The Chronicles of Erdon
The , also called “The Association,” is the preeminent interracial trading company, and conducts or oversees all business transactions that cross racial boundaries. They also manage or “facilitate” the exchange of goods and services between members of different races in all regions where The Association holds sway.
The Association arose out of a desire to better unite the disparate peoples who each had (and still have) vastly different customs, cultures, commerce rules, and even ways of thinking. Under the advice of many wise councillors from among the Five Races (Archons, Elves, Dwarves, Barbarians, and Gnomes), in accordance with the Treaty of the Five Peoples, the Archon High King and Emperor appointed the Office of the Minister of Inter-racial Commerce to a clever and savvy gnome of many names, and the distinguished name Flihjelglirwykn, for and from which a duchy and dukedom were created, which now are the focus of The Association.
Place in the World:
Archlond is the only continent besides the main to harbour this organization’s presence in any significant capacity; in fact, it’s headquartered in the Archduchy of Flihjelglirwykn. The Association is met with mixed reactions no matter where it exists. Those who know little about it (e.g. unaffected shopkeepers in isolated communities) tend to care nothing about it, and often refuse to involve themselves without need. Understandably most gnomes and other beneficiaries can’t say enough good about The Association, and promote (er, enforce) it whenever needed. Some merchant’s find it to be a mildly annoying, outdated, and unnecessary beaurocratic burden; others consider it a “blasthering inconvenient ham fool idea of a Flihjelglirwykn Scheme!” (pardon my gnomish). In such places as GAMAT has managed to take preeminent status (i.e. Archlond), it generally has the full force of the law behind it, and contracts local Lords and law enforcement to see that their interests are protected. Violation of the relevant laws usually carry a hefty fine with them; where The Association is prevalent, one is strongly advised not to trespass the relevant laws, and if perchance one does, they had better see a barrister double-quick.
Halflings seem to be decidedly mixed on the existence of GAMAT. While most if not all of them (or at least their merchants) benefit from its existence, their typical love of freedom would tend to pit them against the notion of such an organization. Then there’s that whole issue of halfling representation (or lack thereof) in the relevant treaty. If the average halfling trader had things his way, no such organization would exist; barring that, the organization would be informally run by halflings. The Treaty and subsequent establishment of GAMAT attempt in principle to afford the most neutral race with the strings; and none of the good races have ever had any serious grievances against the gnomes (the chaotic ones tend to be mildly annoying at worst, unless they’re evil, but that’s a different story).
The halflings might have been chosen, but for the question of conflicts of interest; and dwarves and elves were equally uneasy with the prospect of the other getting it. Humans were deemed too short lived and prone to corruption to be trusted, and the half-races have never really been trusted enough by anybody. In fact, the gnomes generally didn’t seem to want the job, but for the one here named and a few who followed him, who only took it up begrudgingly, on account of there being no one else agreeable to accept the mantle.
Office of the Chief Magistrate of the Gnomish Association of Merchants, Adventurers, and Traders:
- First office holder: His Imperial Highness, the Lord Archduke Rumplestiltzkin Flihjelglirwykn (of Flihjelglirwykn).
- Headquarters: the Archduchy of Flihjelglirwykn, which was created from the Treaty of the Five Peoples in Archlond.
The office is responsible for licensing merchants who wish to deal between the races, where The Association holds jurisdiction (which is most places); and often grants such licenses to local merchants, and even craftsmen who are likely to conduct significant levels of interracial business. The Association usually doesn’t bother with homogeneous or nearly-homogeneous communities however, unless a lone merchant wants to set up shop in a foreign community (e.g. a typical halfling merchant), which may be quite beneficial to a particular merchant, especially if they can get an exclusive license. Most of GAMAT’s attention is directed toward travelling merchants, thereby covering the gamut of the potential commerce; and many a license is good enough to cover a merchant and his subordinates, or even a small merchant family, as is often the case in the inkeeping and taverning businesses. Beyond basic operating licenses, the Chief Magistrate will sometimes offer Associateships of varying degrees; a quite desirable position that holds significant wealth and power, and usually a formal title. It is quite difficult to achieve this status, however, and notoriously difficult and expensive for non-gnomes to become Associates, but any who manage are highly regarded among gnomes as only gnomes know why (those who achieve the status and spoil the secret are stripped of it and never seen again).
- : sold by the local Associate’s Office; such a license is good within the Associate’s jurisdiction (usually a state, duchy, kingdom, or other principality) for as many as 5 years, and permits the purchase or sale of lawful goods and services to or from a member of any race. The license may be designated to cover up to 5 named partners, which effectively incorporates them under the bylaws of The Association, and gives them and their subordinates the rights of the license. It is commonly used by businessmen who would hire members of various races to serve other races, such as national merchant caravans. The Associate’s License grants the most freedom in dealing between the races, short of an Associateship. Most major cities (e.g. capitals) have an Associate’s Office. Cost: 2,000 gp.
- : sold at the local Deputy Associate’s Branch; these licenses are good within the Deputy Associate’s jurisdiction (usually a county, township, barony, or other subdivision) for up to 1 year, and authorizes the exchange of lawful goods, but not services or other intangibles (except in the exchange of goods), between the holder and members of any race. The license may cover up to 3 named partners (and their subordinates), who are effectively incorporated under the bylaws. Alternatively such a license may permit interracial trade between specific locations within distinct Deputy jurisdictions (i.e. counties), but not within them; this variant is often used by long-range trade caravans of limited scope. Most cities and many towns have a Deputy Associate’s Branch. Cost: 500 gp.
- : sold by local Deputy Associates, these licenses permit fixed businesses such as inns, taverns, and shops to sale or serve people of any race, and last up to 1 year before renewal is required, which they are streamlined for (no re-application fees). Licenses cover a sole proprietor and up to 20 subordinates. By definition they are limited to the named establishment, location, and business type, but are significantly more cost effective than other licenses. Deputy Associates can be found in most cities and towns. Cost: 100 gp, 250 gp, or 500 gp, depending on establishment size & quality.
- : sold by a Deputy Associate or specially licensed representative, these permits allow an individual person to buy or sell lawful goods or services to or from any lawful individual, in accordance with all applicable law, for up to a day, a week, or even a (20 day) month. Spending the extra gold may be quite worthwhile as many localities allow discounts on goods and services to permit holders, i.e. purchase prices tend to go down, and sale prices tend to go up, for permit holders. Cost: 1 gp, 5 gp, or 20 gp, depending on duration.
- versions may allow a holder to serve a deal with a specific race (e.g. elves, gnomes, halflings, dwarves, humans), and are cheaper; usually by about 20%. Most businesses will have at least an auxiliary license tailored for the majority race with which they deal (i.e. humans in human lands, dwarves when underground, elves in elvendom, etc.), and will advertise to that effect. A number of establishments capitalize on lack of a license where one is required to create particular homogenous environments for their patrons.
The licenses are all contract based, so the particulars may vary between holders. For example, the servant’s guild of a particular barony may hold a Deputy’s License on behalf of their members, since such a guild is likely relatively poor and yet will likely serve various races throughout the year.
- Chief Magistrate – the chief executive officer for the trading company; implements policy and establishes rules and orders for the execution of the bylaws; appoints and oversees secondary officers such as the chief bookkeeper, chief barrister, chief dispatcher, chief clerk, and chief scribe.
- Associate Partner – a relative few Associates attain enough experience and prestige that they may be elected to the Grand High Committee Board of the Magistrate to the Gnomish Association of Merchants, Adventurers, and Traders. These prestigious gnomes are responsible for the establishment of policies and bylaws, and the making of major company decisions, such as whether to have caviar or calamari for lunch, and the wording and range of standard licenses and contracts. Appointments are for life and come with the formal title of Grand Duke.
- Associate – the basic position, usually comes with a formal title such as Count or Duke, the prestigious associates are responsible for administering The Association’s interests throughout a state, kingdom, duchy, or other principality, as well as selling the greater licenses. Large guilds, companies, or other associations often maintain Associate membership within GAMAT. Associates also have the power to create (rather, recommend or request for appointment) Deputy Associates, as per approval of the Magistrate.
- Deputy Associate – the lowest rank, but still quite powerful; the most commonly interacted with. Can petition their direct superior for the ability to install assistants to circulate smaller communities (i.e. baronies, manors, villages, hamlets, etc.), with permission from the Committee of course.