Caravans of the Western Heartlands
By Rand Sharpsword
Being a Short Guide to Enemy Caravans in Darkhold Sector, with Emphasis on Merchant Houses and Costers To Be Beaten into Submission so that the Hand of Bane Controls All Trade on the Surface and in the Underdark of Faerûn.
(This report prepared by Rand Sharpsword, caravan leader and anticaravan agent.)
Independents: Most caravans have no colors. They're independents, or working for one city or another, or groups of merchants traveling together. Now, some of the new trading houses and costers fly their own colors as advertising. For us, it's more like target identification. Here's what you need to know to start your missions.
Dragoneye Dealing Coster: Owned by two brothers, Iltravan and Chethar, formerly of the Vilhon Reach, now operating mainly out of Iriaebor and Elturel. Some of their caravan guards are still recruited from antipirate ships, good with scimitars but not much use with missile weapons. They're a well-run outfit, but they relax when they near their headquarters in Iriaebor and in Elturel, trusting to the Hellriders or the merchant houses to guard 'em. Ripe for a Hellrider impersonation trick.
Firehands Group: They travel straight down the Trade Way. Paranoid and well armed because of too many fights with Iron Throne. The bright side is that any attacks against them can be passed off as Iron Throne attacks, and they'll buy it.
Highmoon Trading Coster: The big target out of Waterdeep and Scornubel: a white crescent on a black, star-studded oval. Big because they control so much trade along the Sword Coast. Rich because they carry spices from the south that no one else can get hold of. Dangerous because they nearly always have guards or agents who are at least familiar with magic. Swords alone don't work well against Highmoon.
Iron Throne: Our sometimes allies, but they control too much of the weapons' trade. Best to take their toys away when possible. Instead of fighting them directly, might be best just to spread word of their presence and hope that they will soon be as hated as we are, but not as feared, since that way our enemies will attack them instead of us.
Merchant's League: Formerly a big trading group out of Baldur's Gate, but all the competition from the smaller costers has ruined their pricing. They're ripe for outright attacks or sabotage because they're no longer paying enough for security.
Red Shields: Mercenary company turned trading company, turning both trades to its advantage from Neverwinter to Amn. All things considered, too much trouble to confront directly. If possible, lead them into terrain we've seeded with deepspawn. Their police duty in Scornubel seems lax, but they kill our agents when possible.
Seven Suns: Sad potatoes. Hard to say if the effort it takes to run off their feeble guards is worth the poor take from their caravans. Can't always ignore them because sometimes people cut corners and send rich loads with them -- though not often.
Six Coffers Market Priakos: Not an easy target. Well organized, home bases throughout Faerûn. Approach with caution.
Thousandheads Trading Coster: A hard case named Bharavan Bhaerkantos runs his wagons in groups of one to a dozen on the route from Waterdeep to Hillsfar, through Scornubel, Berdusk, Arabel, and Essembra. The Thousandheads want to fight. Bunch of old adventurers as caravan guards, often as not, some of them working for low rates just for the pleasure of killing bandits. This lot may require heavy magic to take out. They don't take any prisoners, but they don't go in for torture and ritual sacrifice, so they're not quite in our league.
Trail Lords: As near as I can figure, this group fronts for the Red Wizards. Sometimes they're just half-orcs guarding regular caravan goods, other times they're a Thayan concession on the move. Unpredictable. Worth testing out with minor scrapes before committing to a full attack.
Windriders Trading Coster: A pack of wannabe heroes carrying shields blazoned with a white pegasus. More errand boys than traders. Worthwhile targets only because you can assume that the messages they're carrying are messages we would rather possess than see delivered. Fewer than 70 members, though we've whittled their numbers down some. Probably a front for the Harpers, or at least friendly with them.