Shadows of Absalom
Absalom's great wealth is driven by trade, so the city's rulers strive to craft policies favorable to commerce (and their own interests), but otherwise take a relatively laissez-faire approach to regulation. Taxes in the city are very light, although Siege Taxes during wartime may be significantly higher. There are no property taxes, although the city charges for access to roads, sanitation, and other public infrastructure. Modest taxes on foreign merchants, fees for pilots through the Flotsam Graveyard, and docking fees, are generally sufficient to supply the city's needs.
Absalom's economy can be divided into three basic parts: craftsmen, who manufacture goods; traders, who buy and sell physical goods; and laborers, who provide services. While craftsmen and laborers are organized into guilds that provide legal and illegal products and services, traders are prohibited from organizing to prevent collusion and price-fixing. The city's laws require that goods to be sold must be owned by a single merchant, who may operate a single commercial outlet for the Inner Sea.
The city is a major hub for commerce on the Sea, and its most common trading partners include Almas, Cassomir, Katheer, Niswan, Okeno, Oppara, Oregent, Ostenso, and Sothis. However, Absalom has varying relations with and regulations concerning trade with these cities: for example, Almas views Absalom's ships as unwelcome bullies, while Vudrani traders from Niswan are celebrated, and ships from Oregent must prove they carry only glassware and silverware or face a 100% tariff.
Due to Absalom's size and scale, beasts of burden are important elements of the city's commerce and transport. Regular bench-wagons allow commoners to ride around town for a copper, and halfling porters with dog travois can be hired for a similar price. Horses are rare on the Island of Kortos, since the centaur tribes regard them as invaders and the harpies like to eat them. Consequently, the most prominent beast of burden is the camel; farmers use them for agriculture, drovers use them to pull wagons and chariots, and many district guards field a camel cavalry. Camel barding is more commonly available than barding for horses in the city. After camels, axe beaks are most common mount and beast of burden, faster and better able to defend themselves than camels. Dogs, lizards, elephants, and monstrous centipedes are also found; before the establishment of Hackamore House, much saddle and tack had to be custom made or ordered from dozens of shops due to the diversity of animals used in the city.