City Institutions

There are many different organisations within Grantabrugge, which keep the city running and keep gold flowing through the pockets of all the citizens. Some of these organisations work in opposition, some work together, but more often than not it's a shifting landscape of politics and alleigences that means that only the most canny can stay afloat. While the various temples and magical colleges constitute a class of organisation in their own right, groups of professionals often band together to form a guild to regulate and control their trade within the city, and there are numerous institutions involved with city administration and the law.

The Guildhouses

There are several guilds within the city, each which strive to regulate certain professions and undertakings. Each guild has formal legal authority to charge membership fees, and to bring to court any practitioners not part of the guild for “attempting to undermine city institutions.”

The Alchemists' Guild

One of the oldest city institutions, the alchemists' guild provides a structure to teach apprentice alchemists the necessary skills, and to provide access to basic alchemical ingredients for journeyman members. Small non-guild alchemy shops occasionally spring up in the city, but are usually quickly brought under by the alchemists' guild, who claim that alchemicals produced by “amateur” alchemists such as these may be harmful to your health.

The guild is willing to turn a blind eye to its members selling off small quantities of the alchemicals they produce at their own price, but if it becomes known that an alchemist is deliberately trying to undercut the guild then that alchemist stands to lose their guild membership as well as being brought to trial for attempting to undermine a city institution.

The Bards' guild

The Bard's guild is a loose association between those who make their living off musicianship. It provides a converted warehouse for members to come together and for bands, with some adjacent, if noisy, lodging space for travelling guild members. The Brighthelm Bards' guild is partnered with guilds in other cities to provide cheap accommodation to members of these guilds while they are travelling the country.

The Entrepreneur's Guild

The Entrepreneur' guild provides something of a club-house for successful entrepreneurs of the city to come together and discuss business strategies and areas of development for the city, as well as asserting their influence over others within the guild. The work of the guild generally involves providing insurance against fires or other unfortunate accidents happening to citizen who are paid up on their guild feels, as well as administrating over the late-night shifts and cargo imports in the docklands, where their guildhouse is based. Being an association of powerful individuals from across the city, this guild's influence spreads across the city, and there is little legitimate or illegitimate activity going on in the city that they do not know about.

The guild tends to be very close-knit, but newcomers are generally viewed with suspicion and need to do something to prove that “they mean business” before being made feel remotely welcome. The many casual workers under the employ of the various entrepreneur are considered associate members of the guild, and new members will generally be invited to join as an associate member before becoming full members, even if they are already showing some prowess.

The entrepreneurs' guild rarely brings cases against other entrepreneurs operating outside of the guild, preferring to meet with them and discuss how this situation can be resolved. If a resolution isn't reached, the situation seems to clear up on its own.

The Laundress' Guild

Very few within the laundress' guild actually do any kind of laundry. The instituion is run by its leading members to provide a safe enviroment for working women (and men) to undertake the oldest profession in the world. However, life is generally still hard for guild members, and the guild house down Laundress Lane is not exactly luxurious, with most members being afforded a room to sleep for a few hours a day, which they share with several other people. There are some within the guild who provide laundry services either entirely or on the side, in order to provide plausible deniability to themselves and the guild.

The Mercenaries' Guild

A distinct organisation from the City Watch, the mercenaries guild provide a place for those with need for a little extra muscle to hire some of the best champions in the city, for premium rates. The guild accepts “warriors” of all varieties, but generally some kind of combat prowess in necessary to really get on in the guild. Job offers come in to the guild and trickle down from the top, with guild “Generals” getting first pick of the jobs that come in, passing down to leuitenants and finally to the -private hire forces who make up the majority of the guild. There are various noticeboards in the guildhouse detailing what is available. The guildhouse generally oversees or offers guidance on how mercenaries make their contracts (a formal written contract is necessary for any job to be considered legitimate.) For example, the guild highly reccommends, in cases of questionable legality, that the mercenary get it in writing that the contractor assumes all legal responsibility and hence is liable for any legal repercussions, rather than the mercenary themselves.

The guild comes down very hard on sellswords operating externally, and will often offer very good rates to help the city watch and church of Astalon hunt these individuals down.

The Messengers' Guild

This guild is distinct from all other guilds in that all of its members are twelve years and younger. Formed a number of years ago to provide a legitimate means for the street urchins of the city to earn money, as an alternative to stealing, this guild are capable of delivering letters to almost anyone within the city, for a 1Sh. charge per letter. This service performs remarkably well, though a good verbal description of the address is generally required as the messengers are for the most part illiterate. This guild rarely sends representatives to city council meetings, and on the recent occassions where they have, have been caught attempting to sneak off with valuable items of jewellery belonging to other council members. The guild doesn't often have much competition, but occasionally there is some infighting or different “gangs” trying to claim different territory of their own. A near schism about five years ago when a guild-leaders' mandate expelling all girls from the messengers' guild was repealed.

The guild is generally well-liked in the city but there are some who will not use it for fear of the messengers attempting petty theft as they go about their business.

The Warlocks' Guild

The Warlocks' Guild is a special militia concerned exclusively with the protection of mages. They are a relatively powerful organisation within the city, considering the presence of the magical colleges. The Warlocks' guild is mostly made up of elemental elves who felt their primary calling lay in other areas to magic, though there are a few human Warlocks as well. Warlocks are required to swear a stringent oath to the elemental lords and ladies to lay down their lives in services to magic and mages. In exchange for this, they are given access to the Warlocks' Guild cantrips, “Bladesharp” and “Bludgeon”, and are presented with a Warmetal sword. The Warlocks' Guild jealously guards the secrets of warmetal and possession of warmetal by a non-warlock is considered a very serious crime among the guild. Many within the guild are members of the Order of Judges. Most warlocks agree that the chief source of danger to a mage is themselves, but next to this the guild most frequently runs into problems with the Servants of Aten, who believe that magic is a vice which corrupts the innocent and jeopardises their immortal soul.

The Colleges of Magic

Due to its abundance of magical features, Brighthelm attracts some of the best mages in the country, and by extension the teaching community that has grown up here is among the best in the land. There are 7 colleges of magic, with the Colourless college being a relatively new addition of 30 years. The other colleges were founded some 400 years ago, but each college has a history of its own and the social and political roles of the colleges have changed much in this time. While not a “guild”, most mages will be a member of a college, whether as a student or a researcher, as without college membership it is very difficult to find the resources for formal training or research. Some mages are members of more than one college, but this requires special dispensation from the administration of each, and for metaphysical reasons a mage may not cast magics of opposite colours so no mage is enrolled in two oppositely coloured colleges.

Each college has a few representatives on the city council, and every college has close ties with the Warlocks' Guild, who are primarily responsible for the safety and security of the students, researchers, and visiting bigshots.

More information about the individual colleges coming soon.

The Fire College

The Water College

The Earth College

The Air College

The Dark College

The Light College

The Colourless College

The Temples

There are public centres of worship for all legal deities in Brighthelm (there are no publically known temples of Vivamort or Sordan.) Each one reflects the nature of that deity's teachings, and often functions as a centre for activity as well as a place of worship: eg. The Temple of the Sage provides medical care to those who can afford it; the Temple of Humact offers grand funeral ceremonies to those who can afford it; the nearby temple of Azrael provides mass graves for those who can't afford it etc. There is no “temple” of the Crofter, his church being neither wealthy nor organised enough to have a centralised place of worship, though there is a small shrine where tokens of the sick or dying are often left.

More information about the individual temples coming soon. Information on the various gods can be found in the pantheons

The Cathedral of Mallan

The Altar of Aten

The Courts of Astalon

The Shrine of Crofter

The House of Nephthys

The Crypts of Azrael

The Catacombs of Luca

The Circlet of Balance

Law and Order

The Order of Judges

The order of Judges represents the main legal authority within the city. Mostly made up of members of the Temple of Astalon, they conduct trials and occasionally administer justice in the courthouse adjoining the Temple of Astalon. General citizens and members of other institutions may be inducted into the order of judges, and several of the highest-ranking members of the Watch and the Warlocks' guild are among the best known judges within the city. Conversely, not every member of the Astalonian Community is a a Judge, and the appointment of a new Judge must be made by a council of current judges following an assessment of the candidate's capability and standing within the community.

The Watch

The city watch is the official city militia, charged with ensuring law and order is maintained. The pay is less lucrative than the mercenaries' guild, but a Watchman (or woman) can generally be sure that they are acting in the best interests of the city and their community. It is also generally less dangerous than being a mercenary! Sargeants of the watch have the authority to punish petty misdemeanours by locking perpetrators in the (generally overcrowded) city cells for up to 1 week; larger offences are brought to the Temple of Astalon for trial. Corruption, partiality, or brutality is punishable by the officer being stripped of his Watch sash, and then referred to the Temple of Astalon for trial based on the severity of the offense.

The city watch offices have someone on the desk almost all the time, and if a citizen is robbed or wishes to report a crime they have witnessed this is where they should go. The guild views anyone attempting to “keep the peace” without involving the guild as a lawless vigilante, something that is in itself considered a serious crime.

The City Council

The city council is made up of representatives from each of the guildhouses, the colleges and temples. The number of representatives from each body is determined by how much they contributed to funding city projects over the last year. The temple of the Crofter is the only institution not to have any representatives on the council. The Entrepreneur' guild holds the second-most seats on the council, second only to the colleges of magic, and even then only if you count the seven distinct faculties as one entity.

The council vote on issues facing the city, passing new laws, ensuring the streets are kept clean and everything runs smoothly.

The Mayor's Office

Traditionally, the mayor of the city has the power to veto any decision made by the council, to introduce new motions at the council meetings, however these days the mayor rarely opposes the decisions of the council and it is not certain what would happen if he did. The mayor technically possesses some powers over the City Watch and, if a state of emergency is declared, every city guild, the Order of Judges, and administration of the colleges of magic. However, in these times the main role of the mayor is to act as the chief ambassador for the city in the case when there are visiting dignitaries or whenever Brighthelm is to be represented somewhere further afield, for example at the King's Court.

The mayor is supported by a great number of staff and works out of an office located close to the city council buildings. The office staff tend to have their jobs for life, while a mayoral term is 1 year long, with any number of reelections possible. However, it is generally understood that the mayor not serve more than two terms in office.

The Babbler

The Brighthelm Babbler is the city's oldest, most trustworthy, only free newspaper. Published fortnightly on Thursdays, it accurately and without bias reports all goings-on within the city, as well as printing small, tasteful advertisements as its means of generating revenue. Babbler reporters are good at finding their way on-scene when anything of major importance is happening, where they will politely and accurately transcibe a detailed and fair report of the situation for the sole purpose of helping the ordinary citizens keep abreast of current affairs. Oh yes.

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