A recurring faction of the multiverse in AH.com Enterprise.
The Guild is an ancient and highly mysterious order of nomadic scholars who roam the timelines and galactic expanses of the multiverse. Its members are known as Guildsmen/Guildswomen, Vexillologists, Iconographers, but most colloquially, Flagists or Vexies.
Esotheric in their ways and methods, and adhering to a mysticist religion, their ultimate motivations remain unclear to most other people - even the lucky few who have managed to meet them in person, on peaceful terms.
The faith of all flagists revolves around vexillology, heraldry and other esotheric artforms and visual sciences of the multiverse. Just like The Mappist Cabal fancies itself the guardian of cartography throughout the multlverse, so does The Guild swear to safeguard the quality of allohistorical artworks everywhere.
Vector - the one true god of all Vexillologists and Iconographers. According to the Flagist founding myth, the Great Vector led the first multiverse iconographers and vexillologists out of the darkness and barbarism of saving their images in .jpg format. He then showered them with the blessings of The One True Format - .png - and of the Vector Graphics, named in his honour. A common religiously-charged proclamation of the Vexies is „By Vector !“ or „By Vector’s kindly lines and colours !“.
Raster - in the founding myth, Raster is Vector's older and somewhat coarser brother. He is not considered an evil or heinous figure, but is nevertheless seen as something of a “fallen hero”, for lack of a better term. When his younger brother Vector created The One True Format after much drudgery, Raster unkindly dismissed and laughed off his sibling's work. Eventually, in The Flagmaker Dawn War, Vector and Raster fought the Daemons of Graphical Artefacts side by side, but Raster was overcome by them and dragged into the dark howling depths of The Underboard. Since that day, Vector swore to avenge his brother and rid the multiverse of the corruption known as the “Save it as a JPEG” Heresy.
The One True Format - the divine creation of Vector, PNG is the visual format that led adherents of The Guild out of the darkness, barbarism and inexpertness of their ancient artwork-making past. Woe betide the one who dares defy the primacy of the One Format, for he (according to the Vexies) consorts with the Daemons of Graphical Artefacts!
Daemons of Graphical Artefacts - Mysterious, possibly invisible creatures that inhabit the dark, howling abyss of insanity that is The Underboard. They appear as punishment to all who defy the ways of The One True Format and save their flags, roundels, emblems, posters and coats of arms in the dreaded JPEG. Images saved in such a way bare the blurry marks of these daemons, to the horror of every pious Guildsman. Long ago, the JPEG Heresy (supposedly) started when a group of Guildsmen were seduced away from the One Format and the Ways of Vector and fell to the corruption of the Graphical Artefacts.
Remain neutral, do not interfere in the politics of the multiverse.
The graphics must flow ! The monopoly of the Guild on quality ATL graphic designs (except for maps) must not be jeopardized and must be upheld.
Be ever vigilant, for Graphical Artefacts and Graphical Glitches are a multitude and never sleep, and thine skills with graphics editors always need improvement (if you want to brag about them) !
By Vector's kindly lines and colours !
Crispness to thine image ! (equivalent of “Amen” at the end of Vexie prayers and well wishes)
Brush - strike true ! Without artefacts ! (typical battle cry of the Graphics Guard)
The Great Vector is believed to see all and know all. See all colours, hues, lines and know every trick in the AH flag-making book. In Vexie mythology and teachings, he is described as not merely an amorphous deity or being, but as „a sacred spectroscopic field created by all living flagmakers and illustrators with good imagination. Its hues surround us and penetrate the photoreceptors in our eyes; it binds the colours and lines of the multiverse together“.
The greatest heresy anyone can commit in the eyes of the Guild is to praise the .jpg format or even go as far as to save one’s graphical creations in it. One of the darkest periods of Guild history was the infamous JPEG Heresy, which started off The Format Crusade. In the end, the anti-.jpg Guildsmen won, defeating the JPEG heretics and “restoring the true path to the blessings of Vector”. Another, more minor heresy in the eyes of the Guild's clergy, is to deny that Vector fights his neverending fight to liberate his unfortunate brother Raster from the abyss of The Underboard.
Guild members regularly train their skills and spiritual oneness with the art of insignia-making by taking part in the holy ritual of the Weekly Flag Challenge. Members who do badly in a weekly round are advised to work harder on their skills, in the name of penitence to the great Vector. The WFC is similar to the New Cabal’s ritual challenge, known as the Map of the Fortnight.
If one has sinned against the Ways of Vector, he or she must undergo a ritualistic punishment known as Flag Elating. Flag Elating involves the temporary mental torture of a Guildsman via showing him terribly designed flags or insignia and then leaving him in solitude to regain his spirits and create a true work of art, as part of his penitence. Then he has to present it to others in the most elated way possible. If he does well, his sin is forgiven and washed away by the Holy Colours of Vector.
The Guild has a rather complex hierarchy in and of itself.
Paint Pontif – pope equivalent, head of the Guild of Vexillologists and Iconographers. He is also the captain of The Guild's main mothership and the de facto admiral of The Guild's nomadic fleet.
Grandmaster – the head of a particular sect (school) of Vexillologists and Iconographers. A meritocratically and popularly elected position, its bearer does not necessarily need to have the rank of Doctor of the Guild.
Flagestry Council - permanent advisory assembly of Grandmasters and Doctors of The Guild.
Flagestry Conclave - rare, temporary gathering of Grandmasters and Doctors of The Guild. It oversees the elections of a new Paint Pontif.
Emissary – what it sounds like. Basically, a Guild ambassador for everything. The Guild has many such figures.
Graphicsmage – specially trained Guild members with cybernetic implants, which they can utilise to create and project graphics-related illusions (usually holographic in nature).
Postulant - a fresh initiate into The Guild. No rank.
Novice - better known under the colloquial term “n00b”. Low-ranking artist.
Journeyman - apprentice of The Guild, once he or she finishes basic training. Mid-ranking artist.
Junior Vexillian - transitional stage between Journeyman and Elder Vexillian. Mid-ranking artist.
Elder Vexillian - last stage before or during one's studies to become a Doctor of The Guild. High-ranking artist.
Doctor of Vexillology – space scholastic who specialises in the vexillological arts.
Doctor of Heraldry – space scholastic who specialises in the heraldic arts.
Doctor of Iconography – space scholastic who specialises in other symbol-making arts.
Doctor of Formats – space scholastic who specialises in studying and researching graphical file formats.
Graphics Guard – the church militant of the Guild, consisting of many warriors of various ranks, some of them resembling sci-fied-up versions of monastic knights. There are several knightly and military orders in the GG. The current General of the Graphics Guard is Krall, the leader of the Kralltonic Order of Knights.
Kralltonic Order of Knights - the most famous and revered knightly order of the Graphics Guard.
Mesoamerican Order of Flag Kickassery - a smaller military corps of fearless warriors, consisting of guild members with vaguely Incan, Mayan and Aztec names.
These are various artists, drawers, colourists, designers, scribes, stewards, technicians, warriors, etc. The individual Guild members wear simple artwork-themed jumpsuit uniforms, and on top of them, monastic-style robes with large hoods. Photonic paintbrushes and nanotech easels are among the commonest tools of all Vexies.
Like the people of the Mappist Cabal, the people of The Guild also live a wholly nomadic, spacecraft-bound life. They roam the multiverse in fleets of varying size, lead by shift-capable "worldships", several kilometers long (such as the Texture). These are virtually always accompanied by various smaller ships. While the Guildsmen regularly stop over at planets to offer their trade, forge deals or gather the latest news, they very rarely visit planets for prolonged stays on their surface. However, Flagists that weren't directly born into The Guild, but were adopted or initiated into it at a certain age, tend to be planet dwellers in origin.
Religious divisions and tensions still exist within The Guild. The most visible and crucial are the divisions into specific sects, also known as Chapters or Chapterhouses. Each Chapter espouses and follows a different philosophy, referred to as a “school”. A Flagist philosophical school is not only about the methods one uses, but also about the tools that he or she employs in the creation of artworks.
The current major sects are:
Chapter GIMP - followers of GIMP and the school of Gimpism, led by Grandmaster Huehuecoyotl. The Gimpists are a thoroughly middle-of-the-road chapter in terms of power and numbers, though many admire their stability, inventiveness, bookishness, and most of all, their diligence and sedulity. The other chapters often regard them as “the sort of people who put loads of effort and enthusiasm into their craft, but don't really grow”.
Chapter Paint.Net - followers of Paint.Net and the school of Paintnetism, led by Grandmaster Stateless. Numerically the smallest of all the five current chapters, they are nevertheless the most independent-minded, and are often regarded as inoffensive and quite pacifistic. On the flip side, they are often criticised within the Guild for “being too idle in their quest to praise Vector”, and not being too ashamed of preferring raster graphics. While they have not been accused of the JPEG Heresy in the past as much as members of Chapter MS Paint, some of the more order-minded Flagists consider Paintneters to be “straddling the line of heresy”.
Chapter Photoshop - followers of Photoshop and the school of Photoshoppery, led by Grandmaster Sovereign12. A mid-sized school of thought, they tend to get accused of assuming their graphics software is the best, while secretly itching to admit that they don't actually pay for anything. They are fairly insular when compared with the other four chapters, and can occassionally be seen verbally sparring with the Inkscapers.
Chapter Inkscape - followers of Inkscape and the school of Inkscapery, led by Grandmaster Pischinovski. They are traditionally seen as the most haughty and even somewhat elitist of Flagist chapters. A highly artistic and industrious chapter, their pride in their craft and accomplishments is rightfully deserved. However, that same pride can occassionally get the better of them, with some of the followers of Inkscapery taking things as far as claiming that they are Vector's chosen and most beloved of children.
Chapter MS Paint - followers of MS Paint and the school of Emespaintisgoodenough, led by Grandmaster Darkaiz. This chapter is often pitied and ridiculed, to the point they are considered the “poor friars” of The Guild, and by some as even “lesser brothers and sisters”. They take umbrage at the Paintnetists' ideas about “Paint.net being a better version of MS Paint” - to them, there is no such thing as “a better version of MS Paint”.
While the first four, larger chapterhouses are respected and get along together well despite some posturing, it is the Chapter MS Paint that tends to get the short end of the stick. They were originally ridiculed for not adopting the sacred teachings of Vector and The One True Format, but they eventually repented and accepted them. It is believed by some radical Guild theologians that the souls of MS Painters can’t entirely reach the Vexillologist and Iconographer Paradise, where they‘d otherwise enjoy the fruits of their labour under Vector’s kindly oversight.
The fictional(ised) version described on this page are basically your (stereo)typical order of „space monk-mystics“ and a lot of the hierarchy has parody-religion trappings, as you’d imagine. The interiors of Flagist ships are your typical „hi-tech monastery“ sort of thing, but with lots of nods to the designing of national symbols and vexillology-related artworks.
The Kralltonic Order - Older AH.com running gag, basis for the in-universe military arm of The Guild.
The Mappist Cabal - The other side of the same coin.