Forgotten Realms: Splendors & Shadow
Guilds and Merchant Houses
If there’s a profession in the city, there’s almost certainly a chartered guild to regulate the technique, quality, and price of the goods and/or services in question. The list of individual guilds tops two dozen, covering most every aspect of professional life—in addition to various craftsmen’s guilds, the Dungsweepers’ Guild, the Mariners’ & Navigators’ Guild, the Sages’ and Scriveners’ Guild, and even the Courtesans’ Guild. Merchants don’t have a unified guild, but individual trading outfits can apply for a Merchant House Charter, allowing them to benefit from the city’s local-friendly trade laws, and send a representative to the Council of Urbans.
One doesn’t have to be a member of a chartered guild or merchant house to practice a profession in the city, though the obstacles facing outsiders are great. In addition to unfavorable trade laws, non-chartered professionals often face bullying and discrimination from locals, if not outright threats.
Despite (or perhaps, because of) the Council of Urbans’ power being limited to matters of commerce, the guilds wield a great deal of power in the city. The nigh-perpetual power struggle between the Council of Urbans and the Council of Lords occupies much of the time and attention of nobles, professionals, and politicians alike.