The blood that powers the body of commerce and sometimes quite literally the backs upon which the economy is carried, caravaners move goods and produce to and fro across the lands of the Empire of Turelion and within the Underdark.
There are few opportunities for career progression amongst caravaners, with the most that the majority can hope for to be put in charge of a gang of caravaners on a particular job, a task that normally falls to the most experienced caravaner in the group, rather than the most qualified or most intelligent.
Payment & Reimbursement
Caravaners are paid in two tranches, half up front and half when they return to the place from which they set off, as insurance that they will carry out the job from start to finish. This means that many caravaners will tend to work set routes, travelling between two places and picking up jobs at each location to ensure that they never make a trip that they aren’t being paid to undertake. The pay that caravaners demand is generally up to the individual caravaners or individual caravaner groups, which means that they are constantly undercutting one another to try and secure a job, and a savvy or unscrupulous merchant can have their goods portered at a fraction of the price they would otherwise have paid. However, this is not the situation in the Underdark, where the predominance of the Fraxian Guild of Caravaners means that prices are standardised, making wages for caravaners in the Underdark far fairer than those of their counterparts on the surface.
Caravaners and caravanning as a profession is generally looked down upon. There is a pervasive sense that it is a job that any one could do if one was willing, which creates quite a sense of snobbery towards it. As well as this, caravaners are often unfairly characterised as people who tip up in towns and cause trouble whilst they are there before they up sticks and move on down the road, confident that they can get away with causing mischief as they will not be around for long. Far less value is given to them than they deserve, given that much of the economic activity beyond that at a local level would cease if they didn’t exist.
DemandEver since a need arose to move goods and produce from one place to another, caravaners have existed to provide this service. They are always in demand, which means that work is plentiful, something that often draws people in need of employment and coin into the profession.
It tends to be poorer, less educated people who find work as caravaners, principally because the only qualifications required for the job are a strong back and sturdy feet.
The job of a caravaner is simple, to assist with the moving of goods from one place to another. Generally this involves the maintenance and management of a herd of pack animals and ensuring that the goods are properly stowed in wagons or on mounts, but occasionally, especially when travelling to places that are so hard to get to pack animals cannot reach them, caravaners will carry goods on their own backs. Caravaners are generally contracted to pick up goods or materials from a specified location and to carry them to their destination, where their work is deemed to be complete once they unload their cargo at the end point. On the whole, caravaner is a term that is specifically used to refer to people who transport goods over land, rather than via ship or Firewing. Often teams of caravaners will be contracted to move goods from a place of origin to a port, whereupon they are loaded onto a ship for maritime transportation and that crew of caravaners’ work is deemed to be complete. The distance that a caravaner is expected to travel is restricted only by the willingness of the caravaner themselves. Some only operate locally, whilst some are happy to shift goods and produce across entire continents.
Dangers & Hazards
As caravaners, by the very nature of their work, have to leave the relative safety of settlements and cities, this profession is far more fraught with perils than many others. Bandits and wild beasts are a perennial problem, even within the boarders of the Empire of Turelion, and in many places the regions they are travelling through themselves can be highly hostile. For example, over the years many caravaners have perished due to extreme weather conditions; snow storms, sand storms, torrential rain, exposure etc. Some caravaners expose themselves to much higher levels of danger than others. Those who ply their trade within the Underdark, or who porter goods between the surface world and the Underdark expose themselves to much greater dangers than their counterparts who only work on the surface of the Material Plane. It is unknown how many caravaners are killed by various means every year, but should that number be discovered it would surely rank the job as one of the most dangerous professions in existence.
Porters / Hauliers
For the most part, caravanning is perfectly legitimate profession, but as most caravaners and their organisations tend not to ask too many prying questions about the nature of the cargo that they will be moving, beyond those linked to the logistics of the transportation, it can be the case that caravaners inadvertently porter goods that are illegal, stolen or highly restricted. In such cases, unfortunately, the caravaners tend to be deemed to be as guilty as their patrons for that particular job and are often punished as if they were always in on the job, even if they were just the poor unfortunates contracted to move unknown cargo from one place to another.