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Guilds are organizations established when sufficient members (10 by default in d_init.txt) of your fortress practice the same profession, or professions in the same category. Shortly after establishment, the guild will petition for the construction of a guildhall, where its members will socialize and hold skill demonstrations, slowly training them as if they were a military squad under training orders. The name of a guild and its associated guildhall will reflect the profession of the guild. For example "The Guild of Oiling", a Metalsmith guild with a guildhall named "The Cave of Copper".
Guildhalls work similarly to barracks and taverns, by providing skill training and some degree of socialization. A guildhall requires 2000 (by default) and Grand Guildhall at 10000 zone wealth to be considered established. A guild with a guildhall was observed establishing connections with other guilds, but with an as-of-yet unknown effect. If a guildhall petition has been accepted but has not been built after one year, the agreement to establish a guildhall will be abandoned. There's nothing preventing a second guildhall being defined as a second zone occupying the same area, though dwarves who can participate in both guildhalls will exclusively use the first placed location on their tile.
While a guild is unestablished, it can still hold public skill demonstrations for idlers.
Typically, a guild for a general profession category, such as fisherdwarves, farmers, or metalsmiths will be founded first, though if enough dwarves of a specific profession such as furnace operator or weaponsmith are in a fortress, a guild for that specific profession will be founded as well as the more general guild. Dwarves with a profession with its own guild and one for the more general category will be members of both guilds.
This is a list of guild halls that you can select when adding a new location (e.g. -> set a zone -> -> -> -> -> choose a guild type -> ). General guilds are in bold, followed by specific guilds they include.
Guilds in World Generation
Guilds are formed in world generation, by civilizations that value craftsmanship, such as dwarves and humans. These guilds will have various historical figures take up positions in them, as well as build themselves guildhalls in settlements, and have also been observed to occasionally help construct monasteries for religious groups. There are always four possible positions in the generated guilds: A Leader (dean/doyer, handles negotiations), an Alderman (manages work orders), a Steward (handles trade) and a Clerk/Record keeper. These positions are not yet available within fortress mode, and thus, guilds made in fortresses don't get them.
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In light of recent accidents, the Farmer's Guild has been restricted from performing any gelding demonstrations until further notice.
Fisherdwarves with Master or higher skill in fishing appear to be able to lead milking demonstrations at legendary level, regardless of their actual Milker skill.