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Fort Arltrees, El Oleonda, November 623

War was still raging on El Oleonda, somewhere in the East, but the inhabitants of Fort Arltrees weren't particularly concerned. The enemy army was reorganizing around Oryant and Luyang, and the only immediate threat to the Fort was represented by bands of Lotii stragglers and Carnite deserters: they still created some troubles for the most isolated farms... but, after all, that was the New World, and always keeping the musket at hand didn't seem something particularly unusual.

Therefore, during the previous months, the settlement kept growing steadily: the arrival of the allied contingent required more warehouses for the supplies, more workshops to fix the carriages, more blacksmiths, more stables, and obviously houses and taverns for all the workers. The gold mine and the farms also contributed to attracting a third wave of colonists, ready to seek their fortune in this remote corner of the Empire. 

With the allied fleet securing the main trade routes, and the safety offered by the imposing fortifications, the wealth of El Oleonda started attracting enterprising men from all over the Empire, but also from abroad. In Fort Arltrees, merchants from foreign nations were encouraged to settle and start their businesses in a dedicated district, close to the commercial port.

In the plans of the local authorities, the presence of foreign merchants in the settlement will further boost the economy of the settlement, encouraging more regular visits from the Madrician commercial fleets. On the other hand, Oleon doesn't want to repeat the mistakes made by Mardier with Terraversa: closing the port to the other nations would only encourage them to try establishing their own footholds in the New Haven Seas, with no control or advantage for the Empire of Light. 

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Several nations established a commercial emporium in the settlement: these little buildings represented at the same time warehouses, offices of the commercial delegation, and informal embassies. To avoid crossing too much one another's path, each trading company specialized in a few specific wares: trading from and to the very corner of the map is already complicated enough, and nobody wants to start pointless concurrencies!

In the Foreign Merchants' District, hundreds of doubloons change hands every day: a single ship loaded with spices, dyes, or sugar may be worth a real fortune back in the Madrician nations, while some relatively common goods produced in the motherland or in the Western Islands might be rare and expensive in the New Haven region.

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In the District, it is also possible to hire captains, ships, and crews of almost any nationality, to circumvent the current political complications: for a fair price, you could get a shipment of Lotii porcelains, or even get a passage to the Southern Kingdoms on a neutral ship; needless to say, this is also of great interest for the secret services, and the "Altonian salesman" who just embarked for the Lotus Empire could easily be an agent of Corrington or Oleon, an ambassador involved in secret talks, or even a Lotii spy!

Sailing under a foreign flag can also allow a safer journey to Fort Arltrees for rich passengers, valuable objects... or both, as in the case of the famous painter who has just been hired by the Garvian delegation!

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A real army of porters works in the district and in the nearby port: hundreds of crates, barrels, and bags have to be moved every day from the ships to the warehouses, or vice versa. Not everything, however, is worth its weight in gold, as in the case of the shipment of fruit and vegetables just delivered to the Mardierian delegation.

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Even if Fort Arltrees looked very different from the small hamlet of wooden shacks of only a couple of years before, the settlement was still very different from the most civilized cities of the Western Islands. Despite the fancy buildings of the District, trappers and boucaniers are still a common sight in the settlement, and the inhabitants are not particularly picky about the possible meanings of "roasted venison"... differently from that Altonian officer, who would probably think twice before visiting a local tavern!

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Unfortunately, the development of Fort Arltrees also started to attract a few scoundrels and petty criminals... apparently an unavoidable price of progress and prosperity, in the New World exactly as in the Old one.
This officer from East Terraversa should have been a little more watchful while telling tall tales about the Glorious Revolution of 616...

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Citizens of Southern descent represent a relevant minority, as some inhabitants of Jiangkai resettled in Fort Arltrees after the destruction of the settlement. Some Monomonto swordsmen, abandoned by their own comrades and simply left behind, asked to serve in the Grande Armèe of Oleon: most of them were enlisted in the King's Musketeers, a unit already well-known for the swashbuckling skills of its members... if with a rapier or a katana, apparently, makes little difference for the recruiting officers. 

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A list of foreign commercial missions:

The Essener New World Trading Company

The Ferrer Family Commercial Enterprise

The Altonian Commercial Mission

Miroslav Dobric's Trading Emporium

Garvian League Guildhouse

Terraversan Commonwealth Rum-Runners

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OOC: This diorama includes several little details, including a full interior for most of the builds. Therefore, apart from text completion, expect it to remain “alive” For the next few days, as I figure out the best way to assemble/move/reorganize the different parts! In particular, I plan to add individual posts for each building in this thread, so stay tuned!

Edited by Keymonus

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Very beautiful diorama full of life! :pir-huzzah1: The houses look great. The interesting thing is that every nation has its own building style in this district. People from this nation are also standing right in front of the house. There's a lot happening on the street. Various merchants sell their products. Many residents can also be seen.

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Wonderful street scene! Great to see all those different architecture styles. My favorite is the building on the left. What's the meaning of TCRR? I love all the action that is going on on the street. People doing their business, selling their stuff and even the thief is at work :pir_laugh2: But what happened to that poor :monkey:?

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Great scene ! Love builds like these, full of life! I really enjoy your builds, I really appreciate that you take the time to properly create and pose your figures. I often find that your scenes tell the story without needing a text and I love to analise them to see the stories you didn't include in the text :pir-huzzah2:

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Great looking street! Any plans to modify the build over the next weeks for some "christmas market" version?

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Thank you guys! In the next days I’ll continue with posts for each building, with some story and pictures of the interior… having everything in one post seemed really too much!

On 11/21/2023 at 6:59 PM, Fraunces said:

Nice street! Plenty details to discover. Always a pleasure to see these builds.

On 11/21/2023 at 3:18 AM, JintaiZ said:

Great scene! Really like the color scheme.

Thank you guys!

On 11/20/2023 at 11:49 PM, Darnok said:

Great looking street! Any plans to modify the build over the next weeks for some "christmas market" version?

Thanks! I didn’t have plans… till now! :pir-laugh: This is actually a great idea, the buildings would indeed be a nice background for a market or some other scene!

On 11/20/2023 at 2:25 AM, Rogue Redcoat said:

I like the portrayal of life on the home front, with all the shops and offices :pir-thumb:

Thanks! I tried to find a balance between keeping the same style between builds, and make them somehow unique… having people around doing stuff definitely helped!

On 11/19/2023 at 11:55 PM, Justsomebrix said:

Great scene ! Love builds like these, full of life! I really enjoy your builds, I really appreciate that you take the time to properly create and pose your figures. I often find that your scenes tell the story without needing a text and I love to analise them to see the stories you didn't include in the text :pir-huzzah2:

Thanks! When I build something I always try to create little stories, that sometimes don’t even turn up in the final text, and I’m glad you like it!

The reason why I sometimes post pictures before text is the bad habit of my pc of randomly refreshing the page when links are embedded, so it’s the most effective way of “saving” everything!

On 11/19/2023 at 11:09 PM, Yperio_Bricks said:

Wonderful street scene! Great to see all those different architecture styles. My favorite is the building on the left. What's the meaning of TCRR? I love all the action that is going on on the street. People doing their business, selling their stuff and even the thief is at work :pir_laugh2: But what happened to that poor :monkey:?

Thank you! That building will be the one of the East Terraversan commercial mission, that I plan to be focused on vanilla and other spices (it’s the only one currently lacking a finished interior). The sticker comes from a Lone Ranger set, so it stands for TransContinental RailRoad, but I really liked how it looked… so I’ll find out a suitable acronym in Terraversan! :pir_tong2:
The monkey is… ehm… taking a nap? Pun apart, I enjoyed the idea of a settlement thriving but with some “frontier” elements, as people eating random venison without too many questions…

On 11/19/2023 at 11:05 PM, NOD said:

Very beautiful diorama full of life! :pir-huzzah1: The houses look great. The interesting thing is that every nation has its own building style in this district. People from this nation are also standing right in front of the house. There's a lot happening on the street. Various merchants sell their products. Many residents can also be seen.

 

Thank you! I tried to give the guards and the merchants of each nation some unique details, and I’m glad you like them!

 

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Essener New World Trading Company

Located in a strategic position between Neustadt and Seawatch, Fort Arltrees always represented a fundamental waypoint for the ships of Carno. The first presence of Carnites in the settlement was established as early as the summer of 620, during the battle of El Oleonda: a company of Essian infantry was hired in the garrison of Fort Arltrees, soon reached by a squadron of the hussars from the same city.

Treesborg -the Carnite name given to Fort Arltrees- also had a crucial role during the siege of Seawatch: brave captains from Carno, Garvey, or Oleon left the settlement during nights of storm, defying the Lotii ships to provide the defenders with gunpowder and supplies.

Most of the Carnite activities in Fort Arltrees were linked to the Free City of Essen, which traders didn't dislike a little more autonomy from the Grand Merchant Council of Aden and its representatives in Neustadt.

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The security of the commercial delegation is ensured by a small contingent of marines of the Essener New World Trading Company. On paper, these guards are employees of a private commercial entity, but their uniforms and equipment show a clear connection with the regular armed forces. 

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During the previous two years, organizing the smuggling runs to the besieged settlement of Seawatch was one of the main activities of the Essian merchants in Treesborg. A noble mission, but also a quite profitable activity, as each cargo was generously paid in emergency certificates by the local governor. This represented quite a gamble for the Company: the hired captains demanded payments in doubloons or silver thalers, not in promises, and a Lotii victory would have turned all the "siege money" accumulated by the Essian merchants into wastepaper.

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On the ground floor, clerks and secretaries write and organize the huge pile of contracts, certificates, reports, and other documents that any trading company produces daily. People from Essen are known to be honest, precise and methodical, therefore any comma in the registers could be expected to be in order.

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In the near future, the Essener New World Trading Company planned to expand its activity on the island. The discovery of rich gold and silver ores on El Oleonda suscitated a particular interest in the Essians, well aware that the experience in metalworking of their countrymen could be put to good use there in the New World, where most of the smelting facilities were still rudimentary.

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Many Essians see in the New World the opportunity for a new dawn of prosperity for their city: for this reason, the sea flag of the Company includes the golden yellow of the historical flag, a symbol of greatness and power rarely used by the city in the current times... who knows, possibly the sacred Oak of Wotan could find a fertile soil on El Oleonda, so far from its homeland! 

Spoiler

The ground floor:

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I hope you enjoy the first building of the trading district, belonging to the Free City of Essen. Obvious credit goes to @Khorne, who invented it and established most of the lore... for this reason, it was also the most complicated in terms of text writing, as I wanted to be as coherent as possible with what was previously established. The reason behind the black and yellow flag is that while building I realized (to my surprise) that I don't own a white one, required for the more canonical Essen City Banner... my soldiers never felt the need to surrender, apparently!

Edited by Keymonus

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Very interesting story about Foreign Merchants' District. The scene with the guy who found a pocket watch is funny! :pir_laugh2:

I like the Essian Trading Company building! The matching shieldwith the raven above the entrance gate and in the office the shield with the oak tree. The rest of the equipment such as the furniture and decorations are also well built.

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19 hours ago, Keymonus said:

The monkey is… ehm… taking a nap? Pun apart, I enjoyed the idea of a settlement thriving but with some “frontier” elements, as people eating random venison without too many questions…
 

Some fine bush meat, i see :pir_laugh2:

17 hours ago, Keymonus said:

Essener New World Trading Company

I always wonder who came up with the name 'Essen' because it's a real German city. My sister lives there :pir_laugh2:

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I love this! This must be one of your largest MOCs yet, right? I like the liveliness of everything with all the different scenes and figures going about. It's cool that you've added a bit of national flavor to each of the separate warehouses. I also love the stories you've added to the main post.

Crazy to think that most of these buildings each have an interior as well! I'm looking forward to seeing this thread progress and read about the different nations' trade posts.

 

18 hours ago, Keymonus said:

Essener New World Trading Company

:wub:

Lovely to see people give some love to Essen and stick to the lore The addition of the shield with the oak tree is awesome! Such a nice detail. Would've also been nice if you had been able to include the twin ravens on the gables somewhere. But still, very nice. I like it!

Am I correct in assuming you are still updating the post? Currently I only see a introduction, and then it's just loose words and links followed by pictures.

1 hour ago, Yperio_Bricks said:

I always wonder who came up with the name 'Essen' because it's a real German city. My sister lives there :pir_laugh2:

I did! :tongue: I made up the city state as part of my entry in a contest some years ago. I found the part about Carno having different city states interesting and so I created Essen, a rival state of Aden - the current capital city of Carno.

Long explanation below, scroll down for TL;DR version.

Long version

I had the retro fireman torso and I thought they fitted the Carno double-breasted uniform aesthetic, so I decided to go with those. Because they were black, I came up with the "dour" thematic of the faction. A fantasy version of Prussians with Lower German, Swedish/Danish and a bit of Dutch influences - (Baltic) protestant influences, if you will. Militaristic, stubborn and dutiful. The real-life Death's Head hussars are a famous unit, so I decided to use death's head emblems for this faction as well and from there grew the background story with them using it to honor their fallen dukes. And from there came the raven story, which is also a bird from gothic fiction, which in its turn matched the gothic characteristics. You can read more in-depth background here.

So in the end, I still needed a name and I settled on 'Essen' because it fitted the general thematic I had in mind.

  • Like you said: Essen is a know real-world city in Northern Germany. But there is also an Essen in Flanders and other places, so it fit the generic Lower Germany/Low Countries vibe I was looking for. Plus, Essen (in Germany) is famous for its gun industry, just like Essen in BOBS.
  • In the lore, Essen is situated in the bend of the river Karn which runs through Carno. From there it is in an ideal position for trade, which is also a source of its income and a means to furnish its army. Thus it sits in the 'S'-bend of the river, hence 'ESS-en'.
  • The exclave of Karnemünde also references the Northern German background of the city, with many villages and cities in Northern Germany having names like this (e.g. Peenemünde)
  • I also liked how the name seemed familiar to Hessen and the dreaded Hessian soldiers from the American Revolutionary War, which linked to the whole "New World" thematic of BOBS. Plus, the Hessians were mercenaries, just like the Essians (sort of) were when they first made their appearance in BOBS.
  • On a side note (some etymologic/nerd expo here): I also made up the river Karn and its name to explain the position of Essen and the geography and name of the nation itself. Coincidentally, "Carno" contains the word "carn" which in Dutch can also be written as "karn". And "karn" in Dutch means "to churn", e.g. "karnemelk" / "churned milk". So I figured it would make sense to add a Rhine-like massive river to Carno - a major vein of trade, so important that the nation derives its names from it. A wild river in parts, hence the name "Karn / Churn" :yoda:.

TLD;DR

Essen is a common city place/name in Flanders and Northern Germany and thus fitted the Northern German protestant vibe perfectly.

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10 minutes ago, Khorne said:

Long version

 

I had the retro fireman torso and I thought they fitted the Carno double-breasted uniform aesthetic, so I decided to go with those. Because they were black, I came up with the "dour" thematic of the faction. A fantasy version of Prussians with Lower German, Swedish/Danish and a bit of Dutch influences - (Baltic) Protestant influences, if you will. Militaristic, stubborn and dutiful. The real-life Death's Head hussar are a famous unit, so I decided to use death's head emblems for this faction as well and from there grew the background story with them using it to honor their fallen dukes. You can read more in-depth background here.

[snip]

I am from Lower Saxony and can relate to everything you wrote :pir-huzzah2: Actually we had also blackcoat hussars and infantry where i live, called Black Brunswickers (Schwarze Schar), who also wore the skull and bones badge. You may look them up at wikipedia. Now that i see their uniform again i want some Lego blackcoats :pir_laugh2:

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Hi guys! The post for the Essener New World Trading Company is finally ready! 

2 hours ago, Khorne said:

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Thanks! Yes, I think it is my largest build till now, if not in terms of footprint for sure in the number of buildings and minifigs! I'm glad you like it!

Your lore about Essen is amazing, and when I decided to build the Foreign Merchant district it was the first thing I decided to include, also considering the relative ease of creating soldiers wearing black without owning the specific torso. If anything with the backstory is not fine, feel free to ask for any modification, as the city is somehow a creation of yours.

3 hours ago, Yperio_Bricks said:

I always wonder who came up with the name 'Essen' because it's a real German city. My sister lives there :pir_laugh2:

Names of real places sometimes pop-up, now and then! :pir-grin: Till now, apart from Essen, we have Verona (a colony of Altonia, but also an Italian city), Aden (the capital of Carno, but also of Yemen), and Solaro (a Mardierian island, but also a tiny Italian town near the place I live)... apparently some names just sound too good not to use them! :pir-grin:

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22 hours ago, Keymonus said:

... for this reason, it was also the most complicated in terms of text writing, as I wanted to be as coherent as possible with what was previously established. The reason behind the black and yellow flag is that while building I realized (to my surprise) that I don't own a white one, required for the more canonical Essen City Banner... my soldiers never felt the need to surrender, apparently!

1 hour ago, Keymonus said:

Your lore about Essen is amazing, and when I decided to build the Foreign Merchant district it was the first thing I decided to include, also considering the relative ease of creating soldiers wearing black without owning the specific torso. If anything with the backstory is not fine, feel free to ask for any modification, as the city is somehow a creation of yours.

No need to change anything, it's definitely coherent with the established background :thumbup:.

The usage of the black and yellow flag is an interesting opportunity for some new nuance in the lore perhaps. Maybe these men are royalists in favor of the old ducal ways with a noble caste ruling the city and a return of a duke who could potentially become king of Carno himself, which is why they prefer the golden banner. Flying the gold-black banner would definitely be seen as an act of defiance by the king of Carno and the city-state of Aden. The Essians using the current "official" black and white could be republicans content with how Essen is now and prefer to move forward in a meritocratic manner, whilst obviously never forgetting the past from where they came. Just some random musing here :classic:. Limitation can also be a catalyst for creativity.

 

Like I said in my previous comment: looking forward to seeing all of the other stories you will add to this! Perhaps you can write the story in Word or a Google Doc first and then paste it into a post here, so you will not lose anything while posting? That way you can upload the post in one go, instead of partial updates.

EDIT

I forgot I also made a design for a trade outpost once, way back. Never got around to finalizing the design or building it with actual bricks:

Spoiler

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Edited by Khorne

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I am looking forward to learn more about the other trade companies that have an office in Fort Arltrees! As an latecomer it's hard to catch up with all the lore that has been established over years.

 

1 hour ago, Khorne said:

I forgot I also made a design for a trade outpost once, way back. Never got around to finalizing the design or building it with actual bricks:

  Reveal hidden contents

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Oh yes, that certainly fits the Brick Gothic aesthetics one would expect from an Essian style building. Maybe one day you'll finish it.

 

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12 hours ago, Khorne said:

EDIT

I forgot I also made a design for a trade outpost once, way back. Never got around to finalizing the design or building it with actual bricks:

  Reveal hidden contents

53355893684_60b782772c_c.jpg

 

Nice! If you ever finish it, I'd really like to see it in one of our settlements!

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The Ferrer Family Commercial Enterprise

The largest building of the Foreign Merchants' District belonged to the Ferrers, a rich Mardierian family of bankers and traders. The palace was an elegant and classy building, for the Mardierian canons, even if a little too modest... for the Essians of the adjacent building, instead, it represented an awful baroque monstrosity! 

The Ferrers earned their impressive fortune a the very beginning of the Age of Exploration, when the ports of Terraversa were still closed and most of the Madrician Fleets were still locked behind the Line. At the time, the Ferrer Bank had the great intuition to finance the colonial adventures of the Mardierian Crown: soon, gold, silver, and spices started to flow back to King's Port and Londa, making the financiers rich beyond any measure. In a short time, the Ferrers were also able to launch their own private expeditions: in some periods, their galleons and conquistadores were almost as many as the ones of the king himself.

Many years had passed, and now the quartered banner of the Ferrer only represented one of the many flags flown in the New World, and no longer the most feared. The Civil War, followed by the Terraversan Revolution and the Eslando-Mardierian War, represented devastating blows to the power of the Old Empire and its trading companies.

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Don Francisco Ferrer, one of the current representatives of the Company, had recently arrived at an agreement with the governor of Fort Arltrees: the Ferrers were authorized to establish a trading mission in the settlement; in return, they would act as middlemen in some trading businesses at the very border of legality...

One of the most profitable -and possibly the most controversial- of these activities is trying to establish trading bonds with some Lotii merchants, in order to erode their support to the war against Oleon.

Technically speaking, war was never declared between Oleon and the Lotii vassals, even if the latter had provided the Imperial Army with ships and numerous mercenaries. Therefore, again in principle, nothing forbade merchants from Banersbi or Bouton to moor in Fort Arltrees, trade with a Mardierian merchant, and leave unharmed... and nobody ever went too deep in investigating their precise nationality! 
For safety reasons, the Southerners were always escorted by Oleonese soldiers, were not allowed close to military installations, and could not spend the night in the settlement; apart from these minor aspects, everything had proceeded smoothly until that moment.

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The most well-paying trade of the Ferrers in Fort Arltrees is an unusual one, basically creating money out of thin air.

Both in the Madrician states and in the Southern Kingdoms, gold and silver are valuable metals, and the former is worth more than the latter.
How much more, however, is a different matter... 

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A merchant of Oleon, Garvey, or Mardier, for instance, would be happy to pay a golden ingot with nine or ten silver ingots of the same weigth...

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...while silver is much more priced in the Southern Kingdoms, and a Lotii merchant would gladly make the same exchange accepting five or six silver ingots. Therefore, by setting the exchange at an intermediate value, both sides would leave richer and happier, buy more metal in their home countries (gold for the Lotii, silver for the Marderians), and repeat the cycle indefinitely!

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As Fort Arltrees is probably the only place where this type of trade can currently happen, the pressure of the richest merchants on the Lotii commanders could defend the settlement better than a battery of howitzers... at least unless someone decides that raiding and plundering could be a more effective way to get cheap silver!

Spoiler

 

Additional view: the desk with the weights for the scale.

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On the upper floor, Don Francisco Ferrer was discussing some future plans with the governor of Fort Arltrees and the commander of his guards. Apparently, there are many ways in which the funds of the Ferrer Company could be put to good use in Fort Arltrees, far from the greedy tax collectors and the cumbersome bureaucracy of Mardier. From his side, Marcel Dubois knew that he had to be extremely careful in all his moves: politics might be far more dangerous than a battlefield, and a forged accusation of corruption or even treason could move him into a dark dungeon or in front of a firing squad really, really quickly. 

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Additional picture in the spoiler:

Spoiler

 

Captain Fulgencio Navarro, head of the Ferrer guards, chooses the medals to wear at the governor's dinner. No, the one he earned during the War of 616 is not a good idea, as the Garvian delegation will also be present!

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A wider view of the upper floor office and apartment:

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A pure breed Mardierian cat, resting on a couch:

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The fireplace, with costly ornaments and a shelf with expensive liquors:

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I hope you enjoy this second build! The backstory is somewhere between the established lore for Mardier, and something I completely invented (the Ferrer Family is something I introduced to build shady and slightly debatable stuff, without my main characters getting directly involved). I hope I didn't go too far in the business with the "definitely-not-Lotii" merchants, which is quite in line with how business and war were managed during the Age of Sails!

The differences in the exchange rates between gold and silver in different places, historically, were a real thing: the Portuguese merchants of Macau and Nagasaki earned fortunes in this way, as both China and Japan were hungry importers of silver, and didn't use gold for their coins (therefore, the metal was less valuable).

 

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I really like the interior! The desk and cabinet, the ship in the bottle, the scale! The armchair and cat, the fireplace! Great story too.

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Ah yes, lovely to see the next installment! Once again: wonderful job on the interior. Crazy to think all of these buildings are furnished. So parts intensive! Great furniture and details all around. I especially like the ship in the bottle, that's a nice touch. Also very interesting piece of economical history. I was not aware of the oriental silver/gold trade. Ironic how something that has a lot of value in one culture means next to nothing in another one.

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On 11/26/2023 at 9:30 PM, Yperio_Bricks said:

I really like the interior! The desk and cabinet, the ship in the bottle, the scale! The armchair and cat, the fireplace! Great story too.

Thank you! I tried to make the Mardierian building more opulent than the other ones, adding a lot of "useless" but costly-looking stuff.

On 11/27/2023 at 9:55 PM, Khorne said:

Ah yes, lovely to see the next installment! Once again: wonderful job on the interior. Crazy to think all of these buildings are furnished. So parts intensive! Great furniture and details all around. I especially like the ship in the bottle, that's a nice touch. Also very interesting piece of economical history. I was not aware of the oriental silver/gold trade. Ironic how something that has a lot of value in one culture means next to nothing in another one.

Thanks! I have to say that the interior of these two builds is the most elaborate, in the others there are more warehouse-like spaces... The bottle is something I now and then use in my builds, it's a very simple but effective detail.

About the silver... I've read somewhere that "silver went around the World and made the World go round", and that it was the first globalized market. For what concerns Asia, Spanish silver arrived from South America to Manila, and then arrived in the Spice Islands (modern Indonesia), in India (where it was exchanged for gold, spices and other exotic goods), and in China, where it was directly exchanged for gold, or used to buy silk, porcelains and tea. For various reasons, the same silver ingot had a greater value in China than elsewhere in the World, and China almost only imported silver from foreign countries. Japan was instead a great silver exporter, with the Portuguese acting as middlemen with the Chinese Empire. The difference in silver availability and value kept the global economy of the time flowing, with China acting as a sink for Spanish silver and preventing its devaluation, regardless of how many new mines were discovered. 

Unfortunately, in the real-world timeline, this also paved the road to one of the darkest pages of colonialism. Over time, Japan closed its ports to the outer world (and its silver left the global market), silver production in South America reached a plateau, and demand for Chinese tea and other goods in Europe skyrocketed. Soon, the British found out that their Indian Colonies produced something else that was valuable in the Chinese market, and that could counterbalance the continuous loss of precious metals: opium.

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The Altonian Commercial Mission

Altonia has never really been a country of sailors and explorers. A lively class of merchants always existed in the nation, but their activities were mostly limited to the export of hard cheeses or the import of salt from Wisimar. Times, however, had changed quickly, and some had started to look beyond the traditional routes and wares.

The recently opened Breshaun-Ulric trading route renewed interest in the New World among the most enterprising Altonians. After long discussions in the parliament, an influential league of merchants had convinced the government to claim sovereignty over the so-called Bat Island, in the Prio Seas... a small island with no proper mooring point, thousands of bats, and a native tribe still unaware of having become subjects of Her Majesty, Queen Brigette III. However, not even an outpost was established yet, and many thought that Altonian government was still not seriously pursuing its colonial adventure.

To participate in the New World spice trade, a group of Altonian traders established a commercial mission in Fort Arltrees: apart from profit, their not-so-hidden aim was to attract the Queen's attention to the colonies, and to push the Crown to finally take some more serious steps on Bat Island.
Informally, Oleon supports this plan: an Altonian colony on Bat Island could represent a friendly port halfway between Lavalette and Kojima, in an area infested by the pirates of Barracuda Bay.

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As the commercial mission was not directly backed by the Altonian government, the guards were not drawn from the army but were instead civilian volunteers. With all the books describing the New World as a tropical paradise, it was not particularly finding young men looking for adventure!
The Altonian guards were equipped with modern muskets and uniforms but still wore cuirasses while on duty... when they were equipping their men, the Altonian merchants had still in mind Armond Basker and his conquistadores.

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Paprika and dried chili peppers had quickly become the main interest of the Commercial Mission, even though small amounts of tea and other spices were also exported. Compared to pepper or vanilla, chili peppers were not considered the most interesting good by the merchants of the main colonial Empires. The spice was very sought after in the Old World, and a cargo of paprika was still worth a little fortune, this was true, but the plants had quickly adapted to other regions of Halos, and now chilis were planted at ease also in the Mokolei Empire, in New Oleon, and even in some areas of the Madrician peninsula... even if definitely not in cold countries, such as Carno, Garvey or Altonia!

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Dried chilis were carefully mixed and controlled before being packed in bags of canvas and shipped to the motherland: a moldy cargo of spices would not make a good impression on Queen Brigette and her court!

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For paprika and ground chili, barrels and caskets were usually preferred. The Altonian merchants had also started to export, alongside the raw spices, blends of different chilis, paprikas, and local herbs. These products were having a lot of success, both in the motherland and in the rich westernmost colonies in the Sea of Storms. 

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Unfortunately for the Altonian merchants, this also meant tasting way too many chili peppers, ranging from slightly spicy to unbearably hot. Hopefully, the people in charge of this were paid a little extra...

In the little office, a curious machine helped the clerks with their duties: built by an Altonian clock-maker and inventor, it can make complex mathematical operations through an intricated system of buttons and dented wheels. Operating it, however, is so complicated that many still prefer the old, dear, paper and ink!

Spoiler

A different angle:

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Here you can find the interior of the third build of the series, the Altonian Commercial Mission. A little less elaborated than the previous ones in terms of furniture, as I tried to keep it a little more warehouse-like. I hope you like it!

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I feel with the chili testers :pir_laugh2: Another great moc and story! I love the diversity of trades and traits of the various commercial missions and trade organizations.

The mechanical calculator is a nice detail. I also like the pipe smoking guard.

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Miroslav Dobric's Trading Emporium

Far in the West, back in the Old World, lay the country of Varcoast. With the discovery of a whole New World, people rarely remembered this small and poor neighbor of Oleon. Nestled among the Madrice Peninsula and the steppes of the Continent, Varcoast was out of the main trading routes and had never attempted to change that. With its dark forests, the unforgiving weather, and its tiny, wooden villages, the country seemed indeed to have remained out of time, still trapped in the Dark Ages.

Only a few merchants traveled along the roads connecting the main Varcosian cities with the Oleonese border, mostly for some livestock or wool fairs: a difficult journey along bad roads of dirt, plagued by wolves, brigands, and, even worse, arbitrary taxes imposed by the local lords.

The Nation of Varcoast never attempted to colonize New Terra, and only a handful of Varcosians were ever seen in the colonies. Therefore, the Governor was rather surprised when he received a letter from a Varcosian merchant, Monsieur Miroslav Dobric, asking for settling and trading rights in Fort Arltrees.

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The little building established by the Varcosian delegation would probably fit better in a little town of the motherland, than in a lively city of the New World. A little out of place or not, Dobric's Commercial Emporium was bringing to Fort Arltrees an interesting number of Doubloons and silver Talers, so nobody cared particularly about the antiquated architecture.

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The Varcosian contingent also looked particularly unusual, when compared to the troops of the other Madrician nations. Wearing an iron helmet and a brigandine, an armor made of heavy cloth and small steel plates, these soldiers seemed more ready to fight a dragon than for a modern battlefield.
Completely outdated at first look, this equipment could save a soldier's life back in the motherland, where the brigands and the raiders from the Western steppes still used bows and swords as often as muskets. El Oleonda, however, was far warmer than the Varcosian woods, and the soldiers on guard were severely put to the test by the tropical sun.

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On the ground floor, in a corner of the warehouse, an officer was enjoying some rest from duty, together with a little glass of liquor. The Varcosians had brought with them a large amount of rakija, a strong spirit made from plums, which soon gained popularity among the inhabitants of Fort Arltrees.

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The little warehouse also contained several caskets of indigo dye, produced in the nearby settlement of Jiangkai and dried in small bricks. Back in the Old World, blue was a particularly appreciated color, but most of the available pigments were either insanely expensive (as the Mokolei lapis lazuli) or not particularly resistant. For sure, the imported indigo would soon have made the vests of wealthy Varcosians far more colorful!

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The upper floor of the building contained a small, bare office, largely occupied by barrels, caskets, and more bottles of imported spirits. Various benches and a robust table represented the only pieces of furniture in the room, while a Varcosian flag hanging from a wooden wall was the only visible decoration.

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During his periods of leave in Fort Arltrees, General Tristan Rimbaud was often a welcome guest of Monsieur Dobric. The lands of the Rimbaud Family, where Tristan was born, were only a few miles from the Western Border, and Varcosian was almost his mother language. Tristan had last been to his family manor almost five years before, and receiving recent news from the Old West was always a pleasant surprise for him... even if, in this case, it also meant being offered a glass of strong spirit after the other, a typical aspect of Varcosian hospitality!

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The rakija, a strong spirit obtained from the distillation of fermented plums, apples, apricots, and other fruits. Typical of Varcoast, it was also popular in Pontilla and Western Oleon regions.

Edited by Keymonus

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