Mercantile companies were organizations primarily focused on trade between the cities and nations of Faerûn and greater Toril. For this purpose, mercantile companies often ran caravans over trade routes and/or had one or more ships to carry goods over water. Depending on their size, they might also own warehouses and stables, and employ their own guards. In general, there were two types of mercantile companies: the priakos and the coster. By the late 1400s DR, the term "priakos" was used less and less while "coster" was becoming more common.
A priakos was a mercantile company formed from a conglomeration of smaller caravan companies under one banner. They usually dominated or strongly competed for dominance of a trade route because of their size. Some notable priakos in history were:
- Crimson Sea Maritime Priakos: Actually a front for smuggling that dominated Chessenta's sea trade for a time.
- Iron Throne: Enigmatic trading company used questionable tactics and manipulated markets for political and financial gain.
- Merchant's League: Based in Baldur's Gate and dealt in weapons. Rival of the Iron Throne.
- Six Coffers Market Priakos: Operated in northwest Faerûn through the Dragon Coast and Sembia.
- Trueshield Trading Priakos: Operated out of Tilpur around interior Faerûn.
- Zhentarim: A mercenary company that became a mercantile power in the Western Heartlands, driven by religious zealots with a goal of tyranny over all of Faerûn.
Costers were companies that gathered smaller merchants together to form temporary or permanent alliances focused on safety and protection while traveling. Typical services provided included wagons, beasts of burden, guards, guides, and warehouse space. A few of the many notable costers in history were:
- Dragoneye Dealing Coster: Founded in the Vilhon Reach, this coster expanded to Iriaebor and Elturel.
- Firehands Group: Operated out of Daerlun, focused primarily on trade between Waterdeep and Sembia.
- Highmoon Trading Coster: Based in Scornubel and Waterdeep, this coster cornered the Sword Coast market on kaorph wine and some spices.
- Red Shields: Both a mercenary and mercantile company, also based in Scornubel.
- Seven Suns Trading Coster: A cut-rate operation that connected many corners of Faerûn.
- Thousandheads Trading Coster: Specialized in trade between Waterdeep and Hillsfar. Based near Riatavin.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Dale Henson (as slade), Ed Greenwood, Julia Martin, Steven E. Schend, Jennell Jaquays (as Paul Jaquays), Steve Perrin (April 1996). The North: Guide to the Savage Frontier (The Wilderness). (TSR, Inc), p. 69. ISBN 0-7869-0391-0.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood (October 2012). Ed Greenwood Presents Elminster's Forgotten Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 113. ISBN 0786960345.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood, Eric L. Boyd (March 2006). Power of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 64. ISBN 0-7869-3910-9.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 Ed Greenwood, Julia Martin, Jeff Grubb (1993). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 2nd edition (revised), A Grand Tour of the Realms. (TSR, Inc), p. 100. ISBN 1-5607-6617-4.
- ↑ Brian R. James (May 2010). “Backdrop: Chessenta”. In Chris Youngs ed. Dungeon #178 (Wizards of the Coast), p. 72.
- ↑ Anthony Herring, Jeff Grubb (1993). Player's Guide to the Forgotten Realms Campaign. (TSR, Inc.), p. 41. ISBN 1-56076-695-6.