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Proud Merchant Race

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"I never cover up the things I'm proud of. If the world was gonna split in half tomorrow, Id buy the Dark Portal, slap a toll booth on it, and charge refugees the last of their pocket change, the rings off their fingers, a bite of their sandwiches, and a contractual obligation to build me a rocket palace in the skies of Nagrand. Its the goblin way! Supply and demand! Deal with it!"
Trade Prince Jastor Gallywix, World of Warcraft, "Trade Secrets of a Trade Prince"

A Proud Merchant Race is one whose hat is being Intrepid Merchants. They may have a system of morality based in commerce and have Folk Heroes that made tremendous profit or opened new avenues of trade. They might raise their children to dominate commodity markets and consider "merchant" as the highest of all professions.

This trope has overlap with Space Jews, but it is often in a positive manner with implications of having a tradition of enterprise and exploration. It's deemed less politically incorrect to depict aliens or fantastic creatures in this fashion than real humans.

Expect there to be any number of Corrupt Corporate Executives who will do anything for a quick buck and there may be an Honest John's Dealership or two in the ranks of them. After all, if making money is all that matters then they are perfectly in line with their planet's hat. On the flip side, expect to find Honest Corporate Executives who sneer at and spit on those who fix scales, break contracts, and jump through loopholes. After all, if a merchant can only make money by cheating then they are no better than that natural enemy of merchants, the thief!

They almost certainly have a Merchant City, perhaps ruled over by Merchant Princes.

This trope may overlap with Intrepid Merchant. 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. The logical conclusion of such a combination is War for Fun and Profit.

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 Scholar Race, Proud Hunter Race and Proud Warrior Race Guy for species with different hats.


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    Comic Books 
  • Asterix 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!"

    Fan Works 
  • Via 4chan 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.
  • The King Nobody Wanted: The merchants of King's Landing, who seem to be primarily descended from freed Essosi slaves and Reach bastards, are proud of their culture, treating their ceremonies and delegations with a good deal of seriousness. They also keep themselves to a specific code of conduct, requiring that they never short- or overcharge, do not sell false goods, aid their fellow guild-members in need, and above all other things never traffic in slaves.
    Tommen Brightflowers: And so I can say to you that I hold this even greater than being the descendant of some little king —that I am a True and Honorable Master of King's Landing, the son of the same, the grandson of the same, and so on for three more generations. Brightflowers have sold grain, sold cloth, sold many fine things. But we have never sold men. Nor shall we ever.
  • Travels Through Azeroth and Outland: Much like in the source material, goblins and ethereals both fulfill this trope. Travels explores the idea a bit further, with the goblins actually having an elaborate ethical system (albeit one that has greatly declined in influence and stature) that is still a source of pride for the more conservative. The etherals, meanwhile, consider cosmopolitanism a prime virtue.

    Film — Live Action 
  • Michiel de Ruyter: The Dutch and the same goes for their English foes, which is the main reason they clash on sea. This in contrast to the reason the French try to invade, which had more to do with French desire for hegemony on land and was fueled by religious differences.

  • The goblins from Harry Potter, who are bankers. This isn't entirely by choice though; they are prevented from owning wands by wizarding law and have rebelled against Wizard domination several times.
  • 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.
  • Vorkosigan Saga:
    • The planet Komarr, 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. 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.
    • Jackson's Whole is more of an evil version, a Privately Owned Society with no laws at all.
  • Discworld:
    • Discworld dwarves; sometimes seen as (positive) Space Jews.
    • Ankh-Morporkian humans. Their national anthem, "We Can Rule You Wholesale", includes the line "Let others boast of martial dash, for we have bravely fought with cash!" Many a barbarian army has invaded Ankh-Morpork, and all of them have pawned off their weapons and either gone home with armloads of souvenirs or wound up another ethnic minority in the city with their own graffiti and food shops.
  • 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. Cherryh'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 are notoriously shrewd bargainers who turned their home dimension into a giant bazaar. They're also the inspiration for many universe's myths of devils.
  • 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 and Star Wars Legends:
    • 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). It should come at no surprise 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 Separatists were this, such as the Trade Federation run by the Neimoidians and the Banking Clan run by the Muunilinst. In the case of the Trade Federation, there used to be non-Neimoidian members of its executive. They were killed in a plot by Darth Sidious to put the Neimoidians (who were weak and easy to control) in power.
    • Sullust is another example, with the Mega-Corp SoroSuub being the single largest employer of Sullastans and dominating the world. SoroSuub was also the dominant member of the Commerce Guild, which joined the Separatists, and Sullust followed. With the end of the Clone Wars, SoroSuub threw in with the Empire and took control of Sullust outright. Not coincidentally, the Empire was their main client. Many Sullustans were very upset at this and became Rebels. After the Battle of Endor, a coup overthrew SoroSuub, which was thus convinced to back the New Republic. The corporation retained a lot of power (the New Republic had just as much use for their products as the Empire did), though it had to relinquish outright control of the government.
    • The Mandalorians combine this with Proud Warrior Race. In their early days, they were solely a Proud Warrior Race, but after several of their wars of conquest ended in disaster, they turned to bounty hunting and mercenary work to find honor in combat.
    • While a lesser example than others, it's telling that the ritual Bothan farewell phrase is "A day of peace and profit to you."
  • 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.
    • Fairies, however, play this trope straight (hence why legends of leprechauns involve gold, apparently). Fairyland's marketplace seems to be Everworld's biggest hub, and according to their queen, even the Hetwans won't attack it because it would destabilize their own ability to survive. (Though Nidhoggr, just as obsessed with money and pissed off at the fairies for robbing him, doesn't have any reservations.)
  • 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. Also notable for being an offshoot of the Yeerks who decided that enslaving other species was unprofitable, creating artificial bodies to inhabit instead.
    • 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.
      • Mind, Elfangor's species, the Andalites, appear to have a communist economy. His brother Aximili shows some confusion at the idea of money. So the Skrit Na may only be inexplicable to Andalites.
  • 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.
    • Also true of the Quarn in Weber's InFuryBorn 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 emphasised 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 are a merchant tribe with each ship and its crew being a clan. They spend their time wandering about looking for how to make a buck but meet periodically to discuss affairs.
  • The Polesotechnic League in Technic History by Poul Anderson.
  • The Mesklinites in Hal Clement's Mission 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 Tolnedrans are also a merchant nation, to the point where most of the commandments of their god couch things in economic terms. For example, instead of saying "Thou shalt not kill", it says "Kill not. Dead men cannot buy from you."
  • 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.
  • The Rain Wild Traders in the Realm of the Elderlings series. Barely anyone knows they even exist, yet it is they who are the source of most of Bingtown's wealth, as the Bingtown Traders have to buy their exotic goods to be able to sell them elsewhere. They are also the ones who build and sell the liveships, and only trader families in possession of a liveship can even navigate the Rain Wild River and reach the coveted merchandise. The Rain Wild Traders are a sort of homebound Intrepid Merchants, exploring and plundering the Advanced Ancient Acropolis buried beneath their own city of Trehaug. They are also not quite human anymore due to the their constant proximity to the buried Elderling city.
  • Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series:
  • According to the book "Land and Sea" by german philosopher Carl Schmitt, this is a common development for civilizations living close to large bodies of water.
  • In Orconomics, the Guz'Varda Tribe of the Orcs have turned from a Proud Warrior Race to this under the leadership of Chief Zuthraka. When his son Char fails in the "path of the aggressive seller", resulting in the party thinking that they've been taken prisoner, he roars at him in anger.
    Zuthraka: You failed to establish your value proposition! You have fallen from the way of aggressive selling! One must always announce one's purpose in the market to the potential customer!
  • Known Space:
    • Pierson's Puppeteers, or simply the Puppeteers, prefer to exercise soft and anonymous power due to their intense cowardice making them extremely averse to direct confrontations. As such, their main political arm in the General Products corporation, which sells extremely advanced products to other spacefaring societies and serves as the setting's main provider of advanced spacecraft hulls.
    • Outsider civilization revolves primarily around trading technology and information with other species. When they find a new group of potential costumers, they set up communications, rent out a suitable outer-system planetoid to use as a local base, and try to establish a long-term trading relationship. They offer technology millennia ahead of whatever potential costumers have, seemingly modulating their offers based by the their trading partners' tech level they sold a simple hyperdrive to humanity, for instance, but offered one capable of moving entire planets to the Puppeteers and information on science, galactography and history. In exchange, they accept information, resources, and credit. Unlike the Puppeteers, they deal fairly, if unyieldingly they don't bargain or lower princes, but also don't resort to price hikes or blackmail.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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; 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.
      • In a fairly rare occurrence, the Ferengi got a social message in there as well. If Quark can be believed, the Ferengi never had slavery or significant wars in their past because of their focus on commerce (Rule of Acquisition Number 35: Peace is good for business). In another instance, Quark points out that human's fascination with "doing it themselves" and "not taking shortcuts" means that they take longer to do things they could just buy, which prevents them from spending time on other important things.
      • For instance, the Ferengi never developed warp technology. They bought it from the Breen.
      • Of course, Rule of Acquisition Number 34, "war is good for business," does allow Ferengi to sell the methods of the above-mentioned means to such atrocities, as long as they do not partake in them.
      • On the subject of the Rules of Acquisition, which is quoted like the Bible in Ferengi society, expanded universe lore points out that the first rule written was actually labeled Rule of Acquisition Number 65. Which drove up sales as Ferengi paid to learn about the other 64 rules preceding it.
    • 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. Somewhat understandable since they operate under the Dominion, where all aspects of life, including economics, are tightly monitored and controlled. Hilariously, this would make them a "Proud Planned Economy Race".
      • 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. When the Karemma trader points out that his people make and sell these weapons to the Dominion, Quark notes that they lack proper quality control. The trader jokes that he should offer a refund on the defective weapon.

    Tabletop Games 
  • AT43: The Cogs, 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 (and to avoid inflicting too many casualties on potential future customers). 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.
  • BattleTech: Clan Sea Fox/Diamond Shark affords their merchant caste a high amount of influence compared to the other clans. Clan Jade Falcon's merchants are also reputed as savvy business men who can get a good deal on anyone. With a Clan saying "As sharp as a Jade Falcon's merchants talons". On the Inner Sphere side of the spectrum, both the Free Worlds League and the Lyran Commonwealth place a lot of emphasis on mercantilism in their societies than militarization, although the former faction does have a much more respectable armed force when compared to the latter.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • 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.
    • 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."
    • Darokin and Minrothad in the Known World (Mystara) setting have this as their hats as well, the former nation via land caravans and the latter by sea.
  • GURPS:
  • Heavy Gear: Two of Terra Nova's states are well known as these. On the North there is the United Mercantile Federation, a Mega-Corp where votes are bought, and its superior manufacturing abilities allow it to dominate is neighbors. On the South there's the Mekong Dominion, which are ruled by merchant prince's called Taipans, and have the economic leverage to bend the AST to its whims.
  • Magic: The Gathering: Mercadians, 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.
  • 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.
  • Rogue Trader: The Stryxis. Although the "proud" part is debatable at best, they wander the Koronus Expanse taking whatever isn't nailed down when they can get away with it and reselling it to whoever is interested in doing business with them, often for a bizarre price than more often than not makes no sense in relation to the object on offer.
  • Spears of the Dawn: The kingdom of Sokone is the richest and most cosmopolitan of the Five Kingdoms, and its cities are havens of commerce. It benefits from its central positioning (being the only kingdom to share a border with all four of the other ones), ensuring that most trade between the kingdoms passes through it at some point.
  • 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, much of its economy is too regulated and bureaucratized to give it the true glamour of a Proud Merchant Race — more like an efficient one.
  • Twilight Imperium: The Hacan are explicitly this (they have trade-based special abilities) and are portrayed as a cross between anthropomorphic lions and stereotypical Arabian traders.

    Video Games 
  • Arietta of Spirits: The Mididarians take the role as one of these for the Spirit Realm, though unlike in other games, don't sell to the player. Rather, they sell items from the Human World to residents of the Spirit Realm. The one encountered in the game, Midri, sends Arietta on a Fetch Quest for four human items to restock his store, from her late grandmother's umbrella to a mining helmet, which he considers a "fashion item" for whatever reason.
  • Awakening: The Goblins 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.
  • Breath of Fire: The Manillo, a race of humanoid fishes capable of breathing on land are the ones who play this role in the games. Despite their reputation as a clan of notoriously greedy traders who boast that they will one day control the world's commerce, they do have lines they won't cross: Goby from Breath of Fire I lost his shop license and his sphere that allowed him to transform into a Big Fish over selling fake Happiness Jars. This really put a dent on his business opportunities and made him a pariah in his clan.
  • Child of Light has the Bolmus Populi, a race of Nice Mice who are obsessed with economics and trade. Their town is built on the back of a giant, which allows them to easily sell their products to distant regions. The main quest when you reach their town is to cure the giant of his illness, which prevents him from transporting them around, and from transporting you to the temple where the moon is kept. Another quest is to open the vault where they keep all their gold, which has been locked.
  • Civilization V: Some of the civs 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, doubles their ability to produce luxury resources, which can give them a lot of leverage when trading/negotiating with other civs.
    • 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.
  • Carried on in Civilization VI. A lot of nations get bonuses to trade, because it's a big part of the game, but a few really stand out:
    • Spain get extra gold from trade roots, especially intercontinental ones. They're also a very navally-focused power, with the warships to protect their traders.
    • The Cree gain bonus food and gold on trade routes to cities with camps or pastures in their terrain. Their merchants can also claim tiles for their host cities with a culture bomb.
    • Mali (when ruled by Mansa Musa) gain bonus gold for every flat desert tile they control, and can build up their Suguba (a unique replacement for the Commercial Hub district) very quickly and easily. They also gain a bonus trade route every time they enter a Golden Age.
    • Victoria (in her Age of Empire persona) grants England a free trade route for every city founded on a continent other than the one on which she started. Like Spain, England is also very well suited to quickly building up a powerful navy to protect their merchant ships.
    • Portugal has the penalty of only being able to trade with coastal cities, but they get massive bonuses to trade route yields, and their routes can reach further than those of other civilizations.
  • Conquest Of The New World: The Dutch take on this role, especially in the default setup.
  • Distant Worlds: The rodent-like Teeka are an especially mercantile race, happy to trade what they have to keep their tech-hoarding habits and obsession with tinkering properly fed. They even get a special form of government, the Traders' Guild, which is more decentralized and not especially good for battle but packs massive commerce boosts and helps your (uncontrollable) private sector grow outside its usual bounds.
  • Dragon Quest III: Invoked (but not actually used). 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.
  • Earth & Beyond: The Terrans, whose society is dominated by corporations.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • The Khajiit, a race of Cat Folk who are known as skilled traders. Among other things. They draw heavily from the Roma as part of their Culture Chop Suey and are known throughout Tamriel for their cross-continental traveling caravans.
    • The Imperials are famous for this, setting up mercantilism and trade ties between the provinces of their various empires as a means to peacefully hold them together. The Nibenese, a sub-race of Imperials native to the Niben River Valley in eastern and southern Cyrodiil, were also famous for this in-lore with their merchant-nobility, but this died out by the end of the Septim Empire.
    • Morrowind features the Dunmeri Great House Hlaalu in this role. Their focus is on mercantilism and trade, along with all of the corporate espionage and backstabbing that usually entails. Their trade ties to the Septim Empire have made them the strongest and richest Great House during the time of the game, with the King of Morrowind and Duke of Vvardenfell both belonging to House Hlaalu.
  • Empire Earth II: Several civilizations make additional gold for every commercial transaction. Middle Eastern civilizations have a regional power that lets them make money from every other player's transactions for a while, one Asian regional power get extra resources every time they make a transaction for a while, and African civilizations can build the Market of Djenne, which gives them gold every time any player makes a transaction.
  • Endless Space has several merchant races.
    • The decadent, aggressive United Empire is completely unmatched in Dust generation, and they're just as likely to declare war on you as they are to make you their lifelong trading partner.
    • The ancient and friendly Amoeba receive bonuses to both happiness and Dust when allied with other nations, allowing them to rack up huge profits while at peace. They're a positive version of this trope, prioritizing friendly and fair trade with other species over war.
    • The Pilgrims can trade with anyone they aren't at war with, giving them a steady source of income to fund their explosive expansion via Homeworld Evacuation.
    • Endless Space 2: The Lumeris are closer to the nastier interpretations of the trope; even if they're not particularly aggressive, their empire is run less like a massive corp and more like a Mafia-style family business with four main families running the whole affair. They're still quite mercantile, just in an "offer you can't refuse" kind of way if they need to.
    • Endless Legend: The Roving Clans are so dedicated to trade that they cannot declare war (it's bad for business!). They live and die by trade, and they control the markets, which also lets them get a cut of every transaction and ban other empires from using the market to hire mercenaries or buy resources. Their cities are mobile to allow them to quickly relocate to exploit rare resources.
  • Escape Velocity: Override: The Miranu are a generally friendly (there is a mission where some of them turn to violence to try to stop a human from creating a ski resort, but the same mission shows most Miranu, at least on their homeworld, are not only accepting of but outright enthusiastic about going skiing there) mercantile-oriented civilization, with their Miranu Trading Consortium being the premier trading organization in known space (especially after the player opens first contact with them and allows them to begin operating in human space). They do have other aspects, though: while their dedicated mission string has mercantile veneer in its motivation (they're looking at finding new hyperspace routes in order to find new trading partners), the Miranu actually directly involved are simply excited about the scientific aspects of it.
  • Final Fantasy XI:
    • The Humes are known for their industrial and mercantile ways. While the Tarutaru got by with magical prowess, the Mithra and Galka got by with physical prowess, and the Elvaan got by with a healthy mix of each, the average at everything Humes had to just adapt with whatever they had on hand. While they were never incapable of combat (no way to survive Vana'diel otherwise, the primarily Hume city of Bastok is reknown for advancing very quickly in terms of technology and influence, primarily as a result of mining, trading, and ingenuity. And making the Galka do all the heavy lifting, literally in most cases.
    • The Goblins are a beastman example. Goblin NPCs are almost always traders in some form or fashion, while pretty much every other beastman race are perpetually hostile fighters. Especially the Orcs.
  • 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 "rite of passage."
    • After the destruction of the Korx society, the Iridium Corporation replace the Korx as the dominant economic power. The remaining Korx drop all pretense of a corporate entity and became a criminal cartel. Needless to say, the Iridium Corp is more benign if overly enterprising folks and very much akin to Venice in patronage and trade. It's said that altruism is seen as unusual by the Iridium but it's not looked down upon, and their current High Arbiter is known for his generosity.
  • Homeworld: The Bentusi. 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.
  • Imperium Galactica: The Shinari are all about business. In fact, they seek to destabilize the galactic peace because war represents an excellent opportunity to make a profit.
  • Kult: Heretic Kingdoms: The Sura seem to be a combination of this and Proud Warrior Race, being a proud mercenary race. They value strength and prowess, but are very insistent that it be within the framework of a contract, and never given for free. There's a sidequest where the protagonist is able to save a Sura warrior from fatally flunking his trial of endurance, but he'll only accept help if she has been hired to rescue him—being rescued for non-financial motivations like pity or compassion would be so shameful he'd rather die.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • Mass Effect: The volus. 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 they do have a navy, just a small one relative to what their economy could produce - then again, same goes for everyone else after 1,500 years of peace).
    • 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 adds 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.
    • One of their biggest contributions to the war effort was, appropriately enough, their manufacturing technology. The Crucible needed several different custom parts made in industrial quantities at short notice, which the market-following Volus factories are great at.
  • Master of Magic: The Nomads are the finest traders in the world, allowing their cities to gather extra trade income.
  • Might and Magic: The Dark Elves 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, and they tend to favour long-term ties over exploitative quick money).
  • Minecraft has the villagers (which may, or may not be normal humans) which are known for their trading system.
  • No Man's Sky: The Gek are a highly mercantile/trading race that believe themselves to be the first and master race in the galaxy. They are greedy and plutocratic, with many of their titles tied to trading / industrial-related terms. Most of the initial encounters with the lifeform require units (currency). Encounters with their Obelisks will mostly require players to choose a pragmatic approach (putting lifeforms down out of misery, exterminating distant entities, etc). You can find trade charm items throughout the game that are linked to the Gek.
  • Odin Sphere has the Pooka, who actually have a good reason for being primarily merchants: They're all humans under the effects of a Forced Transformation curse, and the only way to remove the curse is to collect every one of a special kind of magically-enchanted commemorative coin from the fallen kingdom of Valentine (who created the curse in the first place) so they can remove it. So becoming a merchant race is the most efficient way of doing this.
  • Patrician III: The Hanseatic League. 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 organization ended up being called simply the League, no descriptors.
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Every Kecleon is either a shop owner (either the Only Shop in Town or a Dungeon Shop) or appears when the player steals from another Kecleons shop to aid the shop owner in killing the player, implying that they also work for the Dungeon Shop.
  • Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri: Morgan Industries wears the mercantile hat. 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.
  • Sins of a Solar Empire has the Trader Emergency Coalition, born out of the ashes of the Aluxian Dynasty of the old Trade Order, who have the strongest economy. The majority of their ships are re-purposed civilian designs with guns strapped on. Such is the might of their industrial capacity that, by the time of the Rebellion expansion, they're winning the Hopeless Mle Trois against the ancient Vasari and the superpowerful Advent. note  Their two ultimate technologies are actually even called "Industrial Juggernaut" and "Pervasive Economy". The former gives them an alarming boost to their manufacturing speeds, and the latter means that every single transaction undertaken by their foes results in a portion of the cost finding its way into their coffers, further fueling their immense economy. The very epitome of Boring, but Practical.
  • Songs of Conquest: Barya is the merchant faction that loves gold and mercenaries.
  • Space Rangers:
    • Humans managed to make the economy of the entire arm of the Milky Way to revolve around themselves, this includes worldwide adoption of the Earth's credits and the fiscal year. In the sequel, they came up with and run business centers, which are simultaneously trading posts, banks, insurance firms, and more. Humans don't really wear a hat and mercilessly exploit everyone else's hats for profit and diplomacy, but are otherwise honest merchants.
    • Take away honesty and you get Pelengs, who are the game's version of Honest John's Dealership and would do literally anything if it turns a profit, which is why they run the largest spy network in this part of the galaxy and hold pirates in extremely high regard.
  • Spore: This is one of the archetypes alien races can take on. Trader civilizations are actually some of the easiest folks to get along with, especially if you're in the market for some powerups.
  • Star Citizen has the Banu as master traders who do business with anyone—including the Vanduul. Their trademark (and so far, only revealed) ship is the Merchantman, a large, stylish trading vessel that also happens to be heavily armored, fast and has big guns that remain completely hidden within the ship until needed, making it the Intrepid Merchant's and Blockade Runner's vessel of choice.
  • Star Command: The Trilaxian Trade Empire. When you first encounter them, the ship's commander will offer to beam over in order to trade advanced technology. If you agree, he will beam over a Boarding Party instead. If you refuse, he will explain that he's not really interested in trading, just taking, ending the conversation with Nothing Personal. After you deal enough damage to his ship, he will leave (there's no profit in having his ship blown up).
  • Star Control:
    • The Melnorme. Culturally, they consider giving anything, without fair and just compensation, to be vulgar and inappropriate. One time a different race told them their entire history and all of their knowledge for free, the Melnorme basically forced them to accept a gift in return. 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 advertise 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.
  • Stellaris:
    • Two available personalities for AI empires can fit this trope, Ruthless Capitalists and Peaceful Traders. Both have the Corporate Dominion civic, but Ruthless Capitalists tend to be Militaristic while Peaceful Traders tend to be Pacifistic and Xenophilic.
    • Naturally, the player can get in on this as well, with corresponding Megacorporation and Trade League government types.
    • When it comes to actual species, thrifty and/or Numistic Administration traits makes POPs better at generating trade Value from POP jobs, so you can have a Proud Merchant Race working these jobs in an otherwise not proud merchant empire.
    • Caravaneers are NPC Space Nomads who offer to trade whenever they enter your space, but may also swipe some of your cash, recruit some of your population, or drop off some of their own unwanted members. POPs acquired from Caravaneer trades or events tend to have the thrifty trait mentioned above, and Numistic Administration is exclusive to POPs from the Numistic Order Caravaneer fleet.
  • Strange Adventures In Infinite Space: The Klackar 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.
  • Sword of the Stars: The Morrigi, 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.
  • Warframe: The Corpus, one of the primary factions. They are so obsessed with making money that they worship the very concept of Profit, consider charity a sin (except when giving to the church), and are able to do business with all other factions, including their enemies. The dark side comes out every once in a while, especially in the Fortuna expansion, which features a colony of Corpus workers who are forced to constantly sell themselves deeper into debt because of Nef Anyo's horribly exploitative policies. They end up hiring the player character as a deniable shadow strike force just to get enough leverage for basic rights such as not being disassembled when they fail to meet quota.
  • WildStar: The Corporixians, represented by Phineas T. Rotostar, CEO of Protostar and his numerous employee-clones. Who are apparently all that's left of the species after he achieved a planetary monopoly.
    • There's also the Ekose, feline aliens who seem to have a religion based around hauling freight. And the Lopps, rabbit-like beings who travel the stars to find or trade for "shinies".
    • The LLC from Battleborn are the aristocratic merchant class of the galaxy at the end of the universe. They are the money and manufacturing arm of well, everything that is left. They are makers, and bankers, and entertainers, and traders, and sellers, and inventors, and war profiteers. Their ingenuity is only surpassed by their desire to turn a profit.
  • 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 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.
  • X: The Teladi 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.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 1: Nopon 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, Mira, Alrest, and Aionis often with domesticated animals far larger than themselves in tow. In Xenoblade Chronicles 2, they have their own Merchant City and organization in the form of the Argentum Trade Guild. Sidequests often emphasize the social aspects of the business — Nopon know other races consider them adorable and harmless, and even the more honest ones have few qualms about exploiting that reputation to get potential customers on their side.

  • 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.
  • In Oceanfalls, Nino's interactions with the monsters in Redtulip Town gives the impression that all they care about is money.

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Alternative Title(s): Proud Merchant Race Guy


The Karemma view of pricing

"Starship Down" contrasts the viewpoints of two merchant civilizations: the arch-capitalist Ferengi and the fair-minded Karemma. The Karemma price their products in a non-market manner: rather than charge whatever they can get away with, they set a predetermined profit margin, plus expenses. While contracting does sometimes work this way, it's not how prices are determined in the consumer market.

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Main / ArtisticLicenseEconomics

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