Merchant Principality of Centrum

Centrum (Polish for “hub”)   Tentative Geographic Assignment: Spot 19     Basic Concept: Centrum is a mercantile trading state with a ruler who fancies himself a brilliant manipulator, but he is not nearly as smart as he thinks he is.     History:   Government Style: To sum up the government in two words I would choose “elaborate kleptocracy.” The Merchant Prince is a tightfisted miser who will tax anything he can. The current Merchant Prince, while still greedy, has greatly reduced taxes and fees that his father and grandfather imposed. He wants to encourage the locals to be more proactive in seeking profit without fear of losing everything.     Character of the Realm: Everyone has an angle and everyone is seeking a deal. Petty and violent crime is rare largely due to very draconian punishments. Swindling and nonviolent crime is extremely common place. Everyone expects everyone to try to cheat them and they are trying to cheat the other guy first.   It is very common for people at all levels of society to favor ostentatious displays of wealth above and beyond their true standing. The Merchant Prince is usually heavily bedecked in gold whenever he makes public appearance. Among the commoners there are many merchants who wear very fine clothes and jewelry in public but they secretly live in hovels and eat peasant food.     Religion: Phidas is the state religion. The Merchant Princes have given the Masks a lot of leeway to do as they please and in return Phidas has repaid the Merchants Princes with the aid of their magic, counsel, and spy networks. Among other privileges, the Masks run the local police force and judiciary. The Merchant Prince can override the Masks on any decision they make, but he rarely does so. Over three generations, the Masks have successfully converted most of the commoners to Phidas worship. Worshiping the rest of the Nine is not forbidden. In fact it’s encouraged…in small amounts. The Masks often oversee religious observances to the other deities…even Zarthus .     Challenges: The biggest challenge to the realm is the poor reputation the Merchant Prince has which has trickled down as a stereotype of the entire Barony. “The people of Centrum are liars, thieves, and cheats.” The locals have a good geographic location for trade and they are wise and savvy but it doesn’t help much when every potential customers starts off suspicious and defensive. The tengku tend to mock the Merchant Prince often saying “this human tries too hard.”   An underground cell of the Maskbreakers, a violently anti-Phidas faction of the Lanterns has taken up residency in the area. They are on the fence whether they should continue their plotting against the Merchant Prince and his cronies or whether they should turn their attention to Swynfaredia.   The local culture of exaggerating one’s wealth has attracted thieves, both humanoid and goblinoid . Losses due to theft are fairly low, but the Masks of Phidas spend more time chasing down burglars and pickpockets than they do enacting brilliant schemes.

History

Centrum has changed names and changed government many times over their history. About sixty years ago the Baron died a suspicious death of natural causes (and a lot of his male heirs died suspicious deaths), and an outcast Fumayan noble backed by the Masks assumed power in the chaos. He married the surviving daughter of the previous Baron and assumed the throne himself. It’s actually not uncommon at all for second or third born sons of Fumayan nobles who are shut out of power in their homeland to stage a coup in the Border Baronies but relatively few succeed.   The new Baron, err Merchant Prince, tried to create a niche for himself as a middleman in trade between Fumaya, Swynfaredia and both Stahlheim and Meckelorn. He was very successful at this. He was largely viewed as an untrustworthy lying usurper. In most cases these four nations prefer to deal directly with their rival nations rather than rely on a middleman this untrustworthy.   The current Merchant Prince, the usurper’s grandson, is a little bit more charming and adept than his grandfather and he has won some new friends. He is hoping that Fumaya and Swynfaredia enter a long war of attrition that results in a stalemate, so he can make money smuggling goods and people around the war zone playing both sides against each other.
Type
National Territory
Population
32,000 mortal souls
Inhabitant Demonym
Centrumites
Location under
Owning Organization
Related Traditions
Characters in Location

Articles under Merchant Principality of Centrum



Cover image: Map of the Border Baronies by Pendrake

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