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Author Topic: daily life under the shadow  (Read 1729 times)
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smeagol
Bane of Legates
****

Spell Energy / Taint +9/-2
Gender: Male
Posts: 635


Hiding from Shadow


« on: August 09, 2006, 04:08:29 PM »

A Harsh Life Under the Shadow

In the occupied lands in the Last Age, most villages are eaking out a marginal existence. They share limited resources, depending on the whim of the local Shadow representants. If the local legate has a touch of mercy, they may have the surplus to barter for goods outside of the community. In most rural communities,  a permit is issued, in the form of a brass chit that allows its bearer to pass unmolested by the Shadow patrols (this is not guaranteed at all times).

The manorial system also has brought with it its logical consequence; the beginning of a feudal society, with many farmers or artisans pledging their lives in the service of the local traitor prince or even legate. Since they place themselves under his protection, they effectively become his slaves, but on the other hand they are granted minimal security and food in exchange of their freedom. One of the biggest mistakes a group of PCs might make would be to assume that such people will want to be freed...

There is also a flourishing slave trade, which makes some Orcish tribes all the richer. Some even specialized in capturing halflings, as those are on high demand as slaves. But isolated human communities, especially those who did not choose to become the local tyrant's serfs, are prime targets for Orcish raids, capture and being sold as real (ie, with no rights at all) slaves. After all, any orcish regiment or legate will need free manpower for various duties, thus sparing the more important servants their time and efforts for more important matters.

Of course, being the local "lords", occupation troops and legates are still free to help themselves for whatever ware they need or simply catches their eye. But trade still subsists, in a very limited way, for other people.

 
Legal trade and its limits:

The gnomes have been given the freedom of trade up and down the Eren river, providing they do 'their part' for the forces of izrador. Much like the feudal system, they're essentially slaves to the Shadow, but do have a limited amount of freedom, which allows them to subtly aid the resistance.

Thus, most trade is focused around the waterways, and whole towns have sprung up around riverside markets in the Last Age. These towns are the middle men, like a midnight mall. Farmers and craftsmen from all over come to these towns once a month to sell their wares and buy what they need.

On the other hand, Eredane is a rather vast place, and there are towns and villages that are too far from a river to actively trade regularly.

This puts them in an isolated state, these towns on the most part have to be self sufficent, or rely heavily on the communities around them for resources. This creates a very anarchic place to be: trust is only really extended to people in the community that have somehting to offer. News are sparse, so rumours of the 'outside' world are wild and misleading. This brooks fear toward outsiders, especially those who could upset the balance of the fragile community. In a place like this, morale is low and resistance to the Shadow minimal, as people try to get on with their lives in their situation.
 
Those wishing to live free of the Shadow have moved as far away as they could from the waterways and old trade roads. Isolated communities have to be self sufficient or they may band loosely together without villages within a two to three day walk/ride. For example, there may only be one village with a competent smith/forge and the other local villages come to the smith to get what they need/can't produce. Several isolated villages may band together under a strong warrior or skilled channeler for protection against slavers and other nasty things coming from the north.

In the countryside, anyone is free to go "trade" within a 10 mile-radius around them (because, in case of control, the local soldiers or legates all know that it's only “old Joe” trying to sell his eggs to the village).

Beyond that range, a special authorization is given, only to those who swear allegiance to the Dark Lord. If they do, they are given a token that is proof enough that they are reliable persons. Of course, such tokens are often coveted by resistance groups to provide them a "cover story". However, only important figures (legates, etc.) are ever given the "magical tokens" described in MN01. Written documents are to be avoided, as literacy is a rare privilege in the Last Age. Many troops (human or orcish) stationed at checkpoints could not read them anyway, so what's the point?

Outside of the rivers, regular trade with established routes and deliveries does not exist in Midnight. Smugglers and people who move critical items through the wilderness, well off the beaten path probably still exists. Eredane is dangerous, but good woodland skills and the sense to stay off the roads will help. Orcs and Legates can be avoided if you're not carrying magic. Smuggling of skilled people (channelers, halflings) is also ongoing.

On the roads, the only goods that move legally on a large scale do it with hobgoblin caravans of boro's and mules dragging timber, weapons, cockingpots and what-have-you to large fortifications.  Tribute and supply caravans are not trade, but they do offer opportunities to a resourceful party to obtain supplies, gather information, or if they're wildly successful and probably suicidal, to infiltrate a Shadow garrison/stronghold. There are garrisons well clear of the rivers that need to be resupplied. The vast majority of the gnomes stay on the Eren River. That means most of the north has to be supplied by other means.


The need for a black market in the cities

In the Last Age, any big occupied city has at least one black market. Why? Because urban citizens cannot produce food, which they trade against goods they are producing (clothes, shoes, etc.) with the farmers. Black market rarely involves selling "forbidden" things like weapons or books, but simply allows people access to restricted or difficult to find items, for a very high price.

With such a heavy demand for items in urban areas, there are lots of people somehow involved in black market. Either resistance groups, people who act out of a selfish desire to make a profit from such an activity (and can then be dubbed "traders"), or simply criminals who smuggle alcohol, prostitutes, etc. into the towns for their own filthy profit.

Some caravan masters working for the Shadow are also doing a little "blackmarket" work. What good that may be traded for are probably small goods to make life easier, such as tools, or more pleasant such as liquor and tobacco. A whole orc “maffia” has developed in the last years, making a huge profit in trading some goods that they manage to steal from their caravans to needy urban citizens.

In the southern plains, there is rumoured to be a whole "ghost market" (ie, a caravan always on the run) standing in the wilderness of the Erenland Horse plains, selling black market wares to any freeriders it meets.
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