Traveling peddlers around the realms.
The life of a traveling peddler could be as light and care free as any minstrel or as much about drudgery as any miser depending on the outlook and area traveled by them. Peddlers traded in small usable everyday objects that would be needed in the markets in their traveling area; around six to twelve miles for the various market days. A full purse from a market could make the traveling a light hearted affair moving from inn to inn with a private room and bath to celebrate the arrival of the fair, But a just a wrong purchases or a too heavy handed tax man and it back to the alewives common room
Market days they were very lucky if were they compensated by the local lord. Foreign traders were required to change money into local coins and sometimes were delayed by law up to two hours before they could enter the fair so as to let the locals get first crack at items. Also tax collectors could remove items from tables as part of the lords’ tax. So as a means to grant favors to kinsmen lords could grant a fair untaxed for one of their vassals so that they curry favor with the merchant class.
Records show that 2400 market days were held within a given year. This did not account for annual trade fairs which highlighted the locally produced goods. These produced revenue in the form of taxes and fines and rents. Cost of transporting goods to a market was calculated at 1.4 to 3 percent of the cost of the goods depending if it is transported by water or land. Also what was to be paid to the workers that helped with portages and tax collection points were worked out by a right of trade agreement set by the merchants and the local lords the choice made by the worker for either a cloak, gloves or food. Plus a cash payment to the toll collector based upon number of items or type going up river or down.
Gold was rarely seen by a peddler as the people used mostly copper and silver pennies minted by the government. Gold was used by the government itself for large purchases of land and ships. Then those were usually transferred with purchase agreements signed by the parties involved. Banking could exist in a fantasy setting by the use of a series of money lenders and guild exchange houses that have given them their members a set rate for funds deposited with others in lue of hard cash. Trade bars are used by costars where they are minted but are usually given a discount the further away they are traveling from its origin point. Peddlers could also exchange money for the local fixed merchants at a higher rate as they are returning to the trade bars point of origin so that the local’s blacksmith and tavern can take these forms of currency
Peddlers travel only short distances for their markets and good average around 8 miles. The farther the distance the greater the increase in the cost of the items. Areas with several villages would have several traveling peddlers where as a small isolated town may only have the peddlers who have it as a turning point or destination who may arrive with wagon loads of goods to service the populace. Groups of peddlers could work the same circuit at alternating times of years to take advantage of the seasonal needs of the area or the desires of the locals. After all if there is no money or barter items available then the trip is wasted time and distance.
Other merchants or traders would buy and sell as they went along to a targeted destination. This was done by the Polo’s as they ventured east, Glass and Venetian trade goods to the Holy Land then Holy Oil to Christian enclaves east on the silk road then onto China. In the game Mercers could be sending agents/buyers along trade routes to find new suppliers of raw or finished goods to bring back to their locations to sell. These agents may be able to act directly for the merchant or they may have some instant way of direct communication via magic. These agents and or mercers are looking go the quickest way to the most profit and are looking to cut corners on travel and time spent on the road, cheap animals and way station points for the coaster to resupply and rest.
Merchants are more generalized in their business pattern such as taking a wagon north to the dwarves mines. selling pots and pans on the way to the villages and when they arrive at the mine they can convert all the unsold pots and pans to be made in to pig iron and anvils. They then return back to the south selling the pig iron and anvils to all the smithies along the way and picking up fancy worked iron from the smiths to sell in the city when they return, setting the cycle to repeat.
Mercers have a general location that they are buying and transporting to, to sell in their home towns or trying to open a new market for any overflow goods from their main market location . Sometimes they are attempting to be rid of older and damaged goods by selling out in the sticks. Beware, this is what set Washington against his British trading partners. Also, the city that I have lived in and done business in for the last twenty-two years was founded by a man who wanted to unload water damaged calico from the Erie canal. So the mercer could be the buyer from the above Iron merchant.
Some enterprises required that shares be sold to see the risk spread. Amounts several individuals and profits shared by those who risked more in the beginning, Ships are a major example with them costing in game terms tens of thousands of gold shares being bought and resold as peoples fortunes ebbed and flowed. shares in a boat being built could be considered better collateral then one at sea after all in the middle ages 4 out of ten ships did not return to their home port and in certain times it was as high as 7 out of ten due to pirates and weather. But years until a merchant man’s return was also not that uncommon. Leading to the old saying when my ship comes in, I can redeem my shares. This could also lead to new treasure possibilities for your game, a chest filled with various ship shares that have yet to return.
Merchant guilds exist to help run the mercantile life of the city some of them going as far as to say who can sell what where and when such as in London fish caught above a certain stream could only be sold up to a certain bridge and never below it. Produce could only be hold in one square and butchery was to take place along the route to the river. The merchants guild could also work towards better trade rights the other guild and city rulers. city fines and fees to the advantage of their members.
Tradesman or craft guild exist to help buy in bulk and apprenticing rights and services. Fathers could place a son with the guild for a certain fee. Paid to the guild in either money or property. The sons would then begin their servitude with the guild until they were given journeyman status and then could travel freely about to establish themselves with in the union.
Next part who works for merchant the NPCs and what they do.