The Domain of Man
League of Merchants
The Eastern Alliance established the League of Merchants, that took the existing Great River Guild and expanded it as guidelines for commerce and trade throughout the Eastern Territory. It is a hefty task overseeing the thousands of merchant operations both small and large that keep the Eastern Territories economically strong.
If trade between cities breaks down it would lead to fierce rivalry, unfair trade practices, price gouging, exploitation, vendetta, and potentially, war. It is the League of Merchants job to prevent this from happening, along with settling disputes as fairly and as peacefully as possible, when they occur.
The League of Merchants is headquartered in Acumen city, between the Old Kingdom River and the Eastern Ocean. It is a safe distance from the Wolfen in the north, and the Ogres in the west, and is centrally located within the Eastern Territory. Within Acumen is the League’s massive administrative complex tasked with the seemingly impossible job of keeping tabs on every current member of the League while recruiting new members.
Any municipality with a population of at least 2,000 has its own League Ambassador responsible for both representing the businesses of that community and trying to get regional businesses (including non-members) to follow the trade guidelines of the Charter and conform to League standards and practices.
Cities with populations of 12,000 or more will have a full-fledged League House, complete with a League Ambassador, administrative staff, guards both to protect the League House and to potentially serve as bodyguards for visiting merchants, and Collectors, the investigative/ law enforcement branch of the League of Merchants.
The League is comprised of numerous merchants, all of whom pay 10% of their annual income in the form of dues to the guild. The League uses these funds to pay its many employees and to maintain operations. This is not to say that every merchant in the Eastern Territory is a member of the League, far from it, but they have a strong presence and influence over the commerce in the Eastern Territories.
Those merchants who choose not to join the League of Merchants quickly find that the cost of doing business is much higher. Non-member merchants who engage in inter-city trade or operate traveling merchant caravans are frequently charged a 10-20% tax on all goods sold at a town or city where the LoM has a strong influence and majority membership. They can also be charged a fee to enter the city and are likely to be given a poor location to set up shop.
Foreign and independent merchants who are not LoM members are also charged to use the Trade Road, a highway of stone that runs from Llorn in the west all the way to Haven in the east, and construction is underway on a branch of the road south towards Acumen. The Trade Road is constructed, maintained and managed by the League of Merchants. Non-members must pay a toll to get on the road as well as at every town they encounter along the way, forcing these traders to pick their stops with care and then to make a wide detour around those towns they do not stop at. Not only is it more dangerous to wander from the road due to bandits, but the land tends to be heavily forested along the Great River, making wagon travel very difficult if not impossible in places.
Of course, one can always use the river for free, but the LoM strikes again with dock tolls that are three or four times higher for non-guild members. Guild merchant vessels are supposed to be a brotherhood that will assist fellow guild members who appear to be in trouble on land, river, or sea, but this courtesy is not extended to independent traders or foreign merchants who refuse to join the League.