Exploring the Vale
The guild is led by one Guild master, serving for life, and 5 regional masters. Regional masters often appoint a lieutenant who takes care of the day to day business of their region. There are an average of 2-5 active assassins per region, depending on population and current political climate, as well as scores of spies, scouts, and messengers. Guild headquarters is located in the far south, in the port city of Vayamere. The regional masters and guild master meet or otherwise have correspondence on a biweekly basis. Each regional master is free to run his region as he sees fit, with the guild master only giving a recommended course. Deviating too far from this recommendation is often bad for a regional master’s health.
The entire guild meets once a year, the location being determined by the guild master and delivered to assassins by guild messengers. Messengers travel alone and unguarded, sticking primarily to roads, and are rarely if ever accosted. One of the five regional masters is elected to a five year term at each of these meetings, as well as general votes held regarding the future direction of the guild. The guild master sits over the proceedings, having the power to override the results of any vote, though the power is seldom exercised as an overly tyrannical guild master often finds his guards absent from their posts at night, or worse, holding a dagger to his throat. There have been notable exceptions to this de facto rule, with some guild masters frequently guiding the guild with a heavy hand, often during times of war or conflict or when the continuation of the guild itself is threatened.
Though they fill the niche of killers for hire, the guild also serves several other purposes. Their messengers are known for their speed and ability to deliver packages in their care regardless of circumstance. Rulers and nobles will often hire out guild messengers for important correspondence rather than use their own. They also serves as a source of information, though they are not as proficient in this area as the thieves guild. Assassin’s guild schools, known as collegiums, teach both practical and theoretical skills to any that can afford the (often steep) admission price. Especially gifted students are often tapped for admission into the guild proper, and it is considered a great honor for any parent to have their child accepted to the collegium. Most students at these institutions are of noble birth, though the occasional commoner is admitted through community effort or by the intervention of a regional master. In this last case, the cost of admission is often waved entirely. The assassin’s guild is the most notable secular institution of education, surpassed only in scope by the various churches and monastic orders. Common studies include the hard sciences, mathematics, physiology, chemistry, as well as fine arts. It is not uncommon for an assassin to be skilled in the use of one, or even several, musical instruments.
The guild does not issue Marks on invalids or those otherwise unable to defend themselves. A merchant who is physically weak and frail but has the coin to purchase a small army is not seen as defenseless and is therefore fair game. The guild does not issue Marks on children or other innocents, though the guild holds that everybody is guilty of some transgression, making the category of “innocents” a very select group. The guild does not actively seek to disrupt the political stability of the region unless doing so is necessary for the perpetuation of the guild. The guild favors law and order over chaos. The guild holds that assassins should enjoy the chase and challenge of the hunt more than the act of killing itself, though some enjoyment of the kill is not frowned upon. The guild supersedes all bonds of nationality, friendship, family, and religion. These tenets supersede the orders of a superior.
Actions during times of War:
The guild sees an increase in assassinations during a time of war. If the war is between a civilized group and barbarians the guild will offer their services to the civilized nation, targeting leaders and notable generals of the opposition. In the event that a city housing a regional master or Guild property is in danger of being sacked, the guild will offer the service of their assassin’s as mercenaries. If this offer is refused, the guild will defend its own, even as the city burns around it.
In the event that two or more civilized city-states are at war, the guild will sell their services to any and all, seeing any reduction in fighting strength as the first step needed to bring a conflict to an end and restore order.
In the event that a ruler declares war against the guild, either through the prosecution or execution of an assassin or otherwise by attacking one of the guild’s auxiliary functions (such as the collegium), the guild will often issue Letters of Mark against any and all leaders of that nation, as well as making them open contracts. Any assassin may fulfill and open contract (up to and including the guild master) and be given 100% of the stated bounty from the guild’s coffers. In extreme cases, the guild may make these contracts public knowledge, offering the reward to anyone who fulfills it.
Actions during times of Peace:
During times of peace, the guild makes the large majority of it’s income through admission to the various collegiums and by performing small contracts for local leaders. Primary targets during this time are local government officials, monstrous humanoids, bandits, and merchants. In the event of a prolonged peace, the guild may attempt to ferment a war, in order to weaken the local governments and maintain its political position.
Recognizing an assassin:
Assassin’s often wear dark grays and greens with few or no visible weapons. By guild law, they all carry a weapon somewhere on their person which contains the guild’s seal cut into its surface of grip, though this might not be their primary weapon. Most wear leather armor for maximum protection while still allowing a full range of movement. If an assassin doesn’t want you to recognize him as such, you probably won’t.
Guild messengers have the guild seal prominently worn on their shoulder, often in bright colors that contract their plain black traveling clothes. Most carry a shoulder bag or a backpack as well as a steel shortsword in plain sight. Several carry a crossbow, though more for hunting wild game than self defense.
Guild scouts are rarely seen, and spies even less so. Scouts tend to favor throwing dangers and hand crossbows, while spies often don’t carry any weapon other than a dagger or sap, depending on their current assignment. Scouts often have the guild seal tattooed on the side of their neck or upper arm, while spies carry nothing which can immediately link them to the guild.