Merchants of the Blue Orb
If one travels, you might notice it. Each one has a blue orb on their signage or somewhere in the shop. The merchants seem to specialize in foreign goods, but often buy local produce and products, to trade in other places. They seem totally unrelated to the others. It seems to be a secret organization, but nobody knows for sure.
It seems to be a secret organization, but nobody knows for sure. It is a suspicion of many intelligencers (spies and intelligence organizations).
If one travels, you might notice it. These merchants often specialize in foreign goods, but often buy local produce and products, to trade in other places. In larger cities there will be one to four merchants. In cities or towns there might be one. Many of them seem totally unrelated to the others. Yet they are marked.
Each one has a blue orb on their signage or somewhere in the shop. (In places where the world is known to be round, it will be a globe). The various blue orbs in the shop might be a blue baseball/ cricket ball sized orb on the counter or near the till, a blue ball latern, a blue crystal suncatcher, or blue spot painted on the wall. If shop windows are available, often time the blue sphere will be visible from it.
If pushed, they will say that it is a lucky symbol for certain merchants. If pushed a bit farther, they will say that certain trading companies (foreign usually), will award the blue sphere to those they have had 'good dealings' with. By displaying it, they advertise to those of the trading companies that they are good partners.
(Note: If a merchant justs posts up a blue sphere to try and attract the traders, and has not earned it from them, said merchant will often have 'accidents'.)
A GM should just drop these clues from time to time. The players will probably investigate the apparent 'red herring' and find nothing.
Merchants of the Blue Orb, though they do not call themselves that, have a secret. They are Travellers, beings who have traversed the Â‘verse. The people of the blue orbs will use their 'public fronts' to trade good across the Â‘verse, all under the guises of being merchants who work with foreign traders. These travellers protect their secret, their advantage, jelously. They will go to any lengths, except those that would reveal their secret, to protect it.
The Blue Orb is a signal to other Travellers that this merchant is one of their own.
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? Responses (8)
I remember these guys from the Waunderer's game. Do you know how hard it is to find batteries for your walkman on an alternate world? These guys hooked me up a lot of times. They will sometimes even take your debit card. They will also carry messages home for you, for a price. It is handy to know the sign, if you are a traveller. If not, they are just wiley merchants with odd stuff in their stores.
As a group, they have the power to travel the 'verse but instead of becoming a major power like the merchants and lenders of Venice, they relegate themselves to running odds and ends to the odds and ends of the 'verse? That just seems like a convenient way to supply people with things they should be cut off from. Quantum Leap or Sliders would have been a lot less interesting if they could just pick up any old thing from the merchant's shop.
I guess it is a Travellers thing.
They are a couple of things. none of it is simple.
The first is that they are part of a wider Society of beings that traverse the 'verse. So there is a lot behind them. Part of the advantage of Time/ Dimension travel is that most places you visit do not know "The Secret". This gives you that marketable advantage (if you are a merchant) or an edge in other things (plus certain places can not handle knowing the secret). Thus protecting the secret is normally job one. Though certain groups do it better than others.
As they do in the Paratime and Time Patrol Milieus, larger companies (clans) obtain objects on one sphere, "import them" through the verse, to other spheres. They arrive and then are shipped a little distance (making them appear they were imported). They can set up local shops. By selling the objects gets them local money and makes them part of the local continuity. They can now buy items and resources all to be shipped to other spheres in the 'verse. This maintains "The Secret" of transverse travel, avoids eventual complicated questions by the locals, and keeps the various spheres in balance by providing "continuity" (avoiding disrupting the probability of a given sphere creating what in mage is called Paradox, and spawning forces to destroy the "things that should not be" on a given sphere.)
Think about today. We casually have the power to travel around the world, to see anywhere in person, yet as a general rule we don't. So just because you can traverse the 'verse, you probably won't. Second, people like their local places. It is comfortable for them, generally. If it isn't, some people even travel away from where they are rasied to live in environments they find comforting (which may be quite urban or rural or totally different in terms of pace or weather). So one might sign up to be a merchant in another sphere, living in a world like the Ren period or 14th C Nippon or like a period you have always wanted to live in. Thus someone might sign up to live in a "backwater" (to us) being a merchant. Note: they might sign up for a less desireable post, so they can get a "choice" posting later.
As part of their charter, they are probably required to "assist" other travelers. They might be able to pass messages back home, or arrange for emergency pick up (or even have a scheduled 'verse transport). Even if you don't need assistance, it still might be nice to talk to someone from "back home". You know, find out the current news, check out anything interesting, and talk about how, well you know, the locals are.
Of course, merchants with a Blue Orb might not have anything from "off sphere" to sell or trade. After all, they need to make sure they don't create "disruptions of the way". Of course, like Jeeves in MIB, they might have some stuff from "out of town" to sell on the sly.
Now Quantum Leap (and Time Tunnel) would not of worked if a) more than one (or two) people could travel and b) if they could control their travels. The premise ignores the possibility of Travelers.
Sliders could of worked in a world where Travelers exist. After all, the Sliders have an unlicensed travel device, so they are probably being chased by "police/ Patrol" through time trying to get home before these guys can capture them and take the prison planet. Other Travelers might try to cut deals with The Sliders to take them places. Of course, they might not find travelers on every sphere.
Your reply makes more sense than your submission, perhaps if the two were put together it would make more sense, plus with KH's comment I got hung up on the image of a convenience store clerk in a medieval knick-knackery with locals looking at batteries and beer coozies.
These guys are like a genre convention in time/dimension travel fiction. (Once such travel becomes "common" or "accessable").
Explaining some of it, is like explaining Elves to a fantasy fan.
So obviously most people don't know the genre. No worries. I have links (what a suprise.. I have links)
As places to start
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poul_anderson Time Patrol
Some of these might be useful
Gurps Time Travel and Alternate history books are good for information.
Continuum has an alternate time view. Spanner society is intersting, but the time rules are so hard to follow.
I had almost forgotten this submission to be honest. Now there should be enough information in my reply to Scras for everyone to "grok" ( http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/grok ) the submission.
This one could benefit from having the ideas in the comments put into the main submission.
It is a useful group, good for breaking the normal bounds of a realm.