The Guild is at once an enterprise, an organization and an institution. As a business enterprise, the Guild is a collaborative effort between the most wealthy and influential merchants and artisans in Creation, dedicated to the increase of that wealth and influence. As a trade organization, it is the originator and overseer of standards such as weights, measures, value, supply and demand. As a social institution, the Guild links distant lands, employs thousands and creates a sense of community in a large and hostile world.
The Houses of Gem
Gem is far enough south that it is free from domination by the Realm. The Hereditary Despot has a monopoly on all gem trade in Gem, but other noble families are given control over various resources the city values. The notable houses and families are the Arbani family, the House of Sahlak, House Iblan, the Circla family, and Trasti House.
The Scarlet Empire
The empire that, until quite recently, controlled the whole of civilized Creation. Also called the Realm, the Scarlet Empire never officially “ruled” more than the Blessed Isle directly, but it exacted tribute from countless local governments, which paid it homage. Those governments were independent in theory, but they were actually little more than puppet states.
Since the Scarlet Empress has disappeared, the Realm has been paralyzed by indecision. There is a weak Regent on the Scarlet Throne, and the various Houses of the Scarlet Dynasty plot endlessly, each attempting to gain enough power to place its own candidate on the Throne.
In this Time of Tumult, many of the Realm’s tributaries have had their garrisons recalled and been left to their own devices. While some remain loyal vassal states, a few have openly declared their independence. Many more have effectively done so quietly, withholding their tribute under flimsy excuses. Whoever takes the Throne will be faced with the monumental task of re-conquering a majority of the Realm’s old territory.