Society Name: Taltheran
I. "Merchants of Taltheran, the time has come to recover our legacy!"
Thus begins the momentus speech by Feratton Bin Chaling, patriarch of one of the strongest of Taltheran Great Families, to the Merchants Council in the Spring of 1404.
After years of solidifying and expanding existing trade routes around Midsea, and months of political maneuvering in the Merchants Council, the long anticipated venture into the Hinterland has come, and the Chaling family has emerged as leaders and pointmen for the expedition. Too large an project for one Family, this will be a combined effort by a number of Great and Lesser Families. Importantly, the Wizards Guild has backed the Chalings and the venture, and will be sending a contingent of their own to aid and support ... and, of course, observe and direct. The King, also, finds this trip well suits his schemes.
The plan will be to assemble the expedition at Pran. Here, the Family traders will organize supplies under the supervision of the Chaling Trademaster. The caravan will include scores of taigan (those excellent but tempramental beasts of burden with which the Taltherani have a unique knack), along with their associated handlers, numerous camp support, and a hand-picked collection of militia from participating Families, numbering some 350 troops [Size Tiny, Force Good].
The expedition will head up the right bank of the Tal river from Pran. The goal of the expedition is somewhat open ended, with the only initial constraint being an intention to return before winter, so as to avoid bad weather later in the year. If all goes well, the return trip will follow a different route (either North or South, as seems feasible or appropriate) in order to cover maximum territory.
In spite of extensive research into old accounts, trip logs, and other documents, little is sure about what will be found. The primary goal is to find new opportunities for trade. To that end, the caravan carries, in addition to supplies, a careful selection of various wares assembled from Taltheran and around Midsea. The traders will try to establish a rapport with communities encountered and assess local needs and local products, and offer to establish trading relationships at good prices to trade in the appropriate goods. They will also seek to establish relationships which can be used to support trade, such as waystations and provisioning points for future trade excursions.
Other participants have their own agenda. Agents of the King are under direction to assess the state of ex-Taltherani territory further up the valley, and to bring back reports regarding their organization, attitudes, and resources. It is also up to them to arbitrate between the Families with regard to trade rights as relationships are established. The wizards are primarily interested in supporting trade efforts (since they expect to benefit indirectly), but also are on the lookout for magical information or artifacts. The militia (under the overall command of the Chaling Armsmaster -- an experience soldier and one of the more competant military men in the country) are intended primarily for protection. Consequently, the soldiers will generally take a back seat unless encounters turn clearly hostile. The wizards, also, are equiped with defensive and combat magics, and will additionally make their skills available for scrying and reading omens.
The Taltherani are experienced caravaners; scouts will be used to provide early warning of encounters that the Wizards miss, and camps will be well sited and well protected. As much as possible, the company will try to live off the land and trade with locals, preserving supplies. When enountering foreigners for the first time, the main body will make camp a safe (non-threatening) distance away, and a small advance group of traders with minimal guards (and a couple of wizards) will attempt to make contact and establish relations.
[Although this is a large company, I anticipate that the leaders will push for a fast pace and take advantage of long summer daylight; I figure about 20 miles a day, excluding days spent establishing relations with those encountered. This will enable the caravan to cover a lot of ground in the half-year or so they expect to be gone.]
Action 1&2: Venture into the Hinterlands
Nature: External Tactical (Exploration/Diplomatic) (DOUBLE)
Determinant: Trade (Good +1)
Difficulty: Hard (-1)
Qualifiers: + Taltheran is deeply committed to expanding trade role
+ Well prepared and organized
- Unknown territory
+ Double action
Secrecy: Not publicized outside Taltheran, but not secret.
Reaction: (Risky or Heroic? I wouldn't call this Heroic, except that the description on the submission page of the public support and reaction for Heroic maps better to my view of this action than the description for Risky, which has little upside)
Result= +1 -1 +1 +1 -1 +1 + (0 -1 -1 0) = 0 Partial Success.
The entourage sets off from Pran on the first day of Astroth with good intentions. For the first month, nothing of any consequence is seen, just small villages which are curious at the appearance of the delegation, and don't seem to mind either way whether they are considered part of Taltheran or not. The traders make notes of what they find, and the King's agents spend at least a day with each village headsman detailing taxation law. Flowers are in full bloom and the countryside is full of life.
During Thrimoth they come across the grounds of a manor house. The initial excitement wanes after it is soon realised it has been long abandoned. More villages. Towards the end of the month, they enter the town of Unnir. Contact is made with the local ruling family. The possibilities of trade are agreed to.
By the end of Veranoth, the travellers have made not much more than 200 miles, with the King's men insisting the stop at every village and interrogate the locals. The Wizards are becoming restless and the Militia have commented than since they've followed the course of the river, might they not have been better off in a boat? They then enter the town of Hadrair. Larger than Unnir, again trade discussions ensue.
Uedoth. Over 300 miles. This is when they spy, at a fork in the great river, a large city, of a size to equal Tal itself. Initial contact only elicits a name (Wyr).The Wizards are livid. Attempts by some Militia men to enter the city under the cover of darkness sees their imprisonment. The Wizards' attempts at scrying are blocked by similar magical forces.
During the second week of Uedoth a delegation from the city informs the expedition that indeed Wyr was once part of the Duchy of Taltheran. They were left isolated during the goblin wars. While happy to see their brethren, they do not acknowledge sovereignty of the Taltherani. The Wyrtherani (as they call themselves) refuse to return the imprisoned militia though admit to being intrigued at the prospects for trade. They are amazed that the expedition has travelled all that journey without coming across any bands of goblins. They refuse to allow anyone admittance while Wizards are with the group.
Turning back for home, the expedition makes its' way back to Taltheran in a boat bought from the suspicious Wyrtherani. They pass through Hadrair and Unnir once more, picking up examples of their produce and crafts, before arriving in Pran in late Kanoth, exhausted.
II. Build it, and they will come.
Since the days when the sorcerers of Mir ruled Midsea, Taltheran has focused somewhat more on land trade than sea, in spite of its excellent harbor and extensive coast. King Agrigax has concluded that, in one move, he can improve the trade prowess of the country, counter the growing intrusion of Celpalar traders into Taltheran interests, *and* bolster the King's power base, by building a crown-controlled fleet of trading vessels.
To this end, shortly after the Spring departure of the Venture into the Hinterlands, Agrigax lays the first foundations for a large ship-building facility at the port city of Saltrim, south of the capital at the point where the coast turns eastward, and close to the forested hills south of the valley. More to the point for the current year, he instigates a recruiting effort for skilled shipbuilders from both within and outside Taltheran.(Taltheran does have a fair number of experienced sailing men; the necessary skills are probably available internally.)
Recent rumors of pirates prompt him to try to include some naval military expertise among the talent recruited. He also recruits laborers from the southern hills and the coast east of Saltrim, hoping to increase the crown's visibility and support in this area. (As a side effect, he hopes to pick up more intelligence to clarify the rumors of privateers acting off the coast.)
The Merchant Council is ambivalent. Many of their cleverest are elsewhere this summer, either trading or in the hinterlands, and Agrigax intentionally leaves those present in the dark regarding his intention to retain crown ownership of the end product. The Wizards Guild, properly incented, lends its support.
Action 3: Royal Shipyard Construction: Recruiting and foundations
Nature: Internal Strategic (4 years)
Determinant: Royal Authority; Wealth (Good +1)
Difficulty: Hard (-1)
Qualifiers: + Promises good jobs and increased trading prowess.
+ Support by Wizards Guild (limited magical aid available)
- Taltheran has Poor regard for Crafts and craftsmen
Reaction: Risky (if this flops, it's an expensive waste)
-1 extra item on the agenda to hear gossip of privateers
result so far. = +1 -1 +1 +1 -1 -1 + (1 0 1 -1) + .....
The recruiters are doing well. Shipwrights from around the kingdom are arriving in Saltrim .....
III. The nature of power...
King Agrigax recognizes that he has a diamond in the rough, in the form of the Royal Guard. He also realizes that his forces are outnumbered by the combined forces of the Great Houses. This strikes him as a situation crying out for rectification...
He consults with his military leaders and draws up a plan for expanding and improving the crown's military forces. Recruiting and training of new forces are to proceed as quickly as practical. In addition to the basics, emphasis will be on training forces for duty away from the capital, including posting in other cities or at fortifications in remote locations. Agrigax is counting on the loyalty, pride and spirit of his existing troops being conveyed to the new recruits.
Action 4: Expand the Royal Guard
Nature: Internal Strategic (2 years)
Determinant: Royal Authority; Wealth (Good +1)
Difficulty: Easy (+1) (the Guard is rightfully well respected)
Qualifiers: - The Merchant Council would like to keep the Royal Guard
in its present, diminished, state.
+ Agrigax offers good pay and benefits
Reaction: Normal (not much exposure either way)
Result = +1 +1 -1 +1 + (+1 +1 0 0) = +4 Extraordinary success! (But it was easy, so...)
Crowds flock to the Royal Guards' compound in Tal to join up after the King's message is conveyed through the kingdom. The existing guards join in the enthusiasm. With so many clamouring to join, there are problems housing the recruits. Not enough trainers are available. The huge influx in newcomers causes a strain in the local economy - food temporarily becomes scarce in the capital and drunken bands of would-be guardsmen flood the city streets. Looting breaks out and the pressure for accommodation forces many to sleep rough.
None of this defuses their enthusiasm though. The existing Guards Captain requests for a new compound to be built on the city limits to house and train the newcomers.
Size of Guards is increased to Small. (Some had to be turned away!)
The looting, however, makes the King unpopular with the citizens of the capital. Actions directly concerning the city of Tal are -1 next year.