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Eloise of Bral

Eloise of Bral, a wildspace trade insurance underwriter association (based on Earth's Lloyds of London), is located in Eloise's Tea House on the corner of Dock Street and Dragon Street. Though the tea house is situated at the edge of Shou town, it is frequented by different races who have business there. The main business in the tea house, aside from serving tea and drinks, is the insuring of wildspace trades, providing reliable shipping news and other hospitality services. Eloise Brahm herself is involved in the day to day business transactions of the underwriters and provides the premises where business is conducted.

The "underwriters" insure the ships and cargoes that ply their trade on Bral. They are called underwriters because below another signer they write their name and the amount of risk they will cover. A committee of 18 members are elected once a year to provide leadership and to settle disputes among members and traders. The Eloise of Bral (hereby known as EOB) have a royal charter giving it permission to insure wildspace trade with the blessing of the royal court.

An independent ship's captain or speculator, unable to find funding in the regular trade and merchant houses, can seek alternative funding under EOB. Depending on the business and the risk involved, the underwriters provide funds for the independent trade venture with the understanding that EOB shares in the profit. The ship's captain has to show the business venture is profitable and the risk is worthwhile. Even trade houses seek underwriters to share the risk and profit of a trade venture. A trading house or merchant house can insure their cargoes and ships for a nominal fee against loss to disasters or piracy. The amount charged by the underwriters depends on the value of the items being insured. The higher the value of the items insured, the higher the fee charged. Also pirate activities on the trade route, how many ships a certain captain or trade house loses and how much collateral the insured possesses raises or lowers the insurance fee.

The underbarons use underwriting as a way to launder their ill gotten loot. The underbarons have representatives that secretly invest their funds into safe ventures. The representatives also keep an open ear where competing syndicates invest their money and pass the information to their secret societies. Information on competitors' ships are leaked to several pirates' agents, who gather information on fat rich trade ships.

The standard transaction is the amount needed to insure a cargo and/or ship with the amount divided into shares of risk and profit. The association would hire adventurers, mercenaries and privateers if their investment needed protecting or recovery. A bounty, percentage of the recovered goods, would be awarded to the finders of the goods. Salvaging of lost goods on ship wrecks is another growing field and a lot of new companies search wildspace or the flow for lost ships. The underwriters do not insure black ships or treasure ships. Black ships can find sponsorship with the government body that hired them.


SOME OF THE MEMBERS...

Eloise Brahm - Owner of Eloise's Tea House and one of the underwriters of Eloise of Bral. She is a Ninth level Bard and retired from adventuring life. She started the tea house as an investment. Her first underwriting happened when her friend, Captain Dumar, needed seed money to open a newly found trading route. Eloise gave him the money and the trade route proved to be a money maker. People of influence and wealth started to show interest in investing and insuring wildspace trades. The underwriters association was founded under the royal charter giving it permission to do business in Bral.

Red Silk Company - This is an investment group secretly run by the yakuza. They invest the money they receive from other ventures and funnel it here to be laundered. The investment is proving more of a money maker than first anticipated. The nine member council rules the group (taking orders only from Shou Thieves' Guild underbaron Ozamata Ku Murawa) and have agents running the operation in the tea house. They would fund ventures refused by other underwriters in exchange for a higher percentage of the profit. Captains who crossed the Red Silk usually found their ships denied safe ports in Bral, their men attacked, and their cargo looted.

Shire Trading Company - This is an investment group specializing in insuring unique cargoes, ships, items and even people. This group is secretly run by the Halfling Thieves' Guild to insure that the Yakuza does not control the underwriters association. Insurance is more stable than wildspace trade investment, since the captains pay to insure their goods. The captains or speculators pay for their cargoes and ships to be insured as a hedge against losing it from misfortune or pirates. It is usually a percentage of the perceived cost of the insured that the captain pay the trading company. The higher the perceived danger or risk associated with the items/person to be insured, the higher the percentage to be paid.

Tenderfoot Investment Club - The club began as a way for ordinary citizens of Bral to invest their money. The growing wildspace trade proved to be a profitable way for people to invest their meager savings for a better future. Because there are a few hundred investors, the club can absorb a bad investment without wiping out a person's personal portfolio. There is a 12 member fund manager council who are voted in by a members-only annual election.

Empire Club - The Empire Club is an exclusive club catering to adventurers and wealthy people. The club invites adventurers of extraordinary caliber, whose exploits and deeds exceed those of normal men. The wealthy members fund the club in it's exploits, sharing the thrills and danger of it's adventurer members by proxy. These extraordinary gentlemen give the rich bragging rights by association. The club invests in highly speculative ventures, specially in search of ancient civilization and artifacts. As a contract rider, they reserve the right to attach one or two of their members as observers to make sure their investment stays safe.

Lord Reefa - Lord Reefa, a gold elf, is a new arrival into Bral society. He is rumored to have become rich from being a captain of an infamous pirate armada in a distant unknown sphere. He likes to invest in normal wildspace commerce and tries to avoid highly speculative ventures.


BUSINESS IS BUSINESS...

* Investment - When a new trade route or an expedition to a lost treasure horde needs funding, these people request sponsorship from the underwriters of EOB.

* Insurance - When a ship, cargo, person or item needs to be protected against loss through disaster or misfortune. Pirate attacks are not considered a disaster but a man-made event, and extra fees are required by the insurance agreement. Insurance is also considered for high price commodities on proven trade routes. Unlike investment, the insurer is paid by the captains or speculators as a hedge against loss in a disaster. The insurance is usually 5% to 25% of the value of the cargo.

* Commodity Market - The speculative investment on future prices of commodities. People who invest in these ventures gamble that their buying price is lower than their selling price. In Bral, commodity market is a healthy business since all goods need to be imported. Food, wine, metal and textiles are a few of the commodities available to the investors. Farmers and artisans sell their wares and investors buy them with the hopes of selling it for a higher price. The underwriters provide the funds for speculators to invest in the commodity market for a percentage or a fixed fee.

* Barter System - A system where goods and services are exchanged. It is common to barter for needed goods and services when lacking money. Adventurers usually barter their service in exchange for goods or services.

Typical Contract Components
1) background information on the trade venture
2) length of the voyage
3) prize division between owners and crew
4) prize division among the crew members
5) stipulations about wages if offered
6) worker's compensation for injury and sickness
7) incentive pay for outstanding performance at sea
8) owners' expenses that were to be deducted from the prize money
9) penalties for moral misconduct
10 penalties for disturbing the prize and its crew
[Private Warfare In The Age Of Sail - http://hubcap.clemson.edu/~sauerr/ seminar_papers/privateer_cu.pdf]

ADVENTURE HOOKS...
1) The adventurers need their new trade route, artifact recovery, or search for a lost civilization funded and they try to talk the underwriters into sponsoring it.
2) A grand magical item is being shipped and the underwriters hired the adventurers to guard their investment.
3) The adventurers needed to place their new found wealth in a "safe" investment.
4) One or all of the adventurers are being considered for membership in the Empire Club.

Additional Notes

Two tea house server and Eloise's personal servant. Koshie and Yoshie from the nation of Wa




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© Ariel Sibal 2002-2005