The Cartographer's Guild
“To Learn, Explore, and Enrich”
Founded early in the Third Age, the Cartographer’s Guild was initially established as a means for the Empire to gain greater knowledge of the lands over which they would be ruling. Throughout the years, the Guild has grown and expanded into much more than that, and exists today as one of the leading institutes of science and technology within the Empire.
The Guild was originally centralized in Utica, with their main building being just outside the Imperial Palace. When the city was given to the Fey and the Valentines moved south to Cliffport, the Guild converted its former headquarters into the Cartographer’s Academy, and moved their seat south. The Academy remains, to this day, the primary location for Apprentices to learn the Cartographer’s trade, though it is not the only location.
The Guild’s headquarters is in Cliffport, which allows them to continue to fill their role as Imperial Advisers with ease. Though the Headquarters is not primarily used for teaching, it is not unusual to find Apprentices here, often studying under a Senior or Master Cartographer that is stationed locally. The Headquarters’ primary function is to act as the “nerve center” for the Guild, assigning missions and projects, and relaying information to the rest of the Guild. Most promotions are performed here, though that is equal parts formality and convenience—as only the Board can approve and issue promotions.
All other major cities in Vulcanica have Guildhouses—buildings devoted to learning, and a haven for any traveling Cartographer. Packed to capacity with as many books as the Guild can get their hands on, citizens of the local city often use Guildhouses for personal study, and some Guildhouses even offer classes for things like language, history, and the basic maths and sciences. Master Cartographers are expected to work at such a Guildhouse for at least a few years before they will be eligible for promotion to Lead Cartographer, and many Guildhouses are run by Lead Cartographers not currently serving on the Board.
Also scattered throughout Vulcanica are Waypoints, which are places where traveling Cartographers can get a hot meal, a warm bed, and replenish their supplies. All Waypoints have at least a small library, with most of the larger ones also featuring a well-stocked map room as well. Waypoints are always staffed by at least a Senior Cartographer and a few apprentices, but most have a Master Cartographer or two there as well. Anyone of Junior Cartographer rank or higher (as well as any apprentices they may have) may stay, eat, and resupply at a Waypoint for free (provided there are enough beds and supplies to accomodate them), while non-Guild travelers may stay and eat for a reasonable price. Waypoints always reserve 25% of their beds for Cartographers, and may sometimes be forced to turn away other travelers.
Purpose & Function
Though originally established as an easy way for the Empire to hire explorers and adventurers, the Guild has since grown into much more of a scholarly organization. Today, the Guild has three primary objectives: to learn, to educate, and to enrich.
All ranks within the Guild include the word Cartographer for a reason: even though Cartographers may never actually map a yet-uncharted region in their life, they are expected to carry on that spirit of exploration and hunger for knowledge in all paths of their career. All Cartographers are scholars at heart, with many choosing to specialize in fields like science, language, art, history, or religion. Some Cartographers yearn to explore physically, and often advance to Master Cartographer, then simply assign themselves field missions to less-explored areas like The Reach or deep in the Heartwood—but all Cartographers consider themselves students of the world, learning from a professor that will never stop teaching.
Though not necessarily the most educated in Vulcanica, the Cartographers represent a significant chunk of Cinderfell citizens with a formal education, and passing that knowledge on to others is arguably their most important duty. All Cartographers are expected to offer their help wherever they go, and to teach those they meet—especially if asked. If the Guild were a religion, for a Cartographer to walk away from someone hoping to learn would be tantamount to blasphemy. Those seeking knowledge often begin their search at Waypoints or Guildhouses, and those that show promise are sometimes offered a formal education in the form of a Guild apprenticeship. Indeed, nearly all of Cinderfell’s educated citizens at least got their start in Guildhouses and Waypoints, with many Physicians and Scientists still proudly bearing their Guild colors.
While there are certainly those with greater knoweldge than the Cartographers, the Guild is the largest collective of people with an education as advanced as theirs, all working together in one place. As such, they frequently come out with new advances and discoveries—such as new ways to remove impurities from metal, or superior medical techniques—that are often beneficial to life in Cinderfell. Not only are the Cartographers expected to share these discoveries with Cinderfell, but they are expected to find and make direct applications for them. Things like the Lightning Rail, and nearly all of Cinderfell’s roads, were built and are maintained by the Guild.
Ranks & Heirarchy
Councilperson – The Guild’s formal adviser to the Valentines. Though a lofty and highly-desirable position, the Councilperson actually wields very limited power within the Guild proper. This position is appointed by the current ruling Valentine, though the Board’s advice is often taken into heavy consideration when doing so.
Assessor’s Board – The final deciding power within the Guild, and the true control center. Terms are one year long, mandatory, and random. The Board is made up of five Lead Cartographers at a time.
Lead Cartographer – The highest rank attainable within the Guild. Lead Cartographers are in charge of delegating tasks and missions, and may personally oversee missions of high priority and/or importance. There are usually only 10-15 or so Lead Cartographers at a time, though there have been as many as 27 at once in the past. Each Lead Cartographer usually has 3-8 Master Cartographers beneath them.
Master Cartographer – The typical, go-to rank for field missions, as they have enough power and trust within the guild to overcome most obstacles. Cartographers of this rank are often assigned to oversee large projects as well. Master Cartographers rarely keep apprentices. Each Master Cartographer usually has anywhere from 5 to 10 Senior Cartographers beneath them, and usually oversees around 15-20 Junior Cartographers (as the Senior Cartographers are expected to spend their time with their apprentices).
Senior Cartographer – The standard “teacher” rank, most Senior Cartographers are expected to have at least one Apprentice at any given time. Will be given small or low priority field missions, and may oversee minor projects. Each Senior Cartographer usually has 3-4 Apprentice Cartographers beneath them.
Junior Cartographer – The first independent rank for a new Cartographer, Junior Cartographers are expected to complete various projects, and may be assigned the occasional, extremely low priority field mission. Highly skilled Junior Cartographers may take on an Apprentice, though it is not expected of them.
Apprentice Cartographer – The true “student” rank, Apprentice Cartographers spend virtually all of their time either studying, or being taught by a Senior Cartographer. They may occasionally be given a very low priority project, but even those situations will be reserved for only the most skilled among them. Apprentice head counts are always fluctuating, but there are usually anywhere from 500 to 2000 at a given time.
Initiate – A person who has been accepted into the Guild, but has not yet begun any formal education. This rank is usually only held for a very short period of time, and is really little more than a formality.