Thursday, July 7, 2011

Trading Fate


In the Financial District of the City an unconventional commodity exchange exists among all the mundane markets. A secret market open to a few of the rich and powerful is said to deal in fate itself.

Many thaumatologists prefer to speak of “probabilities” and view the whole idea of fate as a remnant of the unscientific past. Others point to the numerous pagan deities devoted to the concept and argue that the power of human belief must surely have made an eikone of it.

While the theoreticians argue, the exchange does brisk business. It’s members are few--likely less than 20--and are all powerful thaumaturgists, extremely wealthy, nonhuman entities, or some combination of the three. The exchange building itself is accessed from the second floor of a small insurance office. It can’t be found without an invitation or powerful magical aid.

The trading room is always filled with a low, periodic thumping sound. The story goes that its the slow beating of a monstrous heart: the heart of an alien chaos god stored in something like a rune-inscribed Leyden jar. The living heart of minor chaos (it’s supposed) keeps Management or some other in being of Law from shutting down the operation.

The exchange is somewhat misnamed. The goal is to manipulate fate, but the commodity exchanged is perhaps better termed luck. Wholesale theft of luck would attract unwanted attention, so the exchange only snatches small quantities of it---embezzling the “could have beens” rendered purposeless by random tragedy or miraculous fortune.

These loose strands are snatched from the weave of reality by three automata like four-armed women, seated in the lotus and made of brass and porcelain. These are likely of extraplanar origin. It’s said that (for some reason) the automata are only ever observed in operation indirectly, through the use of a mirror.

The traders buy and sell the strands collected by the automata. They exchange them with each other for other things of value from the mundane to the esoteric, but they also use them. Small changes to fate, targeted to critical moments, and over a long period of time, can have a profound effect. A poor man can be become rich (or a rich enemy poor), a wicked life can be extended, or an innocent soul corrupted toward damnation.

If the tales are true, the members of the Fate Exchange buy and sell nothing less than the power of gods--exercised over one seemingly inconsequential event at a time.

14 comments:

iNews said...

Interesting post, thanks!

The Angry Lurker said...

To buy luck, excellent.

Harald said...

You are aware that the Exchange is literally begging to get robbed, aren't you?

Unfortunately, it looks like you would need the resources of a successful crime-lord, or perhaps a syndicate, to fund such a heist.

Hahaha! The captcha says filching. How about that for a coincidence.

Trey said...

@Harald - Indeed I am. ;)

Of course, as you say, the resources required are substantial, and the protections in place are probably greater than is known.

ckutalik said...

Now here's a futures and derivatives market I can get into. Fate the ultimate accumulation of capital.

Risus Monkey said...

Is the luck available for sale only that which is gathered by the automata? Where are they gathering their luck from? Could you even be aware that that these beings are skimming your good fortune?

I can also foresee a market for luck stolen by independent operators from unknowing innocents, purchased in dishonest bargains, or traded up willingly by the desperate.

Trey said...

@Risus Monkey - As far as is known the automata are the only way. Their snipping these loose strands from the fabric of the multiverse itself--that is if the muliverse was fabric and had strands. They steal it; part of their magic is being aware of a loosening in the weave to begin with. I would imagine one could get the vague feeling something changed, but who would no what to attribute it to?

I think your exactly right about those indepedent operators. I had though about discussing that very thing but the post was getting a littl long as it is. The exchange may also aid in the creation of "loose strands" by the sort of bargains you suggest and by the selective use of cursed magic items on the unwary.

Needles said...

I'm wondering if certain city officials are involved in this market?? Also would a certain mantis like group associated with law be involved? So many interesting things! Perhaps there's another hellish version of this market? Where a man might sell his soul for another chance? Wouldn't such back alley transitions be "fun"

R.W. Chandler said...

Loved this one! Definitely going to try and use it in one of my sessions.

Trey said...

Thanks! If you use it, let me know how it goes.

Bard said...

Wow, very cool concept. I like this a lot.

Trey said...

@Needles - Good ideas! I think all of those are highly possible.

@Bard - Thanks!

seaofstarsrpg said...

You know -to tag one of your other recent posts- the Cat Lord should be able to gather luck, especially bad luck for trade. Should he need funds or exotic items for some reason.

Trey said...

I could see that...though it might also be all of that gathering smacks of effort to the leisure-loving Cat Lord.