The social and professional life of most well-to-do Omphalosians is determined as much by their Guild allegiance as their Clan. Although hundreds of Guilds exist in the city, their fortunes wax and wane, and so does their influence. The once mighty Apothecary Guild has become a shell of its former self, while one of its descendants, the Botanists’ Agreement, has enjoyed a thriving renaissance. Currently there are 14 Guilds deemed important enough to gain senators in the House of Guilds. They are listed below, in order of size, from most members to least.
The Steamworkers’ Union: A vast organization whose numbers are bolstered by many low-level workers, led by a politically shrewd officer class. They operate most of the city’s heavy machinery and transportation, and control most power plants. They also have a secret system of underground tunnels connecting their many local unions, making it the most well-connected Guild in more than one sense.
Brethren of the Holy Harmony: The guild directly tied to the Faith of the Sacred Koi, a religious-academic order that administers to the poor and utilizes harmonic technology and theory. Based out of the Spire Unending, the Guild has local parishes and temples throughout the city, and its members have a reputation for their incredible stamina; all graduates have been to the very top of the Spire, to the holiest temple, the Basilica of the Song.
The Botanists’ Agreement: A once insignificant guild, the past decade has seen membership skyrocket, such that the seasoned faculty find it difficult to train the many fresh and eager recruits who seek to get in on the firemoss success. The Green Academy is being continually renovated to try to accommodate the influx, and demand for the new fuel source shows no signs of slacking.
The Society of the Heaven and Earth: Also known as the Triad, a constantly-tense unspoken agreement prevents this Guild from being stripped of its votes, but everyone in the city, from the lowest coal miner to the Great Clans, knows the truth; the Society of the Heaven and Earth are actually career criminals and thieves. For now this Thieves Guild is tolerated as a necessary evil, but many clamor for an end to the Triads’ political influence.
The Clockwork Assembly: An eccentric bunch of mathematicians and workmen, with a reputation for recklessness and mad genius. While the Steamworkers control most of the city’s power, the Assembly designs and operates most of the actual mechanisms that make the city run. Few Guilds encourage as much individual study, and free thought is the hallmark of the Guild. Despite this, its most well known tradition is the Assembly itself; all members convene at Watchmakers Square on Saturday, and the orgy of brainstorming, espresso, absinthe and Go usually continues deep into the next morning.
The Zoological Society: Forty or so years ago, a band of big game hunting Pilots fell into a black depression and a week of heavy drinking, having slain the Three-Headed Lion of Algeura and thinking this the peak of their lives. No one knows exactly what happened, but they came out of this binge with renewed purpose, and founded their own society; the Zoologists are now a thriving guild that breeds strange, horrifying, and wondrous hybrid animals such as the Jackalope-bear and the Scorpion-hawk. Although they began this business for their own entertainment, they have also developed commercially viable animals such as the Pig-flavored-chicken and the Rock-eating-goat, which have led to the Guilds current prosperity.
The Pilots’ League: Zeppelin and skyship pilots who do the majority of the cartography and exploration for the Empire, bringing back exotic goods, artifacts, plants and animals from distant lands. Based out of the Storied Hall, a longhouse built off the northern coast, that has burned down and been rebuilt no less than 27 times, due to latenight storytelling competition and the elaborate funeral pyres for recently parted Adventurers.
The Gauntlet: No other Guild has the reputation for toughness and bravery that the Aethernoughts of the Gauntlet do. They are soldier-scholars of the highest order, who use their still-not-fully-understood Aetherial Armor to defend against multi-dimensional threats. After the Brethren, they are the Guild most associated with the Holy Faith, though the relationship is a much more complicated one. Nevertheless, without the Marines, exploration of the Spire Unending, or the Underspire, would have been impossible.
The Society of the Tortoise, Tiger, Bird and Dragon: The golden children of Omphalosian society, the architects and feng-shui experts of this guild are afforded tremendous respect and tend to be charismatic and well-bred. Often considered to be little more than pampered fops, the reality is that the Architects are also masters of leyline-based technology, and commanding and wise leaders for many of the Bureaus, which makes them a force to be reckoned with.
The Friendship of Perfumiers: A merry band of social butterflies and craftsmen to some, a ruthless gang of social climbers to others, the members of this guild are mostly of the merchant class. Descended from the Apothecaries Guild, its founders cared less about abstract theory and more about practical application and the social status it could buy. Using olfactory-based technology, Perfumiers have gained much clout in the 30 or so years of their existence.
The Confederation of Soothsayers: A coalition of a dozen smaller Guilds, including the Tarot Readers, Diviners, Astrologists, Tea Readers, Bone Casters and more. They are very loosely organized and frequently run afoul of the many restrictions on their craft placed on them by the Faith of the Sacred Koi; as a result, they consider the Harmonic Brethren to be antagonistic, and have formed a rough alliance with the Triad; the Hedgewizards arrange auspicious business plans for the Triad, and the Thieves break the Fortune Tellers out of their holding cells when they’ve pressed their luck.
The Yogi Body: A guild of reclusive yogi and acupuncturists, the Yogi Guild is another descendant of the Apothecaries. Through use of incense, needles, and meditation, this guild focuses on mastery of the human body. Notoriously adverse to politics, their lack of material ambition frequently makes them a wild card in House votes. Despite their well-earned reputation for seclusion, when not meditating, many members spend long hours administering to the poor and the Working Class.
The Order of Orisha: A society of vudun who focus on the relationships between people, spirits, and the spiritual interconnections between people and objects, as well as the sympathetic sciences. One of the more egalitarian Guilds, several prominent members were originally of the Underclass, and the Guild is frequently employed by the poorest segments of society. Recently though many fresh graduates have started to critique their Guild as insufficiently ambitious.
The Deathspeakers’ Circle: By far the smallest Guild, the Deathspeakers are an organization of no more than 50 members, who all share the unusual ability to sense entropic energy. The Guild is heavily associated with law enforcement, as they are frequently employed as investigators in murders and disappearances. Somewhat stigmatized by the Nobility, not only for having members from the Working and Underclass, but also for the legacy of the now-defunct Whip-poor-will Society, a vigilante sub-organization that pursued and punished nobles that it claimed had abused their power.