4. The Order of Engineers

The Engineer’s Oath

This oath was written by Don the Evercrafty, based upon the form proposed by Eilonwy the Everwise. Although interpretations and the degree to which it is enforced have varied somewhat, the wording of the Oath remains precisely as laid down by Don. The text of the Oath is held by the Bards, and it is passed down orally by the Engineers.

I swear by Earth and Sun and Burning Fire, by the craft of my hand and mind and heart, and call upon all powers and authorities mortal and immortal to witness my Oath, that I may keep it in deed and intent to the best of my ability and judgement.


I will pay the same respect to my master in the Craft as to my parents, share my life with him and pay my debts to him. His kin shall be as kin to me, in all matters and respects. I will pass on precepts, lectures and other learning to my own pupils, duly apprenticed and sworn, and to no others, and I shall take no pupil until my master has deemed me worthy.


I will use my power to aid the people of Cymru to the best of my ability and judgement; I will abstain from harming or wronging any man by it.


I will construct no device the sole or primary purpose of which is to inflict harm upon another human, or to take a human life. Neither will I prepare any chemical substance the sole or primary effect of which is to deprive a human of life or health. Neither will I operate any machine to the sole or primary end that a human shall be slain or injured.


I will be humble in my practice, and modest in my living.


I will seek not to traffic in the arts of a Bard or a Druid, nor of a Warrior.


I will serve the Order of Engineers, and be servant to no man.


I will charge no fee for the performance of my craft beyond that prescribed by the Order as right and fitting for the reward of my services and the keeping of my person, neither in money nor in kind. I will accept no gift or favour in exchange for my services, nor will I abuse my position to extract such gifts or favours.


Whatever I see or hear, professionally or privately, which ought not to be divulged, I will keep secret and tell no one.


If, therefore, I observe this Oath and do not violate it, may I prosper both in my life and in my Order, earning good repute among all men for all time. If I transgress and foreswear this Oath, may my lot be otherwise.


Interpretation of the Oath

  1. This is the standard formula for the commencement of all perpetual oaths.
  2. The Order is built upon the ties of loyalty between its members, and the secrecy of its teachings. This section of the Oath is adhered to rigidly. Although not made explicit, it is held to be implied that a master – however harsh his training regime – will respect and not abuse his apprentices.
  3. The Three Orders were founded for the benefit of all peoples. Some believe that the Engineers have strayed from the path in the quest for power, but the Order itself holds that it is part of the Order’s duty and purpose to attend to the ordering of the kingdom as well as the construction of simple machines and tools.
  4. The military capabilities of the Engineers are unquestionable, but no Engineer is ever supposed to make any use of their craft to kill or injure another human. Some are even against the idea of building weapons for use against the Beasts of Anglia, and it is a matter of debate whether wielding a weapon in self-defence should be deemed ‘operating a machine to the sole or primary end that a human shall be slain or injured’.
  5. The most commonly ‘bent’ section of the Oath. The Engineers are an immensely wealthy Order, a result of superior accounting and thrift as much as of overcharging.
  6. Many Engineers learn to fight in order to be able to defend themselves. Few have any interest in the ways of the Druids and Bards however, save a handful who have sought to learn to read. This is publicly frowned upon, but considered a ‘useful evil’ when it happens.
  7. Unlike the other two Orders, the Engineers have a strict organisation. Engineers operating without the blessing of the Council and the Chief are therefore known not only as renegades but as Oathbreakers. In any situation where an Engineer is placed in the service of a noble, it is the Order which makes an oath of contract with the ‘customer’.
  8. The Council are responsible for setting the fees to be paid to an Engineer for any given project. These fees are made up of the Engineer’s keep for the duration of the contract, plus an amount prescribed for the nature and scale of the project. In practice, many Engineers do receive ‘incentives’ from their employers, covered by the notion that such gifts are tokens of friendship and respect. Such tokens – if freely given – are acceptable to the Order, but an Engineer who attempts to extort gifts or favours – and especially sexual favours – risks the wrath of the Order for bringing disrepute on all Engineers. Not even tacit approval is given to such attempts.
  9. The most important phrase in the interpretation of this section is ‘which ought not to be divulged’. Personal secrets are expected to be kept in strictest confidence, but evidence of treason, criminal activity – especially against the Order – or immoral behaviour are not. Indeed, it is held to be the duty of every Engineer to report any such information to the Council or the perpetrator’s liege lord at the first opportunity.
  10. The standard formula for the conclusion of perpetual oaths.


Since their creation by Don the Evercrafty, the Order of Engineers has remained close in the High King’s counsel. In the reign of Mathonwy the Engineers gained much power when Don was given leave to command the ordering of the kingdom. Furthermore, after the death of Rhiannon, Don sought and achieved the marriage of her daughter, Arianrhod, to Mathonwy. Her purpose in these machinations was simple: the fulfilment of the Oath. To Don’s mind it was her duty to order all things to best effect, and to do all in her power to make the implementation of the designs of the Engineers as simple as possible.

Don the Evercrafty died in her hundred-and-third year, during the reign of Math son of Mathonwy. For a time the Order was bereft of true leadership, turning to the guidance of Arianrhod, who was no Engineer, notwithstanding that she was born of the union of Don and Gofannon. Arianrhod urged the Engineers to press for rebellion against Math in favour of her son Gwydion, to place the line of Don upon the High Throne. After a year however, Gofannon bade his fellow students, Llassar and Angharad, come to him, and together they took counsel. The three students of Don formed the first Council of the Order, and between them they elected a talented Engineer named Rhys to take Don’s place as Chief Engineer.

Rhys was not a young man when he took the seat of Don in the high hall of Caer Goludd, but he was firm of purpose. Rhys stood against Arianrhod and declared that the Order of Engineers would be party to no plot against the High King. He focused the efforts of the Order on their work, and did much to build their reputation with the folk of Cymru. Many of the line of Don stood with Arianrhod, but none spoke out or rebelled against the will of the Chief Engineer and the Council.

After Rhys died, the Council – formed now of seven successors appointed by the students of Don – elected a new Chief; Welwyn the Cautious. Welwyn was the husband of Magda, who was granddaughter of Don, and he was the servant of the line of Don. Many now counselled that the Order should put its weight behind Arianrhod, and her grandson Donn, but Welwyn was known as the Cautious for a reason, and chose not to be openly for or against the High King.

When Donn took the High Crown for himself, he came to Caer Caled in search of his grandmother, but found her dead not five hours. Grief-stricken, Donn nonetheless demanded that the Chief Engineer place the High Crown upon his head, since Arianrhod the Sly could not do so herself. When the High Crown cracked rather than let itself be set upon the Kinslayer’s head, Donn called Welwyn traitor and struck him down. The Order was enraged, and would have sought his life had not Welwyn’s daughter counselled them to greater caution.

Modron the Crafty was seen above all others to possess the fierce spirit and determination of her great-grandmother, Don, and thus the Engineers not only accepted her counsel, but also elected her their Chief. Modron refused however, seemingly already determined to sit alongside Donn as his Queen. Her marriage to the High King, and the approval voiced by her cousin Magg – elected Chief Engineer after her refusal – of Donn’s reign, cemented the alliance of the House of Donn with the Order of Engineers.

Some have accused Modron of selling her Order into the service of Donn for her own gain, but the Engineers view the situation differently. With the fate of Deirdre and Owain unknown, the murder of Donn in vengeance for Welwyn would not only have been a terrible breach of the Oath, but would have risked plunging Cymru into a new civil war as ambitious cantrev lords sought to replace the line of Dafydd with their own blood. Modron is also held to be responsible for calming the rage of Donn, so that Cymru has been spared much blood. Moreover, the Order insist that the marriage of Donn and Modron is not, and has never been, a political union.

In spite of these claims, in the years since, the Engineers have come to be seen by many as an instrument of Donn’s will, rather than an independent Order, and conversely the King is seen by some as the puppet of the Order. It is also in the years since the Kinslayer’s ascension that the Order has begun in greater earnest the manufacture of machines of war. While the construction of any device intended to cause harm to a human is expressly forbidden by the Engineer’s Oath, many such devices have been developed for use against the beasts, and a few have found themselves turned against Donn’s more rebellious subjects. While such use is invariably condemned by the Order, faith in the Engineers fades among the people of Cymru, replaced by fear of their power and that of Modron, whom many see as the ‘secret’ mistress of the Order.


The Engineers have a complex organisation based upon the simple master-apprentice relationship. Each Engineer owes loyalty to their master, and to their master’s master, a lesser duty to their master’s fellow students and a lesser duty still to those of their fellow students more experienced than they. The ultimate allegiance of any Engineer is to the Order however, and in the unusual situation that it becomes necessary to choose, this overrides the Engineer’s loyalty to any individual. Engineers may not take an oath of loyalty to anyone, as such an oath might conflict with their Engineer’s Oath. Instead the Order makes an oath of contract with those who seek to employ their members’ skills, placing responsibility for the Engineer’s behaviour with the Order.

The Order is headed by the Chief Engineer and the Council, an assembly of seven senior Master Engineers, appointed to their Council by their predecessors. The Council elect the Chief Engineer from among all of the Master Engineers in the Order, and although the appointment can be refused, only Modron has ever done so. The role of Chief Engineer can be effective or titular, depending largely upon the individual selected. Welwyn and Magg have both proven to be little more than figureheads to the Council, while Rhys was most definitely a man who knew his own mind.

The Council and the Chief Engineer work together to determine the Order’s policies. They are responsible for setting the fees which Engineers can charge, assigning Engineers to major works, approving new designs, adjudicating disputes between Engineers, and considering all complaints levelled against members of the Order. If an Engineer is found to have foresworn his Oath, the penalties are harsh. Renegade Engineers are prohibited from practising the craft, and branded to mark their status as oathbreakers. Any renegade found employing the crafts of the Order is executed.

In theory the Council and the Chief are the sole authority within the Order, and the only authority to whom an Engineer must answer. In practice Engineers are expected to obey the High King’s law in addition to their Oath, and a second power exists within the Order itself.

The Order of Engineers is more close-ranked and secretive than either the Bards or the Druids, and are as insular in their personal lives as in their Craft. While marriage outside the Order is not uncommon, partners are usually brought to live among other Engineers and while outsiders who demonstrate potential are not overlooked for training, in practice the Craft is taught almost exclusively to the kin of Engineers, and thus an unofficial, hereditary aristocracy has arisen within the Order. As Engineers intermarry, alliances develop between families, and the line of Don is indisputably the most powerful family in the Order – if not in Cymru. Four of the current Council are of the line of Don, as are both Chief Engineer Magg and Queen Modron herself.


It is the duty of all Engineers to locate those with the gift which would allow them to be trained by the Order. Such an individual is brought – if he wishes to come – to Caer Goludd, where he is subjected to a series of tests and rigorous examination by the Council, to determine whether he possesses, in addition to the spark of genius, the responsibility and mental strength to become an Engineer. In practice few outside the Order go near enough to the Engineers to be identified, and so the majority of prospective apprentices are kin to Engineers.

Those who pass are given the opportunity to take the Oath, and these new apprentices are assigned to a master for training. The life of an Engineer is never glamorised for the chosen individual; he is told of the hardships ahead, given the chance to return to his old life, and it is made clear to him that he will not receive another opportunity to do so. If the loss of the individual from work would result in hardship for his family, it is the policy of the Order to ensure that adequate recompense is made.

An apprentice Engineer’s life is hard. For at least a year he serves in his master’s house and workshop as a servant, before his training even begins. Because of his Oath, the apprentice is committed to completing his training, and thus has no possibility of escape from this year of servitude. Many apprentices find themselves tested to the breaking point by their new lives, and in part at least, this is the point, although it also teaches patience, discipline and the value of hard work and forethought.

Once the master deems him ready, an apprentice begins to learn the Engineer’s crafts. During his apprenticeship, he works alongside his master, doing the simpler tasks in the master’s various projects. He receives no fee for his work, only a small remuneration from his master, but his board and keep are paid for. From this remuneration, the apprentice may purchase any luxuries he may desire, but the majority he is expected to save for the purchase of the materials for his prentice piece.

The prentice piece is an Engineer’s first major work. He plans the work, purchases the materials, and does all of the work on the piece himself. The prentice piece can take any form within the Engineers’ field – a device, a building, a map, even a sculpture of iron or stone – but must be of exceptional quality, and both functional and fair to behold. The prentice piece is judged by the apprentice’s master and two other Engineers, and if found suitable the apprentice becomes a journeyman Engineer. Regardless of the outcome, the piece remains his to dispose of as he chooses.

Once qualified as a journeyman, an engineer may be awarded contracts on his own account, and will be paid a proper fee. He will rarely be appointed to a major work on his own, but even when working under a master’s guidance he will receive the same fee as any other Engineer. If he wishes to supervise any major projects or be considered to take apprentices of his own, the journeyman must – at a later date – make his masterpiece. This piece is judged by the Council and the Chief Engineer, and should be a work of great function and also of high art.


While the overriding image of the Order of Engineers is provided by the great engines, these machines are not the be-all and end-all of the Order’s work. The crafts of the Engineers are as follows:


Any clod can build a wall, and many farmers can even drystone effectively. The construction of stone castles and fortifications requires a more subtle hand however, and while many of the labourers involved may not be Engineers, those who design and oversee the construction will be. In addition, Engineers train in the skills necessary to plan and produce wooden structure, and to fit their buildings to their purpose, so that a dwelling is warm, and a storehouse cool and dry.


An often overlooked aspect of the Engineer’s Craft, but one greatly treasured by the Order, is the ability to give functional items a beautiful aspect.


The Engineers draught and utilise accurate maps of Cymru in order to plot rail routes and to navigate the landscape. Painstakingly surveyed, Engineers maps use a code system to identify different types of settlement, and specific symbols are applied to all castles and cantrevs, since no Engineer can read or write text. This craft also includes the art of surveying.


The construction and management of the engines. The Order’s mechanists not only construct all of the engines in Cymru, they cast and forge all of the engine components, cast and lay the rails and provide all of the engine drivers. Engines are temperamental beasts, each with its own personality, and drivers must get to know their engine before it will respond well to their hands.


The Engineers are trained in the arts of supply. They use this to calculate their requirements for whatever project they are working on, as well as the distribution of surpluses between cantrevs as part of the Balance. Logistics is one of the required arts, in which all Engineers are trained.

Metallurgy and Alchemy

 Blacksmithing is a fairly widespread skill in Cymru, being necessary for forging weapons, ploughshares, nails, tools and horseshoes. The true arts of metallurgy, smelting and alloys are the preserve of the Engineers however, and their tools and weapons - Engineers are constrained by their oaths against the actual manufacture of weapons, but they prepare specific alloys and patterns for the Order's blacksmiths who are under no such constraints - are always of matchless quality. Alchemy – the secrets of rare earths, solutions, distillations and compounds, including the manufacture of explosives – is likewise counted among the secrets of the Order.


While the secrets of letters are kept by the Bards, the mysteries of numbers are the preserve of the Engineers. Most of the people of Cymru can count and merchants in particular can perform basic addition and subtraction and use an abacus, but mathematics of any higher order is taught only to members of the Order. These secrets are used in the design of their machines and their buildings. Mathematics touches on all that the Engineers do, and so it is one of the required arts.


The Engineers control the coal and ore mines of Cymru, and also the knowledge which allows them to safely extract the precious fuel from the earth. While few Engineers actually dig the coal, they oversee all work, guiding the miners along the richest seams and ensuring that the workings are properly propped and shored. This craft also applies to the mining of metal ores.

Psychology and Organisation

Engineers do not just engineer machines, they engineer society. A small but dedicated corps of Engineers – of whom Modron is the most influential – seek to apply their knowledge of systems and cause and effect to the planning of a superior ordering of the kingdom of Cymru. The Engineers likewise have a greater understanding of the human condition than the majority of Cymru’s inhabitants, which aids them in their dealings with others as well as in planning a society with its occupants in mind.


Among the newest inventions of the Engineers are the guns with which they have equipped their soldiers, and the Banner of the Beast, who guard the Dyke and the border with Anglia. These small cannon are explicitly intended for use against the Beasts, but are considered by many to be an infringement of the Engineer’s Oath, as they could easily be turned on human targets. Most older or more conservative Engineers are firmly against the construction of guns, and Queen Modron has publicly denounced them as ‘blasphemous creations’.

Gunnery is as yet a rare art, even among the Order.