|Vailian Trading Company|
Sengretta mea Compresa (Congress of the Company) and individual regional Directors
|This article is about the faction. For the location in Pillars of Eternity, see Vailian Trading Company (Defiance Bay).|
An outward-looking mercantile order from the Vailian Republics. The 30,000 employees are tasked with delivering profit on the homeland's investment. In the Deadfire, this means refining and exporting luminous adra in enormous quantities. The VTC is the largest with a ducal charter and the only trading company with a canc suolias (five suns) charter, meaning it has the full backing of all five Grand Ducs of the Vailian Republics.
In 2708, seeking to consolidate their economic influence and reaffirm their independence, the ruling ducs chartered the Vailian Trading Company under the leadership of Director Ferra Battaret. The goals were to justify the new form of government and reinforce the fledgling national identity through commerce and economic success. The Company's initial capital represented a conglomerate of banking and shipping interests with only one goal: Bring wealth and power to the Republics by any means necessary. As long as it represented a return on the investment, the Company would be free from any legal interference on part of the Republics. The executives of the VTC took that principle to heart and expanded rapidly through a combination of cruelty, embezzlement, manipulation, and hostile takeovers, to name a few of the actions taken in the name of the homeland. Economic intimidation and currency manipulation were also common, allowing the VTC to buying out, supplanting, or otherwise overpowering existing trade interests, then filling in the manufactured gap with their own services and goods.
Regions reliant on bittersquash, svef, or saltpeter experienced few interruptions as a result of VTC's takeovers. The Company's reach grew constantly, with every trading post delivering indispensable resources to economies across much of the known world, expanding the Republics' trade reach globally. By 2720 AI, the VTC had a global reach with outposts from the crumbling Grand Vailia to Ixamitl Plains, including Rauatai and Aedyr Empire. Although the powers bristled at this domination, there was little they could do to counter the Vailian economic might, bolstered by the crumbling of the Vailian empire and the Republics' takeover of its orphaned trade routes and treaties.
The expansion of the Republics did not omit Deadfire. The region's riches were one of the reasons the Company was founded, focusing the Republics' efforts in the colonial competition with the Aedyr Empire. Without the Kahanga tribe's interference that manifested in later years, they relentlessly hounded the tribes to accept their trade. Finally, in 2750 AI, they succeeded and established a colony on Maje Island. Although Port Maje was a small outpost on the southern edge of the archipelago, it was the first step towards establishing a broader presence in the archipelago, acting as waystation for subsequent expeditions. The Republics were followed by the Rauatai and the Royal Deadfire Company in 2758 AI, though their expansion took the form of colonial invasion, rather than takeovers by way of economic hegemony. Competition continued for the next decades, rarely taking the form of outright military confrontation, especially in the wake of the reemergence of the Watershapers Guild as a major force in the Deadfire.
The key turn for the Republics took place in 2819 AI, when a novice animancer by the name of Irassa discovered the unique properties of luminous adra. A seemingly benign shard of the material damaged her instruments with the energy stored within. After confirming the properties of the material in a series of subsequent experiments, Irassa sought to publish the work together with a footnote describing the effects of liquefied luminous adra on humans. The ducs of the Republics took note of the findings and forced Irassa to expunge these findings for adequate compensation, while they studied the economic impact of this discovery. After numerous evaluations determined that trade in luminous adra would generate more money than the economists could estimate, the ducs bankrolled a massive investment into the Vailian Trading Company, refocusing their entire economy towards cornering the market on the adra, from excavation, through processing, to distribution. Banks previously not allied to the company bought their way into it as the trade exploded and turned Deadfire from a side operation into the hub of the Republics' economy.
The Vailian Trading Company exists, according to its charter, for the sole purpose of enriching its investors, and, by proxy, the Vailian Republics themselves. Beneath that, however, runs a strong undercurrent of cultural pride. The directors of the company are motivated by the belief that the Vailians are the best traders in the world, and must always continue to be. While the Vailian Trading Company is generally considered reputable among the major foreign powers it trades with, on the frontier, far from the prying eyes of overseers, those standards quickly degrade.
Overall, the Vailian Trading Company is known for its versatility, having made a name for itself by securing deals on a broad range of goods. The Vailians feel that if there is money to be made on anything, large or small, they want to be the ones to be making it. The Republics themselves are sources of iron, copper, silver, glassworks, ships, spices, clocks, and astronomical equipment. However, the discovery of luminous adra and its properties has resulted in a dramatic shift of focus. The unique properties of the material and the resulting tremendous profits from selling it on the open market have driven the company towards a single-minded pursuit. The Company seeks to control the trade in its entirety: Surveying, mining, processing, and distribution. Thus far, the trade in adra has supercharged the Vailian Republics' economy as the ducs rake in tremendous profits while the VTC continues to scale up its operations, frequently at the expense of the native Huana.
The Sengretta mea Compresa (Congress of the Company) forms a body of eleven high-stakes investors and noble advisers. Each has equal voting power to advance or stem any decision or strategy, in which a simple majority vote is the deciding factor.  While the Company enforces a hierarchy and expects obedience and conformity from its employees, its operations are highly decentralized and representatives are given a good amount of leeway in achieving their goals. In the Deadfire Archipelago, their representatives are director Ignato Castol, a merchant with a history of turning business ventures around, and Lueva Alvari, the results-oriented governor, leading 10,000 VTC employees on a campaign to seize territory and exploit the rich luminous adra deposits located in the Deadfire. While they technically answer to Canta Nirro, his focus on diplomatic affairs makes the two responsible for the Deadfire campaign.
While the VTC operates a sizable fleet of merchant crafts and well-armed escorts to protect its investments from pirates and raiders, it is not an entirely integrated operation. While it does seek to control every stage of the luminous adra trade, from excavation to distribution, funds necessary to maintain the operation are provided by investors from the Sangretta and other influential families. The Bardatto Family is the most notable, as it effectively bankrolls the Deadfire campaign. The VTC heavily outsources non-adra operations, as is the case with the Valera Family, which has an open contract to keep the waters around Neketaka clear of pirates and provides warships to protect the VTC's merchant fleet. The two families are locked in a bitter struggle for influence in the Company and consider the other to be nothing more than jumped-up proles.
The VTC is at peace with the Huana, but see the Huana as little more than a means to get what they want from Deadfire. They do not think anything of the Huana's claims to the land there, and believe it is only a matter of time before they are able to wrest it away with their charms and wiles.
Hostilities with the Royal Deadfire Company are ongoing. A bargain struck with the Kahanga prohibits conflict between the two in Deadfire, and within the borders of Neketaka, there exists an uneasy truce. (Though the two make every effort at espionage, sabotage, spite, and one-upmanship.) Elsewhere in Deadfire, the agreement is all but impossible to regulate, and fighting occurs readily when the two companies have the opportunity.
The Príncipi are a perpetual thorn in the side of the Vailians. They have a personal grudge of sorts against the Republics, and relish targeting VTC ships, seeking not only personal enrichment, but to do great damage to VTC operations.
Behind the scenes
- The Vailian Trading Company heavily resembles the Dutch East India Company (VOC), which profited off the spice trade from the Indonesian archipelago for centuries. Both have been granted quasi-governmental powers such as being allowed to build outposts and de facto colonies, signing treaties and waging war. Both are also funded (but not owned by) their respective Republics, while being led by a council of investors.