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Merchant Houses of Darokinby Mike Phillips
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.)
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.
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.
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.)