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Board's Plot: Blood Rites
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Established February 2010
by Jamie, Gina & Bowie.

* Plot Information for Dena Nehele

With the full force of the Guilds at her back, Rilandra Vlas seized the Territory Throne of Dena Nehele. The common born Province Queen now owes allegiance to the Master of the Guilds for his assistance in both securing the throne and securing Darcia Glassade's continual safety. Trapped between the demands of the Guilds and the demands of the Aristos, Riley is struggling to rule, finding the palace more of a cage than she could have dreamed possible.
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Author Topic: The Jacks Guild  (Read 8871 times)


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The Jacks Guild
« on: Jul 21, 12, 05:07:53 PM »

The Jacks, as a Guild, draw almost exclusively from the street children of Dena Nehele, and usually from major population centers where there are a lot of kids with no-where else to turn. While there can be Jacks from higher classes, they tend to largely come up from the working poor. Unlike the other Guilds, which do have training centers, training as a Jack is often done in the streets of the city where the apprentice was recruited. There are no Jacks who only train apprentices. All Jacks take contracts, and all Jacks can take an apprentice or two whenever they choose. Even journeymen are permitted to take on apprentices of their own, though this is vanishingly rare and highly discouraged, as a journeyman hasn’t yet proven themself to the Guild.

In most situations, a Jacks apprentice is still responsible for their own room and board. While their mentor might help them secure better lodging (or any lodging, as is the usual case) the apprentice is on the hook for keeping rent paid and the cold-box stocked. This relative privation (compared to the Shaos and the Myos) is counteracted by the fact that many Jacks train while on actual contracts with their mentors. Most mentors will split the take from a contract with the apprentice, dependent upon the apprentice’s performance with regards to the contract. Better performance means better pay, and so on.

As all Jacks have different skill-sets, there is no standard curriculum. Jacks generally don’t train in codebreaking, spying, or assassination; they tend to be bodyguards, thieves, and enforcers. Jacks, despite their reputation, are not murderers. While they might kill on accident or in defense of a client, all contracts requiring death go through the Myos, and most contracts requiring torture go through the Shaos. Street thugs and skilled pickpockets often make their way into the Jacks Guild, and are trained into greater strength or dexterity by their more skilled mentors. Jacks can sometimes find long-term contracts where they arrange protection for aristo houses or shipments, but most Jacks prefer to take multiple short-term contracts rather than one long-term contract.

An unspoken truth of the Jacks Guild is that the other Guilds often poach their best apprentices. It is actually quite rare that a Shaos or Myos apprentice, should they be drawn from the streets, wasn’t first spotted by a Jack who began to train them without formally inducting them. Most Jacks send recruits to the other Guilds if they seem to have skills that pre-dispose them to the Guild in question. Once a recruit is on the rolls, they become an apprentice, and the Jacks are no longer willing to trade them out. A Jacks member tends to recruit apprentices they share a caste with; a Prince often recruits Princes, etcetera. Warlords, Warlord Princes, and witches far outnumber every other Caste in the overall makeup of the Guild. There are no Queens among the Jacks, and vanishingly few Healers; Black Widows sometimes join the Guild, but they’re more often diverted to the Myos or the Shaos by well-meaning Jacks recruiters.

A Jack’s apprenticeship ends when the Jack training them says it does, and when they’re formally entered as a journeyman on the Jacks rolls. There is no test to become a journeyman; it is predicated on the decision of the apprentice's mentor.

Promotion from journeyman to member status tends to happen on its own pace, but generally takes three to five years. There’s being promoted by rote, which is what they call it when the journeyman hits a certain number of contracts (the exact number is generally dependent on the kind of contract the journeyman usually runs). This tends to take more time than the second method, which is being promoted by merit. When a journeyman is promoted by merit, it’s because they’ve completed a very difficult contract or have otherwise proven their skill to the Guilds.

Most Jacks will never see a promotion from member to Master; Masters are hand-picked by the Guild Leader using whatever criteria they find fitting, though Princes and Priestesses tend to see this accolade bestowed upon them more often than the other castes.

Unlike other Guilds, there’s no requirement among the Jacks that they pretend to be anything other than a Jack. Generally speaking, a Jack will tell you they’re a Jack just like a grocer will tell you they’re a grocer. They don’t view being a Jack as some great secret that needs to be kept; they don’t have to have cover stories constantly like the Myos, and they’re not trading on the need to walk among different groups like the Shaos. As there’s no need to hide, most Jacks do contracts for the vast majority of their income, and never take up a second profession as the Shaos and the Myos do.

Jacks also tend to work in pairs or groups. Because the skills required by the Jacks are so varied, journeymen and member Jacks sometimes decide to team up in order to increase the number of contracts which they can take and therefore increase their own income. Jacks cohorts and teams are generally close-knit as they’re completely elective in most cases. On occasion, a Master of the Guild may choose to group a certain few Jacks together to work on a particularly important or prestigious contract, but this is rare as the Jacks are notoriously independent as a Guild.

While the average Myos or Shaos will complete one or two lucrative contracts a month, a Jack often takes on one or two cheap contracts a day. In one day, a Jack could fill in for a missing bouncer at a rowdy tavern, deliver a sensitive package for a merchant, and still have time to show up to the tavern to go drinking with their buddies. Jacks contracts still go through the Guild boards, but they tend to come down as fast as they go up. Because they’re so cheap, compared to the other two Guilds, often they’ll get “budget” requests: as opposed to a Shaos discovering the secret recipe of your major competitor and leaving them none the wiser, a Jack will just steal the paper it’s written on. One thing they don’t do is sex work. Contracts involving sex work will be rejected with a note: That’s what Red Moon Houses are for.

The Jacks don’t frown on having secondary employment, as long as one’s loyalty remains with the Guilds. Their leader is currently the Master of the Guard for the Territory Court (though no one outside the Jacks Guild is aware of this under penalty of ejection from the Guild if they tell) and at least one Master serves in a Court as well. But one’s loyalty must always be to one’s brothers and sisters in the Jacks first, and the Court second.

Depending on the complexity and length of a contract, the Jacks are paid up-front in the contract envelope or in two parts, the first at the acceptance of the contract and the second after its completion. Pay for Jacks is always taken at the start of a contract, rather than the end, as is done for Shaos and Myos contracts. This is because Jacks contracts tend to be taken out by the lower classes, and for very small amounts. If there’s an element of retrieval or the amount is large, the latter method (half now half later) is employed. If a Jack is doing something where they have to show up at a specific point, such as the aforementioned bouncer contract, they may be paid after the contract’s completion. Like the other Guilds, the leadership of the Jacks Guild takes a cut from its membership, and stiffing the Guild is likely to result in physical punishment.

Of course, like all Guilds, there is a shadier side to the Jacks. For every benign rare-herb-gathering contract, there is a contract to beat a man who looked at someone’s wife wrong. All Jacks occasionally come up against a contract they don’t want to complete, but they’re bound by the same expectation as any other Guildmember to complete a contract once they’ve accepted it. Refusing to complete a contract after taking it from the board is instantly reported to the Master in charge of the city where the Jack works, who reports it to the Guild Leader. Generally, a Jack will be fined for their first refusal, and be responsible for finding someone to take on the contract. By the third refusal, the punishments get much more severe, and may even include being ejected from the Guild… or beaten by a less ethical or more motivated Jack.

Unlike the other two Guilds, there is a fourth rank among the Jacks. A Master is above a Member, but below the Leader; they are considered the best of the best, like a master stonesmith or mechanic. Masters tend to take fewer contracts. Their general assignments are to keep track of the active Jacks in their home city, to ensure that contracts are being filled at a decent clip, and to keep the Guild Leader apprised of the active Jacks in a given area. They also collect the Guild’s tithe for processing contracts and ensure it gets where it needs to go. In exchange, they are able to draw a reasonable salary from the Guild coffers. Most Masters tend to fill their time by training more apprentices into the Guild, though not all of them do. All Master Jacks are literate and numerate, as they must manage accounting for their city.

The reasoning for this is the sheer volume of the Jacks compared to the other Guilds. When Rilandra Vlas took the throne, there were approximately five hundred Guildsmen in all three Guilds; of those five hundred, almost three hundred of them were Jacks. The Myos Guild Leader and the Shaos Guild Leaders have much smaller numbers to keep track of, and so don’t need a second tier below them to ease the burden. The Jacks, being so large, do.

Not every Jack views the rank of Master as an honor. Some Jacks do their best to avoid getting stuck behind a desk or in the training-yard, and other Jacks view Master Jacks as bloodsuckers or traitors. However, the Masters are integral to keeping the Guild on track, well-funded, and off the toes of the other Guilds.

Jacks are not required to have a codename. Because they’re optional, there are varying opinions within the Guild about those who do have them. Generally speaking, if a Jack has a codename it’s more of a nickname based around their skills or a trait they’re well-known for. It’s not an official part of the roster, and as such codenames tend to be communally sourced. Some Jacks try to make up their own codenames, but they generally don’t stick.

Unlike the Myos and the Shaos, it is entirely possible to leave the Jacks whole and unbroken. However, to do so sacrifices all of the connections one has made within the Guild. A man or woman who leaves the Jacks is turning their back on a sacred sorority, and there’s a strong organizational belief that abandoning the Guild is like abandoning family. Continuing to associate with a Jack who has left the Guild tends to get active Jacks the side-eye. And the Jacks--far and away the most openly passionate of the Guilds--tend to close doors to ex-members that they might have held open for others.

Just because a member can leave the Guilds whole and unbroken doesn’t mean they will. A Jack who hasn’t been properly paying his fees to the Guild will not leave whole. In most cases, the final penalty for being caught stiffing the Guild is Broken Jewels and a broken hand, along with ejection from the Guild. A Jack who has been acting against the best interests of the Guild or who has turned against Guild Members may receive a visit from the Myos Executioner, should their crimes be significant enough.

It is possible to “ghost” the Guild and exist in a place of not-active but not-left. Some members simply stop taking contracts, believing that they are leaving the door open in case they ever want to come back. Unfortunately, records are kept of who took what contract and when they did it, and a Jack who decides to return to service after several years away will often face an audience with the Guild Leader and a choice between officially leaving the Guild or remaining under a grueling probation that may include a demotion, no further rise in rank, and having to slowly earn back the trust of both the Guild Leader and your fellow Jacks. 

This article was written by Reid, with input from Phedre, Rated Em, Blue, Jamie, and Dany.
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