Kat/Ashley: I drafted a basic description to potentially act as the template for the Corezan mercenary society we have been talking about. Let me know what you think!
Everyone else: brainstorming is fun, so feel free to chip in.
========================The Society of Negotiated Loyalties========================
In Corezo, money says a lot. It also does a lot of heavy lifting.
For many, money is the guardian spirit of their family's welfare.
The Society of Negotiated Loyalties is a rather tangible expression of the latter, so long as they are paid in good coin and the provisions of their contracts are followed to the letter by both parties
The Society's beginnings lay a couple of centuries prior to the present day, with the downfall of the Ancares family: then retainers to the Duque of Belleza. At the time, the intrigues between the three duchies had reached a point of open hostilities, with border skirmishes occurring intermittently, and assassinations running rife.
The family Patriarch's rigid adherence to the precepts of honour and loyalty, disdaining the 'dirty' use of money in politics, caused the household to fall prey to a more politically savvy and wealthy rival: the Caldelas. When their loyalty failed to shield them from their rivals' plots, and the head of the family died in a duel against the Caldelas scion, the remaining Ancares retainers disavowed loyalty to all Duques. Thenceforth, the Ancares declared loyalty to themselves only, and vendetta on the Caldelas.
The Ancares' single-minded destruction of the Caldelas, through constant assassinations and vicious economic sabotage, resulted in several houses bringing down the Duque's justice on the Ancares estate. However, the appropriation and redistribution of their lands drove the Ancares to greater extremes of vengeance. For twenty years after, an 'Ancares assault' was the byword for a suicidal, and typically successful, assassination attempt.
When the last Caldelas died on the blade of a 14-year old Ancares' youth, the remaining Ancares were faced with a decision. The decades of bitter warfare had made the surviving Ancares cold and pragmatic. And in the absence of a vendetta, they chose to offer their skills to the highest bidder. Thus ended the Ancares family, and was born the Society of Negotiated Loyalty.
Over the two centuries following their inception, the Society has developed from being a simple mercenary group into a wide brokerage organisation for criminal activities within Corezo. Their two guiding principals are loyalty to the Society, and strict adherence to a contract.
==Organisation and Hierarchy==
In what is widely assumed to be a subtle form of mockery, the Society's titles and ranks mirror those of the Corezan nobility.
===The Shadow Ducado===
At the head of the organisation is a council of three whose areas of influence coincide with the three duchies of Corezo. They are titled Duque/Duquesa
The Society thrives when the three Corezan duchies are well-matched in influence and power. Should one duchy become dominant, the Society's place in Corezan intrigues and politics would be at risk: a single dominant power would likely have the wherewithal to severely damage and suppress the organisation.
Their role, therefore, is to help ensure that no single duchy is taking advantage of the organisation to the detriment of the other duchies. Careful evaluation of the political state of play in Corezo lies behind every contract accepted, offered, or denied. Their identities are carefully hidden.
===The Masked Marquesado===
The Society's lieutenants, assistants to the Shadow Duques, are titled Marqués/Marquesa.
These are individuals whose skill/tenure has resulted in their being given the responsibility of the Society's day-to-day organisation and logistics. Each Duque or Duquesa will typically have a handful of lieutenants handling different aspects of the organisation.
Each Marqués/Marquesa will typically have their own assistants to carry out delegated tasks.
Typical areas of responsibility:
- Contract Oversight
===The Contracted Caballero===
The talented individuals whose skills make them highly valued assets in the dirty games of Corezan politics. Due to the risks attached to their role, they enjoy a healthy percentage of the fees their superiors broker for them.
The Society is a haven and employer to mages, thieves, soldiers, sailors, spies and assassins. Society Caballeros come from every walk of life, and all have their individual reasons for stepping out of mainstream Corezan life and into the shadow politics of the Society.
Although the Society's reputation is built on the actions of its contracted Caballeros, its network and funding thrives on the much wider criminal enterprises in which the Society has invested.
Citizens of the Society are essentially 'members in good standing', who can be relied upon to perform tasks for the organisation in exchange for favours granted or the organisation's patronage. It is not unheard of for a crimelord to provide resources to the society in exchange for the services of one of the Caballeros.
==Hiring the Society==
Over the years, the Society has developed a complex system of drop points, ciphers, couriers, and intermediaries. Almost all their work comes through referral and word of mouth, save on those occasions where the Society offers its services for its own purposes.
A message requesting the discussion of contractual business is left with a Citizen, who advises the prospective client of a drop-off point, time, and date to collect the Society's response. The response is typically delivered to the drop-off point by a non-Society courier or message boy. A Society member watches from a hidden observation point to watch out for signs of betrayal and to confirm the courier is not interfered with.
Successful transmission and retrieval of the response by the client leads to a meeting, typically in a place where the client is unlikely to have strong influence, or where the Society has numerous bolt-holes available. An information broker working for the region's Marqués of Contract Oversight will discuss the client's needs and what the society can offer. This conversation involves discussion of potential contractual requirements and preferences. The client is then given another drop-off location and time.
The final step involves determining if the Society approves the request. If the Society takes on the client, a Caballero is assigned the task, and a contract written up. The contract, designed for the benefit of the Society, governs the relationship between Caballero and Client.
==Contracts, and Contract Breaking==
The Society has a zero-tolerance policy for breach of contract. The punishment, whether by Caballero or Client, is always death. As a matter of policy the Society tends to make sure that the punishment is messy and sends a clear message.
Because of this, the Society is very careful when constructing contracts to allow certain common-sense exit clauses for their Caballeros.
A universal exit clause applies if a Caballero is instructed by a client to target another Caballero or Society agent. Another common, but not universal, exit clause pertains to a Client directing a Cabellero to take a suicidal course of action. (By way of example, this clause is rarely to be found in bodyguarding contracts.)
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Elitism: helping subvert the entrenched mediocracy.
Elitism: helping subvert the entrenched mediocracy.