ECONOMY

Vlodasai is rich in resources, which is precisely why it has been a battleground for much of its history. The mountains and hills are rich in zinc, iron, rhodium, copper, tin, and Gaxium, and mining is an old and well-respected, if dangerous, profession. Farmland, though ravaged by war, is returning to its former fecundity. Farmers make a comfortable living in most years; the stereotype of the struggling peasant is rare in the Classic Age. Great forests still cover much of Vlodasai – cedar, oak and various fruit and nut trees in the lower regions, with towering greatwood trees across much of the Elder Lands. Loggers and woodwrights can always find employment somewhere. Even the marshlands offer a variety of light woods, delicacy foods, and porous fibers.

Mass production of goods is just beginning in Vlodasai, but the powerful guild system ensures that machines do not put living beings out of work.

Guilds - Guilds have become powerful political voices, as they control most of the actual production of goods and services. Though they have no legal influence in government, their de facto influence is keenly felt.

The idea of personal pride in craftsmanship is very strong in Vlodasai, and even “factories” are generally small affairs, dedicated to making precision copies of popular artifacts. However, most of the large cities feature factories of some type, and usually specialize in a particular product. Galeg Kar, for example, is famous for its airship works, while Krumm, a small town south of Highseat, is noted for refining steel and other metals.

While most adventurers would never get jobs, they will certainly have to deal with mundane people who do. The “skilled crafts” all have powerful guilds – Woodwrights, Stonemasons, Artificers, Mechanics, and so on – that control who can practice. Most guild dues are about 100f per year, which keeps out the riff raff but protects members in lean times. Laborers and farmhands do not have guilds, but some grumble that they should…

Academics also have a guild, which covers everyone from attorneys to university professors. The Exalted Brotherhood of High Thinkers is, in fact, one of the most powerful and pervasive guilds in Vlodasai, having branches in almost every city.

The Brotherhood of the Sky is another powerful guild, and all working Aeronauts must theoretically belong to it – at least if they want legal jobs.

Merchant Houses - While the guilds control the actual means of production, the Merchant Houses direct and finance it all. During the Age of Fable, members of the minor nobility, denied landholding status by their overlords, began dabbling in trade to make ends meet. At the time, buying and selling goods was considered a common occupation. But those families who thrived at it slowly grew rich and powerful. By the Classic Age, it is the Merchant Houses who control trade. They suffer few government regulations and operate on a purely capitalistic basis – though there is plenty of behind-the-scenes double dealing and intrigue. Merchant Houses generally purchase raw materials and produce refined goods, then ship them and sell them wherever they can. This usually means a Treaty of Understanding with the city they intend to sell goods in.

Not surprisingly, the Merchant Houses are no friends of Free Traders, and seek by subtle means to discourage “the little man” wherever possible.

Some of the most famous Merchant Houses are House Orijiabi and House Donvil, both of Highseat, House Carlo-Marko of Saltwash, House Ludwig of Rockwall and House Sternmeddul of Galeg Kar. Most finished items – from pots and pans to airships – are produced in a factory owned by one of these families.

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