Claims of the origins of the Spooks Guild go far back in history, to the legendary tales of Odysseus, Orpheus, Gilgamesh, Aeneas, and other mythological figures who freely crossed from the Skinlands to the Shadowlands. While not part of any official Guild, the Spooks strongly consider them to be their forerunners.
Things changed after the Sundering. The formation of the Shroud meant that there would be no more passing freely between the world of the dead and the world of the living. As a result, many Spooks ceased to affect the living and begin the business for which the Spooks are best known: Pathos-running. These Spooks were called Nepentheans.
During the First Great Maelstrom, several Spooks (calling themselves Dolabra) offered their powerful abilities to Charon as mercenaries, to combat the waves of Spectres attacking Stygia. Charon welcomed the help, but after the battles were over and the Spectres driven away, the reformed wraith government had no places for these outsiders and turned their backs on them. The Dolabra and Nepentheans, struggling to survive, began to fight each other.
The Haunters and the Village Incident
The Haunters, meanwhile, were setting about forming their own Guild. They invited the Spooks to their conclave; the offer was accepted. During their time with the Haunters, the original factions united, and a third developed, the Dulians, who acted to protect other wraiths' Fetters.
The Spooks remained a distinct minority within the Haunters, however, and eventually decided to part ways in order to form their own Guild and build up the art of Outrage. At first, the Haunters were angry at their former allies and tried to destroy them by using the Hierarchy in what became known as the Village Incident, in which several innocent wraiths were destroyed or captured by Hierarchy patrols looking for Spooks, which they believed to be a new type of Spectre. The Spooks developed a bad name in Stygia as a result.
The Spooks, never one for subtle communication, began lashing out at everyone in an attempt to assert themselves in the wraithly power structure. Ned Riddle, a Dulian leader, decided to appeal to the Artificers Guild for backing and support. An agreement was made between the two: if the Spooks helped the Artificers, the elder Guild would support the Spooks. With their powerful support, the Spooks set out to clear their name by tracking down the Haunter who had made the Village report and torturing him into a Harrowing. The Haunters quickly realized that the Spooks had enough power to compete with them, if not overpower them, and decided to make amends. They signed a truce and the two Guilds remain close allies to this day.
The Guild Revolt and the Breaking
The Spooks, despite inner turmoil still lingering from the factions they formed from, managed to survive the War of the Guilds. After the Compact was signed, the Guild reformed itself, expanding and reunifying the Guild by forming the Commission. The original Commission had only three members, representing the three factions, but a fourth member, representing the Harrowsmiths, was added soon after.
The Dictum Mortuum had been written by this time, and the services of the Spooks were in demand as the Monitors withdrew from the business of Fetters for fear of angering the Hierarchy. Shortly thereafter, the Guild Revolt began in earnest, and the Spooks were pulled in on the Artificers' side by Ned Riddle, with the other Commissioners opposed.
In the aftermath of the revolt's failure, the Dulians were decimated – popular belief among elder Spooks is that Riddle and his followers were handed over to the Hierarchy – and reformed from those members who had refused to go along with Riddle. The new Dulians would stay out of politics, and stick to the protection of Fetters.
The Last Centuries
After the rapid growth of several Necropoli, the Spooks decided to reform the Guild again to deal with the large populations of wraiths. Taking a cue from labor unions in the Skinlands, the Guild was split into five parts, each with a Local group for each Necropolis. In addition, the newest branch, the Gray Gangs, were formed to undermine the presence of the Hierarchy and protect the wards of each Necropolis.
Each branch of the Spook Guild has come to stand for different purposes, worrying those in charge. Some believe that the Guild has become so diverse that it is headed for a split, much like the Spooks did with the Haunters ages ago.
The grunts of the Spooks, the Defenders are set into squads of 10 and used to do tasks that involve group work, such as riots, sanitizing, and other Spook practices. Occasionally, Defenders are also allowed to work on their own if they have proven themselves dependable.
Armadars command the Defenders, as well as take independent jobs without approval from higher-ups in the Guild. Armadars also serve as the head of wards in Necropoli, working to defend and control them against undesirables.
Groups of Defenders and their Armadars are called Locals.
Controllers maintain and oversee the Locals, making sure that their efforts are coordinated and mediating disputes between them.
Large networks of Locals are called Combinations, and it is these that Spook Bosses rule over. They feed information to the Combinations from the Commission, as well as voice complaints and questions on behalf of the Combinations. The word of a Boss is final, and any Spook who argues with or defies it may find themselves both out of the Guild and a target for the Harrowsmiths.
There are 99 Bosses currently, one for each Combination.
The Commission of Five
Also Bosses, but with loads of experience and in charge of one of the five branches (see below), the Commission of Five (or C5) sets the Guild rules and regulations, and ensures that all branches work effectively. There is, however, in-fighting amongst them, as naturally, they want the Guild power and glory for their branch (or themselves.)
Of the Commission, the only two known members are Artemus Vanderwal, in charge of the Gray Gangs, and Niccolo Cianfrocco, head of the Chicago Combination and the current "Guildmaster", although for all intents and purposes, all five can be considered the Guildmasters.
Formerly known as the Dulians, the Lifeliners are mostly responsible for the existence of the Spook Guild in the first place; it was their efforts that allowed the Spooks to break away from the Haunters.
The Lifeliners are the guardians of Fetters. For a fee, any wraith can pay a Spook to protect an inanimate or living Fetter, or to have their Fetter moved to a safer location. These Spooks have a strict code of conduct that restricts their activities with Spooks outside of the group, as they view themselves as having a higher purpose than the other divisions. They claim their devotion to the Cause gives them the least problems with their Shadows of any Spook. Other Spooks view them as vital to the Guild, and are concerned that they're becoming disconnected from its interests; they fear the Lifeliners may renounce the rest of the Guild in disgust and sell them out.
Formerly the faction called the Nepentheans, the Mementomorians (or Pathos-runners) gather around places where those who died are remembered; cemeteries, memorials, and battlefields are suitable locations for many. There, they collect the emotions of the Quick who visit and refine them into liquid Pathos, which they then sell to other wraiths. A blatant violation of the Dictum Mortuum, Mementomorians are frequently the most hunted of Spooks by the Hierarchy. However, as many wraiths have grown dependent on the Pathos-runners' product, there are very few willing to sell them out. There is some debate as to the purity of the Pathos gathered; while the Mementomorians claim to only grab the "best" (read: positive emotions) Pathos, some believe it is "watered down" with negative emotions to make the product stretch more.
Formerly the faction known as the Dolabra, the Shroudbreakers came to prominence during the War of the Guilds, working with Haunters and other Shroud-crossing Guilds to "sanitize" structures of the Quick in order to demolish Haunts, tamper with the Shroud thickness, or create relics. Their task has changed little since then, with the Shroudbreakers attracting the most attention of the Spooks among the living. These exorcists and ghost busters are the standard adversaries for the Shroudbreakers; while the Hierarchy officially frowns on their activities, some have been known to hire Shroudbreakers to rout out fugitives or target criminals.
The youngest of the five groups, the Gray Gangs were formed strictly based on the Quick's labor unions. These Spooks are responsible for most Outrage activity that occurs in the Shadowlands, especially in the Necropoli. Mercenaries all, they hire themselves out to the highest bidder among Renegades and Heretics. Gray Gangs are also responsible for many of the "wards" within Necropoli, serving as local representatives, in essence, to get the people who live in their area the things they need.
The most secretive and frowned upon of the Spooks among their own Guild, the Harrowsmiths are dark mirrors of the Lifeliners. They are fanatical in their devotion to the Cause, and in their belief that the Spooks alone can uphold it - fanatical to the point that they will destroy any wraith who betrays the Spooks or their clients. Where the Lifeliners protect Fetters, the Harrowsmiths specialize in destroying them. They also work in more "subtle" ways, such as torture or mental abuse. Many wraiths consider the Harrowsmiths to be among the darkest wraiths, and the closest to being a Spectre one can become. Why their existence in the Spooks' Guild is continued is a mystery.
The Cause is the driving force behind the Spooks: the belief that the things of the Skinlands that keep a wraith functioning and enable them to pursue Transcendence - Fetters, Haunts, the memories of the living, etc. - should be defended against Oblivion. The Cause is what drives the Spooks to protect Fetters and keep wraiths from being Harrowed or becoming Spectres. Spooks who violate the Cause (with the exception of Harrowsmiths) are usually ostracized or hunted down.
Despite their past differences, the Spooks and Haunters are very close. Although they differ on a few key ideas, they generally work together as much as possible to achieve their goals.
The Monitors, however, are particularly loathed among the Spooks for their tendencies to indiscriminately destroy other wraiths' Fetters and for their snobbish attitude regarding those without Lifeweb.
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