Below is a representation of some typical costs based on Arduinian currency.
A small loaf of cheap bread
Two for a cup of ferment mare’s milk
Three for a hot sausage on a bun
The commoner’s daily coin
A short ferry ride
A flagon of common beer
The price for enough food to feed one
The typical offering at a temple by a commoner
A night’s food and lodging at a 3 star inn
The price of a common prostitute
The cost of a good sling
Four for finding one’s future at a palmist or seer
Five for the normal pay a Bard receives for a night’s performanceTen for the monthly wage of a sailor
Most long distance ferry rides
The price of a beginning courtesan
The average bribe or “squeeze”
Three for good heavy furs or winter clothing
Five for a fair quality spear
A month’s common wages on a farm
Price of a javelin or a quilted cloth doublet
Two for the typical offering at a temple by a noble
Three for a fair quality cutlass
A soldier’s monthly pay or the price of full boiled leather armor
Four for the price of a very good 6 man dory
An officer’s wages for a month
Common Trader’s coin of barter or business
A general’s wages for a month
Miscellaneous Economic Notes
- The average commoner and below consumes approximately 80% to 90% of their income in a year in living expenses and regular spending. They rarely save this unspent income but some (15%) have 2 to 4 years worth of spare income on hand. This is rarely residing in just coin, however; instead, it is invested in quality equipment, goods, weapons, or tools.
- Merchants and craftsmen will spend 40% to 80% of their income in expenses per year, but equally tend to save the remainder (90%), investing it in valuables, or keeping it in manageable amounts of coin. They will (60%) have 1 to 4 years worth of savings on hand, or (40%) have 3 to 8 years of savings.
- Nobility will frequently have large portions of their fortunes
invested in valuables, coin, and other tangible items such as property
and works of art. The amount varies greatly on their personal fortune
and their noble line. Few have large amounts of coin on hand, though
they always have some (anywhere from 1,500 to 15,000 Sovereigns
depending on their social level) that is available.
TaxesThe majority of governmental revenue stems from a simple income tax, where every resident of the nation pays a percentage of income annually. Tax collectors are the least liked people in the world, and ‘squeeze’ is often offered and accepted to make the process work smoothly. However, nations (with few exceptions) do collect an annual tithe or income tax, usually given in either coin or goods.The amount may vary, but the tax is usually gathered directly by representatives of the ruling government or sometimes collected by nobility or other intermediaries. It is also worth noting that beyond the national or government taxes, individual landowners (or nobility, religious entities, et al) may levy a tithe or tax on those who dwell, use, or pass through their lands or spheres of control.A further portion of ‘taxes’ are fees levied by landowners for the lands use, such as the right to harvest timber for instance, or the right to hunt on their land. Also, mills, a much required portion of the food production chain, always levied fees, and are usually noble, crown, or religiously owned, though some may be individually owned depending on the nation.
Ownership and LandOften a thorny question, but most nations consider the government to hold all lands within their dominion, aside from those lands bestowed to nobility (or similar social strata) or held neutral by treaty (such as the Dragon Lands in Ghorfar or the Orc Sword Forest Dominion in Arduin). Private individuals may be bestowed with land or own land, but such is considered a loan or mortgage, which the presiding ruler can chose to confiscate if a matter of gravest importance should arise. The laws of the lands shield individuals from this action to some extent or another (or, equally in some cases, do not). This commandeering of assets applies as equally to nobility and landowners, though typically these are protected more than individual entities.
BriberyThis habit, while not rampant everywhere, is a common fact of daily life. While most often encountered whenever governmental bureaucracy is involved, this is not an exclusive definition by any means. In Morvaen, for instance, a right amount of ‘jackgraff’ (another term for bribery; about as common as ‘squeeze’) will slide the enterprising trader ahead of his mates, just as another good amount will produce an amazing amount of paperwork for competitors who are trying to get pass the same guards! Bribery, while established, is never overt or obvious, but always on the sly or under the table. Blatant attempts to bribe someone will provoke anger at the minimum and more in variable and temperamental circumstances, such as getting arrested! It is also bad form to over bribe or under bribe – both can get you into trouble.
Work and Rest
Folk commonly work the first four days of the six day week, and half a day on fifth, taking the afternoon and all day on the sixth off. Holidays are taken off, of course, though some chose to work through these days anyway.
A legal enterprise in almost every nation is slavery, as well as indentured service and serfdom. The greater portion of the labor force consists of free peasants, tenants, or the self-employed; a close majority is the slaves who make up an almost even amount. While there is regional variance on how slaves or near slaves are treated, it is a brutal, wretched, and hopeless life, usually very short in length. Slavers and the Slavers Guild are in every nation they are not outlawed. This does not prevent slavers from slaving in these countries anyway, though slaves are typically moved to nations where the sale and trade of such commodities is legal. Marmachand is the worst of all nations for slavery, though not as overtly brutal as many. They gladly and offhandedly practice a form a cruel bondage that extends generations, forcibly breeding slaves, working them to their death, or slaying them as thoughtlessly as killing a domesticated beast. While most slaves are captured and forced into the bondage, there are other types of slaves: prisoners of war, minor criminals, foreigners who break laws, or even parents too poor to support their children may sell their offspring into slavery. Commonly, a person may enter voluntary slavery to escape debt. If a person cannot pay debtors, typically they are imprisoned, and then sold to redeem the debts, the debtor excepting the selling price as the whole exchange for the amount owed. Once purchased, such a person remains a slave for their life, without chance of redemption.Slave owning societies make extensive use of slave labor, and a healthy slave can cost 30 silver to 3,000 gold depending on their race and talents. Conditions generally vary wildly, and even though in some lands slaves outnumber the amounts of free citizens, a slave’s life can be much, much worse. Many are treated as non-entities, or endure harsh treatment from callous masters, such as the Armandorians who often use their slaves in their religious festivals.Slave markets are regularly located within secured compounds far from other bazaars and markets were other commodities are sold. Slavers have stalls and holding pens in these places to hold recently arrived slaves before marketing them. Small villages and towns may not have regular slave compounds, and slavers set up shop wherever the local authorities allow. New or troublesome slaves are typically chained at the neck and shackled at the foot when traveling or placed in mobile cages if valued. Tattoos, neck torques, brands, rings, or notching of some appendage or feature such as the nose, ear, or fingers, is common to distinguish slaves from the free. Castration is widely practiced as an offense before slavery and sometimes afterwards as a precaution, depending on the slaving culture and mores of the society.When in action, slave markets are bustling places where slaves sit idly by in pens waiting to stand for inspection by some buyer. Educated, exotic, or professionally skilled slaves are segregated from the common bunch, and are usually sold in semi private to private auctions.
Food and AgricultureWhile technology and magik abounds in places, the common people of Khaas still possess tools little more complicated than mills powered by water or the sweat of effort (usually slave driven). The plow is utilized to break the ground, and a team of horses drives them. Some regions are more advanced than others, and Bossalia, for instance, makes wide use of steam driven energy to power their mills, mining, and some military applications. In the Dreaming Isles, arcane magik has fashioned animate plows to care for the terraced farming on the steep mountain slopes, something they jealously guard. These exceptions are limited and generally where the Guilds have low or little power to protect the interests of those who fill their ranks. Aside from these niche places, all efforts are individually powered, from planting to crafting, each handmade, handcrafted, or worked.The staple of the continent is wheat, grown in greater or lesser amounts everywhere. With a short growing period and high food value, it is the best crop to grow with few resources. Maize is a close second, and thousands of vegetables are employed for food, as are fruits. Orchards and vineyards are found in any favorable clime.There are a variety of alcoholic beverages produced from fruits, grains, honey, and dozens of other substances. Many of the more famous or well-known ones are noted in the World Book of Khaas, Potables of Khaas section. However, there are many others used commonly and less so by the different societies of the world. While this varies on the culture, most drink alcoholic beverages with meals such as wine or beer. In the Misty Isles, a tea like concoction is preferred, though alcoholic beverages are equally consumed. The Ghandamahli enjoy a thick sugary drink instead, and typically abstain from alcohol with meals.Meat animals are the thick and burly buffalo, power horn, an okapi like animal with a large backwards sweeping horn, pigs, cows, chickens, goats, sheep, and other domesticated and wild creatures. Several forest and mountain animals are hunted for food, such as the Zindhettis, wild Orns, Boru, Vexureye, and wild Goxtchli. Some of the more unique of these animals are to be covered on the Bestiary pages.Fish and shellfish are another important food supply. There are numerous varieties, ranging from Silver-Humps to Mudders – so many as to be impossible to list here. Both salt water and fresh water varieties are eaten. Insects join this as an important food supply, and there are over nine types of insect eaten, as well as fourteen types of seaweed, a form of floating saltwater fungi called “Slickworm”, and numerous types of sea vegetables.
ClothMost cloth is made from plant or animal sources, though there are other resources such as spider silk and Injuvik hair (a porcine animal with hair instead of spines). The commonest variety of plant resources is the Andivancol: a long stemmed plant that grows to heights of seven to eight feet tall, similar to Earth’s stinging nettle, and grown everywhere on Khaas. It is an excellent source for thread, cordage, and cloth, and can be harvested for several years before replanting. Joining it is hemp, another common plant resource for cloth, rope, and other fibers. Aniuattus is an herbaceous plant with a fibrous stalk easily split into ‘hairs’ usable as thread often used in the equatorial regions. It is cool in hot climes, and doesn’t stick to the skin, making it a favorite of those who dwell in such regions and among adventurers. Furs are worn in places where the climate grows chill, and leather is common to the wear of most nations. Spider silk cloth is a favorite of the rich and the adventurer, who both prize it for its varied abilities and resistance to wear.
Mining and MetalworkMany metals are mined such as copper, lead, zinc, tin, silver, gold, and iron. Valuable ores are mined where they are found in all the lands of Khaas, except by those too primitive to excavate such materials. Coal, guano, peat, groynee (a hard, brittle substance similar to bone in texture that burns very hotly for a long period; also called “beardbones”) are harvested also. Alloys such as bronze, copper, and electrum are common as well. Most other minerals and stones common to our own world are found in Khaas, though not all are known or used. Rock salt, flint, marble, jade, obsidian, gypsum, sulfur, chalk, quartz, tar, lime, coal, and peat are commonly used and traded commodities. All the ‘civilized’ areas on Khaora have access to steelwork which is common even in lands that eschew more innovative ideas, such as Ghandamahl, or have descended into barbarism frequently in their past, such as the Sandara.
Other Goods and ResourcesSome 27 types of trees are commonly employed for timber or building. One example is the hardwood Siugoal, a tree that is prized on the eastern coast of Khaora for building, structures, and edifices. Silverspring trees are valued for bow wood, and the heavy, hard, durable wood of the Horndroop tree is used in shields, as well as bowls and dishes due to its ability to resist cracking or leaking.Mats, baskets, rugs, and some blankets are woven from grasses, reeds, and a form of silken thread flax. The red coated flax is used primarily in the common paper Khaasian scribes use to copy volumes. The few printing presses in the land use specially pressed paper for their purposes, though the few in existence are looked upon poorly by the Guild of Scribes and the various Colleges, who see their existence as a detriment to their livelihoods. Glassblower Guilds make hundreds of types of glass, and the fracture cut glassware of the Dreaming Isles is prized everywhere, along with the clear translucent wares of Viruelandia. Clay is universally used for pottery and storage vessels, and traders use great jars to transport oils, olives, wheat, wine, and other perishables at sea.
TravelKhaora is a land constantly in flux, and many of her people are less tied to the land than most. While many of the continent’s inhabitants are indeed bound to the land, harvest, or family, great numbers travel the mountains, plains, and waterways of the continent. The bulk of these people are the traders found so often traveling the lands, seeking to ply their goods or services as they move from one place to another.A multitude of roads exist across Khaora: some old and ancient, harkening back to Kthoi times; others more recent, the engineering of more modern builders. The older roads, with few exceptions, are generally in poor state or cover only short distances, their reasons for construction and destinations long gone. The two types of regular roads seen across the continent are royal highways or secondary roads, both usually built and maintained by the local government or nobility. These roads are the primary means of travel across Khaora. The royal highways are the primary roads in most lands, typically entirely paved with cobblestones, slightly convex in shape, approximately twenty or so feet in width, and mostly have drainage ditches. Bridges on these roads are constructed with arched stone, if possible, wood trestle, or similar construction if not. These structures vary somewhat due to local flavor, but are the consistent standard. The roads are well maintained and kept in excellent repair by local peasantry, convict work crews, or whatever is acceptable to the local culture. Military patrols by regular troops are frequent, and local militia units occasionally spot check sections of the roads as well. All foliage is kept cleared back from the road by at least 10 to 20 feet, and the terrain is graded where possible. The various Guilds, ranging from the Porters to the Traders Guild, have a vested interest in these roads especially, and are not above exerting a little pressure on nobility and governments alike to ensure their upkeep. Large cities tend to have the same type of internal road surfaces, in whole or part in their treks. These tend to be thick with traffic even at goods times.Where these royal highways do not ply the land are secondary roads, which bridge the gaps between towns, cities, and villages outside the needs or desires of the local government. These roads are hard packed dirt or gravel topped, typically 15 to 20 feet in width, and may or may not have adequate drainage. Usually stretching into rural regions and away from the primary urban centers, these roads are maintained almost exclusively by the local nobility or similar social class. Any bridging necessary varies widely in construction, though rarely of stone; wood trestle bridges are the norm for such roads. Local troops and militia do patrol these roads but not with the frequency of the royal highways. Foliage is cleared away from the roads approximately three to five feet and only cut back once per year. These roads, unlike the royal highways, always confine their stretches to the terrain, going around hills or low-lying areas.Also worth mentioning are the tracks and paths crisscrossing all the nations; they are used by locals, hunters, foresters, brigands, and the occasional military patrols. These are not maintained by anyone, and grow or die based on the needs of the region.Most of the travel on Khaora is by foot. There are a variety of steeds available to the traveler with coin, and Khaora hosts a plethora of equines and like beasts, ranging the nearly never seen Orn to the more common donkey. Traders across the land commonly employ ponies, donkeys, and the like to move their goods; wagons are drawn by sturdy oxen, horses, or other domesticated beasts. Travel by barge or boat on the inland waterways is another easy and often traveled route – usually by drifting with the waterway’s current. Air travel is much less common, though griffon, Vord, pegasai, or other aerial steeds are available. This mode of travel, as well as movement by magik, is quite hazardous, and the perils greatly limit the use of such means or devices.
TradeBusiness in Khaora is founded on capitalism. Commodities are produced and sold directly to consumers or to merchants who would factor these goods by shipping them to cities or to foreign shores. Trade requires great skill in bargaining, and has led rise to a class of people in Khaora who specialize in nothing more than journeying to far shores or known paths to factor goods to those without.More goods are transported over land than by sea. Sets of mule driven carts or wagons are a common sight on the roads, and Traders ply the known and secret ways in contest to see who can reach the buyer first. Carriages are common on the roads, not to carry cargo, but are extensively employed for passenger transport. Most nations have laws allowing carriages right of way on roads, though often many will not yield the road to a racing carriage out of spite or irritation during the muddy seasons.Sea travel is primarily of the coastal variety, though some, like the Cirthian League and the Dreaming and Misty Isles, have sent ships far out on the dangerous seas. The Rainbow Isles, Vargalla, and a few other countries are equally as daring, sending transported goods to distant ports.
Trading CompaniesPowerful affiliations of Traders banded together for mutual defense and greater market penetration. The company will buy raw goods, manufacture them, and send them to the best markets for the most advantageous price. Companies tend towards either the private or open, and those open allow any person or organization to invest funds in their commercial enterprise without actually owning it. If a Trader factors wares bought in Arduin and sold in Tharkhala, the investor makes money based on the amount invested on the return of the Trader’s caravan. If the venture loses money or does not return, the investor suffers the loss of money. Many trading companies are ruthless, enforcing what is best for them on their suppliers or buyers to the most extent possible. All trading companies have a few things in common such as they have hundreds of people working for them, including guards and spies. They also tend to have offices in many countries and some influence on local and regional politics, though more than one nation’s rulers view this as an unwelcome influence. Lastly, they trade in all goods, but specialize in certain, always needed, items such as food (fish, certain herbs, etc), ships, milled goods, and so forth.
Tariff and TollsNations impose a tariff on goods imported for sale. Once across the border to a country, inspectors scrutinize goods and impress anything from a half percent to over fifteen percent surtax on goods. The process is always lengthy and costly, though with the proper ‘squeeze’, it amazingly speeds up tremendously. Those nations who do not have an organized customs scheme typically levy gate tolls, market fees, or some other charge when a Trader sets up shop. These can include ‘squeeze’ to local officials, the Guilds, gangs, and many other organizations or officials.
Free EnterpriseGenerally, people can engage in whatever endeavor they desire, as long as it does not infringe on the Guilds’ areas of influence. Entrepreneurialship is viewed favorably in most lands as long as obeisance is given to the laws of the land and proper fees paid to the Guilds that govern the industry. Small-scale ventures are frequently overlooked, such as a good bow maker but better adventurer who occasionally sells his bows in town, but should the same set up shop to sell bows, then a visit from the Bowyers Guild is in order.
Lending and BankingLending money at fixed rates of interest is possible, though only rarely in rural regions as it is the province of more urban areas. The Multiversal Trading Post (MTP) is the largest progenitor of such, and provides such services along with a modicum of banking and securities. What banking is available is solely at a low early stage, and there is no concept of modern banking or security. Aside from the MTP, moneylenders also provide this surface for those who are in need of quick funds or a short-term loan, usually for outrageous rates and the promise of legal or physical difficulty should the person default or run late in repayment.
Coinage and ConversionKhaora has a bewildering number of monetary systems. While the barter system is used and works for some areas, this method of transaction does not work for trade in the larger expanse of Khaora. Hard currency provides a stable method of exchange between cultures of differing views or temperaments, and is the everyday medium of exchange for trade. The most prominent of the monetary systems are presented at the back of the World Book of Khaas in the appendixes. A majority of these pecuniary systems are based on the gold standard. Some use silver, and others use less common metals or gems, such as platinum, Silveel, or copper. Coins come in a baffling collection of shapes, sizes, complexities, and materials. The Arduinian gold sovereign is the standard, and is a small gold heptagonal coin weighing but a few ounces. Due to the commercial power Arduin exerts on trade, it has assumed prominence as the medium to base other coinage against. More often than not, regardless of the currency involved, it is the value of the metal, gem, or material the coin is minted from which determines its value.Nearly every moneychanger charges a fee to exchange foreign currency into something more suitable to the local populace, and while the amount can vary greatly depending on an area, one percent is the minimum. Countries that restrict the usage of foreign currency tend to charge more generous amounts, usually amounts of 7% to 15% of the value of the base coinage. Local politics, racial bias, and a multitude of factors influence these rates; a Deodanth will quickly find his coin is much less valuable than the more accepted Hobbitt to his left.