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Mercantile Interests

The Guilds

The basic unit of mercantile power in Acryn is the guild - a collection of individuals engaged in the same trade grouped together for collective benefit. Over the generations for which the city has stood, guilds have risen and fallen, grown and shrunk, unified and split. For almost any trade, there will be at least one small guild dedicated to it, and larger concerns often have several competing ones. Paradoxically, the truly huge enterprises of Acryn, such as engineering and the wine trade, are more likely to have a single large guild than the more medium-sized trades, time having told and a single group having risen to the top. Some large guilds no longer concern themselves strictly with their own trade - the Spicer's Guild, for example, is sufficiently wealthy that it has expanded to have an interest in ship-building, and could proudly boast that the ships which carried its luxuries to Valydd prior to the upheaval were built in its own shipyards.

The Upheaval rocked some of the guilds badly - mostly those engaged in trade, while providing an unexpected boon to others (especially the engineer's guild). However, the drive they've shown in attempting to re-establish their power bases has been a major contributor to getting the city back on track - many operations to reclaim lost assets and reopen trade roots have been funded by one guild or another. They're still hurting, especially due to a failure to open routes to Valydd, but most are no longer looking under threat of imminent demise.

Guilds of Note

The Spicer's guild

Rumoured the richest of Acryn's guilds, trading spices from the west with Caul, Margush and Valydd, and making a tidy profit while doing so.


The Engineer's guild

Acryn has always been a city full of ingenious individuals, and the Engineer's guild sweeps up those who prefer to use their talents for making money rather than giving freely as a scholar or member of the Builder church.


The Vintner's guild

One of the greatest home-grown (literally) industries of Acryn is its wine-making, with rich vineyards to both the north and south, taking advantage of the different climates to produce many varieties. Prior to the Upheaval, they were not as rich as the Spicers, but the advantage they've gained from the latter's dependence on now-difficult foreign trade has given them a considerable advantage, and they are threatening to replace the Spicers as the greatest economic organisation in the city.


The Unions

Prior to the revolution, organised labour in Acryn was unheard of - after all, why would the rulers allow their subjects to set the terms of their employment? In the aftermath of revolution, however (and much to the horror of the guilds), the council lifted the bans on unionisation, and a reasonable number formed. Not all have survived, with vested interests in the nobility and the guilds often working to sow discontent within them or buying out their leadership, but some grew powerful enough to endure, foremost among them the Sailor's Guild (a major industry given Acryn's coastal location). The guilds generally act as a balancing force to the unions' power - while the guildsmen often have the wealth and expertise, the unions generally count most of the actual workers who implement the guilds' works among their membership, preventing wages from being excessively squeezed.

The Unions were a contentious force in the aftermath of the Upheaval, as the Council struggled for control of the city. Given the upswing of military individuals and those favouring “harsh but necessary” tactics within the council's ranks (egged on by guild members looking to circumvent the Unions), many of the plans implemented to offset the Upheaval's effects were contingent upon the idea that everyone would do their part for the city without any need for payment, and accept massively reduced conditions without question. A series of strikes by guild members followed, including several violent face-offs between Unions and the authorities, and full-blown anarchy was only prevented through mediation by the Tender church (often a friend to the Unions), ensuring that the needs of the people of the city would not be overlooked as the crisis was faced.

Unions of Note

The Sailor's Union

A huge part of Acryn's success has rested on the back of its coastal location (and the river running past it). Sailing and associated professions have been a mainstay for the working men and women of the city as long as it has existed, and it's fitting perhaps that the Sailor's Union is by far the most powerful of its ilk. The guilds have long since stopped trying to get rid of it - either they work with it, or try to circumvent it as the Spicers by endeavouring to bring all nautical matters in-house. The union has grown somewhat used to its pre-eminent position, especially the long-standing agreement by which it has an automatic representative on the city council. The Upheaval has caused serious ripples within its ranks - simply put, sailing is currently not as important as it once was, and the Caravan and River-trading guilds are starting to nip at their heels in an uncomfortable fashion. Scurrilous rumours about that the leaders of the Union are working with the hated Spicer's guild to try and find a solution to long-distance sea travel, something both sides categorically deny.


The Builder's Union

Construction within the city has never stopped - the church of the Builder see it as their holy duty to be either repairing or expanding Acryn at all times. Given that, there's always a demand for construction workers, and thus a Union exists to represent them. Relations with the church of the same name are generally fairly amicable, as it's happy to pay a fair wage when it needs workers. Occasional tensions arise when its attempts to convert workers grow too zealous, but the co-dependency between the two means that the leaders of both have keeping the peace in their interests. More friction exists with the Engineer's guild, though the presence of the church again tempers this - the church will always be there offering a certain level of pay, forcing the Engineer's to go higher or go home (a situation they've practically perpetually looking for a way to break).


The Farmer's Union

The landscape of Acryn's guilds and unions has been stable for some time, but the Upheaval has thrown up a new Union - the Farmer's. For essentially the lifespan of the city, farming has been done by residents of outlying villages and towns, and farmers only visited the city to sell their wares when they couldn't find a mercantile intermediary willing to buy from them at the source. Now though, things have changed. Pretty much exactly as far as the eye can see from the city walls, the land is now covered with intensive crop (and a very few chicken) farms, and the constant work of the church of the Tender and the mages of the colleges in accelerating growth in these means that re-sowing is a constant, rather than annual, work. On top of this, flux farming under the auspices of the Wayfinder's guild is a risky and labour intensive activity to which many displaced workers have flocked. Put these things together, and farming has rapidly become one of the major sources of work for the city's poor, and enough of them have come from professions with their own Unions that they understood the value of creating one.

This has caused a fair amount of uproar in many quarters - keeping the food supplies on track is one of the Council's most difficult tasks post-Upheaval, and the presence of the Union makes that job that much harder. The Wayfinder's guild is annoyed that Flux-farming, their golden goose and a source of much of their leverage, now necessitates danger pay. Finally, grumblings frequently emerge from those farming towns still in operation outside the city that the Union has been staging a campaign of intimidation to try and force their denizens to join. However, the guild is ferociously popular among the less well off of the city, who've suffered far worse than the rich have in the wake of the Upheaval, and see it as an inspiring example of how to avoid exploitation. No Union has risen to prominence so quickly since the first few after the revolution, and the shock to the city's system is something that is still playing out.



All four churches agree that the Riel was created as part of the city's founding by their namesakes, and current scholarly thought indicates that it was originally backed onto the royal stockpile of food, with a Riel being exchangeable for a certain weight of grain. This usage had long passed into history, with Riel having value largely because everyone accepted them. In the wake of the Upheaval, however, a few enterprising and starving scholars attempted to make this exchange. After some deliberation (and a panicked look at the gaping gaps where the food stockpiles used to be), the city council (very quietly) passed a law re-establishing the exchange value of an Riel at one tenth of its original value, then ensured that it was published buried among some boring procedural matters, and made some pointed remarks to the scholars concerning how shouting too loud about this would very probably be treason. This law remains little known among the common people, while the exchange rate has allowed some of the nobility and merchants who noticed to shore themselves off from starving. The stated plan is to gradually re-increase the exchange rate as a surplus is built up once more. Everyone in the know has their fingers crossed that not too much is thought about a technical ten-fold devaluation of the currency.

factions/mercantile_interests.txt · Last modified: 2015/05/14 21:08 (external edit)