Kobold Cartels

~ From “Goblin Gear” by Adam “Night Druid” Miller.

Like other goblin-kin, kobolds made their way into space many centuries ago.  Few care about their origins, but some archives indicate the earliest encounters with spelljamming kobolds occurred in Realmspace, and spread quickly after that.  By 4200 OC, they were everywhere.  It is believed that sometime around 4300 OC, the kobolds had reached their collective peaks.

The smallest of the goblin-kin, kobolds made poor pirates, but excellent scavengers.  Some tribes adopted a remora-like strategy: follow a larger humanoid tribe around, and steal the scraps left behind.  Larger tribes became pirates and raiders in their own right, although they were not as successful as other goblin-kin races.  Others still fell into a role of black market merchants.  It is this last role that seemed to suit the kobolds best.  With other goblin-kin races running around the Known Spheres looting and pillaging everything not nailed down, they acquired enormous collections of goods they could not use (quite often trade goods of little use to them).  Kobold tribes tapped into this resource, buying up trade goods at discount prices to be resold elsewhere for a tidy profit.

Kobold trading cartels thrived on the black market of goods stolen by goblin-kin.  The Angelships came out of these cartels, a ship ideally suited for the hauling of large amounts of cargo.  The design was easy to build and modify to suit a tribe’s needs, so kobolds built them by the hundreds.  Most tribes simply wandered, scratching out a living wherever they went.  Although there were hundreds, if not thousands of kobold tribes running around space, they lacked any real power, at least not when compared to the endless hordes of goblins, the terrifying orc Wolf Captains, or the Warkings of the Ogres.  Instead, kobolds became a common pest, ignored when encountered along, and feared only when they gathered into large armadas.

By the start of the Unhuman Wars, there were three major cartels (major in that they could fly several hundred ships and had outposts in three or more spheres).  By far the largest was the Cha’rube Cartel, which commanded an impressive 500 ships at one time.  The king of this Cartel was set to sit upon a throne of gold, his ship made of resilient iron and steel.  The Ser-Ralph Cartel was a worthy contender of the Cha’rube; so successful were they that they even bought up a city block on Refuge so as to spread their illicit dealings to other races.  The Draager Throne made its fortune by having the luck of allying with several Wolf Chiefs and Ogre Warkings over its history, alliances that garnered it much wealth and prestige, even if they were mere flunkies of these mighty leaders.

To the Elven Fleet, the kobolds were a mere nuisance.  Easily scattered by the sight of a Man-O-War, the kobolds did their best to escape elven notice.  Of course, they had their small victories during the war, such as when the Dragontoe Clan overwhelmed the Man-O-War Hand of the Faerie Queen and the kidnapping and ransoming of Admiral Moonflare (an incident the good admiral never lived down; he still suffers much ribbing from fellow admirals).  Still, these victories had almost no impact on the overall war, other than to annoy elven captains.  It was not until the closing days of the war did the elves turn their attention to the kobolds.

Cha’rube Cartel

Like other goblin-kin, kobolds made their way into space many centuries ago.  One of the more successful groups was the Cha’rube kobold tribe.  Few care about their origins, but some records indicate they were first encountered in Realmspace, and spread quickly after that.  By 4200 OC, a splinter tribe was established in Refuge, leasing a city block from the Arcane.  By 4250 OC, the Cha’rube reached its peak.

The Cha’rube began much like other goblin-kin tribes; in other words, pirates and raiders.  In one of their raids, they kidnapped an important merchant, an Arcane.  With privateers hot on their trail (undoubtedly after the hefty reward offered for the Arcane’s safe return), the Cha’rube retreated to a remote base to hide out until the heat was off.  Surprisingly, the Arcane struck up a friendship with Chief Zeeks, ruler of the tribe.  For months the two discussed many matters, and eventually Zeeks returned the Arcane to his people after the reward was paid.  The wily chief had learned much from his encounter, and put that knowledge (and the reward money) to good use.

Although much of the Arcane’s lessons of commerce were lost on Zeeks, he took the most important principals to heart.  He realized that with other tribes of goblin-kin running around the Known Spheres looting and pillaging, they would grab everything not nailed down.  Of course, this meant that they stole things they could not use, and would later toss them in the trash.  Kobolds, of course, were natural scavengers, and had been stealing from the trash heaps of greater races for years.  There was an enormous black market just waiting to be exploited, one the kobolds could easily dominate.

It was not long before the Cha’rube were able to establish their black market empire.  At first, they traded in junk offered by other kobold tribes.  Their operation was surprisingly successful, and soon spread to trading with other goblin-kin.  The Angelship design, used by the kobolds for centuries before, was refined into a cargo ship rather than a pirate vessel.  Soon the other goblin-kin were so dependant on the Cartel for trade that few ogre or orc captains would attack a ship flying the Cha’rube’s flag, least they lose a valuable trading partner.

Due to their success, the Cha’rube grew beyond the reasonable ability of any one kobold to rule them.  Some sub-chiefs were elevated to chief status, given a fleet and sent out to establish a new splinter tribe.  They remained loyal to the parent tribe, trading and exchanging news with them.  At around this time the Cha’rube became a cartel of tribes rather than a single tribe.

At its peak, the Cartel could fly about 500 ships, almost all the distinctive Angelship tradesmen.  This included many splinter tribes in far off spheres that had limited contact with the Cartel.  At the most, the Cartel could muster perhaps 40 ships a sphere.  In most spheres, they were half that number.  Night Angels were far fewer, no more than one Night Angel for every ten ships the Cartel owned.

Once the Unhuman Wars began, destroying the Cartel became part of the Elven Fleet’s plan to disrupt the supply lines of the goblin-kin.  The number of Night Angels soared, but even then they were no match for the elves.

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