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A Gazetteer of Ochalea - Guilds and Secret Societies

by Giampaolo Agosta

Next: Mandarins & Monks Up: A Gazetteer of Ochalea Previous: Temples of Ochalea   Contents


Guilds and Secret Societies

Ochalean are known for their love of order. This propension is also exemplified by the high number of organizations, associations, guilds and secret societies that hold together the Ochalean society.

In general, mercantile organizations - trade guilds and the like - are known as gonghui (guilds), while political, secret, illegal or underground societies are known as dang (factions). This section describes the most important guilds and factions in Ochalea.

Biaoshi Hui: Escort Master Council

Escort guilds are firms that provide caravan guards to the merchants of Ochalea. They are very common, and highly organized, in the most regions. The main exceptions are Bohan, where most trade is conducted by sea, and the presence of large garrisons makes travel safe even inland, and the Celestial Territories, where there is very little trade, and none on the scale that would allow the formation of such organizations.

Escort guilds aggressively police their field, making it impossible for independent guards to operate within their provinces. The Biaoshi council, an organization of the most important masters, controls the allocation of trade routes and the authorization of new guilds. The council meets in Chungkiang Li, once at the beginning of spring and once in mid-autumn.

Each guild has a single base of operation, but maintains outposts at regular intervals on their major routes.

The rest of this section describes the most powerful guilds, those controlled by the members of the Biaoshi Hui.

Fortune and Benevolence Escort Guild

Based in Cao, Fortune and Benevolence covers the route between Wongzhao Tsushao and Chungkiang Li, making it one of the richest guilds. Fortune and Benevolence biaoshi work with both land and river-based caravans. This is the second most powerful escort guild in Ochalea.

Bright Future Caravan Service

Bright Future shares a lesser, but still very important, part of the the major Cao-Kiang trade route. It mostly escorts land caravans. This firm is based in Wongzhao Tsushao.

Upper Cao Escort Guild

This guild has a monopoly over the lesser trade routes in Cao. Its members protect transports from the mining villages to the provincial capitol. It is a less profitable businness than the main route to Kiang, but the Upper Cao still manages to be the third strongest guild of the province, and the sixth overall. This outstanding performance is explained by the highly skilled personnel employed by the Upper Cao master, which allow the guild to function with much smaller teams than most competitors.

Golden Sun Trade Guild

Based in Wutang Dongha, the Golden Sun controls only a single trade route, from its hometown to Beitung, yet the fact that most gold trade occurs on this route makes it the third richest guild in Ochalea. A very conservative guild, the Golden Sun is known to routinely oppose any request for the establishment of new guilds, as well as any modification to the traditional route allocation. Its operatives are only moderately skilled, however. The Golden Sun prides itself on its traditionally good relations with the monks of the Mystic Way of the Eight Immortals. Golden Sun biaoshi are always available to escort the high ranking monks and priests.

Jade Hawk Escort Guild

(Shun/Daisun) This aggressive guild is based in Shun, but has expanded to Daisun, and is now bent on taking control of the small traffic that goes on in Chi as well, using its master's position in the Biaoshi council to obtain better and better route assignments every year, and hamper the work of the smaller competitors. Jade Hawk escorts are more likely than most to solve any encounter with combat.

Green Lupin Trade Services

The major Lupin-owned Biaoshi firm, Green Lupin mostly escorts silk traders from Yuen to Beitung, as well as sharing control of the major route between Ta'ang and Sung with minor firms. This firm has been controlled by a family of Ochalean Houndlings since its foundation, and it is known for its skill in dealing with the local authorities. The Green Lupin is based in Wongzhao Tsu Yi.

Harmonious Temperance Escort Guild

The most powerful guild in Ochalea, Harmonious Temperance has the advantage of a central position, controlling the routes between Kiang, Chung, and Yuen. Harmonious Temperance biaoshi are known for their mild character and their ability to negotiate out of any trouble without recurring to combat. This guild is based in Chungkiang Li.

Demon Cults

Demon cults are quite a mixed bunch - the name generally refers to militant sects of the Order of the Shadow Court, but these groups can be very different, depending on their patron Immortal, philosophy, and history. This section outlines some of the most important cults, but in the chaotic underworld of the Shadow Court, these organizations are not as stable as the more legitimate ones, and new groups emerge frequently, just as old groups are destroyed or implode due to internal dissention.

Demon cults take the name pai, that is school of thought, to show their devotion to specific philosophies. The informal leaders take the title of Elder (laoda).

Huo Pai: School of Fire

Possibly the oldest of the Demon Cults, the Huo Pai focuses on the worship of Hua Fan-Liang, though the Fiery General, Rong Han, is also respected by this school of thought. Huo Pai members believe in the supremacy of fire over the other elements, and originated from the ancient Cypri who had brought, hidden, the teachings of the Followers of Fire from Old Alphatia. The Followers of Fire hid among the non-magical Cypri, and moved with them to Ochalea.

The Huo Pai took part in the Ochalean uprising against the Alphatians, and was a legal faction for the first three centuries thereafter. A string of especially agressive Elders in the fourth century AC led to the outlawing of the Huo Pai. Since the sixth century AC, the Huo Pai are only present in significant numbers in the Celestial Territories, though cells survive in Beitung as well as in the provinces of Cao, Chun and Kiang.

Bao Pai: School of Revenge

Only the evilest demon cultist compose the Bao Pai - the Revenge of the Dreamwalker, Jiang Da-Ru. This sect acts mostly as an assassins' guild, offering its services to anyone who has a wrong (real or perceived) to avenge.

Bao Pai members are expert martial artists, and are highly skilled in stealth as well.

Gui Pai: School of the Ghost

This sect developed in the towns of Ochalea as the frequency of undead occurence grew. The lack of action on the part of the established priesthoods led the poorest locals to form self-defense groups, who later developed into crime gangs managing protection rackets. The Gui Pai is accounted as a sect of the Shadow Order, but it has only few priests in its ranks, which are instead filled mostly by thieves and warriors.

Yinghe Pai: School of the Shadow Lotus

The main sect of followers of the shadow empress, Nü Yue-Wang, the Yinghe Pai is among the less overtly evil of the Demon Cults. Its members do, however, hold an unhealthy fascination with undeath, which they consider as one of the possible evolutions of life. Most elders of the Yinghe Pai are actually sentient undead - ghosts and the occasiona nosferatu - which puts them at odds with the Gui Pai.

Yingshu Dang: The Shadow Hand

The Yingshu is the Ochalean branch of the Shadow Hand, the Thyatian guild of thieves and assassins. It is mostly active in Bohan and in the Celestial Domain, though cells are also present in the capitols of Yuen, Shun and Kiang.

This is one of the few societies, criminal or not, to allow foreign members.

Shar-Pei Mercenaries

The Shar-Pei Lupins are well known in Ochalea, and even in Thyatis, for the quality of their martial training. They provide several units of heavy infantry to the Ochalean and imperial armies, but many veterans also work in mercenary units, usually clan-based. The four largest clans are the Zhang, Lang, Gou, and Kuang.

The Zhang clan is probably the largest, and operates mostly within the province of Ta'ang, though it is sometimes employed in Yuen or Sung. Zhang captains employ Houndling scouts and sometimes even Crested wizards to support their units.

A smaller but successful clan, the Gou operates in the Celestial Domains and the neighbouring provinces. It specializes in containing large undead threats, such as the dead warriors of Wang. To this end, it includes an higher than usual number of shamans and priests.

The Lang is especially warlike, and is known to be devoted to Shi Jielang almost as much as to Shi Doushang. This clan operates prevalently in the central regions, Cao, Chung, and Kiang. It works with Chow-Chow auxiliaries (scouts and archers), and is though to include a Wolvenfolk bloodline of powerful necromancers.

The Kuang clan is reputed to produce the fiercest warriors. It roams between Chi, Daisun and Shun, offering its services to the highest bidder. Chi authorities suspect that rogue Kuang units are also responsible for some acts of banditry on the Chi-Bohan border. Kuang maintains a blood feud with the Ogre Magi Kingfisher clan.

Feihau Dang: Society of the Blue Flower

A political faction associated with the Thyatian Gens Aemilia, the Society of the Blue Flower is based in Chungkiang Li, and is mostly composed of aristocrats from the Kiang and Yuen provinces. Its goals are mostly to support friendly senatorial candidates, and push for a greater role of the aristocracy in the political life. One of the recurring requests is the establishment of an Ochalean Senate mirroring the Thyatian one.

The society originated from the league of Kiang aristocrats who tried to resist the annexation to the Wang kingdom. Later, the Blue Flower supported the Wai dynasty. Since the beginning of the Teng dynasty, the society has lost some of its power. It still manages to keep enough control of the political life of Kiang to elect one of its leaders as senator for the Kiang, Wang and Shou area.

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