Economy and Resources (Paludia Supplement)
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The economy of Paludia is simple; bartering is commonplace, and the standard currencies (gold, silver, and bronze) are rare outside of trading settlements. Platinum currency is extremely rare, and has only come into circulation with the influx of human merchants. Divisions of the Paludian economy are:
-Hunting/Fishing: A tribe who's livelihood is dependent upon animal meat from the wild, these tribes have a simple economy which is capable of acquiring food and producing tools and weapons, but little else. Nevertheless, these tribes occasionally sell animal hides when merchants come around. Tribes of fishers also exist, but these tribes have very little to trade and are poor even by lizardfolk standards. Only if a fishing village is located in a good area to trade along a river will it even have the chance of prospering.
-Trading/Services: Some rare migratory tribes have been able to make a living off of trading goods. These tribes are sometimes welcome, for they bring items from far-away lands, but other groups wish to cast these traders out, for they are often perceived as profiting from other people's work. Some commonly traded goods include food, metal, weapons, tools, dyes, medicinal herbs, salt, wood, perfumes, and pottery. There also exist some traveling slavers and mercenaries, who come to sell their "good" of living cargo or else their service of war. Other service providers include guides, scribes, and teamsters, but all of these are very rare to find (although it might be possible for a party to hire a lizardfolk as a guide, without it being his vocation.)
-Industry/Crafts: Only about 10% of the tribes have access to metal-working skills, and even these tribes have crude knowledge of metallurgy at best. Some skill in carpentry and pottery exists as well. Even so, many goods which the more advanced lizardfolk tribes demand have to be imported from human lands. The most valuable Paludian industries are overwhelmingly extractive, and a few tribes have access to valuable salt marshes, which are worked on by slaves. On the whole, there isn't much industry in Paludia. Some other crafts besides carpentry and pottery exist, but these are very limited in most areas. The lizardfolk generally have neither the patience nor the intelligence to excel at most crafts, and the lack of markets for such crafts limits the incentive to increase productivity and quality.
-Agriculture/Animal Domestication: The Paludian lizardfolk have very little agricultural skill; they cannot survive on vegetable matter, and the Paludian soil isn't good for growing grain or root crops. Still, a few lizardfolk do grow some minor plants, such as flowers, medicinal herbs, or plants which have useful dyes. These operations tend to be very small. Paludia also has some very limited animal domestication, usually of certain kinds of reptiles whose meat and hides are to be sold. The lack of good pasture land prohibits the raising of cattle or sheep on any significant scale.
Paludia is a land of potential. It lacks ample supplies of many important items for civilization as humans know it (good building stone, iron, grains, etc), but makes up for this by possessing rare resources with high market value.
Salt: The most important export for the richest towns, salt can sometimes fetch its weight in gold, if the buyer comes from a land where the demand is great and the supply is low. Salt marshes are a coveted possession by the Paludian tribes.
Dye: While not common in most regions, Paludia does possess some plants from which dye can be extracted.
Plants: Rare plants and herbs grow in large parts of Paludia; these can be used by mages and doctors alike. Some can be abused terribly.
Gems: Most commonly found in the central mountains, some rare gemstones in Paludia include emeralds, sapphires, and rubies.
Hides: Reptile skins can often fetch good prices on the world market, especially in lands without an indigenous supply.
Wood: Tropical woods such as mahogany are in demand in many major human kingdoms.
Land: Most controversial of all, the possibility of plantations being set up in Paludia remains a challenging prospect. Many valuable crops (sugarcane, spices, tea, etc) would grow well in Paludia's climate, but, the lizardfolk have no serious agricultural skill nor do they have the mindset and legal system (land ownership, rents, property rights, etc) needed to sustain an agricultural way of life. Many foreigners would pay very good money to the chiefs to buy land and set up their own plantations in Paludia, but so far, no one has been sold on the idea.
Trade and Commerce
Rivers are the main routes of commerce; overland travel can be dangerous and slow and is only undertaken if there is no way to transport goods by a river. Most ships used are little more than rafts or canoes, but on occasion, a foreign trading vessel will enter Paludian waters.
Overland trade is very difficult. There are no paved roads in Paludia, rain frequently turns the dirt paths which merchants take into mud, and bandits are a constant threat. Additionally, natural hazards (like floods), the lack of good maps, and rough terrain all provide obstacles to commerce.
Markets are present in developed settlements; in them, someone wishing to buy what are considered basic goods in other parts of the world will often be disappointed. The staple product of most Paludian markets is food, mostly meat and fish. Other than that, pots and wooden items are usually the other major items for sale. Metal goods are rare, and anything of high quality is difficult to procure. Paludia offers some rare resources for sale, but these are not available in most markets; to get them, one often has to go directly to the chiefs of the settlements which have these resources.
Rather than going to there to buy anything (save for some rare resources), merchants visiting Paludia ought to consider selling things instead. The populace is generally very poor by most standards, so the sales ought to be focused on the elites of the land (the chiefs and their families, arena champions, etc.) Products the elites like to purchase include metal goods (especially weapons), luxury goods, and goods made out of materials not normally available in Paludia (such as marble for a temple's altar, or glass containers.)
Wealth and Inequality
Most tribes have relatively little wealth, and as a result, the difference between the richest and poorest members of that tribes society is usually rather small. The lizardfolk place a high worth on goods which have great use value, and lesser worth on goods which have exchange value.
Recently, new wealth from trade has created a large gap between the rich and the poor in the more developed tribes. Strangely, few lizardfolk protest the existence of a free market for trading goods between lizardfolk. This is so because they can see the survival of the fittest manifesting itself in the marketplace as it exists in nature. The problem with this attitude is that it promotes the gap between the rich and poor, and in addition to hurting the "have-nots", it also limits their domestic market for many goods to the wealthy, thus limiting their ability to sell goods to themselves, and since the quality of their goods is frequently sub-par, most foreign markets have not been receptive to them (and the lizardfolk cannot produce goods in enough quantity to compete in most foreign markets anyway.)