Silver & Ice - The Stars of Perdition
The Merchants Guild is the common name for a coalition of private corporations that control the extraction and trade of natural resources within the Border Ring Worlds. It is not a “guild” in the traditional sense; rather, it is a cartel that controls the entire region’s economy. With almost no Core World government control to speak of within the Border Ring, the Merchants Guild provides the bureaucratic apparatus necessary for the economy to function. It is also often the sole provider of hospitals, emergency response, schools, recreation facilities, and even stores. Its private security forces are usually the only law enforcement, especially on less populous planets. Naturally, the Merchants Guild is most concerned with making a profit; the welfare of Border Ring citizens are often outside of its concern. Likewise, the Merchants Guild could not care less about environmental degradation unless it affects its operations, or on the rare occasions that the Guild’s Core World counterparts decide to incorporate it into a public relations campaign.
Though the Merchants Guild appears faceless to the rest of the universe, it is rumoured that six corporations comprise the ruling council at the top of the Merchants Guild hierarchy; executives from these corporations allegedly meet every quarter to fix prices, set tariffs and taxes, formulate extraction quotas and limits, and otherwise manage the Border Ring resource economy for their benefit. Other corporations in the Border Ring have lesser degrees of influence, but all operate with nearly complete freedom to exploit the Border Ring’s resources. Conversely, it is impossible to operate more than a little mom-and-pop store without paying Merchants Guild dues.
The Merchants Guild is politically conservative, and often openly Humanist. Its members usually see anthromals as just another resource to exploit, and treat indies as an asset to use while fit and then discard when they becomes too expensive or too worn out to maintain. Some anthromals do join the Guild and have risen within its ranks; however the systemic and unabashed speciesism creates a glass ceiling that no anthromal can hope to be promoted past.
The official currency of the Merchants Guild (and therefore the Border Ring) is the Guilder, which has a value of approximately 1 Guilder per $10 Core Worlds dollars. There is no physical currency – all transactions are done electronically and are calculated to five decimal places.
The Merchants Guild’s head offices are located in the starport city on the planet Azure. The most influential corporations that comprise its inner circle also maintain offices in the same building. This has made it the mecca of every aspiring spacer, explorer, or entrepreneur to travel from the Core to the Border Ring in search of their fortune. Most leave with empty hands (and empty pockets), but there are enough success stories that make it back to the Core to keep the flow of pilgrims constant.