters of the Underwriters’ Guild, the wealthiest and most prominent in Stormhaven.

The Underwriters’ Guild is an association of fifty ruthless, business-savvy bankers who use their immense personal fortunes to finance and insure merchant expeditions in return for a considerable percentage of future profits. This guild’s influence extends into every business in Stormhaven, even with the guilds that regulate them, a situation that many resent but can do nothing about. The Guilds current councilor is Diedre Saltsure, now serving her final year in office. Diedre is a middle-aged woman, short and lean, with a perpetual scowl and steady, unblinking eyes. She is said to worship a god of trade and in her fanatical zeal, believes that for her guild, indeed all of Stormhaven to prosper she must remain in office. She has been campaigning for a change in parliamentary law for the last two years in an effort to keep power.

Diedre lives on the top floor of the mansion, in a lavish room that overlooks the mansion’s front gate. Her personal assistant and bodyguard Samsa is always at her side. Rumors are that he is her lover. Besides Diedre and Samsa a dozen minor functionaries and a similar number of private guards live and conduct business in the mansion. One of the more prominent members, Dambode, is responsible for the transfer of official contracts between the guild and those guild finances as well as the hiring and firing of guards and mercenary adventurers.

Moneychangers’ Hall: The Moneychangers are a recent addition to the roster of Stormhaven guilds; split from the Underwriter’s Guild in a 10 to 1 parliament vote and placed under the control of the noble families. As this guild is the only one to which nobility are officially allowed membership, the noble families tightly control its administration.

In theory, Moneychangers’ guildsmen are the only citizens allowed to exchange foreign currency, including goods such as furs, for Stormhaven coin, for which they receive a 15 to 20% profit with each documented transaction, half of which must be given over to the guild treasury. In practice, at least half of the money changing that occurs in Stormhaven is done without the guild’s knowledge or approval, either through fast transactions in Driftdowns shops or by guilders seeking to keep their profits to themselves. To combat the problem, high-ranking guildsmen accompanied by Driftwatch patrols perform routine seeps of the score of licensed Moneychangers’ offices and multitude of shops in the Driftdowns.

The parliament councilor for the guild is the human Rolan VanFleet who is also patriarch of the VanFleet family. Even by parliament standards, Rolan’s relationship with the other councilors is antagonistic. His relationship with Diedre Saltsure borders on the homicidal and he seems fixated on opposing Uvrok at every turn. Monchanger’s Hall is the most lavish of the guild halls, a three storey mansion with walls of rare, rainbow stone mined by kuo-toas and firerose teak shingles grown by druids, all surrounded by a wrought iron fence and a maze of hedges.

Loyal Order of Shipwrights: The guild of shipwrights is second only to the Underwriters’ Guild in prominence, responsible for the construction and repair of Stormhaven’s vast array of merchant ships. The guild’s coffers are always full, thanks to the steady stream of business flowing in and out of Stormhaven’s dry docks, so even the lowest level guildsman earns double the average wage.

The councilor for the guild is the human Captain Alistair Embry, a recently retired captain of the Stormhaven navy with an encyclopedic knowledge of warship design. Alistair is the very image of the ideal officer, impeccably dressed and polite, with a keen mind and unwavering courage. Of all the Parliament councilors, Alistair is the one most concerned with the welfare of Stormhaven as a whole, pushing for harsher laws to deal with rampant crime in the Driftdowns and advocating the breaking off treaties with repressive nations. His uncompromising views isolate him from most of his peers and have made him an enemy of several , including Twilight House. Alistair and Obidiah Dragonbane have become strong allies and close friends who meet regularly for chess games in Rockhammer Square. The Shipwright’s headquarters is a three storey mansion decorated with rooftop spires and choked with crawling ivy.

The Seafoam Company is a small merchant guild that controls much of the weapons trade across three coasts, specializing in the sale of siege weapons, dwarven armor and alchemists’ fire. The Seafoam Company is also responsible for supplying the weapons and armor used by the city guard and the shipboard armaments of Stormhaven’s navy, giving the guild an influence in the Grand Parliament disproportionate to its size. The majority of high-ranking members are dwarves and gnomes, with humans forming the bulkd of the guild’s dockworkers and sailors. Seafoam guildsmen are a grizzled bunch, hardened by their battles with pirates. Many members have several fighter levels.

Seafoam’s current councilor is Savidia a gnome alchemist with a genius for creating lethal, chemical weapons. In her youth, Savidia accidentally vaporized her village in a chemical explosion which she miraculously survived, although all her body hair was permanently lost. She is known to flaunt her appearance, draping her neck and ears with gaudy jewelry that draws attention to her head and occasionally topping her bald pate with a ruby tiara.

The Seafoam Company is a steady employer of mercenary adventurers, particularly those with the temperament for long-term guard work. The guild also has plenty of work to offer those of a more criminal bent, with the necessary skills for sabotage and covert knife work. The headquarters occupy a modest two-storey building surrounded by a low hedge. Savidia is usually sequestered in a basement laboratory with reinforced walls, mixing and testing chemical compounds. It is not uncommon for loud explosions, curses, and shouts to be heard echoing forth from the building.

Twilight House also has a guild house here in the district, which was covered in an early September post.

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