There is a marked difference between the customs and conventions of the Orders, and those of the Guild of Engineers. There are some who hold the practises of the Guild up as being a sign of a more enlightened society; a result of technological modernity, but the truth is that the social practices of the Engineers date back as long as, if not further, than those of the Orders. The society of the Engineers is one of equality, where access to knowledge is available to everyone, and the freedom in choice of occupation is not restricted by gender or lineage. The only constraints are an Engineer’s own natural ability, and with this in mind, every effort is made to maintain diverse familial bloodlines. More on that later. First we’re going to look at the earlier years in an Engineer’s life.
Once an Engineer is born, and with the exception of weening, there is practically no distinction made between the roles that the mother and father play in its life. Household duties are shared equally, including the upbringing and early education of the child. Formal lessons begin at the age of eight, at which point all Engineer children are expected to have a fairly well established level of literacy and numeracy. Early formal education takes the form of metalwork, woodcraft, masonry, leatherworking and basic engineering technology. It also includes physics, geology, metallurgy, chemistry, and mathematics.
While developing their skills and knowledge at the Guild Academy, young Engineers are also responsible for domestic duties at home. The parents must train their child in all household chores to allow them to independently maintain the household once they reach the age of ten. All cooking and cleaning duties are carried out by Engineer children from that age, which allows both parents to concentrate on their respective occupational obligations.
By the age of twelve, all Engineer children will have acquired a basic knowledge of the standard Engineering disciplines. From that point onwards their education will be directed by their ability in certain fields. At the age of sixteen, and having attained the title of Junior Engineer, they are required to complete a tour of testing, where they are taken by a designated mentor on a journey of the Guild’s environs. During their expedition they are required to carry out the practical applications of the skills they have learnt. Most Engineers, by this point, have already reached a decision on their profession, but for others the tour is intended to help them decide upon a suitable occupation. A prime example of this can be found in the tale ‘A Long Ago Incident at Ryazan’, where Junior Engineer Warvitch is struggling to find an occupation he excels at, until he finds himself with an axe in his hand, and his future suddenly becomes clear.
Even though Engineering specialities are not restricted by gender, there has always been a marked difference in the balance between male and female Engineers in certain occupations. There is a larger percentage of male Forge-guard than female, for example, and occupations of a more technologically physical nature, such as metalworking, have a larger amount of male Engineers. Occupations that require a greater understanding of the higher knowledge, such as mathematics and the sciences, have a tendency to be dominated by women. Despite a large amount of study by the Guild, the reason for this has never been determined, and is now simply considered to be the logical natural order of things. Other occupations, such as architectural design, crafts such as woodcarving and glass-working, are more evenly balanced in terms of gender.
Only once an Engineer has chosen their occupation, and have achieved a suitable level of proficiency, are they permitted to marry. The time taken varies, but it can be anything between ten and twenty years before permission is granted. The decision on when to marry rests solely with the individual, and when that time comes, an Engineer must submit a marriage request to the Guild Elders. It is then the duty of the Elders to select a suitable partner from the other Engineers who have submitted marriage requests. The decision process for finding appropriate partners is complex, and suitability is decided on many factors, rather than being based solely on personal compatibility. One primary element is the requirement to maintain diverse bloodlines, so two Engineers with the same specialism prevalent in their ancestry are unlikely to be considered for partnering. Likely partners are drawn from the entirety of the Guild, and a marriage almost always results in one party or the other having to relocate.
An Engineer does not have to accept the partner chosen for them by the Guild Elders, and marriage will only take place if both parties agree to it. Decisions are usually made from a very logical standpoint, and the choices are normally accepted. Continual rejection of prospective partners, however, will be considered a serious issue by the Elders, and the Engineer in question will be forced to construct a solid argument stating their reasons. If their argument is not accepted, then they must either acquiesce, and agree to the marriage, or withdraw their request to marry until further notice. When two Engineers marry, it is not customary for one partner to take the surname of the other. For Engineers, surnames are always gender specific. When born, female children will take the surname of their mother, and males will take that of their father.
When it comes to their customs of passing, it is important to remember that Engineers do not have gods. They do not believe in an afterlife, and their traditions contain no form of spirituality or mysticism. Instead, their customs of passing take the form of an honouring of their life and works. Upon their deaths, all Engineers are cremated. Cremation ceremonies vary in their extent, but all take the form of a payment of respect to the departed, not to the qualities they had in life, but to the things they achieved. For Engineers, it is what they leave behind, not only in terms of physical artefacts, but also the changes their lives made to the world, that are important. All the tools that they used in life, or weapons in the case of Forge-guard, are melted down, and the base materials so produced are passed down to their descendants, who then use them to forge new tools or weapons to use in their own chosen profession.
The honouring of ancestors does not end at the cremation ceremony. On the anniversary of their deaths, an Engineer’s life is remembered and celebrated. The foundation of the celebration is simple. Those doing the honouring raise a cup, usually containing the alcoholic beverage of their choice, to the memory of the departed. The celebrations vary depending on the extent of the Engineer’s achievements. Most are a small private family affairs, but others are larger public affairs, which often involve the entire Guild laying down their tools and doing no work in order to take part. The celebrations surrounding Yeltov, for example, who was instrumental in uniting the Engineers and founding the Guild, take place over the course of an entire week. Generally, Engineers are not given to excessive drinking in the course of their daily lives, as alcohol is regarded as a drink that dulls the cognitive senses and impairs physical ability, but exceptions are made during these celebrations.It is not unknown for entire populaces of Guild facilities to be rendered insensible during some celebrations. The Guild, of course, do approach this issue in their usual logical manner, ensuring that a substantial detachment of sober Forge-guard are always on hand to take care of any serious trouble that arises during these times.
You may well be wondering why I’ve titled the last few posts as ‘Births, marriages and debts’. Well, for my next post I’ll be moving on to the new up and coming power in the world of E & D – The Association of Allied Merchants, where the meaning behind it will become abundantly clear.