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The Salt Route Moves

In the first part of this “what-if…” series, I looked at Tashal as the home of the Great Summer Fair, and why I think it needs to establish a port capable of handling ocean-going vessels if it is to keep its pre-eminent position in the economic life of Hârn. Now it’s time to look at the consequences of that necessary decision. The following assumes a port has been established at Tuleme Island, and that you have read An Ocean Port for Kaldor.

Economics 101

In all commerce, the driving factor of the price of goods is cost. Well, it could be argued the driving factor is greed, but let’s assume that greed is simply another cost. Let’s try to itemise the cost of a thing:

  • raw material
  • labour
  • wear
  • manufacture
  • greed (profit), and
  • transportation.

Raw materials are seldom free; there are licensing charges, taxes, bribes, and finder’s fees to pay even before you extract the materials. Then you have to pay the labour charges to mine or harvest the materials, and transport them to a market. There are the tools that have to be bought and replaced (wear) and then even these raw materials are usually transformed in some way (smelting, sawing timber into lumber). Secondary industries take these raw materials and transform them further; grass becomes wool becomes cloth, iron ore becomes pig iron becomes a sword or plough, and so on.

All along the way, people are taking their cut (profits, taxes), and so the cost goes up as time goes on. One of the greatest costs is getting the materials from one place to another. It’s one reason that mines usually incorporate a smelter; it’s far cheaper to smelt on-site than transport all that base ore to another place1. The same for timber; transporting cut lumber means that only the valuable material is moved.

The Salt Route and the Rise of Jedes

If transport is a major factor in cost, reducing the cost of transport can mean greater profits…until a competitor undercuts in order to steal a sale! Now, let’s assume you are a merchant in Kanday with a load of salt bound for Tashal. You have several dozen mules, many with heavy bags of salt, and the rest with feed for all those mules, muleteers and guards. All of those animals and people are driving up to cost of getting the salt to market, and hence reducing the amount of profit you, as the salt merchant, can make. But there’s this new port in Kaldor and there’s barge traffic going up and down the Kald River all the time. If only you could get your salt onto a barge heading up to Tashal, think of all the savings you could make! You could put the mules out to pasture (no more feed costs! or less, anyway), you could pay off most of the guards, and probably most of the muleteers, too. You’d save thousands! And get to market just as quickly, or even more quickly.

Well, that’s the logic I’m using anyway.

It strikes me that, with an established port at Tuleme Island, there would be an increased flow of river traffic, because barges, like ships, can carry a lot of cargo with very little in the way of labour required. This reduces the cost of transportation enormously, making for greater potential profits. Salt, and especially wool, are very bulky, but low value products. The more you can move with the fewest people doing the moving, the better.

The Salt Route approaches the Kald River before it turns north and heads for the bridge (and safety) at Tashal. In fact, according to the maps, at it’s closest point, it’s only about 10 miles west of Jedes. That’s not very far; about half a day’s travel for a mule train, perhaps. What-if…

What-if is the name of the game in this series, so what if an enterprising merchant decides to split off from the main caravan and head to Jedes to hail one of those passing barges? Or what if an enterprising Kaldoran barge owner hacks a route through the wilderness and sets up a sign on the Salt route itself, and wait for caravans to come on passed, offering cheap barge transportation for their goods from Jedes.

“I’m sure you’ll find it cheaper than continuing on up through the Kath-infested wilderness for another tenday, Master Merchant!”

Pretty quickly (I’d say in no more than five years), the Salt Route would terminate at Jedes and all goods from western Hârn would be barged up to Tashal. Efficient and frequent barge travel along the Kald River could transform the communities all along the river, not just Jedes. But that settlement would see a huge growth.

Exactly what kind of growth would Jedes see? That’s the subject of my next post in this series. Hopefully a bit sooner than I was with this one!

What do you think? Is my vision possible? Or can you see flaws in my argument? Have you got an alternative? Then feel free to post a comment!

  1. This is something the availability of ridiculously cheap energy in to form of fossil fuels has turned upside down in the modern world. Australian iron ore is transported in enormous ships all the way to Japan and China, and the resulting metal goods are shipped back in other enormous ships []

15 comments on The Salt Route Moves

  1. Lot of good points so why hasn’t this happened already?

    This is a feudal economy.

    How are the Salt Route caravans crossing the various rivers to get to Jedes in the first place?

    What additional tolls and tariffs are entailed by the shift to Jedes?

    What additional expenses, tolls and tariffs are entailed by the shift from Jedes to Tashal via the river?

    On the Salt Route return trip from Jedes will there be sufficient guard and other caravan personnel able to be hired for the caravan from Jedes or will the caravan master need to pay them wages to stand by idly or hire them in Kaldor and pay to transport them to Jedes?

    What does the local lord Sir Shernath Mirdarne think of all these armed trouble makers hanging around Jedes causing trouble? Why would he necessarily hire any or the majority of them since he has sufficient men at arms? Does the king want him stirring up things on the border causting trouble sending military parties accross the river? Seriously why is he going to send patrols accross the river if they are not going to be doing anything?

    Are there that many barges availbable travelling between Jedes and Kaldor in a timely manner to transport the caravan goods? If the caravan has to wait a few days in Jedes and pay additional tolls to get to Jedes along with more tolls from Jedes to Kaldor that may be a great reason trade still travels overland. Perhaps the Mangai council in Kaldor has insured the tariffs and tolls incurred from Jedes to Kaldor discourage river traffic for Salt Route caravan masters.

    Will a single barge be enough travelling to Kaldor and back to Jedes? Very doubtful if replacement caravan guards are required to be hired in Kaldor for the return trip.

    IMO things do not exist in a vacum there should be a relation between cause and effect.

    The Tarwyn Commoners are a great reason for the existence of the Jedes Horse fair economically it is easier and heaper for them to raise horses and pigs in greater numbers than almost anywhere else in Kaldor.

    The river existed before the establishment of the Salt Route but we still have a Salt Route why is this the case?

    One reason might be that a balance has been struck been overland and river trade in comparison to the benefits and the costs associated with passing through Jedes..

    It could be a huge loss for the exisiting caravan masters, caravan merchants (who are carrying more than just salt along the route they are also selling and trading for local goods along the route and caravan workers like guards, scouts and teamsters.

    There is an existing infrastructure of ostlers, teamsters, customers and other vested individuals along their route like the local crafters, mangai chapters, manor lords and the barbarian tribes who would suffer a huge loss it this scenario became reality so I certainly don’t see it happening in a handful of years.

    Are there sufficient barges and river traffic to handle the additional burden of Salt Route caravans? How is the caravan crossing the various rivers to get to Jedes? How long of a layover is required in Jedes to find a barge capaple of tranporting all the caravan’s cargo?

    Would all those individuals suffer those fiscal and trade benefit losses associated with the loss of the Salt Route without doing anything to undermine the sucess of a viable alternate trade route.

    Suddenly barges with fewer guards and armed personnel to defend valuable goods would become much more tempting major prizes much easier for the taking. It would be easier to take a single barge or vessel than a caravan under this scenario with the same amount or fewer number of men at arms or pirates or raiders needed to take a caravan.

    The Seaman’s guild doesn’t seem to have a lot of interest in the river. Why is that? Are the various Mangai chapters bribed to block or limit further development of river traffic?

  2. An intersting issue, discussed intelligently.

    Two thoughts:

    1. The question of an ocean port is, to some degree, irrelevant to the idea of moving the Salt Route destination to Jedes. If it were economically feasible I would suggest that some enterprising mercantyler would have organised the barges for themselves. That this hasn’t happened yet suggests that its not feasible. Why might this be the case? I think Castlemike hits the nail on the head with tolls. I would assume that every manorial lord adjacent to the river Kald has a traditional right to toll traffic on it. Their tolls are all individually “reasonable”, but collectively make the usage of river transportation prohibitively expensive. Although they would all be better off if they collectively agreed to lower their tolls, the incentive is always for each to keep his tolls high while their neighbours lower theirs – a classic case of the “tragedy of the commons”. Incidentally, this sort of issue was endemic to feudal Europe and continued right up until the 19th century. The chief reason for the famine in Paris that triggered the French Revolution (“let them eat cake” etc) was not a shortage of grain in France, but a poor harvest in the immediate Paris region coupled with the traditional feudal rights to levye tolls on trade that made it impossible to import grain from further afield in France – even the neighbouring provinces.

    A second thought is that moving the Salt Route terminous to Jedes is small bikkies – the savings are marginal. On the other hand, re-routing trade through Shiran, across lake Benath, and then through one of the lower passes in the Rayesha Mountains down to Trobridge would seem to have huge advantages. The route is shorter and more direct, uses water transport on the Thard and lake Benath for most of the way, and entirely bypasses the Tulwyn. Sure there’s a mountain crossing at the end – but the viable routes are low, short, and don’t involve going above the bush line. If the Thardic republic is looking to expand east, a port on the east shore of Lake Benath mackes much more strategic and economic sense than expanding along the existing Salt Route.

    Cheers,
    De Coucy

  3. Dear all,

    As castlemike and decoucy have delineated, the benefits for diverting the last portion of the salt route up the Kald through Jedes would be minimal for the traders; due to to a cascade of tolls and services ‘levied’.

    This does not mean however that no-one benefits…Jedes and the riverside manors could benefit very nicely from it…so maybe they would form the pro new salt route lobby. It is harder to see what difference (if any) such a route makes to the Tashalans if the goods arrived to market at the same price and roughly the same time however.

    The benath/rayesh mountain route IMHO is just too radical for the near future. It has to run the whole width of the mountainous Kath territory, over mountains, near gargun complexes….so IMHO is as dangerous at least as the current route. Although the Shiranese might lobby for it, I am sure moleryn/Coranan and even Kanday would lobby against it.

    However, if substantial savings could be made on saving time, then in the future the economic justification of such a route would prevail.

    In the short term IMHO; to trailblaze the route would be very expensive…it might need another Taztos in the Rayeshas or Kaldoric equivalent in the Kath hills….(un)interested parties would need to be neutralised or bribed…the level of escort would need to be huge, (the Kath would initially fight rabidly to prevent an incursion…no friendly bribing like the current saltroute for several years at least…) It would be a risky venture to say the least. But then, mercantylers are not as conservative as farmers….

    Having said all that, there is an Ilviran pilgrimage route already there, and the Kath are not as powerful as the Tulwyn or Chelni….

    As I warm to this idea I can see a strange alliance between Kanday,Jedes, Moloryn, Coranan, Trobridge Inn and the chelni forming to ‘block that damned road through the mountains!”

  4. Dear Decoucy or anyone,

    Wouldn’t it be good if someone ‘did the numbers’ on these different routes…any save knorrian pedants amongst us?

  5. Hold on, just read leitch’y post and it seems to suggest Kandians doing the salt route via Jedes if there is a port at Tuleme?!

    Why bother? just ship it from Aleath?

    I had responded to the post thinking the Jedes shortcut was instead of a port at Tuleme. IMHO if there was a port at tuleme there would be no salt route. Simple as.

  6. Just a quick response to Peter (the Skald). The route I had in mind went no-where near the Kath or the higher peaks of the Rayesha’s. I was thinking of skirting the southern shore of lake Benath, and then crossing from the southeast corner of the lake -just south and west of Anisha through to Trobridge. The route would then use the second half of the existing Salt Route through Chelni lands.

    So, no Kath. No Tulwyn. Mountains not much higher or wider than those crossed by the Genin trail between Laket and Chybisa. Some Gargun around, but are they enough of a threat to the heavily escorted Salt Caravan – I for one have difficulty seeing them as more dangerous than the Tulwyn. No need for another Taztos – there are only a few leagues between the southeastern shores of lake Benath and Trobridge.

    The Kath are not an issue with this route (and actually are unlikely to be in any route). Remember, there are only c1500 Kath, implying maybe 350 warriors if one is generous. The Salt Caravan traditionally travels with an escort of similar numbers. One attack by the Kath on the Salt caravan, and the Kath have taken to many casualties to their prime age hunters to continue existing…

    Cheers,
    De Coucy

  7. Peter (the Skald) – I may have a go at the numbers for different routes in a day or so. It’s a good suggestion. And I tend to agree that a port on Tuleme island spells the end of the Salt Route.

    Cheers,
    De Coucy

  8. The following are answers to CASTLEMIKE’s terrific questions. Some of the other comments can be answered simply by saying they are irrelevant given the assumptions under which the series is written;
    (a) Tuleme Island is the only viable port location for Kaldor (as summarised in the article An Ocean Port for Kaldor), and
    (b) the Kingdom of Kaldor is investing sufficient funds for the port to be actually built.

    So questions and arguments about better locations for a port are irrelevant; this ‘What-if…’ series is looking at the consequences of a port being built at Tuleme Island. As for the rest of Mike’s questions, I’ve tried to answer them as best I can, but he’s given me plenty to think about—and fodder for at least two more posts in the series!

    How are the Salt Route caravans crossing the various rivers to get to Jedes in the first place?
    Quite naturally, all river crossings are either at fords, or if the river is too deep all along its length, then a bridge is constructed (for example, Trobridge). The major issue facing Jedes is that it’s on the other side of the very wide, very deep Kald River from the Salt Route. I’ll touch on this in later articles, but suffice to say, cargo would be loaded directly onto barges on the opposite side of the river. At first, this would be nothing more than a few long planks run out to the barge (both ends of the barge would be secured to trees to prevent it from moving). Then a collection of merchants and barge owners would probably band together to construct a wharf, and then it’s only a matter of time before a bridge is constructed.

    What additional tolls and tariffs are entailed by the shift to Jedes?
    The collection of revenue via a toll is a royal prerogative. Unless the lord of a settlement has specifically been granted the right, all tolls are collected by the crown directly. Local lords do not have the right to charge tolls on kingdom roads. Nor do they have the right to charge tolls on the waterways. That’s what the wharfage and registry fees are, and these go directly to the royal coffers as well.

    What additional expenses […] are entailed by the shift from Jedes to Tashal via the river?
    Naturally there would be different expenses for moving cargo by barge from Jedes to Tashal. There is the cost of the barge itself, and then the cost of moving the cargo from the barge once it reaches Tashal. The key is the amount of money needed. Without being able to cite references, I can’t be authoritative, but barge travel is far less costly per kilometre than caravan over the same distance. Fodder costs and guard wages and keep are just two costs that wouldn’t be incurred.

    Hiring for the return trip, and what to do with all those out-of-work guards
    These are very good questions indeed. In fact, I think I have a possible solution to these questions, but I’m going to leave it for an upcoming article in the series. It involves putting all those unemployed guards to work; it would be expensive but the potential pay-off is a very rich reward indeed!

    Are there that many barges available travelling between Jedes and Kaldor in a timely manner to transport the caravan goods?
    This is a very good point, and one that I had not considered carefully. It’s worth looking at more closely, and I think I’ll discuss this in greater detail in another article in the series, one that looks at all the infrastructure needs. But don’t forget my articles don’t exist in a vacuum; they are written with the assumption that the port is being, or has been, built at Tuleme Island. This means there are probably merchants and barge owners who recognise an opportunity, and who are probably investing in new barges right now. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if every shipyard along all the rivers of the Kald watershed aren’t frantically building as many talbars as possible.

    The river existed before the establishment of the Salt Route but we still have a Salt Route; why is this the case?
    I think your question is asking why would the Salt Route shift its terminus from Tashal to Jedes at this time. I believe you answered this with your previous question. Up to now, there hasn’t been enough barge capacity to carry cargo from Jedes to Tashal. Now there is a port and barge traffic has picked up, the opportunity to save money is there.

    [C]aravan merchants […] are also selling and trading for local goods along the route…
    Actually, as written, the merchants travelling the Salt Route are not selling and trading for local goods along the way. With whom could they trading? The Tulwyn want to kill them, and the Chelni are self-sufficient nomads who won’t trade the one thing of value they have (their horses), so the merchants are bringing all their goods with them all the way. Besides, I’m only talking about altering the route for the last fifth (roughly) of its distance. There are three settlements (from memory, Kathane, Sweldre and a hamlet whose name escapes me), all within a day’s walk of Tashal. Heck, Sweldre is so close to the city, you can see the walls and hear the tocsin bell! The rest is the abode of the Kath…there are only 1500 of these hostile tribesmen in an area the size of Wales. First they have to be found, then they wouldn’t trade because that hate the merchants, and lastly they have nothing of value to trade anyway.

    There is an existing infrastructure of ostlers, teamsters, customers and other vested individuals along their route like the local crafters, mangai chapters, manor lords and the barbarian tribes who would suffer a huge loss…
    Again, you have this all wrong. From Trobridge to Tashal, the Salt Route is all wilderness until the three small settlements on the western size of the Kald River. All three are within a days walk of Tashal, and are way too small to be of any benefit to the Salt Route merchants. Besides, being so close tho their goal, I doubt the caravan would even slow down, let alone stop to trade. Before that, there is literally nothing but wilderness; no manors, no settlements, not even any mining or timber camps! Just hostile barbarians who want nothing to do with the merchants, and who have nothing of value to trade anyway (except perhaps a few furs).

    How is the caravan crossing the various rivers to get to Jedes?
    If you look at the detailed maps of the region (J5-J6), the Salt Route could be altered to follow a Kath trail along the Golaba River. The trail crosses the river a few times, obviously at fords, until it reaches the Kald and another trail along its western bank. Then simply follow this river trail north-east for a few miles and you reach a point opposite Jedes. Hmmm…something I hadn’t noticed before, there appears to be a substantial island in the Kald just downstream from where the Tamora River joins the Kald at Yalen. That could be a perfect place for a bridge.

    Finally, the question has been asked, why shift the Salt Route to Jedes when there is a port? Why not route all cargo from western Hârn by sea through the port. The answer is the same for why that doesn’t happen now, but to Cherafir or around to Thay. The Gulf of Ederwyn.

    To quote Harndex briefly: “The gulf is notorious for its violent winds, turbulent seas, and mountainous swells. Few mariners care to risk life and vessel in these waters.” Combine this with the technology level of ships around Hârn, and you have the reason why very few, in any, vessels travel from eastern Hârn to western Hârn. This is perhaps another assumption that should be spelled out. This will change in the future as ships get better, more reliable and more seaworthy. But the state of shipping isn’t there yet, and very few—if any—merchant will risk their entire cargo to a ship that they think has a good chance of sinking in the Gulf of Ederwyn. That’s why the Salt Route will survive at least another generation.

  9. Thanks Leitchy,

    Lots of excellent points. Okay Tuleme island it is. The King (a visionary with only a few years remaining) has consulted with his advisors and made his decision. He wants a port built before he dies in the South another feather in his royal legacy for history figuring it will grow on its own over the years through economic stimulus and expand Kaldor’s sphere of influence (and his secretly chosen heir is supportive of this plan).

    In a nutshell Kaldor is building a port in the South so get with the program people.

    By canon I am wrong regarding an existing infrastructure of ostlers, teamsters, customers and other vested individuals along their route like the local crafters, mangai chapters, manor lords and the barbarian tribes who would suffer a huge loss but my thoughts are that those small trades with free hunter, trapper and farmer clans were glossed over for the most part. so it depends on the various Harns.

    IMO caravans would be laying over at some of these isolated friendly small free clans enjoying the best of both worlds. (Reduced taxes and tithes compared to typical Kaldorians). Just like the indians probably trading furs and some livestock (free grazing) at great prices for trade goods (Metal weapons, needles, pots and pans), quality cloth, fire whiskey or it’s equivalent the locals don’t produce themselves but that is probably Harn specific so if they don’t exist that isn’t a possiblity.

    Caravan masters would acquire status and sanction among the barbarians and free holders through various methods network contacts via Clan adoption. Blood Brothers. Trade agreements.

    One key point I keep forgetting to mention is it’s only 2 hexes from Tashal where the proposed changes rerout the Salt Route through Jedes which effectively doubles the distance to transport the goods (4 hexes) to Tashal using the alternate Jedes Kald river route. Do the benefits (reduced cost and time of transporting the goods for 2 hexes via the Kald river and no additional or reduced taxes for using the Kald river for bringing Tashal import goods through Jedes) detouring outweigh the benefits of just pushing on overland for the last 2 hexes? It’s not a short quarter to half hour trip in the car that was doubled. If these last 2 hexes are so dangerous to caravan trade (bandits and barbarians) rerouting the trade route will result in the relocation of those same hazards.

    Depending on the size of the caravan and the availablity of barges wil determine how efficient that turnover point becomes. Almost every caravan would probably need to spend at least an afternoon trading some goods in Jedes for a little profit and good will. IMO the following day would really be better allowing word to be relayed to the outlaying manors (perhaps by Jedes light horse) who would walk to Jedes the following morning except in poor weather conditions.

    IMO there are existing tolls and tariffs for using the Kald river barges in place which are not free or inexpensive enough to be currently attractive to merchant trade. The king should be able to lower that cost for goods in the short term knowing that in a few years increased river trade will make that a wash or actually increase tax revenues.

    I did look at the maps but at that scale something that is not denoted on the map or appears relatively easy to circumvate according to the map may not be so in reality and each obstacle may require additional hours of travel. A few obstacles will basically add another day to travel time on top of the final leg which has already been doubled by passing through Jedes.

    I thinks Sir Shernath Mirdarne should build something like a 10L Tower on the opposite river bank within sight but North of Jedes since the Kald river flows to the south and establish a new marnor (and keep it in the family techincally it wouldn’t be in the Asolade 100).

  10. Leitchy wrote: “very few—if any—merchant will risk their entire cargo to a ship that they think has a good chance of sinking in the Gulf of Ederwyn. That’s why the Salt Route will survive at least another generation.”.

    I accepted this when I first saw it. Just yesterday, however, I was looking at the map of Harn and suddenly realised that it’s not true. The sea route from a port at Tuleme Island to Aleath doesn’t cross the Gulf of Ederwyn – ti goes via the Gulf of Chakro. The islands of Keboth and Yaelin screen the Gulf of Chakro from the southwesterlies that dominate the Gulf of Ederwyn and make the crossing so difficult.

    I can see why, without a port on the lower Kald, any traffic from Melderyn would tend to go via the Gulf of Ederwyn – there are no friendly ports between Cherafir and Aleath except Burzyn – for which you have to enter a river without a pilot and work your way leagues upstream, and Ulfshafen – which is really available only to a select few pilots who have an existing relationship with the elves. However, if ships are regularly calling in at Tuleme, then the next leg of the voyage from, say, the mouth of the Kald river to the eastern manors of Kanday is not an unthinkably long haul, even in a Nivik, and is in sheltered inshore waters almost the whole way.

    I think a port at Tuleme Island does spell the end of the Salt Route, or at the very least the beginning of the end.

    Cheers,
    De Coucy

  11. Oh, I agree with you about a port at Tuleme Island eventually killing the Salt Route, decoucy. But I think these things take time and I estimated a generation…about 20 years. So by 740TR, according to my estimates, ship building technology will have advanced enough to cope with the wild weather and rough sea conditions of the southern coast of Hârn (note how I now use “southern coast” instead of “Gulf of Ederwyn” 😉 More on this in a little.) Tuleme Island will be well established and more well known overseas. Investment in southern Harn to cater to (and take advantage of) the port will see a vast expansion of Jedes, and much commercial activity will have shifted….and the Salt Route will die, along with the Genin Trail, probably. If it does, Thay is screwed as well. All of which I’ll cover in more depth in future articles.

    While the entry for the Gulf of Ederwyn mentions the rough conditions, in reality it applies to the entire southern coastline. And rough conditions are moderated by islands, it’s true. But just moderated, not avoided althogether. 🙂 There’s still a long way between sheltered spots.

  12. Hi Leitchy.

    Not sure I agree about the roughness of the Gulf of Chakro or the “long way between sheltered spots”. Going by the weather tables, and the maps of prevailing winds it is the South westerly and (to a lesser degree) the north westerly that makes the Gulf of Ederwyn so rough. The islands screen pretty much the whole of the Gulf of Chakro – which is pretty much all of the trip. The only area without shelter is the last twenty leagues or so towards Aleath.

    However, I do agree with you about things taking time to change. Its just that to my mind its less ship building technology and more the fact that everything is set up to go by land now, and it will take time to change things (including buying, building, or re-allocating ships with exsiting technology…) So not such a great difference in opinion.

    Cheers,
    De Coucy

  13. Leitchy said:

    Are there that many barges available travelling between Jedes and Kaldor in a timely manner to transport the caravan goods?

    *snip* This means there are probably merchants and barge owners who recognise an opportunity, and who are probably investing in new barges right now. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if every shipyard along all the rivers of the Kald watershed aren’t frantically building as many talbars as possible.

    What impact will this have on local forests, in particular the resources of quality Oak trees? The Pilot’s Almanac says that each tree is good for roughly 600 board feet of wood or roughly one tree per tun of ship. Is there enough quality oak along the Kald to supply this boom in shipbuilding? Will this increased demand impact the quality of the local hunting grounds? If so, how do the lords feel about that? Will Oak have to be imported from other regions, creating new trade opportunities?

    I like this series of articles and I’ve been wondering what the impact on local forests will be. New buildings, docks, warehouses etc will need wood from somewhere. Perhaps stone will have to be quarried. What are all the economic spinoffs of this process? Who stands to get rich off supplying these things?

  14. Cost effectiveness of the Salt Route

    Salt Route as it is now
    Route: Coranan-Moleryn-Taztos-Athul-Trobridge-Tashal
    Cost Index: 100

    Salt Route with Jedes Port
    Route: Coranan-Moleryn-Taztos-Athul-Trobridge-Jedes-Tashal
    Cost Index: 86

    Shiran Route
    Route: Coranan-Shiran-Firis-Athul-Trobridge-Tashal
    Cost Index: 79

    Shiran Route with Jedes Port
    Route: Coranan-Shiran-Firis-Athul-Trobridge-Jedes-Tashal
    Cost Index: 65

    Changing the route to go through Jedes would lower the costs by 14 %.

    Changing the route to go via Shiran, Firis and Athul Mountains would lower the costs by 21 %.

    If the route over the Athul Mountains should be easier than in the scenario above (where the costs of travelling over the mountains is estimated to be extremely high), the Shiran Route would actually lower the costs by 33 %, without the Jedes Port. With Jedes Port, the costs would be cut by 47 %.

    Conclusion: A port in Jedes would bring considerable savings to the merchants. But changing the western course of the Salt route to Thard River and Lake Benath traffic would bring considerably larger savings.

    Also, it should be noted that the Tulwyn are perhaps the most serious problem along the Salt Route. Changing the western part so as to cut the distance travelled through Tulwyn territory into a minimum would in all probability bring even more savings.

    Also worth of note is that the Shiran route would effectively cut the land travel into a half of what it is at the present. This would make it possible to have two yearly caravans passing between Tharda and Kaldor, instead of one.

    One could ask if the Thardans are aware of the possibility of the Shiran Route. They are. Already in 672 TR, during the Salt War, the Autarch Aglir of Telen successfully used this route to march an army over the Athul Mountains and into the Chelna Gap. While it is theoretically possible (however implausible) that the Corani Empire could not see the possibility of the Shiran Route, it is fully clear that for the past 50 years at least this possibility has been open for the Thardic Republic. As an oligarchy of trader princes, I find it unbelievable that the Thardans would not use such an opportunity. Everybody – except the Moleryni – would win. Even Telen would see much more trade, so that the Nordakas too should understand the benefits. (The Shiran Route doesn’t have a prerequisite of colonizing barbarian wilderness or building cities into wasteland.) IMHO, it is not the Ramala Road Project that is discussed in the Senate, but the Shiran Route.

    -ile

  15. I’m leaning towards Leitchy’s take on the matter, although in my opinion, even a 14% reduction in costs would eventually make the salt route reroute via Jedes and the Kald.

    A port-building project at Tuleme is sure to increase interest and investments in river traffic, barges etc, but even now there’s probably a few barges or boats going back and forth along the Kald, wide and deep as it is. All it takes is for one entrepreneuring caravan master or even some individual mercantyler travelling with the salt route caravan to think of it, flag over a barge, and make more profits. The next time the caravan is set to move through the area, barges, employment etc. can be arranged more easily, and word of mouth should soon enough spread the news of this cost-saving method. The off-time by guards, animal handlers etc. that’s spent in Jedes (instead of Tashal) either isn’t significant, or they can be put to work building a wharf, etc. Eventually more barge-owners would hear of it, more barges would be built, etc. IMO there’s even the (slim) possibility that the Tuleme port only surfaces as an idea years later, when increased river traffic due to a rerouted salt route makes people think about the what-if of a Kaldorian port. The port stimulating river traffic is by far the more realistic though.

    The Tuleme port would speed things up a LOT, but even without it, I think that river traffic would at least become a significant option. It’d probably take 5-20 years for the Jedes vs. traditional salt route trade good volumes to reach a 50/50 ratio without the extra interest in river traffic from the port.

    Regarding tolls, my view is that the King has ultimate controls over tolls levied. Even if in your p-Harn he may have granted several lords on the way charters that allow toll collection from river traffic, thus making this prohibitively expensive, he could also amend those charters to lower the toll costs of moving along the river. If he’s sponsoring a port at Tuleme, he’d be certain to do so, so as not to stifle the port before it even gets started.

    The Seaman’s guild presumeably doesn’t operate on rivers. Pilot’s Almanac states IIRC that not only do you not need pilots for under 30′ vessels operating to and from their port of registry, I think that the crew doesn’t need to be guilded either (eg. fishing boats). River traffic sounds a lot like to and from the port of registry to me.

    The Shiran route would be even better, but with an ocean port, I don’t see it happening fast enough. The example given was a military expedition. There may not be that good of an anchorage on the mentioned corner of Lake Benath, the trail really isn’t there (not good enough for a caravan), and if I were a caravan master, I’d be a lot more scared about Gargun than Tulwyn. Normal hunting groups of up to a 100 might be manageable for a salt route caravan (but keep in mind you’ll have to ship all the guards across Lake Benath, something that’s not such a big issue on the Jedes end), but if you send a caravan with plenty of people, a lot of them civilians, and plenty of pack animals, it’s a much larger prize with much less risk for the gargun than a military unit would be. So several hunting bands would be grouped together, even up to almost all of the colony (excepting a home guard for the queen) participating in the attack. And you haven’t considered swarms either. I am in agreement about the fact that if the salt route changes in the east, then the merchant princes in Tharda will definitely try to shorten the land route. I just think crossing the mounts may be too dangerous, unless something is done about the orcs.

    The Kath wouldn’t be that big of a problem IMO on the Shiran route. With a population of only 1500, they’re pretty much doomed if Kaldor gets serious about exerting control to the west, and just that much sooner if the salt route changes to go more through their lands and they fight back. And there’s probably plenty of oak on Kath Lands 😉

    Last but not least, the South coast of Harn is such a problem for navigation because the prevailing southwesterlies blow across the whole Haonic ocean, so they have plenty of time to gather strength. The islands will giver shelter from the worst of it, but even so, the wind shadow leewards of an island is only about 10* it’s height, so you have to skirt the islands to lower gale/storm winds to something manageable, which is quite the navigational hazard. The “wave shadow” would be somewhat longer, but according to the hard rules, you might still have to be in the same hex as the island’s shore, forcing a grounding roll. In any case, IMO Harnic ocean-going vessels (Daks… Niviks are another thing) would prefer to strike out to the opean ocean first, so they don’t have to worry about the exactness of navigation and the risk of grounding. At least until the “inside route” along the islands would be better mapped, and considering how secretive pilots are about their rutters, this information doesn’t spread that fast.

    A Port at Tuleme would still spell the beginning of the end of the Salt route, if it’s a success.

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