The Ashen Kingdom
Economy of the Ashen Kingdom
The economy of the Ashen Kingdom is highly agrarian. Almost eighty five percent of the population lives in rural communities. Green Hills mines almost all the metal used within the Kingdom. Goats and sheep are highly productive for the central and eastern states. Chickens are often raised by individual families for eggs more than meat. The Coast and Hope are the only source of a native foodstuff: serpents. Interestingly, water production is one of the most costly, and most critical, aspects of the Kingdom’s economy.
The Kingdom’s sole trading partners are the trolls who trade iron, steel, and metal work for food and timber.
Taxation within the Kingdom is limited. The Barons are expected to tithe a certain portion of their produce and yearly gains. The Barons naturally pass this on to their vassals who extract this tithe from the populace.
Metal coins are used as currency. Gold royal lanterns and silver queens (or crescents) are minted by the king, but the coin of the people, the copper seal, is minted by the Barons at their discretion. Craftsmen often deal in queens, and it is usually only the nobility that will pay with royal lanterns. Royal lanterns and queens are minted to exacting standards to deter counterfeiters, but seals are generally made on hand presses and their production is supervised by the baron’s pressmaster.
Sheep, goats, and chickens are raised for their meat, but goats more commonly used as beasts of burden or milked to make dairy products, and chickens are kept for their eggs. Sheep are obviously used for their wool. Horses are eaten as a delicacy, but even the richest nobles can only afford to butcher horses once they have been put out to pasture.
Apple trees are grown mostly for their timber, but farmers sell and use the fruit produced as a source of secondary income. Apples, along with root vegetables, are often the only fresh produce citizens of the Kingdom consume. Most varieties of grain are farmed, with wheat and hops being the most important. Beans and eggs provide most of the protein commoners will ever eat.
There is no ready source of freshwater within the Kingdom. This is generally viewed as a blessing, but it presents problems for an agrarian society. Water must be extracted from deep in the earth and collected as rain. Unfortunately, this water is extremely evil and often toxic. It must be purified before being drunk or even used to water crops. Most settlements and all towns have dedicated boilers who purify water for a living in enormous vats. Water production is possibly the greatest drain on the economy of the Kingdom. Its necessity dictates that anyone who needs to use pure water must pay for that water by the gallon, and those costs are shared by the community as a whole.
Tin, copper, silver, and gold are mined within the Kingdom. Most weapons and armor are made copper or bronze. Pure tin is used whenever possible when making tools to conserve the more valuable copper. Silver and gold are used almost exclusively to mint new coins. Iron and steel are obtained through trade with the trolls, and thus are prohibitively expensive for the common man. With such a limited industry, the bulk of all metal goes into construction and war materials.
Trees harvested from the Forest must be treated before being used for anything but fire making. All border communities have dedicated smokehouses for this purpose. If lumber is simply going to be burned, but still must be hauled to a central location, it will be partially treated to subdue the tree’s evil nature during transport. Apple wood has none of the dangers associated with Forest wood, but is too expensive to be casually burned. Most apple wood is purchased by the Church of the Flame directly, with the remainder quickly purchased by wealthy craftsmen and nobles.
Gifted smiths and carpenters are always in demand. Engineers and blacksmiths are often able to simply name their price during wartime. Small communities generally encourage craftsmen of all types to set up shops. Wealthy patrons will happily travel the length of the Kingdom to commission famous smiths in particular.
The Impact of the Trolls
The influence trolls have cannot be overstated. They are the first non-hostile, sentient race encountered in the Forest. Their mastery over metals, and access to iron and possibly other metals, makes them invaluable allies against the Forest. The trolls charge high prices for their weapons and armor, and only slightly less for bars of iron. The secrets of steel making were lost centuries ago, and the trolls guard that knowledge. Steel weapons are generally only given as gifts.