1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

Medieval Trade Good Ideas?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Bruce McKnight, Dec 11, 2014.

  1. arbiter117

    arbiter117 Minstrel

    If you're talking about commerce, ban something for some reason. It creates a black market for that item and it could turn out that the item is benign and just represents a certain cultural ideology (or misconception). The example that comes to my mind is the American Colonists boycotting and destroying tea shipments and other things that were taxed as a form of protest.

    Banning something can bring out the dark side of a culture and is great for world development.
  2. Lily Maeve La Fey

    Lily Maeve La Fey Dreamer

    "Exotics" this could be spices, sugar, poppy seeds, books are in high demand among the literate. Copper and other unworked metals. Shells and vegetables for dying (very expensive). Among the very rich exotic pets were also a luxury. Queen Elizabeth had cats from Persia and Egypt. I know I'm a little anachronistic, but in a medieval tech world where all of these are accessible it'd be good.

    Also, good riding or working horses are pretty valuable.
  3. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    One other thing to consider for trade goods: magic.

    If your world uses magical items, or rare or even ordinary objects, plants, body parts, etc. for concocting magic, then these too are candidates for trade goods. Some could be perishable, others durable, so some would be traded only locally while others could go quite far.

    Depending on how far you wanted to carry this, you might have merchants who specialize in the magic trade. Perhaps its volatile and risky. Maybe things require special carriages or other modes of transport. You could have quite a bit of fun with this sort of thing.
  4. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

    On the subject of metals:

    Tin. The rarer component of bronze, the metal of choice-- until the tin routes were disrupted, forcing smiths to figure out how to smelt iron and eventually how to make it better than bronze.

    You could have all kinds of fun recreating the shove backward from the bronze age to the early iron age and then the drive forward to make it work. Or play with the facts there; iron is very common once you know the secret, but takes a lot more work. If one nation was still getting tin, it might stay with bronze (and the range of other copper alloys) and not realize that the deprived "iron lands" were slowly building something better.

    Also, when you hear about "trade in spices," here's a point: half of all the spice Europe imported from the East was one thing, pepper. Although that's spice as a luxury; salt as a preservative was vastly more important.
  5. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator


    I find the production of goods to me more interesting that the trading of goods. Some examples.

    Furs. Trading just means bundling them up, sticking them on a ship (overland is too slow and expensive), and so on. But how did those furs get there in the first place? Hunting and trapping. Russia produced tons upon tons of the stuff, which implies big trapping/hunting operations. Now, throw magic into the mix. Trapping magical beasts, or using magic to trap beasts.

    Salt, as mentioned by wordwalker. Huge business. But you get salt in multiple ways. Some of it's mined, and salt mines are really, really cool. In other places it comes from elaborate salt pans along the sea shore. It can also be dried from inland deposits. Again throw magic into the mix. What about mining other types of salts? How could magic be used in the mining or refining? Maybe the process is volatile.

    Weaving, timber (ooh, hunting trees!), livestock (yes there were cattle drives in the Middle Ages), even agriculture, all are more interesting in the production than in the distribution. And all have the potential for interesting wrinkles if you mix in magic.
  6. Zāl Dastān

    Zāl Dastān Dreamer

    I'd like to second Shreddies' point here. Glass is a big deal, especially glass that is either clear or stained an exotic color. It takes a good deal of innovation and effort to make stained glass of any sort, and clear glass was surprisingly difficult to invent. Speaking of stained glass, products as vivid labor intensive as stained glass or mosaic are always valuable outside of their place of origin.

    Hope that helps!
  7. ChasingSuns

    ChasingSuns Sage

    There are really a lot of options available, including cloth, metals, food/spices, timber, metals, animals, knowledge... it all depends on the society. The possibilities can be endless (unless you were to take the historical route). Think of the location of this medieval society and what the society has/needs. Does it have an abundance of trees? Then perhaps they sell timber and furs. Do they live in a desert? Then water could even be a potentially significant import. Things like this can help you, not just in coming up with trade goods, but also expanding the details of your world. Hope this helped a bit!

Share This Page