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The Lord Ruler's perfect capital city, Luthadel, is doing the impossible: rebelling. Skaa half-breeds are being taught the power of Allomancy, something that the Lord Ruler's obligators said only existed in the nobility. The enslaved skaa, with their murderous benefactor, now fight back against a living god's oppression.

So, the Inquisition was formed. The nobles begin to fear assassination from all sides. The times of nobility Mistborn killing each other are over. The Steel Inquisitors look for aristocrat traitors and insurgent skaa, and the skaa try with all their strength to merely survive. The Lord Ruler's perfect Final Empire is slowly devolving into chaos.

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Canals and Politics - Potential Plottery


16 replies to this topic

#1 Comatose


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Posted 17 November 2015 - 06:22 PM

So, in Final Empire, Elend mentions that the Great Houses control most of the canals in the Empire. Assuming this is also true 100 years earlier, I thought it would be interesting to think about which Great Houses own the major canals coming into Luthadel. Obviously, regionalism would be at play here: Venture and Deveaux would be more likely to have canals heading north, Elariel west, Tekiel and Sureau east, Hasting, Casuana, and Lekal south. As a southern Isles House, perhaps Fathvell also has a southern canal, or maybe they use the Lekal one, since those two houses are close. Since Raisaal is a central dominance house who specializes in training Hazekillers, I wasn't sure if they would control a canal or not.

Anyways, here's why I think figuring out who controls which canals could be an interesting opportunity. Virtually all trade in the final empire takes place via canal. No matter what rank a house has, to get goods in or out of Luthadel, they need to make use of the major canal lines, which are controlled by the great houses. By figuring out which canal lines houses choose to take, and which house controls that canal, we can add another layer of detail to our House contracts section, while also adding an interesting political dimension to Court. How does House X go about switching canal lines? How does their use of canal Y affect their relations with their allies who use canal Z? How do Great Houses react when other houses stop using their canal in favour of one used by another Great House? How do the Great Houses negotiate using each other's canals, since many have mercantile empires that span the continent?

While a certain amount of regionalism makes sense, I also wouldn't want to limit our Great Houses to owning canals only in their region (especially older houses like Deveaux and Sureau who may have spent more time based in Luthadel than in their home region). Since the canals are so integral to Final Empire economy, paying more attention to them in the RP could be a good way to add some nuance and detail to our political intrigue. Discussions regarding the canals should also give lesser nobility more opportunities to have discussions with their betters.

Anyways, so let's get started brainstorming. Note that, while admins have final say in this sort of broad world-building, you do not need to be staff or even control a Great House to participate. If you have an idea, please share it! It can be a suggestion of your house's interaction with the Great Houses and the canals, or an idea for potential conflict or intrigue between the Great Houses related to the canals.

To start off, in the north, I'm guessing that use of each other's canals is a big part of the upcoming Venture/Deveaux deal (feel free to jump in KChan). I'd also guess that Houses like Tekiel (shipping) and Elariel (various trades) would have incentive to control more canal lines than the other houses. Since Elariel is the only great House in the West, they've probably had an easier time securing those lines, but perhaps the face fiercer competition in the other dominances because of this. For Tekiel, with former super-power Sureau having a stronghold in the East, what steps might they take to secure their shipping empire and keep control of canal lines.

Industry Houses (weapons for Hasting and Casuana, agriculture for Lekal) likely all own canals in the South to get their goods into Luthadel. Once there, however, do they use the canals of their Great House allies (or Tekiel and Elariel) to disperse their goods to other dominances? Or are they looking to acquire more secure routes to these other regions through lesser canal owning houses?

For Sureau, how has their slow collapse affected their control of canals? Are some Sureau canals falling into disuse because they are ill maintained? Or has Sureau been selling off canal rights to ally Tekiel in order to compensate for losses? And what about Deveaux, the other ancient house in the city? Dealing in allomantic metals, much of Devaux's industry would take place in their native North and the metal and allomancer-rich Central Dominances. Do they use the neutral Elariel and their ally Casuana to ship to other dominances? Or have the acquired their own routes over time?

We should also probably decide how many "Major" canals lead to each dominance, and how many are controlled with each house. Since canals probably branch out as the extend outwards from Luthadel, perhaps Great Houses own the main canals, and then lease out the smaller branches to lesser houses.

What do other people think about these ideas, and where their characters/houses might fit in?

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#2 Noelle

124
Prelan

Posted 17 November 2015 - 07:01 PM

I actually didn't know about the the Great Houses controlling the canals. I figured they were owned by the Lord Ruler. Still this is really cool, and it sort of opens the door for Houses who might, say, own one particularly useful canal and have managed to hang onto it. I'm sure Great Houses would still own most of them but it seems like there would be plenty of room for the smaller houses as well, especially as one got farther and farther from Luthadel.

Indeed, it could be that owning a major canal could be some sort of status symbol, similar (but no where near the same) to how a Great House is denoted by their keeps. So, you know, another socioeconomic milestone since the upkeep and protection of canals would be a big investment of resources. Even if it isn't a major one. (Indeed, maybe even more if it is not a major one since it would see less business). You could have Houses from outer dominances that only hold any amount of sway in Luthadel because of the fact that the monopolize or at least control many of the very outermost canals. (If, indeed, the canal system stretches that far I actually have no idea.)

With the ones controlled by the Great Houses, I sort of wonder if something interesting could be done with Elariel trying to monopolize them? Because as you said they are the main western house. And being able to control western trade would be another tool they could use to maintain neutrality as a house, no? So it seems like they would really want to do their best to monopolize that. And it seems like people would also want to do /their/ best to keep such a monopoly from happening. So what if they controlled almost every major canal, either via vassal houses or direct control, but one of the Great Houses is trying to buy one of the remaining independent ones now so they can have western trade that doesn't have the deficit of paying Elariel's tariffs?

That was just the first thing that came to mind for me.

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#3 Haelbarde

30
Acolyte

Posted 17 November 2015 - 10:45 PM

The Skaa MAG supplement seems to indicate that TLR owns the canals, but at least in Luthadel, the skaa working on them 'belong' to particular Houses. So I'd take that to mean that while TLR technically owns them, and has final say in things (apparently Austrex has some slums that have been built up inside a large drained Canal, after TLR ordered the canals rebuilt more secure and closer to the city center), he might sell contracts out to Houses to maintain and service portions of the canal system (means there's less the Steel Ministry has to worry about. They'd just keep an eye on things through the Obligators).

Also, wow. Urteau has canals galore... o.O

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#4 Comatose


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356
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Posted 17 November 2015 - 10:53 PM

So, as I mentioned in the c-box, I just lost a post I was working on. I'll try to recount what I lost, but some of the energy and spontaneity of the original post will likely be lost. The good news? This post will be less rambley and should be shorter. The bad news is it likely won't be as good of a brainstorm, since some of the partial or half-formed ideas I came up with might be forgotten.

Anyways, when I was typing up a response to Noelle's query about the Ministry's ownership of the canals, I found this quote from my notes and quotes thread. I also included an earlier quote from Elend about the Great Houses controlling the canals.

 Mistborn: The Final Empire, on 11 March 2011 - 12:59 AM, said:

Notes from my MB:FE reread
(page numbers are from the original hard cover edition)

- - "By whom? Country nobility? Valette, they don?t know us. They're jealous because we control most of the canal systems." (23.323)

- "Every year, the nobility grow weaker," Jastes said in agreement. "Our skaa belong to the Lord Ruler, as does our land. His obligators determine who we can marry and what we can believe. Our canals, even, are officially 'his' property. Ministry assassins kill men who speak out too openly, or who are too successful. This is no way to live." (23.229)

So, according to Jastes, the Lord Ruler "officially" owns the Great Houses' canals. Note that he still uses the word 'ours' (meaning the Great Houses') to describe the canals, meaning there is still some form of leadership there. Elend's quote above only claims that the Great Houses control most of the canals, he does not claim ownership. Based on these quotes, my guess is that the ministry has some sort of lease arrangement for the canals, and then taxes the profits made from them. Perhaps, houses with the necessary funds can apply to the ministry to build new canals, and the Ministry has the power to grant or deny these applications, and to take a percentage of the profits earned from the canals once they are built. The ministry could also either use the canals free of charge for their own business, or perhaps they leave payment of the fees to use the canals to the houses they contract with for shipping and transportation (such as Camon's fictional house, Jedue, in the books). Paying tariffs and fees to use canals would be part of the regular course of business for shipping and transport houses, and it seems like the ministry chooses to contract this work out.

Anyways, for noble houses, I assume the "control" of the canals can be sold, otherwise the Great Houses who originally controlled the canals would still own them, and there would be no major canals for new Great Houses to own. Let's say a noble house can gain control of a canal either by buying it from another house, or buy building a new canal with the approval of the ministry. The ministry likely has control over who can buy and sell canals, and maybe in some situations they could even force a house to sell their controlling interest, even if it is at a loss. Houses could also sell their control of the canals back to the Ministry if they need the cash, and then the Ministry could accept new applications from other houses. Perhaps one of our former Great Houses fell because they lost the ministry's favour, and were forced to sell their control of their canals at a loss. Houses controlling canals would be responsible for maintaining them, but would be able to charge for the use of them, and keep the profits, subject to the ministry's tax.

Feel free to chime in on this point. Thanks Noelle for bringing up that point and forcing me to go back and check my facts.

Anyways, regardless of which scheme we settle on, I don't think it changes our plans for the nobility too much, though it will affect politics between the nobles and the ministry. I really like the idea that controlling a canals, especially major ones and/or large quantities of them, would be an extra marker of prestige among the Great Houses, over and above owning and maintaining a Keep in Luthadel. Perhaps this also helps to separate the Great Houses in rank from each other? Perhaps revenues from the major canals is one of the few ways that the Great Houses can keep ahead of the keep taxes, while still making a profit from other business ventures. It would also be an easy way for the Lord Ruler to pass on economic sanctions throughout the empire. By raising Keep Taxes, he likely forces the Great Houses to increase the tariffs and fees for using the canal, which affects the whole empire (all while collecting a percentage of the profits through the ministry).

I also like the idea of some remote houses gaining influence by monopolizing on remote canals. This could work similarly to how Southern Isles houses like Fathvell monopolize on their control of the seas.

I also love the increased potential for Elariel politics. I'd prefer for them not to have a total monopoly in the West (seems kind of overpowered to me), but them being the only Great House from the region (and being so powerful) means it's likely they control a majority of them. I agree that the other houses would be smart to try to shut Elariel out of the other dominances as much as possible because of this :).

EDIT: Wasn't reading carefully enough. Other houses buying up canals in the Western Dominance also makes sense :).

What's fun about this is that it also forces a limited amount of further cooperation among the Great Houses. For example, an enemy of House Tekiel can likely find their way to certain destinations without using Tekiel canals, but may lose profits because the route open to them is less efficient.

Thanks for bringing in the MAG, Hael, I couldn't find my copy. While I've already spoken about how what we are talking about here is some form of control, rather than absolute ownership, the clarification that the Ministry might obtain exclusive control (especially when the are be requisitioned for something like the slums) in certain scenarios makes sense. I would also say that inner-city canals (like the ones in Urteau and Austrex) are likely managed by the city government (so the Ministry), and might work differently than the canals that lead from city to city.

Keep the clarifications and thoughts coming. Even with a post gone, I'm having too much fun with this :).

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#5 Haelbarde

30
Acolyte

Posted 18 November 2015 - 12:17 AM

 Comatose, on 17 November 2015 - 10:53 PM, said:

Thanks for bringing in the MAG, Hael, I couldn't find my copy. While I've already spoken about how what we are talking about here is some form of control, rather than absolute ownership, the clarification that the Ministry might obtain exclusive control (especially when the are be requisitioned for something like the slums) in certain scenarios makes sense. I would also say that inner-city canals (like the ones in Urteau and Austrex) are likely managed by the city government (so the Ministry), and might work differently than the canals that lead from city to city.
Your copy wouldn't have been much use. There's next to no info (with a quick search) on the canals in the base game. I was refering to the new supplement that came out a few days ago. It's focus was more on what being a Canal skaa is like, so what I posted seemed to be about the limit of the relevant info to the discussion presently.

Re: Cities, yeah that's probably true.

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#6 Noelle

124
Prelan

Posted 18 November 2015 - 01:40 AM

Yea when I was talking about Elariel I meant them attempting to monopolize but not actually having one. But when I was speaking about canals as a socioeconomic milestone I actually meant more along the lines of the differentiating of the lower ranking houses more than with Great Houses. Because, if Great Houses own most of the canals, then a way of becoming a Great House is to also own a canal, or you know, many canals. In the same way that people make Luthadel bids, they could also do things like attempt to buy or even create new canals.

Of course, Great Houses owning certain canals would definitely denote status, but it's fair to say--at least in my opinion--that much of the differentiating between the Great Houses when it comes to rank is related to how long they have been a Great House. That's a reason why Sureau is still one even though it is rumored to be on the brink of ruin financially. And if Great Houses are known by default to own canals, than it seems like this would be more a thing for the lower ranked Houses to differentiate themselves from the others. Because it's being like the Great Houses, in the same way that they come to Luthadel to build homes.

But to the canals themselves, I feel like they would be a prime target for Houses to attack--Houses of any kind. A group of people coming in and raiding a caravan would definitely have a far reaching impact on the people who "own" the canal if it was successful. It seems probable that the ministry would probably have their ownership of the canal include the stipulation that they must protect the people using it or face consequences. So doing such a thing seems like it could cause a lot of problems for the house owning the canal. But on the other hand, since the canals are really owned by the Lord Ruler, it was be a big gamble on the person attacking's part too, since if they got found out they would probably end up executed for calling such a raid. (Although that means a successful raid where nothing can be proven would do even more to undermine the house that was attacked.)

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#7 Haelbarde

30
Acolyte

Posted 18 November 2015 - 02:14 AM

Okay, relevant stuff from the MAG:

Quote

The canal trade is hectic, and many of the most industrious people in the Final Empire work the canals. A delayed boat can mean the difference between life and death for a noble or an entire plantation, making timetables and proper supply of ships to avoid unplanned stops vital for success.
It comments that the Skaa are usually harshly punished for this, but the blame still is on the nobles (their skaa being the result of the delay), and the Canton of Resource make them pay for it.

Quote

The canals are owned by the Lord Ruler, whose soldiers defend them from banditry and noble skirmishes, but the system is vast enough that not all stretches are equally protected. Any trouble on the canals that does happen typically takes place far from transportation hubs, and the troublemakers take great pains to leave no witnesses or evidence in order to foil Obligators’ investigations

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#8 Comatose


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Posted 18 November 2015 - 02:56 AM

RE: Attacks - I think it would more be the house who is doing the shipping or transporting (the one who owns the boats) who has the responsibility of defending themselves, whereas the house with "control" of the canal has the responsibility for maintaining and repairing the canal. There might be some responsibility to protect it from sabotage, but my understand was that the raids spoken of in the books were against individual rafts or convoys, and that the owners were responsible for defending themselves.

On the point about the canals being prime targets, I would agree, whether the target is a shipping house or the controller of a canal. We see a lot of attacks on the canals in during the House War described in Final Empire, so it makes sense. I think that attacks on individual rafts or parties would be more likely to be sanctioned by the ministry, whereas saboteurs would be frowned on, due to the more far-reaching disruption of trade. A house would likely be more prudent to undercut a canal controller in other ways, and then apply to the ministry to steal the control contract, rather than sabotaging a canal and risking the ire of the Lord Ruler and the ministry.

Controlling a canal would likely constitute having guards stationed at every stop along the line, and semi-regular patrols to check if maintenance is needed in rural stretches.

RE: Status - Good point. I think it could be a marker of both. It works well a secondary distinction between Great Houses and others, and would help to account for the large difference in wealth between Great Houses and lesser ones. At the same time, while canals would not be the only reason for differences in socio-economic rating between Great Houses (age, military strength, blood line purity, and influence would also be factors), what I was trying to say is that the number of canals owned could be an additional factor that affects standings.

I like the idea of purchasing control of a canal being a potential way to strengthen or solidify a bid to become a Great House in Luthadel. We don't have a lot of detail on what the transition process is like (besides building, maintaining, and defending a Keep), so adding in the successful acquisition of canal control as one method of strengthening one's presence in Luthadel makes sense. It also makes sense that someone new to Luthadel would be more successful if they had a secure way home within their control, rather than relying on other Houses.

I wouldn't want to say that all Great Houses must control canals, or that controlling multiple is necessary for a Great House's success. I think leaving open other avenues to power is important. That said, I really like the idea of them being a supplementary method of achieving extra income, leverage, and status. Some houses would depend more on canal control than others, obviously, and it could be interesting to see how the varied importance of canal control affects a house's political situation in Luthadel.

Alternatively, perhaps only Great Houses can afford to buy and maintain control of canals, since you'd need lots of resources and a wide reach to maintain control of an entire line, let alone multiple ones.

RE: MAG - Thanks Hael! To my eye, it seems like we are staying consistent with what you have there thus far. Are you noting in discrepancies?

RE: Elariel - The more I think about canal control, the more I like the implications that a heavy focus on controlling canals creates for Elariel's neutrality. I also like the idea of them acquiring control of more lines (especially in the West) through their vassals. I think that as long as the other Great Houses respect their neutrality, they keep their canals open at fairly reasonable rates, and raising tariffs and restricting access is one way they might issue sanctions against houses that breach their neutrality.

That being said, since Elariels make their fortune by buying and selling goods for a profit (on top of other things), staying on good terms with production and shipping houses would be important, and the canals are extremely vital. My guess would be that part of their neutrality policy might have stemmed from their need to have access to as many canals as possible. By not making enemies, they are probably able to access more of the other houses canals, even if they might be missing out on some of the deals that might come with alliances.

What about the other Great Houses. I love chatting about the Elariels, of course, but I'm interested to see if people have any ideas about how other Houses interact with the canal system. Also, are there any lesser houses that you think should have control of minor canal lines?

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#9 Haelbarde

30
Acolyte

Posted 18 November 2015 - 03:09 AM

Re: Mag. Nope! I've yet to do a full read through, and if anything comes up, I'll let you know, but seems we're all good!

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#10 KChan

603
Lord Prelan

Posted 18 November 2015 - 03:21 AM

Hael, that was a map of Fadrex, but yes, Urteau has loads of canals. The entire city is basically the Venice of Scadrial. ^^ As for the MAG, it is not considered strictly canonical, so we use it as a reference guide but don't necessarily rewrite when something we've build conflicts with something they have (see: naming schemes for the Western and Southern Dominances).

Anyways! My thoughts, subject to discussion:

  • The houses with the most canals are probably Sureau and Deveaux, since they're the oldest houses and have been on top for a really long time. Tekiel is probably close since their focus is so strongly on shipping, while Venture has probably been strongarming their way into building/taking control of as many as possible in the past 25 years, taking advantage of their political influence brute financial power since they rose to the top.

  • Sureau's routes are probably very intertwined with the other houses, for a number of reasons: being the oldest and having been on top for so long, it makes sense that they would have the highest concentration of good routes. But I doubt the Ministry would allow a monopoly, meaning that by necessity, they don't control everything they want to. Which is, well, everything. So they probably have an extensive web of easements with their allies and business partners. With allies getting preferential treatment, of course. These days, it's probably one of the few remaining good things about being allies with Sureau.

  • Deveaux has numerous routes, especially into the north, though who wouldn't want to expand? Their closest allies, particularly the Damerells (a Northern Dominance house that specializes in shipping) get preferential treatment when using their canals.

  • Venture's canal network is varied throughout the Empire as they diversify their holdings, but with a slight bias toward the North. Uniting their network with Deveaux's will likely result in a near-lockdown of those routes.

  • Hasting probably controls more of the Southern routes than Casuana, with Sureau, and Venture sticking a few fingers in that direction as well. I can imagine the former two houses in a perpetual bidding war with the Canton of Resource to try and steal control of this route or that one from one another.

  • Perhaps Elariel's network would be balanced? They control the best routes into the West of course, but haven't neglected the other corners of the Empire. This synergizes well with their extensive spy network.

  • I can't imagine Raisaal having many key cross-Empire networks, but perhaps a strong intra-Dominance network for transport of their own goods and personnel, as well as leasing access to other houses.

  • Fathvell doesn't have that many canals of their own, but they command control of most of the waters surrounding the Southern Islands, or so they claim. They primarily use either Lekal's routes or the heavily taxed River Channerel to move goods, but Sureau is using their own appealing southern routes to try and lure Fathvell deeper into their camp. So far, it hasn't worked. They ignore the contested Hasting-Casuana routes like the plague, not wanting to declare a preference for one house over the other.

  • Lekal's routes are likely mostly in and out of the Southern Dominance, as well as spiderwebbing within its borders to allow for movement of their agricultural goods.

And there we have it. That's all I've got for now, but it's something!

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#11 Noelle

124
Prelan

Posted 18 November 2015 - 03:26 AM

About attacks, I think that it might be a somewhat mixed thing, what with Hael's input about the Lord Ruler's military being the ones to protect the canals, but also not having enough men to protect them all equally. It seems like canals whose owners also expend money to bribe the military officials into seeing them as higher priority (and thus getting more men to guard them), or can hire mercenaries to guard the less defended sections, would be seen as a better avenue to use than canals that would be lacking those things, since then it would definitely be up to the person using the canal to have enough people guarding their convoy, which would mean spending money on extra guards. So canals that have better protection could charge more while still getting customers, because people would be trying to save on hiring those extra men while also being safer on average due to the military.

For status you're right that it doesn't need to be something all Great houses have. When I was saying "by default", I meant more the idea that if one was to get a map and look at the owned canals, more often than not the "owner" would end up being a Great House, either via a vassal or just outright ownership, so being the owner of one without being a vassal would be of note.

But I don't think that maintaining a canal would be something only Great Houses could do, if only because I wouldn't want to take away the chance from people who don't control Great Houses. But perhaps not being a Great House would make it more difficult to control larger canals? An interesting idea that just came to mind is of coalitions of smaller Houses working together to maintain a canal that is large in size. It would be difficult to achieve, not the least of which because that would require nobles actually working together, but if it did it would be very profitable for all involved, and would keep them from having to become a vassal to a Great House to do so.

With Elariel I definitely agree that the canal system makes sense with their neutrality, I actually hadn't really thought of it in that way, but that makes a lot of sense and is pretty serendipitous if you think about it.

As for minor houses, I'm honestly not super sure! I would think ones that rely on shipping would definitely want to have how they work within this system. The only idea I, personally, was toying with was of a house from an outer dominance that had control of many of the canals there (or maybe the handful of canals that actually reach that far since I would guess that there wouldn't be anywhere near the infrastructure).

With the idea of Venture trying to strongarm their way in, though, would they have perhaps taken up several traditionally Sureau canals?

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#12 Comatose


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Posted 18 November 2015 - 03:39 AM

Thanks KChan! This is great :D.

I like the idea of Venture being in the process of acquiring more canals due to their relatively recent and sudden rise in power and wealth. Your analysis of the other houses seems to match up with the general ideas I had, but much more fleshed out :). Good point about the ministry too, I think that a cap on canals in certain regions to prevent monopolies would definitely make sense to limit the power of Houses (especially ones like Sureau, back when it was at its peak).

I like your thoughts on the South. I'm guessing maintaining control of its Canals was one of the key reasons Lekal survived its conflict with Sureau. It would make sense if many of the Sureau-Lekal skirmishes took place along the canal lines.

I think Tekiel has the most potential when it comes to canals, because of its position as a shipping house, a member of the Sureau coalition looking for a way out, and as the other Great House from the Eastern Dominance. The conflict of them having to disentangle themselves Sureau will be interesting to watch. Same goes for watching how much they will be able to capitalize and benefit from Sureau's decline.

For Elariel, as I mentioned in our convo, that's more what I was going for, but I got caught up thinking about regionalism, and over emphasized it I think. Your more nuanced approach makes much more sense.

Also, I was thinking of potential scene ideas. Given the importance of canals, these could even be used more than once by different characters.

SCENE 1 - Lesser house petitioning a Great House to gain a favorable deal on using canals. Creates opportunity for interaction between a higher ranked Great House rep and characters of lower rank. The lesser house could even shop around a little, giving them a chance to talk to a variety of houses.

SCENE 2 - Members of Great Houses petitioning the ministry either for a control of a new canal route, or to purchase an existing route. The contested route could be being sold by the current controller, or maybe the prospective purchasers are also trying to convince the ministry that the current holder isn't reliable. This would be a fun way to throw some of our more powerful nobles into a competitive bidding situation, and also give them an opportunity to talk to someone from the ministry. I'm guessing this would be a Canton of Resource or Finance matter, so if someone is interested in RPing an Obligator, this could be a good chance to add one in.

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#13 Haelbarde

30
Acolyte

Posted 18 November 2015 - 03:44 AM

You'd have larger thoroughfares, and then smaller tributaries connecting onto them, right? Control of the main segments are going to be a lot more valuable than smaller segments branching off. You could have smaller Houses that service some of the smaller segments and/or maintain waystations, maybe?

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#14 KChan

603
Lord Prelan

Posted 18 November 2015 - 03:49 AM

Maintaining and servicing the canals in general is probably a good way for smaller houses to get contracts with the Great Houses, especially for the vaster networks. Skaa are cheap, but you still need skilled workers and taskmasters as well, in multiple fields. While I'm sure they assign their own people to the most important positions, much of the gruntwork could easily be contracted out.

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#15 Comatose


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Posted 18 November 2015 - 04:13 AM

 Haelbarde, on 18 November 2015 - 03:44 AM, said:

You'd have larger thoroughfares, and then smaller tributaries connecting onto them, right? Control of the main segments are going to be a lot more valuable than smaller segments branching off. You could have smaller Houses that service some of the smaller segments and/or maintain waystations, maybe?

 KChan, on 18 November 2015 - 03:49 AM, said:

Maintaining and servicing the canals in general is probably a good way for smaller houses to get contracts with the Great Houses, especially for the vaster networks. Skaa are cheap, but you still need skilled workers and taskmasters as well, in multiple fields. While I'm sure they assign their own people to the most important positions, much of the gruntwork could easily be contracted out.

Yes to both of these (the idea of lesser Houses controlling 'branch' or 'tributary' canals, and of Great Houses contracting out for the maintenance of canals)!!

Also, more plottery ideas: For some of our ascending houses - looking in to breaking into the canal scene, politics with both the ministry, and with existing Great Houses.

Also, it would be interesting to start figuring out how the Great Houses interact when it comes to canals, having regard to their diplomacy. For example, a rough outline of Elariel's current arrangement could look something like this:
Spoiler

Eventually, this information could be included in the contracts section of House apps, once we have it worked out.

Rates could also be the subject of a lot of secrecy, to allow Houses to charge different rates to different houses (example: Elariel would not want Raisaal to disclose its rate to the other Great Houses. Some houses might also not want houses who are being charged higher rates to know what they reason is, and might imply they have increased rates for everyone, when really they have just increased rates for that house, and not for others). Rumours about what rates different houses are charging each other could be the subject of court gossip.

Does that make sense?

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#16 Comatose


  • Shard of Brain Inactivity

356
Looking Good in Red

Posted 09 December 2015 - 07:04 PM

New, on the subject of canals:

Hero of Ages, Page 304 said:

"This was the Canton of Resource--the arm of the Ministry that had been in charge of feeding the people, maintaining the canals, and supplying the other Cantons"

So the ministry is in charge of maintaining the canals, but perhaps this just means that they are responsible for contracting with the nobility to service the canals, and to inspect them and make sure their maintenance is up to snuff? Given the ownership the high nobility seem to feel they have, I'd assume this is a point of tension. The Great Houses 'control' the canals, and to do so they likely pay a lot of money, both for the privilege, and for maintenance, and yet they are still subject to regulation by the ministry.

Or does the ministry just maintain the canals themselves, and 'control' of the canals means something different?

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#17 KChan

603
Lord Prelan

Posted 05 January 2016 - 07:40 AM

"Maintaining" the canals could be as simple as making sure that the houses who fight for the privilege of running them are doing their jobs properly. The Ministry is an efficient machine - why spend their own effort and resources doing something that the nobility is chomping at to bicker and scheme over? With powerful houses fighting over maintenance and control of canals, all the Ministry has to do is kick back, conduct inspections to make sure things are run according to preset standards, and collect any fees/taxes/bribes involved.

Of course, there are surely some solely Government-owned routes. I'm guessing the River Channerel is one of them - that would also explain why getting through Austrex on the river is such a bureaucratic pain. There are likely other canals that are used only for Ministry business, so officials can move about the Empire unimpeded by commercial traffic.

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