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Alphatian Trade Informationby James Ruhland
The following updates various information that will be valuable for commerce and trade within Alphatia (pre-Wrath). All information is described to be compatible with the trade rules in the Minrothad and Darokin Gazetteers. For Alphatian communities it is often valuable to differentiate between port capacity (ships in harbour) and the City's trade Classification (size of potential transactions). For example, Sundsvall has rather small harbour facilities, but does have a huge amount of goods available for trade.
Alphatia is not known for its enterprising, mercantile spirit. While its economy is strong, that economy is based on magic and the exploitation of labour of the slave and servant classes, not on trade. Alphatian tradesmen can be prominent, valued members of the community, especially insofar as they ingratiate themselves with the magocratic ruling class (becoming a sort of factotum). This works best for craftsmen in particular towns or cities, who are able to maintain a long, beneficial relationship with the local rulers. Actual merchants of the caravan and shipping trades are marginalised members of the gentry, neither seen nor heard by the spellcasting elite (since they deal primarily with other members of the gentry, not with the aristocracy). As such, they do not have nearly the status of their counterparts in Karameikos or Thyatis, much less Darokin or Minrothad. But this makes the life of a trader ideal for adventurers who want to maintain a low profile (they'll be ignored almost as if they were invisible by the powerful).
Furthermore, Alphatians tend to adopt aloof and arrogant towards non-Alphatian peoples and places, and thus are not very enterprising on the whole. While the Alphatians will condescend to accept their wares if the Barbarians bring them to Alphatian harbours, and permit the Barbarians to buy Alphatian goods (if the barbarians are sufficiently humble), the idea of going to some filthy foreign port and actually seeking out the goods of these rustics is beneath the dignity of an Alphatian.
All this, the lower (and almost disreputable) status of mercantile traders, and the attitude of Alphatians towards foreigners, keeps Alphatian traders proportionally small in numbers compared to their counterparts in foreign lands. Alphatian traders tend to come from marginal areas of the Empire (free Jennites, Dunadalers) and peoples (former slaves). This also means that a large number of non-Alphatian traders (foreign barbarians) trade in Alphatian areas (Minrothaders, Mineans who are not, or even ones who are sometimes pirates, and even Thyatians: the war of the Spike Assault started over a matter of trade).
This is not to say the Alphatian traders are not as cunning and skilful as their foreign counterparts. It would be more accurate to say that they are insufficiently numerous to fully serve Alphatia's trading needs. Still, all things in Alphatia are of such a magnitude that the number of Alphatian's involved in transportation (caravan and sea) trade easily outnumber the combined total of Darokinian and Minrothaddan merchants. But clearly they lack the wealth and influence, in addition to the prominence, of the traders in noted merchant-states.
This has led to a rough, informal division of labour. Foreign barbarians carry on the majority of the interface trade, bringing their rough goods from their rustic nations for sale in Alphatia's ports and then buying Alphatian goods for export beyond the pristine borders of the Alphatian Empire. Native Alphatian tradesmen conduct most of Alphatia's internal trade, transporting goods from one Alphatian community to another, rarely leaving the confines of the magical Empire.
Another note: in Alphatia, the rulers are most often concerned (meaning interested) in improving their community's aesthetic appearance, or improving the realm's defences by financing fortifications enchanted to move around on large rollers. Infrastructure for merchants, especially foreign barbarians and even Alphatian gutter trash (non-spellcasters) takes a back seat to this. Which means many Alphatian harbours (except the skyship and naval bases) tend to be poorly maintained. This enhances the tendency for Alphatian ports to have two Classifications, one for harbour size (usually smaller than might be expected), and another for cargo/transaction size (which can be quite large, considering the productivity of Alphatia's economy). Again, the huge scale of activity within Alphatia means that even though individual towns (and even some cities) may have smaller harbour facilities than their counterparts elsewhere in the world, the aggregate total of Alphatia's port capacity (in Hull Points) dwarfs that of any other nation.
The above was necessary because it will provide some of the assumptions I will use regarding Alphatian commercial centres. This will also mean that the outcome may differ from what others have suggested regarding Alphatian ports (notably the Alphatian portion of the recent "Port Capacities" post, which can be found at Stan's site for reference and comparison at:
Note also that those who are interested in providing suggested information regarding port size, transaction classification, and trade information for various Alphatian ports are welcome to send them to me. This includes, but is not limited to, people who are writing Gazetteers for various Alphatian kingdoms and who have ideas as to what goods would be imported and exported from the various cities and towns.)
Below is the first set of Alphatian cities, detailed for use with the trading rules found in the Minrothad and Darokin Gazetteers. I decided to describe them both pre- and post-Wrath of the Immortals. An interesting pattern emerged, whereby it became apparent that many of these cities (and not just the Aasla and Sundsvall) would be going through a period of economic hardship and adjustment. Since these are coastal communities which relied upon the sea for both trade and sometimes for trade goods (fish, ivory), and for their purpose (Eagret notably), this is understandably. Cities and towns in the Alphatian interior would likely show no such difficulty. It is only the periphery/rim of the continent which evidences this.
LIKELY ULTIMATE OUTCOME: Over time, predict a movement of the centre of Alphatia's population away from the rim of the continent, and into the interior (especially along rivers, however). The new capital rising at Jafilia, near the centre of the floating continent, is the first concrete sign of this occurring.
Community Classification Goods Notes Aasla (400,000) (Pre-WotI) A (15,000 HP) A (Transactions) Gems -5, Spice -5, Glassware -2, Ivory -2, Common Metal -2 Fish +4, Monsters +5, Rare Books +5, Precious Metals +6, Silk +5 Main Alphatian export/import harbour, known for its artists, open to outsiders (relatively). Aasla (20,000) (Post-WotI) C (5,000 HP) C (Transactions) Common Metal -2, Glassware -2 Grain and Vegetables +3, Meat +3 Destitute scavengers and impoverished survivors of the city's destruction. Anyone able to has moved elsewhere. Sundsvall (500,000) (Pre-WotI) C (5,000 HP) A (Transactions) (spider) silk -4, rare books -4, Porcelain -4 Animals (slaves) +5, Precious Metals +4, Spices +4, Monsters +3 Capital of the Alphatian Empire, centre of Alphatian learning and magic. Sundsvall (50,000) (Post-WotI) C (5,000 HP) C (Transactions) rare books -2, Common metals -2 (scrap), Grain and Vegetables +3, Meat +3 Survivalist community scavenging amid the ruins. Monsters released from bonds (sometimes magical Wards), escaped slaves and other dissidents occupy large sections of the devastated city, making it one of the more dangerous areas on the floating continent (second to Blackheart, and for non-spellcasters Bluenose. Possibly the most dangerous area for known spellcasters). Draco (550,000) (Pre-Wrath) A (15,000 HP) A (Transactions) Weapons & Tools -3, Armour -3, Fish -3, Ivory -3 Mounts +4, Common Metals +3, Beer & Ale +3 Largest Alphatian City. No prejudice against non-mages (thus ignored by most Alphatiaphiles). Prominent warrior and mercantile community. Ivory from whalers. Draco (550,000) (Pre-Wrath) C (5,000 HP) A (Transactions) Weapons & Tools -3, Armour -3 Mounts +4, Common Metals +3, Beer & Ale +3 Largest Alphatian City. No prejudice against non-mages. Prominent warrior and mercantile community. Harbour capacity lowered because of lack of ocean or river access (floating continent) leading to port decay. Only ships now docking are of the flying variety, and they are few. Eagret (100,000) (Pre-WotI) B (10,000 HP) B (Transactions) Salt -4, Dye & Pigments -3 Common Wood +4, Cloth +4 Main Alphatian Naval base dominates most of harbour. Eagret (100,000) (Post-WotI) C (5,000 HP) B (Transactions) Grain & Vegetables -2, Cloth +2 Economy suffering badly now that seagoing navy and oceanic ship construction is obsolete. Trollhattan (40,000) (Pre and post-WotI) E (1,000 HP) D (Transactions) Monsters -3, Common Metals -3 Weapons & Tools +4, Hides & Furs +3, Animals (fresh) +3 City of "monsters", atmosphere of "frontier justice" (though not as extreme as found in Bluenose). Bluenose (50,000) (Pre and post-WotI) C (5,000 HP) B (Transactions) Rare Books -3, Wine & spirits +4, Tea +3, Precious Wood +4, Rare Furs +4 Community of arrogant snobs, merchants are advised to confine their activities to the harbour and not deal with the dangerously sociopathic nobles. Denwarf-Hurgon (30,000) (Pre and post-WotI) X (no port) C (Transactions) Weapons & Tools -4, Armour -4, Common metals -3, Grain & Vegetables +3, Beer & Ale +3 Most industrious community in Alphatia, most skilled craftsmen in the continent.