Author Topic: The Mercantile Guild  (Read 17575 times)

Offline Helios.

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The Mercantile Guild
« on: October 18, 2015, 03:47:12 pm »
so we have talked about all of the factions, except for the MG.
what we know: the mercantile guild came about after a plague struck the lands to the south, decimating the population and driving the pilots across the land to desperately find a cure for their country-men and -women. In their travels to find a cure they developed a large network of contacts, when the cure was found, they used these contacts to create a huge trade empire. they have outposts all over the world, and trade routes connecting presumably most if not every city.
they control territory to the south in an area called "the vastness" and their capital city is Vyshtorg. Their bird is the swan, their colors are gold and white. the Mobula is based on a Mercantile guild design, having a lot of storage space for transporting goods, good visibility for spotting ambushes, and LOTS of guns for fending them off. the railings are sophisticated but not ostentatious, as the wealth brought by the trade empire has not caused them to forget that their forefathers created the trade empire to rescue their people from plague, a plague which claimed the lives of too many of their citizens.
nowadays their trade empire spans across the world, but because of the ubiquitous dangerous from raiders of various kinds, they have a vast naval fleet to perform escort duties and protect their interests. they have been in some kind of conflict with the Yeshans for a while, although i think i remember someone from muse saying that the conflict had died down some or even completely these days, likely due to either territorial disputes along their mutual border in the south-west of the map or the arashi's continued attacks on MG convoys of goods through the arashi desert and the wastes (the arashi desert it stands to reason is conrolled by the arashi, and we know the desert nomads, who I'm presuming are the arashi, captured Nalm because of lusse's travels entry on battle on the dunes, so it stands to reason they control  the desert between nalm and the arashi desert itself as well, if only because no one else could live there even if the wanted to, which they don't. I would love to hear from muse if this is incorrect)
SO: this is some of what we know, and some of what I have guessed. we are going to pass out of the canon into my feelings on the MG. some of it is shards of canon sourrounded by my own embellishment, so some things might make you think 'no duh, we already know that from the faction feature article." Yes you might very well have done, read on, there's more.
i imagine that the mercantile guild traders are like the elite of any large trade city.  they are dressed impeccably (although because of the history of the MG, not ostentatiously.)    we know they can speak many languages and can make a passable job in local customs of various kinds, especially in areas with which they trade often. the merchant companies themselves, although from a tradition of selfless service to the national benefit, have followed the arc of history away from altruism towards self interest. while some social conventions that are nods to the more idealistic age are maintained, the merchants and their companies serve money: that which allows them to survive as a merchant, and to thrive as such. they are 'ruthless operators,' as we heard from the prologue video, who survive most likely because they value so highly their own survival (and by that I, of course, mean the stacks of gold seen in the same.) the mercantile guild acts with all the compassion of a epidemic, when they need to, ironically. the design of the mobula suggests something about their psychology: they are not at all squeamish about using violence. you would expect a ship designed to defend trade caravans or trade goods to be able to defend itself against attack in some kind of reactive way: guns on the sides and back, where danger might be lurking from a hiding foe. what we see is a ship that is designed with excellent sight lines, and is intended to sight, turn to face and engage fully, overwhelmingly any threat to the interests of the guild.
That is how i imagine them, chime in, how do you see them?

Offline Squidslinger Gilder

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Re: The Mercantile Guild
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2015, 04:35:59 pm »
These guys are money makers and movers, they'll be most influenced by that. Minimal government and a mafia family style organization. One family eventually gets on top and is the most influential. Government is little more than there to run local Guild halls and handle defense affairs. These are massive government buildings where each company has a voice and runs their affairs, also where customers can come and hire a company. This would make sure their work and private lives are kept more separate. You don't just show up at a family's doorstep looking to do business.

Corruption is very possible in this system and more likely than not happens. But to balance it there is sort of a code of ethics. If it is crossed, the offender is basically black listed by Mercantile society. So the trick is to get away with things and not get caught. I could see there being a time before ethics were instated where it was all out war between families. Kinda how I pegged the Aero3 story.

The military as I mentioned would be more for defense and border patrol activities. Funded by the Guild Halls and money donated. Perhaps even make it a pseudo militia where each town has a unit assigned to it. That would spread the leadership. Outside of the families, the highest form of power would likely be those running these units. Yet they could likely be bought and paid.

This would be a system where both the Arashi and Chaladon would find offense to. You could never really trust a merchant and each may have different goals or policies. One might be more charitable and another more cutthroat. Loyalty could be bought and sold.

Offline Helios.

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Re: The Mercantile Guild
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2015, 02:05:16 am »
         we don't really know how much solidarity there is between the various merchant houses, or even really how the merchants are organised, whether it is a large number of independent freelancers because the markets and or merchants themselves are too volatile or too xenophobic (or merchants too territorial) to share or be allowed to share,  small number of large organised (perhaps as suggested-hereditary) "ruthless operator" maybe  mafia-y companies, or if they all work for a centralized government.
       we DO know that they have people in almost EVERY major city, and they all owe allegiance somehow to Vyshtorg, but not how much that allegiance is worth, or how the network is protected, either by the individual companies or by the guild with the navy as a national asset.

Offline Squidslinger Gilder

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Re: The Mercantile Guild
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2015, 03:32:08 am »
Yeah they have operations everywhere so that would take a foreign policy that is very flexible and likely based on whatever family controls the route. Hence I'd assume they are very  minimal on government. But at the same time there has to be something that binds them enough where they'd be part of "The Guild."

Lot we can only guess based on how the other nations react to the Guild. We know Yesha likes them alright. Likely because Yesha has a lot of resources and industrial capacity. Hence they need a shipper. Chaladon doesn't directly hate them but doesn't like them much. We can assume based on Chaladonian dealings with the Arashi and their isolationist stance that they've been burned by the Guild in the past. Now if we look at Chaladon's enemies, we mainly have Anglea. Anglea is a bunch of tech nuts who raid people and are wild as you can get. If Chaladon is a more structured society and values order, they'd see Anglea as the bane of all things good.

So perhaps a Guild family did something reckless around those lines and it left a black mark in Chaladonian minds. I'd assume from that, that Chaladonians are the kind of people that don't quickly forget a wrong. Or at least are very wary. Now if we look at the Arashi who hate the Guild, there is a similar history. They are tribal and tribal governments don't forget offenses. Hence you'd have a common enemy between the Arashi and Chaladon.

That isn't to say there wouldn't be Guild branches in or close to those lands. Just maybe very limited as to which families do business. Hence foreign policy is dictated by the families.

If there wasn't something to bind Guild members. Some kind of code or ethics, then you'd have total mafia like war between them. Each fighting over routes and killing each other. So the question then comes down to, what binds the Guild together? If we consider that Yesha has "The Yeshan Way" which we can assume is some moral code or way of life, and it meshes well with the Guild, then we can assume there is a form of "Guild Way" that does something similar to keep the Guild bound.

Offline Helios.

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Re: The Mercantile Guild
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2015, 01:11:21 am »
        the mercantile guild is a government that is a conglomerate of merchant companies, they have a treaty which I've forgotten the name of, so it seems likely they pay some tithe to a centralized government, likely to pay for some kind of contract enforcement agency of some kind. also likely that these funds are also what fund the mercantile guilds naval ships that they use to escort and protect the trading convoys that are the life-blood of the nation from raiders (likely Arashi or Anglean attack, given their geography and philosophical predisposition.)
       I still don't know how the guild's actual merchants act, and who their allegiance is to. from the fluff their trade fleet begins because of an altruistic drive to find the cure for the disease ravaging their homeland. we have no way to know how much of that attitude still survives to the present day. depending on what the treaty says, and how much of that altruistic attitude survives to present day, the fleet could be the mafioso style you invision, or actual governmental agents of some kind, serving the interests of Vyshtorg. i guess we will have to wait till someone at muse gives us some hint as to what is in the treaty.

Offline Squidslinger Gilder

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Re: The Mercantile Guild
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2015, 06:19:35 am »
Kinda consider the fleet as serving the minimalist government. They have to have something to protect routes and borders since so much is dependent upon it. Maybe some kind of secret police in it as well to keep the peace between families.

Perhaps what happens is, to be considered a member of a local Guild hall, you have to invest into it. The investments go towards keeping the minimal government afloat as well as funding the fleets. If investment was purely privatized then you'd have full blown corruption where family would be paying off patrol ships left and right. If they intend to do business everywhere then along with a code of ethics they'd need some degree of oversight. Granted I think no matter what it still would happen. But a fleet like this would provide a place for people who aren't cut out for merchant business.

So power hierarchy would put the families in on top with the government either on par or under it. Those who can't cut it then protect those who can. Trickle down from there you'd have the local businesses and small startups vying to make it to the top.

The trouble comes in with how do they decide things. Is there elections? I'd imagine there wouldn't be. But lets assume there is a form of elder merchant system. Japan has a similar system. It doesn't really help and sometimes it hinders things, but people who retire from businesses often get an in road into public office. So imagine a similar system for the Guild. The former family leaders or those who retire and pass along the business to a heir then become the next government heads for a local region. Likely more than one. Perhaps at least one or more local civilian elders gets elected to provide a voice for the people, not just the companies.

Offline Helios.

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Re: The Mercantile Guild
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2015, 03:55:22 pm »
the origins of the merchant fleet were not for money and power though, so if you are right, wed have to explore that transition from an exploratory fleet centered around curing a plague (which they end up succeeding at) transitions, after the plague is cured, to the family buisness mafioso system you envision.  whatever the intentions of the fleet at its inception, we still dont know who it was that sent them, so it may not be a transition at all, it might have been the richest families to begin with that sent out the explorers.

that said, the fleet of ships to protect the web of marketplaces sounds more like the fleet that found the cure, while the merchants themselves might have to rely on the governmental fleet to protect them. if it were ME i woudl be very leery of huge corporations with private armies vying for control of the skies. the more successful the merchants become, the more dangerous they become (unless of course as i have suggested that the business of trading is so volatile that the individual merchant companies don't survive for ever, and will eventually get a run of bad luck and fall apart.) if the government maintains a strict ownership over teh military escorts on convoys it solves two problems as i see them:
1: what happened to the exploratory fleet? they are all very capable sailors and dealers, but they didn't ALL find the cure, and some are certainly more capable than wealthy, so what did they do as a society with these altruistic capable sailors? made them the navy of course to go to strange lands where brave polyglots would be uniquely able to do the job.
2: it helps the government stay in power! having the rich families have to rely on you to keep them safe creates the reliance on one another (what normal people call 'cooperation') and the specialization required for seamless trade across the world, and keeps the government (probably the heads of all the guild's merchant houses) is therefore invested in the safety of the merchandise, and the merchants invested in the guild. gotta pay your dues or the guild wont keep your ships safe, and if you dont pay, nobody will keep you safe, and the angleans or the arashi will pick you off faster than you can say 'all aboard for Nalm.'

Offline Squidslinger Gilder

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Re: The Mercantile Guild
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2015, 01:26:11 am »
Yeah it has to be volatile. I could foresee the good merchants as those who are deeply involved with other nations. Always one step ahead. Information trading would be huge because it could lead to the downfall of a merchant empire.

So lets consider a moment, a system like this. What limits expansion of a business and fosters such extreme situations? Likely I'm guessing Merchant dues which make you part of the establishment. Sort of like taxes except for the Guild you'd know better what your money is paying for. Hence, the Guild's navy. Now some money would need to go to local cities to help maintain and such.  So we can assume there would be limited government to handle that.

This might then create a system where the rich companies are the ones who benefit most from the fleet as they'll be paying to maintain it which means they'll get the first pick of defense contracts. But what of smaller merchants? I'd imagine they'd be more or less exempt from this system. A lack of taxes would allow them to flourish and grow up to challenge the larger companies. Which would earn their way into the exclusive club that literally runs the Guild. If they can make it, they'd get a seat at the table and be on the forefront of trading.

An idea would be, compare DHL with UPS. UPS would be the Guild member elite. The 800lb gorilla. DHL would be the smaller company that may do things a little better and cheaper but isn't a member company yet. If the economic ecosystem was open enough to encourage business then DHL would eventually become prominent enough where they wouldn't have to pay private security to escort shipments and could then enter the Guild member system.

At some point there has to be a cost analysis where you'd look at the price of doing business before membership and the price after. If price of security of a large company rises exponentially and Guild membership relegated that fee to a level pay system then you'd have a reason why you'd want to become the 800lb gorilla. You'd get not only a membership seat and privileges at trade summits, but you'd also get the strength of the Guild Navy backing you.

Kinda fun thinking about all the possibilities of how their system would work. In a way I'm glad Muse hasn't done anything with the lore. Course I've had to do this for the last couple years working on the VN and then Aerodrome. Tho I didn't have much to do with the Guild arc in the VN. I had to rework it and update it but most of my thoughts on the Guild's system stem now from working on Chaladon arc and from Aero 3.

Aero 3's back story is kind of an extreme situation where a powerful family decides it wants to dictate Guild policy as a whole that is bred from others attempting similar. Information trading is used to manipulate and stir up the smaller companies into a frenzy which brings about the Mercantile War. So the main Guild guy could either be a villain or a hero. Eventually for another event we'll see the end result and the community can decide if they want to support his methods, or side with the opposition. Hence I asked Byron about using Timmy's name for it and we brought in a TB member for the voice. Figured it'd be a nice role to cast him as. Then we shot that video that was used for both Aero 3 and Timmy 2.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2015, 01:29:52 am by Gilder Unfettered »

Offline Helios.

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Re: The Mercantile Guild
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2015, 01:51:49 am »
i tried catching up on the cantina stories but there is just way too much to get through to start at the beginning...

basically we know where they started, and have some idea of the people now through knowledge of their current government, sort of, and their culture, again sort of, because of their dress and the faction highlight.

im having a hard time squaring the merchant guild as mafiosos given how they dress and where they came from. its certainly possible that there are merchant families that weird tremendous power, but because of the origin of the fleet as a governmental group and the fact that we know they have a formal military of some kind, im thinking it might be like the navy in the age of sail, except more concerned with economic advantage and control than military advantage and control, ie. the fleet is a branch of the governmental armed services. you'd enlist to be a merchant sailor, your money would be split between the merchant guild that runs the fleets and the captains and crews keep some of course, as they did for capturing prices in teh Royal navy. this woudl allow for the extraordinary wealth of the merchant captains as we know exists, as well as a cohesive military, especially one that could maintain a grueling war with the arashi for years. if the trading fleets were privatized, they wouldn't bother fighting the arashi, there's no percentage in fighting hardened targets when there are markets in cathedral.

Offline Squidslinger Gilder

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Re: The Mercantile Guild
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2015, 03:33:42 am »
Even if we tie them in with say a...East India Trading company sort of setup. There would still be families with power.

War with the Arashi seems to come and go. From all I remember that Muse talked about, there was a lot of peaceful and war times. Generally Arashi get kept at bay by both the Guild and Yesha. I think how it happens is Arashi politics is entirely dependent on the ruling tribe in power. Tribal governments do not forget offenses but there can be moderates within them. Suppose a hardliner comes to power and decides to launch a massive attack on the trade routes, he's dealt with and then a moderate comes to power who is more open to talking to the Guild.

But we gotta ask the question, where does the Arashi get aide from when in peacetime. Chaladon can only supply so much. So what if main aide would be going to Alleron and the central cities, but outlining tribes would only get trickled down resources. They'd be more apt to then go raiding to make ends meet. Which would start a cycle of them gathering allies, challenging Alleron which gets lazy, and taking over. Which in turn starts another war path.

Personally I have a theory that the border between the Guild and Arashi is made up more of moderates who are willing to trade with some tribes, then in wartime they act as an early warning/buffer for the Guild. In fact if you look on the original map, there is an unmarked travel point within a giant crater that is very strategically placed. I dunno if Muse omitted it for a reason or just hadn't decided yet but I kinda like to think of that as a frontline staging area. If the depression was low enough and the walls high enough, it would be a great natural boundary. Just sit some defensive cannons up on the cliffs and done. Which could be why the Arashi haven't made major progress towards obliterating the Guild during a war event. If there was a major frontline base there, it would have to be taken first. Doubt they could siege it because one it would be big enough to have plenty of interior supplies, and two, the Arashi wouldn't have the resources to expend on taking it.

I can only back up the theory of a buffer region by looking at the city names. There is a stark contrast between interior Guild names and the border names. The area near the Arashi is clearly Japanese in naming. Originally Muse mentioned something about this that the Arashi desert was named by the Guild, but the Guild is a giant melting pot so suppose it was named by a Japanese style culture group that is part of the Guild but set up their own mini Guild within the Guild that borders the Arashi. If they were moderates it would explain why the Arashi kept the name and didn't go with a more traditional or local name.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2015, 03:37:44 am by Gilder Unfettered »

Offline Helios.

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Re: The Mercantile Guild
« Reply #10 on: November 12, 2015, 03:41:53 pm »
the arashi can sustain a war because they are inherantly scavengers by nature, whatever teh war was about you can bet that he arashi sold all the wrecked ship parts and the dead soldiers gear. they are sustained by two aspects: firstly that there is a lot of old tech lying in the desert for one reason or another, and so they are similar to the angleans in that their technology is based on adapting and reverse engineering the ancient tech, and as such they have pretty fantastic technology. secondly, the arashi can always find NEW wrecks worth salvaging, ships destroyed and cargo spilled on the dunes by natural causes or attack by ambush...
as for essential supplies that cant be found in the desert, namely food most likely, they can trade for it legitimately, selling the srap and pillaged goods from the MG to have enough cash to buy food and supplementary water
i sort of want to steer this back to the MG, as there is a discussion of arashi culture and tactics elsewhere.

as for the fine points of the dispute between teh league and the guild, i always assumed that the arashi were harrying the guildsmen's trade routes. theres nothing to be gained form conquering large swathes of desert (unless the oases that the arashi cities are centered around are rare enough that the guildsmen who also live in a ashen plain might covet, although they travel enough that i cant imagine they couldnt find water somewhere not surrounded by hardened desert dwellers.) so unles teh arashi wanted big swathes of stinking fetid ash wastes, i have to assume there are caravans or convoys passing over the deserts that the desert people were attacking, causing the guild to decide to put an end to their aggression once and for all, and attacked them, out of self defense, of course ;)

Offline Squidslinger Gilder

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Re: The Mercantile Guild
« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2015, 06:38:10 pm »
Well we don't know if there was something in the desert that is of value. We know Chaladon does business with the Arashi and uses the Arashi lands for testing tech. Since Chaladon hates Anglea for it's abuse of technology, we can assume that the Arashi do not seek the same. They don't have the old world zealotry that Anglea has. Perhaps Chaladon wants to avert a catastrophe that befell the old world and the Arashi are like minded so they let Chaladon handle dangerous tech.

I think somewhere it is noted that the Arashi and Guild were more one at one point. Then the split happened. So lets say that Guild lands were at one time much larger and it encompassed three cultures. If Vyshtorg became very prominent and was making policy that was out of touch with the others then perhaps this is where the break came. We know they don't like the Guild's oppulence or their ways. So possibly it was a big political move as the cultures diverged.

The Arashi would have more to gain from taking Guild lands than the Guild taking Arashi lands. Only reason the Guild would want to is to secure the routes. Which might again change based on who is ruling the Arashi. For that reason, I'd say the Guild must have either a fortress or some well defended base in the south to keep the Arashi from committing.

Offline Helios.

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Re: The Mercantile Guild
« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2015, 12:58:15 am »
i feel like ive done a fair bit of back research, and have no idea where you decided that chaledon and the arashi were once one nation, given that chaledon is an island across the whole map, and famous for being isolated during the catastrophe, so much so they didnt even realize there had BEEN a catastrophe.
as for the trading dangerous tech, the chaledonians have lots of natural resources, but not a lot of ancient tech, as such have created a lot of NEW tech, stuff they actually understand, so i dont imagine they woudl want potentially catastrophic ancient tech from the arashi league.

Offline Squidslinger Gilder

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Re: The Mercantile Guild
« Reply #13 on: November 14, 2015, 01:57:01 am »
Never said Chaladon and Arashi. Dunno where you got that. Was talking about Guild and Arashi.

Remember Chaladon has some biotech. Very big on medical tech too. Why the Guild doesn't like them because Chaladon won't let that tech out. They aren't country bumpkins. I'd assume they do buy a lot from the Arashi tho. But I do know for certain that Chaladon doesn't get along with Anglea and I remember reading it somewhere that it was because they abuse technology.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2015, 02:00:17 am by Gilder Unfettered »

Offline Helios.

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Re: The Mercantile Guild
« Reply #14 on: November 14, 2015, 07:44:43 pm »
my feelings about that conflict is something like a juxtaposotion between making something for yourself, and stealing it from someone else. also in the lusse's travels entry for anglean raiders, it says that the chaladonians have offered (for no clear reason other than 'peace' but who really beleives that...) have offered protection to the villagers of Hanat against raids from the angelans.

in that respect, the guild are "both" they would be happy to create a cutting edge technology EVERYONE would be willing to buy for a LOT, they would love that, but also willing to buy something on the cheap in cathedral and sell it for a lot in Nalm. that said part of their infrastructure is having a navy powerful enough to protect, as much as it is economical, their trade fleets.
im imagineing from waht i know of the various nations what sorts of trade goods the MG would be interested in, please jump in anyone if you think of somethign i didnt, or disagree on any point. here goes

Order of Chaledon:
as you mentioned the chaledonians have some measure of biotech, i am uncelar however if it is genuinely sweet advanced gene manipulation or just sophisticated husbandry and unique and very useful breeds of normal-ish animals or even animals that have survived there in the seemingly undisturbed natural landscape of the former world that have gone extinct and therefore are unknown in the rest of the world. the exotic or bizarre animals would OBVIOUSLY delight the rarefied sensibilities of a merchant lord, and as such we'd imagine the upper echelons would want them. also depending on what kinds of medicinal or biological marvels could be traded for (just because chaledon doesn't want it to get out or doesn't offer it OPENLY doesn't mean there wouldn't be a contraband market the guildsmen would be part of.)

Anglean Republic:
having the most advanced weapons would mean they would be able to use fewer vessels to protect their trade routes, so a certain amount of either original r&d or buying blueprints from other nations. presumably the Angleans who would pay a LOT for raw materials, which they are perpetually short of, but and have a lot of super sweet tech for sale,

Arashi League:
Despite years of intermittent conflict, the arashi who have similarly sweet tech from examining salvaged old world vessels that have crashed in the desert, but have their own serious natural resource issues, but in food and water, rather than ship-making materials, which they have a lot of because of the constant influx of wrecks in the desert. as such, a courageous merchant trader might be tempted to bring water and food to an arashi city to made a tidy profit.

Fjord Baronies:
Fish i guess? the fjordlanders basic governmental makeup suggests to me that there are lords and nobility of various means who woudl also be interested in luxury goods as well. the baronies in the past had been largely agricultural, and given that the area is relatively green, it might easily be that they are big on the food exporting business. other than that we dont really know much about them, they also have large cities and forests and mountains, so they might be fairly well off for natural resources. given that baronies are GENERALLY fairly self sufficient, or else the lord wouldn't hold the political and economic autonomy that they must to maintain his barony. it might be that the merchantile guild there woudl be more like traders of general goods. exporting raw materials: wool, wood, ore, etc, and importing finished items: textiles, metals and other finished products of all varieties that  city folk and craftsmen would want.

Yesha: Like the baronies i imagine the trade going in and out of yesha would be nuanced in terms of playing the markets than the angleans or the arashi who have unavoidable and serious resource needs. the yesha would probably be importing and exporting luxury goods of many kinds, along with a variety of manufactured goods, and given that they control the flayed hills, probably iron and apparently water come out of that region.

SOOOO, who knows if jess will show up and be like... that's not like that at ALL, but till then, lets have some fun!