Blood and Bourbon
Original document by the folks over at Minds Eye Society.
Soon after the founding of the Toreador clan, artists began to identify themselves by their chosen art form. The Toreador showed a tendency to gather according to their artistic interests. Practitioners of an art would meet to debate artistic principles and aesthetics; determine the direction of the art; and to train new artists. Some have suggested that they also gathered to keep track of what their rivals were working on so that they could either steal or discredit their ideas. This continued in a loose method from the Second City for several thousand years.
By the sixth century BCE in Greece, a system of artistic Guilds had developed. The struggles, accomplishments and battles fought amongst these emerging groups contributed heavily to the Greek’s poly-deistic mythology. In Athens, and throughout the other city-states, artistic production became a vital issue to a citizen’s intellectual life and civic duty. Throughout the year, the city celebrated festivals that highlighted the different forms of art. By the end of the Hellenistic period, five distinctive Guilds had formed.
The Guild of Aphrodite dedicated itself to the arts of Painting and Sculpture; while the rival Guild of Apollo pursued the fine arts of live performance and the written word. Over the years, members of the Guild of Aphrodite have come to generally regard the Apollonians as lesser artists, because they do not deal with “true” art. A third artistic Guild, the Guild of Hephaestos, represented the artisans and craftsmen, and their art was making the functional beautiful, as well as the arts of technological innovation. Members of the Guilds of Aphrodite and Apollo generally regarded the Hephaestans as lesser artists, because they dealt with utilitarian items. In time, many would begin to assert that the Hephaestans’ craft products were, in fact, not art at all. Those who appreciated art and were capable of assessing a work’s artistic value formed the Guild of Nemesis. While this Guild has the ability to make or break an artist’s reputation, the Guild of Nemesis has historically had tensions with the three art-producing guilds. The Guild of Plutus was created in Athens by the Guilds of Aphrodite, Apollo, and Hephaestos.
During the sixth century BCE, these Guilds became so powerful in both mortal and Kindred Athenian affairs that they could require wealthy Kindred to serve as patrons for artists. Indeed, legend says that the Guild of Plutus was created when the three Artistic Guilds forcibly inducted a number of wealthy Toreador and Ventrue and made them serve as their patrons. Over the millennia, the Plutists have gained a measure of power over the three art-producing Guilds, especially in America. Often artists are compelled to beg for funding from the establishment and the wealthy in order to produce the art that they see as necessary to their existence. A sixth Toreador Guild has formed in the late Twentieth Century. The Guild of Chronos arose as the fourth artist guild after a great deal of controversy about art created by modern technology. Most members of the Guild of Chronos today were once members of Aphrodite, who rejected their non-traditional art form, or Hesphaestos, who did not see much utilitarian use in what these computer-based artists produced.
Art’s Blurred Lines
As mentioned previously, the Hephaestans are generally looked down upon by the Apollonians, while the Aphroditeans tend to hold themselves above both. One of the most prominent debates in the Art world is about whether Illustration is Art. While Art is defined, and its quality rated by the artist’s portrayal of his personal message to the audience, Illustration is the portrayal of someone else’s message to the audience. On the other hand, many religious works of the Renaissance (such as Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel) are considered works of Art although they are clearly illustrative of ideas presented in the Bible. These works are exceptions because the immense talent of the artist allowed his personal feelings about the subject to be portrayed despite the fact that he was illustrating someone else’s ideas. While this concept may seem to blur the lines between the arts, to those who who truly perceive art as communication on a higher level the lines are clearly drawn.
While the Guild of Aphrodite has generally maintained its traditional identity with a few notable exceptions, both the Guilds of Apollo and Hephaestos have more readily accepted new art forms. This process often takes quite some time as the “generation gap” between the older, more established Toreador tries to come to grips with the taste and sensibilities of the younger. The assignment of new forms to a Guild is under the control of the Guild Council, and sometimes-virulent battles have erupted when a new form is discussed. This has led to compromise and sometimes surprising artistic alignments.
For example, an early debate was over the arts of War, and both the Hephaestans and Apollonians vied for these art forms. Based on the work of Thucidydes, Military Strategy and Warfare were inducted under the Guild of Apollo. Similarly, all forms of fighting and martial arts were inducted into the Guild of Hephaestos. But not all compromise has been accepted, as in the case of the Guild of Chronos. After those Toreador who created graphic arts through the use of computers were rejected by both Aphrodite and Hesphaestos, they went on to form their own Guild. However, many Toreador argue that Chronos is a “Rogue” Guild, yet unrecognized by the Guilds Council.
While the six Guilds focus on different purposes, all share a similar structure. Every member of a Guild is rated from Apprentice to Grand Master. The Grand Master oversees the affairs of the Guild for a major Toreador population, based on their art form. At the head of each Guild is a Didaskalos. He is revered for his accomplishments and wisdom and is thought to personify the ideal of the Guild he represents.
- Guild of Aphrodite
- Guild of Apollo
- Guild of Hephaestos
- Guild of Plutus
- Guild of Nemesis
- Guild of Chronos
Guild membership is not required for any Toreador, in fact it is not considered bad form or even a snub-worthy offense not to have a Guild membership. It is said that it some times takes centuries for an Artiste (and muttered even longer for a Poseur) to choose their place amongst the Guilds.
Indeed, it is amongst the worst of sins (only surpassed by permanently destroying true art) to force a Toreador into membership or prohibit their changing of Guilds. The choice to change is not made lightly, however. Once it is done, the Toreador loses their current rank (and frequently much of their Clan Status) and becomes, once again, an Apprentice.
Membership in a particular Guild is often not a conscious decision. There are no membership cards, initiation rites, secret handshakes, or application processes involved. Rather, the Toreador simply does what they wish, and is recognized for their accomplishments. Generally, the first venture will define a Toreador’s membership, but while still at Apprentice level there is often some experimentation and switching performance styles is not unheard of. If undertaken alone, this experimentation and switching is tolerated with little, if any, scandal. If, however, the young Apprentice accepts a Patron and later switches performance style, the Patron may scandalize you for wasting their time and money.
To attain any level higher than Apprentice requires more than passive involvement. Journeyman (the next level above Apprentice) is only achieved after a formal petition is made to the local Master of a Guild. At this point, the Toreador has made a conscious choice in their Guild membership and is expected to seek formal recognition in that Guild alone.
Artistic Ranks and Positions
To be recognized as an Apprentice to a Toreador Guildhouse, the character must have at least 1 dot of Crafts or Expression with a Specialty in an appropriate field. The exceptions to this rule are the Guilds of Plutus and Nemesis. An Apprentice to the Guild of Plutus may substitute Resources dots for Crafts or Expression dots, while an Apprentice to the Guild of Nemesis may substitute any Social Skill used to critique art. If a character has no Crafts or Expression dots whatsoever, they are automatically recognized as a member of the Guild of Nemesis until they prove otherwise. Apprentices have no vote in Guild issues and are traditionally kept under the tutelage of one of the Guild’s Masters.
After serving as an Apprentice, the character may seek the position of Journeyman by petitioning their Master. Their Master, however, is most likely to ignore the request unless the character has attained 3 dots of Crafts or Expression in the appropriate art. The Master will commission the Apprentice to create a “Journeyman’s Piece.” This piece, when completed, will be reviewed by the Masters in the Guild, the Guild Master, and the appropriate Critic’s Guild. If this artistic jury reviews the work favorably, the character is named as a Journeyman. Journeymen have the full privileges of membership in the Guild, and they may vote on Guild issues. During votes, all members of the Guild (except Apprentices) may cast a number of votes equal to their Clan Status.
When a Journeyman feels that he has achieved true mastery of his art, he may petition the Grand Master to become a Master. If the Grand Master decides that the Journeyman is worthy, the character may attempt a “Master’s Piece.” This piece, when completed, will be judged by the Guild’s Masters, the Didaskalos, and the Critic’s Guild Master. If the piece is deemed worthy, the artist is recognized as a Master in the Guild, and attains the title “Master Guildsman”. A Master often enjoys autonomy within the Guild. A Master may oversee larger projects or the proper training of Apprentices. Additionally, a Master may award or remove Clan Status from any Apprentice of their Guild, but not from Journeymen or above.
The Grand Master, always a Toreador, determines the projects that will be sponsored in a particular region. Grand Masters are elected, from the available pool of Masters in a region, by a vote of all voting members of the guild. When a guild has reached agreement, they submit the name to the Didaskalos, who names the Guild Master. Usually, the Grand Master serves for a period of one year. The members of the Grand Master’s region may call for a vote earlier, but to do so requires/creates a scandal.
There are no requirements for this position save the favor of one of the Didaskaloi. Each Didaskaloi handpicks a Syndyskos to be his eyes and ears among the general populous. The Syndyskos is also the first level of contact when the Grand Masters want to reach their Didaskalos. It is from these assistants that most Grand Masters gain most of their understanding of the Didaskalos’ moods, habits, etc. It is also through these assistants that the Grand Masters must make pleas for money, influence, etc. to help in their endeavors.
There are only five (one for each Guild, with exception of Chronos) in the whole world at any given time. A Didaskalos is the leader of a Guild, and their word can elevate or destroy the reputation of any Toreador to claim membership in their Guild. The Didaskalos is elected for life, at a gathering of the Guilds, by each Guild’s Grand Masters. A new Didaskalos may not be chosen until the position is vacant. The Didaskalos is the living representation of the Guild’s ideals, virtues, and principals. At any time, the Didaskalos may call for a jury to evaluate the work of any artist within the Guild.
Non-Toreador in the Guilds
The Toreador appreciate art in all its forms and sources, and permit Kindred of other clans to join their Guilds. In addition to the normal prerequisites for membership, non-Toreador must have Clan Friendship 2 to become an Apprentice, Clan Friendship 3 to become a Journeyman, and Clan Friendship 4 to become a Master. Non-Toreador are afforded the same level of artistic respect as any member of the Rose Clan—one’s work is what matters, not one’s blood—but may not achieve the positions of Grand Master, Syndyskos, or Didaskalos.
Advancement in Non-Artistic Guilds
Guild of Plutus
To sponsor an artist, a base amount must be invested in the necessities that artists require. This is represented by a monthly Resources expenditure. For every dot of Resources invested in the artist, the quality of the work (dot rating) produced by those accepting the character’s patronage will increase. Artists whose work continually receives critical disapproval may find themselves owing a boon to their patron.
Members of this guild earn Status vicariously through the accomplishments of those they fund, or through the successes of their social events. In the latter, they are more directly at the mercy of the critics. In the former, each time a sponsored artist gains or loses Clan Status, then the sponsoring character shares in the adulation or discrediting, mirroring the gain or loss themselves. In this way, the critics hold sway indirectly only, and may well see all of their Status disappear if they sponsor unsuccessful artists.
Members of this Guild have two avenues to advancement in the Guild. The traditional route (available to all other Guilds) is to improve their Crafts or Expression dot rating, create a work (i.e. ball, salon, or other social event), and have it critiqued. The normal processes used for the various levels apply in such cases.
There is, however, a route to advance with no performance ability whatsoever (a feat even the members of Nemesis cannot accomplish). Through the expenditure of Resources to patronize a work, the member can initiate the process of application as if they had performed the work themselves. Thus, if a Journeyman’s Piece was patronized (minimum of Resources 3 expended), the patron could call for the work to be judged. If the piece is deemed worthy, the patron is awarded the title “Journeyman” merely for their ability to fund quality work rather than their ability to produce it themselves. This process can also be used to attain the rank of Master.
In order to attain the titles of Journeyman and Master in this fashion, the Plutist must be the sole patron of the work. This can lead to bidding wars as various Plutists vie for the center to patronize a particularly talented artist’s work.
It is not unheard of for Masters, Grand Masters and Didaskaloi of other Guilds to accept multiple sponsors, while for Journeymen it is unlikely at best. Apprentices may not accept multiple sponsors.
Of further note is that a Plutist’s call for recognition of an artist’s work doesn’t stop the artist from also reaping the rewards (or penalties) that result. This can lead to a struggle of a very different type, where an artist may wish to hold off on the presentation of their work, while the patron insists the commission be satisfied.
Guild of Nemesis
In critiquing the work of others, Apprentices must choose which Guild (Aphrodite, Apollo, Hephaestus, and Chronos) that they will critique. Often this choice is made without thinking when they speak out about a work in a fit of passion. Whether planned or not, once a member of the Guild of Nemesis has invoked the power of their Guild (granted or stripped Clan Status), the Guild of the affected artist becomes the critic’s chosen Guild of expertise. Critics who speak outside of their area expertise may find themselves shouted down by both the established artists and critics of that Guild.
Critics of any of the four artistic guilds are recognized as capable of critiquing the Plutists and, interestingly, members of the Guild of Nemesis itself (in addition to their Guild(s) of expertise).
Gaining higher levels within the Guild of Nemesis offers the critic the opportunity to critique additional Guilds. Choosing this path, however, is unusual. It is equivalent to a mortal gaining multiple Master’s degrees.
Upon gaining the title of Journeyman, a Critic who also has one dot of Crafts of Expression and a Specialty in a particular art form may choose to critique that art form’s Guild in addition to their primary one. Upon becoming a Master, a Critic who also has Crafts of Expression 1+ in a particular art form and, in addition, has Crafts or Expression 3+ in a second art form of a different Guild than the first, may choose to critique that third Guild if they wish. This ability to critique any Toreador without scandal, regardless of Guild affiliation, is required of any Master of Nemesis hoping to be elected Grand Master.
By proactively insisting on recognition (critical appraisal) for work done in another Guild’s medium, a Toreador may switch their Guild allegiance. At the Apprentice level this is tolerated as a normal part of the early artistic development of the Toreador.
Once past the level of Apprentice in their current guild, however, this means that the Toreador will enter the Guild as an Apprentice, and consequently lose any Clan Status above one.
While an artist might not seek critical acknowledgment outside their Guild themselves, they may very well find themselves the recipients nonetheless. This does not force the recipient to switch allegiance. This sort of “hostile takeover” is not possible. Attempts to pressure or trick particularly talented Toreador into such a switch have been the subject of large scandals.
As articulated earlier, a simple refusal to participate, indifference, laziness, etc. is insufficient to get a Toreador expelled from Guild system. Nothing, in fact, will get a Degenerate kicked out short of ostracization from the clan. If a Toreador wants to walk away from the Guild system, they can, but it is rarely done without making a few enemies, and there are always others eager to take their place. Leaving the Guilds must be done publicly and it removes all Clan Status from the character. Divorcing ones-self from all Guilds can only be done once, however. Once you engage in politics, you can only take your toys and go home once.