Regardless of genre, ranking systems are practical to have. While some are easier to create based on real-world groups. A military influenced ranking system is often the easiest to construct. However, others are a bit more challenging to build, since they have limited examples. While examples of warrior/ mercenary or mage guild are easier to find due to their common appearance in video games and literature.
Setting those type of guilds aside for the moment, writers should also consider guilds/associations for priests/monks, thieves, assassins, pirates, and even spies. Depending on the technologically advanced the world in question you could also consider a ranking system for hackers, racers, smugglers, weaponsmiths, builders and, probably a few more. Yet how would manage to rank associations like those? Granted you could sort the members by their skill set or specialties. However, in my opinion, that only gets you so far.
I could take the time to focus on each one of the above-mentioned groups but, that would time consuming and make for a large post. Instead, I will choose to focus on constructing a thieves guild. Stripping it down to the basics, since time period and available technology are large limiting factors. Along with ignoring the internal ethical code, the guild uses to operate.
- Starting rank: Novice/Initiate
- Clothing color: Tan
- Weapon choice: Heavy Training weapons
- Armor Choice: Light to medium weight clothing
- Secondary Rank: Apprentice
- Clothing color: light grey
- Weapon choice: Standard guild weapon of choice, or recognition
- Armor choice: Minimum, preferably of moderate weight
- Third Rank: Veteran
- Clothing color: Dark Grey
- Weapon Choice: Standard guild weapon of choice, and one weapon of character’s choice
- Armor choice: Minimum: preferably of slightly lighter weight than apprentice
- Fourth Rank: Accomplished Veteran
- Clothing color: Dark Grey
- Weapon Choice: Standard guild weapon of choice, and two weapons of character’s choice
- Armor Choice: Minimum light
- Fifth Rank: Master
- Clothing color: Dark Grey, with a black hood and sleeves
- Weapon Choice: Two Standard guild weapons, and two weapons of character’s choice
- Armor Choice: Minimum light, can be heavier at area of vital importance
- Sixth Rank: Exalted
- Clothing Color: Black
- Weapon Choice: Two standard weapons and three weapons of character’s choice
- Armor Choice: Minimum light, can be thicker at vital areas
While this concept ranking system is simple, it can allow for a complex guild without having an overly complicated ranking system. Keeping to the idea that a thief archetype character should keep a low profile, but still be recognized by other members of the guild with ease. Depending on the influence of the guild, the same thing could be said of security/guard forces.