In many ways, Trader's Paradise is an ideal world, with warm tropical air, few dangerous creatures, and an almost Terran climate and hours. It has three continents, Venture, Houstina, and Creek. The Erie Islands, between Venture and Houstina, are populated with a series of tourist-traps, casinos, and cheap hotels.
Because the world lacks native fauna or flora, the government has imported a variety of species over the years. Only tropical plants have enjoyed prolonged survival, forming the rain forests that currently flourish on all three continents. A publicly funded program cared for the plants until they formed the delicate biosphere that exists today. With the addition of a few transplanted animals, rain forests have become lush jungles.
Some sea life has also been successfully introduced. The oceans in many areas are tainted by several centuries of underwater dumping, however, killing all life in these locations. Most of these are near the coastal city of Bell, and are a bleak gray-white color.
The cities of Trader's Paradise are usually divided into two quarters. The Upton, or Up-Town, Quarters include the areas usually frequented by tourists and off-worlders. These areas have luxurious hotels and living quarters for the upper social strata.
The Slide-Town Quarter of most cities is a dingy ghetto where the poor live. The local militia always patrols these areas heavily. They hold the world's industrial base, and are usually the site of most of the vital information exchanges. Adventurous visitors should be forewarned that the streets of Slide-Town Quarters are also infamous for nightly murders, beatings, robberies, and illicit games of chance and death.
When Trader's Paradise was charted by Baufrin explorers in the early 3000s, they discovered a limited supply of semi-precious gemstones. Obtaining the backing of the Holy Traders, a Baufrin cartel petitioned the Commonwealth for permission to colonize, glossing over the survey's findings of trace minerals.
The colony was kept small, so that it would continue to make a return on the cartel's investment without attracting any unwelcome attention or competition. Matters proceeded satisfactorily for years, and the Holy Traders gave little thought to this minor operation. Then Selya, a Baufrin trader, arrived on Trader's Paradise.
Selya immediately guessed that the cartel was deliberately underproducing so that it could maintain its hold on the world. He contacted the Holy Order and proposed that Trader's Paradise be opened to outside investment under the supervision of the original cartel. He promised that he could treble the world's profits within five years, at which time it could seceded from the Commonwealth to become an independent cartel world in ten years. Impressed with his salesmanship, the Holy Order backed his proposal to take over the world they had originally financed.
The next year, in 4410, Selya announced to the Business Mission Stock Exchange that an enormous discovery of gemstones had been made on Dragonnis II. The news attracted thousands of prospectors to the world. When they arrived, Seyla's dummy corporation helped them become financially indebted to his firm and thus unable to leave the planet.
Meanwhile, he stockpiled the assets and waited. Soon, Dragonnis II's weak Parliament became unable to cope with the sudden population explosion. Rioting broke out over the scarce food supplies. The situation looked bleak, but Seyla appeared with food for the masses, selling at a nominal profit.
In a year he had won the people's hearts. He organized a populist movement against the Commonwealth and its local garrison forces, tricking the CAF into using force to put down unarmed citizens. By the end of the decade, the people of Dragonnis II had asked for and received independence from the Commonwealth.
Seyla renamed the world Trader's Paradise and invited the Holy Cartel of Merchants to set up shop. Casinos and banked opened, and the people were put to work on a wide range of public building projects. Trader's Paradise became a central marketplace for all of Shannedam and Yoventrov Counties.
The world lost much of its mercantile power when the Snow Plague struck the Commonwealth, but the Holy Cartel compensated with new investors and financial deals extending far beyond the Commonwealth's borders. In 5009, a KessRith flotilla demanded the planet's surrender, but was persuaded that an independent mercantile world might be useful to the KessRith Empire. After six months of negotiations, the Cartel ended up with commercial trade and transportation contracts throughout Shannedam County, especially in places where the KessRith could ill afford to dedicate vessels or manpower. The KessRith kept tight control of the traders' routes and cargos, though, during all the centuries of occupation.
These trade routes turned the Cartel into the most powerful independent force in the County. Information gathered on trading expeditions pinpointed KessRith troop and ship strengths and deployments, as well as informing the Shannedam worlds of each other's fates.
If anything, Trader's Paradise grew during the KessRith reign. As Humans, Naram, and Baufrin rose in rebellion against the KessRith, however, the Holy Order continued to sell information to both sides of the conflict, but the cut rates went to the Commonwealth. The people of Trader's Paradise were tired of the KessRith's tight grip and they were ready for a change.
With the resurgence of the Commonwealth, Trader's Paradise renegotiated its neutrality, but the Commonwealth agreed only reluctantly. Many in the CAF felt that the Holy Cartel should have been more supportive of the rebellion, but eventually agreed to tolerate the world's independence.
With the TOG invasion of the Orion Arm, the Holy Cartel could make bigger profits than ever before. Transportation of refugees in the earlier stages of the invasion netted massive returns on investments. Later, Trader's Paradise became an island of safety as TOG's forces drove into Shannedam County proper.
Negotiations over the planet's neutrality lasted two years on Thapsus, with TOG insisting on such key points as ship patrols of the Dragonnis system. Meanwhile, the peace held, even when troops from both TOG and the Commonwealth were in the same cities on Trader's Paradise. Observant guides usually kept them out of each others' sight.
The Lictor EA began to step up operations on Trader's Paradise, gathering information for future operations. Secretly supported by the Lictors, an ambitious officer of the 297th Independent Patrol Wing attempted a coup against the ruling board of the Holy Cartel on Trader's Paradise in 6821. The attempt was thwarted with the help of the Commonwealth Intelligence Corps, but it startled the cartel into action.
It suspended all trade of military goods with TOG, which proved to be a big boost for Commonwealth firms. Furthermore, TOG found itself threatened with the prospect of the world becoming a Commonwealth-garrisoned planet. Its proximity to Saguntum III and Ciria worried the TOG Naval Command, because it would open these and other worlds to repeated raids by the Royal Navy. Such threats and fears forced TOG to grant full neutrality to Trader's Paradise in late 6824. TOG's military commanders were not pleased at all, but the Lictors found neutrality useful. They still have access to the world for information gathering purposes.
Under the terms of the treaty between the Holy Cartel of Merchants and the Terran Overlord Government, TOG vessels may not conduct military operations or searches within 5AUs of the planet. This helps protect the world's sovereignty and allows it, though still at great risk, to conduct business with the Renegade Legions and the Commonwealth.
TOG plans to construct a medium Interceptor patrol base at the edge of the territorial limits. This would place Trader's Paradise under somewhat tighter control. At present, it is not uncommon for a pursuit or light carrier patrol squadron to be operating just outside the treaty's sphere of influence.
Seyla announces discovery of an enormous deposit of gemstones. Prospectors flock to Trader's Paradise.
World gains independence from CW, is run by cartel.
Snow Plague hits.
KessRith arrive; cartel negotiates treaty.
Lictor coup attempted, but fails.
TOG grants world full neutrality.