Commerce in Sundown
by T.A. Saunders ©2009 v1.1
How Trade and Commerce Work in Sundown
Before Sundown was liberated, because of its relative approximation to the Sovereignty of Anthalas and the general distaste for anything from Windsong by the ruling regime, Sundown did not mint her own coins, but rather accepted the Shar’Vaire and Quar’Vess gold T’ah. Sometimes the Windsong-minted gold Keshra were also accepted (depending on who you’re dealing with) as well as any copper, silver or in the rare case platinum denominations of each. Even coins from foreign land are taken at a reduction of worth: if it can be melted down and made into something more valuable (or counterfeit) it’ll pass for currency.
With the city’s liberation from the vampires and their inclusion into the Windsong Republic, much of this has changed however. Sundown now must observe the Windsong Keshra gold standard as the preferred monetary system, though much haggling and bartering still does occur. The T’ah is still recognized, but taken at a slightly lesser value than the gold of the Republic.
The conversion standard for each coin is as follows:
Sovereignty of Anthalas/Farwind T’ah Standard
40 copper = 1 silver
30 silver =1 gold
20 gold = 1 platinum
The Republic of Windsong Keshra Standard
30 copper = 1 silver
20 silver = 1 gold
10 gold = 1 platinum
Bartering and trading for items has always been very common. It is not unheard of to give away one’s best cow for a night at the brothel or the deed to one’s land to pay off a gambling debt. In one remarkable case, a man traded his daughter, three swine and a warhorse to lay claim to a piece of real estate within the city to build upon.
All legitimate businesses register with the Merchant Guild in the Financial District. The Merchant Guild handles business practice disputes, quality of service disputes and fair trade disputes. Individuals can also go to the Merchant Guild to find specialists in a particular field or craft and have the guild masters arrange for such services to be rendered. Finally most training in vocations where a mentor could be sought can be handled through the Merchant Guild. In this fashion, a person looking to further his studies in swordsmanship could go to the Guild, find somebody who will train him at a reasonable price and make the arrangements.
Private sales of items and goods need not travel through the Merchant Guild. However, even the common street peddler is expected to register with the Merchant Guild. Since the fees for conducting business, taxes for goods and services and shipping processing fees are all handled by the Guild, those evading paying the fees and dues to do business in Sundown will be set upon rather harshly.
The Underbelly of Sundown’s Business
The Merchant Guild does not have its hands in everything however. Sundown’s black market has still managed to thrive despite the overthrowing of the vampire regime and the pressing in of the Shadow Hunters as the city’s law enforcement. While the corruption is being fought where it can, Sundown’s black market rivals Tashran’s thanks to unchecked fencing and soliciting of illegal and dangerous items by brigands, thieves and pirates.
Slavery is a particularly gray area for Sundown. While not illegal, the Merchant Guild had traditionally not processed applications for opening slave houses in the city. As such, many open on their own in the Old City in particular where they tend to remain out of notice and out of reach of the law (such as it is). Slaves are bought and sold with only as much consideration as the slavers involved give their slaves and their clients.
Other black market transactions are not so fortunate as to enjoy such anonymity, though this does little to keep them from thriving. Contraband weapons are particularly profitable in Sundown, with owning any kind of Witchfire Wand or any form of Witchfire Crossbow beyond a hand-held type being considered illegal. Bane Weapons are another popular item on the black market in Sundown, giving availability to rare items that otherwise would be nearly impossible to find in any other civilized city on Imarel.
The trade of various herbs in Sundown is also considered illegal, though has gone on with rampant disregard until recently. As with slavery, most of these contraband herbs are sold in the Old City, sometimes in the Wharf District to travelers and sailors coming off the inbound ships. The most popular ones presently are thistleweed, jukurai and the ever-traditional opium.
Thistleweed is a medicinal pain killer many witches and healers across Imarel administer to patients with grievous injuries. However, when properly cultivated, it can be smoked to create a euphoric and sensation-deadened state. The effects are moderate and only last a few hours. Jukuarai, or simply juka is actually a toxic plant assassins are known to use in concentrated form to cause paralysis. In a diluted form, juka is a reasonably potent hallucinogen. People under the effect of jukuarai are oblivious to pain and often are also oblivious to sense and reason as well.
Opportunities in and Around Sundown
Individuals looking to make gold in Sundown do not have to look far. The docks are always a busy place for shipping, dock work and the port authority. With the city growing larger by the day, the need for various sorts of shops is in increasing demand, as well as the need for people to work in those shops. Overall, merchant activity is booming in Sundown right now and those looking to get their business started will find an opportunity with risks in this city.
With risk of course implies an understanding that the city’s law enforcement is presently hard pressed, due to the previous regime’s lax approach to it. Most of the citizenry has accepted this fact and has either armed themselves or hired protection to take care of keeping their establishments safe. Those willing to brave the criminal element of Sundown have found their profitability generally well-worth the risk of living in the city.
People less inclined to mundane forms of gold-making can enlist mercenary services with the City of Sundown. Doing so will allow the mercenary in question access to various missions for the city and a mercenary tour of duty alongside the Sundown Regulars.
Many local trading companies are also looking for hireswords to protect caravans traveling by land or to protect sailing ships from pirates. Occasionally the opportunity to serve as a guard aboard a merchant airship arises as well, but piracy against such vessels is rare at best, given how few pirates have airships. Those who do have them are not usually anxious to lose them in a fire-fight with another airship, when its easier to simply overwhelm sea-going vessels with such craft.
Those with perhaps less taste for legalities will find that prostitution and slavery are two of Sundown’s biggest gray trades. Neither is illegal but both tend to be generally frowned upon by your average upright citizen, especially in the case of slavery. Both practices have gained popularity however with both the younger population and newcomers from other places in the Multiverse.
Outright felony is…as expected given much greater scrutiny now than it ever was by the old regime. Laws are actively enforced now by the Shadow Hunters and if need be, the presence of the re-organized Sundown Regulars. Those who seek to engage in violent and heinous crimes will be prosecuted.