A merchant prince, or merchant princess, was a person who managed to enter some form of "nobility" through commercial means, be it inherited or self-made. However they came to be merchant princes, they tried to defend and increase their business as well as destroy any threat to it.
A merchant prince was one who held a powerful position within a given mercantile field. In fact, the economy of Faerûn was under the thumb of merchant princes and they used their fortune to defend their economic basis. A merchant prince–adventurer was usually a person who increased their business through adventuring, creating new opportunities for growth, obtaining capital, and hampering the efforts of their competitors or adverse outside forces.
They often had a roguish bent and were most often actual rogues, while fighters did not often have the necessary business acumen. Many merchant princes started out as aristocrats, experts, or clerics of either Shaundakul or Waukeen. Clerics of other deities, barbarians, monks, paladins, and—despite having the right skill set—bards almost never became merchant princes. The same applied to sorcerers and wizards, though in their case, the reason was their reluctance to sacrifice the furtherance of their arcane power for the sake of material wealth. The rare ranger–merchant princes were generally caravanners.
Merchant princes generally fell into one of two categories: a city-dwelling majority or a wandering minority that used mundane and magical travel routes (like portals). Their homes were usually built in the wealthiest districts or as isolated estates with full access to all kinds of servants. While this did not apply to all, many were prone to show off their wealth.
The skills of a merchant prince broadly fell into three categories: supporting skills for the mercantile activities; divine blessings from gods that cared about trade, typically Gond, Lliira, Shaundakul, or Waukeen; and minor spellcasting.
The supporting skills for the merchant prince's mercantile activities were purely mundane in nature. A merchant prince mastered the art of commerce in an ever increasing way so as to increase profits, while at the same time cutting his capital costs. A merchant prince was also adept at acquiring helpful knowledge. Merchant princes tried to do everything in their power to improve their business capacities, training and improving necessary and complementary skills of their chosen business as well as acquiring leadership skills necessary to fill advantageous positions with their lackeys.
As mentioned above, a merchant prince gained an increasing number of blessings from deities who cared about trade. Lliira blessed a merchant prince with an increased ability to withstand fear, but also steeled the mind against magical mind control. Gond blessed a merchant prince with an increased ability to craft physical goods. Shaundakul's blessing consisted of protection against low temperatures and general outdoor survival skills. Waukeen blessed a merchant prince with an increased competence at everything that a merchant prince had a predisposition towards learning.
Merchant princes were capable of casting a very small number of spells that were more designed to help the merchant prince at his business instead of combat. They carried a spellbook around and had the read magic spell so strongly memorized that they did not need a spellbook to memorize it.
As mentioned above, a merchant prince owned a spellbook from which he memorized his spells. Merchant princes were also wealthy, allowing them to buy anything they wanted. In fact, when it came to combat, money was a merchant prince's greatest weapon. A merchant prince's normal way to deal with enemies was to throw money at the problem. This could mean bribery, but often it was hiring people to go after their enemy until they were no longer a problem, thus shielding the merchant prince from risk.
Merchant princes were wealthy and their commercial actions were one of the driving forces behind Faerûn's nations growing together. A merchant prince who had at least one successful venture in any region was respected by whatever society the local merchants had and therefore could garner so-called "sweetheart deals". This typically meant getting a twenty-five percent discount as long as the commodity did not involve magical goods.
Regardless of their social standing, most people knew about merchant princes. Both members of the nobility and the common populace felt various emotions towards them including envy, disdain, respect, admiration, etc.. However individual merchant princes were not commonly known outside of their homes. The public image of the profession was not particularly good as it was that of a greedy dishonorable rogue who made other people do the kinds of work they considered beneath them. At home, their image was one of extremes: the aforementioned greedy rogue or a benefactor, rarely something in-between.
Notable Merchant Princes
- Dabron Sashenstar: a powerful merchant prince from Baldur's Gate bent on rebuilding the economic power of his house.
- Ed Greenwood, Eric L. Boyd (March 2006). Power of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 71–74. ISBN 0-7869-3910-9.
- Ed Greenwood, Eric L. Boyd (March 2006). Power of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 71. ISBN 0-7869-3910-9.
- Ed Greenwood, Eric L. Boyd (March 2006). Power of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 73. ISBN 0-7869-3910-9.
- Ed Greenwood, Eric L. Boyd (March 2006). Power of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 72. ISBN 0-7869-3910-9.
- Ed Greenwood, Eric L. Boyd (March 2006). Power of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 71–72. ISBN 0-7869-3910-9.
- Ed Greenwood, Eric L. Boyd (March 2006). Power of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 72–73. ISBN 0-7869-3910-9.
- Ed Greenwood, Eric L. Boyd (March 2006). Power of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 82. ISBN 0-7869-3910-9.