Any citizen who hopes to start their own business in Rharne is expected to join the Merchants Guild. Those who attempt to create businesses without first joining the guild tend to find themselves facing a myriad of problems: poor quality product, a lack of suppliers, absentee employees, an inability to build a regular customer base, and various building-related woes (for example, lease increases, structural concerns, unexpected fires). Not once has the Merchants Guild ever been directly linked to these problems, but there is such a significant pattern that some aspiring business owners request membership simply to avoid becoming victims.
The Merchants Guild runs the prestigious Rharne Bank and makes significant contributions to Rharne’s coffers. The guild donates nel to the Thunder Priestesses and the Lightning Knights in times of need, constructs public buildings and roads, and contributes to the city’s overall maintenance. It publicly employs people to work in their administrative offices at the Guild Hall, and privately employs mercenaries and guards to accomplish tasks ranging from guarding shipments to quiet intimidation (though, again, this has never been proven).
- You must own a business in order to join the Merchants Guild. Please see the Business Guide for information on how to start a business.
- You must have a Novice-level Business Management skill.
- Your business must remain active for each season that you are a member of the Merchants Guild.
- All guild members must pay a membership fee of 50gn per season.
2. Upon joining the Merchants Guild, each guild member is given a bronze token stamped with the symbol of their rank. This token grants them free access to both the Guild Hall and the Guild Library.
3. Hired protection (ie. guards and mercenaries) for horses, wagons/ships, and goods when travelling for business is subsidized. The Merchants Guild will cover 50% of these costs for their members.
4. All guild members have free access to Business Management classes at the Guild's College, as well as regular mentorship from veteran business owners.
5. Membership grants direct access to Rharne’s network of merchants. This allows members to be more selective of their suppliers and gives them more negotiation power at higher ranks thanks to the credibility that comes with those who are part of the guild. Those who are Iron Merchants can deduct -5% from the price of all business-related goods, while those who are Diamond Merchants can deduct -10%.
6. Guild members are invited to a seasonal Guild Meeting where they may air their grievances, petition the guild, discuss local and global economic concerns, and vote for the guild's leadership. Attendance is optional, but encouraged.
Every business belonging to the Merchants Guild has a symbol on its sign or door to publicly convey its ranking. Wood Merchants use the symbol of a hatchet, Iron Merchants use the symbol of an anvil, and Diamond Merchants use the symbol of a diamond gem.
To move from one rank to the next, your character must contact the Merchants Guild and ask them to send a representative to review your business. Upon review, they will determine if your character is eligible to move to the next level. This must be played out IC in a thread (solo or moderated), and all skill and experience requirements must be met.
There is no limit to the number of guild members at each rank, with the exception of Trade Master. The Merchants Guild only has one Trade Master at a time. In addition to meeting the prerequisites, this individual must be formally voted into power at a seasonal Guild meeting. If your character meets the requirements, you must request a moderated thread from a local Prophet in order to attain this special rank.
Wood Merchants are frequently mentored by Iron Merchants, and have easy access to a wealth of business advice and knowledge. They are encouraged to attend the seasonal Guild Meetings, though their advice or recommendations may not be taken as seriously as that given by higher ranked merchants.
- Business Management (Novice)
Iron Merchants are frequently mentored by Diamond Merchants and are often called upon to be mentors themselves. When they attend the seasonal Guild Meetings, consideration is made for their experience and their input is given more thought and consideration than Wood Merchants. At this rank, Iron Merchants may deduct -5% from business-related purchases and may add +5% to their seasonal business profits.
- Business Management (Competent)
- Negotiation or Intimidation (Competent)
- Leadership (Novice)
Diamond Merchants are often called upon to be mentors for Iron Merchants, and some may even be asked to be advisors for the Trade Master. Their advice carries much weight at seasonal Guild Meetings, and their needs tend to be prioritized when it comes to making guild-wide decisions. At this rank, Diamond Merchants may deduct -10% from business-related purchases and may add +10% to their seasonal business profits.
- Business Management (Expert)
- Negotiation or Intimidation (Expert)
- Leadership (Competent)
- Logistics (Competent)
At any given time, there is only one Trade Master leading the Merchants Guild. In addition to meeting the requirements, the Trade Master must have previously been a Diamond Merchant and be voted into power by the other guild members at a seasonal Guild Meeting. The Trade Master is guaranteed one arc as the guild leader. Beyond that, a vote may be called at any time by challengers and the Trade Master may keep their power only if they have kept the trust and confidence of the guild.
The Trade Master’s responsibilities include hiring employees to look after the administrative details of the running the guild, leading the seasonal meetings, sitting on Rharne’s Council, and petitioning the Council to make decisions or changes that are in the interest of the guild’s members. The Trade Master also weighs in on decisions related to the guild’s coffers, and typically has several friends and advisors at the Diamond Merchant rank from whom to gather guidance or advice.
- Business Management (Master)
- Negotiation or Intimidation (Master)
- Leadership (Expert)
- Logistics (Expert)
- Politics (Competent)
Guild Library: The Guild Library is located in the Glass Quarter, and is owned and run by the Merchants Guild. It is the only publicly accessible library in Rharne. Guild members can access the library for free, while non-guild members are able to use it by shelling out 2 gold nel per visit. The library’s resources are extensive and contain a breadth of knowledge ranging from the history of Rharne to the economics of Nashaki. Both fiction and non-fiction manuscripts can be found on its well-crafted shelves. While books cannot be removed from the library’s premises, the library itself contains many desks that can be used for reading and research.
Guild's College: Like the other Merchants Guild buildings, the Guild's College is located in the Glass Quarter. The College is Rharne's only official school and uses a classroom approach to teach a structured curriculum, with classes that tend to consist of about twenty students per subject. The College is open to any who can afford the fees and has a strong business focus. Merchant families often send their children to the Guild’s College to learn, socialize, and build strong networks. Members of the Merchants Guild may also attend free Business Management classes here.
Rharne Bank: The Rharne Bank, located in the Glass Quarter, is owned and run by the Merchants Guild and is an integral part of the city’s economy. The bank is owned and run by the Merchants Guild, and is an integral part of the city’s economy. Much of the deposited money and valuables belongs to business owners and merchants, and the bank itself often invests deposited money in local ventures. Along with offering personal & commercial bank accounts and private safes, the bank is very supportive of small businesses and provides loans to aspiring business owners who require start-up capital - as well as anyone else who might need a bit of help. But buyer beware: they are far less supportive of those who default on those loans, regardless of how successful or unsuccessful the business venture was.