Merchant Houses of Darokin

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Merchant Houses of Darokin

Postby Bonetti » Tue Jan 26, 2010 8:29 am

No, not the Great Houses -- we all know about those, and Aaron Nowack has done a great job expanding on both the houses and their histories.

I also know about the expansion of Corran House (also expanded by Aaron).

I've created a tiny house, on its last legs, House Tydian. The only surviving merchant is Bancohr (see Action on the Athenos, GAZ11, for his sordid dealings -- I've added some backstory and a last name and merchant house name).

Has anyone else added to the body of Darokinian merchant houses?

Does anyone else want to?

I'm looking to come up with maybe half a dozen or so I can drop in, ranging from very small to potential (eventual) Great Houses.

Edit: (Gathering the houses posted below)
Last edited by Bonetti on Sat Feb 06, 2010 2:56 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Merchant Houses of Darokin

Postby Seer of Yhog » Tue Jan 26, 2010 2:50 pm

I think this is a great idea, given that we have precedent (Ithel) for houses rising and falling. I might try to come up with something.
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Re: Merchant Houses of Darokin

Postby Chimpman » Tue Jan 26, 2010 5:10 pm

I think this is a great idea as well. I'm spread thin enough at the moment that I probably can't contribute... but I'm looking forward to see what other folks can come up with.

So lets see some more info on this House Tydian!
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Re: Merchant Houses of Darokin

Postby Havard » Tue Jan 26, 2010 6:59 pm

Should be interesting!

Our group has involved two Houses for Darokin. One was lead by a Devil Swine who had a smuggling operation through a secret lair in the Malpheggi Swamp. The other is connected to an aristocratic family in Elstrich, which had alot of dark secrets... I should have some more details on that last one, if I can find those notes...

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Re: Merchant Houses of Darokin

Postby Bonetti » Tue Jan 26, 2010 7:51 pm

Well, not only do we have the example of Ithel rising and falling, the history of the Nine Houses includes repositioning -- and Al-Azrad had to bump someone from the rolls. In addition, the Gazetteer explicitly states that the Nine Great Houses are just the largest and richest of a bunch of others.

Several things in the Gazetteer annoy me, and one is that there aren't a lot of examples for things like this. I don't mind holes to fill in, but they could've offered a little more guidance along the way with one or two non-Great examples :-)

OK, on to other thoughts...

I can see where, pre-Great Reckoning, the merchant groups would gather under a powerful family (possibly a ruling family), so the tradition of House [Family Name] would make sense. I can also see where smaller houses would take the name House as part of an attempt to seem more important than they are.

I can also see where, in modern Darokin, some merchants might band together and get away from the family traditions. So, younger merchant Houses might actually be consortia or companies instead. (I'm imagining a Streel Valley Consortium, some suppliers banding together to break the stranglehold of Houses Corun and Mauntea over their crops, or the like. Or even just something that started out as a collective negotiating body which started a sideline in selling and became a middle-tier house along the way...)
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Re: Merchant Houses of Darokin

Postby Bonetti » Tue Jan 26, 2010 7:56 pm

House Tydian

House Tydian has sheltered five generations of the Tydian family. Founded in 914 by Toran Tydian, it has concentrated primarily on moving imported goods from one section of Darokin to another. At its peak in the 960s, House Tydian had four merchants handling business (the four grandsons of Toran).

The current head of House Tydian, and only remaining merchant, is Bancohr Tydian. He inherited the business in 994 (at the age of 26) when his father, Norryn, died quite suddenly.

Bancohr was distressed to find that his father's apparent wealth was mostly sham. Norryn had been borrowing heavily, to offset losses from the collapse of the traders he had been using as sources for the imports, and to offset a run of bad luck with caravans being raided by bandits.

Bancohr used what little money he had at hand on a single, large spice shipment. In what was, quite possibly, the only stroke of good luck the family had had in over a decade, he did well from this in 995. However, ill fortune continued to shadow House Tydian's efforts, and Bancohr's next several ventures barely broke even. Time whittled away the profits.

Already in trouble again, he lost imported cargo at sea (spices, again), and some prized Ethengar horses were slaughtered in an unfortunate humanoid raid during transit. He is now at the end of his rope -- no cargo, little money, significant debt.

Notes: Norryn died of an apparent heart attack. However, given his debts and the possibility of losing what he did still have, it's possible that he committed suicide to get out from under whatever loans he had taken. It's also possible that the family still has something of significant value (the importance of which Bancohr is completely unaware), and most of the "misfortune" is an attempt to ruin the house to grab this item.

Bancohr himself (no surname given in the Gazetteer), at the end of his rope, is about to commit insurance fraud in an attempt to get just enough of a cushion to start rebuilding. See "Action on the Athenos", GAZ11, p.55.

(This is the basis of the opening adventure for my campaign.)
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Re: Merchant Houses of Darokin

Postby Chimpman » Tue Jan 26, 2010 8:40 pm

Lots of adventure potential here Bonetti! Thanks for sharing. Is Norren really dead? Is Banchohr really the last remaining Tydian (or does one of his cousins still survive)? Is there a curse on House Tydian?

I hope you keep us informed as to how this House develops.
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Re: Merchant Houses of Darokin

Postby Bonetti » Wed Jan 27, 2010 3:58 am

One of the things I've been sort of toying with is whether the Great Houses end up being Mafia types.

I mean, think about it. The entire Gazetteer is very "it's all sweetness and light and fluffy bunnies" about what, given human nature, should probably be a rapaciously robber-baron-esque laissez-faire plutocratic oligarchy. (Actually, it is a plutocratic oligarchy, it just calls itself a Republic. I think the fair but whitewashed form would be a representative plutocracy :-) )

The Gazetteer has nothing but positive things to say about the merchant class, and the bigger merchants run the place, purportedly welcoming any and all competition. Yet somehow, the houses on top of the heap have mostly always been on top of the heap. They have their fingers in everything from the ruling council to most of the businesses in their respective cities.

There's no way there's not a seamy underbelly to it all. I almost consider the Gazetteer to be unreliable in presentation (but not necessarily fact, if you read between the lines), due to the "the victor dictates history" effect.

Credit is the grease of commerce, in many ways, and since there doesn't seem to be a real banking system, I'm tempted to think of the great houses as having loan shark divisions. "Hey, yeah, Mr. Tydian. We're from da Linton House, and you owes us a bunch."

Actually, given that the Lintons have a near lock on sea trade (whereas there's coopetition in some of the other cities), I could really see them as being the most heavy-handed.

Hrm.

The Nine Families has such a nice ring to it...

;-)
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Re: Merchant Houses of Darokin

Postby Bonetti » Wed Jan 27, 2010 4:13 am

House Draconis

House Draconis was founded in AC 941 by Decentius Eburnus, a Thyatian immigrant. He named his trading company for his favorite beast, the dragon -- a sort of good luck charm, as it was the gold from a dragon's hoard which provided him with the cash to start a business.

His knowledge of the Empire's politics served him in good stead as he started with import/export trade in Athenos. In AC 964, his eldest son, Marius, started a second House Draconis trading center in Selenica to handle overland goods (originally primarily through Ylaruam, but these days also from Karameikos since Duke Stephan founded the Grand Duchy). His other two sons run the ever-growing Athenos side of things.

The current head of the house is Marius Eburnus in Selenica, although most day to day business is handled by his younger brother Fulvius, both in now in their 60s.

The third generation of Eburnus is ready to assume leadership, and the fourth generation is just now rising to positions of power within the house.

House Linton is keeping an eye on the rising star, to ensure their own position is not weakened. So far, they have been content to cooperate.
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Re: Merchant Houses of Darokin

Postby Bonetti » Thu Jan 28, 2010 7:10 am

The Woodhaven Conglomerate

Although this is not a "house" in the strictest familial sense, in AC 976 the loggers in the Marstrich Moor area have banded together for a stronger negotiating position. Although initially it was simply a collective action, it has grown into a business which controls both ends of the river the logs are shipped down -- the Birl Yard where logs are staged, and the receiving pool in Hellwych. Unable to buy the lumber mill already present in Hellwych, they've started construction on a rival mill -- a mill which will have exclusive rights to turn the logs into lumber once it is completed.

Although this group is not yet a national power, those interested in large quantities of lumber in southern Darokin pretty much need to deal with the Woodhaven Conglomerate.

So far, it is still under the guidance of the founder, Malcom Garuthos (who is nearing 60). He is expected to retire soon, and it remains to be seen whether his Merchant Guild-trained son Mortamyr takes the reins, or whether they are held by one of the prominent loggers (or even the mayor of Woodhaven or Hellwych) when that happens.
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Re: Merchant Houses of Darokin

Postby Bonetti » Thu Jan 28, 2010 7:51 am

Oh, sorry, Chimpman, I didn't respond.

I don't have answers to those questions... yet. My answers will depend entirely on the needs of the adventure (and the actions of the players) -- i.e. whatever makes it most interesting. If they feel pity for him and his situation, then there will be much intrigue revolving around the fallen fortunes of the house. If they bear witness against him and he is punished for his crimes, he will become an annoyance with a desire for revenge for spoiling his scheme. We'll see :-)

On to other thoughts:

I dug up a post on a few Darokin NPCs (from the Vaults). It references the heir of a shipping magnate, which implies the existence of a House d'Este (or House Este). One doubts a merchant could rise to the prominence of "magnate" without having a House... It also refers to a merchant named Varsho, although he may not have a House in any meaningful sense. (Some more Darokin NPCs, also by Jennifer Guerra. Incidentally, her thoughts on the darker undertones of Darokin are quite interesting as well, and perhaps mesh well with my own thoughts on the Nine Families version of Darokin.)

Completely unrelated, I was pondering foreign trade, too. Given that the Gazetteer suggests there are a decent number of guilds and more than a decent number of houses (of various sizes), one wonders if there might be "houses" which are set up by, say, the Alfheim clans (one per clan) to represent their trade interests (if any) in Darokin. That might also provide a fruitful avenue for fleshing out the merchanting scene...
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Re: Merchant Houses of Darokin

Postby Chimpman » Thu Jan 28, 2010 4:33 pm

Bonetti wrote:Oh, sorry, Chimpman, I didn't respond.

No problem. That was more just me thinking out loud at all the possibilities that might exist ;)

Bonetti wrote:I dug up a post on a few Darokin NPCs (from the Vaults). It references the heir of a shipping magnate, which implies the existence of a House d'Este (or House Este). One doubts a merchant could rise to the prominence of "magnate" without having a House... It also refers to a merchant named Varsho, although he may not have a House in any meaningful sense. (Some more Darokin NPCs, also by Jennifer Guerra. Incidentally, her thoughts on the darker undertones of Darokin are quite interesting as well, and perhaps mesh well with my own thoughts on the Nine Families version of Darokin.)

Jenn always had some good ideas floating around. If you're ever looking for an alternate twist on Ierendi (sans Fantasy Island) check out her re-write of the Ierendi Gaz. I find that much more to my liking than the original.
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Re: Merchant Houses of Darokin

Postby Bonetti » Sat Feb 06, 2010 2:55 am

House McAlleyn

Originally Klantyre, some of the MacAlleyns immigrated from Glantri to Darokin during the Flaem/settler war in the mid 780s. Keeping with their background as arms merchants in Glantri (and, possibly having helped fuel some of the conflict there), they promptly became arms merchants in the disputes among the kingdoms in their new home.

More than one MacAlleyn merchant was caught selling arms to both sides in the many wars, but the House always disowned such merchants. (However, the families of those so caught were cared for in the wake of such disclosures.)

The MacAlleyns eventually diversified, but even to this day they continue to be a major supplier to the Darokin military. A decent proportion of the arms and armor at every fort was procured from them.

Rumors persist that they may, once again, be double-dealing and selling arms to bandits and humanoids along the border. However, no one has caught them doing so, and the current MacAlleyn (Gordan MacAlleyn) has denied such allegations.

(Note: I would play this as a second tier House -- far enough down to not be in the running for the Great houses, but probably among the 25 or so richest houses in Darokin.)
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Re: Merchant Houses of Darokin

Postby Chimpman » Sat Feb 06, 2010 5:16 am

I like it Bonetti. Creating these minor houses really adds a lot to Darokin - and has the advantage of creating tons of new adventure potential.
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Re: Merchant Houses of Darokin

Postby Bonetti » Sat Feb 06, 2010 9:52 am

Thanks :-)

I've got a few more names to work up details for, and a little fleshing out to do on the ones I'll almost certainly be using.
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