Gathering a crew (spring 1221)

Confirm Palermo, Sicily? Not Salerno, Italy?

Palermo sicily, sorry.

You arrive in Palermo and have trouble at first finding a place to dock, having to wait for another ship to leave port and slip into the place it occupied. Immediately you are greeted by an adjunct to the harbor master who inquires after cargo to declare nation of origin, trading company affiliation and so forth. The Palace and Harem of Fredrick II both stand as imposing edifices over the city.

I got caught up with end-of-the-month billing issues today at work. I'd wanted to post earlier that Talus would want to make sure that the Pisces had a load of glassware to sell when it shipped out.

"We are from the island of Malta and are carrying a cargo composed mostly of glassware. We are mosly looking to recruit reliable sailors, but might sell some of our cargo pay wages. Any tariffs or taxes I should know about ? Also, do you know of a place around here where I could meet reliable and experienced sailors ?"

Some time later, Vincente gather Pepe and Bravos:

"Shit... I have not idea what all this glassware is worth to be honest. If we don't get the market value for this, we will be in real trouble. We better start working on this right away."

The crew is inexperienced at loading and unloading glass, and consequently there has been significant breakage.
Oddly this seems to relieve the dock master's assistant "Ah yes, Maltese Glass. As fine as Venetian glass, but more prone to breakage during transport. And I hear much less expensive."
With little in the way of bargaining ability you only get 1200 per ton on the glassware after breakage, which allows you to have 24,000 pounds of silver 'on account' (nobody actually has that much silver present) with which to purchase other goods. 10% of this is set aside for profit sharing for the crew (since there was no financial cost to acquire the glass), which is 8 persons plus the captain, divided into 3 shares for the captain, 2 shares per experienced crewmember, and one share for each relatively new crewmember (I'm assuming orphans were not sent out for this voyage with a skeleton crew, where they might get underfoot), for a total of 15 shares, at 160 pounds of silver apiece.

For the record: Venitian glass is manufactured by a master craftsman with an Dx+craft of 7, fully innovated and well supplied workshop (+3) with 1 or more assistants for an additional +3 bonus, or effective ability of 16. requiring an int+finess roll of 19 base to emulate. Talus has a finesse of 11, int of 3, familiarity bonus of 3, for 17+ stress die per casting. Roll of 2 means one days work, 5 one months work, 8 one seasons work and 11 one years work. glass is produced at market rates of 20 lbs silver per year at a starting value (before breakage etc.) of 2500/ton, so this is effectively 125 years worth of work (for a single shop). This takes 626 castings or about 11 minutes.

When word gets around te docks what kind of profit share the crew pulled in, you have no trouble finding additional sailors. Even ones willing to relocate families to Malta.

*glass profits are considered one time, not regular income as regular income should be self sustaining, not dependent upon magi to produce base materials. However this quantity of resource could well serve as seed money for future trading without needing to bring other investors on board.

As Vincente concludes the deal with the dock master and shakes his hands, he has the nasty feeling the his employers are getting fleeced, but they are getting so much coins in exchange for the glassware that it makes his head spin. "Perhaps", he think to deculpabilize himself, "they should have know better and sent someone who actually was versed in the incomprehensible arithmetic such transaction entails. Oh well, better prepare myself to be scorned when I get back to Malta."

As he walk on the deck, he can hear that the morale of the crew is high, and is a stark contrast with the tension and distrust that was palpable when they left Malta days earlier. After all rumors of a ship being cursed had a long life. He smiled, but then thougth that the crew would discover soon enough that they were working for magicians; he could only hope that those who would refuse to sail again would be less than half of the newly hired hands.

The captain will join Bavol who was supervizing the unloading of the crates of glassware on the dock, as well as wave at the oldest sailor from Malta, signaling him to come.

"Bavol, our operation cannot be sustained if we don't recruit someone who is able to haggle and bargain on our behalf. Palermo is home to many, many people, perhaps we can find such a merchant here."

As the white-haired sailor joins them:

"Ah Lorenzo, you told me that you fished for many years these waters, you told me back in Mdine. You will accompany us and help in the recruitment of more crewmembers. I suspect you have been on many ships, and sailed with a lot of men; I could use your opinion on the characters of prospective sailors."

His attention is then focused by the sound of broken glass... and silver coins vanishing. His jaw tighted:

"Let's go, I cannot stand the sound of broken glass anymore. I have heard that slavery is still practiced in Sicily... The slave market might be worth a visit; maybe we can someone there that would fit the need of our ... trading company."

(OOC: This might be a good opportunity to introduce Matheus? I introduce Lorenzo to enable someone to join the adventure, if they wish to,)

Christian slaves wouldn't be sold in Sicily, only Muslim slaves. I have other plans for discovering Matheus...

"Ugh, slaves. All you'll find there are field hands or galley rowers. I think I'd rather drinking my way around the dockside taverns, gathering gossip and making friends. Meet me at the Rusty Anchor after you check out the market?"

Making the tavern rounds, Bovial hears tell of a merchant sailor who was renowned for his cunning trading ability, as well as his tendency to invest all he had in his ship, on the opinion that if he went down on the ship there was no point in leaving it behind. Matheus wound up captured by Circe, the Pirate Queen while traveling to Constantinople with a cargo of fine linens he was planning to exchange for Moorish slaves. Apparently one of the sailors was released to try and raise a ransom while she kept this merchant commander captive. He suggests if you would give him the funds to bail out his fearless leader, the man would probably be willing to work off the debt...

"I don't plan for any slave that I would buy to stay so for long, because that's frowned upon by our associates... but you never know, someone of talent might be in there somewhere, be they pagans, slavs, muslims or jews. I'll be a the tavern later, leave some ale for me and the rest of the crew, because we have to celebrate our good fortune !"

"I hate to spoil your pending celebration, but we also need to figure out a way to send 10% to our landlord. Unless you think the council back home can scrape up 2400 lbs in physical coin? Maybe we can just create an account in his name and let his men know when we get back?"

Later that evening Vincente enter the Rusty Anchor and quickly notice Bravol sitting at a table with some of the sailors of the Pisces, drinking beer and picking the what meat little food is left of a plate a chicken, bread and cheese.

"Evening, lads. So, did you find of any merchant that would like to join our venture?", ask Vincente as he sits with the crowd.

Later, after Bravol has exposed what he learned about Matheus and the pirate Queen:

"I am not sure... maybe I've heard of her before... but I cannot remember. Perhaps it will come back to me later. If we could rescue this Matheus and his cargo, we would surely get some coins out of it; maybe there is even a bounty placed the head of this Circee and she might have the fruit of her plunders hidden somewhere. In any case, this seems like the man our associates would like. After all, they can take a loss easily."

The captain ponders for a while:

"Still, we would be ill-advised to go pirate hunting with a crew lacking cohesion... altought we did hire marines... but only to protect our cargo. The pirate queen will have many times our number. Plus, she could make our lives miserables in the future..."

(OOC: If there are no interesting slaves at the market, let us just fast forward to the evening. Also, I dont think we need to pay 10% of what we gained. As far as I know, the city taxe are at 0%)

I'm not following this - was this created in another thread?

OOC: I was refering to this.

yeesh, somehow I missed that post!

Pirate queens and ransoms, here we come!

We will not just give this sailor with his salty tale a ransom, however; we'll never see him or his merchant again if we do. Someone will have to go with him to make the exchange, and I think Bavol or Vicente are elected. Or both, I suppose.

Anyone else want to play Pepe for this caper?

"Let us not be hasty, nor fools. The pirate queen commands probably many vessels and must have hundreds of pirates under her command. Otherwise, she would not be called a queen. Let us negotiate the release of this Matheus; finding a true merchant to run their business will probably be enough to compensate for the lost profits, and so we wont have to forfeit your share and nor will I. Anyway, let's hope so."

Vincente loors around:

" Where is that sailor you where talking me about ? We must what is the ransom and how it should be delivered."

The man is sitting at a large table in the center of the tavern, telling his tale to a crowd of sailors and impressionable young men, who are buying him drinks as he relates the story.

Yes, you will need to pay Al Faquesh 10%, as this is income to the city from a single source. Unless of course the income somehow does not belong to the city...

Vincente, flanked by Bravol and Lorenzo, slowly approach the sailor retelling his story again from the beginnin, and says, politely but with a firm tone:

"Greetings. Me and my friends here would be honored if you joined our table. We would like to have a detailled account of the events, in a more private setting. Please."

OOC: My understanding is that the covenant is a separate entity from the town, but that since the magi are the only councilors, they effectively control both. The trading company his owned by the covenant (i.e., magi), and does not belong to the town. Otherwise, if the covenant was to loose control of the town council, they would also loose the trading business.

Anyway that is my undertanding. Since we can set the tax rate to 0%, we would owe nothing to the Al Faquesh. The downside is that business operating inside the town will net no taxes, so we loose this a possible source of income.

To summarize, the town charter was set up as a tax evasion scheme, well at least that is how I understood it. If my interpretation was wrong, similar result would be achieve by having the business directly owned by the magi.

PS: Anybody want to join this adventure ? It is promising !

We could indeed claim this, but the cargo was made directly by one of us, shipped on the Pisces, property owned wholly and in common by the covenant, captained and staffed by our sworn men. We could claim it as the 13th century version of a shell corporation, but it would fool no one.

In fact, money of this magnitude is going to be a political hot potato no matter what happens - we are best advised to get rid of it as soon as possible, perhaps by offering a 90% "goodwill" discount on our first cargo, then donate half the remainder to the church.

Our future cargoes would be much better off keeping in typical or greater income range; this cargo is orders of magnitude greater than a Legendary source.