Commerce, Technology, & Trade (Herregor Supplement)
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Technology and learning in general are more advanced in this setting than in most standard D&D campaigns. In general, a few things to keep in mind concerning the flavor of the civilized nations of Southern Herregor are listed below:
- More people are literate. Only the most isolated folks are truly illiterate in this setting, though few can read and right at the level we are accustomed to in our modern world. Most folks know how to write their own names, they understand simple words, and can puzzle through a small bit of text the way your average 3rd grader today could.
- Science as a philosophy is embraced. People pride themselves on their learning. Academics are a sign of wealth, as only the wealthy can afford to see their children off to anything beyond basic schooling. Magic is an accepted part of life, and often feared, but people are likely to approach things in a logical, as opposed to superstitious, fashion.
- Medicine is practiced. Pseudo-magical herbalism has been set aside and actual medicine is once again being practiced in spite of, and along side, magical remedy. Anatomy is understood to an extent, learned individuals understand the significant threat stemming from infection, and simple surgery is common (stiching wounds, lancing boils, excising tumors). The first real medicines are are being produced (though there are many snake oil salesman about) and advances are made all the time.
- The Bourgeoisie are the new noble class. The headlong run towards scientific enlightenment has lead to the decline of the noble class. Noble title still exists, but many of those have been purchased. Money commands more respect than noble birth, and the proliferation of currency has severed the ties between the peasant and the land. Capitalism is the new king and savvy monarchs understand this. Democracy is slowly on the rise, and in many places elected officials are slowly replacing appointed lords.
Mining & Drilling
The pursuit of both coal and oil have had a strange effect on the technology of modern Herregor. The pursuit of these two substances have spurred constant refinement and innovation of the devices they fuel. The dwarves of Bottengard would not have seen such a constant need to refine the steam engine had they not needed in to keep their mines dry as they delved deeper and deeper into the mines dotting the land around the Nottendeep.
For the men of Arad, it was the tight fist the dwarves held on the coal trade that spurred them to experiment with and refine the black substance they now pump from the ground with their great diesel engines. Though the technology is still very new, and not nearly as widespread and trusted as that which is produced by the dwarven masters of steam, petrol has recently given mankind a leg up in the never ending race of technological superiority.
The downsides to this push towards mechanization is the impact that they have had upon the environments around the great industrial centers. Fishing in the Nottendeep is not as fruitful as it once was, few have made the connection that the black smoke that belches into the sky above Oslo, or the runoff from its great smelting operations might be having an effect.
In Arad the impact is very similar, Blackston got its name from the tar that seems to coat everything in the fields, and the byproducts of the primitive refining processes in the area is weakening the health of both the young and the old that dwell there.
Steam & Diesel Mechanization
Though the price of new technology seems to be high, the rewards are rich. Much of the work that was once done by pure blood and sweat is now done by steam engine chugging away.
In Bottengard steam engines tote coal and ore out of the mountains on rails, then distribute it across the small nation. A passenger rail system is currently in the works as well. As stated before great pumps help keep the dwarven mines from flooding, and a system of huge mechanical locks allow river traders access to the Nottendeep coming and going.
The dwarves have also perfected a number of mechanical devices to aid them in warfare. Chief amongst these are the massive battle engines, variations of their rail cars designed for use without a rail and armored for the battlefield.
The Kingdom of Arad has made use of dwarven innovations in steam, and made a few of their own, but their progress has always been limited by the amount of coal they could scratch out of the dirt in the hills, or could be purchased from their Northern neighbors. In the last decade that has changed with the innovation brought on by oil and the internal combustion engine.
This new technology has proven to be more powerful than their steam counterparts, but also less reliable and more dangerous. As alloy and metallurgy advances catch up to this new technology this will change, it's only a matter of time.
On the battlefield they have never been able to compete with the sheer impervious nature of dwarven armor. Instead it has been their embrace of firearms that has allowed them to compete with the stout folk on the battlefield. In particular the influential firearms company of Gildenhammer LTD. has recently made innovations that places the quality and reliability of their firearms leaps and bounds beyond most competitors. They manufacture a large selection of artillery and other weapons of war for the crown of Arad. It's said King Herrod has a large interest in the company, and may even be a majority shareholder in the fledgling corporation.
The Printing Press
Though not as flashy as the Bottengard Battlewagons, or perhaps as elegant as a fine Gildenhammer rifle, the printing press has perhaps changed the society of Southern Herregor more than any other invention.
Books, once the purview of only the most wealthy or learned individuals due to the cost of scribes and hand illumination, are now readily available thanks to the movable type press. Information has become available to most folks, and literacy is now at an all time high. The press has also spawned another important innovation besides books, the newspaper.
- Groat: 1 Copper
- Shield: 1 Silver
- Crown: 1 Gold
- Scepter: 10 Gold
- Tower: 1 Platinum
Groats and Shields are the most commonly used coinage in Arad. Crowns are used by many well to do adventurers and merchants. Scepters are large triangular gold coins that are are uncommon, but sometimes used for large ticket items. One must be careful before flashing too much loose coinage around to ward off visits from tax collectors and thieves.
Towers exist mostly as a term for large sums of gold, as opposed to an actual coin (such as referring to a bag of 100 gold coins as a tower). Actual Towers are small, square plates of platinum used for major transactions between trading houses and banks. They are rarely circulated for any other use.
Most neighboring nations will accept coins minted in Arad with little trouble. There is occasionally trouble with counterfeiting, but the most prevalent form of abuse is shaving. The edges of the coins are shaved down and the metal filing melted together and sold as ingots. In response to this newer coins are minted from alloys.
Many merchants in Bottengard will refuse Aradian coins for this reason, as their money system is more about the precious metal content and less the value assigned to the coin by the government. They often charge a fee of 10 - 30% to change Aradian money into native coin.
- Linger: 1 Copper
- Kalger: 1 Silver
- Koping: 2 Gold
- Skellgot: 50 Gold
The coins the dwarves mint in Bottengard are all made of gold or silver. The denominations are set mostly by size and weight of the metal contained within. It is considered perfectly fine for a jeweler to melt down coins for use in his craft, and officially produced coins are guaranteed to be of very fine quality.
The Linger and Kalger are both minted in silver. The Koping and Skellgot are both minted of gold. The Skellgot is actually a small trade bar stamped with it's weight and purity, and the seal of the ruling clan. It is very common for a merchant to weigh a Skellgot before accepting it as payment.
The Linger, Kalger, and Koping are all very intricately minted and hard to duplicate. In addition the details in the edges of the coin prevent shaving in most cases. Bottengard currency is usually accepted at face value by most merchants.
For very large sums of money involved in large transactions the Dwarves and many other merchants use gold trade bars produced by Coldwater Banking Alliance licensed metallurgists. These bars have a value assigned by weight and purity, and are stamped with a denomination and the specific statistics by the individual producing the bars, along with the maker's license number. A license number only guarantees purity. Weight must be confirmed by a wary merchant.
The halflings do not mint coins themselves. Most of the small merchants make use of coins minted by their customers as well as trade bars. They prefer barter amongst themselves and also make extensive use of promissory notes when goods change hands and payment is not immediately remitted.
The Tieflings of Turath Nor make very little use of minted coin, instead dealing mostly in ingots of precious metal. An item's worth is given in "goldweight", literally the weight of gold they will accept for an item. Most professional merchants have a very trained eye when dealing with precious metals and gems, and will accept anything of similar value and portable nature. Dwarven coin is readily accepted by tiefling merchants, Aradian coin is looked upon more dubiously since the metal is an alloy.
The dragonborn have lacked a true nation of their own until very recently, so they usually do business in the coin of the land in which they live. They have not begun to mint coins within their newly formed nation, instead relying upon barter and borrowed coin.