The Kingdom of Sartar was the wealthiest of the Dragon Pass kingdoms prior to the Lunar Conquest. Its revenues were a combination of a head tax paid by the tribes (in silver), a harvest offering (essentially an agricultural tax), silver mines near Guilder Town, various other resources that belong to the Prince, plus tolls on the roads and markets. Collectively, these raised more than 2000 talents annually during the later years of Terasarin’s reign. To give some idea of the importance of trade, maybe 1500 talents of that comes from controlling the trade routes between Peloria, the Holy Country (which was BOOMING with the Opening of the seas), and Prax.
With the Lunar Conquest, the Lunar Occupation Forces took over and the Principality is vacant. In 1613, Fazzur Wideread recognizes Temertain as Prince, and pays him a stipend of some 100 talents to maintain a court, scribes, and be impressive enough that the tribes are willing to acknowledge him. By the time Tatius becomes ruler over Dragon Pass, that stipend is reduced to some 30 talents or less. Temertain’s court is shabby, empty, and cold, but he doesn’t care because he is lost in his library. And after he’s murdered in 1624, the stipends stop.
Meanwhile, Kallyr and Argrath have maintained volunteer armies that are basically financed through pillaging and plunder in unfriendly lands, and contributions (sometimes coercive) in friendly lands. Shortly after the Dragonrise, Kallyr and her supporters take Boldhome and seize the Lunar Treasury. That’s likely got a season’s pay for the Lunar Army in Dragon Pass, plus money for all those priests, contractors, etc., at the New Lunar Temple. I don’t how much it was (nor does Kallyr) but it was at least 1000 talents. Probably more.
Kallyr spends that windfall quickly. Gifts to tribal and cult leaders, payments to key individuals, temples, and bands, restoration of the Orlanth temples in the cities, etc. Hundreds of talents are committed by the time of Dangerford. An even bigger expenditure comes afterwards – as the Stationary Lightbringers Quest requires paying thousands of people. 300 talents might be a guess, 500 talents might be a better guess. Likely nobody will ever know as it is doubtful she had a system in place for this – this got done fast to be ready for Sacred Time.
Meanwhile, Kallyr likely is not collecting an agricultural/head tax, as she has too much to do too quickly. And trade is light. There are Wolf Pirates rampaging around the Holy Country, bandits on the roads, and no doubt player characters who see no reason why they shouldn’t attack those Etyries caravans.
However, the LBQ is a failure. Many key people in Kallyr’s court are dead. Kallyr needed to spend the rest of her windfall getting ready for the inevitable Lunar counterstrike. The result was an unlikely triumph at the Battle of the Queens and Kallyr’s death. The principality is once again vacant.
All that silver injected into the system did some good. It meant the cities could buy grain from the tribes, and it meant the tribes could buy goods from the cities. This cushioned the people of Sartar from the worst consequences of the failed LBQ.
When Argrath entered Dragon Pass later that year with a small army of nomads and volunteers/companions, he was also broke. But his army could be fed in the rich grasslands of the Donalf Flats and Engoli’s Fold. When the Lunar Army in Alda-Chur marched out against his ragged forces, he withdrew until he lured them in a place for battle and then routed them. Argrath paid his forces with plundered Lunar arms and equipment, captured the treasury in Alda-Chur. The local tribes, not surprisingly, acclaimed him Prince, and he marched on Boldhome.
Once Prince of Sartar, Argrath was aided by companions such as Gold-Gotti and Mularik who emphasized the importance of money in war. His nomads could camp in the Donalf Flats and Wulfsland. Bandits troubling the roads were killed, and the contributions from the tribes restored. This took awhile, but might have earned some 200-250 talents in annual revenue. The bigger issue was trade. Argrath sent emissaries to Nochet to seek grain, goods, and subsidies from the Queen. Her price of course was protection from Harrek and the Wolf Pirates. This pretty much occupies all of 1627.
And so in early 1628, Argath and his army march into Hendrikiland. These are still a mostly Praxian force, and can live off the land. They are also a threat to Esrolia, as Argrath could easily move them there to be fed and supported. After no doubt some preliminary skirmishes, Argrath meets with Harrek and they make an agreement. Harrek will lead the Wolf Pirates to fight the Lunar Empire alongside Argrath and his nomads in Tarsh. Argrath also promises him certain choice exotic plunder.
Now all of this was possible because Argrath’s armies were a combination of:
- Praxian nomads who could live off the land (but needed regular opportunities to pillage and plunder);
- tribal militia, who needed to be dismissed before the harvest; and
- Argrath’s companions and volunteers, who got paid or were given offices and lands in the newly taken areas, or even served out of religious belief or fanaticism.
By 1629, Argrath marries the Feathered Horse Queen and is King of Dragon Pass. Trade is flowing again through Dragon Pass and Argrath controls most of it. By 1632, he controls all of it. A very crude estimate of his revenues is at least what Terasarin controlled, probably substantially more. Argrath let many of the Praxians return to Prax, laden with booty; others grazed in Kordros Island or in the cornfields around Furthest. The militia returned home. And Argrath began building his companions into a professional military, the Sartar Free Army and Sartar Magical Union. These mercenaries enabled Argrath to rebuild quickly after 1635. However, it was Sartar’s chokehold over trade that allowed the Hero Wars to continue for another twenty years.
The general evolution of inexperienced tribal militia to veterans to exhausted and semi-rebellious mercenaries was probably inevitable. But the power and charisma of the prince kept him supplied with armies and warriors to fight his long war with Lunar Empire.
As an aside, I hope this post goes a long way to explaining why the Sartarite princes are perfectly happy with Etyries caravans going through Dragon Pass. As long as they pay the tolls of course.
And again, none of this is necessary to run a RQ campaign or even write scenarios. BUT it helps me understand some of the pressures and changes going on in Sartar, that can be the source of scenarios and campaigns.
I’m silent about salt because it is a rounding error here. Salt is pretty plentiful and likely not an important part of long-distance trade here.
We can assume Argrath does not handle this stuff personally. I suspect this is handled by such companions as Mularik, Gold-Gotti (who handled logistics for Harrek), Tarkala the Lover, and by a small army of Lhankor Mhy scribes.