Guilds and Secret Societies of Korovia
The Adventurers Guild, aka King Finger's Adventurers Guild
The Adventurers Guild has chapterhouses in or near all major cities, and the buildings are often an old inn that serves food in addition to serving as guild chapterhouses. The chapterhouses vary in size (the one in Kost is one of the larger ones) and size of the chapterhouse and the list of amenities each chapterhouse offers is based on how wealthy and well kept it is. Some of the nicer chapterhouses has a small magic shop, a small armoury and weapons store, a top of the line stables and the chapterhouse in Sylvania even has a griffon roost on the roof for elvish griffon riders. Inside the guildhouses they can often be in poor condition, depending on friendly bar brawls and lack of repairs. The chapterhouses are frequently visited by well-traveled bards and thus attract non-adventurers who are just there for the music. Patrons often swap stories. It is also one of the best places to find out news from distant parts of Korovia (or other kingdoms) and to hire quality adventurers. The prices of the food and equipment are fair and usually good or excellent quality.
The guild is named after King Finger, the famous Hab gladiator-turned-king who led a slave revolt. The financial side of the guild is primarily run by Habs and retired adventurers. Due to the Hab influence, chapterhouses are often a good place to gamble - although cheating is quite common, but also not discouraged either. A person who gets cheated is laughed at for being gullible, and it is considered to be their own fault to be gambling with someone who is a known cheater. "All is fair in cheating." - Hab Proverb.
The Wizards Guild
There are several sections of the Wizards Guild. They include the schools, wizard towers, stores and various Wizardly Orders. Only Kost, Oraknev and Sylvania have actual guild-houses, which are more like pubs/inns where wizards can trade info. A membership medallion is required for entry into a guildhouse. Members are allowed two guests.
Young wizards often pay to go to a proper wizard school, others apprentice themselves to a known wizard. Sometimes a school will notice a youth with exceptional promise and will allow that student in for free.
The Wizard Towers are small academies where wizards with similar goals sometimes gather to study and share ideas. Some towers are also small schools or may have only a single hermit-like wizard living there. Wizard Towers have small but useful libraries where wizards can find more spells or create new ones.
Wizard stores are often owned by a local school and usually found only in larger towns or cities. Some are owned by wealthy wizardly merchants. They commonly carry potions and scrolls and small non-permanent trinkets. Stores in larger cities can sometimes be hired to create permanent magical items, but those aren't cheap.
The Wizard Orders operate on a semi-separate basis from the Wizard Guild. They have their own leadership, their own hierarchies & rules and their own internal politics. The Order of Blizzards and many other orders exist.
The Necromancers Guild
A sub-sect of the Wizard's Guild, the Necromancers Guild is considerably more secretive. They reportedly have spies within the Wizards Guild and vice versa, the Wizards Guild likely has spies in the Necromancers Guild. There is no fee for joining, but rather a series of tests that only serious necromancers would know. The spells in the Necromancers Guild library are more impressive due to their emphasis on the dark arts (known as the Black Rose) and also more potent wild magics that are considered too dangerous to experiment with by regular wizards.
The Merchants Guild
Guildhouses are found in all cities and several of the larger towns. They are essentially marketplaces behind closed doors (and without the goods actually present) where merchants can trade info and make business deals. Membership is free, but a person must be able to pay for the food within a Merchants Guildhouse, which is sometimes pricey.
Since Koroviaís new age dawned 12 years ago, the merchants of Korovia have grown incredibly wealthy. New trade routes opened when the snow melted from mountain passes. Foreigners carrying gold, spices and a variety of treasures began to pour into Korovia, making it a land of wealth.
Higher demand for quality goods has caused the merchants to organize into large family owned merchant companies. The cost of transporting goods has dropped in recent years and major caravan and shipping companies have started to build up mass wealth, creating a building boom and demand for stoneworkers.
The Merchants Guild has a growing problem: Thieves & Pirates have become bolder. Therefore mercenaries and caravan guards have become an additional necessity in order to protect a personís wealth.
The Thieves Guild
When the merchants become rich, so do the thieves. Secondary in wealth to the Merchants Guild, but certainly more deadly and dubious, the Thieves Guild oversees the underground black market of Koroviaís back-alleys and hidden streets. Every major town has its own black marketeers, fences and worse. In some smaller towns the Thieves Guild can actually be the center of power and the Mayor or town council is either puppets or full-fledged members.
The larger towns and cities have more complex black markets, with everything ranging from prostitution to trade in the dark arts. Not all of the people in a local thieves guild is evil, but they do turn a blind eye to the corruption they see around them.
In coastal towns like Weyvin and Koastmark prostitution is more common whereas in Oraknev and Kost prostitution is firmly outlawed and the pimps and brothel matrons who run the show are dealt with swiftly.
Everything is always cheaper on the black market (anywhere from 20% to even 70% off, depending on how desperate the seller is to get rid of a hot item). Higher prices can sometimes be charged if its exceptionally rare or unique.
Bounty hunters are often members of the Thieves Guild, but maintain a low but impressive profile as their occupation often means they must go hunting for a fellow thief.
Pirates often associate themselves with the Thieves Guild, but usually only to sell off their stolen goods.
Mercenaries often keep contacts within local thief groups, in hopes of gaining extra employment.
The secretive nature of the Thieves Guild drives them to set-up legitimate businesses as fronts and then sells their stolen goods under the table. They often have a complex network of thugs, front men and bribed john-laws that allow them to operate. Organized gangs of thugs and/or burglars are becoming more common and efficient, but also sometimes have gang wars. Behind the scenes, crime lords with their own internal networks have begun fighting over who has the right to be on top. Itís not a fight of good against evil; it is dog eat dog.
The Assassins Guild
Even more secretive and more rare is the Assassins Guild, which is closely linked to Derek the Deadly's Obsidian Dragons. The group maintains temporary locations in major cities, but it is the headquarters that has Korovian authorities more concerned about. Some people have claimed to have penetrated the headquarters of the Assassins Guild only to find out it was part of an elaborate test or a false location. There might not even be a headquarters for the guild in Korovia as the group works internationally.
The guild reportedly takes in bounties on specific people's deaths and then pays whichever assassin kills the target. The bounty must be paid in advance however, and there is no precise guarantee that any assassin will take the risk involved in killing a particular target. Otherwise it is up to a person to simply attempt to contact a specific assassin and come up with a payment agreement.
Many secret societies also operate guilds as fronts for the business enterprises. Secret societies work in secret, but their names are sometimes known to local authorities, sages, etc even though they don't know the location of the local guildhouse or guildhouses the secret society is operating out of.
Keepers of the Crown - A secret network of agents who safeguard the royal lineage of Korovia - including Sylvania and Stilornsire's direct lineage. The Keepers were directly involved in securing the safety of the future Queen during the dark times when Derek the Deadly overthrew and slaughtered the royal family.
Cabal of the Sacrificial Lamb - A secret society of farmers who believe the blood of virgin females causes the crops to grow better, bring rain, etc. The often operate under the guise of an agricultural guild.
Templars of the Unholy Scion - An organization of people, mostly humans, who protect the descendants of the dead god Saraz. They believe the descendants to be demi-gods who will someday bring Saraz back to life.
Guardians of the Legendary Valley - The Legendary Valley is a secret, legendary paradise valley populated by monks. Located in the Snowfells, the valley is magically warm all year long and hidden from prying eyes thanks to an illusion that blankets the valley. Other magical protections keep it from being seen by scrying magic and also from random people or monsters wandering into the valley. The monks of the valley are sworn to keep secret the location of the valley and never bring outsiders to it.
The Demon's Disciples - A semi-secret group of horsemen/bandits/mercenaries/outlaws/smugglers/assassins who work together for profit and also secretly pledge themselves to the demon Galzebub. The group has many illicit goals, one of which is to recover the Cursed Hand of Galzebub (an artifact which causes violent insanity). The hand is eventually found and destroyed by Nordica and Maximilian, and the Demon's Disciples play a role in attempting to procure the hand during the series of events that led up to the hand's destruction. Following the hand's destruction the group gained a new goal - to kill the barbarian female Nordica.
Qol Dazur - An ancient society of human wizards who believe the elves stole magic from the humans that allows the elves to live longer lives. Dating back to the stone age, the society deals in the murder of elves for their own pleasure, but they also believe in stealing the bodies of elves for their own use to extend their lives. Using Magic Jar they swap souls with captured elves and transfer the consciousness of their followers into elf bodies. This way the wizards and their followers live longer lives, allowing them to continue to pursue their goals of destroying elven society longer. Qol Dazur also believes the Korovian monarchy has been tainted by the blood of elves over the centuries and that the monarchy cannot be trusted and should be replaced with humans from the ranks of Qol Dazur. During the time Derek the Deadly was in power the wizards even sought to usurp his leadership in an effort to claim his throne for themselves and place a wizard on the throne.
The Weyvin Conspirators - A group of spies working for the Azagolian Empire, seeking to establish a foothold for the empire in Korovia. Their official title in Azagolian is The Servants of the Emperor, but since their plots usually involve the capture of the city of Weyvin the title of Weyvin Conspirators is more often used by non-members of the society. The group believes that stronger ties with Azagolia will bring economic prosperity and stability.
The Oathkeepers of Stilorn - A society of dwarves which seeks two things: First, the amalgamation of dwarven provinces of Korovia into Stilornvia; Second, the death of Al-Kazarian merchants / allies in Korovia, a feud dating back to a time Al-Kazarian merchants lent their soldiers as mercenaries to the Korovian dwarves in order to remain free from Stilornvian rule. Those dwarven clans loyal to Stilorn felt this was an interference and have since sworn off all contact with Al-Kazar. They took an oath to someday return control of the region to Stilornvia.
The Seekers of Zarmaxathrax - A religious sect belonging to the Temple of Zarmaxathrax. The religious order believes that the Korovian Dragon God will reward them whenever they bring him treasure at his temples. The sect takes this a step further, they seek to find Zarmaxathrax himself - who is said to be slumbering deep beneath a secret mountain - so that they may wake him and personally give him treasure in hopes of gaining his favour. To further this goal the group actively seeks out the whereabouts of Korovian dragons - the older the better - so they might wake them up. Waking ancient dragons however usually leads to mass destruction.
Blood of the Wyvern - A secret society of assassins and wizards who have discovered a way to make their blood poisonous using wyvern poison and blood magic. They sacrifice people, often children or infants, during a ritual that infuses the blood of the assassin with wyvern poison. Getting a drop of blood on a non-member's skin, just a tiny bit, can cause the person to die from the effects of wyvern poison. The assassins are very careful to capture victims who are non-threatening and look helpless and take great effort to make sure no assassin blood touches their victim before the ritual. Assassins who join gain a powerful ability to kill anyone their blood so much as touches, which makes gaining such an ability worth the fealty the group demands. Members swear fealty to the group amd must pay off a blood debt to the group or suffer the consequences of failing to comply.
The Scorpion's Shadow - A group of Al-Kazarian merchants/mercenaries/assassins/slavers who believe Habbelund should be returned to Al-Kazarian control and the Habs all enslaved again. Under the guise of merchants the Shadow work to undermine Hab military leaders and infrastructure so that an invasion might succeed in reconquering all of Habbelund and part of southern Korovia, placing all of the Habs under their rule. When not plotting they spend much of their time abducting Habs to be taken to Al-Kazar to be sold into slavery.
Guardians of the Silver Water - A secret group from multiple races who seek to keep secret the locations of wells, rivers and streams of 'Silver Water', a magical and sparkly water that is very rare and has healing properties and also can be used to enhance magical spells. The Guardians keep the locations of such places secret so it doesn't fall into the hands of the unworthy / evil. The headquarters of one such location is deep below the Bogkeep, where a stream of silver water flows into fonts carved in ancient times. However most of the residents of the Bogkeep don't even know the history of the castle, not knowing the castle was first built there by the hero Bogdan in an effort to keep the water away from evil hands. The existence of silver water is known only to a few mortals, the Korovian dragons who have sworn to protect the water, and to demons from the Abyss who want the water for its magical properties. Note - The Temple of Zarmaxathrax is allied with the Guardians, following a commandment from the dragon god to protect the secret of the water's existence.
The Abyssal Agents - Affiliated with the Demon's Disciples, the Abyssal Agents have a very specific goal. To gain control of the secret silver water wells and to use the magic of the water to aid them in opening portals to the Abyss. However silver water wells are usually guarded by a Korovian dragon or two (and their followers) so finding and securing them is very rare. Note - Silver water sources come in trickles, streams, rivers and wells. According to some sources the dragon god Zarmaxathrax guards a lake of the liquid.