The Royal Guilds and Guilded Quarters of Daggerfall are a collection of technically unaffiliated, but often interconnected crafts associations and societies that hold a legitimized monopoly over much of the industry in the Kingdom of Daggerfall. Formed by royal mandate and to this day clients of the Crown, the guilds of Daggerfall represent not the independent enterprises of a budding urban economy, but an extension of the kingdom's sprawling central hierarchy.
While their primary purpose is certainly economical, the Royal Guilds should not be confused for a business corporation the likes of the Septims' East Empire Company. They retain an important social and cultural role in Daggerfallian urban life, providing a focal point for identity, presiding over a host of rituals and celebrations, and ensuring a measure of social security for its members through networks of patronage and mutual support - both fiscal and otherwise. Likewise, higher academia in the western kingdom is the sole preserve of the guilds, through formal apprenticeship and facilitation of informal avenues for the exchange of knowledge, alike.
The history of Daggerfall's Royal Guilds is a patchwork of royal mandates and sanctions, of economic booms and crises, and of individual fortunes and downfalls stretching back all the way to the first half of the First Era. It is impossible to ascertain any exact point at which the first guilds came to be - indeed, there may well be no exact point; their origins, however, are commonly accepted to lie in the small knot of artisans and scribes kept in the service of the very earliest Stewards of Daggerfall. To pretend that a straightforward evolution from this stewardly entourage to the myriad guilds of today then followed would be folly - but that seems, nevertheless, to be where the principle first emerged within Daggerfall.
Centuries of change have since taken their toll, and virtually no guilds remain who could trace their origins back before the Betony Interregnum. A few appear to have been established during the chaotic years of the Middle Dawn, and the Royal Guilds of Artificers, Alchemists and Goldsmiths to this day all claim to be the oldest in the kingdom. The truth of the matter might well be forever lost to us; what can be said for sure, however, is that the great majority of the guilds in existence today were founded and sanctioned in the hundred-so years after the Thrassian Plague, as the city of Daggerfall came to benefit from the ravages that had swept over High Rock and the rest of Tamriel beyond.
Many would later split into smaller associations, or be joined into greater conglomerates; one such reordering can be connected to the early years of the Second Era and the conquests of the Reman Emperors. As the fortunes of Daggerfall shifted, so too did its guilds - slowly but surely assessing and repositioning to meet with new challenges and opportunities. Today, as throughout most of the Third Era, Daggerfall is home to forty-some guilds, the most recent of which is the curious case of the Daggerfallian Guild of Mages - taken under the royal wing in 4E8 as His Majesty's Imperial Guild of Mages, Witches and Sorcerers in an offer of refuge to its leadership, beleaguered ever since the sack of the Imperial City earlier in the year.
Notable Guilds Edit
- His Majesty's Royal Guild of Steelworkers, Steelweavers and Associated Metallurgists - perhaps the largest of Daggerfall's many guilds, the Royal Steel Guild presides over all production of the kingdom's famed spellwoven steel. Their foundries, furnaces and enchantries are certainly a sight to behold, occupying much of the capital's Iron Street; accordingly, its master smiths and enchanters are some of the best-respected artisans throughout Daggerfall.
- His Majesty's Imperial Guild of Mages, Witches and Sorcerers - formerly the Imperial Mages' Guild, it has since been appropriated by the Crown of Daggerfall following the utter dissolution of the Septim Empire and all its associated institutions. An exodus of guild mages from war-torn Cyrodiil has allowed the Daggerfallian Guildhall to amass a sizable library of books, scrolls and papers on the arcane; however, it remains but a shadow of the splendour that was the Arcane University, and the guild's new haven in the West comes at the price of spirited competition from innumerable witch-covens and unaffiliated hedge-wizards and thaumaturges.
- His Majesty's Royal Guild of Artificers, Mechanists and Tinkerers - known better as the Royal Enchanters, or simply the Tinkers' Guild, the artificers and mechanists of Daggerfall are responsible for maintaining the capital's arcane infrastructure. Due in large part to an ancient and treasured connection to the works of Raven Direnni, the Daggerfallian methodology for enchanting and disenchanting differs somewhat from Imperial practice; however, the quality of work resultant is beyond question, and more than justifies the guild's official monopoly over all enchanting outside the soulweaving of certain craftsguilds.
- His Majesty's Royal Dibellarine Guild of Courtesans, incorporating Concubines and Catamites - quite simply an association of the brothels and prostitutes of Daggerfall, the Dibellarine Guild includes both luxurious establishments reserved solely for the nobility, and seedier corners tending to the heart-aches of the commoner. Outlanders are sometimes bewildered to discover such institutions operating with royal mandate alike to a manufactory's or a smithy's - but the guild has had many an archduke, king and queen as clients over the centuries, and enjoys all the benefits of official patronage.
- His Majesty's Royal Guild of Alchemists and Herbalists - though alchemy is often considered second to the art of enchantment in the Daggerfallian West, the kingdom's Royal Alchemist Guild is nonetheless an esteemed institution that provides most of the arcane salves, unguents and potions throughout Daggerfall. As part of an agreement dating back to the early years of the Third Era, the Alchemists are obliged to provide ingredients and potions to the Mages' Guild at a favourable price - in return for which the latter refrains from making any products thereof available to the general public.
- His Majesty's Royal Guild of Barristers, Notaries and Solicitors - one of the most prestigious guilds in the kingdom, the Guild of Barristers, Notaries and Solicitors unites many of the legal professionals of Daggerfall, and concerns itself with both the practice and codification of their realm's labyrinthine law. As one of the few guilds reputable enough to satisfy even the aristocracy, it is a popular destination for the able scions of both the petty nobility and chevalier families.