Thursday, 10 April 2014

I is for Insurance & Arkat Fooger's Counting House

It is said by many Marienburgers (usually those who are already rich) that you have to 'spend money to make money'. Whilst this is not entirely true - according to figures like Adalbert Henschmann - it does have a certain truth to it. Those in Marienburg willing to take a risk are often rewarded far more than those who play it safe. That was, until Arkat Fooger had his brain storm...

At the eastern end of Guilderveld, fronting onto a large plaza, and backing onto Baron Frederik's Folly (more commonly known as Usurer's Row) is De Oud Foogershuis, or the Fooger Counting House. Clan Fooger, lead by the venerable Grey-Beard Arkat Fooger is the only landed Dwarf clan in the city of Marienburg, and as such it makes a veritable mint - in fact, they own a mint, but that's a whole other story.

The Counting House is huge, and is constantly busy, all through the day and night, never truly sleeping. Inside its massive oak doors, past the four axe-wielding Shieldbreakers that guard them, visitors will be confronted with a hall filled with clerks and scribes, running back and forth, surrounded by expensive teak railings which separate them from the benched clerks who sit behind, tallying and writing all the movements of money in and out of the House.

If you can convince the surly Shieldbreakers at the next row of doors, you will be admitted upstairs - escorted by a Fooger page - to a warren of offices, and meeting rooms, taken over by the various merchants employed by the clan. Next level up, and you will see the inner workings of the revolutionary Insurance System which Arkat himself devised (more on this in a moment).

Then, on the top floor, you will come to Arkat Fooger's personal office, where the Dwarf himself meets with the most important (or secretive) clients, other Directors, and foreign dignitaries. The room is Spartan in aesthetic, yet every inch of the perfect craftsmanship and conservation speaks volumes of Arkat Fooger's power, wealth and character. No one who meets the man has any doubt when they leave the building - if they cross this man, they will never ever be safe again.

Finally, below it all sits the Vaults - only accessible through secret passage after secret passage, guarded by the most diabolical and cunning traps ever devised by the Dwarves. No Dwarf - except Arkat himself - knows every trap in the warren, with each knowing a few, and it requiring multiple Dwarves to access safely. Once through this labyrinth, the riches of Clan Fooger and those customers rich enough to afford the high vault rentals can be found.

The Vaults are so secure that, once when a thief foolishly attempted to break in, they were apprehended and imprisoned within four seconds of entering the atrium of the Vaults. Ironically, they got further into the Vaults because that was the most secure place the hold the criminal until the Black Caps arrived to take the prisoner to Rijker's Island. Funnier still, the Black Caps couldn't figure out how to get to the prisoner and he spent the rest of his short life within the vault walls - achingly close to the treasure he came to steal.

Dwarf humour - what can I say?

However, we're properly here to talk about Insurance. The brilliance of the system is that merchants pay Clan Fooger 5% of the estimated value of the goods they're having ensured, and then, if something goes wrong and the cargo is lost, then the Counting House will pay the full worth of the goods back to the merchant, minus the original 5%. Merchants would be crazy not to take up this offer - if they sell their cargo, they can simply sell it for slightly more and make up the loss on the policy, and if they lose the cargo then they only lost 5% of its worth, instead of a full 100%.

Business was obviously booming for Arkat Fooger up until recently when a series of suspicious shipwrecks have caused several large Insurance policies to be called in. Arkat, shrewd and calculating as usual, suspects foul play, and is looking for someone to settle this matter for him.