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Board's Plot: Blood Rites
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Established February 2010
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* 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 Shaos Guild  (Read 9006 times)


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The Shaos Guild
« on: Jul 21, 12, 04:42:09 PM »

Shaos members are handpicked from all ranks, Castes, and social classes within Dena Nehele. They are chosen more for their potential than any other factor. The Jacks Guild will occasionally refer a potential Jack recruit to the Shaos for consideration, if that recruit seems better suited for the subterfuge and stratagem of the latter. More frequently, an established Shaos will approach a potential recruit alone, preferably when the candidate is in their early teens when it is easiest to cultivate and shape the apprentice as they age. Recruiters look for a quick mind, and are particularly interested in a candidate who displays a willingness to manipulate the people around them to accomplish their goals. This candidate typically becomes the mentee of the Shaos who discovered them.

It is not often that a Shaos can be fleeced but should someone actually manage it - and survive the subsequent punishment - then it is likely that they will find themselves with an opportunity to join the Guild. Their skills will be tested and refined but ultimately they will find a home within the Shaos.

There are also those that are simply a family of Shaos. While one would think the Jacks are most likely to have an entire Guild family, it is the Shaos who have this happen. Some criticize this but it actually ensures a greater accountability for those members, as if one steps out of bounds then they all have stepped out of bounds. Such apprentices are usually extremely well trained and coveted as operatives as they have been training from a young age.

Loyalty is a must. First to the Guilds, its Leaders, and the Guild Master. Unique among the other Guilds, there is also loyalty to the Territory as well. Due to this there are currently no known Shaos that are not native to Dena Nehele.

All recruitment methods end the same: the new member is named an apprentice on the Shaos roster and proceeds through training.

There is no main location for the training of a Shaos. Though there are often locations used to congregate and carry out the training of apprentices, such places change every couple years in order to maintain the elusiveness of the Shaos.

In most cases, new apprentices are expected to fall under the guidance of their mentor. Apprentices are not usually taken from home but in the case that they are - for whatever reason - room and board is provided for them by the Guild through their mentor. Some Shaos will serve a single mentor from their induction to the Guild to their ascension to a full member. Others will be trained in groups. Those full members who excel in certain skilled fields (forgery, embezzlement, analytical thinking) are expected to step in and teach apprentices with promise in those fields. Since these skills are usually in high demand and time n short supply, these skills are usually learned in groups.

The Shaos don't have a formal syllabus. All Shaos are expected to know how to gather information and surveil a target. Disguising themselves, blending in, and codebreaking are other skills a Shaos should have developed by the time they become journeymen. These skills are tested differently by different mentors. Some mentors may choose to abandon their apprentices for periods of time with assignments to infiltrate or surveil a particular target without getting caught. Example tasks include ingratiating yourself to the locals as an orphan or gathering intel from a target by crafting an appropriate backstory and identity. When the task is complete - or enough time has passed - the Shaos mentor comes back to claim the apprentice and judge how they did.

Shaos are not promoted by rote. Generally, a Shaos will be an apprentice for five or even six years, longer than any other Guild. A mentor who passes a student who fails at a core Shaos competency is not long for the Guild. In fact, a mentor is more likely to keep a promising student close because having a talented student breeze through journeyman testing reflects well on the mentor.

At this point it is likely they have done something to earn their Shaos codename, a requirement of becoming a journeyman. As the Shaos are meant to be masters of espionage, ensuring that their “work persona” and “personal persona” are two different things is vitally important. Skills, personal traits, and notable achievements are fertile ground for an apprentice’s codename. 

A Shaos journeyman is still being actively trained and not just reporting to a full member. They are now learning the darkest parts of a Shaos arsenal. Sometimes a different Shaos will take over training, but this is rare. Kidnapping and “information extraction” are the main subjects that journeyman Shaos study. Torture is not for everyone (read: something that is enjoyed) but it is a requirement to learn. Some Shaos are also trained in using sex to extract information in a more painless manner.

There are a few mentors that believe the best way for their trainee to learn is for them to experience it themselves. This is why this stage of the Shaos training is particularly dangerous and why it is not taught before they reach journeyman. The milestone for this is often the assignment of a contract, usually one holding a critical piece of intelligence, and completing that contract satisfactorily. Most journeymen succeed at this point; those who do not tend to die. Once the job is done, the journeyman moves on to the final stage of their training.

One of the most important things to learn as a Shaos is how to shield one's mind. Even the best Shaos can be caught and in almost all cases, no help is coming for a captured Shaos. The final test of a journeyman is to shield their mind from a psychic attack. Depending upon one’s mentor, the psychic attack may be accompanied by a physical one, but every Shaos who becomes a full member has successfully withstood an attack by a more experienced opponent. Should they survive, they will be named a full member of the Shaos in good standing.

Any Shaos that was not a full member by Spring 192AP is required to at least pass through the doors of the Tantalus troupe and present themselves to the Guild Leaders while a journeyman. This ensures that all Shaos are known to the Guild Leaders and that their progress can be seen and approved. It also enables the growing Shaos to familiarize themselves with working with Black Widow craft, something that most Shaos rely heavily upon when it comes to infiltration.

An additional note on Castes: Shaos that bear a Caste will be fully trained. They will be called upon to act within the capacity of their Caste or to use it to the Guild's advantage. This is especially the case with Black Widows and Priestesses, who can expect to be trained by a Shaos member of the same caste. The Shaos expect loyalty to the Guild before the Hourglass Coven and the Conclave.

A Shaos is always working. Even in moments where a Shaos seems to be chatting and relaxing they are still in the midst of information gathering. From the traveling vagrant to the Aristo heir, there is always something that can be learned. While there is some disapproval of drawing too much attention to oneself, too high a position of notoriety within the Court or elsewhere, the Shaos are just as likely to push the envelope and take advantage of it. As long as the Shaos remembers loyalty to the Guild come first, they can hold whatever position they like.

Shaos do not always recognize or know other Shaos unless they trained together or were paired up through a contract. It is a common enough practice that Shaos work together but it is recognized that some do not work well in groups and are better left to solo contracts.

Shaos go about their day as if they were a normal member of society. Most will find themselves taking contracts once or twice a month. Others will take longer contracts that span months, sometimes years, and pay more. The usual contracts are smaller intelligence gathering affairs, such as getting hands on secret files or tracking down an Aristo's unknown lover. One of the differences between Shaos from their Guild brethren is that they are more likely to find themselves on retainer for individuals with the money to do so. 

When a contract requires the retrieval be of an individual (or otherwise living thing) it is expected that the Shaos will have a safe house to retreat to. Here the Shaos will stay until it is time to pass the target on to their intended destination (or return upon payment of ransom). Similar locations are also used for interrogation. Commonly Shaos have their own preferred space for such work that can, and often will, get messy.

Payment for a contract typically comes at the end of the job, handled by someone within the Shaos who functions as a middleman. While the Shaos Guild Bulletin still exists, it is not used as much since the fall of Ventus. The rare contracts discovered upon the bulletin are often low level intelligence gathering. Most contracts are vetted and cleared to ensure they are actually worth the time and expense. When an Aristo wishes to put a Shaos on retainer, they will be paid either a monthly stipend or an amount per job, from the Aristo directly. Contracts of particular danger or importance have divided payments: half upfront and the rest when the job is completed. This ensures compensation for what might lead to the loss of a Shaos.

Once a contract is accepted, there is an expectation that it will be completed. Should a Shaos fail to complete a contract, for whatever reason, there will be a heavy penalty paid and censuring, if not probation. Repeated poor performance or failure to adhere to the letter of a contract can result in disciplinary measures. Repeated issues can result in being given what is considered a desk job. Desk jobs are long term contracts with low pay and general intel gathering. This is the bottom of the barrel work as the Shaos in question cannot be trusted for anything more than spreading gossip.

There is no one among the Shaos that does not know of Nicolae Varias, the previous Guild Leader that was known as Ventus. It was decreed by the Guild Master himself that Ventus be punished for his crimes against the Guilds. The punishment was the most severe it could be: death. The crimes and atrocities committed by Ventus are too numerous to name, but included unnecessary deaths of contract targets, failure to properly follow through on assignments directly from the Guild Master himself, the brutal rape and mind warping of a fellow Guildsmen, and an attempt on the life of the Guild Master himself.

While most do not know these exact details, they do know that the Shaos lost standing because of the actions of the previous Guild Leader. For a time the Guild was overseen by the Guild Master and his Second. It was only in the early months of 192AP that two individuals stepped forward - Raluca Vaduva, known as Masque, and Marku Balan, known as Rade - and the Shaos were granted their autonomy and own leadership once more.

Yet Ventus's shadow still looms and there is a strict expectation that no one within the Shaos is loyal to his memory or his ways. Those that were suspected were caught, detained, and interrogated until they either proved themselves faithful to the Guilds and their Master or it became clear that they were corrupted by Ventus. They were executed just as he was.

Be mindful when speaking of the man that nearly saw the Shaos destroyed from the inside out: to talk about Ventus with anything other than derision is to draw attention to oneself and possibly death if not careful.

It is not possible for any member of the Shaos, apprentice or full member, to leave the Guild without consequences. Once an apprentice, there is no turning back. A Shaos has access to proprietary knowledge that cannot be allowed to be shared to the general population. The Guild is willing to kill to keep such knowledge secret.

If a member is suspected of going rogue it will prompt an investigation. The Shaos operative will not even know that they are under surveillance and that everything they do, even the contracts they continue to handle, are being meticulously managed so as to ascertain the truth of the matter. Should it be determined that the member has abandoned their loyalty to the Shaos and the Guilds, then they can expect a visit from the Executioner. This is the worst case scenario. If there’s cause to believe the Shaos is still loyal, they will be brought before the Guild Leaders and made to answer for their actions. If they cannot convince the Leaders that their loyalty is still to the Guilds, then the end result is the same.

In rare situations Shaos members can, and have, gone missing. Contracts go wrong, something causes them to fall out of communication, or they simply went too deep into their cover. With this in mind, should a Shaos go missing, their name on the roster will be marked for observation, and they are expected to bring themselves in once whatever kept them away is no longer doing so. To not do so is to declare yourself rogue and face death. After their return to active duty, a Shaos just returned from an unscheduled absence will be watched, but once their loyalties have been confirmed they’ll be returned to full active status with no mark against them.

While aging Shaos members aren’t expected to take contracts as often as they did in their youth, it is expected that they will continue to offer their vast knowledge by mentoring the next generation. In that sense, it is expected that each new generation of the Shaos is better than the previous, having learned from the preceding generation’s experiences. Even an aged member is capable of gathering intelligence that could be of use to the Guild. In the case that a Shaos manages to live to such an age that they can no longer serve in the field, they will be made ‘secure’. They’ll be made to sign a contract promising silence to anyone not of the Shaos Guild. To ensure compliance, a web is placed within the mind of the retired Shaos by a Black Widow. Should there ever be concerns, it can be triggered and their life could be forfeit to protect the Guilds.

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