Toreador Guilds

“Art is humanity, and it’s the center of everything we do and everything we are. I don’t just mean actual, directed art, like sculpting, painting, poetry, or music. There’s nothing wrong with expressing yourself through whatever medium you choose, but that’s so little of what it means to be Toreador. It’s merely one language that you speak. There is art in being.”
Josette, Toreador artist
Jade: “What do you see?”
Bran: “Broomheads against a wall. Good shot, though if it wasn’t a good shot in a museum, the people responsible should be fired. Symbolically, a look up close at domestic labor. The silent worth and dignity inherent to the work. A look up close at daily existence for the migrant maids in our houses. I don’t think that’s what it’s actually ‘supposed’ to be about, to the artist, but what fucking ever. Stick some broomheads on a wall and you’ll get different opinions. So, what do you see?"
Jade: “Disillusion.”
Jade Kalani to Abraham “Bran” Garcia

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Toreador Culture & Views on Art


“Art is humanity, and it’s the center of everything we do and everything we are. I don’t just mean actual, directed art, like sculpting, painting, poetry, or music. There’s nothing wrong with expressing yourself through whatever medium you choose, but that’s so little of what it means to be Toreador. It’s merely one language that you speak. There is art in being.”
Josette, Toreador artist

What is art? What makes an artist? Which mediums are laudable and which are laughable?

These questions have long plagued the Clan of the Rose. To hear some tell, only the traditional arts of painting or sculpting are truly art, while others are moved by dance, the written word, or even the art of war. As the world changes, so too do the mediums that Kindred and kine alike use to express themselves. Clan elders might scoff at the worth of photography or digital manipulation, but plenty of new Toreador ride new trends and ideas to stardom. Others languish in anonymity and mediocrity after they realize they’ve jumped onto the wrong bandwagon. Childer are warned not to throw their weight behind yesterday’s news.

One truth remains central to the clan no matter which medium they prefer: Art is beauty, and beauty can be found in everything. You need only open your eyes to see it.

Many Toreador believe they are the sole Kindred clan not to suffer a curse as others do. Arikel herself was blessed by Caine to never lose her appreciation for the world’s beauty. Consequently, the Toreador elevated themselves to be the ultimate authority on all things artistic among the Damned. By the time of ancient Sumer, clanmates regularly gathered to debate aesthetic principles, to determine the direction of their art, and to mentor young artists. More cynical Toreador claimed they only did so to steal rivals’ ideas.

The clan started to organize itself into its present-night guild system during Classical Greece. In Athens especially the production of artistic endeavors became a vital issue to a citizen’s life and civic duty. Toreador held festivals throughout the year to celebrate their various art forms and formed five distinct guilds by the end of the Hellenistic period. For thousands of years, their number was considered immutable. It wasn’t until the late 20th century that younger, high-tech artists dissatisfied with their treatment in the other guilds established a sixth guild: Chronos. This new “renegade guild” was a subject of no small scandal and debate among the clan. Many elders denounced Chronos as illegitimate, but for all their objections, art continues to evolve.


The Guilds


Guild_Sigils.jpg


Aphrodite

aphg.jpg The Guild of Aphrodite was one of the first three guilds formed during Classical Greece. Named for the goddess of love and beauty, members of Aphrodite claim painting and sculpture under their purview. They are perhaps the most traditional guild and integrate the fewest forms of new media. Aphrodite views their works as supreme and hold themselves above other guilds that do not deal with “true” art.


Apollo

apollog.jpg The Guild of Apollo was the second guild to emerge during ancient Greece. Their focus is live performance (including theater, dance, singing, and instrumental music), the written word, and (though less common in recent times) the art of war and military strategy. The Guild of Apollo considers itself above the Guild of Hephaestus, but they are more flexible than the Guild of Aphrodite when it comes to accepting new mediums.


Hephaestus

hephg.jpg The Guild of Hephaestus is home to artisans and craftsmen. They deal with utilitarian items and making the functional beautiful: weapons, armor, architecture, high fashion, and more are all within Hephaestus’ purview. Anything that has a use besides looking beautiful can find a home with the guild, including marital arts and other forms of fighting. Until Chronos formed, Haephaestus was the guild that incorporated the most modern technology into its art. The Guilds of Apollo and Aphrodite often look down on them and sometimes argue that Hephaestus’ craft products are not art at all.


Nemesis

nemg.jpg Members of the Guild of Nemesis are critics rather than artists. They assess a work’s artistic value. Successful guild members can make or break an artist’s reputation and have historically had tense relations with the other guilds: Kindred are cruel-tempered creatures usually happier to dole out criticism than praise. Getting to is a privilege, though. Guild members can spend decades studying their chosen artistic mediums with dedication to match any “real” artist’s. Arrogant young Nemeses who attempt to trash-talk art they know nothing about are likely to get shouted down by respected artists and critics alike. Poseurs with no demonstrated artistic talents or financial resources are also relegated to the Guild of Nemesis and often get along poorly with “true” critics.


Plutus

plutg.jpg Members of the Guild of Plutus fund artists’ creative endeavors and are patrons rather than artists themselves. Rumor says that the guild was formed when the three artistic guilds Embraced wealthy kine and forced them to fund their work, while others say the artists simply strong-armed rich Toreador and Ventrue into doing so. This did not last. Patrons have always exercised great influence over artists, and that influence has only increased in the modern era. It takes more than a large pocketbook to become a patron of the arts, though; the Plutists share what accolades and admonition their artists bring in, and it takes a discerning eye to pick the talent from the trash.


Chronos

chronosg.jpg In the late 20th century, disenfranchised members of other guilds formed a sixth guild, Chronos. Tired of being called poseurs and mocked for their artistic passions, these artists push back against traditional definitions of art and seek to create a space where technological innovation can shine. They dabble in film, photography, digital manipulation, and other high-tech art. Few of the other guilds share their open-mindedness and Chronos is not recognized as a “legitimate” guild. Many cities with firmly established guilds don’t allow this rogue guild into the mix, though it has been quite a hit on the West Coast.


Art’s Blurred Lines

“One of the reasons that we as a clan have become so intrinsically tied to art and artistry is that art is beauty. It doesn’t seek to reproduce a thing exactly. Art distills its subject to the bare essence. It distorts fact into truth. Art is an expression of our humanity and our grace. It is philosophy and communication.”
Josette, Toreador artist

Toreador debate at length what constitutes art and what guild a chosen medium belongs to. They acknowledge how the whims of kine artists constantly change and that each decade brings new technologies and forms of creative expression. While the Guild of Aphrodite has generally maintained its traditional identity (with a few notable exceptions), the Guilds of Apollo and Hephaestus have more readily accepted new art forms. This process usually takes quite some time for elder Toreador to overcome the “generational gap” with their younger clanmates.

Any kine could tell you that the point of going to an art exhibit is to find the true meaning behind the art, the message that the artist is trying to tell with brush or pen or blade. While some communities of discord then try to puzzle out the meaning, the proto-piece is what exists in the artist’s mind: it is their intention with the piece, more than anything else, that matters to the guilds.

So too do artists choose their medium and thus their guild. A Toreador who dances, fences, and paints faces may opt for Hephaestus rather than Apollo and declare their medium as “bodily art” rather than “live performance,” while likewise an artist who creates dolls simply to be viewed as items of beauty may join Aphrodite rather than Hephaestus.

No Toreador is “locked in” to their choice once they decide upon a guild or medium, and attempting to coerce, trick, or otherwise strong-arm an artist into a different guild is poorly received by the clan regardless of personal or political affiliations. One does not meddle in the affairs of artists and expect to remain unscathed.

Non-Toreador in Guilds

The Toreador appreciate art in all of its forms. While they hold their clan as premiere among artists, they allow other Kindred to join their guilds. Malkavians and Ventrue are the most common, with the former often serving in the three artistic guilds (the mad artist is a timeless archetype), while the latter are heavily represented in the Guild of Plutus as financial patrons. Brujah, Gangrel, and Tremere guild members are less common, but are welcomed into the guilds when they display artistic inclinations. Nosferatu guild members remain uncommon; many Toreador are unwilling to countenance the sewer rats’ ugly faces at galas and salons, while equally many Nosferatu dismiss the Rose Clan as vain and superficial. The admission of Caitiff into the guilds remains scandalous and any clanless guildmates have to work twice as hard for half the credit. Only the most forward-thinking local guilds (and almost exclusively Chronos) will even consider a thin-blood for membership.

Outside of the Camarilla clans, the Banu Haqim and Hecata rarely join the guilds, although Ravnos sometimes do. In olden times, Lasombra were common among the Guild of Plutus, and only slightly less so than the Ventrue. Come the 21st century, it remains rare indeed for any Toreador to have a keeper guildmate. There are a disturbing number of stories about Setites, Tzimisce, and Toreador antitribu hidden among the guilds, indulging the Rose Clan’s most depraved artistic whims. The Toreador hotly deny this.

Non-Toreador are afforded the same level of artistic respect as any member of the clan, but may not achieve the positions of grand master, syndyskos, or didaskalos.


Guild Structures


Despite their differences in form and function, all of the guilds share a similar structure. Every member of a guild is ranked from apprentice to didaskalos.

Toreador are not required to join the guilds, nor is it considered bad form or snub-worthy for them not to do so. Indeed, forcing a Toreador into membership or prohibiting the changing of guilds is among the worst of sins in the artistic world. Some artists take centuries to choose their place among a guild.

Only the worst of offenses can get a Toreador expelled from the guild system: simple indifference, laziness, lack of talent, or refusal to participate is not enough. Toreador who declare they are “leaving” the guild system are rarely taken seriously, as participation is not mandatory: if they want to stop showing up to clan gatherings, that’s on them. In practice, very few Toreador are willing to take their ball and go home forever. Where else are they going to share and discuss art with others like themselves?

Apprentice

The lowest-ranked guild members are apprentices. Traditionally, apprentices are kept under the tutelage of one of their guild’s masters while they hone their craft and explore the limits of their creativity. Some apprentices only explore one chosen medium, while others flex their creative muscles and try their hand at multiple things before fully committing.

To become an apprentice, the artist creates and presents a piece to local members of the guild they wish to join, as well as a few members of the Critics’ Guild. For newly-Embraced Toreador, this usually happens concurrently with their release from their sire’s tutelage. Apprentice pieces are not expected to be museum-worthy, but they must reflect well on the artist’s future potential. Bad enough pieces can get a Toreador rejected from the guild they seek to join.

Many young Toreador explore a variety of mediums before permanently settling into a guild. Elder guildmates tolerate this as part of an apprentice’s natural growth, and generally only a patron views switching guilds with any sort of disfavor, as they often feel they have wasted time and resources nurturing discarded talent. Any apprentice can switch their guild affiliation by presenting a well-received piece in the same manner they joined the initial guild.

Few Toreador ranked journeymen or above seek to switch guilds. Doing so causes them to lose all previous renown and start over as an apprentice in their new guild. There are some well-known cases where it’s happened, though, with Toreador experiencing “mid-undeath crises.”

Journeyman

Whenever they feel they are ready, an apprentice may seek to become a journeyman by petitioning the master responsible for their tutelage. If the master also feels they are ready, they commission the apprentice to create a “journeyman’s piece.” All of the guild’s masters and any appropriate Nemesis members turn out to critically review the piece. Standards are higher than for apprentices: the work must be at least the equal of what an experienced and professional mortal artist could produce, if not better. If the jury reviews the work favorably, the artist is named a journeyman.

If a city doesn’t have any masters from the appropriate guild, the apprentice may petition a nearby master to travel to their city, or they may journey to the master’s city. Affairs with extralocal artists often turn into gallery viewings that bring out much of the local clan, especially if a foreign master is visiting.

Master

When a journeyman feels they have achieved true mastery of their art, they may petition the regional grand master for advancement. If the grand master decides that the journeyman is worthy, the artist may attempt a “master’s piece.” This piece is judged by the grand master, their guild’s syndyskos, a master from the Guild of Nemesis, and any other local masters from the aspirant’s city. The didaskalos may even do so if they are reasonably nearby. This unforgiving panel consists of the most jaded and discerning artistic minds that any Toreador is likely to ever meet, and they hold back nothing in their review of the piece.

If these worthies receive the artist’s piece favorably, they are recognized as a master in their guild. Masters enjoys great autonomy and respect and often oversee guild-wide projects and the training of apprentices.

Grand Master

Grand masters oversee guild affairs for a major Toreador population, usually several U.S. states or several small European countries. Some guilds, such as Hephaestus, have grand masters who serve larger areas due to the smaller number of artists within their guilds. More populous guilds may employ more grand masters or divide their grand masters by specific mediums (for example, singing and the written word for Apollo). Grand masters are elected via plurality vote by a region’s masters and serve for 10-year terms. A supermajority vote of no confidence can also strip a grand master of their position early. Grand masters have no term limits, although the clan generally considers it more valuable to have different Kindred serve in the position. The office often winds up being one of political football, punted from master to master. Only masters, and only Toreador, are eligible to serve in the position.

Grand masters enjoy a great deal of influence over their guilds. They are their region’s point of contact with the syndyskoi and didaskalos, as well as neighboring grand masters. Princes, justicars, and other Camarilla luminaries who wish to enlist the Rose Clan in their endeavors or influence the region’s Toreador in a certain direction will often turn to the nearest grand master. A grand master can use these contacts, as well as their personal clout and resources, to secure funding, organize events, and make possible all but the most extravagant artistic pieces. While grand masters have no authority to issue direct orders to their guildmates, a grand master can be a potent patron or foe to any artist, and most younger Toreador are eager to curry their favor.

Many artists are comfortable serving as masters rather than grand masters, as the former lets them focus on their art and the latter requires they play more of a political game. Toreador who seek greater influence over the art world, or who simply hunger for power, often look to become grand masters.

Syndyskos

If the didaskalos is a head of the guild, their syndyskos is their right hand. Syndyskoi are handpicked by their didaskalos to serve as their eyes, ears, and voices across the Camarilla. When a grand master wants to reach their didaskalos, the syndyskoi are usually their first level of contact. By necessity, the syndyskoi must stay abreast of current trends and politics within their guild and clan, and are often the first Toreador to hear anything new.

There are no prerequisites to serve in this position beyond being Toreador: one must simply have the favor of a didaskalos. There’s a story that one syndyskos was a recently-Embraced Toreador who had not yet chosen their artistic medium, but blossomed into one of the clan’s premiere artists after several years as syndyskos. Most Toreador regard the story as either romantic and apocryphal, or else as an example of a didaskalos letting their feelings towards a favored childe cloud their judgment. Higher-level Kindred politics are unforgiving and such an inexperienced syndyskos would likely be a greater hindrance than asset to their didaskalos. Most syndyskoi have extensive political experience and connections, as well as deep knowledge of their guild’s mediums. They are not always artists themselves, however. Few of their duties involve the actual production of art.

A didaskalos retains anywhere from one to five syndyskoi (mirroring the traditional number of guilds). Larger guilds, such as Aphrodite and Apollo, are likely to employ more of these agents than smaller guils.

Didaskalos

The didaskalos is their guild’s supreme authority and the unliving representation of its ideals. There are only five didaskaloi in the world at any given time. Each guild has only one, with the exception of the rogue guild, Chronos. A didaskalos wields near-unlimited power in their guild and can convene an artistic panel to evaluate whether a guildmate still deserves their present rank. They may also strip grand masters of their positions without a vote. Otherwise, the position’s formal powers are minimal. All didaskaloi are some of the most influential elders in the Toreador clan, many of them princes, with enormous resources and near-unassailable reputations within the Rose Clan and larger Camarilla. Their word can elevate or destroy the reputation of almost any Toreador who claims membership within their guild.

When the office of didaskalos is vacant, the guild’s grand masters convene to elect a new one. Such elections are hardly free and fair, as any would-be didaskaloi interested in the position will attempt to persuade, buy off, or strong-arm as many grand masters into voting their way as they can. Such politicking is usually only decisive, though, when the grand masters are undecided which of the candidates is the greater artist: some Toreador enjoy such supreme reputations that it’s no contest. A didaskalos’ election is cause for some of the most lavish parties the Toreador ever throw, as the new didaskalos usually wishes to impress (and cow) their guildmates with an extravagant display of wealth and influence.

A didaskalos serves for eternity and can never be removed from office, at least through legitimate channels. Some fall victim to assassination attempts (typically from outside their guild, but it’s not unheard of), while many more succumb to torpor. The grand masters elect a new didaskalos when this occurs. When a former didaskalos awakens from torpor, they and the current didaskalos resolve among themselves who should hold office. If they are unable to do so, the grand masters convene another election.


Toreador of Renown


This list is small sampling of the guilds’ leadership and is far from comprehensive.

Guild of Aphrodite

Didaskalos
Syndyskoi
• Katherine of Montpellier (7th gen. childe of Theophano, e. 12th century)
Grand Masters

Guild of Apollo

Didaskalos
• Francois Villon, prince of Paris (5th gen. childe of Helen of Troy, e. long ago)
Syndyskoi
• Violetta d’Estella, seneschal of Paris and retired justicar (6th gen. childe of Francois Villon, e. 13th century)
• Maria Verbena de la Espada, former archon (6th gen. childe of Raphael de Corazon, e. 14th century)
Grand Masters
• Elsa Linden, former prince of Manchester (8th gen. childe of Annabelle Triabelle, e. late 18th century)
• Sebastian Melmoth, primogen of San Francisco (6th gen. childe of Francois Villon, e. early 20th century)
• Vasily Marek, seneschal of Prague (6th gen. childe of Francois Villon, e. 15th century)

Guild of Chronos

Didaskalos
The Guild of Chronos has no didaskalos.
Syndyskoi
The Guild of Chronos has no syndyskoi.
Grand Masters
• Isaac Abrams, baron of Hollywood (8th gen. childe of Emmanuel Hitchins, e. early 20th century)

Guild of Hephaestus

Didaskalos
• Alexandria, prince of Buenos Aires (gen. and sire unknown, e. long ago)
Syndyskoi
Grand Masters
• Francis Duval, archbishop (prince) of Charleston (8th gen. childe of Montecalme, e. 18th century)

Guild of Nemesis

Didaskalos
• Geneviève Orseau (8th gen. childe of unknown sire, e. long ago)
Syndyskoi
Grand Masters

Guild of Plutus

Didaskalos
• Raphael de Corazon (5th gen. childe of Callisti y Castillo, e. 12th century)
Syndyskoi
• Gisella de Corazon, retired justicar (6th gen. childe of Raphael de Corazon, e. 13th century)
Grand Masters
• Annabelle Triabelle, primogen of Chicago (7th gen. childe of Maria Rosal, e. early 18th century)
• Nakshidil, vizier (seneschal) of Istanbul (6th gen. childe of Vashtai, e. 16th century)
• Rosamund d’Islington, primogen of London (8th gen. childe of Isouda de Blaise, e. 12th century)

Toreador Guilds

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