Even in my Chult campaign, exploration-oriented as it is, I want politics and intrigue to play a part. At the very least, even if my players decide not to care, it will provide some interesting side-quests.
Tomb of Annihilation can’t help me much on that front.
There is the seven so-called Merchant Princes that together act as the ruling body of Port Nyanzaru. So, what about them?
They all are filthy rich and apparently, in Port Nyanzaru, it’s all it takes. How they managed to obtain so much wealth, despite their city being under Amnian control only nine years ago is superfluous I guess. What we know is that they each have a monopoly on something that is supposed to bring them a really high income.
So let’s see how fares Port Nyanzaru’s economy:
- Port Nyanzaru is a small city.
- There’s a Dragon Turtle demanding a « tax » from passing boats
- Pirates plagues the seas
- There’s no other cities in Chult to trade with
- And, you know, undead and dinosaurs aplenty
As for the monopolies of the Merchant Princes:
- Ex-gladiator Ekene-Afa got very rich, we’re to believe, selling spears, leather shields and travelling gears.
- Ifan Talro’a deals in dinosaurs and dinosaur training. Okay, why not.
- Jessamine deals in plants, poison and assassination. And she got rich how exactly?
- Jobal deals in (lousy) guides and (deathwishing) sellswords. We do know he came out of the jungle alone with treasure, so there’s that.
- Kwayothé sells fruits, wine, tej, ale, perfume and insect repellent (!).
- Wakanga deals in magic and, uh, lore? Yeah… A magic shop, how cute…
- Zhanti deals in gems, jewelry, cloth and armor. I mean, gems and jewelry, that’s fine. Cloth and armor? Less so.
The whole concept of richest guys in town are ruling doesn’t hold water. Why would the people tolerate the monopolies of the Merchant Princes? It would have to be by strength of arms but we know they can’t even chase a few dozens unimpressive Flaming Fist mercenaries off Chultan territory.
Okay, let’s reframe this a little:
Each have a sphere of influence and none, at the moment, can hope to rule without cooperating with some of the others. They exchange favors all the time in order to have the votes of their peers when it counts.
New NPC: There’s this middleman that keeps track of this informal system and, huh, gives side quests. He’s a Chultan that goes by the name of N’boka, or the Master of the Bazaar, he can be found easily at the Red Bazaar.