7. Minor Organisations of the Aether
The Rogue Traders
“A simple idea, we always thought. Those who make an invention get to use it. Why would anyone invent a new technology, or create art, or engage in any endeavour, if they were not paid for it? Sure, there are idealists. The Guild can not afford to be so generous, as we have fleets to maintain. But we do much good for the Known Worlds. And yet, we are constantly undermined by greedy individuals, out to make profit by stealing our inventions. How much good, do you think, would they do with these inventions? Not much, I tell you:”
-Kivi Aceix, Guild Trader
“Thing is, we care little where our goods come from, out here, as long as they arrive at all. When a shipment full of Ashai iron arrives in our ports, I won't ask the one who brings them whether he is licensed or not. I will ask him for his price.”
-Pertim the Third, King of Greenvoid
“Why, exactly, should only one organisation have the right to trade? By what right to they impose their tariffs, and kill anyone who tries to reproduce their technology? The free flow of trade is essential to a free society, and we will fight for it.”
-Khaira Silverhair, Captain of the Whitefire
The Rogue Traders are almost as old as the Guild is. From the beginning, some simply would not accept the idea that Guild technology would be forever out of their reach, and that one organisation should so totally dominate the Known Worlds. The Rogue Traders are not an organisation as such, more a loose, collective term for unlicensed traders of all kinds, whether they sail with expired guild licenses, built their own inferior ships without secret guild technology, or simply stole a fully equipped ship from a Guild Trader.
Amongst certain parts of the population, Rogue Traders have won a certain romantic appeal: amongst the readers of Penny Dreadfuls and adventure novellas, they are seen more as charming scoundrels, fighting an unjust monopoly than the opportunistic and often ruthless businessmen most turn out to be in reality. The most famous of these, perhaps, is Khaira Silverhair, a trader, adventurer and occasional pirate, famous for her custom-built ship full of stolen guild technology, the Whitefire, built entirely from Ghostwood and with sails the colour of flame.
It has been said that out on the Border, where many worlds are often not visited by Guild Ships in years, there are near as many unlicensed as licensed traders, profiting from scarce patrols and mostly absent regulations, but only the most daring Rogue Traders would ever dare sail directly into the Core.
There have been, of course, more organised groups of Rogue Traders over the years, small cartels dedicated to stealing, researching and perhaps even publishing Guild Technology, but the Guild has rather ruthlessly stamped out all of these attempts, so that only solitary Rogue Traders have any chance.
8. The Aether
Structure and Navigation
The ancients often used the metaphor of an ocean to explain how the Aether worked. Now, we don't have oceans as they had, here in the demiplans, but at least we have seas, in Caligo.
Think of an Aethership as a sailing ship. It can be streered from island to island, on the surface of the water. That surface is the open Aether. But there are more directions, aren't there? Now, the ship can't dive, as a swimmer can. it would skin, and it can not leap into the air above, as a seagull might. It's the same with navigation.
-Magister Nictor, Basic Navigation
Now, travelling in the conventional Open Aether is not really all that complicated. There is some three-dimensional geometry, some extrapolation, and a large deal of guessing than we tell our captains. No, if you want a real mental challenge, you should start thinking about plotting routes in more dimensions than just three. Navigators who can travel elementwards are always wanted. Just skimming the Deep for a few hours in the right spot can shave days of your travel time. I once knew a fellow who thought he had a method for skipping into light. No one believed him, of course, but he did vanish on one of his travels soon after."
-Reshker Neel, Navigator
"Just... just don't listen to that talk of extra dimensions. There's up, down, north, south, west and east and that's enough for me. Gets me where I want to go."
-Sicner Kray, Traveller
The Open Aether