Adventure Under the Sun
House Shom, the leading trade faction in the city of Nibenay, is an old and (in the eyes of many) corrupt house. Perhaps the decadent atmosphere of Nibenay has affected the house’s rulers, making them strange and merciless. Perhaps centuries of sybaritic luxuries have dulled their minds and convinced them that any means of making a profit is acceptable. Regardless of their motivation, the ancient rulers of House Shom have drifted far from their house’s humble beginnings. They now dream on in oblivion as their house grows old and inhuman and slowly crumbles around them.
House Shom’s banner portrays three white dragonflies on a red-and-black, diagonally divided field
Shom may be the oldest trading house in the Tyr region, with a history that stretches back for over a thousand years. The house’s origins are shrouded in mystery and legend, but Nibenay’s historians are certain that until eight centuries ago, Shom was a tiny house with a few secure trade routes and little ambition. It was when a young merchant named Kys came to power after the unexplained deaths of both his grandfather and mother that House Shom began to grow in size and influence.
Kys waged an aggressive trade war against both House Wavir in Balic and House Inika in neighboring Gulg. First Shom wrested the vital copper and kank nectar routes between Gulg and Ledopolus from Inika, then it established a caravan route between Nibenay, Raam, and Draj, bringing much needed hempen rope and ceramics to its home city.
Shom’s profits quadrupled within months.
Shom’s success did not go unnoticed; rival houses banded together to destroy the interloper. Kys had taken the precaution of securing the services of a tribe of thri-kreen warriors, who agreed to guard Shom caravans in exchange for the lives of any attackers, whom they considered prey. When a party of House Vordon‘s raiders attacked a Shom caravan, the mantis warriors caught them completely by surprise, and only a handful of the raiders returned to tell the story. This marked the beginning of a long relationship between House Shom and the thri-kreen, one that endured until recently.
Kys’s ability to attract unusual allies did not end with the thri-kreen. On more than one occasion, a raiding tribe was horrified to discover that the lightly armed Shom scouts swaddled in burnooses and hoods were actually belgoi in disguise. To this day, belgoi are sometimes employed by House Shom, an unpleasant surprise for those who attack Shom’s caravans. It is not known how Shom maintains friendly relations with these hostile creatures.
Shom’s successes continued as decades stretched into centuries. Profits from trade in rope, grains, water, obsidian, and precious metals brought prosperity to Kys’ descendants. Unfortunately, they also brought decadence and a love of luxury. Members of the Shom family spent less and less time actually managing the house’s affairs, leaving such mundane matters to trusted agents. Family members preferred to remain in the padded, silken confines of their vast mansions and isolated villas. Inevitably, as time went by, those trusted agents became less and less trustworthy, realizing that their distant masters cared only that acceptable profits continue to roll in.
Nowadays, as the house’s fortunes wane and its rulers grow more isolated, some claim that House
Shom’s masters have become sorcerer-kings themselves, in all but name.
Today, few people can claim to have seen a member of the Shom family. They keep to their palaces,
emerging only in heavily curtained palanquins to observe the gladiatorial games, or to attend the
elaborate balls staged by Nibenay’s nobles.
Relations with Others
House Shom generally does not deign to acknowledge that any other merchant houses even exist; their attitude toward the mighty sorcerer-kings is only slightly better. This does not make House Shom very popular with the other houses, who have lined up to get a piece of the house’s empire when it finally collapses. Aggressive houses, particularly the militaristic House Stel, have engaged in an active campaign of raiding and disruption of Shom’s routes between Nibenay and Raam. Once more, the masters of House Shom seem unconcerned, moving only slowly and ponderously to counter the threat. The vast wealth at the house’s disposal, as well as the contacts it still maintains with thri-kreen raiders, are now being channeled into defending the house against its enemies. Even so, it may be too late, for Shom’s income has dipped sharply over the past few decades, perhaps to levels too low to recover from.
Outsiders dealing with Shom usually have an easy time if they have enough cash for bribes. Shom agents can be persuaded to almost any course with enough ceramic pieces, although reform-minded
agents respond to attempted bribes with disdain or even violence.