Guilds are a collection, company, or corporation of tradespeople that band together for mutual aid and political power. Fictional guilds are a commonly used faction. Guilds may determine what products may be sold in a city or region, at what prices, and who may sell them. In game-oriented fantasy worlds, adventuring guilds or heroes’ guilds may provide quests or companions while assassins’ guilds may determine who lives and who dies. Guilds may be relatively powerless, or hold immense political sway in their town, city, or region. A guild may be headquartered in their own guildhall.
Designing Fictional Guilds
When creating fictional guilds, consider the trade or craft it centers on. Examples of guilds that may be found in fictional worlds include merchant guilds, assassin guilds, brewer guilds, glass making guilds, textile guilds, wizard guilds, thieves’ guilds, beggar’s guilds, and more. Guilds were fiercely protective of their trade, and those seeking to disrupt or do business without their approval could face consequences.
Guilds may also feature internal politics, with an elected guild master presiding over the group. Historically, guilds were composed of tradesmen of varying degrees of mastery. Newly joined members of the guild were considered apprentices and their apprenticeship consisted of a number of years of schooling. Once completed, members were considered journeymen, and would need to travel the region to better learn their craft from various trade masters. After a period of this, a journeyman could undertake the creation of a masterpiece (a work of their trade showcasing great skill). If the masterpiece was sufficiently proficient, the journeyman would be deemed a master craftsman.
Consider what trades may have organized themselves into guilds in your own fictional world and what kind of power these guilds exert on the local economy.