Commerce, Technology, & Trade (Merika 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 in many places. 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. Only the Imperium clings to the old ways with any great fervor, firmly enforcing feudalism and fealty to the church amongst its citizens.
Mining & Drilling
The lands of Merika are undergoing a fierce industrial revolution as more and more scientific advances are rediscovered. Assembly line manufactured goods are driving the cost of many items down and making things previously considered luxuries available to more individuals. For many the standard of living is going up as wells as the ability to earn.
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 the Republic 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 sweat and blood is now done by steam engine chugging away.
In the Imperium steam engines tote coal and ore out of the mountains on rails, then distribute it across the nation. A passenger rail system ferrys citizens from Shining Mountain to Bastion in a day, a journey that used to take a week. The Church has 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.
On the battlefield the republic has never been able to compete with the the numbers or zeal of the Imperial Legions. Instead it has been their embrace of firearms that has allowed them to compete with the clerics and templars 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 Republic's Army as an exclusive contractor. It's said Governor 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 Imperial Battlewagons, or perhaps as elegant as a fine Gildenhammer rifle, the printing press has perhaps changed the society of the Republic 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: 100 Gold
Groats and Shields are the most commonly used coinage in The Imperium. Crowns are used by many well to do Eclesiarchs 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.
Imperial currency is sometimes looked upon with suspicion by foreign merchants. 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 the Republic will refuse Imperial 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 Imperial money into native coin.
- Linken: 1 Copper
- Buck: 1 Silver
- Eagle: 2 Gold
- Star: 50 Gold
The coins the Republic mints in New Dallas 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 Linken and Buck are both minted in silver. The Eagle and Stars are both minted of gold. The Star is actually a small trade bar stamped with it's weight and purity, and the Govenor's Seal. It is very common for a merchant to weigh a Star before accepting it as payment.
The Linken, Buck, and Eagle are all very intricately minted and hard to duplicate. In addition the details in the edges of the coin prevent shaving in most cases. Republic currency is usually accepted at face value by most merchants, even imperial merchants charging minimal fees to convert it into native currency.
For very large sums of money involved in large transactions the many 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. Forgery is common, but the Coldwater Alliance employs its own men in policing counterfiters.
The Cadians do not mint coins themselves. Most of the river 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 Pale 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 are willing 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. Republic coin is readily accepted by Pale merchants, Imperial coin is looked upon more dubiously since the metal is an alloy.
The blighter tribes and feral nomads do business almost exclusively in barter (when they are not stealing what they need) though some more civilized tribes acknowledge the worth of precious metals.