The Commerce Guild

It is said that wherever there are goods to be traded, a thief will eventually arise. If such is true, then where there is commerce between cities, that lowly thief may soon be a Robber Baron. The Commerce Guild is an association of such individuals. Make no mistake; while any given member of the Guild obtained their riches "legitimately", their collective scruples are on par with that of the local chapter of the Syndicate.

The Commerce Guild is set in direct competition with The Syndicate; not opposition. Whereas the basest of Syndicate operations is petty theft and the protection racket, the Guild bases its own operations around taking advantage of the same victims in legitimate ways; charging "nominal" fees for storage of gold or goods that otherwise would be at risk of theft during Syndicate breakins. The Guild would not be so gauche as to maintain ties with such a disreputable group as the Syndicate, but one can count on the local Guild Consular to have the secret on contacting them and the local thieves guild should a crisis arise. Where the Syndicate relies upon secrecy and fear to obtain its goals, The Commerce Guild carries out its operation in plain sight, claiming only to be doing their best to provide aid and comfort to all…and at a reasonable price, too.

The Commerce Guild was founded fairly recently, the concept of crime without theft or violence having its beginning among a cabal of the recently freed Elapi people who had become very successful usurers and moneylenders. The idea was brought forward that their current profits could be multiplied at least tenfold if their operations were to be tied together in order to provide a face of stability in the financial world. What need would merchant princes have to travel with their wealth and risk a loss at the hands of highwaymen if they could choose to deposit their riches with a Commerce Guild House and simply claim the same value of wealth at his destination from the Commerce Guild House there? Before the close of the meeting The Commerce Guild was officially founded and the decision made to endeavor to make patronage of the Guild as fashionable as possible.

Entry Requirements: An individual who has amassed a great amount of personal wealth as well as shown a razorlike business acumen and lack of scruples where the Law does not dictate behavior may be approached for Charter Membership in the Guild. The Guild is not interested in simple killers or thieves; such is the domain of the Syndicate, and the two organizations coexist as two predators would: By avoiding each others turf.

Benefits: Association with The Commerce Guild provides an entirely new level of benefits in Society. Acceptance at social gatherings in the great Guild Halls is assured; and in attendance at any function there one can assume to find the local movers and shakers in politics, finance and the nobility. The Guild can afford to draw the finest performers from across the land to provide their clientele with the greatest entertainment, and boarding for the favored traveler is second only to that of royalty in their own home.

Economic: Strangely, little economic aid is offered by members of the Guild to other members on a personal basis. If one has "shit the money bed" as their saying goes, one must sleep in it. If, however, the financial loss affects the organization as a whole, the bylaws of the Guild go into effect and the failing member or Chapter House is propped up by the rest of the Guild. However, this is not a reprieve; the one who caused such a financial loss to the Guild is dealt with quickly and decisively. That being said, material assistance is readily available. Any Guild Chapter House, called Consulates, easily can provide hired help in the form of bodyguards, profession specialists: Appraisal, Forgery(they specialize in very convincing false identities), Magic Item Identification, and many more. Experts at +15 skill modifiers can be contacted by a Consulate withint hours, whereas 20+ or higher would be a matter of only 1d6 days.

Information: The Guild operatives that maintain each Consulate are consummate social butterflies, making certain to be everyone's friend, or failing that, to convince you that they like you more than that unrefined cur on the other side of the room. As such, they can be expected to know all of the rumors amongst a cities middle and upper class.

Access: One learns nothing of the Commerce Guild outside of its stated goal of service to its clients and the public upon becoming a client, and most clients never know more about the greater scope and power of the organization. Hirelings and Soldiers for the Guild likewise know little or nothing of the upper workings of the Organization. Only the Elapi Founders and their handchosen partners and Lieutenants know of the true inter city commercial model that has allowed them to amass the wealth of a nation, it is their directives that are sent out individually to the Consular head of each Consulate to set into motion the changes they wish to bring about.

Combat: The Commerce Guild as a whole abhors combat as a sloppy messy thing where the outcome can be a large unknown. That being said, the lowest level associates of the Commerce Guild are simple non adventuring Professionals, with the higher ups in each Consulate likely having refined spell or psionic abilities to ensure their own safety; any such beings can be assumed to have not only private guards but the ear of the City Watch as well.

Advancement: Advancement in the Guild comes only at the pleasure of the High Council, the ruling body consisting of the founding Elapi and their chosen Lieutenants. Their notice can be gained in only one way; the recommendation of the local Consular. And each Consular is only allowed to make one recommendation per year.

Missions: Low level members of the Guild will be called upon to manage local day to day operations, such as entertaining or providing security for clientele at the Consulate, medium level members of the Guild may be called upon to assist in the enaction of arcanely worded Laws to allow the acquisition of more wealth through usury legitimately. No one becomes a high level member without being hand picked, and when you are it is for a reason that varies from member to member, as does the experience that comes afterward. Player characters may be hired by enterprising Guild officials who have need for either specialists, deniability, or anonymity. Such is often the case for Guild operations involving the stretches of land between cities and towns, where the law is much more mutable.

Responsibilities: Responsibilities vary from member to member and are always specifically listed out in contract form. Newly recruited members will handle simple local clerical work almost exclusively, though if particularly useful skillsets reveal themselves they can expect to receive greater attention and greater responsibilities.

Structure: The Guild is built upon each city Consulate and its communication with other Consulates. The only level above the city level is the High Council. Each Consulate maintains a small garrison of private militia, Entertainers, Legal and Financial Advisors and the Consul themselves.

Emblem: The Commerce Guild has a seal whose image is used on all public documents, contracts, shipments and their retainers' livery. It is one of the few non-national emblems easily recognized from city to city. It is simply a minted coin with a reptilian eye upon one side and a Horn of Plenty upon the other.

NPC Reactions: Mentioning the Guild brings about mixed reactions in most folk on the street; some detest the reptiles and their friends for their success, while others hail the Guild's largesse as beneficial to the city. After all, one of the first things the Guild did in every city was construct a grand hall for use not only to carry out their finances but also to enrich life with art. A considerable number of sights built or crafted in and around host cities were directly financed by the Guild, and their riches allowed them to pay well those who crafted what was needed. A great many professionals of every trade in the city are on retainer with the Guild for their services, and return the favor by accepting the offer of the Guild to give them special Charter Memberships to handle their accounts. Consider use of The Guild in conversation to give a + or - 2 to the roll, depending upon the individual outlook of the person being spoken to.

Lore: Knowledge (local) or Gather Information can be used to find out more about the Commerce Guild and its local operations.
DC 10: The Commerce Guild is an organization of bankers and money lenders that operate in nearly every major city in the world, spreading a message of Service to the Customer and Philanthropy to the Community.
DC 15: The Commerce Guild offers more than just banking and loans; they also can provide nearly any kind of expert professional advice so long as their finder's fee is forthcoming. Those rumors about a Shadow Council that runs all the Consulates in concert are completely unfounded.
DC 20: Seriously. Stop asking about the Shadow Council. You can leave the premises or I will have my guards take you before the City Watch on charges of trespassing.
DC 25: It's all true. There *is* a World Spanning conspiracy, but no proof of it!
Note: A DC 10 Gather Information or Knowledge (local) check can lead any searchers to a Commerce Guild Consulate.

Encounters: The Commerce Guild is likely to appear as a setting for an adventure centered around intrigue and deception, or NPC members of the Guild may appear as benefactors for a Quest at the behest of their Consul. NPC members of the Guild may also be targeted by the lawless who wish to rob from the rich, as they definitely do display their wealth, in order to increase the fashionable image of their enterprise.