Proud Merchant Race
aka: Proud Merchant Race Guy
A Proud Warrior Race
is a culture whose hat
is war. Conversely, a Proud Merchant Race is one whose hat
is being Intrepid Merchants
. Has overlap with Space Jews
, but often in a positive manner with implications of having a tradition of enterprise and exploration. However, on the flip side, aspects of the Corrupt Corporate Executive
who will do anything
for a quick buck
may be in place since it's deemed less politically incorrect
to depict aliens or fantastic creatures in this fashion than real humans, and there may be an Honest John's Dealership
or two in the ranks of them.
Also overlaps with Merchant City
and sometimes with Space Cossacks
. One difference is that a Merchant City
can be just a place where Intrepid Merchants
from elsewhere visit whereas a Proud Merchant Race has to conduct trading on its own. As trading long distances is dangerous and outlaws ever present, sometimes a Proud Merchant Race is a Proud Warrior Race as well, or at least a race whose martial prowess is dangerously underestimated.
Despite positive portrayals, a fair deal of Fantastic Racism
often shows up, especially in older works, with someone getting shrewdly out-negotiated (read: screwed over) by them or occasionally just outright cheated. Another negative tends to be that non-merchants in their ranks likely suffer Klingon Scientists Get No Respect
Compare Proud Warrior Race
and Proud Scholar Race
for species with different hats.
- Astérix has the Phoenicians. We meet one of them in Asterix the Gladiator and Asterix and the Black Gold. Ekonomikrisis tries to run his ship like a business, and only grants Asterix and Obelix passage on board because he plans to sell them as slaves. When they encountered the Pirates, Ekonomikrisis worries "They might kill us, enslave us, or even worse, steal our merchandise!" When the Gauls save the day he enthuses "You have saved that which is dearest to our hearts — our cargo!"
- Rhodes in Over the Wine-Dark Sea.
- Icelanders in The Icelandic Sagas
- The goblins from Harry Potter.
- Batavus Droogstoppel from Max Havelaar is a rather brutal - and, in the Netherlands, infamous - deconstruction of the Proud Merchant Race Guy. He is a grumpy, uncultured, strait-laced, miserly, über-conservative and above all, intensely hypocritical character who cares only about his work and uses Insane Troll Logic to justify colonial exploitation.
- The planet Komarr in the Vorkosigan Saga, whose inhabitants seem to either be shrewd businesspeople or scholars. There are some Ambiguously Jewish aspects of the planet and its inhabitants (i.e. the character Duv Galeni), but Italian/Greek names of people, there's also an implication of Venice or the "Greek Tycoon" type. Jackson's Whole is more of an evil version, a Privately Owned Society with no laws at all.
- According to in-universe history, Komarr itself is a Merchant Planet, originally colonized because of its crossroads in space character. When they'd accumulated enough capital, they expanded into sending their own trading fleets out. Now that they're part of the Barrayaran Imperium, their fleets go out with armed escorts. Which have been needed, too.
- Dwarves in Discworld; sometimes seen as (positive) Space Jews.
- Ankh-Morporkian humans. Their national anthem includes the line "Let others boast of martial dash, for we have bravely fought with cash!". Its title? "We shall rule you wholesale".
- The Orca in Dragaera are sailors, which makes them the most prominent traders and businessmen of the Dragaeran Empire. Contrary to the usual trope, Orca are also known for their ferocity. Those who are not sailing or managing a trading empire often get work as cheap muscle.
- C. J. Cherryth's Chanur Saga has the Hani and their rivals, the Kif, with the Spacer culture of humans being brought into the mix as the series progresses. The Hani are probably the most straightforward example here because their culture is fairly isolationist and not really looking to expand beyond their home system, making their traders the only ones who have a reason to leave their homeworld, while the Kif's main hat is more a general vicious opportunism (trade, theft, bullying, piracy...whatever works to one's advantage) and the Mahendo'sat primarily just seem to poke their noses anywhere they feel like.
- John Ringo's Legacy of the Aldenata series has the "good guy" alien federation, majority-led by a trader species, The Darhel who subvert this. They were originally a race that fell somewhere between Proud Warrior Race and Omnicidal Maniacs before the Aldenata changed them to this through genetic engineering that made giving in to their natural tendencies a death sentence.
- Deveels in the Myth Adventures series.
- The Vattas and other merchant dynasties of Slotter Key in Vatta's War. Especially the Vattas of course. That is after all the heroine's family and it's In the Blood.
- The Abh are this along with Proud Warrior Race in Crest of the Stars.
- The Thaylens in The Stormlight Archive are a culture noted for producing lots of traders, merchants, and other businessmen, and who run the whole gamut of this trope- some are presented sympathetically, while others are amoral slave traders. It all varies based on individuals, just like in Real Life.
- The Beetle-kinden of Helleron in Adrian Tchaikovsky's Shadows of the Apt series who have a culturally symbiotic relationship with their Proud Scholar kin of Collegium. The Fly-kinden also have elements of this.
- Star Wars Expanded Universe
- Corellia is described as falling on most of the major galactic trade routes, making it an economic powerhouse and a center of shipping and starship manufacturing (which means that, consequently, Badass Navies had a large number of Corellians). Trade and business is held in such high regard that Corellia has several seats in its Corellian Council (the legislature responsible for selecting its executive, the Diktat) reserved for corporate representatives. Also, their fleet and defense force is trained primarily to stave off piracy and minimize profit loss, and apparently does a pretty good job (at least until the Empire starts stacking its government with Black Shirts and The Syndicate). Justified in that Corellia is an Expy of the United States, and Coronet City in particular is an Expy of NYC, both of which are known for Proud Merchants. Their Never Tell Me the Odds attitude is also befitting for those in the high risk game of intergalactic business.
- Hutts, though they prefer more illicit trades.
- Several members of the Separatist are this, such as the Trade Federation run by the Neimoidians and the Banking Clan run by the Muunilinst.
- In Everworld, the Coo-Hatch have traces of this. In truth, though, their real hat is smelting—but since their super-sharp steel seems to be their only real resource in Everworld, they naturally have to trade for anything else.
- In Animorphs, the Iskoort. Their planet seems to be some sort of large trading hub where members of all different species do business. Every Iskoort seems to be part of some kind of special guild, which includes one dedicated entirely to shopping (in order to keep the economy going, after all). One specialty of theirs is trading in memories, which are copied from people's minds and later bought and viewed by others. They only appear in one book, during which the Animorphs find them extremely annoying.
- The Skrit Na have shades of this. They go around collecting random specimens and junk from other planets; Elfangor says their rationale is inexplicable to other species, but at least some of it seems to be for the purpose of trade. They're noted for being on good terms with the Yeerks, whom they sold a small moon and would have offered the Time Matrix if given the chance.
- In E. E. Knight's Age of Fire series the Dwarves are divided between those who fit this type like the Diadem Chartered Company and those who fit the Proud Warrior Race type like the Fire Wheel tribe. Each tends to look down on the other.
- Honor Harrington: Despite the formidable reputation of their navy (in SPACE!), the Star Kingdom of Manticore is this trope in spades: the one thing that makes it possible for them to achieve military superiority over the People's Republic of Haven and forge a strong alliance to bolster their position is the thriving economy produced by their skillful use of the Manticore Wormhole Junction's economic potential.
- This is also true of the Charisians in Weber's Safehold series.
- In Elantris the merchants took over Arelon after Elantris fell and tried to force the nation into being a Proud Merchant Race; political positions are awarded according to who earns the most money. Even the king could lose his throne if someone made more than him in a given year (though being able to count the nation's tax revenue as his personal income makes this unlikely).
- The Sea Folk, or Atha'an Miere, from The Wheel of Time. Though they love their ships (obviously) and are more than competent in a fight, their culture is heavily based around trading and bargaining. They even bargain with The Chosen One when he shows up- and the fact that they know full well who he is and what he's destined to do just makes them want to drive a harder one! In fact, the prophecy that they will make a bargain with The Chosen One is an important part of their religion.
- The people of Arad Doman also count: Domani women are famous for using seduction as a means to get better bargains, and are among the few who can hold their own when bargaining with the Sea Folk. The important role of merchants is empathized by the fact that the king himself is elected by the Council of Merchants, and can also be deposed by it.
- Orions tend to fill this role in the Star Trek Novel Verse, when they're not being Space Pirates.
- The Tsaw'ha or Traders from the Circle of Magic universe. Nomadic, simultaneously discriminated against by settled countries (sometimes with deliberate references to historical views of Jews and/or Roma in real life, like a character accusing them of kidnapping and killing babies for magic rituals) and very xenophobic and insular, with their own religion and a strict culture of not creating, only buying and selling. It's not really clear to what extent they're an ethnic group or something more like a subculture.
- Qarth in A Song of Ice and Fire is a bustling port city brimming with wealth. Three guilds of merchant princes are always competing with each other and the nominal rulers of the city for power.
- In George R. R. Martin's sci-fi short story The Stone City the foxlike Dan'lai are a mix of merchants and Obstructive Bureaucrats. Their traders will exchange the "food tokens" that are the closest thing the crossworlds have to currency for food, and with their extremely fast "jump-gun" freighters they're pretty much a Hegemonic Empire.
- The Nomads in Star Ways by Poul Anderson. They are a merchant tribe with each ship and it's crew being a clan, they spend their time wandering about looking for how to make a buck but meet periodically to discuss affairs.
- The Mesklinites in Hal Clement's A Matter of Gravity
- The Drasnians in The Belgariad are a Proud Merchant Race and a City of Spies. All the merchants are really spies, and most of the spies aren't averse to making money on the side.
- Of course, the Merchant part is justified by the spying. Governments take a very dim view on spies of other nations in their territory, but in most cases, a merchant's welcome anywhere their products are wanted.
- The Agletsch in the Star Carrier series make profit by information exchange. Since any given inhabited star system has resources aplenty to manufacture any given goods, they buy and sell schematics and plans instead. They also carry small devices within them that pass information on their trading contacts to the Sh'daar Masters.
- In the Uplift series, the Synthians, vaguely raccoon-like aliens who are one of humanity's few allies, but less willing to actually fight than the Tymbrimi or Thennannin, the latter of whom were humanity's enemies until the end of the first trilogy. Still, they smuggle weapons and ships to Earth while it's under siege. In Heaven's Reach a Synthian merchant named Kiwei Ha'aoulin helps some of the protagonists thinking she can establish a foothold in what she believes to be a new market on the Lost Colony of Jijo, completely ignoring the warnings that the galaxy Jijo is located in will soon be cut off from the others, devolving into madness as she witnesses the hyperspace disturbances.
- Star Trek.
- The Ferengi culture is based entirely on acquiring wealth. Quark is visibly confused and disappointed that his victories in delicate trade negotiations are not seen as equal to the deeds of war heroes in the eyes of non-Ferengi. Even their religion is based on acquiring profit by buying things where they are common and selling them where they are rare, something they call the Great Material Continuum.
- This begins to change by the final season, culminating with Quark's younger brother Rom (a brilliant engineer; highly moral but with no sense of business) being appointed as the new ruler of Ferenginar.
- One scene has Quark praying to an idol of one of the Ferengi gods for help in trade negotiations. With each new item added to the prayer, he inserts a coin into the idol's ear.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine introduces the Karemma, merchants who are members of the Dominion. A couple of episodes showed Quark and some Karemma doing trade deals. Unlike Ferengi they believe in being completely honest in their deals. Oddly this gets exaggerated to using fixed prices based on manufacturing costs; in other words, they are traders with no concept of market forces or basic economics.
- They also sometimes make shoddy merchandise. When the Defiant is hit by a Dominion torpedo, it ends up getting stuck in the hull instead of exploding. The Karemma trader points out that his people make and sell these weapons to the Dominion. Quark points out that they lack proper quality control.
- Koreans in the Korean serial epic Emperor of the Sea.
- Traveller: The Terran Confederation. Tizon in the Sword Worlds. Vargr to some degree. The "Merchant Princes of Skull" (in the volume Spinward Marches). The Oberlindes Family perhaps. At least the Oberlinders are a Badass Family of Merchant Princes.
- The Third Imperium claims to be this as well, and has some merit for the claim. However a large part of it's economy is to routinized and bureaucratized to give it the true glamour of a Proud Merchant Race. It is often more like an efficient merchant race.
- Vikings and Arabs in Gurps Vikings and Gurps Arabian Knights respectively. They are of course both other things.
- Dungeons & Dragons, as usual.
- The Arcane from Spelljammer and Planescape, who were even renamed "Mercane" in later editions. The Illithids, of all people, have elements of this as well.
- Other merchant hat wearers in Spelljammer are Rastipede (in Honest John's Dealership style) and Dohwar (with a good dose of Plucky Comic Relief).
- Sembia, human "merchant kingdom" of Forgotten Realms. They earned the reputation of both hard-working and avaricious people. "When you look into a Sembian's eyes, you can see coins being counted in his mind."
- Amn also has a similar hat.
- The space-faring Neogi is an extremely evil version of this trope. How evil? They are lumped together with other Eldritch Abomination such as Aboleth, Illithid, and Tsochari. They're notorious slavers, and if they're trading with you, it's probably because you look too tough for them to resort to piracy instead.
- The Hacan in Twilight Imperium are explicitly this (they have trade-based special abilities) and are portrayed as a cross between anthropomorphic lions and stereotypical Arabian traders◊.
- Mercadians in Magic: The Gathering, to the point of Mongers, who have abilities anyone can activate. (These can still be useful: Squallmonger, which damages flying creatures, is great if your opponents are the only ones with flying creatures.) It also gave mercenaries mechanics, and had more mercenaries than any previous set. Yeah, capitalism was a big theme in Mercadia.
- In GURPS Aliens the Traders are, as the name implies, obsessed with trading. Otherwise, they're a typical race of four-dimensional beings who appear as ever-shifting three-dimensional shapes to most other beings.
- Clan Sea Fox/Diamond Shark in BattleTech affords their merchant caste a high amount of influence compared to the other clans.
- Via Image Board Memetic Mutation, we have Crazy Hassan the used camel salesman. No matter who you are, how many mounts you have, what environment you're in or planet you're on, by God you will end up buying a camel or fifty, and it will be the best damn camel(s) you've ever seen.
- Rifts has Naruni Enterprises. Their modus operandi is to go to a warring planet, sell one (or both) sides weapons on credit, and then take over when the winner can't pay up. If they go to a planet that isn't at war, they'll probably start one. In places like Rifts Earth and Phaseworld, where there's actual competition to worry about, they play the trope completely straight.
- The Cogs in AT43, especially the C-Naps subgroup that represents Cog civilian culture and enterprise. Unlike many examples, C-Naps has a very powerful and fearsome military of its own — they just hate going to war because it's expensive and distracts from more profitable pursuits. Their troops and strategies are geared to win battles quickly in order to minimize costs. Fluff describes C-Naps generals (executives, more like) often negotiating trade agreements with enemies before a battle is even over; sometimes this comes at the cost of victory, but that's business for you.
- The video game Galactic Civilizations lets the player put this hat on themselves, and it's possible to win the game by conquering the galaxy through trade agreements/alliances, by collapsing the economies of rivals, or through cultural exchange brought on by trade.
- The specialty of the Dominion of Korx in the second game where species other than humans are playable. They consider selling your own mother into slavery a "right of passage."
- The volus from the Mass Effect series. Because of their uselessness in combat they have become a Proud Merchant Race. Their mercantile inclination is so strong that, according to the codex, warfare was never even institutionalized by the Vol state(Although by ME 3 they have developed a small Navy).
- Since every other species but the hanar is at least somewhat capable in combat (and the hanar have drell assassins), this gives them a secondary hat as the galaxy's Butt Monkey. Something bad happens to almost every volus NPC.
- Their ambassador, Din Korlack, is quite bitter because his species hasn't earned a Council seat, despite being a Citadel race longer than everyone but the asari and salarians and managing the Citadel's entire economy. The official line is that the volus aren't able to contribute to the Citadel defense fleet. There's also the point about them being technically a protectorate of the turians rather than an independent race, meaning that technically there is a Councillor representing the volus - Sparatus, the turian representative.
- In Mass Effect 3, we get a better look at the actual volus military. While they rely on the turians for protection, they do have a respectable navy, including one of the most advanced dreadnoughts in the galaxy and a number of carriers. Their lack of militarization bit them on the ass in the battle for their homeworld, since their cities were built with easy trade routes in mind and no thought to defensibility.
- The Retaliation expansion to the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer added volus characters. The ancillary text explains that, while they are the least effective race in combat, they can afford to buy the very best tech and biotic equipment that the galaxy can offer, allowing them to fight side by side with krogan battlemasters and asari justicars. They tend to do very poorly in direct combat roles, but they are godlike as support characters.
- Also, despite their greedy image, in the third game we learn that the Book of Plenix - one of the Volus' greatest religious/ethical treatises - nonetheless demands charity and selflessness during times of great hardship and war.
- The Mogay in the first Grandia.
- The Melnorme of Star Control 2. Culturally, they consider giving anything, without fair and just compensation, to be vulgar and inappropriate.
- Do note that this goes both ways for the Melnorme: while they do charge for everything, everything they sell is guaranteed to be useful or (in the case of information) true to the best of their knowledge. To cheat their customers would be extraordinarily taboo. This is the major thing that separates them from the Druuge.
- They do, however, withhold one particular piece of information that has been confirmed by Word of God. They don't like to advertize that they were formerly known as the Mael-Num and that they were nearly obliterated by the Kohr-Ah at the start of the Doctrinal War. Though even then they stick to their principles — the information is technically for sale (you can ask them a question which would reveal this), just priced so that it is literally impossible for anyone to actually afford buying the information.
- Also the Druuge, but they're more of a species-wide Honest John's Dealership, willing to do anything if it means turning a profit. It is possible to do business with them and get something good out of it, but you have to negotiate and haggle very carefully.
- World of Warcraft: Goblins to an extent. The tuskarr come off as this as well (mostly dealing in fish), though their deity wants them to take up the fight alongside the Horde and Alliance.
- The Goblins of the Steamwheedle Cartel are nearly identical in most all aspects with the Ferengi of Star Trek. The Goblins of the Bilgewater Cartel, on the other hand, are basically gangsters (though they did have a massive manufacturing complex on Kezan, and they are trying to rebuild).
- Ethereals are inter-dimensional examples. Like with Goblins, different operations have different morals: the Consortium seems to be roughly equally morally to the Steamwheedle Cartel (though they've been known to involve themselves in smuggling) and players can earn reputation with them, but some are basically Space Pirates. Some are also conquerors and an an organization founded to oppose said conquerors.
- Mists of Pandaria brings us the Grummles, troggs mutated by the Mogu to become beasts (humanoids?) of burden; when they broke free of the Mogu, they set up trade routes throughout Kun-lai Summit and now mostly trade with the Shado-Pan.
- The Hanseatic League in Patrician III. As a by-the-way the term means "League of merchant's guilds." Or in other words it almost literally means Trade Federation!
- One other possible translation of Hansa is League. Or group, cluster, entourage or crowd. This can be implied by that other, more modern, famous Hansa: the Lufthansa. Yes, the North German traders were so dominant in their time and region that their organisation ended up being called simply the League, no descriptors.
- The Bentusi from Homeworld. They sell you some technologies that eventually help you reclaim Hiigara. This later turns out to be an attempt to fight their enemies without operating openly. In the Cataclysm expansion we learn that the technology they keep for themselves is orders of magnitude more advanced than anything any of the other races use and they only sold you enough to even the odds; giving you the plans for their fighters is enough to tip the balance in the final battle.
- Despite all this tech, they are still nearly extinct by the time of Homeworld II with only one ship left in the galaxy. On the other hand, if you treat the Cataclysm expansion as canon, then a good number of them fled to another galaxy through a slipgate.
- This is one of the archetypes alien races can take on in Spore. Trader civilizations are actually some of the easiest folks to get along with, especially if you're in the market for some powerups.
- The Gnolam of Master of Orion II.
- Invoked (but not actually used) in Dragon Quest III. The male merchant in the Game Boy Color version wears a turban, while the female wears more of an Orientalist fantasy of Arabian-style clothing.
- Gorons in The Legend of Zelda series have evolved into this over successive games, though their culture is a mix of this and Proud Warrior Race. Not only are they super-powerful rock-eating rock people, but they also are merchants travelling the land, selling their wares to anyone who will buy – whether that be at Hyrule Castle Town, their homeland in a volcano, or even on random islands in the Great Sea. Or in stranger places.
- Nopon in Xenoblade are a society largely driven by fair trade. Despite being rather unintimidating balls of fur (one is briefly used as a volleyball) often shown to be afraid of the local wildlife, many are Intrepid Merchants, found in odd spots all over Bionis, often with domesticated animals far larger than themselves in tow.
- The Elder Scrolls has the Khajiit, a race of Cat Folk who're known as skilled traders. Among other things.
- The Imperials also count, as the Septim Empire is known both for its armies and its mercantile pursuits.
- The Teladi in the X-Universe series have their entire species organized like a Mega Corp.. This even extends into their combat vessels, which are built using tech purchased from other races and all have boxy, utilitarian architecture and larger-than-average cargo bays. They're also so profit-obsessed that the word makes it into every third sentence, with a very pronounced emphasssisssss on the letter ssssss. Though the encyclopedia says that this is mostly only true of space-living Teladi. Planet-living Teladi exhibit much more variation in personality and outlook.
- The Klackar in Strange Adventures In Infinite Space and its remake/sequel. They are the only race who are never hostile to you. At the same time, they will do a 1-to-1 swap on any item regardless of value (meaning they're terrible in economics). Yes, you can trade a weak and ineffectual laser for a Particle Vortex Cannon or your slow FTL drive for an instantaneous Hyperdrive. When you first meet their ship, the Klackar give you a beacon to call them if you would like to trade. You may also use it in battle to call for aid, although they're hardly warriors and will get killed quickly. Also, they will demand payment for coming to your aid. If you refuse, they will take their beacon as payment and leave.
- In the obscure Conquest of the New World, the Dutch take on this role, especially in the default setup.
- The Goblins in the Awakening games are actually quite friendly and helpful to Princess Sophia, for the right price or if she helps them with a task. The only exception is Grimble, the King's brother. He turned the King into a hamster so he can usurp the throne and claim the kingdom for evil.
- Morgan Industries wears the mercantile hat in Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri. Their founder, Nwabudike Morgan, was a diamond tycoon on Earth and used his vast wealth to bankroll the entire UNS Unity project. Has the best chance of winning via the oft-ignored "Corner the Planetary Energy Market" victory condition.
- The Terrans in Earth And Beyond, whose society is dominated by corporations.
- The people of Qart Hadast in Tears To Tiara 2, like their real-life counterparts.
- The Dark Elves of the old Might and Magic setting (as shown in VIII) are to all appearances governed by the Merchant's Guild of Alvar. Their traders range across the entirety of Jadame (or at least the parts of Jadame visited), and they look out for trading opportunities even in world-threatening crisis (though they're savvy enough to place priority on saving the world, even if it means a hit to trade).
- Some of the civs in Civilization V have bonuses that make them well-suited to trade:
- The Arabs can send caravans over longer distances than other civs, and can use them to exert religious influence more effectively. They also generate twice as much oil and their unique building, the bazaar, lets them create extra luxury resources for trading with others.
- The Moroccans generate extra gold and culture by setting up trade routes with other civs.
- The Portuguese gain double the 'resource diversity' bonus from their trade routes, and are the only civ that can construct the feitoria, a fort/trading post that can force city-states to share their luxury resources with Portugal.
- The Netherlands has a reduced penalty for trading its luxury resources with other civs, allowing it more freedom to trade resources that would otherwise be scarce.
- Venice cannot use settlers to expand, but they can control twice as many trade routes at once as the other civs and can use their unique unit, the merchant of Venice, to bribe city states into allying with them.
- Sins of a Solar Empire has the Trader Emergency Coalition, who have the strongest economy.
- The Morrigi of Sword of the Stars, males live nomadic lives in space trading with ground-siders, mostly looking for exotic items to impress females with. They even did that with ancient humans and other pre-space species.
- The Drowolath from Drowtales, considering that feeding the nobility, who are, of course, snobbish jerks about it, requires many Intrepid Merchants to venture to the Overworld, a land where knights in dishonorable armor roam, where danger in the form of ravenous beasts (wolves and the like) abounds, and where it actually freakin' rains, which for those who have spent their entire lives underground can be quite a shock. The Ill'hardro and Nal'sarkoth clans in particularly have made most of their money through trading.
- The Duchy of Remillia from Open Blue, which is modeled on the Dutch colonial empire.