Grisly Eye Games

Faction Preview - Assayers

The Assayer's Guild is a preview of a faction from The Compendium of Factions (working title, yet to be released). I developed the Assayers as part of a recent live stream and this is a first draft...

Design Notes: The Assayer's Guild started as the Merchant's Guild, but I thought this was too generic. During the live stream we hit upon the name, The Merchant's Consortium. However, consortium is actually a (relatively) modern, 19th century term. Instead, I modelled the Assayers on trade guilds focussed on the working of precious metals, which hale from the 14th century.

Assayer's Scale Symbol

Public domain woodcut of a Bordeaux wine merchants in the 15th century.

Assayer's Guild

Guild faction

Once a humble trade guild, the Worshipful Assayer's Guild is now a powerful company of traders, bankers and private landowners who have come together to further their own interests. Arrayed against them are nobles, priests and guilds, hostile to their growing influence.

The Lore of Coins.

The Assayers first came to prominence as a trade guild, dealing in the working of precious metals. But it was the working of trade that made their fortune. Feuding nobles increasingly needed taxes to fund their wars. In order to fill their coffers they encouraged trade and so the merchant class was born.

It is during this period the Assayers first came to influence, holding the trade secrets to mint the coins so vital to commerce. Yet, the Assayers discovered there was a seemingly magical trick to the coins. They offered a means of simplifying exchanges, but if you traded in the coins themselves their value could mysteriously grow. And so the power of Assayer's Guild grew...

The Silver and Gold Threads.

Unlike the nobility, the Assayers are not constrained to local geography. A growing network of trade routes links otherwise disparate nations together. And it is through these delicate threads of silver and gold that the Assayers exert their power. And nobles who earn the displeasure of the Assayers can find these threads cut off...

It is not just the high born who increasingly find themselves under the thumb. Nearly every town, city and trade post has a guild chapter house where loans are offered and goods can be warehoused. For a price. Traders not vested by the Guild often find themselves receiving unfavourable terms, tariffs and prices.

Friends in High Places.
The Assayer's Guild keeps its friends and its enemies closer. A large portion of its funds are spent buying the favour of high-ranking officials and nobles. The Assayers pay off gambling debts, fund lavish lifestyles, or offer extravagant bribes to win friends and get what they want. Cross the guild, and these powerful contacts will array their vast resources against you.
The Spice.

Many ask, how are the Assayers allowed to keep their influence? They have no armies, no fanatical followers. What prevents the nobles from simply rounding up the leaders and executing them on the spot?

The answer is whispered by those in the know: the mysterious spice. No one knows what the spice is, but they do know it is forbidden. Regardless, the trade in spice continues. No good is as valued or in more demand. And only the Assayer's Guild can supply it.

Assayer's Scales.
Traders, merchants and bankers vested by the Assayer's Guild are known by the set of scales they carry, often prominently. To earn their scales, potentials members must first prove their worth and then tithe 10% of all their incomes to the guild.

Public domain woodcut of a set of scales.

Beliefs and Goals

If the Assayer's Guild stands for anything at all, it is this:

The Gold Pin.
The flow of trade must become unfettered by all constraints. (Chaotic)
The Silver Pin.
10% of your income must be tithed to the Guild (Neutral)
d8 Missions
1-3 Establish/re-establish trade route. You must establish a trade route with a distant settlement.
4-5 Bribe. You are sent to bribe a high-ranking official or a noble.
6 Negotiation. You must meet with a high-ranking official from another faction to make a deal.
Renown Rank Features
1 Vested Trader High-ranking contact. You start play with a high-ranking contact. Work with the DM to come up with an suitable NPC. They might a vizier, tax collector, a priest or some other official.
3 Vested Merchant

Loans. You can take a loan from the considerable coffers of the Merchant’s Consortium. When you visit a Consortium guild house you can borrow up to 50 gp. At rank 3 you can borrow up 100 gp, at rank 4 you can borrow up to 1000gp and at rank 5 the limit is 3000gp. You must repay this loan within 30 days with a 10% interest rate.

Lifestyle. Ranking members of the guild must be seen to be of means. The Assayers funds your costs for a comfortable lifestyle. at Rank 4 you are funded for a wealthy lifestyle.

10 Vested Burgher Guard Retinue. Your importance to the guild grows. You are assigned a guard retinue. Roll on the Guard Retinues table for new followers. Each time you gain another rank in this faction you can roll for a new follower.
25 Merchant Prince/Princess Noble Patron. You have a contact within the ranks of the nobility. Work with the DM to come up suitable NPC. This NPC owes you a great debt.
Guard Retinues
d00 Followers
1-20 1 light guard retinue
21-35 1 spy
36-45 1d4 grizzled mercenary bandits
46-55 1d4 scouts
56-65 1 medium guard retinue
66-75 1 light infantry squad
76-85 1 heavy guard retinue
86-90 1 veteran
91-93 1 heavy infantry squad
97-99 1d4 spies
00 1 assassin