Saturday, March 15, 2008

Phoenician Privacy and Equality

The Phoenicians shared their riches equally among the people, running their government and their trade as identical. Citizens were shareholders and the leaders were like board of directors, with the king as the chief executive officer. The king could easily be removed if he was incompetent or wasn’t acting in the best interest of the people. In exchange for dividends on trade investments, the people only needed to follow the seven principles of Phoenician society, most important of which was privacy.

Privacy meant that rule number one was: We don’t talk about Phoenician trade! Rule number two: We don’t talk about Phoenician trade! Because Phoenician mercantile society was based on relationships and partnerships and not based on force, the secrets of trade, boat building, routes, and various inside information were what kept the society going. Privacy also meant keeping the riches of the society secret from prying eyes. Living an ostentatious lifestyle was not only indiscrete, but it could land you in trouble. An outward air of austerity is a virtue; have as many fancy things as you like when you’re in your own home.

In Baalgad, like in other Phoenician cities, the headquarters was the trade house. The trade house is where all mercantile activities centered as well as all public meetings and governmental and religious offices. In Baalgad, the mayor of the town, Mayor Haroum, is all the local high priest of Baal (Pelor). His dual role is common and he has not always been major, sometimes stepping down when his religious duties take precedent.

The adventurers in Baalgad are hired to protect the city and surrounding region. There are not nearly enough of you, because it is far more lucrative and less dangerous to be a tradesman. If you wanted a life of adventure without the high mortality rate, you could simply go to Zor and enlist for a seagoing voyage. Because of this, adventurers are not required to submit their earnings to the city for re-distribution. You also aren’t paid for your labor, although you do receive an annual distribution of city profits. Phoenicians don’t tax, they distribute wealth to citizens. The adventuring party will receive their annual distribution as we begin the campaign. This will be you starting out money and everyone will have the same amount (the maximum money anyone could get, depending on the 4.0 rules).

As adventurers are hard to come by right now, the garrison at the citadel is manned primarily by ogre mercenaries of the Bald Moon tribe. The government is careful to protect its secrets from the ogre mercenaries and to balance power within the citadel, assuming that others could buy the ogres and they could take it over.

If you want to learn more about the Phoenicians, the book to get is: Phoenicians, by Sanford Holst. If this were a class, it would be required reading.

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