World-Building Website by Daniel-André Sørensen

The Personal Website of Daniel A. Sørensen

 
What often brings people together are the prospects of trade and money. The exchanging of goods and services for equal worth, be it coin or other wares, is arguably what creates and maintains a civilization; from the time of a civilization's birth to its end. One could say that, at the base level, money is what builds a civilized society, and secures financial security for nations.

Throughout history, trade has brought people of many different races, cultures, and views together, and it paves the way for general interactions in a civilized world. The creation of laws, the valuation of belongings and services, and the inspiration or motivation to create lives and societies worth living for or in, all basically stem from the existence of money and the potentiality it can provide.

But one could also argue that money has led to greed, murder and poverty. Promises of wealth often lead to conflict and misery between people, and one should not underestimate how much a person might depend on the need for coin.

Of course, the opposite is also very much true. In a realm where trade flourishes, so too does coin; leading to the possibility of joyful, rich lives, and the freedom to pursue one's wants and desires. Some would say wealth can't buy happiness, but it is clear as glass that those people have never in their lives held a coin-purse bulging with potential dreams, nor seen the will or given the effort to pursue it.


 
 

C U R R E N C Y

 
When trading or exchanging goods and services, it's most typical for people to use a common currency.

Typical currency has in most modern societies been standardized as one or several types of coin. The value of a coin is determined by its makeup (copper, iron, silver, gold etc.) and the market views of the coin. One might value a certain coin as being worth a piece of bread, or two coins as worth the exchange of a hen. It depends on the culture, local market laws, and the perceived general market value of goods and services in a community.

In some tribal cultures coins are replaced by bones, teeth, feathers, or similar items; though they often function the same as coin currency. Various cultures maintain just one type of currency, or several, and sometimes there might be different types of coin under the same name; sorted and separated by their markings, like a gold coin being worth twenty silver coins.

Each modern nation usually has its own name and value for a currency, or it shares a type of currency with one or several other nations. Some examples include Ostmerian Drach, High Marches Marchers, Darion Dineré, or the more common and most recognized Thalian Silver Thale. Various national currencies tend to hold varying values between each other, and so they must generally be exposed to processes of coin exchange, if the value of two nations' different currencies are to be compared fairly.

A diverse number of trade institutions, like Trade Leagues and Merchant Orders, supervise such values and exchanges, or otherwise it's up to the individual trader to determine what his wares and coins are worth through bartering. Typically it is the largest trade organizations who observe, maintain and set the value of currency, whilst the value of goods is at the mercy of local trade demands and surpluses.

The worth of currency varies between places in the world. One man's Silver Thale might be worthless to someone who only trades in bones. In ancient times it was more common for various civilizations to trade in a greater variety of currency types, but ever since the TTS (Thalonian Trade Standard) was implemented in the central nations, and spread after the Age of Seas, the use of currency has been more or less standardized, and most international trades are done in Silver Thales; or at least use coin in comparable value to a Silver Thale.

Most nations (especially outer societies and cultures) still maintain and trade in their own currencies, but generally accept that their currencies' value might not meet the more global standard. Local currencies are meant more for the local environment, and, while they're not usually as valuable as global currency, local currencies set a recognizable standard for the particular nation, community or society.


COMMON CURRENCY:
Common currencies are currencies primarily made of mixed metals; namely coins. Most coins are made from metals that don't corrode, or at least metals that don't easily react to various damaging elements. The processes, traditions and standards of minting have changed little since ancient times, and minting has been a common way of creating coins to be used as currency in several nations and cultures throughout history. Typically only the more civilized cultures and societies use and recognize coin currency, although some cultures might also use paper currencies, such as in south-eastern Ashanor.

The most typical, most recognized common currencies are Thales (Arganorh), Crowns (Aesudarh), Yu (Ashanor), Quath (Korash), and Sahdir (Ryumar); most of which are descendant from and popularized by human cultures. Some other races also use their own currencies, but their popularity and usage has declined steadily since the rise of human dominance throughout the world, and such currencies are only really valuable within their own circles.

Continents with expansive cultures tend to trade in or put value on the most common currency of that continent; with some exceptions dependent on different cultures and whether the TTS has been introduced and accepted there yet. Ever since the Age of Seas and the TTS, most nations and organizations who are near the central continents, or frequently interact with central continent traders, have formed compromises for the use of different world currencies.


UNCOMMON CURRENCY:
Currencies made of bones, crystals, glass, feathers etc. are uncommon currencies, but they are generally still considered at least somewhat valuable by those who don't use them, depending on where in the world one is. Tribal and other primitive societies tend to use uncommon currencies; and it is often that these diverse currencies change between the different tribes and clans of a culture.

However, the most common and best recognized of uncommon currencies are rare minerals, gems and metals. In almost every corner of the world, most cultures will more or less see a lump of gold or an extracted gem and know it to be valuable based on its rarity, and it is very usual for these to be components in the making of common currencies, like coins.

In very rare cases, there might be a few obscure societies who view gold as worthless over bones or feathers, and it is typically so only in societies where such generally rare minerals or metals are of an abundance. In most parts of the world rare minerals, gems, metals etc. are, on average, valued similarly, and often (depending on situation or local market values) outweigh common currencies like coins in preferred payment.


 
 

T R A D E    H U B S    &    T R A D E    R O U T E S

 
Various places in the world are often created or adapted for the intentions of mass trading. Such places are called trade hubs, and they're typically trade posts, small settlements, or cities situated in regions where busy trade routes converge or spread out from. In several cases a trade hub is established and funded by a merchant organization, and might later become populated and grow into a larger settlement, and then possibly a city. Cities that are considered trade hubs likely grew from small settlements due to the influx of goods, people and wealth, which they benefited from to expand as they did.

Larger trade hubs usually consist of several cities in the same area, who trade with each other to create a circulation of various goods. The most populated and powerful trade cities or trade posts are situated in places where they can easily acquire and redistribute wares from around the world. It is because of trade hubs that certain goods and luxuries become more readily available for a local populace, as the sharing of diverse wares from even the most distant region of the world is made easier and more cost-effective due to trade hubs.

Trade hubs are mainly dependent on safe trade routes that are more or less easily traveled and traversed, and the local demands of other nearby cities or citizens. The busiest trade hubs in the world are found primarily on the central continents, such as in the High Marches cities, the Thalon Merchant Republic, and the allied city-states of Thivia.

A trade hub serves several purposes; the primary one being acquisition and distribution. A newly founded trade hub in a mostly uncolonized region of the world, such as a trade post, might establish further trade outposts around it; for the purposes of gathering local resources.

Additional trade routes are then created; bringing with them willing labourers who acquire property in a trade post, and in turn populate the region and employ at local jobs. In time, the local resources that have been gathered will redistribute to larger hubs, where their value, quality and quantity is measured, and appropriate trade taxes are applied.

Nations and various merchant organizations tend to support trade posts in the hopes of establishing a colonized foothold in certain regions, whilst also investing for the intention of returned future profits. In many cases such trade posts might fail; typically from local conditions, poor investments, or hostile natives.

The protection of trade routes (especially sea routes) is also important, as the rise of global trading has seen a notable increase in pirate activity across the world. The eastern colonies of the Steel Frontiers are constantly plagued by the presence of their southern neighbors; the pirates havens of the Reaping Sea. In Avanor, the isles of Far Rest is dominated by pirate cities, and the zjindri Arks that travel the seas between Ryumar and Arganorh are often beset by threatening pirate fleets. In Aesudarh, the various jarldoms send out raiding parties that scour the seas and coasts for viable targets; intent on bringing back slaves, trophies and other valuables.

On land, bandits, raiders, and hostile tribes often stalk the long and wild roads that merchant caravans are forced to travel; prompting the need for hired caravan guards. In most parts of the world, it is often the responsibility of merchant organizations to protect their vessels and caravans, though local law will also often assist, if a threat is considered relevant for the general population.

Powerful merchant organizations control the flow of wares and sale of goods, and maintain the routes between trade hubs. The largest merchant organization in the world is known as the Thalonian League of Coins, or just simply the League of Coins. It was first established in Thalon, where it assisted in the official founding of the nation, and later grew to become the largest merchant organization in Arganorh; possessing ownership over several trade hubs throughout the world, and over several lesser Trade Leagues.

Other notable merchant organization are the Xin Emporium and Ish Consortium in Ashanor, the Sahra-Dajh in Ryumar, and the Qun Exchange in Korash. Each of these own various trade posts and caravans, and have influential power in their respective trade hubs. As they maintain the flow of the exchange of goods, they keep the wheel of wealth and trade going throughout the world.


 
 

T H A L O N I A N    T R A D E    S T A N D A R D

 
The Thalonian Trade Standard, abbreviated as TTS, is an agreement and proposal that suggests a standardized set of rules and tax laws between global traders. It was first proposed by the Thalonian League of Coins during the Age of Seas, when the central nations started to expand their territories and influence outwards to the rest of the world. As outer nations began to interact with the central nations, the need for a standardized system of trade guidelines became almost immediately apparent.

The TTS is based chiefly around the normal trade guidelines that already existed in Arganorh a few centuries before the Age of Seas, and only became more globally popular and recognized through the efforts of the Thalonian League of Coins and Thalon's other Trade Leagues at the time. Most of the world's largest merchant organizations and nations now use the TTS, or at least slightly altered versions of it. The League of Coins supervises the spread, standards, conducts and any potential changes to the TTS.

Through the Thalonian Trade Standard, trade is conducted with a number of standardized systems and references. Traders must know and conduct trade in a common written and spoken language, known as Thalonian Common, and use a standard alphabet, numeral system, units system, calendar system, and currency.

It is through the TTS that communication between different races, cultures and societies has become more easily manageable, and interactions beyond trade, like diplomatic or social interactions, have benefited greatly from having an established common-ground. It has made the necessity of various telepathic spells or devices less needed; the access of which had previously been very limited to most individuals.

While the Thalonian Trade Standard is already very expansive in our world today, it is very likely that in another century or so the TTS will become the sole standard in Nym for currency, trade, and general communication.


ALPHABET SYSTEM:
The standard alphabet used in the Thalonian Trade Standard is known as the New Iltam Alphabet (or sometimes the Darion Alphabet). It is the most globally known alphabet, and was originally created from a mixture of old Iltam letters and dwarven runes. It became more commonly used in Arganorh as a result of the Old Imperium's conquests before its fall, and it spread naturally afterwards to surrounding regions. Later, due to the Thalonian Trade Standard during the Age of Seas, it became more popular in other parts of the civilized world.

There are similar alphabets (especially in Aesudarh and Korash; where dwarves reside and taught other races their similar runic-based alphabet), but the New Iltam Alphabet has become the standardized global alphabet, and is often taught as a second-alphabet in educational institutes.


LANGUAGE SYSTEM:
The Thalonian Common, often just known as the Common-Tongue, is based largely on the local cultural languages that exist in Thalia, and is written with the New Iltam Alphabet. The language was first comprised of mainly the officially spoken language in Thalon, with some words hailing from Thivia. It has since expanded with the addition of words from other cultures; particularly words that often carry an understandable similar meaning, but which weren't previously properly defined in the Common Dictionary.

Most individuals in the central continents will likely be able to speak Thalonian Common along with their native, national language (if there is one officially present), but most won't be able to write it, unless they are properly educated. Granted, of course, that most commoners (most specifically peasantry) can't read or write to begin with, due to generally poor education.

Most educational institutes will prefer to teach and educate in Thalonian Common; owing to its widespread status. It is simply easier to teach the language that most people already know how to speak.


NUMERAL SYSTEM:
The used numeral system, known as the Standard Numeric, is based largely on dwarven runes and numeral systems. Over time it spread throughout Avanor, and surpassed the previously more common Imperium Numeric, which was more similar to the old Iltam system. Mathematicians prefer the Standard Numeric over the Imperium Numeric; mainly because it is simpler to learn, and it allows for more advanced equations.

A similar system to Standard Numeric was devised in Aesudarh and brought to Norrhan, as the Aesurn Clansfolk arrived to the central continents. It had no official name at the time, and has since been referred to by historians as Aesurn Numbers. There are very few differences between Standard Numeric and Aesurn Numbers (the main difference being spelling), and the two are often used interchangeably.


MEASUREMENT SYSTEM:
The system of  unit measurement is called the Thivian Norm, and is largely based on the Old Imperium's system, which was made from a mixture of the Iltam system and a dwarven metric system. It states that 1 meter is 100 cm, and 1 km is 1000 meters, and so on with similar units of measurement, such as kilograms (weight and mass) or liters (volume).

The Thivian Norm differs from its opposing Central Imperial, which is a system based on an amalgamation of former tribal and elven systems in the Avanorian region of Eddras, and the older system of the Aesurn clansfolk, who once populated most of Norrhan. Central Imperial uses feet, miles, leagues, etc. (for length), acres (for area), pint, gallon, etc. (for volume), and ounce, stone etc. (for weight and mass).

The Thivian Norm and Central Imperial are often mixed up depending on the culture, but most educated inhabitants of the central continents will be able to adapt or translate between them with ease, though Thivian Norm is better known globally.


CALENDAR SYSTEM:
The calendar system utilized in the TTS is the Sacellum Calendar; devised some time around the rise and founding of the Sacellum during the Age of Divinity. It has since seen a steady increase in its use throughout the central continents, and with its implementation into the TTS, it has become more globally known..

While there are many other Calendars that persist throughout the world, and many of those Calendar System mix with others (especially in Arganorh), the Sacellum Calendar is the most recognized system in Arganorh, and it is considered a standard between various citizen and scientific circles.


THALE CURRENCY:
The common currency used in the Thalonian Trade Standard is known as Thales. Thale Coins (or Thale Currency) are standardized around the value of a single Silver Thale coin. There are in total three different types of Thales; the Copper Thale, the Silver Thale, and the Gold Thale. A Copper Thale values at about half a Silver Thale, whilst a Gold Thale is double the value. The minting of Thales makes use of copper, silver, gold depending on the coin, and those metals are mixed with portions of nickel.

The origin and meaning of the term "Thale" is believed to come from the people of Thalia in Avanor, as it was common to call someone from that region "Thalemen". During the reign of the Old Imperium and a few centuries after, slaves were often transported through Thalia as they moved from east westwards to Darion, and it was common to call those slaves Thalemen. Eventually the term became more associated with exchanging currency, or silver coins, and gave rise to the common usage of "Thales".

In nations and circles where the Thalonian Trade Standard is used, other currencies are compared and weighed against Thales as the point of reference. Local trade is still in most parts of the world (even in places where the TTS is present) usually conducted with the locally standard currency, but otherwise the rise of the TTS has seen such practices of exchange decline.


 
 

B A N K S,    L O A N S    &    D E B T

 
With growth in trade and financial wealth comes the establishing of certain institutes; focused on maintaining or taking advantage of wealth, or people's lack of it. Banks are organizations that focus on amassing and storing wealth, with the intention of securing individual possessions for safekeeping, or offering financial loans to those who require it; with added financial interest for repayments.

Smaller banks tend to work for larger, more powerful banks, and provide lesser citizens with "reasonable" loan or safekeeping services for their wealth and properties. Such banks don't hold much influence or power on their own, and are generally limited depending on the city they are stationed in, or on the larger banks that own them.

The largest banks (such as the Balfon Bank based in Thalon, or the Qun Exchange based in the Scaled Cities) are highly influential banks that generally cover entire regions, and are renowned in most parts of the world. These Great Banks have amassed incredible amounts of wealth and power through centuries of clever and careful investments; often growing through acquiring potential businesses to gather later earned profits. They might also invest in certain individuals, or wealthy organizations, who they will offer services to in exchange for coin or influence.

It is typically only the wealthy, influential, or powerful individuals, organizations or even nations who are eligible for services in the Great Banks. These services might include anything from safekeeping of properties, valuation of acquired resources and wares, overseeing financial deals, or simple loans.

Loans usually go towards funding efforts that involve waging wars, establishing businesses, creating various private funds, or founding and financing colonial outposts or trade posts. Bankers evaluate the financial requirements, probabilities of success, and predicted returns if the bank was to invest, and at times these banks might often stand above even kings and other similar rulers. Since money runs the world, it isn't an understatement to claim that the Great Banks are likely the most powerful organizations in the world.

When a debt is due, the Great Banks waste little time in seeing it repaid. Debts are viewed with serious eyes and cold hearts, and a loan is expected to be repaid in full; with proper interest applied. If anyone should fail to pay their due debts, the Great Banks will go through any possible option they possess to see their investments returned. Manipulation of powerful individuals, supporting the debtor's enemies, blackmail, threats, repossession, or even assassinations; the Great Banks don't take kindly to those who would try to break agreements or swindle them. Lesser banks might take to issuing fines, or at worst they will involve local law and issue arrests and imprisonments. But the Great Banks? They will not let a debtor go so easily.

It is often that these Great Banks employ and send out specialized agents to protect their investments, or to see debts repaid. The Balfon Bank employs the Hoodmen; a sub-organization of highly trained and professional agents, who work for the Thalonian Trade Leagues. Their tasks often involve settling trade disputes, gathering financial intelligence on rivals, overseeing official transactions, or, their most talented field, collecting debts.

Various other banks or merchant organizations employ similar agents for their purposes. In the Qun Exchange, reclaimers or bloodclaws will hunt down debtors and punish them or their families; often torturing or killing off entire families and leaving one or two survivors to repay the rest that is owed. If that isn't sufficient or viable, the Qun Exchange will claim a legal right to enslave the debtor and their family, binding them to a slaving contract that will only be absolved once the debt is paid; although it rarely ever is.

In most dwarven societies, the failure to meet due payments of debts leads to repossession of all the debtor's property and potential titles or societal statuses; often auctioned off or repurposed for the bank's benefit. In some other societies debts can only be repaid with blood, and any negligence in reaching the first expected payment of coin will lead to inevitable death.

Money is a serious thing in the civilized lands of Nym, and organizations that exist purely for the purposes of amassing and maintaining wealth and properties, will often take drastic steps to ensure that their reputation and financial power is always at the top; leaving no doubt that they are indeed one of the most powerful entities in the world.


 
 

I L L E G A L    W A R E S     &    B L A C K    M A R K E T S

 

In most civilized societies, the creation of markets and the rise of trade often brings wares of questionable nature. Often these types of goods are drugs, sacrilegious icons, certain weapons, magical objects, or a diverse number of other items that could be considered either dangerous or unacceptable to a society.


If such wares ever make it into a market where demand is high or noticeable, local authorities tend to create laws that effectively ban the sale of those items; either as a way to protect people from drugs and such, or because certain items are considered legal to only a select few in a given society, and not the general populace.


Merchant organizations supervise what are considered legal and illegal wares, in accordance to local laws. When a ware becomes illegal, its sale will result in certain fines or other punishments, but demand for those wares might still persist. I is at this point that criminal elements start to get involved.


Smugglers discretely transport illegal wares to various trade hubs, where they are to be sold in secret or shady criminal underbellies. It is often that certain illegal (and sometimes legal) wares are sold for a lower price than the general market value, but the quality might be in some way faulty. This is especially true in criminal circles where counterfeiting and other fakery is a focus, and counterfeit coins and items are considered equally illegal by trade laws.


There is also the matter of stolen wares. Most merchants mark their wares and goods with a business crest, and sometimes the more powerful merchant organizations make use of magical markings, which are harder to fake or remove. Thieves and pirates steal wares and try to resell them later; though depending on the markings on the wares, reselling could be difficult in official trade circles.


Criminal fences can be found in most cities where criminal elements are organized, and skilled fencers can even remove magical markings. Fences generally buy stolen goods at a lower price than the market value, and resell later in long increments at a slightly higher price. To many thieves a fence is their only option, as it risky for criminals to try to sell stolen goods on the open market. Local guards and merchant agents are always on the lookout for any potentially illegal or stolen goods.


If one can't sell their illegal wares on the open market, then it's possible to turn to the black markets. Various black markets can be found in almost any city or trade hub in the world, where they are often controlled by larger criminal organizations. Black markets are secret, underground marketplaces that are typically hidden from local law enforcement, or kept alive thanks to bribery and other corruption.


Black markets give access to a diverse amount of different dangerous, illegal, and sometimes fake wares. Typically wares found in a black market are wares that one couldn't easily obtain on any open, legal markets, and it's also possible to find various rare items; like artifacts, magical reagents, experimental devices, exotic pets, slaves, and more. 


Prices also tend to be higher in the black market for general goods, and there are no official trade laws or standardized trade systems in a black market; save for the rules made by local criminal gangs and organizations. It is also much more dangerous for an individual to conduct trade in a black market, since there are usually no law enforcers to protect them or their wares, and any disagreements on price or quality could easily evolve into fights or murder.


There are several well known black markets in the world, but the largest is found in Arganorh; known as the Undermarket. It is set up and controlled by the Underthieves, who are an expansive criminal organization consisting of several gangs and sub-divisions. They own several hideouts throughout Arganorh, and some can be found on other continents.


The Undermarket is not one specific marketplace, nor is it always in one definitive place. Its various marketeers and caravans move between Arganorhian cities, often by utilizing the abandoned tunnels of the dwarven Underhalls. As it moves through the Underhalls, it might encounter various dangers like wild goblins, hostile gangs, or other dangers in the darkness, and so the Underthieves must provide protection as the caravans travel.


Law enforcers of various nations in Arganorh have long tried to shut down the Undermarket, but if one is taken down, a new one appears in its place not long after. It isn't generally difficult to find the Undermarket, depending on who one asks, but endeavors intended to destroy its entire existence either lead to disappointment, failure, or death. The combined craftiness and dedication of organized thieves and traders is not to be easily underestimated.