So you want to know about the House of Talbot eh? I guess they are something to wonder about at least once in your life, but that house is not entirely fascinating once you peel back the air of mystery and look at them. Many of them are honestly quite foolish. Still, your money is as good as any so I will give you the honest truth that they don’t want you to know. That is what you pay me for anyway.
You see, Talbots are dogs. Not literally, but the ideology is that of the loyal beast. They are loyal to each other in ways that others, outside of some factions I guess, are. They are not like a noble house, but rather a group of noble houses that all work together to further each other’s ends. More on that in a moment, first we need to discuss that there are actually two Talbot houses in reality. That is there are two types of people drawn to this guild. First, and these are the rarer of the two, are the scholars. They are the ones you find at the University or as chroniclers.
Scholars in the Talbot are largely pacifistic types, who find the constant warfare of the land to be a frightening and undesirable. They shy away from a life of hard work, usually because they are the sons of some some nobleman who has enough workers to afford to send their eternal heirs to get educated at the university. So that is exactly what they do. They spend their lives learning all of the things in all the books, whatever those may be. I am not well educated man myself, but a bard’s life is simpler than that of a nobleman’s scholar I guess. So I can only presume that they are exposed to great things in these libraries and universities. A hefty price is paid for the luxury you can be sure, so it must be worth the price.
There are probably something on the order of a dozen universities in the five principalities, but none is more prestigiously spoken of than McFarlin. To tell the truth, McFarlin is a whole town devoted to the university. Never was much before I hear, so they embrace their place in the land. McFarlin University does not only teach Talbot mind you, but a Talbot would be remiss if they didn’t take some courses at the University. I think it is about making contacts with other nobles as much as learning, but I may be wrong.
The other, more prominent Talbot are the men who spend so much time behind the closed doors of their manses and salons. These men, and some women I hear, are all of noble background and heritage. They have more Letcher than most men will ever see in a lifetime, and that is saying something if you catch my drift.
So what do they do in those salons? I have had the rare pleasure of visiting one as a storyteller once or twice - well a few times. I am a good bard, worth the money. Where was I? Oh, yes. So once you get past those door men with their passwords and riddles to entry, you will enter a lavish area of all sorts of things - hedonism and self gratification mostly. They are wealthy and are not ashamed to flaunt this.
Their houses are filled with paintings, libraries and the most comfortable seats one can imagine. The greatest meeting of these Talbot I ever witnessed was some sort of celebration of a great hunt. Now I have also seen Lords and Dukes and return with a prize boar from a hunt, and there is some grandeur to that, but this... These Talbot people were rejoicing over this horse meat - just because the horse was white with black stripes! I have never seen such celebration about nothing in my life.
Another night they were participating in some sort of debauchery with dandelions and harlots. I will speak little more than this about the subject - sailors coming back from war are less debased in the brothels of Sulphurdale than those nobles I saw that night.
So what is the point of these salons? Why are they so popular by the Talbot? It is all about experiences and connections. Those who have money keep their money by keeping friends that have money. Then when the tax man and the almoners come they group together to pay the nobles bribes to become exempt from what the rest of us have to pay for. Oh and they donate some money to a cause and get even more benefits.
The other thing seems to be boredom. I guess I would be bored too if I didn’t have to work for anything. They don’t suffer the same annoyances as fear of going to war as the rest of us might, so they end up with a lot of time on their hands. Ultimately, with this much spare time the everyday things that we cherish become passé. Whereas you or I may look forward to that small piece of meat with our dinner once a month or so, these Talbot people grow tired of their nightly feasts.
So they constantly seek out the rarer things in the world. Foods from exotic locations are highly valued to them. I saw them pay a hunter three Bar Letcher for a small monkey from the Sunderland Basin that was to be dinner at a celebration.
They also discuss exotic things. They have a reputation as having dealt with the Shade Realm, and for a good reason if the rumors are exaggerated to a degree. The truth is that they study the occult and mystic theories that border on heresy because they have talked about everything else in the world. Eternal life with no plenty of time and a deficit of worry leads to some queer discussions on the very nature of reality.
So that is what happens in that guild, there is little more to be said. They are bored nobles from noble houses that have more time and money than they know what to do with. So what I suggest you do is deal with some other guild. The Talbot are really sad in a way. If you must deal with them, sell them on some crazy story about a rare object you know about. Then charge them a year’s wage to get it for them. If you are sly and convincing enough, you may make out like a bandit.