Melza (and the Barony by extension) draw the majority of their wealth from trade, manufacturing and services. Both legal and illegal trade has been the undisputed lifeblood of The City for many centuries, virtually since time immemorial. Businesses are plentiful in virtually every part of the city, and the other nine outlying municipalities as well. They pop up, some die off early, some grow and blossom, some even expand considerably, some reach their pinnacle early, some after decades of hard work and previously failed attempts. Sooner or later, they all wither and wane away, making way for successors or new generations of businessmen and business practices. As Aporue evolves over time, so does the nature of production and commerce in good ol' Melza as well. Consider the following overviews as just a small sample of the complex world of small-scale and large-scale economics in The City and the Barony.
Along with other symbols of nationhood, the people of Melza (or the ruling classes, at the very least) pride themselves in their long-lived and ever evolving currency. At the moment, the Melzan states issues and uses golden, silver and copper coins for everyday transactions and trade. There are some early bird examples of banknotes, but there are used almost exclusively in banking and financial institutions. Melza's monetary units are not decimalised, and conversion between different amounts of coins is therefore more complex than the simpler transactions seen in real world modern day coinage and banknotes.
Melzan coins are universally called griffins, in reference to the traditional supporters seen in Melza's full coat of arms. (As a professional thief, you'll be regularly hearing from your bosses or bidders to secure this or that sum of griffins during a heist, in addition to other potential loot.) All current Melzan coins, in the city itself as well as its surrounding countryside, feature a single example of this upright heraldic griffin on their reverse (back side). The obverse (front side) features different motifs, which vary depending on the metal and monetary value.
Griffins are subdivided into golden baronats, (colloquially “nats”; not be confused with baronets and roughly equivalent to real world ducats), silver thalers (originally called “groshen” or “groats”, the names are still used colloquially) and the humble copper hellers. Golden coins are the most valuable and least common, with silver ones more common and copper ones predictably the commonest of all. Due to the non-decimalisation of Melzan currency (and much of Aporuean currency in general), the exchange rates of coins are not neatly based on tens. E.g. 1 baronat does not divide neatly into 10 thalers. Currently, 1 baronat is worth some 7 thalers or 84 hellers. 1 thaler is in turn worth 12 hellers. (A single thaler is often simply dubbed “a dozen”, with 6 hellers being referred to as a “half-thaler”.)
An overview of at least some of the private businesses and companies you'll run into while wandering Melza.
a.) Shops, enterpreneurs and vendors
Pôvo's Pleasing Produce - A produce shop on the upper end of Venture Street, roughly half a jaunt from The Cracked Coffer Tavern. PPP is owned and operated by Pôvo Raria, who also personally grows most of the goods sold there.
b.) Inns, accomodation, places to eat and drink
Heart of the Jewel - One of the fancier and better maintained inns in Old Town, near the centre of the city. Owned and operated by Kero Gürtli and his business affiliates. Aside from innkeeper Gürtli, the staff includes several long-term employees. Barmaid Varda Konolo is willing to provide intel, Gürtli might be persuaded to do so under rare circumstances. The signboard features a stylised gem floating above the waves of a river, and a slightly shining red heart at the gem's centre, with an implied silhouette of a city skyline.
The Cracked Coffer Tavern - The main pub on Venture Street, one and a third jaunt away from Old Ditch Street. Limited accomodation offers, but the food and drink is good and some intel can be gleaned with a bit of effort. Or so they say… The signboard features an old wooden coffer with a visible crack in its side and coins pouring outward.
The Sevar's Head - A tavern going for an 'exotic' image, with stereotypical Sillaman-styled decoration. It lies on the outskirts of Melza proper, beyond the city walls. The signboard of the inn features a chopped-off head of an imaginary Sillamian sevar, dripping blood from its lower part, and a bloody sabre floating in mid-air next to the head, blade raised.
Hulk and Keg Shanty - A no-frills and slightly run-down little pub, located in a quaint corner of the Trade Harbour. Usually frequented by dock workers and other local personnel, as well as local and foreign sailors. A rather calm and bored place, but brawls do occassionally erupt. The signboard features a semi-sunken old hulk and a floating beer keg.
The Drunken Crusty - A drunk Lobsterman is an amusing mental image. At least that's how the thought went into naming this newer and slightly more fancier pub in the passenger section of the city docks… Owned and operated by publican Žarf Ehera. The signboard of the inn features the titular drunk lobsterman, tankard held in one pincer, his numerous legs all comically intertwining as they attempt to keep balance.
Husnjak's Inn - Named after the surname of the owner, which is any current head of the Husnjak family, really.
Inn at the Lame Goliath - Cozy and fairly spacious, this is something of a countryside inn. Not located in Melza itself, but still within the Barony. You can find it on Maple Lane, in the Barony's only mining town (and only montane town), Árast Atrav. The signboard of the inn features a limping Goliath Elk.
The Clumsy Dart
The Shipwright Arms
The Merry Forester's
The Jongleur & The Grocer Tavern
Shaking Axe Pub
Whispering Alcove Tavern