The Guilds had a contentious history with Charon and the Stygian Empire. While all Stygian wraiths are nominally members of the Legions, Guild memberships often trumped loyalty to Stygia as a whole, and the early guilds were often very tight-lipped about the mysteries of their guild. Conversely, the importance of each guild to Stygia varied: some were the very foundations of Stygian society, some antedated Stygian society, and some were little more than glorified criminal fraternities.
Breaking Of The Guilds
For the guilds, the complicated and often self-destructive political games of Stygia culminated in events between the High Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Mirroring mortal craftsmen of the period, the guilds established a formal compact in 1354 that established them as a unified body – granting the guilds increased power, which they used to launch a coup d'état in 1598. Charon responded firmly, issuing a dictate dissolving the guilds and passing their former responsibilities to the Legions.
Since that time, the guilds have continued to exist, some more openly than others, because certain guilds are absolutely necessary for Stygia to continue. The guilds are broken into categories by the degree of tolerance afforded them by the Hierarchy; the categories are Great / High, Working, Criminal, and Forbidden.
Great / High Guilds
These guilds are required for Stygia and wraithly society to operate. As a result, they operate more or less openly as Arcanos-based organizations, even after the Breaking of the Guilds. Those who practice these Arcanos are respected by everyone, including the Hierarchy.
- Artificers: Less required for their Inhabit Arcanos than for their mastery of Soulforging, the Artificers consider themselves the oldest Guild, and Guild founder Nhudri is arguably the most respected and well-known wraith after Charon and the Lady of Fate.
- Masquers: Along with the Artificers, the masters of Moliate are responsible for the majority of Stygia's plasmic goods. As a result, the Masquers Guild is well-accepted within Stygia, even though the Masquers often use their abilities to skirt extremely dirty business, particularly through operatives such as Slander.
- Pardoners: Acting as everything from therapists to exorcists, the Pardoners control and manage the shadow inside of every wraith, they are invaluable members of Stygian society because without the Pardoners and Castigation, Stygia would collapse into Oblivion in a fortnight.
- Usurers: Usury is an extremely useful Arcanos which allows the trade of pathos and other goods from one wraith to another, while extremely useful the Usurers themselves still struggle to recover from their fall following the Breaking. Trying to regain their reputation and respect.
Guilds in this category are considered "working-class"; that is, they consist of wraiths who earn a day-to-day living through their Arcanos. These Guilds are still illegal, but do not boast Arcanoi that violate the Dictum Mortuum and are therefore granted a varying degree of tolerance, ranging from nobody in the Hierarchy caring about membership towards not excessively hunting for members. These guilds are often less forthcoming with their Arcanoi as well.
- Chanteurs: The guild of Keening is generally grouped together with the Sandmen as the entertainers of the dead; Able to affect and manipulate their voices to give life and passion to the hallow emptiness of the shadowlands. They are offered a wider berth than afforded to less fun guilds, Because after all, who wants to exist in a silent afterlife?
- Harbingers: Masters of the Argos Arcanos, the Harbingers are the primary transport and messenger service for the dead. Without the Harbingers, Stygian outposts would be unable to communicate and many wraiths would be lost in the Tempest. However, as the majority of Harbingers focus more on their personal work rather than Guild affairs, and the Guild itself is loosely organized, they are not considered a Great Guild.
- Oracles: The Fatalism Guild is the Arcanoi of seeing the past and future, draped in tarot cards and astrology they are looked at with suspicion and fear as the ones who always know too much. They have powerful patrons and a reputation for playing Cassandra to Charon. As a result, the guild occupies a quasi-legal state – well-organized, but nobody admits it in public.
- Sandmen: As with the Chanteurs, the masters of Phantasm work the theatre of dreams and sleep, Their art is more subtle then most and it is one they love above all. They are afforded a high degree of independence because eventually, everyone in Stygia visits them for entertainment.
These guilds are not only illegal, but they violate the Dictum Mortuum or are otherwise known for egregiously violating Stygian law. Membership in these Guilds may not result in outright soulforging, but too much familiarity with their Arcanoi can be unhealthy. However, familiarity is difficult to come by, as most of these guilds will not let their secrets loose to just any ghost. That is not to say they do not have their own influence in Stygian society; they are probably the closest thing to an "underworld" in the Underworld.
- Haunters: Practitioners of Pandemonium fled to the shadows because their entire purpose is to violate the Dictum Mortuum. They have spent their time cackling like maniacs ever since.
- Monitors: Lifeweb is a critical Arcanos for the maintenance of Fetters allowing the Monitors to watch, visit and protect the Fetters of themselves and others but regardless the Monitors are mistrusted due to the encouraged abuse of their Arcanos by the Guild. If they were not so paranoid and generally unpleasant, they would likely have an easier time in Stygian society.
- Spooks: The closest thing to a New Jersey Mafia among the dead, the Spooks are a confederation of adoptive families united by their mastery of Outrage, their control of Pathos-running and other quasi-legal enterprises, and their willingness to do head-busting favors as often as possible. They are much like the Mafia of the living; you don't know they exist until you need a favor from them.
- Proctors: Like the Haunters, Spooks and Puppeteers, the entire purpose of Embody is to visit the Skinlands. Unlike these other guilds, the Proctors have always been intensely self-absorbed. While a criminal guild, they are considered a nonthreatening criminal guild.
- Puppeteers: The Puppetry Arcanos allows control of living bodies, and of the criminal Arcanoi is the one that has found the most unofficial use throughout the history of the dead. That said, the Guild has always been barely tolerated at best, and these days, they hide out in the Skinlands as much as possible. They also have strong ties to the Risen.
Also called the Lesser Guilds as they were not invited to sign the Compact of the Guilds, these groups are hunted by the Hierarchy and feared by wraith society. Membership in one of these Guilds supposedly carries an automatic sentence of soulforging. Some members manage to subvert their punishments somehow, but must still carefully hide their talents, lest the wrong person find out.
- Alchemists: Flux masters were historically considered something of an appendage to the Artificers. With the Breaking, the institution of the Dictum Mortuum, and the loss of support from their parent Guild, the Alchemists had no place to go but underground.
- Mnemoi: Once the judges of Stygia, the masters of Mnemosynis used their mind altering powers to interrogate and investigate, but were found corrupt and banished from Stygia with a vengeance far before the Breaking. Any which are left use their powers now as "Mind Robbers" stealing and selling back the memories of victimized Wraiths, They are spoken of in frightened whispers and have no place in open Stygian society. The punishment for Mnemoi membership is soulforging, no questions asked.
- Solicitors: Never part of the guilds per se, this cabal of Intimation masters could change and manipulate the desires this power has fearsome potential as in the wrong hands it could change someone's entire identity in a mere instant. Despised by Stygian society they have continued illegally since the Breaking as if nothing had happened.
|Wraith: The Oblivion Guilds|
|Alchemists · Artificers · Chanteurs · Harbingers · Haunters · Masquers · Mnemoi · Monitors · Oracles · Pardoners · Proctors · Puppeteers · Sandmen · Solicitors · Spooks · Usurers|