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Its headquarters are in Llaza, in the magnificent League Hall, where it played a pivotal role in the independence of that city from the Empire several hundred years ago. It originally started out as an Imperial organisation whose remit was to regulate the myriad weights, measures and currencies of the vast Empire. It gradually took on a life of its own and is now a monolithic, far-reaching institution that controls much of the world's trade. It can bring down nations by ordering a complete blockade of trade goods or it can elevate a peasant into a prince.

All legitimate merchants and traders in former Imperial lands (and most of the rest of the known world) have to be members and pay dues. They are registered with the League Hall of their home town and have to return there at least once a year to pay their dues. If this is not possible they can pay at the nearest League Hall. A merchant always carries his passport which contains a record of his dues payment and the local League Officer will update this and set his seal to it. Every time a merchant arrives at a new port or city he has to sign into the local League office. The local office also carries out a useful function, it will advise him of local taxes and laws, deal with local customs and excise on his behalf if necessary, and do what it can to prevent his being taken advantage of by the local authorities. Administrative and other charges may be imposed! However this also means that the League can keep track of any member.

Role of the League
They help protect merchants and trade routes: armed League ships and League companies patrol the seaways and caravan routes and work with local authorities against pirates and bandits. Often however they are a law unto themselves. The League also protects merchants in disputes with nations, and arbitrates internal disputes. Although obviously richer merchants will be able to influence League decisions in their favour to a certain extent, the principle of free trade and competition is highly prized. It is a strange balancing act between corruption/mercantile tyranny with a degree of fairness/competition otherwise it would destroy itself. Provision is also made for the families and dependants of dead merchants who may be facing difficulties - no luxuries but they won't let anyone starve.

The League has roving Agents, specialist enforcers/trouble-shooters who investigate incidents and crimes against the League and merchants independently of the League Navy or Defensive Force. They are quite powerful with considerable authority to commandeer local League Officers and merchants' goods and services, the cost of which would of course be reimbursed by the League although perhaps not at full market price. They do however have to account for their expenses later so it's not a license to steal. They are very dedicated and trusted individuals, they often travel in disguise but they all carry a small brooch with the League's device on it to identify themselves. It is often a difficult and dangerous profession.

League membership is of course open to women (in cultures where women have equality), and are addressed as Mistress. In cultures where women have no place in business there is an unwritten rule that the League won't antagonise them by sending a woman representative (unless they really mean to antagonise them) and members who are from that culture won't antagonise women members when they are away from home. Its not perfect but they muddle through Assembly meetings and such without violence breaking out!

Way of Life
Llaza Government
Places of Interest
Most cities and large towns have a League Hall, which administers the local area, and these all report directly to Llaza (whose bureaucracy is gargantuan). League Offices and sub-Offices are maintained in smaller towns and villages (in the very smallest places it would probably be a part-time job for the innkeeper or someone).
There are various levels of membership, detailed below:

Apprentice - not actually a member, but they must be registered by the person they are apprenticed to (No dues).

Journeyman - Basic membership, lowest dues, no voting rights although they may speak at official meetings. Full members often pay the dues for their sons etc. Most minor shopkeepers and merchants who only trade locally remain at this level, not bothering to advance higher.

Member - voting rights, much higher dues.

Master - this permanent title is bestowed by a vote of the membership of the local Hall. Every two years nominations are submitted by current Masters.

Grand Master - the head of the local Hall, voted for every 10 years by the Masters (addressed as Your Honour) , he chooses the Hall's Assemblyman, and several Masters to assist him in his administrative duties, like ministers or secretaries of state.

In Llaza, apart from the local membership there is also the League Assembly, the governing body of the League. Each Grand Master appoints an Assemblyman, to represent their Hall in Llaza, where policy and regulations are debated and voted on. The Assembly elects a High Grand Master (addressed as Your Excellency), the top post in the whole League. A Grand Master can appoint himself as Assemblyman with the local Masters' approval and its not unknown for the Llaza Grand Master to be elected High Grand Master. The HGM then appoints other Assemblymen as his ministers. The League Officers are the civil servants, there are many anti-corruption laws concerning them but they can amass huge amounts of power and wealth. They cannot actually trade, or hold shares in trading companies, but there are ways around that. There is often a certain animosity between Officers and Agents.