Sunday, June 21, 2015

Risk Takers

I am not a risk taker. It’s just part of my personality make-up. I don’t do anything without having a Plan B, and I never risk more than I can afford to lose. If you study business, you will likely read in management books various theories on whether or not risk is essential or foolish. Let me tell you my bias, and how I worked it into my world.

The city of Forsbury is known for being a “depot town”. That means that it is at a crossroads and as caravans come in, they drop off loads into the warehouses, pick up other loads and head back out. This is not a manufacturing center, it is a trade center. So it makes sense that the town is primarily controlled by the biggest merchants in the city. (There is a Baron who intentionally keeps his army strong and his taxes low in order to keep these merchants here, but who exactly is “in charge” is often questionable.)

Now, when I started the campaign in Forsbury, figuring that being surrounded by money and trade but not really manufacturing - this would be a great place for mercenaries, I established the merchant houses. There are about 30, but only the top eight or so really mattered. Some of them were long established, but most of the time that I was writing up the history of the houses, similar themes kept coming out. Why? Because I have studied business. The really successful folks are those who take risks and work their tails off.

For example - The Masterhills. The father of the current brother team running the cartel was a teamster who knew he could do it better. He loaded up his wagons and ran them at top speed from the river (where fish were cheap) to Forsbury where they weren’t, and he was able to do it fast enough to sell “fresh” fish. Then he loaded up his wagons with more rock than was safe for them to carry and ran that faster than he should down roads that weren’t good enough. Guess what - he undersold the competition. By the time his wagons fell apart from the stress and problems, he was rich enough to start doing things right.
But his sons, they were raised rich. They knew what to do to maintain it, and admittedly, they had enough initiative to go out and take more business from their competition, but by and large, they were playing defense. That was until Caitlin came along. A professional mercenary, sell sword, adventurer or assassin, depending on who you asked, she had spent her life risking, well, her life. Risking money was no big thing to her. She put together several expeditions to the arctic to hunt the mammoths (hey - it’s high fantasy) for their ivory. She brought back so much ivory that she altered the world market on it, though not until she too had become rich.

How does this affect your game worlds? Well, on Fletnern, the old money tries to play it safe. They bribe and control the governments to make it more difficult for other people to get into business. If they hire adventurers, it is more likely that they are doing it to attack a rival or try to destroy something that someone else has built. The young money guys - They are out there risking new ideas. They are exploring new regions looking for wealth they can take or trade for. They are running into lost cities and tribes that no one even knew were out there. Both of these can be employers for your player characters, but the missions are going to be completely different.

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