A soldiering guild is technically a guild designed to protect the rights and work of its members, in this case soldiers. In this case though, the otherwise mundane designation has taken on much greater significance. For it is a number of soldiering guilds, six at present, that rules Mastaria.
The precise origins of the guild system of government isn’t known. The earliest reliable source about the early days of the system is from the earliest books of Oneshot’s library. Unconcerned with the precise recording of the system of government as they are, being merely records of the doings of the guild, they form an incomplete picture at best. However, they describe a council where the guilds apparently had a voice, and the City Lord is afforded much more authority than later. They say nothing as to what brought it on and what was before.
The history of the soldiering guilds begins with Mastaria’s. The construction of Mastaria’s Wall was conceived and executed by Oneshot, the guild also behind the vast majority of architectural wonders in the years since. The Wall was instrumental in their survival during a long war with an unnamed opponent from the mountains. It might even have been built in anticipation of a lengthy siege that was incoming. The enemy army evidently expended its strength and withdrew again. The borders have never been expanded to the north, though.
Was is interesting to note is that during this war, the soldiering guilds evidently lacked the priviledge of supplying Mastaria with her entire army. The City Lord at the time fields armies several times that of Oneshot’s, even when they invest a majority of their guild. At the time, the role of the soldiering guilds appeared to be mostly that of the personal retinue of ambitious generals, and held power mostly through a simple chokehold of the surrounding administration.
There are only two guilds from that time whose names are known: Oneshot, and The Demons, and neither seems to have been the major ones. The Demons came into their golden age a few hundred years later, and Oneshot never attempted to improve their power position beyond that of high average.
Later years provide evidence of the increasing power and influence of the soldiering guilds. For example, later wars show the soldiering guilds providing a larger and larger percentage of the troops, and eventually all other meaningful contributors disappear.
Here is a list of known current and previous soldiering guilds.
- The Demons
One of the early guilds, they later became the first truly dominant soldiering guild. At the height of their power, they fielded as many soldiers as all the others combined, often with just as prominent training. Their success is owed largely to them being the first soldiering guild to truly branch out and exceed the boundaries of a mere army. They standardised almost all the ways the guilds make money today, and catapulted the power of the guilds beyond that of bodyguards for a group of councilmen and into the monolithic entities we see today, all-pervasive and an integral part of Mastaria’s power structure. Their decline came slowly, and the guild was a shell of its previous glory when the Outriders consumed them.
If ever the term soldiering guild could be said to be a misnomer, it is with the guild Oneshot. They are the oldest guild and barring The Demons, all known soldiering guilds have lived and died within their lifespan. Their extraordinary longevity is largely due to their reluctance to get into power struggles, and their well-established monopolies, which they defend with all their tremendous strength. Apart from the expansion of their established areas (gate guards, the university, the Wall and their various outposts in the valley).
One of the first guilds to achieve the status of soldiering guild since the construction of the Wall. They sprung from a coalition of steppe tribes fighting with Mastaria against their brethren, much like The Knights later. Not much is known about Plainstar, and they are not mentioned outside the context of the Plains Campaign.
- The 2nd Company
Came about around the same time as Plainstar, and is believed to have enjoyed a rapid rise of power. They are regularly spoken of as the most powerful company during the Campaign, but declines in power after that. Their fall is a slow one, though, and they experience several upward turns, but never again reach the height of their power. They finally disappear around the time Five Spears take the stage.
- The Knights
The oldest guild after Oneshot. The Knights formed from a clan converting to Mastaria’s side during the Plains Campaign, and rapidly gained a reputation of formidable horsemanship. Their rise to status of soldiering guild came at the end of the campaign, acquiring the other of what is now generally considered permanent seats (Oneshot and The Knights sitting in those) for the longevity of their occupants. The Knights have remained the standard against which all other cavalry is measured, and are the only of the guilds to sport true heavy cavalry. They recently spawned Carlton’s Riders in a diplomatic split of opposing factions in the guild.
Never a strong presence, Vindictive enjoyed a modicum of power for controlling a number of increasingly important points near The Sunlit Empire. Their most notable achievements are several mentions of the courage of their members, and the fact that they survived their descent from the status of soldiering guild. They still exist in the eastern region, where they enjoy special legal status in the major cities and have become a powerful local presence.
- The Sovenian Bodyguards
Rumored to have been founded by the Sovenien brothers, the Bodyguards were the first quintessential elite company. They were only seven thousand strong, and focused intensely on their infantry. They existed primarily in the valley, but were deeply and openly despised by Oneshot for reasons that have never been known. The Sovenians seemed insignificant most of the time, but ocassionally showed astounding capacity to steer the council in various matters. The Sovenians were crippled when they sent a massive expedition force north that was decimated. Their sources of income and positions are slowly swallowed by the emerging Moorhigh Soldiering Guild.
Steadfast was a commune of villages in western Mastaria who, in an attempt to improve their own lot, formed the guard company Steadfast to take care of their own protection, in the hopes of easing the taxes. The idea proved successful, and more and more villages joined what swiftly became an organisation. Steadfast gained the status of soldiering guild after a long upward struggle, and became one of the driving froces behind the integration of the central region. This proved a mistake, though, as Steadfast was intimately bound to its founding lands. After a while, it was forced to move its headquarters back north and in the meantime underwent a thorough restructuring. They emerged as Five Spears, that would grow to become the most numerous soldiering guild.
- Five Spears
Generally seen as a direct continuation of Steadfast, Five Spears is nonetheless a radically different guild. Instead of Steadfast’s geographic commitment and eagerness of colonization, Five Spears have made themselves as integral to Mastaria as a guild can get. Their liberal hiring policy allow them to sweep the city of beggars and criminals, and move them to the other regions to aid in integration. This also allows them a monstrous source of new recruits, forming the basis of their infamous Beggar Legions. They maintain elite units, but they are most known for their numbers, as well as the amount of trade they indulge in. They are currently the most powerful guild by far, and their position is sometimes likened to that of The Demons in years past.
- The Outriders
The Outriders started out as a messenging service that began hiring mercenary companies for security and the like. They enjoyed continuing and expansive succcess, their system of networks allowing them to deliver messages much quicker than anyone else. After declaring war on The Demons, taking over most of their resources and assimilating the rest, they declared themselves a soldiering guild. Their claim was approved after they succeeded in block off trade to the eastern part of the country for a full month before being beaten. Due to their expansive network of message delivery, The Outriders remain integral to the strategies of Mastaria, though not as strongly as they’d have wanted.
- Moorhigh Soldiering Guild
The second soldiering guild to force its way onto the council, Moorhigh remain the only soldiering guild thus far to be sponsored instead of providing its own income. It belongs to The Crafters, even though they have long ago exceeded the religious organisation in applicable power. They are the only ones known to have breached Oneshots monopoly on engineering knowledge. Generally, Moorhigh makes liberal use of The Crafter’s goods. They have a magical solution to most things, and the great self-reliance many of these objects give them, they have had great success with establishing outposts around the land. They are very prominent in the eastern region, where they try to benefit as much as possible from the knowledge of the inhabitants there.
- Carlton’s Riders
Some might call them the Sovenians inheritors, as they sprung up around the time they died, and is strictly dedicated to elite soldiers, even moreso than the Bodyguards before them. In truth, though, the Riders arrived at similar conclusions as the Bodyguards separately, and they came into existence as a peaceful solution to civil war within The Knights. At the time, they are the youngest soldiering guild, and far the smallest. The great talent of their teachers, as well as their unwavering struggle for perfection have made their soldiers the most formidable of the guilds today.