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      Designer's Notes
Merchant Adventurer takes its name from the English investors who identified themselves
as such starting in the 1400s CE. The game is loosely based on the economics of overseas
trade that took place between coastal Europe and the world from the 1300s through the
1500s CE. Players are nobles that represent a family that attempts to manipulate business
and government in order to gain wealth. The game is meant to cover the economic
strategic elements and mood of the many Europeans, often in multinational ventures of
both private and public financing, that explored the world, traded, and established
businesses outside of Europe, especially around the Mediterranean Sea area.
In these times, corporations usually did not exist in the same manner as they do today,
though in some cases they did, such as the Bazacle Milling Company in Toulouse. Often
in those times, when not owned by an individual or estate, singular ships and mines were
owned by shareholders, such as in the case of the Falun copper mine in Sweden (many
merchant ships in Venice were owned by the government and auctioned to merchants for a
temporary charter). To add to this complexity, commercial arrangements themselves
usually had temporary contracts that were probably influenced by the commercial
contracts of the Middle East and North Africa. These were often partnerships between a
handful of passive and active investors, though it wasn't unusual for many shareholders to
be involved. In the case of maritime ventures, these shares would pay dividends at the end
of the journey based on revenue. Sometimes an appointed investor in a contract might use
its funds to invest in others on behalf of fellow investors; cases like this were more
common in Florence. Contracts were also sometimes renewed to the point of lasting
beyond the lifetime of the original participants. So rather than corporations themselves
owning shares of other ventures similar to how they do in contemporary times,
comparable investments were often done through a complex web of contracts and business
relationships. However, the earliest documented case I could find of a permanent
organization owning shares was the case of the abbey of La Grasse, when a mill share was
donated to it in 1095 CE. This probably wasn't the first instance of an organization holding
shares, but it probably wasn't common for actual centralized commercial organizations to
invest in other commercial endeavours until at least the 1600s CE. I have still included the
option of companies holding shares in the game because it was certainly feasible at the

time. English merchant companies of the 1400s CE were usually not incorporated but
were composed of independent merchants who were licensed with the company and who
followed the restrictions and enjoyed the privileges of the company's charter, similar to a
regulated guild. Later in the 1500s CE, many of these associations became joint-stock
companies in the traditional sense. Considering the lack of standardization of share trading
in the medieval and early Renaissance ages, I have opted to use a traditional stockholding
mechanic in this game. This will allow players to focus on investment strategies while also
considering governmental, trade, and other financial factors of the game. Companies
represent the commercial organizations, commercial contracts, and commercial
governmental endeavours of the time (which usually had private stakeholders, such as
with Portuguese expeditions). This mechanic also provides a practical way to spread risk
as well as enabling the potential for profit with limited funds, which are the main reasons
for shareholding. I will focus on covering the peculiarities of the financial aspect of
investing during this era more in the games Medieval Stakeholder and Merchant
Adventurer Sequel. Though in this game, companies will be required to make dividend
payments if they have too many coins. This is meant to represent how most investments
during this historic era were short-term and the rarity of commercial associations
to establish long-term capital. The last important consideration in regard to shares is the
shareholders' responsibility to pay debt during these ages. With some exceptions,
shareholders could be required to pay debts or pay for necessary operations when funds
were needed.
During the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance, regular loans were the most common
method of investment. Loans usually came with some type of fee rather than collecting
interest to avoid religious usury laws. Christians, Jews, and Muslims all had such religious
views. In Christendom, Jews were often the bankers for several reasons, including their
barring from certain other industries. But also because, according to Jewish religion, Jews
were allowed to profit from lending to gentiles but not fellow Jews. Throughout the age,
these rules were slowly overturned or provided loopholes to allow more Christians into the
industry. Monarchs would often take advantage of usury laws to avoid paying back debts,
to the great detriment of the lenders. This game captures that element by allowing

magistrates to banish the moneylenders from their port. The moneylenders act as their own
entity with limited funds, so it is possible that they will fail if early debts are not paid
back. This situation could be very problematic for players if they need to take out loans.
Governments and companies can also issue bonds, as the bond market for government
securities was quite active in parts of Europe during the late Middle Ages and early
Renaissance. However, the bonds in this game function more as a regular loan than an
actual bond, though they can still be traded as such. But that suits companies in this game
because I actually couldn't find any details on when private organizations started issuing
bonds. But again, as with shares, I am dealing with a compromise to simulate historical
elements as best as possible in relevance and proportion to other game features.
During this era, Europe was ruled mostly by monarchs, but there were a significant
amount of plutocratic republics as well. The inner workings of monarchy are beyond the
scope of this game, but wealthy players will be more able to take control of local
governments. This was often the historic reality of the time, especially in the maritime
republics of Italy. During the Renaissance, plutocrats started to gain much power
throughout much of Europe, which greatly reduced the power of the monarchs.
The Mainland Power is meant to represent the historic excursions into Italy of entities
such as the Holy Roman Empire (Germany), France, Castile, Aragon, and, to a lesser
extent, England. Though parts of France, Portugal, England, and what is now Spain could
be counted among the port cities, just as the Italian republics of the era.
The Natives are mostly meant to simulate North Africans and the Ottoman Empire, and to
a lesser extent, various Asians and Amerinds. The economic and political situation of
North Africa and Anatolia at the time would provide an interesting topic as well, but it is
much beyond the scope of this particular game.

Storms are a fun mechanic that adds some randomness for players to react to. The storm
mechanic is derived from the storm mechanism of the 2010 video game Tactical Overload.
Storms in this game serve other purposes too. They simulate settlement and growth quite
well for the Natives. Also, they serve as a timer for the game because they continue to
discover tiles even if players aren't interested in exploring further. And since they discover
tiles, they serve as a sort of NPC explorer that nicely simulates players becoming aware of
other lands discovered by unseen characters, so that the entire map does not depend on the
players themselves.
As with most of my games, combat mechanics are minimal but included as an additional
tool (or pitfall). It's not that I'm against wargames, but that I want to focus more on
economics and interdisciplinary strategies (especially combining political, social, and
economic elements). Also, because economic games are severely underrepresented and
wargames are relatively popular. This particular game features the applied strategic
options of economics, politics, and combat. And though combat in this game is simple, I
have added flanking maneuvers to add a bit more strategy to this aspect of the game. The
combat mechanics in this game are also very balanced, much more than they seem.
Players often think they can get a quick result by having a decisive naval confrontation,
but this usually results in a costly, drawn-out conflict. Usually, when players engage in
significant levels of combat with themselves, it totally disrupts the economy of the ports
and results in the NPC entities gaining a huge advantage in score.
Pirates can fill the rolls of regular piracy and privateering, as well as those of both
European and Berber pirates. The nobles are able to choose what percentage of the pirate
campaign they want to fund and then leave the rest up to other players or an undefined
force, which could represent unseen connections both in Europe and North Africa. Pirate
ships are the only pieces that can be created from a Native village. The financial aspect of
pirates in this game is not necessarily accurate, but similar arrangements were probably
made. Endeavours of piracy would often be the result of mariners going rogue and
upgrading ships through theft, but it was also common for nobles to engage in piracy

during times of upheaval. Such was probably the case with Jean de Bethencourt during the
Hundred Years' War. The question is, if he took part in this piracy, how was it funded? Did
he fund it all himself, or did he have financial partners, as he did with many of his legal
business ventures? The history of piracy back then is not well documented, not only
because of the lack of surviving documents from those days, but obviously also because it
was an illegal activity. Therefore, it is very difficult to know the financial dealings behind
much of the piracy and privateering back then. It is known that Berber piracy became
more of a commercial business, rather than random groups of privateers and outlaws
plundering, starting in at least the late 1500s. This is when even Christian Europeans
started investing in the Muslim Berber pirates on a large scale.

~1st edition published with 2 expansions (Piracy and Colonial Expansions).
~2nd edition published as complete package that included all elements of the previous
*flanking maneuver added
*storms can create villages and increase their economies
*natives now attack vessels when at war with a company
~Development of a computer version begins with GOBLA Studio.
~3rd edition is published.
*villages are almost always found when discovering land
*indebted companies can require payments from shareholders
*companies are limited in how many coins they can accumulate
~Development of computer version with GOBLA Studio is suspended.