The Inventors Guild is a small but powerful organization of engineers, scientists, and creative thinkers (Think Archimedes, DaVinci, or Frankenstein). They are an official craft guild, meaning they are able to control their own ideas and the selling of their inventions. Like all guilds they have a Guild Symbol, but they don't wear specific uniforms and you can't automatically pick one out of a crowd. As a guild they have different levels of membership--there are Apprentice Inventors as well as masters. Only the Master Inventors have access to the greatest secrets of the guild.
The Inventors Guild came into being more than half a century ago, when the Empire was at war with the western kingdom of Menoa. This enemy had a powerful navy, and Bridgeport knew that an invasion was imminent. The Lord Mayor called together a group of engineers and alchemists and charged them with the defense of the city. This group spent months designing innovative siege engines (some of which still stand overlooking the harbours today), along with an alchemical solution that would cause water itself to burst into flame (liquid fire). The defense of the city was a success, largely due to their creations, and the grateful city presented them with an official charter, allowing the creation of a formal Guild. Since then, the Inventor's Guild has continued to create new machines and other wonders, drawing a great deal of attention.
Because so many of the Inventor's creations are still vital to the defense of the city, great care is taken to keep their forumlae and rituals secret. Rival cities have offered to make a prince out of anyone who can bring them the secret of liquid fire, and many would pay handsomely for the secrets of steam-beasts as well. Because of this, Inventors are forbidden to leave the city for any reason. Instructions for creating secret devices are written in a code, as well as using alchemical-like metaphors to describe the process, ensuring that even those that break the code will understand little of what is written if they have never actually participated in the process.
Only the Master Inventors are permitted to participate in the creation of powerful steam-beasts, and each master completes part of the work in secret, so that even a Master Inventor, should he be captured by an enemy, could not reveal the total procedure. It is said that the instructions for these rituals are not recorded on paper, but on metal discs that require a special phonograph to listen to.
You can't just pay an entrance fee and 'become' a member of the Inventor's Guild. You must be taken as an apprentice at a young age, or must be an accomplished engineer, alchemist or scientist already. Older apprentices are allowed to make and sell inventions that are well-known to the public, like regular siege engines, compressed water for arrows, or simple automatons for the guild parades and fairs.
The apprenticeship for an Inventor is longer than most guilds--new inventors may not apply for journeyman status for at least twelve years. There is a lot for an apprentice to learn, but the lengthy period is another method to dissuade spies from attempting to join the guild just to discover its secrets. An apprentice was once discovered attempting to copy the formula for liquid fire. His skull still hangs in a gruesome clockwork display on the guildhall tower.
Inventors tend to have various areas of expertise, which they pass on to their apprentices. Some focus on the study of engineering and motion, others study alchemical solutions, and others design outlandish steam-powered machines.
Master Inventors are extremely wealthy and carry a great deal of political influence in the city, on par with the heads of the large merchant families. A Master Inventor sits on the city council and is consulted on all military matters involving defense of the city.
The Inventor's Guild Hall is located in the wealthier area of the city. This is where they have meetings and where high-ranking members do much of their thinking and designing. Most guildmembers tend to live in an industrial section of town, however, where the actual building of the machines is done in one or more factories. They favour large, blocky, redbrick buildings to work in. Around the edges of disctrict are all kinds of other tradesmen that the Inventors rely on -- metalworkers, gemsmiths, etc. They often construct parts for the Inventors--as well as building simpler inventions that have become common in the city--though they are not privy to any secrets themselves.
The inventor's ward is heavily patrolled by the City Watch, and the guild often hires its own guards to patrol warehouses and other low security areas. Important buildings are guarded by all manner of strange steam-beasts and mechanical devices, and only the foolhardy or truly desperate would risk trying to invade those areas.
Although the Inventors Guild has created a number of well-known and highly prized devices, the majority of their inventions either fail or have no marketable value. The sketchbooks of guildmembers are full of wondrous devices (particularly flying machines) that have not worked. Other inventions perform well, but are simply not practical. A mechanical carriage that walks on spider-like legs was unveiled at one trade fair. Although onlookers were fascinated by the device, it was slower than a horse and too large for most city streets, so no order for one was ever placed.
Inventors are less concerned with the marketing of their works than other craft guilds, though their fairs (where new inventions are often showcased) are always very well attended. Large clockwork or steam-powered machines are not mass-produced--they must be specially ordered. In many cases, the Inventors Guild produces only part of a device, and then sells that to other guilds to finish up and sell. For example, the Inventors Guild owns the forumlae for the compressed water used in water arrows, but they do not make the arrows themselves. Apprentice Inventors deliver barrels of water to the Bowyers and Fletchers Guild, who then craft and sell the water arrows. Electrical coils are sold to the Electrician's Guild, who then create and sell the generators and antennae needed.
Called automatons by the Inventors, Steam-beasts are self-operating machines that can move and act without direct guidance. They come in many shapes and sizes, from small, spider-like walking lanterns, to larger and more powerful attack beasts.
Steam-beasts are powered by one or more boilers, and they must regularly be fed both water and fuel. Some seem to need the presence of a nearby electrical generator as well. No one knows exactly how steam-beasts work, though many people claim that the machines are infused with human or animal spirits in some kind of necromantic ritual. The Inventors deny this, but only the Master Inventors know for sure what happens in the rituals, and they do not discuss it even amongst themselves.
Steam-beasts are extremely expensive and take a long time to make and are thus not used extensively throughout the city. Some wealthy families believe that they are superiour to flesh and blood guards simply because of the unease their presence generally creates.
Relationship with other Factions
The Inventors Guild is well thought-of by most of the nobility. The nobles benefit from the inventions on a regular basis, and they are happy to support their efforts. Some would like to get a closer look at what goes on behind the scenes, however, and fear that the Inventors could try to usurp power by creating their own army of steam-beasts.
The Builders were originally very supportive of the Inventors, respecting their hard work and new ideas. The Builders do not support the creation of steam-beasts, however, suspecting that their creation involves contact with spirits and does not honour God. Inventors tend to be free-thinkers, and often publically disagree with Church doctrine about how the world works, risking charges of heresy. The Church is now uneasy in its relationship with the Guild, with many Builders talking loudly about heretical practices and wolves in sheep's clothing.
Not every tinkerer or inventor is a member of the Inventor's Guild. There are lots of people in engineering, alchemist and electrical guilds (not to mention gentleman scientists) who come up with interesting and useful new devices.
The Inventor's Guild is not "at war" with pagans, builders, or anyone else.
Inventors are not modern scientists--in The Dark Mod, magic is a tangible, observable force, and Inventors are just as willing to use magic as anyone else. Most people assume the guild's inventions use magic even when they don't (to most people, electricity IS a kind of magic).