The Krupp Consortium

Igor, we checked the place you were talking about – Estomp Jaeger’s apartment, on Forty-Ninth Street? Check this out.

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Working Title: Not Your Conventional Rings Of Power - Being An Expose On The Illicit Histories Of Our Glorious And Benevolent Benefactors, By Estomp O. N. Jaeger.

When one speaks of Gatono success stories, there are many names that crop up. The D’Argent Family, the Black Ocean Company, and so on – most trade houses take great pleasure in publishing lurid tales of their rise to power, featuring handsome or beautiful young risk-takers who engaged in daring adventures of commerce and (in some cases) actual battle. Truth be told, if every family that boasted it had earned it’s place in Gatono by finding some lost treasure buried deep within a forgotten Elvish temple in the sands of Bethud or by tricking and wheeling-dealing a fearsome drow matriarch of Fethka out of every last golden ducat she had squirreled away in some incredibly impenetrable vault was telling the truth, then the nation of industry would have streets lined with gold and walls encrusted with jewels, just for a start.

Which makes it all the more odd that the Krupp Consortium, for it’s part, tends to downplay it’s history in that regard. To the degree of…well, it outright ‘has’ no special treasure-backed history.

And to those who know the kind of articles I’ve written in the past, you’ll know my subsequent line. That quietness, that ‘simplicity’? Also makes them all the more insidious.

What is the Krupp Consortium, many of you may ask? Well, if one was to look at the official line, the Krupps are a coalition of traders, merchants, companies, and organizations dedicated to delivering well-crafted and reliable products to the goodly folk of the Globe. A union of interested parties self-organized just for that cause – no treasure, no adventures, only men and women just like you and me.

Right.

Taking the name of the founding family, the Krupps, they believe in (and advertise in) old-school methods and good family traditions behind every last one of their merchandise – reflecting their past as independent ‘workshops’ (again, riiiiight…) and that is something you can take to the bank. If one looked at the unofficial line (and how many of those exist, one might ask…), then the Krupps are actually a Trade Princess’, not an independent’s, testament to capitalism and industry; and the pillar that makes up their power base. A well-oiled machine working like clockwork to churn out the products that keep them strong, and most importantly, wealthy.

Now, to a degree, the official line is in fact true. I will give them that. The Consortium is an organization made up of different companies and groups on different levels, mostly formerly independent working concerns – each now handling separate aspects up the industrial line – from resource acquisition to manufacturing to shipping. Krupp weapons and armor make up their primary source of income in that line, mining operations ‘generously’ funded by the Consortium importing Fethka-mined materials down to Krupp-owned factories, and from there shipped outwards on Krupp-backed caravans or merchant groups to wherever said products are sold. This isn’t much different from any other consortiums or companies working through Gatono, save for a unique advantage the Krupps seem to perpetually leverage – it has been noted by different parties that Krupp-backed mining groups have ventured closer to duergar territory in Fethka than most others dare, and reap actual benefits of their audacity on a daily basis in far larger piles of raw materials being shipped back to Consortium interests?

That, at least, can likely be testified to the Trade Princess in question who is considered in nominal ‘charge’ of the Consortium itself. A brief bit of context is likely required in this case – as said before, the Consortium is a Consortium; an organization of multiple companies and concerns. When matters dealing with the Consortium are to be dealt with, representatives of multiple races and authority, each having ‘earned their place’ in their company, meet in committee to decide and vote. The Gatonian ideal of cosmopolitan capitalism and earning your place through ‘hard work’.

Now, if you buy that, I’ve got a bridge in Hakem to sell you.

No, that council is at best an old-boys (and girls) club where the men and women in charge of those companies meet to drink expensive wines and boast about how wealthy they are now, and play petty politics. The real power behind the Consortium is the one who actually ‘sponsors’ them – as this reader likely knows, if you want any power in Gatono, you need a Trade Prince. For all the Krupp’s fine talk of independent workshops and companies, they are just as under the thumb as any other, and reap the same benefits. To their credit (what little one can now give), they are surprisingly cunning about that fact – literally hiding it in plain sight. That founding merchant family? The ones that brought together all these nice mom-and-pop groups and rinky-dink organizations to make a powerful industrial machine?

I don’t think it would surprise anyone to know that the last name of this Trade Princess is von Krupp. And that her family is the reason a Gatonian organization has a Duergar name.

Living in, for one of her kind, quasi-austerity (by which I mean she at least eschews the golden toilet seats), Trade Princess Mideheild von Krupp is the true power behind the Consortium and it’s operations. According to second-hand reports, the woman has fingers in nearly every pie that the Krupps deal with, and takes an active role in conducting business operations. I said above that the Consortium is a well oiled machine? In part, that’s due to her efforts – it’s not for nothing that when the family speaks of her, or those on the numerous committees say more than simply ‘Her Ladyship’, they refer to her as Boss Mide.

Now that we know the power behind the throne(s), then we can take a much deeper, deeper look into what that unofficial line means – just why can Krupp works go closer to duergar territory? Just why is their history so very austere compared to their competitors? Just wh-

Our boy hit the nail right on the head. That bloody journalist’d been asking questions, and he definitely dug up more than he bargained for. Good news is guy never got further than this part of the article (prolly thanks to the pileup of contraband underneath his bloody floorboards – how the hell was he smoking all of that and not be dead?). Bad news is we did a follow-up; last word is he’s gone to ground somewhere in Hakem – someone must have tipped him off. We can pull a seek-and-destroy, but given that junk maze it’d prolly be way too costly for way too little benefit. And it won’t take much to discredit the bastard if he pops up again anyway.

Hell, Her Ladyship is still gonna go into conniptions. Make a copy for the records, double encryption, then burn it. And find out who was bloody talking.

-Franz

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