Greyhawk: Return to the Classic
The Mouqollad Consortium unites the merchant clans of the Baklunish nations into a powerful association to ensure the prosperity of its members. The consortium is organized into territories and specialties, with its headquarters in the city of Zeif. Member clans and trade houses are from every Baklunish nation, and its trading posts and colonies are found in many western states and islands.
In populous realms such as Ket, a merchant clan must administer each urban bazaar. The clan is obligated to guard against theft and violence in the marketplace. In return, it gains control over the allotment of space and collection of fees from individual traders. In poor or less-populated regions, merchant clans are granted larger territories, though such clans are likely to delegate some of their administrative responsibilities to local merchants or groups. Control of certain specialty trade is assigned as well. For example, trade in Ekbiri woolens or gems from Zeif is the province of a specific merchant house; the sale of authentic magic items is restricted to individual merchants who have passed rigorous qualifying examinations. Of course, black markets thrive in some areas (particularly Ull), but agents of the Mouqollad diligently seek out their locations and the merchants who attend them.
Leadership of the Mouqollad is organized around a group of high-ranking clerics of Mouqol called the Worthy Elders, most of whom are also senior members of prosperous and respected merchant houses. A few wizards have risen in the hierarchy over the centuries, usually noted scholars and masters of divination. Warriors also have risen in the ranks of the Mouqollad, many through service in the merchant fleet. Even rogues are found in the consortium’s employ, though they have no place in leadership.
In fact, the Mouqollad might employ members of any profession, sometimes for lengthy terms. The most demanding service is required on the trading expeditions to distant lands. Caravans travel throughout the lands of the Paynims and sometimes to regions farther south and west, beyond the mountains. The merchant fleet voyages across the Dramidj on journeys that can take many months, while extended visits to the islands’ trade colonies and distant outposts can last for years.
The consortium maintains a select force of agents who monitor its interests in all major Baklunish cities. It is careful to maintain the appearance of neutrality in political and military matters, but it also works discreetly to secure influence in all levels of government.
The Mouqollad strives to police its own constituent clans and houses. The skills of mediation and negotiation are raised to a fine art by the merchants, yet sometimes disputants are so closely matched that agreements cannot be concluded without the intervention of a higher authority. On such occasions, an Appraiser of Merit can be called to hear the case and make a binding judgment. Should that judgment be breached, the offending party is expelled from the Mouqollad, and all his goods are forfeit to the injured party. The Mouqollad has few enemies, though it has no real allies, either. The consortium is tolerated by the governments of Zeif, Tusmit, Ekbir and Ket; in Ull, the rulers are as likely to seize goods as they are to buy them, so the merchants are often in conflict with the government. Among the Paynims, merchants are subject to raiding like all other travelers (or other Paynims). In the Gulf of Ghayar and the Dramidj Ocean, piracy threatens the ships of the Mouqollad; the merchants wage small-scale wars with these pirates at times, but they prefer to play one group off against another if possible, avoiding lost cargoes and expensive mercenaries.