The guilds were founded during the early years of Freeport, and have since become a fixture of power in the city. Five major guilds and several lesser guilds operate within Freeport. When Freeport was declared a protectorate of Vexairia, and a magistrate was appointed to oversee the city, the heads of the major guilds became the unofficial advisors to the magistrate. Eventually, their role was codified into the city laws and they have become an integral part of the city’s government. The minor guilds have often raised complaints about a lack of reputation within the local government, but often these complaints go unheeded.
The Major Guilds of Freeport
- Armsmen – The armsmen are responsible for the city’s militia and policing force. The armsmen are fairly well respected by the citizenry, but there are rumors of corruption in the poorer parts of the city. The head of the guild is Humlir Whitbreaker, a cantankerous old dwarf, renowned for being one of the city’s original founders and his short temper. Despite this, he is well liked amongst his men given his propensity for distributing justice fairly and swiftly. It is said he has personally dispatched men under his command who have failed to adhere to the guild’s codes of law.
- Builders – The builders are responsible for the construction of any new buildings within the city walls and maintaining the integrity of the city walls. Like the craftsmen and shipwrights, the builder’s monopoly has secured them a position of great power since the original founding of the city. With the emergence of the merchant guild, the builders, craftsmen and shipwrights have formed a loose alliance to ensure their interests have remained protected. The head of the guild is Zachariah Cask, a middle aged human, who is the eldest son of the guild’s original founder. His initial appointment to the position was meant with a great deal of discontent, as it was felt that his position was the benefit of his birth rather than merit. However, he has shown himself to be quite capable, and the majority of those opposed to him have found themselves suddenly in the poor house. His shrewdness and ruthlessness have earned him the nickname “The Viper,” a name he has done nothing to discourage.
- Craftsmen – The craftsmen are a collection of skilled artisans: alchemists, blacksmiths, coopers, saddle makers, and the like. Unlike the other guilds, the craftsmen elect their leader on a yearly basis. However, despite the election, no leader is allowed to act on his own, and any decision they make must be backed by a majority of the guild’s members. This has led to a number of deadlocks with city council votes, a fact that has not escaped the other guilds’ notice. There are rumors that the vote of the craftsmen is often for sale, but no misconduct has ever been uncovered. That being said, there is certainly enough circumstantial evidence to cause the citizenry to grumble whenever there are major issues being discussed by the council. The guild’s current leader is a guileless young man by the name of Rupert Goldsmith. Everyone who has interacted with him general regards him as a bit of a fop, whose primary concerns seem to focus on an extraordinary suite of frivolous pursuits rather than governing. His election came as a shock to many people, and there have been rumors that the merchant guild bought his nomination and subsequent election.
- Merchants – The merchants are the youngest of the major guilds, but they hold the majority of the city’s wealth. It should come as no surprise that it is money that drives the inner workings of the merchants, and it is with money that the merchants get many things done. The leader of the merchants tends to be from one of the city’s three wealthiest families: the Bradshaws, the Stones, and the Foxhills. There is no formal process for determining the next guild leader, but every five years or so, the position rotates between the members of one these houses. The current leader is Elizabeth Foxhill, a middle aged woman who spent the majority of her youth working her father’s trade ships. Her sense of business and ruthless attitude have proved to be quite the combination, and have resulted in the substantial growth of her family’s wealth. Known for her frankness and salty tongue, many people tend to steer clear of her, but it is exactly this that has earned her the respect of Humlir Whitbreaker and Alvalor Windblossom.
- Shipwrights – The shipwrights are responsible for the construction and maintenance of the city’s fleet of trade ships. Comprised entirely of the families of the original crew of the Black Fleet, the shipwrights have the oldest ties to Freeport. Every member of the guild has spent the majority of their life working on the sea. In addition to constructing and maintaining the city’s fleet, all ships seeking to enter Stormrest Bay and subsequently Freeport, must have a representative from the guild on board to guide them through the channel. This arrangement has resulted in the guild maintaining a great deal of power even as the city has grown and the merchant guild has come to power. In times of political strife, the guild has not been afraid to strand vessels beyond the channel, until the matter is resolved. The current leader of the guild is the elderly half-elf Alvalor Windblossom. Renowned for his wisdom and patience, he is well loved by the citizenry and has earned the respect of many of the council members. His word carries particular weight with the magistrate, and many credit the success of the city’s growth to him.
The Minor Guilds of Freeport
- Artists – The artists are a loose collection of performers, painters, sculptors, and singers. In true artistic fashion, there is no de facto leadership for the artists’ guild, as there is an unspoken commitment to the craft. Most of the time, the guild focusing on protecting its members and trying to ensure that only guild sponsored artists are at the center of the public’s eye. Rising stars are often swept up by the guild and even the most reluctant eventually join their ranks. For the most part, the artists’ works reflect the trends circulating the city, but they are not above accepting commissions if the price is right. It is not unusual for art to imitate life in the city when the council is due to convene on more hot button issues. The citizenry tolerates the eccentricities of the artist guild, but if asked, most prefer the bards of their favorite taverns rather than the concert halls and theaters of the guild.
- Dockworkers – The dockworkers are responsible for the movement of goods into and out of the city. Originally one of the city’s major guilds, they dockworkers fell from grace when they elected to strike and halt all commerce within the city. The act was completely politically driven, and it was not well received by the citizenry or the city council. The strike came to an end after a series of unfortunate accidents befell the more vocal members of the guild, and the remaining members of the guild’s leadership were encouraged to end the strike. As a consequence of their actions, the dockworkers lost their seat at the city council and their members are overseen by members of the city’s major guilds. The guild members bear punishment well enough, but late in the night, after a few drinks have been passed around, the grumbling starts again.
- Farmers – The farmers tend the land beyond the city walls and are responsible for bringing in much of the city’s produce. The farmers’ guild is a loose collection of second and third generation immigrates who came to settle the lands beyond Freeport, and what they found was a hostile world just beyond the city walls. Without the armsmen to protect them, the guild was founded to aid and protect the families and farms of those outside the city of Freeport. Although the fields are far safer than they were when the city was first founded, it is still a very dangerous and lonely place. The families in the farmers’ guild are a close-knit bunch that tend to be cold to outsiders, but when push comes to shove, they will often do right by anyone who needs it.
- Fishers – The fishers work the seas just beyond Freeport and their daily catches feed the majority of the city. Like the shipwrights, the majority of the members of fishers spend their lives at sea. The guild was founded to end long standing disputes of to the surrounding fisheries and to promote a sense of unity amongst members in the community. It has also brought some modicum of order to the seas, and has ensured that any vessel in need will receive aid from the fishers should the opportunity present itself. Originally labelled as pirates, the guild has appealed its practices to the city council and are officially recognized as privateers. In exchange for this and unimpeded travel through the channel, the fishers are to aid the shipwrights in any endeavor they are called upon. Much like the farmers, there is no central leadership, but rather a communal sense of good will amongst its members for the betterment of their families.
- Hunters – The hunters are a loose collection of trappers and adventurers, who spend the majority of their time beyond the city walls and exploring the Wildlands. Of all the guilds in Freeport, the hunters have the most eclectic collection of members. Most of its members spend their days beyond the walls of Freeport exploring and mapping the Wildlands. As a consequence, the guild suffers from a large amount of turnover. There is no central leadership for the guild, but the unofficial meeting place for its members is the Crooked Wheel, a rowdy tavern located in the heart of the city. The owner of the tavern is a half-orc named Ruark Stonefist, whose slow, patient demeanor is at odds with his scarred, tusked visage. Much of Ruark’s history is shrouded in mystery, but rumor has it that he was quite the adventurer before settling down in Freeport. Ruark tends to keep an eye out for fledgling adventurers and tries to provide them some modicum of wisdom before they end up getting themselves killed. He is well loved by the guild and in most matters, his is the final word. As he is fond of saying, “my bar, my rules.” As most people will tell you, if you start a fight at the Crooked Wheel, you can be sure that Ruark will be the one that ends it.