Merchant Halls & Accommodation
- 1 Merchant Halls & Accommodation
- 2 Merchant Guilds
- 3 Risk vs Reward
- 4 Risk mitigation
- 5 Maritime Insurance
- 6 Trade centres
- 7 Cargo or ship payment
- 8 Trade
- 9 Trade letters / Letters of Credit
- 10 Balance of trade
- 11 Cargos
- 12 Piracy
- 13 Q ships
- 14 Security & alerts
- 15 Ship movement
- 16 Ship armaments
Merchant Halls & Accommodation
Some merchants often can be heard to say I will pay my bill when my ship comes in...
This is my 10 cents worth about merchant shipping and how it works in civilised parts of Alusia.
Guilds education and ranks
Guilds were the driving force behind the education of the rising city-dwelling middle class.
Cities were inhabited by men free of feudal responsibilities (freemen) which meant that, for the first time, common men had the opportunity through their own faculties to be in control of their own fates and the fate of their children. If a family had enough money, they were able to ask a master craftsman to take on their child as an apprentice. The family would have to pay the master enough money to house, feed and clothe the child for 9 years. During these nine years, the child would do the master’s bidding and shadow him in his workshop, slowly learning about the craft. Apprentices had no easy life and in most cases had to do the most mind-numbing and filthy work – only those truly committed would manage to accumulate enough knowledge to reach the next rank of the guild and become Journeymen.
After several years of being an apprentice (and eating, in most cases, the scraps off the table,) the master of the workshop would anoint the pupil as a Journeyman of the guild. At this point, he officially became a member of the guild and he would have had limited access to the guilds resources and – most importantly – a fair wage. As a journeyman, he would continue working under his previous master. or any other master of his trade. During this time, if he so wished, he could begin work on his masterpiece. A masterpiece is an item of exquisite craftsmanship, detail and artistry, or a major innovation in the field of his craft. Once a journeyman had completed a masterpiece, he could submit it to the guild for approval. If he was successful, the Journeyman would then receive the rank of Master.
As a Master of the guild, the craftsman was now a fully fledged member. He enjoyed the benefits and, of course, he then held the right to found his own workshop, taking on his own apprentices. Very rarely, two masters would continue working together, forming a partnership. This kind of practice gave rise to the later corporations. Very commonly, children (natural or adopted) would follow their fathers, first apprenticing under them and then later working on alongside them. These kinds of family businesses are encountered nowadays as well, and are commonly seen in names like “John Cobbler & Sons”. In fact, this strong hereditary tradition and such monopolies would have a very important role in the dissolution of guilds in the 18th century.
Contrary to legends, most medieval guilds had no Grandmaster, nor an inner circle (see Freemasons). Most guilds worked in a very democratic way, with each full member holding equal vote to decisions. More formalised hierarchies began to make their appearance in guilds only much later on, when guilds became larger organizations which spanned many cities and formed complex networks.
Independent of the guild training of members a range of services are offered by guilds. These are in general wide ranging depending on local needs -
- Merchant Halls - the location that Merchants, Insurance groups & Bankers work from.
- Merchant Guilds - often hold exclusive charters to operate in a town, city, province, and sometimes exclusive trade routes etc. They offer services - accommodation, training, litigant services, charts, maps, mercenaries, crews, associations with port masters, finances, security - code books & crafters that use them, local knowledge, access to mages, stables, secure yards, some warehousing.
- Trade Consortium - A few people, families and guilds with aligned interests can pay a litigant to form a trade consortium, often with a clear aim (trade X to Y) and expiry date (over the next 18 months). Often these consortiums will then have associated shares & insurance.
- Bankers - They work with Merchant Guilds on letters of credit, they normally have protection etc
- Insurance Groups - Another form of trade. A group backs a consortium. Ships, Cargo, Crew & Passengers and Delivery contracts can all be insured august harm or lose or failure to deliver.
Risk vs Reward
Some independent merchants or families are successful traders. This is often of low cost and low profit. More often thought, given the costs & risks associated with shipping they are backed by some form of shipping or trade consortium. This is because most individuals do not want to take on the total cost of a large ship (cargo) in case of disaster.
Sailing under a strong flag is the first line of reducing risk. Water mages offer - ship strength in ports and the duration lasts many days, lower chance of sea monsters, lower chance of pirates etc. On board mercenaries including mages and marines. On board armaments. Weather Control also helps. (see Security below)
Ships, Cargo, Crew & Passengers and Delivery contracts can all be insured august harm or lose or failure to deliver. This can be done for a flat fee or percentage - options being resque, recovery etc.
So in general in large trade centres - main trade cities Merchant Guilds will often have a trading floor, where merchants will be able to purchase a % of a cargo, with expected returns and some known risk.
Cargo or ship payment
So to pay for any large cargo often many traders will come together and put the finance together to pay for the cargos, shipping and insurance.
When you have a ship, and you get a cargo and go from there to there and sell it for more than you paid for it. You then purchase a new cargo and return with it, often by way of a 3rd and 4th trade and port. Seldom do ships sail far empty. Seldom do ships carry large amounts of money, often using letters of trade to reduce risk.
Trade letters / Letters of Credit
This is normally done by way of trade letters and generally not coins. The trade letters which can be redeemed at any of the trading banks associated with each of the trade centers. Larger amounts will have seals, signatures, messages sent in advance, and can be checked with Whispering Winds.
Balance of trade
All depending on the balance of trade between two or more merchant guild halls the difference needs to be reconciled, balanced and the correct money needs to be delivered.
We pretty much are looking at cargo in quantity of tons, on the following ships are traders. Cargos 200 tons = 400,000 pounds = 4,000 bushels
Actions at Sea.
So when pirates capture or sink a ship (and cargo) it has knock on effects. It’s not just the ship’s captain and crew involved, it’s also specialist crew, navigators, water mages, and air mages & passengers. This is all before we haven’t even mentioned cargos, which will of course differ on any given voyage.
Q-ships are vessels that look like merchant ships often on merchant routes but are in fact military in nature to fight against piracy and the clearing houses they use, ports or coves that pirates are using etc.
Security & alerts
Advanced organisation makes all the difference. If an incident happens at sea then a Whispering Wind is often sent to a port. Codes - Pirates(1), Pirates with magic(2), Monsters(3), Bad weather(4), Storms(5), Running aground(6) etc.
Merchant vessels will get a name & code. Regular trade routes also will have merchant codes. For regular cargo trips, charts which have normal landmarks & additionally they have a grid reference down to mile. In addition with the use of spells a location can be checked for accuracy. Whispering Wind at lower ranks can tell the ship if they are out of range of a target, allowing for more accurate location, if checked often throughout a voyage.
Hidden special marks are often placed on cargos and other things of value. The marks are recorded in merchant guild code books. They are transcribed by a high ranked craftsman. Healers can hide, locate items under the skin of important merchant mages. Passengers can swallow a locate coin at the time of incident. These are all used for E&E location spell & recovery jobs.
Air Mages - Mage Wind spell
- Rank 10, A wind-driven object. Duration 11 hrs, Speed +11 mile per hour (+264 miles/day).
- Rank 20, A wind-driven object. Duration 21 hrs, Speed +21 mile per hour (+504 miles/day).
Water Mages - Mage Current spell
- Rank 10, 110’ range as a radius (220’ across). Duration 5.5 hrs Speed +15 mile per hour.
- Rank 20, 210’ range as a radius (420’ across). Duration 10.5 hrs Speed +25 mile per hour.
Water Mages - Ship Strength spell
- Rank 10, Duration 15 days, strengthen the structure of any ship.
- Rank 20, Duration 25 days, strengthen the structure of any ship.
Merchant ships carry only a few weapons mostly to deal with sea monsters and other predators.
Superior or Special Trebuchet & Ballista
Five whirlwind trebuchets can fire bombs or magical traps containers at other ships, which in turn either affect the ship or the crew. The Five whirlwind trebuchet fires five shots at once. ½ tone in weight.
Maximum range with wind 350 feet. Accurate range 250 feet.
Shots weight 5 lbs each.
6,500 sp per trebuchet.
Rate of fire is 5 shots every 25 seconds.
Traction trebuchet fire, bombs or magical traps containers at other ships, which in turn either affect the ship or the crew.
The Traction trebuchet fires a single shot. ¼ tone in weight.
Maximum range with wind 320 feet. Accurate range 250 feet.
Shots weight 5 lbs each.
1,500 sp per trebuchet.
Rate of fire is one shot every 20 seconds.
Ballista blades fire bombs or magical traps containers in the shape of spears at other ships, which in turn either affect the ship or the crew.
The Ballista blades fire a single shot. ¼ tone in weight.
Maximum range with wind 550 feet. Accurate range 400 feet.
Cold Iron tipped Spears weight 15 lbs each.
5,500 sp per ballista.
Rate of fire is one shot every 20 seconds.
Shots for - Trebuchet & Ballista - Spears, Bombs & Magical traps
Normal Catapults -
Firing missiles at other ships with catapults is common. Oil, iron bombs, methane and greek fire. Bamboo Catapults fire Oil, iron bombs, methane and greek fire at bottles and casks at other ships, which in turn either affect the ship or the crew. The Bamboo Catapults fire a single shot. ¼ tone in weight.
Maximum range with wind 350 feet. Accurate range 300 feet.
Bottles and casks as listed below.
1,500 sp per Catapults.
Rate of fire is one shot every 60 seconds.
Alchemist Fire bombs, Naphtha, Oil and Greek fire for - Trebuchet & Ballista.
Alchemist bomb and grenados.
Special - Magical traps / Spell containers & Bombs -
Spectral Warrior - to kill water mages, air mages, high profile targets.
Dispel Magic - to stop mage currents, mage wind.
Mage current - to change mage currents.
Wind Storm - to down crew.
Baine - to stop mages.
Cold Iron shot - to stop mages.