The Artificers are the Oldest Guild, and are probably older than their signature Arcanos. The Guild begins before the founding of Stygia with Charon's rescue of an ancient wraith from the Labyrinth. Nhudri possessed a unique skill: the ability to forge souls into material things. As Stygia grew in size and the number of souls entering the Underworld exceeded the Ferrymen's ability to handle them, Nhudri was called on to make artifacts to aid in the administration of the dead. Many of these first artifacts, such as Siklos, are still famous today; other artifacts were made in unknowable quantities – paving stones for Byways, girders for Citadels and thousands of other devices in ever-increasing demand until Nhudri collapsed from exhaustion.
To that end, he took 3 apprentices who called themselves Ferrum, Smoke, and Makabah. These were granted the primary titles of the Guild: Guardian of the Forge, Keeper of the Chain, and Master of Apprentices. Unlike his apprentices, Nhudri was a generally compassionate wraith forced into an ugly but necessary discipline. He chose the Three at least partially for callousness, and they chose for the same reason. Early on, Nhudri was faced with a dilemma: how to prevent the Artificers from falling to their own Shadows. To that end, he created a series of rites out of whole cloth. The Soulforge Rite was intended to prevent Artificers from forgetting what their work precisely entailed.
With the rites handed over and a series of responsibilities sketched out, Nhudri returned to the forge. His apprentices immediately began jockeying for power between each other, resulting in a mad dash for their own apprentices and an explosion in the size of the guild, followed by a collapse in the quality of their goods. When Nhudri (who at this point had been happily forging in solitude for a century) became aware of the half-soulforged artifacts, the screaming paving stones, and the collapsing girders, he seized and forged the worst offenders in an event known as the Day of Nhudri's Rage. The resulting purge resulted in a general reform of the guild and a commitment to higher quality production.
By 1096 CE, the Artificers were organized as a guild and jockeying for a position of authority (rather than primus inter pares) among the other, "younger", guilds. The resulting conflict, called the War of the Guilds, lasted until 1354 with the creation of a compact recognizing the 13 major guilds and the Artificers' primacy over them. The guild council lasted until the Breaking of the Guilds in 1598 CE.
One of the little known details about the Breaking and associated coup is that it also signaled an internal coup within the Artificers. The coup was partly inspired by Lord Ember, at the time a junior member of the guild with bigger dreams. To force events, he conspired with the Solicitors to push Ferrum, Smoke, and Macabah to rebel. Charon destroyed the Three and Ember took over as Master of Apprentices, becoming the true leader of the guild even as the guild was forced underground.
Since that time, the Artificers have largely been moved by two events. Charon's disappearance was coupled with a plot by Ember to recover him from the Labyrinth (Ember had faulty intelligence leading him to believe the First Ferryman was there). In addition, Nhudri began taking apprentices, training them in new soulforging techniques, and explicitly prevented these new apprentices from joining the Guild.
The Artificers' Guild is organized pyramidally, with a parallel organization, the Cult of Nhudri, serving as a spiritual backbone.
Guild Hierarchy Edit
Three Ancients Edit
The first Three, Ferrum, Smoke, and Macabah, established the structure of the guild as it exists today. They also organized most of the liturgy and mysticism that surrounds the Cult of Nhudri for more cynical reasons. They were wiped out by the Breaking of the Guilds, although their final fate is uncertain. Most assume Charon destroyed them; cultists believe they are waiting to return and restore the Artificers to their position of primacy.
Second Three Edit
The Second Three hold the same titles as the first three: Master of Apprentices, Keeper of the Chain, and Guardian of the Forge. Each of these titles serves a different function within the guild.
- Master of Apprentices - currently held by Lord Ember, is in charge of the training of new apprentices and the structure of the training curriculum. The Artificers view apprentices as power, and the Master of Apprentices is de facto the most powerful wraith in the guild.
- Guardian of the Forge - manages the soulfire used for the forges. The current Guardian is Hugh Gannon.
- Keeper of the Chain - holds the artifacts associated with the practice and ritual of the guild and presumably serves as a guild quartermaster. In addition, the Keeper is the high priest of the Cult of Nhudri. The current Keeper is Alais Capet.
Council of Masters Edit
The Council of Masters is an advisory body that serves under the Three. The council is open to any Master Artificer who desires to serve, and many will serve on an ad hoc basis, generally appearing only when interested. They have no power over the Three officially, but since the Masters are the most respected teachers and are personally high-status wraiths, they can often influence decisions indirectly.
Journeymen are any Artificers who have passed the Soulforge Rite and have their own forge. They form the bulk of professional Artificers and have the right to take on their own apprentices.
An apprentice is any Artificer who has been chosen (or entered) the guild but has not yet been granted her own forge. Since the forge is granted on completion of the Soulforge Rite, this also means that Apprentices have yet to undergo the Rite.
Cult of Nhudri Edit
It is impossible to discuss the Cult of Nhudri without first discussing Nhudri. The Grand High Artificer (a term he never uses personally) is a well-respected figure in Stygia and apparently a wraith capable of both compassion and incalculable rage. With that in mind, it is also apparent that Nhudri does not think much of the guild. While the Artificers exist because Nhudri was not able to keep up with the workload, he rarely trains any and he never involves himself in guild politics.
Nhudri especially does not involve himself in the cult that bears his name and would probably trigger another night of Nhudri's Rage if he was aware of how pervasive it was. The Cult is a cynically constructed religion developed by Smoke to ensure that the Artificers would not question the leadership of the elder Three. That practice is continued by the current heads of the guild; Lord Ember considers the cultists to be manipulable, and that attitude is presumably shared by his fellow Three.
The Cult itself is based around a shared heritage in the Book of Nhudri, supposedly written by Nhudri (but assumed to be written by Smoke), and the Soulforge Rite. The cultists treat soulforging as a sacred mystery and view the act as a mystical union between forger and forged. Most Artificers treat the cultists with a certain amount of neglect – in internal meetings, they tend to let them rant, but the actual impact they have on guild policy is negligible. The Cult's goals are outlined in the Book: the overthrow of Charon and the Hierarchy and the establishment of a society where Nhudri rules everything.
Guild Culture Edit
The Artificers are noted for their bizarre and terrifying training curriculum for soulforging, namely the Soulforge Rite, and their status as the oldest guild.
The Soulforge Rite was designed by Nhudri to remind Artificers of a simple fact: they smelt conscious souls into unliving artifacts. It is not a good thing, but from the perspective of an Artificer with conscience, it is a necessary thing. To drive this point home, the guild will not trust an Artificer with a forge until they go through the Rite. During the Rite, an Apprentice Artificer exposes his hand to soulfire and then hammers a bit of his soul into a small coin, thereafter worn as an amulet by the artificer. The pain, according to those who have experienced it, is indescribable
To outsiders with some inside knowledge, the Artificers appear to be a form of heretic cult dedicated to Nhudri-worship. The truth is somewhat more complex; while the Soulforge Rite does affect every Artificer who experiences it profoundly, not all of them become slobbering fanatics. The phenomenon is more pronounced in older Artificers, but it does not generally affect the business of the guild.
The Artificers are the oldest guild; they are actually older than the Arcanos they are associated with, as Inhabit developed out of techniques for evaluating artifacts and relics for their durability. As a result, there are dozens of powers associated with the Arcanos, many of them no longer applicable or taught to younger wraiths. During the Great War an older version of the art was called Kinesis.
The age of the guild leads to several internal divisions. Old Artificers can predate Stygia, and many masters predate the current Three. The Artificers are arguably one of the largest concentrations of ancient and powerful wraiths under one banner, a fact which would grant them more power if their being so ancient and powerful did not also make these wraiths fairly fractious. Age divisions are common, the most notable one being the gap between computer-literate and Inhabit-heavy younger artificers and their more forge-oriented predecessors. The Artificers have split off guilds in the past, the Alchemists being a notable example, and it is always possible that such a shift could happen again.
The Artificers are generally marked by their time in the forges, which tends to make them big, strong, and carbonized. Younger artificers are more likely to carry circuit patterns or other indications of the modern uses of Inhabit.
The 20th Anniversary Edition changes Inhabit's markings, separating it from the marks of soulforging: Artificers acquire markings reflecting the objects they possess, while soulforgers are marked by their time in the forges.
The 20th Anniversary Edition takes some of the old names for guild members and gives them to some of the guild's internal factions: Hammerboys are soulforging specialists, Wrenchwraiths focus on Inhabiting machinery, Ghostriders are a subset of Wrenchwraiths whose domain is transportation infrastructure, and enjoy close ties with the Harbingers, and Gremlins possess machinery for mischievous or malevolent ends. Artificers who possess Internet-connected devices and ride the infosphere avoid labels, though older guildwraiths have several names for them, none of which are complimentary.
It also situates Inhabit as having been an outgrowth of soulforging.
An "artificer" is another term for a craftsman, though it can also mean one who is responsible for the upkeep of small arms and guns in a unit.
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