From the Mercantile Guild List of Questions Frequently Misunderstood by the Common Public:
”... These signs are known the world over for providing proof of a legitimate merchants. The important features are as follows:
- A seal in the upper left hand corner is the distinguishing feature that is on every sign. It is a specialized rune which could only be produced by the guildmasters of Ghervenia. If you suspect that you have found a merchant who has forged his or rune, ask the nearest guild representative to send a Gnomish inspector!
- A roster of all of the day’s transactions can be viewed in the center of the sign. You can request to see more details of each transaction with the consent of the owner, but only the guildmaster (or appointed representatives thereof) can force the full details out (such as names, previous transactions for the same product/name, etc).
- All signs are bound such that they cannot exit the trader’s place of business. Those who do not have a specific place of business cannot be outside of 100 meters of their sign. Someone carrying the sign would find it halt immovably at 100 meters, and the merchant who owns the sign would find himself unable to walk himself outside of those 100 meters. There are very few exceptions to this rule, and as such if you find someone who claims to have an exception, you should request that the nearest Guild representative send a Gnomish inspector.
- The merchant’s name is listed on the top in gold. The text changes from gold to red if the merchant is not who he or she claims to be, or if the person who is selling is not an appointed and approved merchant for that sign.
- Any attempts at falsification of the sign will cause the Rune to irrevocably be altered, and if you see someone using a sign with an odd rune, you should endeavor to find a guild representative immediately.
- And remember, if you find a merchant who is unable or unwilling to show his or her sign: be wary!”
From Olm Koddish’s Reference for those of Dubious Affairs (second publishing):
”There are a number of features of the sign that are undocumented (or at least in those documents that are available to those merchants who go through the trouble of obtaining them), but are difficult to activate without activating the rune. The rune, if you haven’t already discovered, has the rather obnoxious tendency to shoot black ink of those who attempt to alter their sign, leaving a mark which will not be removed easily to those who aren’t of a more… dubious disposition than others. Regardless, you can activate some special “extras” in your sign (including adding additional merchants as legitimate users!) by simply obtaining a voice imitator of your “nearest guild representative’s” voice. You can get the voice imitator devices from a number of sources, including “Org’s Magical Mechanisms” and “Pik and Pok’s Playthings for Boys”. Once you have enough of a sample to make other voices, you can use the following code words: ...”
From a later selection “When You Can’t Be a Guild Member” :
”There are many who claim that they can sell you a sign but you’ll be hard pressed to get those to work outside the bastard’s booth. Most illegitimate sellers of signs have elaborate illusions set up to deceive people like you who haven’t yet looked into the matter. They may work for a few hours, but they’ll be long gone when you go back to tell them to give you your money back. Still a great deal more will show you several dead merchant’s signs, and using the tricks described back in ‘getting the most out of your sign’, have added themselves as legitimate sellers to make it appear that they have developed fully operative signs with the different names.
”There are very few who can produce realistic signs and those who can are frequently hard to find because they are good at what they do. The nature of the rune that the guild uses makes it literally impossible to reproduce without knowledge of the code words used to generate it. As such, even the best sign will be quickly spotted by the guild’s Gnomish representatives. Be forewarned, almost all Gnomish representatives appear to be easily bribed to ‘give this indiscretion a pass,’ but they will frequently do so in order to get information. BE WARY OF BEING CAUGHT, THE PENALTIES OF FORGERY ARE FIERCE AND THE GUILD HAS FEW QUALMS TORTURING THE NAMES OF THOSE YOU PURCHASED YOUR SIGN FROM OUT OF YOU. Now that those unpleasantries are out of the way, a few ways to try and contact those who may help you get your business underway…”